Looking forward to 2011 is a little like staring down the barrel of a gun. 2010 was a pretty great year, as I already went on about at length, but the new year always seems full of possibilities and looking at it from this beginning point its impossible to know the lay of the land. Hell, by summer we could be suffering nuclear winter! A comforting thought, in these troubled times, because to be perfectly honest I’m sick of Transformers movies.
But in reality, it looks like there’s a surprisingly strong lineup of movies coming in 2011, if the early lists I was working off of are any indication. Certainly things will show up that surprise the hell out of everyone, as they always do. But it doesn’t hurt to have things you’re actively excited for, too, to keep your spirits up during the stretches where its one bad romcom after another lame superhero movie.
That said, there are a few other goals I have set for myself in movie watching this year. I’m going to join the growing legions who take the Nic Cage Promise, a sacred oath to see any Nic Cage movie on opening weekend. Which will certainly be a source of entertainment. For those who listen to me lament my decision or for me actually watching the movies remains to be seen.
And that’s it. No more talk, time for some fucking movies! 2011, don’t let me down.
starring Jake Gyllenhaal
release date April 15
Duncan Jones is the director of 2009’s Moon, one of my favorite movies of that year and one of the best modern sci-fi movies. So obviously I’m going to be excited about his next thing. But when his next thing looks to be a crazy time-bending trip through alternate realities in order to solve crimes? Well, I’m totally on board. The trailer seems to set up most of the plot, though its hard to tell where it goes from there. It could be Déjà Vu, it could be 12 Monkeys. Either way, I’m excited to see how it all pans out.
starring Vin Diesel
release date April 29
I have both an ironic and utterly genuine love for the Fast and the Furious movies. I don’t really think the series is ever going to top the amazing The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift for ridiculous-shit-per-minute, but this movie looks like its going to give it its damnedest try. Of note is the addition of Dwayne Johnson, who is so perfect for this franchise that its criminal that its taken five movies to get him involved. There are few things as compelling, in a popcorn movie kind of way, as cars going fast and blowing stuff up real good. Guilty pleasure of the year? Easily. But I’ve never not enjoyed the silly machismo riff of Vin Diesel’s wheelhouse.
starring Saoirse Ronan
release date April 8
This movie popped up on my radar nearly out of the blue with the release of the trailer. Part The American and part incredibly badass action movie, Hanna looks to be a cross between Jason Borne and a heartwarming coming of age tale. With lots of gunfire and broken necks for good measure. The pairing of Bana and Blanchett is a great one, as both actors at the type that can sell limited screen time to put in compelling performances. I love the look of this movie, bleak and cold. So long as it doesn’t stray too far into dumb action, it should be a marvel to see.
X-Men: First Class
directed by Matthew Vaughn
starring James McAvoy
release date June 3
I’ll be the first to admit the X-Men movies are in a sorry state. X-Men 3 was bloated and lame. Origins: Wolverine was a steaming pile of shit. But before that, the X-Men movies were something greater, superhero movies with scope and social message, films that were smarter than the cookie cutter origin stories that came in the wake of Spider-Man. And by taking X-Men back to its roots in a period piece about mutants in the 60s, I feel like First Class has a good chance of recapturing that sense of purpose the series lost. Matthew Vaughn won me over with Kick-Ass, and working off of more restrained material here might make this film something truly special.
directed by Martin Scorsese
starring Ben Kingsley
Sacha Baron Cohen
release date December 9
Scorsese was never really a guy on my radar, despite his high profile as a director, until 2010’s Shutter Island, which very nearly made it into my top movies of 2010 list. That said, I became incredibly curious when his next project was announced as a family adventure movie about an orphan who lives in a 1930s Paris train station and gets wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father’s work with an automaton. With the talent attached, I’m hoping for an amalgam of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Hayao Miyazaki, but regardless of what it turns out to be, I’m incredibly excited to see what Scorsese’s talents create when bent to younger fare.
The two previous Cronenberg/Mortensen collaborations, 2005s A History of Violence and 2007s Eastern Promises were both fantastic movies. Its hard to believe that Cronenberg’s next, a biopic about the early days of psychology, will be any different. Mortensen plays Sigmund Freud against Fassbender’s Carl Jung, two colleagues who are torn apart by a rivalry over how to approach the fledgling science of psychotherapy and the troubled young woman, played by Knightley, who comes between them. I love this part of history, I love the actors and director, I can’t imagine how this movie will be anything less than lush and intense and amazing.
Midnight in Paris
directed by Woody Allen
starring Rachel McAdams
release date May 2011
So far little is known about Woody Allen’s latest project, a story of a family traveling to Paris for business. The plot hinges around a young married couple forced to deal with the idea that a life different than there’s isn’t necessarily better. It seems right in Allen’s wheelhouse, but I feel that his movies live and die by the cast. Owen Wilson is a personal favorite of mine, an actor I feel who is wildly misused and underappreciated outside of Wes Anderson films. Woody Allen is always kind of hit or miss with me, but I’m always game for the newest comedy he puts out.
directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
starring Ryan Gosling
release date September 16
Nicolas Winding Refn is the director of 2009s flawed but violently beautiful Bronson, a movie I loved despite all of its issues. His newest movie takes him into action/drama territory, a story of a Hollywood stunt performer by day/wheelman by night played by Gosling. When a hit is put out on him after a botched job, he ends up on the run with an ex-con’s girlfriend (played by Mulligan) in his car. No idea at this point how action versus crime drama this movie is going to be, but knowing Refn its going to be intense and saddening and probably brutal. I can’t wait. Gosling always does good work, even if most of it flies under the radar, and he’s the perfect fit for a tortured criminal type.
directed by Tarsem Singh
starring Henry Cavill
release date November 11
Tarsem Singh is the tragically non-prolific director of such movies as The Cell and The Fall, movies that are arguably more style than substance, but present such a well constructed, hauntingly beautiful vision that I can’t find it in myself to care whether or not they’re deep stories. His next movie deals with the Greek warrior Theseus (played by Cavill) who leads his army into battle with the Greek Gods against the Titans, lead by King Hyperion (played by Mickey Rourke in what I can only imagine will be a great scenery chewing roll). It sounds like Clash of the Titans, to be sure, but I’d love to see a riff on that mythology by someone with an eye for making movies that aren’t ass-fugly (see 2010’s nightmare remake of Clash of the Titans for a good lesson in how to fuck this up). This far out, there’s little to go on, but I’m sold by the pedigree of fantasy vision Singh brings to a movie alone.
The Ides of March
directed by George Clooney
starring Philip Seymour Hoffman
Evan Rachel Wood
release date December 2011
You tell me George Clooney is making a political drama and I hearken back to the amazing Good Night, And Good Luck. This is cause for celebration, because the world needs movies as smart as that one. You tell me that it’s based vaguely on the 2004 Democratic Primary of Howard Dean, starring Ryan Gosling as a young press spokesman who falls prey to backroom politics, and you’ve got my attention. I love a smart political drama, something immediate and personal, and Clooney’s proved he knows how to make that film. The movie’s set for limited release in December of 2011, so it seems like Sony Pictures is already early in positioning it as an awards movie. Awards or not, I can’t wait to see what Clooney does with the material.