Thursday, December 9, 2010

Most Anticipated Films of 2011 – Part 2: Prestige and Fun Films

The Most Anticipated Films of 2011 is a two part look at the movies that (I am most excited about, mainly) should be the biggest and best of the year to come. Part One is a look at the biggest, the Blockbusters and Part Two will focus on the film that should be among the most fun and best (not counting the Blockbusters) that details are known about at present.

Prestige Films:

Release: Spring or Fall
Genre: Drama
Plot: The film is about Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, and their relationship that lead to the birth of psychoanalysis.
Why It’s Anticipated: David Cronenberg is known for his intense and highly stylized films, often involving surreal elements. He has a committed cult following with fans eagerly awaiting anything he does. His last two films A History of Violence and Easter Promises, each starring Viggo Mortenson, appealed to more of a mainstream audience and found themselves on many best of the year lists. This film should certainly have a following on the festival circuit. There is a lot of potential to have one of 2011’s best films here.
Editor’s Thoughts: The cast is awesome. Knowing Cronenberg’s sort of warped style, I am looking forward to seeing what he does with the subject matter (dreams), as the possibilities seem endless for such a creative mind.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Release: December 21st
Genre: Thriller
Director: David Fincher
Plot: The film is about a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, who teams up with a young computer savvy girl, Lisbeth Salander, to solve a forty-year-old missing person’s case, when new evidence comes to light.
Why It’s Anticipated: The books series (the Millennium Trilogy) by deceased Swedish author Stieg Larsson has had a huge following, and the Swedish film versions have all has release dates in the States. David Fincher is one of the top auteur directors working today, and thus his name brings with it prestige and fans, not to mention that his films more so than other auteur directors (in many cases) have a more mainstream Hollywood appeal. The film also stars James Bond himself Daniel Craig. This film will draw fans of the novels, cinema and those looking for the big winter releases.
Editor’s Thoughts: Having seen the original, there is certainly room for Fincher to add and make the story (and film) his own. That said, the Swedish version is by far the best of the series (the second two were made for TV and had smaller budgets) so there is a high standard to live up to. There is some speculation as to whether relative newcomer Rooney Mara can live up to the fine performance of Noomi Rapace. She worked with Fincher on The Social Network and he must have seen something special (she was great in the film, by the way) as every young actress in Hollywood wanted this role.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Title: Hanna
Release: April 8th
Genre: Action
Director: Joe Wright
Plot: The film is about a 14-year-old girl who is raised by her father to be an assassin with complete disregard for feelings and human life. However, she comes in contact with a family and they gain her trust. They help her to ease into a more conventional life.
Why It’s Anticipated: Aside from sounding pretty cool (especially with flashbacks of Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, though this will likely be much more serious in its approach), the film has an excellent cast with Saoirse Ronan ready to be a star (remember that she had her breakout role in Wright’s Atonement). This will be Wright’s fourth film – of the previous three, two are very good and one was disappointing, but there is no doubt that he is one of the best young filmmakers out there. Plus he has got a score from The Chemical Brothers and awesome cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler on the film.
Editor’s Thoughts: I am looking forward to this film for a few reasons: 1) Joe Wright is a very good director and his use of the camera fluidly moving through his worlds is wonderful, 2) the story sounds really intriguing (who does not want to see a well-made action adventure film) and 3) all five members of the principal cast are actors that I enjoy watching. This has the potential to be a standout film for the year both critically and at the box office (for an April release).

