Twelve (other) upcoming movies to get you excited for 2011!
Every year we compile a list of the ten or twenty-something movies we're looking forward to in the year ahead. But mostly the list is just comprised of the biggest "name" movies of the year. As I set out to prepare the 2011 list, I didn't just want to do another list of superhero movies because we all know that we're excited for THOR, GREEN LANTERN or CAPTAIN AMERICA. And frankly I've been let down by a lot of the big-budget summer sequels. So instead I'm compiling a list of some other movies to get you excited about 2011.
These are movies that are flying under the radar, may not be based on existing material, not sequels but otherwise movies we're really looking forward to. You'll see no COWBOYS & ALIENS, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES or MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL and that's not to say that we're not excited to see them or that they won't be good movies, but that we're making ourselves a New Years Resolution to look forward to something a little different in 2011.
You may have gotten your fill of teenage girl assassins in KICK-ASS but while that film's Hit Girl was played primarily for kicks, the titular heroine in Hanna (played by Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan) isn't smiling. She's a killing machine, trained with one mission and sent out in the world to accomplish just that. The trailer looks at equal times suspenseful, action-packed and beautiful and made me forget all about any comparisons to KICK-ASS.
Coincidentally enough, YOUR HIGHNESS was on my list of Most Anticipated Films of 2010. But halfway through the year Universal pushed the film back form its planned October release to April of this year and that extra few months hasn't dampened my enthusiasm at all. In fact, it's only heightened after seeing the red-band trailer that glimpses of minotaurs, weed-smoking puppets, wizards and Natalie Portman in a thong.
THE TREE OF LIFE
We only first saw any footage from Terrence Malick's THE TREE OF LIFE just last month as BLACK SWAN hit theaters but even without any footage, I'm fairly certain any Terrence Malick film would be highly anticipated. The particulars of this story - Brad Pitt plays the overbearing father to a young boy, played as a grown-up by Sean Penn - are known but beyond that there's rumors of dinosaurs and traveling back to the dawn of time. We don't really know what to expect and it's that mystery that proves the most intriguing.
It's strange that a movie would have a trailer but no official synopsis, images, release date or other promotional material but such is the mysterious world of writer/director JJ Abrams. Purportedly the story of an escaped alien/monster from Area 51 and the havoc it wreaks on a small town, Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg will keep us guessing for as long as they possibly can and that's just the way I like it.
Ostensibly a modern remake of ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, this Jonah Hill comedy manages to be much more than that. Yes, it's about a babysitter (played by Hill) who's in over his head trying to keep an eye on a family of kids while out in the big city, but with David Gordon Green (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) directing, you know that's barely scratching the surface. There's the whorish 9-year-old girl, the plot to deliver cocaine and an angry drug dealer played by Sam Rockwell. What more do you need to know?
RANGO could be just another attempt to hone in on the lucrative animated market but there's something very different about this film. There's the mysterious giant, floating goldfish. OK, two very different things. RANGO was actually completely acted out by its cast (Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy and Abigail Breslin among them) with stages, costumes and props prior to animation. So somewhere out there director Gore Verbinski (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) has a live-action version of this animated movie. It's a fascinating way to direct an animated film and that, combined with the western tale of a chameleon, has me hooked.
I'd follow VALHALLA RISING and BRONSON director Nicolas Winding Renf to whatever his next film might be but as it turns out his next film is an action film starring Oscar-nominees Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, two actors very much unaccustomed to action films. It also marks the return of Albert Brooks who hasn't acted in a live-action film in eight years. You can call this the art school FAST AND THE FURIOUS.
A Simon Pegg and Nick Frost road comedy with a Seth Rogen-voiced alien that begins at Comic-Con? It's almost as if this film was made just for fanboys. But while it has fanboy roots, it boasts a comedy pedigree - Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Jane Lynch, Bill Hader and more - that can appeal to fans of all ilk. It looks more BLUES BROTHERS road trip/adventure-comedy than anything else and from what I've heard, director Greg Mottola delivers in spades.
It's a shame that THE BEAVER will be best known as Mel Gibson's attempt at a comeback and perhaps his last chance to right his career. Beyond the tabloid headlines, THE BEAVER is perhaps the best role for modern era Mel Gibson. It's the story about a down-and-out man at a crossroads in his emotional and professional life who finds solace in...a beaver hand-puppet. It sounds like a ridiculous premise for a movie (and a ridiculous way for a serious actor to make a highly scrutinized comeback) but the script packs such a smart, emotional punch, I think many people will be left surprised.
Our second straight puppet film, THE MUPPETS will surely have little else in common with THE BEAVER. Call this a reboot or sequel if you must but THE MUPPETS is return to glory for the classic characters who were reduced to starring in movies like MUPPETS IN SPACE and THE MUPPETS' WIZARD OF OZ. They deserved better than those films and it's only a shame this film, written by Jason Segel (who also stars) and Nicholas Stoller, isn't going by its original title THE GREATEST MUPPET MOVIE EVER MADE!, which may very well prove to be true.
The director of one of 2009's best science-fiction movies comes what could be 2011's best science-fiction movies. SOURCE CODE was already bouncing around Hollywood as a hot sci-fi spec script before Duncan Jones became involved. He brought with him the erstwhile Prince of Persia, Jake Gyllenhaal and a trippy, time-travel, futuristic action flick is born.
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES was at the center of a controversy last year when the FX house designing a good deal of the visual effects went off and decided to make SKYLINE, a very similar film (about an alien attack on Los Angeles). Sony execs were concerned but then SKYLINE came out and pretty much sucked and the BATTLE: LOS ANGELES trailer came out and pretty much kicked some ass. Plus Warner Bros. liked what they saw so much they snatched up director Jonathan Liebesman to direct their CLASH OF THE TITANS sequel.