Tag Archives: Contagion

Fall Movie Preview: September 2011

I thought this summer offered some pretty respectable blockbusters. Bridesmaids, X-Men, Super 8, Horrible Bosses, Harry Potter, Captain America, and The Help were all a lot of fun, and it comparison to last year’s summer wasteland, things looked pretty good.

But now it’s time for the fall movies. This is typically when the major Oscar contenders start to come out, and things get a little more “serious”. Things are just getting started in September, but even though there isn’t a ton of Oscar bait released this month (just wait for November and December), there are a lot of really interesting-looking films at both the cineplex and the arthouse theatres this month.

= Possible awards contender

= Times Like Those pick

= Probable cash cow

= Indie with breakthrough potential

= Looks like a turd

September 2


Apollo 18

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego

This purposely mysterious film purports to show “recovered footage” from a secret, final Apollo moon mission. Cast info is not available, though the film is being distributed by The Weinsten Company. It’s an interesting premise, and they seem to be taking a Blair Witch-inspired approach to marketing, which is always fun. If it gets good reviews, I’ll probably give it a rental.

Shark Night 3D


Starring: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katherine McPhee, Donal Logue

Director: David R. Ellis

From the director of Snakes on a Plane comes Shark Night 3D! I don’t know what else to say, really. I enjoyed Dustin Milligan in 2009’s Extract, but I doubt I’ll ever watch this movie.


A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb, Will Forte, Lucy Punch, Martin Starr, Lake Bell, Lindsay Sloane

Director: Pete Huyck, Alex Gregory

I have to hand it to Jason Sudeikis, because he’s a pretty ballsy actor. Anyone who would star in a film called A Good Old Fashioned Orgy has to be. And while this film obviously isn’t going to find a huge audience, there’s some good talent involved. The female cast is comprised of women who are, yes, beautiful, but also actually funny (Lake Bell totally won me over in No Strings Attached). However, the trailer was a bit of a disappointment. Despite the…unique…premise, they seem to be settling for easy laughs. (Limited release)

September 9


Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Starring: Nick Swarsdon, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, Stephen Dorff, Kevin Nealon

Director: Tom Brady

Nick Swarsdon is a fairly funny guy when you see him interviewed, yet he always seems to be in awful movies. He is kind of unappealing and difficult to cast, though, so maybe it makes sense that he would star in a film about a well-endowed “kid” who follows in parents’ path into pornography. I’m really surprised this is actually getting a wide release. I do kind of enjoy that Stephen Dorff is in this movie and playing a character named “Dick Shadow”, though.


Contagion

Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishbourn, Bryan Cranston, John Hawkes

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh’s latest film about the outbreak of a deadly virus has earned major buzz for its star-studded cast (I’m most excited to see Jude Law and John Hawkes). But just as importantly, it looks like a compelling story, though the concept may hit too close to home for some moviegoers. I don’t think it will be a major player at the box office or in awards season, but I imagine Contagion will earn a fanbase nonetheless.


Warrior

Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison

Director: Gavin O’Connor

If there’s one thing we learned at the Cineplex this year, it’s that a movie doesn’t need a slate of A-listers to be successful. Movies such as Insidious, Bridesmaids, and Super 8 didn’t contain a single household name onscreen, yet they all performed well at the box office. And it seems to me that Warrior is poised for similar glory. Co-leads Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton have already earned the respect of critics and also appeared in blockbusters (Hardy made his mark in Inception and Edgerton was in the new Star Wars films), but they haven’t yet claimed the fame to go along with it all. But both are poised for breakthroughs, and Warrior could be the film to get the ball rolling. Warrior doesn’t look like it breaks any new ground, but sports movies are often crowd-pleasers. Nick Nolte has also piqued viewers’ interest as the grizzled veteran fighter. This is a formula that worked very well for The Fighter last year, and I suspect Warrior may also become a slow-building hit.


