I’m almost done looking back at 2010, and at the same time, I’ve already begun to look forward to 2011. Greg Ellwood and I put together a look at 30 of the most anticipated films for next year, but in doing so, there were many more that we ended up cutting that are still worth anticipating. If you reach January 1st and you’re already excited about more than 30 films, that’s great. But you factor in at least 30 more that I’m curious about, and I’d say we’re starting off 2011 in a very good place.
There were some big titles we didn’t include in the preview gallery, including “Pirates Of The Carribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Transformers: The Dark Of The Moon,” and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” and that’s mainly because typing those three titles out in full takes seven and a half hours. Good god, 2011 is the year of the big giant sequel subtitle, evidently. And while I find it hard to get wildly excited about part four of much of anything at this point, each of those has something that’s got me intrigued. I’m curious if they can reinvent the “Pirates” franchise with Sparrow at the center instead of supporting the main story. I’m curious to see if Michael Bay’s use of 3D sends more people to the hospital than the “127 Hours” arm scene. And I’m curious to see what Brad Bird does in live-action, and how many more tall buildings they can find to hang Tom Cruise off of.
Stuff like “The Hangover Part II” and “Scream 4” are going to end up part of the conversation no matter what. I was really interested in “Rise Of The Apes” when it was still Scott Frank making it and it was called “Caesar,” but while that disappoints me, I am curious to see what Rupert Wyatt, the director of “The Escapist,” makes of the material. I wish it wasn’t a prequel, but what can you do? That’s like wishing I breathed nitrogen instead of oxygen. Sequels and prequels and remakes are everywhere these days, and we had some of them in our most anticipated breakdown.
But if I get truly fatigued by that stuff, that’s my own fault, because there’s always original work out there, and this year, there are plenty of originals worth being excited about.
For example, Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” is coming, which automatically makes 2011 exciting. I’m going out of my way to know as little as possible about this one before it comes out. Would you believe I still haven’t seen the trailer? I’d love to make it to the first screening of the film knowing almost nothing beyond the general sense that it’s about a boy’s early lessons in life growing up in Texas in the ’50s and it stars Brad Pitt. Let’s see how successful I am at that.
Ruben Fleischer was one of the names in the running for the “Mission Impossible” directing job, but in the end, he decided to follow up “Zombieland” with “30 Minutes Or Less,” the comic adventures of a pizza delivery guy, and he ended up with Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Fred Ward, Michael Pena, and Aziz Ansari along for the ride. And of course McBride’s always got “Your Highness” coming out this year as well, and I’m pretty much crazy to lay eyes on that one ASAP.
All sorts of things get me interested in upcoming movies. There are any number of reasons to be excited. Alexander Payne was poised to be one of the biggest names in the business after the heat of “Sideways,” and then it just didn’t happen. It’s exciting to see that he’s working with George Clooney for his first major gig in a while, “The Descendents,” about a man trying to decide what to do with his family’s ancestral land in Hawaii. Reuniting Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody for the first time since “Juno” means “Young Adult” is going to be under a microscope when it lands, and it’s got a great cast including Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Collette Wolfe, and Patton Oswalt. I know the RZA loves kung-fu. All you have to do is listen to the work of Wu-Tang Clan to know that. But can that love translate into something tangible with his film, “The Man With The Iron Fist”? For “Battle: Los Angeles,” the question is how many alien invasion movies are too many at one time, and can theirs be the one that breaks through? Or will it be “Apollo 18” that does it? Finally, I’m dying to see if we finally get a look at “Cabin In The Woods,” “Red Dawn,” or “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” this year. All three sound like fun, and all three have been shelved for a while for various reasons. Come on, Hollywood… set them free.
Let’s spitball some other titles that are coming that are of note:
“A Dangerous Method”
WHY: It’s David Cronenberg telling the story of the battle of ideologies between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). Sounds awesome.
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
WHY: It’s a great spy novel, one of the best in the genre, and it’s the first film for director Thomas Alfredson since “Let The Right One In.” Look at the cast he’s got… Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, and Stephen Graham. This could be one of the best pedigrees for any film this year.
“Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights”
WHY: Yes, these stories have been told many times, but when you add filmmakers like Cary Fukunaga and Andrea Arnold to the mix, suddenly there’s something fresh about the perspective, and suddenly, it makes a lot of sense to tell the stories again. “Eyre” has Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, a powerhouse team-up to be sure, and “Heights” features an unknown cast, which could be exactly right with Arnold calling the shots.
“We Need To Talk About Kevin”
WHY: Because Lynne Ramsay is a fantastic filmmaker, and the book she’s working from here could give Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly some of the best roles of their careers
WHY: Simon Pegg. Nick Frost. On the road with a very dirty E.T. At the very least, this is the geekiest film set for release this year, and early screening buzz is very, very good.
“Take This Waltz”
WHY: Sarah Polley is a great young actor, but also a promising writer/director, and she’s behind the camera for this one with a cast that includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Sarah Silverman. Sounds good to us.
WHY: Dwayne vs Vin. All those cars. And Elsa Pataky. Trust me, guys. Google her.
WHY: If you haven’t seen “Timecrimes,” you’ve missed out on one of the best genre debuts in recent memory. Vigalondo has become the unofficial mascot of Fantastic Fest, but his Clown Prince public persona is deceptive. He’s a smart filmmaker with a dark, wicked sensibility, and if he’s dealing with alien invasion this year, I have a feeling budget isn’t going to be the thing that determines which alien movie is the best one this year.
WHY: This one’s gone through a number of titles during production, but what you need to remember is that Andrew Niccol is one of those big-idea screenwriters who could easily knock it out of the park. Olivia Wilde, Johnny Galecki, Cillian Murphy, Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timerlake, and a whole ton of other young Hollywood stars are part of this one, which sounds like a cross between “Logan’s Run” and “The Truman Show.”
And there’s more beyond that. I want to see Emma Stone in “The Help.” I want to see what Craig Brewer did with “Footloose.” I want to see if the Farrelly Brothers pull it together for “Hall Pass.” I want to see how f’ing crazy “Ghost Rider 2” ends up being. I want to see if “The Adjustment Bureau” is good or bad Dick. I have my fingers crossed that “Cars 2” improves on the original, which is one of the few of the Pixar films that I just can’t warm up to, no matter how much my kids love it, and I hope Disney knocks their throwback hand-animated “Winnie The Pooh” out of the ballpark, because I have a special fondness for those films and books. I hope Dreamworks Animation is able to make lightning strike twice with “Kung-Fu Panda 2,” and I’m always open to the work of Lars Von Trier, whose “Melancholia” should be showing up at Cannes, and the fact that I listed those two films in one sentence shows you just how big and strange a range of films I’m looking forward to in the coming year. That’s what I love about this job… when you’re writing about this many types of totally different things, it’s always fresh. It’s always fun. This job is a privilege, and I enter every new year full of hope, curious about what experiences I have ahead, and sure of one thing: no matter how much time I spend digging into the year ahead of time, there will be plenty of surprises.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.