“Gangster Squad,” directed by Ruben Fleischer, written by Will Beall (from the book by Paul Lieberman)
Fleischer’s “Zombieland” follow-up “30 Minutes or Less” fizzled, but this epic real-life story of cops battling New York gangster Mickey Cohen in 1949 L.A. is Fleischer’s bid to cement his reputation as a serious filmmaker. With Sean Penn, Giovanni Ribisi, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena and Robert Patrick toting guns and fedoras, it’s a tough-guy extravaganza that looks to be more fun than Michael Mann’s Depression-era “Public Enemies.” And given that Martin Scorsese’s Boston-set cops-and-gangsters flick “The Departed” took best picture and three other Oscars in 2009, it’s not far-fetched for Warner Bros. to throw this into the late summer early-awards-season game, just in case. (It opens in theaters Sept. 7.)
"Gebo and the Shadow," written and directed by Manoel de Oliveira (from the play by Raul Brandão)
De Oliveira continues to make us feel like slackers, as he finishes yet another film at the tender age of 103. De Oliveira has impressed recently with his "The Strange Case of Angelica" and "Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired GIrl," and with "Gebo" he adapts the play by Raul Brandao that tells the story of a man in 19th Century Portugal who sacrifices himself to save his fugitive son.
"Hyde Park on Hudson," directed by Roger Michell, written by Richard Nelson
Bill Murray stars as FDR in "Hyde Park on Hudson," a historical drama surrounding the visit of King George VI to the US in 1939. Yes, that's the same king who stuttered his way through Best Picture winner "The King's Speech" in 2010, though this time around he's played by Samuel West. The film also stars Laura Linney as Roosevelt's close friend, Margaret Suckley. You can expect a big Oscar push come awards season; Michell's last film was the weakly received "Morning Glory," but 2006's "Venus" led to an Oscar nomination for Peter O'Toole, so it will not be surprising if this film does the same for Murray.
"I Am Divine," directed by Jeffrey Schwarz
There will never be another movie star like Divine, the 300-pound drag queen who made an unforgettable cult sensation out of herself in the early films of John Waters. We all know about the dog shit, but we don't know much about the man behind the movie star. "Vito" director Jeffrey Schwarz will unearth the life story of Harris Glenn Milstead, Divine's real-life counterpart, in "I Am Divine."
"Imogene," directed by Shari Springer-Berman and Robert Pulcini.
"Imogene" has a really great logline: A playwright has to move in with her crazy mother after faking a suicide attempt to get her ex-boyfriend's attention. Now, hold on to your hats, because I'm about to tell you who's playing this mother-daughter pair: Annette Bening and Kristen Wiig. We're going to miss seeing Kristen Wiig on SNL every week, but if she's going to be taking on roles like this, we can't complain. Plus, it's being helmed by "American Splendor" directors Shari Springer-Berman and Robert Pulcini.
"Inside Llewelyn Davis," directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
A new Coen brothers' film is always a heavily anticipated event. Their follow-up to "True Grit" is "Inside Llewelyn Davis," a drama about a singer-songwriter navigating the music scene in New York City during the 1960s. Oscar Isaac stars as the titular Llewelyn Davis, and Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan also have major roles in the film. The film is said to be loosely based off of Dave Van Ronk's "The Mayor of MacDougall Street." Considering the Coen brothers' Oscar-friendly track record, "Inside Llewelyn Davis" could be yet another contender this coming awards season. But the film does not yet have a release date, and filming started this year so we may have to wait a bit longer.
"In the House," written and directed by Francois Ozon
Francois Ozon's follow-up to his French hit "Potiche" comes out in France in October, making it more than ready to premiere in either Venice or Toronto. The film, which was nabbed by the Cohen Media Group for U.S. distribution out of Cannes, stars a stellar ensemble that includes Kristin Scott Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner. Ozon based his screenplay on Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga’s “The Boy in the Last Row,” which was performed earlier this year at the Bucharest National Theatre. The play’s storyline follows a high school teacher who becomes entangled with a student’s invasion of a classmate’s privacy sparked by an essay assignment.
"Life of Pi," directed by Ang Lee, written by David Magee (from the novel by Yann Martel)
As anyone who's seen "Prometheus" can attest to: "Life of Pi" looks awesome. The teaser, which essentially amounts to a thrilling scene from the film, is currently playing before "Prometheus" (and oddly not available online), and the reaction's been through the roof. Ang Lee's anticipated 3D adaptation of Yan Martel's beloved adventure novel isn't set for release until November 21, but the director does have a history with Venice (he won the Golden Lion twice, for "Brokeback Mountain" and "Lust, Caution"), so there's a chance it might play there. A TIFF kickoff might be more likely, given the film's high budget and Oscar hopes.
"The Lines of Wellington," directed by Raoul Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento, written by Carlos Saboga
Raoul Ruiz's widow, also his editor and director in her own right, Valeria Sarmiento took over the directorial reins to his 19th Century period piece "Lines of Wellington" after the prolific Chilean director ("Mysteries of Lisbon," "Klimt") died last year. The film takes a look at the 1810 Battle of Bussaco, documenting the French invasion of Portugal. It stars John Malkovich, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, and Mathieu Amalric, all actors that promise to stun in this dark and dreary look at an understudied moment in European history.