Archive for the Top 10 Lists Category

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2012

Posted in Top 10 Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2012 by myfavoritewasteoftime

With the Oscar Nominations coming out today, I decided to take this chance to shed some light on a few films we might see dominated next year’s categories.

10. The Hobbit/Dark Knight Rises/Avengers

Why You Should Be Excited:

There is very little that I could say that hasn’t been already said about these 3 films. These are arguably the most widely anticipated franchise pictures of the year (though there may be other franchises that I refuse to acknowledge). Combined, they will most likely save the world’s economy as we know it. Do you like the associated films and/or source material? Then you’ll probably be in at least one of three lines this summer.

Why I Am Excited:

I grouped these 3 together because they hold about the same amount of water in my brain tank. The Avengers: I am a sucker for the movies from the Marvel Universe that feed into this amalgamation of a movie (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Incredible Hulk). None of them really grabbed me, but with the exception of Thor, I would gladly turn off my mind and sit down to any of them again. I have never been a big admirer of Joss Whedon, but I trust him to handle this fanboy’s wet dream tactfully. Dark Knight Rises: I liked but wasn’t in love with the previous Nolan Batman films. I know that this is on the top of most people’s list, but I found the trailer just kind of silly. That said, I’d watch Tom Hardy in almost anything (not This Means War however) and the previous two films were good enough for me to be interested in the finale. The Hobbit: out of the 3, this is the one that I am most excited to see. I am an unabashed supporter of the original trilogy, and if Guillermo del Toro was directing this (as he was on board to do for over 2 years) then this would be on the top of my list. And even though del Toro is still credited as a writer, he dropped out of directing because he grew tired of the drawn out pre-production process. Peter Jackson stepped in and took over the reigns, something he had previously stated he did not want to have to do. Whereas the first trilogy was a passion project for Jackson, this new set of films stinks of a money grab. The first trailer looks entertaining enough, but seemed to be screaming “hey, remember how great those other movies were ten years ago, well here is more of the same.”

9. Hyde Park on Hudson – Roger Michell

Why You Should Be Excited:

No, it’s not the long awaited sequel to the 1984 Robin Williams’ Russian immigrant dramedy Moscow on the Hudson. Even better, Bill Murray is Franklin Delano Roosevelt acting out an infamous semi-incestious affair with a cousin.

Why I Am Excited:

Well, besides the reason above, the rest of the cast is what is drawing me to this film. The always impressive Laura Linney is his kissing cousin. Murray is reunited with his Rushmore co-star Olivia Williams, as his wife (and also cousin, albeit a distant one), Eleanor. And one of my favorite British character actresses, Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz, “Peep Show” and “That Mitchell and Webb Look”) plays the Queen of England. FDR is my favorite president and the lord and savior of our country as we know it, so I always get a kick out of seeing him portrayed on screen. And while Bill Murray is certainly an odd choice, he is pretty much guaranteed to do a better job than Jon Voight did in Pearl Harbor (though, maybe not as good as Bill Hadar on “SNL”). The one element that gives me pause is the director, Roger Mitchell. With such titles as Notting Hill, Changing Lanes, Venus and 2010’s news anchor flop Morning Glory, his track record is shaky at best. This one may have to rely on it’s performances.

8. Les Miserables – Tom Hooper

Why You Should Be Excited:

Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical vision of Victor Hugo’s classic novel comes to the big screen for the first time. While the story of Les Mis has been put on screen many times before, this is the debut of songs from the longest running musical in history in the cinematic form. With an Oscar in hand from his previous film, The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper (who I like to pretend is the little brother of Tobe Hooper) hand picked this to be his next directorial effort. He also seems to have all of Hollywood at his disposal, casting Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sascha Baron Cohen and Taylor Swift.