Beware the Gonzo

Starring: Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Jesse McCartney, Campbell Scott, Amy Sedaris

Thanks to his darkly handsome looks and his upcoming film We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ezra Miller has already earned a rather intense association with his name. But believe it or not, Beware the Gonzo is actually a comedy. In the film, Miller plays an aspiring high school journalist who starts an underground newspaper with his group of misfit friends. I’m all for a film that combines teenage rebellion and print journalism, and judging by the trailer, the film looks potentially promising. (Limited release – currently available in VOD formats)


Tanner Hall

Starring: Rooney Mara, Georgia King, Brie Larson, Amy Ferguson, Tom Everett Scott, Chris Kattan, Amy Sedaris

Director: Francesca Gregorini, Tatiana von Furstenberg

Tanner Hall is actually a couple of years old, but it is just now getting distribution thanks to Rooney Mara’s rising star status. It looks like a harmless coming-of-age tale about life at a girls-only bording school. My expectations aren’t huge, but the trailer has a nice mood about it, and this seems like a film that I will probably enjoy. (Limited release)

September 16


Drive


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston

Director: Nicholas Winding Refn

I know that everyone loves Ryan Gosling, but I don’t know if this movie is going to connect with a huge audience. I think it may end up being a film like The American, which turns out to be less action-packed and more “arty” than a lot of people expect. This is just based on its success at Cannes, so I could be off the mark, but either way, it looks like an interesting film. Gosling plays a Hollwood stunt driver whose night-time gig as a getaway driver becomes complicated when he gets tied up in a heist. The tone of the movie looks moody, and it’s great to see Gosling getting complex roles.

I Don’t Know How She Does It

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pearce Brosnan, Christina Hendricks, Kelsey Grammer

Director: Douglas McGrath

Take a look at this plot synopsis and tell me that this isn’t a completely misogynistic concept for a movie:

“A comedy centered on the life of Kate Reddy, a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids.”

WHAT? How is that the plot of a movie? If the roles were reversed and the film was about a man who provides for his wife and two children, there wouldn’t BE a movie. Last time I checked, many women hold jobs in our society today. If that paper-thin premise is all this film has, then it was made about 50 years too late.


Straw Dogs

Starring: Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Alexander Skarsgard

Director: Rod Lurie

Maybe I’m just imagining things, but it seems like I have been hearing about this damn movie FOREVER. It’s where Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard met and started a serious relationship, and they have since broken up. But anyways, this is based on the 1971 Dustin Hoffman film, and right down to the posters, it looks like a lazy remake. But if you want to watch Alexander Skarsgard ride around in a pickup and terrorize James Marsden and Kate Bosworth, be my guest.


Restless

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Harry Hopper, Shuyler Fisk

Director: Gus Van Sant

I’m interested in any film made by Gus Van Sant (Milk, My Own Private Idaho) but this story of two teens falling in love especially catches my interest. As the trailer reveals, Wasikowska’s character is terminally ill, and Hopper’s character has a penchant for crashing funerals, so all of this could lead to a sappy, overly-cutesy weepy. But I have a lot of faith in Van Sant, and at the very least, this should at least be a visually beautiful film. (Limited release)

September 23


Abduction

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Sigourney Weaver

Director: John Singleton

When I was a tween, I read a book called The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney. In the book, a teen girl spots her on own mug on a milk carton, claiming her to be a “missing child”. From there, she has to revaluate her entire childhood, and uncover who the people who claim to be her parents actually are. This is basically the premise of Abduction, a film which has the misfortune of starring Taylor Lautner. However, I do like Lily Collins, and the film has a very interesting supporting cast (can Jason Isaacs just be in every film?). The Face on the Milk Carton was a book that really stuck with me at that age, so if this film is lucky, it may find a similar appeal for today’s youngsters.


