Extract – The new comedy from Mike Judge (Office Space, Idiocracy) which stars one of my favorite comedic actors, Jason Bateman. Trailers are funny. Premise is funny. Cast is terrific.
Gamer – more crazy action from the Crank auteurs. Gerald Butler stars. Trailers are frenetic and stylish. I’ve heard is crazy violent and totally bug-fuck insane like the Crank films. Anyone out there seen Pathology, that Flatliners-esque horror movie that Neveldine/Taylor wrote and produced? Reviews were bad, but it sounds like seedy fun…anyways, in regards to Gamer, I’m in.
9 – looks interesting. An animated end-of-the-world sci-fi action thingee from producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmembatov (Wanted). The director, Shane Acker, based the film on his award winning short.
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – I never read this kid’s book but the trailers look like a blast. And what’s cooler than seeing food falling from the sky in 3-D?
The Informant – this looks like a screwy little black comedy from Steven Soderbergh. Matt Damon stars as some sort of corporate whistle blower who gets in over his head with the authorities and his employers. As with anything by Soderbergh, the film is of serious interest.
Jennifer’s Body – it looks like trash but it looks like sexy, violent, fun trash. Written by Diablo Cody (not a huuuge fan but I can deal) and directed by Karyn Kusama (the excellent Girlfight, the terrible Aeon Flux), this is some sort of gory high school horror movie with Megan Fox in the lead. Might be a fun guilty pleasure.
Surrogates – I don’t know. The trailers aren’t really doing it for me. I like Bruce Willis. Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown, T-3, U-571) is a solid craftsman but the movie looks like a clone of I, Robot (which was decent but hardly anything that needs to be rehashed) and while some of the effects in the trailers looked interesting, too much of it looked fake. I’m on the fence…
Fame – this is not one of my most anticipated movies of the year but the trailers are surprisingly energetic, it stars a real cutie-pie dancer (a contestant on last year’s So You Think You Can Dance), and my wife is VERY excited…so I’ll be checking it out. It looks like harmless fluff.
Zombieland – this movie looks like the definition of the word “romp.” Have you seen the trailer? If not, go check it out. Even if you aren’t a big zombie fan (like me), I bet you’ll agree that it looks funny, creative, and wild. Also, it stars Woody Harrelson. And I LOVE Woody Harrelson.
A Serious Man – the new film from the Coen brothers. It’s some sort of black comedy set in the 60’s or 70’s in a Jewish neighborhood/household in Minnesota. At least that’s what I think it’s about. The trailer is fucking brilliant. Really, really excited.
Couples Retreat – the cast for this film is phenomenal. Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell. It’s got a promising premise: a bunch of unhappy couples go to an island resort to work on their issues. Then why does the movie look so routine based on its trailers? I want to hope that it’s just a case of a shit trailer, but I don’t know…
An Education – after reading/hearing about this movie for the last few months on various websites, I have high expectations for this drama which stars one of my favorite actors, Peter Sarsgaard, and relative newcomer Carey Mulligan. I don’t have a firm grasp of the story structure, but I believe it’s some sort of tragic romance. All I have been hearing is how Mulligan is a mind-blower in the film, and that the writing and direction is top notch.
The Road – from John Hillcoat, the director of the brilliant Australian outback thriller The Proposition, comes this amazing looking apocalyptic thriller based on Cormac McCarthy’s revered book. Viggo Mortensen stars as a father tasked with protecting his son as they make a perilous journey through a nuclear wasteland in search of food and shelter. It sounds bleak and nasty but extremely interesting and right up my alley from a genre perspective. Can’t wait for this one.
Where the Wild Things Are – the trailers have made me cry. Spike Jonze is a genius. This book was something that I cherished as a child. My expectations are thru the roof. Anything less than a four star masterpiece will be unacceptable and deeply upsetting.
Law Abiding Citizen – it looks like violent nonsense but something about the premise is tantalizing. Starring Gerard Butler (busy year for him with this, Gamer, and The Ugly Truth) and Jamie Foxx. From director F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Negotiator, The Italian Job). It’s some sort of legal thriller crossed with a Death Wish-esque revenge twist. It looks crappy in a good way.
Amelia – Oscar bait. Big, sweeping biopic about Amelia Earhart with Hilary Swank in the lead and Richard Gere in second fiddle. Directed by Mira Nair, it looks crisp and clean and emotional and if it’s a box office hit, it could be a big awards contender. Will be curious to see how this one pans out.
Youth in Revolt – a black comedy with Michael Cera based on a popular book. I don’t know much about the plot but the offbeat trailer was funny. Though, I really hope that Cera brings more to the table than just his usual shtick in this one. The director is Miguel Arteta (Star Maps, Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl).
The Box – the latest mind-bender from Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, the underrated Southland Tales). The cast is interesting (Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella) and the Twilight Zone-ish premise (strange man offers couple a mysterious box that once opened will bring them serious cash but cause the death of a stranger) sounds spooky. Kelly is very talented (his script for Domino is a work of art) so I’m hoping that this is good. Oh, it’s also worth mentioning that Kelly helped get the brilliant black comedy World’s Greatest Dad made.
A Christmas Carol – Robert Zemeckis has always been one of my favorite directors. He’s made so many instant classics: Back to the Future 1-3, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Cast Away, Forrest Gump, Contact. His 3-D version of The Polar Express still remains as one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater. However, his last effort, Beowulf, left me remarkably cold. I’m hoping that his latest technological marvel is a step back in the right direction. Jim Carrey is playing multiple roles in this timeless holiday story. I’m expecting this one to be huuuuge at the box office.
