I assume I’m not the only one sick and tired of top ten 2010 this and that by now. So to fresh start this blog for 2011, I’m going to offer an even more subjective but probably much less boring list: the films I’m most looking forward to seeing in the next 362 days. It’s a dreamy list, and it doesn’t even include the many, many films we haven’t heard of yet that will end up in theaters this year, as well as the films I’ve already seen – like “Beginners,” “Cold Weather,” “Incendies,” “Kaboom,” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” for example, all of which I highly recommend. It does however, include, lots of Ryan Gosling, some George Clooney and Michael Fassbender, dashes of Tilda Swinton and James Franco, new work from Cronenberg, Almodovar, Von Trier, Soderbergh, Haynes, Spielberg, my dear Sarah Polley, and even Madonna, among many, many others…
1. The Tree of Life (Terrance Malick) – The inevitable top choice on this list and “annual preview” lists for the past two years, Terrance Malick’s long awaited family saga – which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and may or may not have something to do with dinosaurs, the cosmos and the meaning of life (all against the backdrop of a 1950s family drama) – is 100% actually coming out this year and I’m as excited as I was in 2008.
2. We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay) – In what I’m anticipating as the third in a trilogy of remarkable, career-defining lead performances from Swinton (following “Julia” and “I Am Love”), “Kevin” has an amazing source material (Lionel Shriver’s book about a mother who recounts the events leading up to and following her son’s massacre of students and teachers at his high school), an amazing director (Lynne Ramsay, in her first film since “Morvern Callar”) and an amazing supporting cast (John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller) to aid in what Swinton already brings to the table… “Hold onto your hat,” Tilda Swinton said of “We Need To Talk About Kevin” last year. “I think it’s going to be what the Americans might call a ‘doozy.’” Chills.
3. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg) Sexist man alive Michael Fassbender joins runner-up Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley in Cronenberg’s first film since “Eastern Promises” – a look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
4. Melancholia (Lars Von Trier) “No more happy endings,” Lars said, and this film – starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, Alexander Skarsgård and Kiefer Sutherland – has a title alone that suggests it will fulfil that promise. A sci-fi thriller that’s title refers to “an enourmous planet…that looms threateningly close to Earth,” this one will likely be the talk of Cannes, just like “Antichrist” was two years ago.
5. The Skin That I Inhabit (Pedro Almodovar) I would follow Pedro anywhere, including this revenge tale that tells the story of a plastic surgeon (Antonio!) on the hunt for the men who raped his daughter.
6. Contagion (Steven Soderbergh) One of the most promising casts this side of “Inception” with Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston, John Hawkes, and Laurence Fishburne all taking on an “Outbreak”-style disease thriller, Soderbergh (who also produced “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and has a second directorial effort on tap for 2011, “Haywire”), was hopefully outdone himself here.
the rest after the jump
7. Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley) Apparently a James L. Brooks/Judd Apatow-esque romantic comedy set in Toronto and starring Michelle Williams as a woman torn between her loving husband (Seth Rogen) and a sexy new dude she meets (Luke Kirby), this looks the city’s second coming of high profile exposure after “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” and I have no doubt that Polley will pull it off.
8. The Grandmasters (Wong Kar-wai) The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee, it could be about the man who trained Sara Lee how to make cakes and I’d go see it if it were directed by Wong Kar-wai.
9. Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes) Yeah, yeah.. it’s TV. But it so much bigger than its medium. The “Angels of America” of the 2010s? There definitely hasn’t been an HBO miniseries I’ve anticipated this much since. Todd Haynes directing Kate Winslet in a 5 hour epic based on a movie I adored? It don’t get better.
10 & 11. The War Horse and The Adventures of Tin-Tin (Steven Spielberg) One month, two Spielberg movies… both set for release in late December, World War I drama “The War Horse,” and big budget Peter Jackson collaboration “Tin-Tin,” a motion capture 3-D film based on the series of comic books created by Belgian artist Georges “Hergé” Remi. Spielberg has come in twos quite nicely in the past – “Schindler’s List”/”Jurassic Park” in 1993; “Minority Report”/”Catch Me If You Can” in 2002 – and we haven’t seen anything from him since 2008’s disappointing “Indiana Jones” movie, so I for one am looking forward to this ambitious attempt at showing us he’s still got it.
12. Hugo Cabret (Martin Scorsese) Marty goes 3-D and very big budget in this adaptation of the classic book, starring the likes of Chloe Moretz (!), Jude Law, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley.
13. On The Road (Walter Salles) Could be a disaster (see Salles’ English language “Dark Water”), and a disservice to the book’s legacy, but Salles has a great cast in Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, and Elisabeth Moss.
14. Shame (Steve McQueen) A drama centered on 30-something Brandon (Michael Fassbender again!), his myriad sexual escapades, and what happens when his wayward younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves in with him, all things sound to be in place for McQueen to impress us with his follow up to debut “Hunger.”
15. Super 8 (JJ Abrams) I was intrigued by that trailer just like the rest of you, and hope that this could be one of the summer’s brightest studio spots given is pedigree and potential originality in a sea of sequels & remakes.
16. Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold) I fell in love with Arnold’s “Fish Tank,” just like I did her “Red Road” and am so curious what she does with a period/literary piece – which is a big stretch from where we’ve grown to love her.
17. The Future (Miranda July) Over five years after “Me and You and Everyone We Know” stole my heart (forever), Miranda July is back with a film about a couple that decides to adopt a stray cat, and then find their perspective on life change radically.
18. The Descendants (Alexander Payne) Over SEVEN years after “Sideways,” Alexander Payne is quietly returning with this film about a land baron (George Clooney… the perfect land baron) who tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.
19, 20 & 21. Crazy, Stupid, Love (Glenn Ficarra, John Requa), The Ides of March (George Clooney) and Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn). 2011, the year of Ryan Gosling? We’re getting a romantic comedy that also stars Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon (“Crazy”); “The Descendants” star George Clooney’s next directorial project, also starring Clooney himself and Gosling’s “Crazy” co-star Tomei (“The Ides of March”); AND Nicolas Winding Refn’s much buzzed about film about a Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman (“Drive”). Not to mention “Blue Valentine” is just coming out now…
22. Red State (Kevin Smith) A horror film in which a group of misfits encounter fundamentalism gone to the extreme in Middle America? Kevin Smith, welcome back.
23. Your Highness (David Gordon Green) James Franco and Natalie Portman follow up their Oscar nominated/potentially winning roles with a sure-to-be-hilarious stoner comedy set in medieval times.
24. & 25. Jeff Who Lives at Home (Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass) and Untitled Lynn Shelton Project (Lynn Shelton) Mumblecore continues to go Hollywood and I for one and quite looking forward to it. “Cyrus” and “Humpday” were varying degrees of awesome, and it seems likely that the Duplass’s and Shelton will follow them up with worthy successors that collectively star Jason Segel, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt.
26. My Week With Marilyn (Simon Curtis) Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe from a director I’ve never heard of!
27. Bridesmaids (Paul Feig) Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph battle it out as they plan their friend’s wedding party, from a script co-written by Wiig!
28. Source Code (Duncan Jones) The guy who made “Moon” gives us two hours of Jake Gyllenhaal on a train!
29. The Beaver (Jodie Foster) C’mon, I know you’re curious.
30. WE (Madonna) Alright, maybe you’re not curious. But I am.