Dolphin Tale

Starring: Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson

Director: Charles Martin Smith

I’m not going to trash this film sight unseen, because I’m sure it’s a heart-warming film, and if I was 10 years old, I would be the first in line to see it. It has a charming cast, and if the director handles the material right (and how far wrong can you go with a film about a boy who befriends an injured dolphin?), it will probably be decent family fare.


Moneyball


Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Director: Bennett Miller

Brad Pitt hasn’t had a true “vehicle” film since Benjamin Button, so it will be kind of nice to see him back in all of his swaggering, heroic glory. This time he plays the manager of a struggling baseball team who turns to technology to draft his ideal players. Normally, I would want to fall asleep after hearing that premise, but I’m giving Moneyball the benefit of the doubt for two key reasons. First of all, it was written by Aaron Sorkin, whose last project – The Social Network – won him an Oscar. As well, it was directed by Bennett Miller, who added some real visual flare to his last project, Capote.

Killer Elite

Cast: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert DeNiro

Director: Gary McKendry

Jason Statham has been making the same film for ten years (with the notable exception of Gnomeo & Juliet), and I never watch any of them (the only movie of his that I’ve seen is The Italian Job). Things probably won’t change with The Killer Elite, despite the fact that it co-stars Clive Owen (who has strangely been getting a bit typecast himself recently) with a villainous moustache. Throw in Robert DeNiro as a kidnapped mentor that Statham has to rescue, and you’ve got a pretty impressive cast. Yet this film is only getting a limited release, perhaps due to its first-time director. It’ll turn out to be surprisingly good, or completely forgettable.


Machine Gun Preacher

Cast: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan,

Director: Marc Forster

Clive Owen used to be the guy who got the good roles, while his twin, Gerard Butler (am I the only one who confuses them?), toiled in action snoozers and rom-coms. But it seems like the tables will turn this week at the cinemas. Gerry’s all grown up, you guys! In fact, he’s even gaining serious Oscar buzz for his role as a reformed biker who turns his efforts towards saving African child soldiers. But my question is this: am I bad person for rolling my eyes every time I hear about this movie? When I first heard the title, I thought it was some kind of tongue-in-cheek Machete-esque flick, and the poster could be much more obvious. I’m sure the filmmakers’ intentions were very good, but this whole movie just smacks of overly-earnest, “important” filmmaking to me (see also: The Reader). Is the “bad-boy-turned-saviour” genre the new “nice white lady” movie? (Limited release)


Red State


Cast: Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun, John Goodman, Melissa Leo

Director: Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith has been busy hyping Red State in a cross-continent tour, so a lot has already been said about this movie. But for those who don’t know, it’s the story of three boys who (during a search for sex gone horribly wrong) are basically abducted by members of a fundamentalist church. This is clearly a movie designed spark controversy and discussion, but it also looks like really entertaining filmmaking. If the trailer looks like something you’d enjoy, check the film out in one of the many formats that it will be available in (as well as a limited release, I believe the movie will also be available on-demand). (Limited release)

September 30

50/50


Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Houston

Director: Jonathan Levine

Whether or not the world is prepared for it, we’re getting a cancer comedy. And it’s getting a wide release, surprisingly. But seriously, this does look like a well-handled, affectionate dramedy. And if any young actor can pull it off, it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s brilliant at both comedy and drama, and he’ll certainly have to balance the two here. Anna Kendrick is also an appealing as Levitt’s therapist, and Seth Rogan (who’s getting surprisingly serious lately) should provide an extra comedic touch.


Dream House

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts

Director: Jim Sheridan

Jim Sheridan is a solid director (I really liked last 2009’s Brothers) so I have a bit more faith in what looks like a glossy Hollywood mystery/thriller. It also features some good actors. But from the poster to the plot description (a family moves into a new house and learns about the violence committed against former residents) it seems pretty typical. There could be more to it, though, and to be fair, I haven’t watched the trailer yet, as I heard it was rather spoiler-y.


