Friday, December 11, 2009

Anticipated Movies of 2010

Director: David Fincher
Release: August, fall 2010
Plot: A story about the founders of Facebook.
Buzz: A movie about Facebook is just what we need…Yeah, it really does not sound too terribly interesting to me either, but hey it is directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin so it has to be good right. Maybe? If not for Fincher and Sorkin this certainly would not make the list. Though on the other hand, who does not want to see a gripping drama about kids at Harvard creating a website, there is no way this is not going to be thrilling, think of all the coding and other cool stuff computer science majors do. But again…David Fincher, director of Seven, Fight Club, The Game, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button…It will probably turn out to be good, maybe.

Director: Mike Newell
Release: May 28
Plot: An adventurous prince who teams up with a rival princess to stop an evil ruler from creating a sandstorm that could destroy the world as they know it.
Buzz: The film is based on the popular series of video games (never a good sign, given past video game to movie releases). Newell did well with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so this should be in his wheelhouse to put out a fun and entertaining film, but do not expect much more than summer-style fun (i.e., real quality, think Transformers not The Dark Knight). The cast is good here (well, minus Jake Gyllenhaal), as Molina has been quite good in recent projects (like An Education) and it is the second major role for Arterton (the first being in Quantum of Solace). All in all, this should be a fun but it is doubtful that Disney will have another franchise like Pirates of the Caribbean with Prince of Persia.

Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Brad Pitt and Sean Penn
Release: Fall 2010
Plot: A 1950s period piece, a tale of a Midwestern boy’s transformation from innocence as a boy to disillusionment as an adult and his quest to redeem himself by attaining again the meaning of life.
Buzz: Malick is a very visceral director, exploring emotion through the juxtaposition of images, so who better to be the D.P. than Emmanuel Lubezki (who worked with Malick on The New World). Alexandre Desplat is doing the score as well. And, with Penn and Pitt coming off of an Oscar win and nomination, respectively, on paper, this should be a best picture contender. For fans of what could be called serious thematic cinema, the name Terrence Malick incites excitement. Look for this in a limited release that could be expanded in 2011 if it should be nominated for best picture.

Release: Fall 2010
Plot: A thriller about two rival ballet dancers.
Buzz: Black Swan is another film with a super exciting (can you read the sarcasm?) sounding logline that makes the list due to the film’s director. No doubt, the film will be gritty and complex in its character study of the ballet dancers, and it does not hurt that Aronofsky cast Portman and Kunis (though, not really sure why Ryder is in this). Like many to follow, it is the potential for this film to be great. Locking down a place on the list (however, more interested to see his RoboCop than this).

Director: John Madden
Starring: Keira Knightley
Release: Winter 2010 (could get pushed to summer or winter 2011)
Plot: A musical about snobby professor, Henry Higgins, taking a bet that he can turn a street urchin into a lady of society, but he gets a little more than he bargained for in the process.
Buzz: The 1964 film with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn is wonderful, so why even remake it? Well, if the remake involves Keira Knightley (beating out Scarlet Johansson and Anne Hathaway) and either of rumored actors Daniel Craig or Daniel Day Lewis, remake or update (as Columbia Pictures calls it), this is going to be good. Not to mention that the script is being written by Emma Thompson! On the downside though, John Madden is set to direct. While many like Shakespeare in Love, Madden has not done good work since then, and that was 12 years ago. It is too bad that Danny Boyle and Joe Wright passed on this. (Also, the last Audrey Hepburn movie remake was The Truth About Charlie, which was fairly terrible.)

Director: Ridley Scott
Release: May 14
Plot: Robin Hood, is there much more to write than that?
Buzz: Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe collaborations have been mostly good, though there was a bad patch in there. The good news about Robin Hood is Crowe is no longer playing both Robin and the Sheriff. The film boasts a pretty solid cast (anything is usually better with Mark Strong and Danny Huston). There is a rumor though that Robin may not be the hero of this story, but wait for the trailer to fully hedge your bets. The issue though is do we really need another Robin Hood story, especially with the very good BBC series?

