= Awards Contender = Big-name Star = Potential Cash Cow = Up-and-coming Indie = My most anticipated films
Iron Man 2
Director: John Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow
After the massive success of 2008’s Iron Man – and star Robert Downey Jr.’s subsequent comeback – it’s no wonder that audiences will be treated to a second helping. With some of the best actors in the business on board (Downey, Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle), it’d be hard for this sequel to fail.
Also Released: The documentary Babies, which captivated audiences with its adorable trailer, and two small Oscar-baity films: Mother and Child (which is already giving Annette Bening Oscar buzz), and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (which earned Andy Serkis a BAFTA nom when it was released in the UK last year). Other indie releases include Multiple Sarcasms
(Timothy Hutton, Mira Sorvino), Solitary Man (Michael Douglas, Jesse Eisenberg, Susan Sarandon), and The Trotsky, which stars Jay Baruchel as a teen who is convinced that he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.
Ridley Scott teams up with Russell Crowe for the fifth time with his action remake Robin Hood (also starring Cate Blanchett), while Amanda Seyfried continues her date movie run with the ostensibly romantic Letters to Juliet. Also, Queen Latifa and rapper-turned-actor Common star in Just Wright, a rom-com about a basketball player who falls for his physical therapist.
Director: Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe
Movies based on SNL skits were common in the 90’s (Wayne’s World, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, etc.), but this MacGyver spoof is the first one to hit theatres in ten years. It’s clearly going for a hard R-rating, and if it can bring the proper mix of raunch and genuine humour, it could work.
Also Released: The last instalment in the wildly popular Shrek franchise, Shrek Forever After. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Bandaras all return to lend their voices. Also, Holly Rollers, starring Jesse Eisenberg as a Hasidic drug runner opens in limited release.
Fans of the TV series will be happy to see Carrie Bradshaw and friends going global in Sex and the City 2
(Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis, and Cynthia Nixon all reprise their roles). Meanwhile, history buffs can check out Jake Gyllenhaal as an action hero in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Rachel Weisz as an ancient Egyptian slave in Agora. As well, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) brings us the fanciful Micmacs, and George A. Romero presents the zombie flick Survival of the Dead.
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley
In the first of Brody’s two sci-fi films coming out this summer (huh?), he and Polley play scientists who become embroiled in the task of combining human and animal DNA. This small, smart thriller may not find much of an audience, but it looks like the best horror film coming out this summer.
Get Him to the Greek
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starrng: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Rose Byrne
This spin-off film revolves around Brand’s Aldous Snow character from 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The zany “we have to get him to the gig!” premise may wear thin quickly, but with comedic talent such as Brand and Hill on board, there are sure to be laughs had.
Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Alicja Bachleda, Colin Farrell
After gaining good buzz from its premiere at last year’s Toronto Internal Film Festival, Ondine is now receiving Oscar buzz for lead actress Bachleda. Jordan’s (The Brave One) drama about a man who finds a mermaid may not be the most conventional summer film, but it certainly sounds intriguing.
Also released: The Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Hiegel vehicle, Killers, which
is likely to rake in big money at the box office. And for the kids, Owen Wilson lends his voice to the adaption of the comic strip Mamaduke.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharto Copley, Quintin Jackson, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson
With a film veteran (Neeson), a new superstar (Cooper) and a promising up-and-comer (District 9‘s Copley), there is a lot to be hopeful about with this re-boot of the classic 80’s TV show. Here’s hoping that it strives to be more than a big, dumb action movie.
Also Released: The Jackie Chan and Jayden Smith reboot of the 80’s classic, The Karate Kid. And though you’ll have to look hard to find it, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner, Winter’s Bone, is going into limited release.
Directors: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener, Marisa Tomei
The Duplass brothers (Baghead, The Puffy Chair) are known as forbearers of the mumblecore movement, but their latest movie is a story of a man (Reilly) who is terrorized by his new girlfriend’s overly protective son, Cyrus (Hill). With bigger names and good buzz from Sundance, Cyrus could be the Duplass brothers’ breakthrough to the mainstream.
Toy Story 3
Director: Lee Unkrich
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusak
The third instalment in the Toy Story franchise is finally here, and it’s likely to find new fans that weren’t even born when the earlier films were realised. Pixar has been on a run with Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up, and here’s hoping that Toy Story 3 won’t break the streak.
The Killer Inside Me
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson
In his first film since 2007, Casey Affleck stars as a homicidal sheriff who is assigned to investigate murders that he himself has committed in The Killer Inside Me. It will likely struggle to find an audience (the film’s explicit portrayal of violence against women had viewers walking out of its Sundance screening), but Affleck’s presence may convince some film fans to give it a chance.
