New year, new movies to look forward to. Last year I stuck to movies that were guaranteed a U.S. release, but this year I’m branching back out because, hey, that’s just how I feel like doing it in 2011. I also couldn’t narrow my list down to 10, so I’m giving you 12, which took enough effort in and of itself. (If you’re keeping track, they’re in order of U.S. release, and then alphabetical after that.)
Writer: John Logan / Director: Gore Verbinski
If this film is half as fun as the behind-the-scenes featurette, I’ll be well-pleased. It’s a fish-out-of-water story about a chameleon with dreams of being a swashbuckling hero falling into a situation where he actually has to pretend to be one. The animation looks bright and unique, and the film feels like it has a little bit of a FIEVEL GOES WEST tone to the whole thing, which is a very good thing in my book.
Writers: Nick Frost & Simon Pegg / Director: Greg Mottola
Honestly, if this weren’t Nick Frost & Simon Pegg, I’d probably be a lot less interested. The premise of two British comic-book geeks finding an alien outside Area 51 strikes me in about the same way as those for HOT FUZZ and SHAUN OF THE DEAD did. They didn’t sound particularly bad; they just didn’t really sound like something I wanted to run out and see. And then I saw them and learned that I was crazy, because both those movies are awesome. I’m hoping PAUL will prove much the same.
Writer: Kevin Williamson / Director: Wes Craven
The original SCREAM was one of the first horror movies to make a dent in my psyche, and it’s probably my favorite of the genre of all time because of its ability to balance satire and horror without becoming farce. The sequels didn’t fare so well in that endeavor. But it’s been 15 years since we first met Sydney Prescott, and there should be plenty of fresh material to mine. Here’s hoping anyway.
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
Writer: Richard LaGravenese / Director: Francis Lawrence
Based on Sara Gruen’s novel (which, interestingly, started out as a NaNoWriMo novel), this film looks like it’s got a bit of a BIG FISH feel to it. The trailer suggests it’ll be a visually stunning film, and it’ll be nice to see Robert Pattinson breaking out of his TWILIGHT role with something other than indie melodrama (not to mention Christopher Waltz getting the opportunity to chew some villainous scenery again).
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES
Writers: Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio / Director: Rob Marshall
I seem to be in the minority who actually thought the third installment of the Pirates franchise was pretty decent. That being said, it seems like they’re getting back to the simpler, adventure-story roots of the first film, with Captains Jack and Barbossa on a quest for the fountain of youth. I’ll watch Johnny Depp in anything, and as a big fan of the franchise, I’m pretty optimistic about this one.
Writers: Tom Hanks & Nia Vardalos / Director: Tom Hanks
While the story itself (that of a man who loses his job and then reinvents himself by going back to college) feels fairly standard, it’s the people behind it that make this a movie I’m really looking forward to seeing. I always love seeing Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts on screen, and this feels like a good (if potentially predictable) choice for them to do what they do best: humorous and heartwarming.
HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
Writer: Steve Kloves / Director: David Yates
First off, is this poster intense or what? Geez. Anyway, as a fan of both the books and movies, there’s no way this wasn’t going to be on my list. The franchise really is nothing less than a phenomenon, and seeing how both the films and actors have grown in maturity and talent has been fascinating. I’m almost sorry to see the franchise end, but I’m also excited to see what Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint do next.
Writers: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller / Director: James Bobin
The puppet rock opera in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL convinced me that Jason Segel was the perfect person to write the next Muppets movie. And then Hollywood read my mind, and all was well. There’s a very MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN feel to this story, which centers on the Muppets’ biggest fan convincing them to come out of retirement to save their old theatre. Feels perfect for their return to the big screen.
Writer: John Logan / Director: Martin Scorcese
A film based on a whimsical children’s mystery novel about an orphan living inside the walls of a 1930s Paris train station is perhaps the very last project I would have guessed for Scorcese, and that makes me very excited about it.
A DANGEROUS METHOD
Writer: Christopher Hampton (play) / Director: David Cronenberg
Any reteaming of David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen’s going to catch my attention, and there’s no denying that Sigmund Freud is one of the more fascinating individuals in the history of the world. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the story.
Writers: Ben Bond, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Simon Maxwell / Director: Nick Hamm
Based on the true story of music journalist Neil McCormick, who dreamt of becoming a global rock star with his brother — problem being that they were competing directly with their schoolmates, who went on to become U2. This film looks almost like a mash-up of ALMOST FAMOUS meets SPINAL TAP. The costumes alone look hilarious and horrifying, and the snippets of music I’ve heard suggest this soundtrack will also get a fair amount of play on my iPod this year. Perhaps not quite what Mr. McCormick had in mind in his youth, but having your life made into a movie (even one that’s all about taking the piss out of you) can’t be all bad.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK
Writer: Jane Goldman / Director: James Watkins
I saw the stage adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel twice this past year — once on each of my trips to London. Having read the screenplay for the upcoming film, I can say that they are really two entirely different beasts. While it’s not really anything like the stage play I love so much, I think the film will shape up to be a good, solid mood-spooky-horror film, in the vein of THE OTHERS or THE ORPHANAGE.
That’s it for me. What movies are you all looking forward to in 2011?