Starring: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Kali Hawk, Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne, Aziz Ansari, and Colm Meaney (plus a bunch of musician cameos)
Release: June 11
Plot: A comedy about a record company intern that must do whatever it takes to get a down and out rock star to his comeback tour’s first gig at the LA Greek Theater
Buzz: Stroller and Jason Segel produced the best comedy of 2008 in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, so it only makes sense that Stroller would return to the material, but this time Aldous Snow (Brand) is the focus. The film is produced by Judd Apatow (surprise) and thus should feature his brand of adult comedy with a heart. Hopefully, the loss of screenwriter/star Segel will not leave this spin-off tired and washed-up. The June release implies that Universal has high hopes.

Director: Kevin Smith
Release: February 26
Plot: A comedy about two cops as they protect and serve: solving the case of the missing baseball card, rescuing a woman and thwarting gangsters.
Buzz: Kevin Smith makes his feature directorial debut (having directed the pilot of Reaper) on material not written by him (though it is likely he tinkered with the script upon signing on). With Zack and Miri Make a Porno not living up to his expectations, Smith decided it was time to move on as a filmmaker and try working on something not penned by him, the result…(we shall see). Needless to say, fans of Smith will likely see anything he makes and thus,  this has a built-in box office, but will it finally be his first breakout hit since Clerks – can Bruce Willis push him over the top, can Smith’s famously strict style with actors clash with Willis’ star power (inquiring minds want to know)? By the way, who isn’t excited to see Jason Lee in this? On the studio front, there is a rumor that Warner Bros. does not like the title.

Director: Edgar Wright
Release: Summer 2010
Plot: An action adventure fantasy comedy about Scott Pilgrim, who must defeat his new girlfriend’s villainous ex-boyfriends to win her heart.
Buzz: Based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, this is Edgar Wright’s first feature away from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (side note: if you like them, check out Spaced). If anything, this film is going to have good looking action, as Wright has hired Bill Pope (Matrix and Spider-Man movies, 2&3) to shoot the film. The premise (having not read the comics myself) sounds like it will produce an entertaining story, which in Wright’s hands (he did Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) will more than likely turn out to be a fun film. The cast is also packed with young talent (though, who else is a little sick of Michael Cera and his one note comedy), which also includes Mark Webber and up-and-coming Aubrey Plaza.

Release: August 20
Plot: An action film about a group of mercenaries that head to South America to deal with a dictator.
Buzz: First off, YES!!! Second, who else wishes Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal were in this too, oh and of course Kurt Russell (who was asked by Stallone, but Kurt Russell does not star in movies unless Kurt Russell is the star). This is the movie that every 80s/90s action movie fan has been waiting for! On a side note, Terry Crews needs to continue to sing/lip-sync to cheesy songs, it is genius. Will any women actually see this? If there ever were a MANFLICK, this is it.

Director: Tim Burton
Release: March 5
Plot: A fantasy film in which, a now 19-year-old, Alice returns to the magical world of her childhood adventure.
Buzz: The cast is pretty awesome. The production design is pretty strange. But, it is Tim Burton after all. What seems like a big enough film to be in the summer is slated for March, which is odd, does Disney know something we do not, or do they not want to crowd their flagship release Toy Story 3? Burton (often vastly overrated) seemingly continues to produce audience alienating fare. Hopefully for him, and us, Alice in Wonderland will be his return to form.

Director: Jon Favreau
Release: May 7
Plot: Iron Man returns to do Iron Manny things.
Buzz: Most are thinking right now, “Iron Man 2, only 19th, it should be way higher,” maybe, but there is a sneaking suspicion that the overall goodness of Iron Man (1) was a fluke: the film had an awful third act, why in the world is Jon Favreau directing these and Robert Downey Jr. is probably the real only reason it is good (well and the cool special effects). And, Mickey Rourke as the villain is a little suspect, did anyone see him in Double Team, yeah, do not need that again. However, the additions of Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are great, and Don Cheadle filling in for Terrence Howard is about a wash. Will the film all come together for another hit (box office is pretty much a sure thing, but critically, and something that holds up well to the three kings of comic book movies, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2, is less than assured).