What’s Your Number?

Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Joel McHale, Zachary Quinto, Andy Samberg, Anthony Mackie, Martin Freeman

Director: Mark Mylod

Everything about this film looks utterly predictable, yet it’s still kind of appealing to me. I think Faris is a really, really talented comedic actress, so it’s always nice to see her get leading roles. And Chris Evans (who has been growing on me a lot as an actor) seems utterly charming, judging by the trailer. I also love a lot of the actors playing Faris’ long line of “exes”. The film looks mediocre (it even has a cheap look to it, to be honest), but I think the comedic talent involved will elevate the material.


Margaret

Starring: Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Allison Janney, Matthew Broderick, Kieran Culkin, Olivia Thirlby

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Kenneth Lonergan first feature was the heart-warming and acclaimed 2000 film You Can Count on Me. Now, over ten year later, his next project will finally see the light of day. The film, which stars Paquin as a woman who witnesses a horrific bus accident, has been in development for years. It’s also the final film produced by Sydney Pollock and Anthony Minghella (who both passed away in 2008) to be released. The director alone is enough to get me interested, and the cast seals the deal. Long delays are never a good sign when it comes to the quality of a film, but I’m willing to give Margaret the benefit of the doubt. (Limited release)


Take Shelter

Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Wingham

Director: Jeff Nichols

I like to think of Another Earth, Take Shelter, and Melancholia as a doomsday-eque, sci-fi-twinged trio. And I’m not sure what it says about me that I’m hotly anticipating all of them. But anyways, in Take Shelter, Michael Shannon plays a man who is haunted by apocalyptic visions and becomes obsessed with building a shelter in his backyard. If anyone can pull off a teetering, volatile character, it’s Shannon, who’s proven his talent for playing characters on the edge in films like Revolutionary Road and The Runaways. It’s a fascinating concept, and the trailer looks just as off-kilter and freaky as you’d expect. (Limited release)

Trailer Alert: Jude Law Edition

A number of high-profile trailers have been released in the past few days, so it seemed like a fitting time for rundown of what we can expect to see in the coming months. That is, a lot of Jude Law.

Contagion

Release Date: September 9, 2011

Contagion looks a bit different from what I expected. I thought it would be more of a contained story about the scientists trying to stop the disease. But I am totally down for this sweeping, borderline-apocalyptic thriller. Aside from what seems to be a pretty major spoiler about a character death (I’m sure it happens early in the film, but still), I really like the trailer. I’m not a big Soderbergh fan, but this might be the film that turns it around for me. Law and Damon seem to be going “big” with their performances, but I imagine that will fit better in context. And Hawkes looks great, even just from his one line in the trailer. This looks like a good ol’ fashioned thriller with a top-notch cast, and that exactly what I want it to be.

Hugo

Release Date: November 23, 2011

Not to be a complete Negative Nancy, but I can’t help but think that this looks lame. Like, really lame. I know it’s based on a kid’s book and is largely aimed at kids, but I was expecting more from a Scorsese film. Not all of his films have to be The Departed, but I thought this would have a little more heft to it. Instead, it seems overly focused on the special effects, which seem copious. Though I was invested at first (partly thanks to Jude Law’s kindly presence), the trailer quickly became a numbing, frenzied mess of CGI. A little “whimsy” goes a long way for me in movies. And though I normally like Sascha Baron Cohen, his character is already annoying me. It looks like a poor man’s Harry Potter. But hopefully Hugo is better than the trailer looks.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Release Date: December 16, 2011

Even though Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are two of my favourite actors, I was a bit underwhelmed with the first Sherlock Holmes movie. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t that…good, either. And it looks like more of the same for the sequel. The trailer doesn’t offer much that is new or interesting (but man, it could sure use some more super slo-mo, right?). I don’t know, it looks okay, I guess, but I just don’t have much to say about it. And are we really reusing the exact same joke again at the end of the trailer? Between this and The Hangover II I’m getting some serious 2009 film-related amnesia this year.