Title: Moneyball
Release: September
Genre: Drama
Director: Bennett Miller
Plot: Based on the novel by Michael Lewis, the film is about Oakland Athletics general manger Billy Beane, who used computer-generated analysis to draft his players and successfully put together a winning club on a budget.
Why It’s Anticipated: Director Bennett Miller’s first film was Capote, which was one of that year’s best and won Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar. Miller’s new film will certainly draw critical analysis and likely praise. Hoffman is back along with a very good cast with some star power (Brad Pitt). The story has a lot of appeal as well – Lewis’s novel was a national bestseller and quite acclaimed.
Editor’s Thoughts: I am a sucker for sports movies and especially love baseball movies. This is not only about baseball, but also the behind the scenes action of fielding a club, not to mention a true story (what sports-fan is not already immensely interested?). Plus, the cast (as stated above) is great and Miller has the chops to be an auteur director. If this turns out to be as good as it has the potential to be, look for it to be pushed back to November or December for an Oscar bid.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Release: Fall
Genre: Thriller
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Plot: Based on the novel by John le Carre, the film is about espionage veteran George Smiley, who is forced out of retirement to uncover a Soviet Agent within MI6 during the bleak days of the Cold War.
Why It’s Anticipated: Three reasons say it all 1) the director, 2) the cast and 3) the story. Tomas Alfredson won himself loads of fans outside of his native Sweden with his last film Let the Right One In. Now he is back making (what sounds like an equally awesome film) his Hollywood debut (though it is more like British cinema debut). The film stars some of the best and brightest actors of British cinema (Strong makes the best villains, Oldman is amazing in everything, Hardy is coming off a breakthrough performance in Inception, and Firth has been wonderful in his films lately, plus he is probably winning an Oscar come February). Cold War spy films have been done tons of times (seen most of the James Bond films for reference), but when done well it is a very gratifying sub-genre.
Editor’s Thoughts: This is one of my top five most anticipated films for 2011. I really enjoyed Let the Right One In. That being said, I cannot wait to see what Alfredson does with this project. He has the cast and the platform to make not only a really enjoyable spy thriller but also a fantastic piece of cinema. And, I will see anything with Gary Oldman in it – he is starring in this. It is not often enough that you see a director, cast and project combo as awesome as this.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Fun Films:

Release: March 4th
Genre: Romance/Thriller
Director: George Nolfi
Plot: The film is about an affair between a politician and a ballerina and the mysterious forces that seem to be keeping them apart, based on a short-story by Philip K. Dick.
Why It’s Anticipated: The Jason Bourne series was a big hit among critics and fans alike. This film reunites Bourne star Matt Damon with the writer of The Bourne Ultimatum (the best reviewed of the series) George Nolfi, who is making his directorial debut. The film also has similar thriller aspects to it, but more romance and sci-fi implications too. The rest of the cast is also quite good with the lovely Emily Blunt and savvy casting additions in John Slattery (who everyone loves in Mad Men) and Anthony Mackie coming off a breakthrough performance in The Hurt Locker.
Editor’s Thoughts: For those that follow film and are worried about why this was push back from September of 2010 to March of 2011, it was done so based on the revenue model of Shutter Island (similarly pushed back), which did well at the box office and deemed to have a similar intended audience. Thus, the trade of September for March was done so for The Adjustment Bureau to be a bigger box office hit, which probably means Universal Pictures thinks they have a pretty good film on their hands. I was excited to see this in September and I am still excited to see this in March. The trailer however (see below) does not entice me so much as the cast and the film’s potential. I would call the trailer a bit of a letdown – hopefully the film will not be.

Title: Hugo
Release: December 9th
Genre: Mystery
Director: Martin Scorsese
Plot: The film is about an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. But there is a secret about this orphan, one that is in jeopardy as he gets caught up in a mysterious adventure.
Why It’s Anticipated: It is a Martin Scorsese film…So yeah, people are going to go see this. Plus it is a family film and Scorsese’s first 3D feature (why!!!!). Family film + 3D generally equal cash money for studios, exhibitors and all involved. The film also has a fantastic cast with many great actors (see full list here). Just think, a Martin Scorsese film you can bring the whole family to.
Editor’s Thoughts: I want to see this because Scorsese (as well all know) is a wonderful filmmaker, I am a big fan of cinematographer Robert Richardson who is shooting it and (like many others enamored with her fabulous breakthrough performances in 2010, i.e. Kick-Ass and Let Me In) I am a newly huge fan of Chloe Grace Moretz (a Star to Watch). Despite a legend like Scorsese bowing to trend and making a 3D film, I still think it is somewhat of a fad, but as long as the money keeps piling in, 3D will still be a popular process. However, at least Scorsese had the good sense to shoot this in 3D and not add crumby effects after the fact (for reference of the difference see Avatar 3D vs. Clash of the Titans 3D).
Trailer (Not yet available)