Director: Clint Eastwood
Release: December 2010
Plot: Supernatural thriller about three people that survive near-death experiences.
Buzz: Not too much detail is out there about this film yet, but it is suppose to be like The Sixth Sense. Given Eastwoods streak of good films and the release date of this, it is likely yet other Oscar type film, though typically Oscar films are not supernatural thrillers. Eastwood must have liked working with Damon on Invictus as he returns. It is also nice to see De France get another role in an American film after her first was in the not so great Around the World in 80 Days, because she is quite good in a number of French films. The film is being produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, who produced The Sixth Sense as well (so maybe they have moved on from M. Night and hired an actual quality director to make a supernatural thriller). The script was written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Damned United). It will be interesting to see how he handled a fictional story.

17.) Looper
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: No one cast yet
Release: Fall/winter 2010 or maybe 2011
Plot: A sci-fi film set in present day dealing with hitmen that travel back in time to assassinate their intended victims.
Buzz: While the plot is still mostly unknown, the logline not telling the full story, and no cast, Looper is high on the list for two reasons, A) what is known is awesome (and sounds a bit like Terminator) and intriguing, and B) Johnson’s ability to combine genres makes him one of the most exciting directors working today.

Director: Sophia Coppola
Release: Spring or fall 2010
Plot: A drama about a Hollywood bad-boy, on the decline, who takes a second look at his life when his 11-year-old daughter comes back into his life.
Buzz: “Stephen Dorff stars” is not usually the backbone of a hit, let alone a possibly good movie, and yet there is enough to like here, even despite the overused story of redemption at the discovery of a child. Why? First, the pattern of Sophia Coppola’s career, The Virgin Suicides (not that great), Lost in Translation (top 25 of the decade, film of the year, 2003), Marie Antoinette (again not that great), based on the pattern, this is going to be good (plus, it does not star Kristen Dunst). Second, Michelle Monaghan makes her return to acting after having a baby, one of the most promising talents (go see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and she was great in Mission: Impossible III, Gone Baby Gone and Trucker). Third, the film is shot by Harris Savides, who did great work on Milk. And fourth, doesn’t Stephen Dorff as a hard-living washed-up Hollywood “star” hit the same tone as Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler?

Director: Michel Gondry
Release: December 22
Plot: Britt Reid, newspaper publisher by day, crime-fighter by night.
Buzz: What was once not even a consideration for this list, last summer, the film has now jumped to the 15th spot. How? Nicholas Cage is out as the villain and the superbly awesome Christoph Waltz is in. Plus, the randomly kind of cool casting of the Edwards, and Tom Wilkinson is always good. Now if only Cameron Diaz was recast…(oh well, not likely). The script is by Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg, a team that can do no wrong, or so it seems. And best yet, who on earth ever thought of Seth Rogen – action hero? Or even, Michel Gondry – action director? But one thing is for sure, whether it works or not, it sure should be an interesting experiment (on a side note, who else is glad Kevin Smith ended up not making this?).

Director: James L. Brooks
Release: December 17
Plot: A comedic drama about an executive and baseball player chasing the same girl.
Buzz: This is the sixth film directed by Brooks, of the five previous, three were nominated for best picture (Terms of Endearment winning), and two are not good at all. On which side of the line will this be? Well, the film not being ready for the 2009 Oscar Season, Columbia could have dumped it in January-April, but they delayed it all the way until next year’s Oscar Season, a good sign that it will be good, and with the cast it has, pencil it in for a best picture nod in February 2011 (questioning the Oscar potential of something with Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson? See Rudd in Role Models and Wilson in The Darjeeling Limited. Still not convinced, well this does have Reese Witherspoon and umm Jack Nicholson, so…).

Release: October 1
Plot: A fantasy movie about a heroic strapping young price that must rescue his fair maiden and his father’s kingdom from the evil forces that would destroy it and her, only his loser brother has to come along too.
Buzz: Cast + director + logline = sold. The film is written by Danny McBride and his friend Ben Best, for those that like Eastbound & Down this is something to be excited about. The comedy gold months are usually March/April, August and October, so this seems to have a winning formula.