Also Released: Yet another comic book adaptation, Jonah Hex (starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, and John Malkovich) and I am Love, which finds Tilda Swinton showing off her Italian.
Two films full of star power hit the screen on June 25. The comedy Grown Ups (Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade) finds five childhood friends reuniting, while Knight and Day (Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) continues this year’s trend of action-based rom-coms.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse finds protagonists Bella and Edward (Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) going to battle with their vampire friends, while The Last Airbender (directed by M. Night Shyamalan) brings the popular children’s TV series to the big screen. Also looking for a comeback is director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys), who
returns to his teen film roots with Twelve, a drama about a young drug dealer (Chace Crawford).
The Kids Are All Right
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska
This comedy about two lesbians’ kids trying to find their biological father earned critical praise at Sundance, and boasts an all-star cast. Mainstream audiences may not be ready for the subject matter, but it has the potential to become the sleeper hit of the summer.
Also released: Despicable Me, a cartoon featuring an top-notch comedic vocal cast (Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Jason Segel, Will Arnett) and Predators, which inexplicably stars Adrien Brody. For horror buffs, [REC] 2 is a sequel to the Spanish film that inspired 2008’s Quarantine.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard
Christopher Nolan’s Inception is one of the most anticipated films of the summer, despite the fact that no one knows what it’s about. After 2008’s The Dark Knight, expectations are high, but with its exciting trailers and exceptional cast, it’s sure to draw a big crowd.
Also released: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the fantasy film that’ll keep Jay Baruchel’s big year alive (also starring Nicholas Cage). Another up-and-coming actor, Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), has a French/Russian drama called The Concert opening in limited release.
Angelina Jolie’s latest vehicle, Salt, finds her as a CIA agent on the run, while Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, and Zach Galifianakis star in Dinner for Schmucks, in which they compete to find the dumbest person to bring to a dinner party. Also, Ramona and Beezus (starring teen star Selena Gomez) adapts the popular Beverly Cleary book series, and Todd Solondz brings audiences his latest ensemble piece, Life During Wartime.
Charlie St. Cloud
Director: Burr Steers
Starring: Zac Efron, Kim Bassinger
In his first fully dramatic role since High School Musical, heartthrob Zac Efron stars in Charlie St. Cloud, which centers around a young cemetery caretaker who attempts to connect with his deceased brother. It has the potential to be dumb, or, if Efron handles the lead role well, surprisingly good.
Director: Aaron Schneider
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black
It was supposed to be a contender for the 2009 Oscars, but Get Low got pushed to a summer release. However, star Robert Duvall is still getting buzz for his performance as an elderly man who wants to plan a premature “funeral party” for himself. An unconventional summer release, but certainly interesting.
Also Released: Beastly, a fantasy romance starring Zac Efron’s real life girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens (same release date? How adorable…), and the totally unnecessary sequel, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Indie releases include I Love You Phillip Morris, a controversial film, which finds Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor getting cozy, and The Extra Man (starring Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, John C. Reilly).
The Other Guys
Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Farrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson
Will Ferrell takes a break from his sports comedies to co-star with Mark Wahlberg as a cop in this action comedy. Farrell has saved some pretty weak material in the past, so even though the trailer was underwhelming, I still hold hope for this one.
Also Released: The eye-roll-inducing Step Up 3-D, and Middle Men, a crime comedy starring Giovanni Ribisi and Luke Wilson.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman
This oddball adaptation of a graphic novel series finds Michael Cera as a young man who must defeat “seven evil exes” for a shot at his love interest’s heart.
Also Released: The ultimate guy movie of the summer, The Expendables, which stars Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, and Jason Statham is unleashed. And perhaps not coincidentally, the ultimate chick movie of the summer, Eat, Pray, Love, is also released, which stars Julia Roberts as a misguided woman who takes a worldwide journey to find herself.
Director: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis
The concept is strange – a man (Bateman) purposely replaces his sperm with that of a donor’s, unbeknownst to his friend (Aniston), who is trying to get pregnant. Yet what ensues looks like a surprisingly sweet romantic comedy, largely thanks to its two charming leads.
Also Released: Three movies which I plan to ignore completely. Takers (a bank heist movie starring Paul Walker and Zoe Saldana), Nanny McPhee Returns (starring Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes), and The Lottery Ticket (starring “no longer Lil” Bow Wow).
Going the Distance, starring Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, and Christina Applegate explores long-distance relationships, while Josh Radnor’s directorial indie debut, Happythankyoumoreplease, considers growing up and first love. For something entirely different, Piranha 3-D lets you see the gore from all angles, and Centurion (starring Michael Fassbender) takes on a Roman war epic.