Why I Am Excited:

Mostly because as a kid I was a GIANT Les Mis devotee. My first two crushes in life were anyone playing Eponine and Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2. I knew every lyric to every song and cried every single time I heard “A Little Fall Of Rain”. It was the first time I could remember being physically moved by a piece of pop culture (and still the only musical I can more or less admit to liking). Two years ago I begrudgingly went to a movie theater in Emeryville to see the 25th anniversary performance “live” from O2 Area in Greenwhich. I hadn’t seen the musical since I was 8, and I can’t afford to shell out the money for an actual theater ticket, so I dragged a friend to relive my childhood in the cheapest way I knew how. And the music and the melodramatic French Revolution storyline still got to me (How has no one made an Occupy the Bastille joke yet?). Even despite one of the Jonas Brothers playing Maris, I still was just as in love the music as I was 20 years ago. Much to my surprise and delight the last thing that appeared on screen before the lights came up was a title announcing that a cinematic version of the musical was in the works. Naturally I was excited, and I pretty much have kept the level of excitement since. I fell for The King’s Speech‘s charm and found it to be genuinely one of the best movies of 2010, so I am looking forward to seeing what Hooper can do with the material. While it is not what I would have chosen, I can live with the casting for the most part. The only two that I might boycott is Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsieur Thénardier (I was hoping they were going to stick with Matt Lucas from “Little Britain” who was part of the 25th Anniversary cast) and Taylor Swift as Eponine (I was hoping that Asia Argento would reprise the role from the 2000 French Mini-Series). Luckily neither are confirmed at this time, so my ritual sacrifices could still pay off.

7. Prometheus – Ridley Scott

Why You Should Be Excited:

Hey kids! Its the kind of prequel to Alien, sort of, we think. At most it supposedly takes place in the same universe as the original film and it is rumored that it might explain the origin of that pesky giant “Space Jockey”. Did I mention that it is directed by Ridley Scott, who just happen to have launched his career and the franchise in 1977?

Why I Am Excited:

Did that thrilling explanation above not sell you on it? I too was a bit skeptical. I haven’t really been excited for a Ridley Scott film… well ever. Since I was old enough to be aware of his movies and to actually rent them, he has been making ones that I haven’t really been interested in. Alien, Blade Runner, Legend and The Duelists all came out before I entered my celluloid pretentiousness. When I first heard about this project, it posed little more than a novelty. A few key factors have changed my point of view. Mostly the casting of Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, but its first trailer being the single best of last year didn’t hurt. Another promising element was reported by Ms Theron, almost all of the sets that she shot on were completely practical and that there were only a handful of green screen shots in the production. This is a sign that Ridley Scott is going for the more old school tactile approach, appose to the George Lucas “lets add everything in post”.

6. The Impossible – Juan Antonio Bayona

Why You Should Be Excited:

In case you weren’t impressed enough by the tsunami re-enactment in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, then maybe this take will do the trick. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in this dramatic thriller as a part of a vacationing family caught up in the horror of the 2004 Thailand tsunami disaster. It was filmed partly in Thailand using many locations that were involved in the actual event and even employed many survivors as actors in the film. Unlike Eastwood’s film, which used CGI to create most of the tsunami effects, a huge man made reservoir in Spain was used to facilitate the flooding scenes.

Why I Am Excited:

2007’s the Orphanage  was a rare gem. A phycological thriller involving creepy children that was both genuinely terrifying and heartbreaking. I think that was the last film that I saw a full three times in the theater during its initial run. Spanish director J.A. Bayona has brought the majority of the production team from his previous film back for his English-language debut. Both McGregor and Watts are actors that have the capability of greatness, but all too often make poor decisions in their projects. Hopefully under the guidance of Bayona, they will bring believability to a scenario that is ripe for melodrama. A Spanish teaser trailer was posted last month that gave me the same familiar chills I experienced while watching the Orphanage.