Director: Joe Carnahan
Release: June 11
Plot: An action film about four Iraqi-conflict vets try to clear their name after being framed for a crime.
Buzz: This is another one that was on the “not anticipated” list for 2010 when it was first announced. Since then, a potentially cool director (at the very least he can make a good movie, see Narc, and yes there is also Smokin’ Aces which is not so good, but focus on the positive here) and a pretty awesome cast has been added (probably the best thing about the cast is the addition of Sharlto Copley). Missing from the details is who plays the villain. The film is currently shooting, so likely the villain has been cast, Jessica Biel (probably playing a love interest or something) and Patrick Wilson are the only other name actors, so it is probably one of them, sort of hope it is Biel just for the change of pace.

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Release: April 16
Plot: An action comedy/drama about an unnoticed high school comic book fan that decides that he will become a super-hero, despite not having any powers or training.
Buzz: Based on the comic book series by Mark Miller, Kick-Ass looks to be a lot of fun. Matthew Vaughn’s last film (Stardust) was a great blend of action comedy drama and fantasy making him a perfect choice to handle the material. He also brings his D.P. Ben Davis with him and Stardust co-writer Jane Goldman (which is a good thing). Two potential bad points in the film’s credits are Nicholas Cage and composer Marius De Vries. Normally (with a few exceptions like Adaptation.), if you see the name Nick Cage, you know it is not going to be good, or it will be less good, or you can expect a strange and imprudent performance, but hopefully his antics and overall exaggeration will be beneficial to this (I really hope so, but I am not holding my breath). De Vries, on the other hand, is mostly a songwriter/producer who has worked with Baz Luhrmann (which can be taken either way, depending on whether you like Romeo+Juliet and Moulin Rouge!) and has done limited work scoring films (I was not too big a fan of his Easy Virtue score). Overall though, especially having seen the trailer, this looks to be pretty kick ass (oh come on, you knew that was coming).

Release: January 15
Plot: An action film set in post-apocalyptic America, one man must fight to protect a sacred book that could save mankind.
Buzz: The logline, alone, is pretty tired sounding, but just look at the cast again, or think about how well the Hughes Bros. use their camera and have a flair for cool dark images. Plainly put, if there is only one reason to see this, it is Gary Oldman playing a villain (but really, anything with Oldman, Washington, Gambon, McDowell, and Rome’s Ray Stevenson is very likely to be awesome, or at the very least entertaining).

Director: Lee Unkrich
Release: June 18         
Plot: Andy has grown up and is off to college, what is to be with all his toys? Day-care!
Buzz: The good news here is Lee Unkrich is returning, having directed Toy Story 2, and with a screenplay by Little Miss Sunshine scribe, Michael Arndt, Toy Story 3 has a better than good chance of being able to live up to its predecessors. And, the whole cast, practically, is back as well. Lastly, it is Pixar, who, in the last two years, has put out Up and WALL-E, nothing but blue skies.

Director: Akiva Schaffer
Release: Fall/Winter 2010 (could get pushed back to early 2011)
Plot: A comedy about four friends who decide to ditch their mundane lives for global adventure!
Buzz: This film is either going to be really funny or be like Land of the Lost (Will Ferrell version). Watching Segel, Schwartzman and Hill survive the wilds like Man vs. Wild, adding in SNL and Hot Rod’s Akiva Schaffer to direct, just seems like so much awesome comic potential. Details are still short on this, the full cast is unknown and it has not even started filming, but Jason Segel is just so on his game right now that even with little info, excitement is in the air.

Director: Paul Greengrass
Release: March 12
Plot: A thriller about a committed military officer that aids the CIA in search for WMDs in Iraq, pre-Iraqi War, and instead starts to unravel a conspiracy.
Buzz: Greengrass and Damon’s third collaboration (the first two were quite good, stands to reason that this should be no different, on the other hand…). Why do people cast Greg Kinnear? Aside from Kinnear, the rest of the cast is brilliant. This might be the next good Iraq War film after 2009’s The Hurt Locker. This was lower on the list before the trailer arrived, check it out.

Director: Ben Affleck
Release: September 10
Plot: A crime drama about a thief planning his next job, trying to both balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to a previous score and also deal with a FBI agent out to bring him and his crew down.
Buzz: Reasons to both see a Ben Affleck movie and also to why a Ben Affleck movie is this high on the list: A) Gone Baby Gone, Affleck can direct a solid film, B) the cast is great, C) cinematography by Oscar winner Robert Elswit, D) Affleck is due to star in a good movie after a decade of mediocrity to just plain bad. This has potential to be an Oscars sleeper.