John Carter

Release Date: March 9, 2012

There are a lot of things that I like about Friday Night Lights. But if I had to pick the most watchable aspect of the show, it would definitely be Taylor Kitsch as the brooding, oddly multifaceted ne’er-do-well, Tim Riggins. So it’s fun to see him get a leading role in The Prince of Persia John Carter. That said, I have no idea what to make of this movie. The trailer was interesting, in a bizarre, hard-to-follow kind of way. IMDB tells me the following: “Civil War vet John Carter is transplanted to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians.” It also tells me that Samantha Morton, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Chuch, Mark Strong (gee, do you think he’s playing a villain?), and Willem Defoe are in this movie, yet I spotted NONE of them in the trailer. But I’m still very intrigued by this. It could be an incoherent, overly serious mess of CGI, but moments in the trailer seemed legitimately epic and impressive.

ALSO: I just realised that John Carter is the first live-action film by Wall-E and Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton. Those were two of Pixar’s most visually dazzling films, so that kind of explains visual scope that we see here. I am even more hopeful now.

The Thing

Release Date: October 14

Monster movies are always in style, so it makes sense that they would reboot another franchise. This time, it’s The Thing, and it stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom). I’m not a big horror fan, but The Thing actually looks better than I expected. It certainly doesn’t appear to offer anything new, but the whole “who among us isn’t human?” premise is often entertaining. Winstead seems to be a capable leading lady here, and I’m always intrigued by Edgerton (though he didn’t have much to do in the trailer other than look concerned). I won’t be rushing out to see it, but The Thing looks like it could potentially be a cut above the usual horror fare.

The Ultimate 2011 Movie Guide

You know all of those “most anticipated” lists that are out around this time? And you know how they all just have the year’s biggest blockbusters (Thor, Transformers 3, etc.) in varying order? Well, this list is different. It’s a mix of all different genres and sizes of movies (yes, including some blockbusters). I always find it interesting to look back at the movies that I was excited about. Because all it takes is a bad trailer and/or poor reviews to make me completely lose interest a lot of the time. So here’s a look at 50 films in 2011 that I’m excited for, in a very rough order.

1. The Tree of Life

Release Date: May 27

Director: Terrence Malick

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn

The plot description is vague (something about a loss of innocence), but the trailer suggests that artistry takes precedence over plot. Director Terrence Malick (whose past films include The New World, Badlands, and The Thin Red Line) takes his time to make meditative films, and hopefully it will be worth the wait.

2. Contagion

Release Date: October 21

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Demetri Martin, Bryan Cranston, Elliott Gould You can’t argue with that cast. The sci-fi storyline about scientists stopping a killer virus may not lend itself to such A-list star power, but with Soderbergh at the helm, it’s bound to be a cut above the usual genre fair.  

 

3. On the Road

Release Date: TBA

Director: Walter Salles

Cast: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Sturridge, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Steve Buscemi, Elizabeth Moss

This long-gestating adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s famous novel has a top-notch cast with some of my personal favourite current actors. Adapting such a huge book is always a challenge, but if they can pull it off, this could be a hugely popular film.

4. Young Adult

Release Date: TBA

Director: Jason Reitman

Cast: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt

I love Jason Reitman as a director, and I love him even more when he teams up with screenwriter Diablo Cody. Charlize Theron stars as a divorced writer hoping to reconnect with a now married old flame (I’m guessing that’s Patrick Wilson’s character?). Even with that vague plot, the names attached make me thing that this might be a romantic dramedy that’s actually good.

5. X-Men: First Class

Release Date: June 3

Director: Matthew Vaughan

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Lucas Till, Oliver Platt, Caleb Landry Jones

What is with the amazing casts this year? Hopefully they don’t disappoint, as these monster casts sometimes do (hi, Nine!). I could see this one going either way, but Matthew Vaughan (Kick-Ass) is a fun director, and with the actors attached, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it on some level. The trailer looks like promising, if not fairly standard, superhero fare.  