5. Lincoln – Steven Spielberg

Why You Should Be Excited:

Arguably the greatest director and actor currently working are teaming up to resurrect the final months of who many would say was the greatest American president. Lincoln has been a passion project for Spielberg for almost a decade (though it seems like every movie he makes these days is “a passion project”), and for most of that time his Schinler’s List star Liam Neeson was attached to star. Two years ago Neeson dropped out because he was know too old to properly portray the 16th president (Ironically this would ultimately free him up to star as the 37th president, LBJ, in the upcoming film Selma). In stepped the only other actor I could possibly do the character justice, Daniel Day Lewis. Sally Field is on board to play Mary and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Robert Todd Lincoln. The impressive cast is rounded out by Jared Harris, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Lee Pace, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley and David Strathairn.

Why I Am Excited:

Every film critic, both amateur and published alike, have some form of a “Phonebook” list of actors. This is an elite group of men and women that they would pay to see perform anything, including reading the phonebook. At the top of my list is Daniel Day Lewis. I proved this point by actually sitting through Nine. I could give or take Spielberg. He is no doubt a master of his craft and occasionally he still puts out something of interest, but I don’t rush to the theater to see his latest. That said, with Day Lewis as the lead I would see it even if Garry Marshall was directing. I am keeping my fingers crossed that a local theater has the ingenuity to have a double feature with this and the other Lincoln film coming out this year, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This other, and more liberal, take on the legendary bearded one is conducted by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov and features Benjamin Walker as Lincoln, the babelier Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd (no offense Sally Field) and well, vampires.

4. Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson

Why You Should Be Excited:

Much like I did with my write up of the Tree of Life in the column last year, I could take the easy way out on my top four and simple say “Its a new ____ film” and call it a day. After his 2009’s brilliant, but criminally overlooked, clay-animation masterpiece the Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Anderson returns to the live action world. Set in 1960’s New England, the film is about a pair of young lovers that attempt to flee their mundane lives and the search party of townies that try and track them down. As usual, Wes has compiled an impressive group of actors including Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel. Oh, and of course it wouldn’t be a Wes Anderson film without Bill Murray.

Why I Am Excited:

As much as I’d like to pretend that I am above Wes Anderson’s quirky charm, in reality I eat it up as much as I did when I was a college freshman. Sure he is pretentious and I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a room with any of his characters for any amount of money, but he knows how to use his actors better than almost any other director. While his films tend to feel like they take place in another decade, this will be his first foray into a period piece. It’ll be interesting to see if he sticks to the continuity of the time or if he’ll pull a Sofia Coppola. The trailer was released recently and reeks of all of Anderson’s normal heavily witted sparse dialog mixed with muted color pallets and awkward glasses/hair combinations. Also, apparently Edward Norton is a chain smoking camp consoler. It is pretty obvious that this is not the movie that will change anybodies mind about the director. If you loved his previous movies then you are probably going to love this one. If you didn’t enjoy his previous films, then you should probably stop taking things so seriously.

3. The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson

Why You Should Be Excited:

P.T. Anderson’s long awaited and long delayed follow up to the 2007 Oscar Award winning There Will Be Blood is finally going to hit theaters (thanks to the help of Larry Ellison’s daughter). The details are vague, but what is known is that it is about a man who returns from the horrors of WW2 and decides to start a new religion. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the messiah and there are rumors going around that at one point this was to be a satirical take on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. This film is raising a few eyebrows for being Joaquin Phoenix’s return from crazyland. This will be his first role since 2008’s Two Lovers. Amy Adams and newly Golden Globe winner Laura Dern round out the leads.

Why I Am Excited:

Back to that concept of a “Phonebook” list, if I were to make one up for directors then PTA would be at the top. Every one of his 5 pictures have stood out on their own as a masterpiece. Even his worst film so far in his short career, Magnolia, is a classic in its own right. He has the ability to take a subject or genre as mundane as an Adam Sandler flick and make it the best movie of the year. He made me actually care about porn for a couple hours, that is an impressive feat. So why isn’t this film at the top of my list? Even in light of what I just previously said, I am not a big fan of the subject matter. The iconic cult religious biopic has been done to death (hell, it was even covered adequately enough a couple times last year with Martha Marcy May Marlene and Red State) and even with the talents involved, I am not too thrilled in the idea of revisiting the well worn path. That said, this may just be a defensive mechanism so I don’t hype this project too much in my head (also, given its delays, there is a good chance it won’t even see the light of day until 2013).