The Fourth Kind – a low budget but very scary looking alien abduction movie with Milla Jovovich. It looks realistic and scary. Not sure if I’ll see it in the theater, but I like realistic sci-fi and this looks interesting.
The Men Who Stare At Goats – one of the wackiest sounding movies in recent memory. Per the IMDB: “a reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady, a guy who claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army's First Earth Battalion, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.” The cast is great: Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, J.K. Simmons, Robert Patrick, Stephen Lang, and Stephen Root. It’s directed by Clooney’s long-time producing/writing partner Grant Heslov, based on a non-fiction book by Jon Ronson. Go check out the trailer. Looks beyond weird. It’ll probably make about $4.35 at the box office but something tells me it’ll be one of the year’s more creative efforts.
2012 – More end-of-the-world CGI idiocy from Roland Emmerich (ID4, Stargate, The Day After Tomorrow). The trailers are staggering in scope and the effects look stunning. I’m sure the writing will be inane and the acting will be stiff as a board, but the B-movie cast is effective on paper (John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Eijofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, and George Segal. The movie is about how the Myans predicted the end of the world in 2012, and based on the trailers, every inch of the planet is decimated. My favorite bit: the shot of the entire coastal shelf of California being separated from the continental United State and emptied into the Pacific. They don’t call it Hell-A for nothing!
Broken Embraces – the latest genre-bender from acclaimed auteur Pedro Almodovar and starring Penelope Cruz. Don’t know too much about the plot – I’ve heard it’s some sort of romantic noir. I want to be fresh with this one because I’m a big Almodovar fan (I’ve seen EVERY SINGLE movie he’s made).
Nine – from director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, the upcoming Pirates 4) comes this glossy looking musical about an Italian movie director (the always incredible Daniel Day Lewis) juggling the many women in his life while making one of his biggest movies to date. The trailers are sensational. And one of my favorite cinematographers, Dion Beebe (Chicago, Miami Vice, Collateral), shot it. This is high on my list.
Fantastic Mr. Fox – not really familiar with the children’s source material but anything directed by Wes Anderson (Rushmore) will be seen theatrically by me. A great voice cast (Clooney, Streep, Murray, Schwartzman) is on board, and the movie, even though it’s animated, looks to be set squarely in Wes Anderson world.
Ninja Assassin – I’ve read amazing test screening reviews for this apparently ultra-violent martial arts/ninja movie from director James McTiegue (V for Vendetta) and producers The Wachowskis (The Matrix, Speed Racer). The trailers are intense and while this isn’t my top pick for the fall season, it might be a nice, blood-soaked surprise.
Brothers – this movie better be good. It’s got the pedigree both in front of and behind the camera. Jim Sheridan (In America, My Left Foot) is the director. David Benioff (25th Hour, Troy, The Kite Runner) is the screenwriter. Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman star. This thing is this: this is a remake of an extremely well done movie from Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (Things We Lost in the Fire, After the Wedding). If they stick with the original’s plot lines and don’t turn it into Hollywood nonsense, this is a sure-fire awards contender. If…
Lovely Bones – one of the big dogs of the awards season will be The Lovely Bones, based on Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel, and directed by Peter The Lord of the Rings Jackson. The trailers are surreal and vibrant and the cast is star-studded (Rachel Weisz, Mark Whalberg, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan, Susan Sarandon). It’ll be interesting to see what uber-fans of the book think of the movie adaptation. I haven’t read the book so it’ll be a movie-only experience for me. I’m definitely curious.
Invictus – A film by Clint Eastwood. This phrase scares everyone else come awards season. Eastwood directs this look at the life of Nelson Mandela (played by the eventual Best Oscar nominee Morgan Freeman) and how he attempted to unite his country through the rugby world cup in 1995. Matt Damon co-stars. This is going to be a key player come Oscar nomination morning.
Avatar – the elephant in the room. The recently released trailer drew mixed reaction on the internet. Sure, it broke download records, but feedback was less than overly thrilled. Avatar marks the return to feature filmmaking for James Cameron. This is a $200 million plus original science fiction adventure that will supposedly showcase 3-D technology in a way that nobody has ever experienced before. Cameron has become more of an innovator than storyteller over the years, and while I am really hoping that I love this film, something tells me I’m going to be disappointed. We’ll have to wait and see…
It’s Complicated – the latest from Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, What Women Want). I’ve said enough right there. Nancy Meyers is the Michael Bay of her milieu. I’ve generally enjoyed Meyers’ output but it’s no secret that she’s not the deepest dish in the pantry. The cast for this one is strong (Streep, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Steve Martin, Lake Bell, Rita Wilson) and the premise sounds entertaining. There’s always one adult-skewing romantic dramedy every winter season so this one will probably do the trick.
Sherlock Holmes – I want this movie to kick some ass. Robert Downey Jr. stars as the titular hero with Jude Law as Watson, Rachel McAdams as the love interest, and the oily Mark Strong (Body of Lies) as the villain. It’s been directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch) and the script is by Anthony Peckham (who also wrote Invictus for Eastwood). The trailers are stylish looking and the period setting is very welcome. Will this be the start of a franchise?
Top 10 to see for the season:
1. The Road
2. Where the Wild Things Are
3. A Serious Man
4. The Men Who Stare at Goats
5. The Informant
10. The Lovely Bones