 

6. Ceremony

Release Date: April 8

Director: Max Winkler

Cast: Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Reece Thompson, Lee Pace

It earned strong reviews at TIFF, and Max Winkler’s directorial debut looks like a charming and funny coming-of-age tale. Angarano and Thompson have been deserving of a breakthrough role for years, and even if this isn’t the vehicle to rocket them to the big time, it’s refreshing to see some of Hollywood’s truly talented young actors get a chance to show off their acting chops.

7. Beginners

Release Date: June 3

Director: Mike Mills

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent

McGregor is always a joy to watch on screen, and it’s an added bonus when his movies are actually good. His career seems to be on the upswing again, and this modest little story about a man dealing with his father’s late-life coming out looks like charming fun, with a dollop of melancholy.

 

8. Restless

Release Date: TBA

Director: Gus Van Sant

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Henry Hopper, Schuyler Fisk, Jane Adams

I would be slightly dubious about the “quirky” plot (“a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals”) if it wasn’t in such good hands. From his big-name fare (Good Will Hunting, Milk) to his artiest, least comprehensible work (Paranoid Park) Gus Van Sant is always an interesting director. The trailer makes it look like one of his more mainstream efforts, but Restless also appears to have Van Sant’s unique touch that makes me very excited.

 

9. Jane Eyre

Release Date: March 11

Director: Carey Fukunaga

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins, Judi Dench, Imogen Poots

It looks like it’s going to be a big year for both Wasikowska and Fassbender, and this sweeping adaptation of the classic Charlotte Bronte novel will likely give both their careers even more of a boost. Potentially overwrought but certain to be well-shot, the best-case scenario for Jane Eyre would be something along the lines of a darker version of 2005’s Pride & Prejudice.

10. Super 8

Release Date

Director: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka

After a completely esoteric teaser and an only slightly more telling Superbowl spot, I still don’t really know what Super 8 is about. But I have faith in J.J. Abrams after Lost and the Star Trek reboot. Elle Fanning is a young actress who I surprisingly really like, and I loved seeing Kyle Chandler (who will always be Coach Taylor to me) being a badass in the trailer. 

  • And 60+ More to Look Forward To…
    Potentially Hilarious Comedies
    There are few things that I enjoy more than a big, dumb comedy, if it’s done well. And, like most years before it, 2011 has a number of potential winners (most of which are bound to disappoint)

    • The most anticipated comedy of the year is probably The Hangover: Part II. But is a sequel really necessary?
    • Thanks to the first Hangover outing, The Office‘s Ed Helms gets his own film with Cedar Rapids.
    • And in a film that could be this year’s Hangover, three of the funniest dudes working today (Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day) compare Horrible Bosses. Oh yeah, and Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jamie Foxx are along for the ride, too
    • David Gordon Green, who proved his comedy chops with Pineapple Express, and now he has a medieval stoner flick (with James Franco, no less!), Your Highness, and a baby-sitting-stint-gone-awry comedy, The Sitter (starring Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, Ari Graynor, and Max Records), on the docket for 2011.
    • The ladies (in this case, Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Maya Rudolph, and Ellie Kemper) finally get a chance to be funny in an Apatow-produced comedy in Bridesmaids.
    • Capitalizing on the horror/comedy genre that 2009’s Zombieland explored to great effect, director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) brings Anton Yelchin (one of this year’s hottest commodities), Colin Farrell, and David Tennant along for a remake of 1985’s Fright Night
    • Speaking of Zombieland, director Ruben Fleischer and star Jesse Eisenberg team up again for the caper comedy, 30 Minutes or Less. With a supporting cast that includes Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson, it seems like a sure-fire laughfest…right?
    • And speaking of great casts, The Big Year stars Rashida Jones, Jim Parsons, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Rosamund Pike, Steve Martin, Joel McHale, Dianne Wiest, and Anjelica Huston in a comedy about bird-watching.