Release: Fall
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Director: Woody Allen
Plot: The film is about a family traveling to Paris on business in the 1920s. They are forced to deal with a number of issues while in the French capital including confronting the illusion that a life other than their own is better.
Why It’s Anticipated: Woody Allen makes a film a year, some good, some not so much. As of late, he has been on a role with overall enjoyable films and a few great ones too (I especially like his Scarlett Johansson trilogy – Match Point, Scoop and Vicky Cristina Barcelona). For this comedy he has a great cast with fine actors (Marion Cotillard and Michael Sheen have been amazing in their latest films) and funny comedians (assuming you like Owen Wilson and Gad Elmaleh), which should make his script all the more entertaining. Not to mention that Allen invented the romantic-comedy.
Editor’s Thoughts: Along with the main cast listed above, Allen also has a number of “cool” casting additions: Alison Pill, Lea Seydoux, French comedian Gad Elmaleh, Tom Hiddleston (who Kenneth Branagh says is amazing in Thor), and Carla Bruni (the wife of the current French President). Allen and the right cast make for really funny and sometimes moving films. His ventures to Europe in recent years have produced some of his best work (at least in the last two decades). This cast in particular is what has me excited to see Midnight in Paris. Oh, and Allen has cinematography legend Darius Khondji shooting a 1920s film set in my favorite city.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Release: November 23rd
Genre: Comedy
Director: James Bobin
Plot: The film, much like many of the Muppet films, is about Kermit the Frog and his pals putting on a show to save their old theatre.
Why It’s Anticipated: It’s the Muppets, which is enough really (for all those that grew up with and love them). However, the other ingredients in the film are just as good. Jason Segel, along with starring in the film, is co-writing it with Nicholas Stroller, who also made Forgetting Sarah Marshall together (my favorite comedy of 2008), a film which certainly proves Segel’s Muppet credentials (the Dracula musical…awesome). And on top of that, James Bobin director of The Flight of the Conchords and Da Ali G Show is directing the film. Plus, Bret McKenzie is also part of the creative team (YES!!!!). Oh yeah, and the cast is pretty great too with tons of celebrity cameos (list here).
Editor’s Thoughts: I cannot think of a better creative team to handle this project. I am super excited for a Jason Segel-James Bobin Muppets movie and with cameos from the likes of Emily Blunt, Zach Galifianakis, Ricky Gervais, and Jean-Claude Van Damme how could I not be?!!! I do wonder if Disney is going to overly market this film to kids, an audience that did not really grow up with the Muppets but does sell tickets, as I fear that they will push for a more kid friendly film – when this creative team’s talents are at their best when targeting their own age group. Hopefully there will be a happy medium that will work well for all viewers (like Pixar is generally able to achieve…oh right, Pixar was brought in as a story consultant, so I guess we are cool there too). After seeing Segel’s Dracula Musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and his other puppet work on Craig Ferrguson’s Late Late Show, I cannot wait to see this film.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Release: April 8th
Genre: Comedy/Adventure
Plot: The film is about two princes, Fabious and Thadeous. When Fabious’s bride is kidnapped by an evil sorcerer, they must go on an epic adventure to rescue her…only Thadeous is lazy and useless.
Why It’s Anticipated: Fans of Danny McBride and Ben Best’s work (Eastbound & Down and The Foot Fist Way) know that they will get a funny, random and probably offensive comedy, full of hysterical and awkward moments. David Gordon Green, director of many episodes of Eastbound & Down, is coming off a comedy hit in Pineapple Express, which starred James Franco and Danny McBride (and Seth Rogen). He was able to remind audiences how funny Franco can be with that film. Your Highness has a fantastic comedic cast with Toby Jones, Deschanel, Theroux, Lewis, and Portman co-starring. And the red-band trailer (see below) is ridiculous (sending many into fits of giggles) and features Portman looking quite good (sans clothing).
Editor’s Thoughts: This is either going to be really funny or just not work at all, there does not seem to be much middle ground with such an ambitious project. David Gordon Green claims that all of the dialog was improvised based only on a outline that Best and McBride drew up – but they certainly have a good cast for that though. I am interested to see how big a part Damian Lewis plays in the film as he is great in most everything I have seen him in. The film is also heavy on the special effects, which answers the why did Universal delay this from October 2010 to April 2011 – April is a better box office month for comedies. The trailer is probably funnier when reflecting back on it than while actually watching it, but some of the best comedies are that way. Whether this works or is an epic failure, I cannot wait to see it (and think it is going to be amazing).

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