Director: William Monahan
Release: Spring/Fall 2010
Plot: A crime romance drama about an ex-con who is befriended by a movie star, hiding from the world in a Holland Park mansion.
Buzz: William Monahan steps out for his directorial debut; he is also co-writing. Wondering why the name sounds familiar or why this is high on the list, Oscar winner Monahan is the writer behind Kingdom of Heaven (watch director’s cut), The Departed and Body of Lies (all good) and has another script to film coming out in January, Edge of Darkness (narrowly missing this list, Martin Campbell returns to direct Mel Gibson once again seeking revenge). The cast in the film also sparks interest, Keira Knightley is usually good, Colin Farrell has his moments of brilliance, Anna Friel (just watch Pushing Daisies), Ray Winston, David Thewlis and Eddie Marsan are always great, Stephen Graham coming off a fine performance in Public Enemies, and Jamie Campbell Bower (fairly unknown) was a bright spot in the otherwise not so great RocknRolla (he can also be seen in the Harry Potter finales). And for the icing on the cake, Chris Menges is shooting it.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Release: February 19
Plot: A mystery thriller about a cop that goes to investigate a breakout/disappearance of an inmate at Shutter Island’s prison for the criminally insane.
Buzz: Red flag alert! Why on earth did this get pushed from Oscar season 2009 to the box office and Oscar graveyard of February, especially when it is testing so well? Paramount claims that they do not have the money to push the film for awards; maybe they feel The Lovely Bones and Up in the Air have better chances. Either way, and regardless of the reasons, Shutter Island looks like a fantastic psychological thriller; it is Martin Scorsese teaming up with DiCaprio again, strong track record there (Gangs of New York aside).

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Matthew Goode, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant
Release: Fall 2010
Plot: A comedy set in the 70s about professionals working at an insurance company.
Buzz: Writer/directors of The Office and Extras return with their first feature film together (Gervais co-directing The Invention of Lying with Matthew Robinson). For fans of Gervais and Merchant, just the mere mention of their names is enough to make this a highly anticipated project. Throw in talent like Ralph Fiennes and Emily Watson and just start to wonder, “how great is this going to be!” Gervais has stated that he wants to do more drama, which can be seen in The Invention of Lying. Will Cemetery Junction cross into mostly drama with some comedy thrown in territory? Whatever form the film takes, just looking at who is involved is enough to have high expectations (teaser trailer!).

Release: July 16
Plot: A sci-fi film about a CEO who is blackmailed set within the architecture of the mind.
Buzz: A toss up between this and Death Hallows for the top spot, just consider them both number ones, if that helps. Is there a better working director today than Christopher Nolan? Since 2005 he has made Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight. Can you name any director (maybe Clint Eastwood) that has made three movies released since 2005 with the same overall quality as those three (all of which were my film of the year in their respective years). It really does not even matter who is in this film, behind the camera is Nolan and Wally Pfister with music by Hans Zimmer, it could be stick figures and still be in the top 10 films of the year, so add the remarkable cast to the equation and you have a strong contender for another film of the year.

Director: David Yates
Release: November 19
Plot: Harry and company fight to stop Voldemort once and for good, the thrilling conclusion (part 1).
Buzz: For all that saw Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, David Yates can make one heck of a good Potter film, and he says the audience has not seen anything yet! Just about everyone behind the camera is back, Yates, editor Mark Day, production designer Stuart Craig, and screenwriter Steven Kloves, new to the team is cinematographer Eduardo Serra (picking up from the absolute master job done on the last two by Slawomir Idziak and, especially, Bruno Delbonnel, respectively). His work is also very good (see Girl with a Pearl Earring for reference). The Potter films have also featured maybe the greatest cast of British actors ever assembled, and now the stupendous Bill Nighy joins the cast along with the also very good Ciaran Hinds (if only they could squeeze Peter O’Toole in there somehow). If there is only money and time enough for one movie to see this coming year (sneak into, and make time for, Inception too), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is it. For those who wonder, part 2 is scheduled for July 15, 2011.

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