2. Inside Llewyn Davis – Joel and Ethan Coen

Why You Should Be Excited:

Because much like the previous director, even when the Coens are at their worst, it is better than 99% of the movies out there. Coming off the success of 2007’s No Country For Old Men and 2010’s True Grit, the most well respected brothers in Hollywood return with their take on the folk scene in Greenwich Village in the 1960’s. Its cast consists of some of the “hottest” talents currently on screen including Cary Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garret Hedlund and the sexiest man alive, John Goodman. It is apparently based on the life on once close friend of Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk.

Why I Am Excited:

The biggest draw for me is the reuniting of the Coens and John Goodman. Goodman was the best part of the much over rated critical darling The Artist, absolutely killed it in the under-seen and surprisingly good Red State and was one of the best parts on this season of “Community”. I love it whenever he is allowed to grin or scowl or both to a camera, and he never does it better than for the Coens. After doing a superb job recreating the harsh landscape of the 1800’s midwest, I trust that Joel and Ethan will cut through the whimsical and relay something more interesting about the heyday of the American folk scene. I can’t say that I am a fan of Van Ronk, but I am an admirer of enough of his peers to be interested in how he helped sculpt a scene that would end up being a model for small towns and cities all over the country. In a lesser director’s hands I could see this being like a folkier Velvet Goldmine, but with the expertise of the Coens I trust that it will be so much more. Currently IMDB has this film listed as a 2013 release, but production is scheduled to begin shortly in New York, so I am betting that we’ll see a late December award push for it.

1. Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino

Why You Should Be Excited:

Whether you find him to be the ultimate blow hard or a cinematic genius, it is hard not to find Tarantino’s films entertaining. 2009’s Inglorious Basterds welcomed something of a career resurgence for the poster child of the 90’s independent cinema and he’s decided to ride the wave of historical fiction. This time he has set his film in the midst of southern slavery. Leonardo DiCaprio is a wealthy and ruthless plantation owner and Jamie Foxx is a former slave hell bent on revenge (I am guessing that we are going to be subjected to some sort of Mexican stand off). Throw in Samuel L. Jackson as a house slave, Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter, Kurt Russell as a slave trainer (who trains slaves to fight in death matches), and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in some type of unknown role and you got yourself Quentin’s take on the spaghetti western.

Why I Am Excited:

Much like Wes Anderson, I totally get why people can’t stand Tarantino films. And try as I have to pretend like I am so much better than that, I love his films, I just love them. I can’t stand to hear him talk, but I love to see him direct. With Inglorious Basterds it really felt like he went out of his way to make a film specifically for me. Nearly everything about that movie seemed like it was catered to my interests and I ate it all up and asked for more. Tarantino doing a spaghetti western, bring it on and bring it strong. I look forward to seeing how over the top he can get. Plus, he has cast Dennis Christopher from the cult classic Fade to Black as Leo’s lawyer. The thought of one of the biggest movie stars in the world interacting with Eric Binford will keep me going until I can see it for myself in December.

SPECIAL FEATURE:

My Top 10 Movies of 2011 (so far):

I didn’t make an entire entry for this, because honestly I have not seen enough of the films last year to make a proper list. So instead, here are my favorites of what I have seen.