    And what would the year be without a few star-studded rom-coms? Most of them sound exactly the same, but there are a few with a glimmer of hope.

    • Crazy Stupid Love offers the heavenly combination of Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone in a film about a struggling father trying to reconnect with his family.
    • Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd reteam thirteen years after The Object of My Affection for Wanderlust
    • And while I’m not a huge fan of multi-story rom-coms, What’s Your Number? stars Anna Farris as a woman recalling her past twenty (yes, twenty) relationships. And with a supporting cast that includes Andy Samberg, Joel McHale, Chris Pratt, Zachary Quinto, Chris Evans, Mike Vogel, Ari Graynor, and Thomas Lennon, even I can’t help but be excited.
    • Oh, and I kind of like Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as actors, so I’m sort of excited for Friends With Benefits. So sue me.

     

    Shit Gets Serious

    Depressing Dramas!

    • Alright, this isn’t a depressing drama, but Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo is a mix of comedy and drama, and it stars Matt Damon, Elle Fanning, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Hayden Church and Patrick Fugit (yay!). The title kind of says it all.
    • Director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me) meditates on the aftermath of a bus crash in Margaret, which has an impressive cast of Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Kieran Culkin, Olivia Thirlby, Krysten Ritter, Allison Janey, and Rosemarie DeWitt
    • The Iceman delves into the life of infamous killer Richard Kulinski, and it stars James Franco, Benecio Del Toro, and Michael Shannon
    • Imagine a movie that stars Cillian Murphy, Michael Fassbender, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and Colin Farrell. Well, this film might actually exist. At-Swim-Two-Birds is an Irish film based on an Irish novel directed by a respected Irish actor (Brendan Gleeson). And it’s going to be amazing, if it ever gets made (IMDB still lists it as in pre-production. Why must you tease us so?)
    • The Lucky One is a stupid-sounding movie based on a stupid-sounding book by a stupid author, but I will watch it and probably secretly really enjoy it because it stars stupid Zac Efron.

    Period Pieces!

    • Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Gary Oldman make a fetching trio in Cold War thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
    • Michelle Williams, Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne explore the life of Marilyn Monroe in the appropriately titled My Week With Marilyn
    • Frued and Jung face off in A Dangerous Method, which stars Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley
    • Cross-dressing in 19th century Ireland is made cool in Albert Nobbs. Glenn Close takes the titular role, while Mia Wasikowska, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and Aaron Johnson make for a enticing supporting cast.
    • Teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson plays a social climber at the turn of the last century alongside Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, and Kristen Scott Thomas in Bel Ami

    Sci-Fi!

    • Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew Bomer, and Johnny Galecki deal with the troublesome effects of anti-aging in
      Now (by Gattaca director Andrew Niccol)
    • Clive Owen and Daniel Bruhl (stars of my own personal dreams) come together for a supernatural thriller about clairvoyant children in Intruders
    • Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby , and Max Minghella escape an alien attack in The Darkest Hour
    • The infamously punishing Lars Von Trier guides Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Kiefer Sutherland through Melancholia, a thriller about Earth being on collision course with another planet.

    Action Movies!

    • Remember when Steven Soderbergh cast Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experiment? That sort of made sense as an experimental piece. Now he’s taking a somewhat similar risk by casting non-actor and fighter Gina Carano as the lead in Haywire. But this time she’s backed by a cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Angarano, and Bill Paxton in this story of a black ops soldier out for revenge. This is either going to be amazing or awful.
    • Tower Heist. Pros: It stars Casey Affleck and Ben Stiller, and it was written by Noah Baumbach. Cons: It was directed by Brett Ratner (director of the only X-Men movie that I disliked, and heartless conspirator against the precious Hugh Jackman), stars Eddie Murphy, and has a completely boring, generic-sounding story (some Ponzi scheme heist thing). I’m hoping the good outweighs the bad, though. It is Noah Baumbach, after all.
    • Driver explores the high-flying life of a stunt driver, starring Ryan Gosling and It Girl Carey Mulligan
    • Matt Damon plays a man on the run from unknown forces with Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau

     

    Blockbusters

    • As someone who grew up with Harry Potter, it pretty much goes without saying that I am excited for the final movie chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
    • Scorsese goes three dimensional with the highly anticpated Hugo Cabret. This adaptation of the children’s book stars Chloe Moretz, Michael Pitt, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Sascha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, and A Serious Man‘s Michael Stuhlbarg.
    • David Fincher is on a roll, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, his adaptation of the massively popular Swedish book, is bound to be stylish and intense.

     

    Indies

    Sundance

    • Director Drake Doremus (Douchebag) earned huge acclaim at Sundance for his long-distance romance/coming-of-age story, Like Crazy (starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Twilight‘s Charlie Bewley, and Chris Messina)
    • One of the other break-out films of the festival was Martha Marcy May Marlene, which stars Elizabeth Olsen (sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) as a young woman dealing with her escape from a cult. The top-notch supporting cast includes John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy, and Brady Corbet.
    • Paul Rudd steps behind the camera again with his rom-com-dram My Idiot Brother, and gets some help from Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Rashida Jones, TJ Miller, and Adam Scott on screen.
    • Fundamentalism is this year’s whipping boy at the movies (seriously, did you see how many Sundance films took on religion this year?), and The Ledge is apparently a battle of wills between a Christian and an atheist that involves a man on the ledge of a very tall building. It stars Charlie Hunman (Sons of Anarchy), Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, and Terrence Howard.
    • Kevin Smith’s own statement on fundamentalism takes the form of a horror film in Red State, which stars John Goodman and Michael Angarano.
    • The Details (starring Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, and Tobey Maguire) has a bizarre plot about raccoons, but since it is director Jacob Aaron Estes follow-up to Mean Creek, I can’t help but be intrigued
    • J.K. Simmons gets a much-deserved lead role, and Lou Taylor Pucci stars as his son with a memory-blocking tumour in The Music Never Stopped. It looks like a nice meditation on family, and the power of music.

    TIFF Holdovers

    • Peep World
      (which I somehow managed to completely miss hearing about up until now) looks like a funny, slightly Arrested Development-esque comedy about a family who feels betrayed when the youngest brother uses them as material for his novel. And did I mention that it stars Michael C. Hall, Rainn Wilson, Judy Greer, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson, and Kate Mara? Yeah, that too.
    • The Conspirator‘s cast alone (Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Evan Rachel Wood, The Greatest’s Johnny Simmons, Alexis Bledel, Jonathan Groff, Justin Long, Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, etc.) is awesome, and the story, which revolves around the assassination of Lincoln, sounds intriguing
    • I didn’t love Kelly Reichardt’s previous effort, Wendy and Lucy, but I did respect it, and I’m interested to see her next project with Michelle Williams (supporting cast includes Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, and Zoe Kazan)
    • Last Night
      looks like a lush warning against the pitfalls of love and excess, and the cast (Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet) is certainly easy on the eyes.
    • Will Farrell gets semi-serious as man whose life is falling apart in Everything Must Go

    Yet to Screen

    • Jay and Mark Duplass let Jason Segel into their mumblecore world with the decidedly low-concept comedy Jeff Who Lives At Home
    • Sarah Polley directs herself, Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan, and Sarah Silverman in a drama called Take This Waltz
    • Jay Baruchel, Sean William Scott, Liev Schreiber, and Allison Pill celebrate hockey in Goon
    • Cancer is made kind of funny (?) in Live With It, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man diagnosed with cancer (supporting cast includes Seth Rogan, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, and Phillip Baker Hall)