10. Red State

9. the Descendants

8. Win Win

7. Tabloid

6. Young Adult

5. A Dangerous Method

4. Tree of Life

3. Shame

2. Meek’s Cutoff

1. Drive


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Top 10 Movie Poster Artists

Posted in Top 10 Lists on March 8, 2011 by myfavoritewasteoftime

Movie poster artists are without a doubt some of the most overlooked contributors to cinematic history. Ever since short form films began to be shown publicly in the late 19th century, there were posters (or then simple 8 x 10 inch lobby cards) enticing audiences to fork over their hard earned cash. Initially these lobby cards simply included a sensational description of the moving pictures that were being projected, much like a newspaper headline. However, beginning in the early 1900’s, studios began hiring artists to add equally sensational illustrations to their tag lines. Hence the movie poster was born. Through the 1930’s studios would attach posters and lobby cards to the reels of film sent to theaters (back then most theaters were owned by the studios themselves). Once the film had its run, most posters were just thrown out by the theaters. Starting in 1940, a organization was set up call the NSS (National Screen Service) whose job it was to circulate posters and make sure they were returned to the studios. Most of the time posters would be returned, only to be sent out again to another theater. By the time the reached the end of their journey, most posters were thrown away. This organization was in place up until the 1980’s. It wasn’t until then that many collectors and film historians had fully realized the value (both historically and monetarily) of this art form that had been around for nearly a century. There had been some enthusiasts as early as post WWII that were beginning to hoard these treasures. But by and large movie posters were seen as disposable and thus they are such a huge commodity today (particularly pre 1940 film posters). Without these enormously talented illustrators and designers, it would have been nearly impossible to draw in the crowds of people awaiting to see the fantastically imagery that had seen in poster form come to life on screen. Below I have listed not only ten of my favorite artists, but also ten of the most influential. For each artist I have provided four of the best examples of their work. One thing you’ll quickly notice is that none of the films are after 1990. Beginning in the 1980’s, studios began to rely on photos of their stars for their posters. By the 1990’s, illustrated posters were quickly becoming a dying art. Unfortunately, in the 21st century, most movie posters are horrendously sloppy photoshopped messes. But occasionally you’ll find a studio or filmmaker that still cares enough to commission a proper designer to put together a decent representation of their film.

10. Tom Jung


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9. Frank MacCarthy (1924 – November 17, 2002)

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8. John Solie

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7. Bob Peak (May 30, 1927 – August 1, 1992)

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6. John Alvin (November 24, 1948 – February 6, 2008)

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5. Jack Davis


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4. Al Hirschfeld (June 21, 1903 – January 20, 2003)

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3. Drew Struzan


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2. Reynold Brown (1917 – 1991)

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1. Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996)

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Special Feature:

Top 5 Movie Posters of the past 10 years!

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2011

Posted in Top 10 Lists on January 24, 2011 by myfavoritewasteoftime

I was hoping to get my top ten list of 2010 out before this one, but unfortunately there are a few too many movies that I haven’t seen yet (apparently David Fincher made a movie about Friendster). The list below was a very hard one to boil down. As you will see in my lengthy honorable mention list, there are a lot of promising movies coming out this year. Plus, no matter how much research I do, there will inevitably be a few choice films that were off my radar. I noticed after finally coming to terms with the ten films I decided on that most of them embody elements that have been lacking in recent years. Whether it be a decent superhero movie, a properly-timed awkward comedy/drama (I refuse to accept the word “dramedy”), or simply a comedy that is actually funny, I have high hopes that this year will fulfill some of the cinematic voids that have been welling inside of me…

10. X-Men: First Class – Matthew Vaughn

Why you should be excited:

After the trainwrecks of X-Men: Last Stand and the Wolverine prequel, 20th Century Fox is trying to get their lucrative franchise back on the rails with this new prequel. At the helm this time is Matthew Vaughn, who famously passed on the third movie 5 years ago. Vaughn proved with last year’s critically successful (but box office tepid) Kick Ass and 2004’s Layer Cake that he can not only handle but bring his own unique flair to the action genre. The plot of the latest installment goes back to the beginnings of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr’s friendship before it soured and turned them into Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Audiences should get a kick out of seeing their favorite mutants as teenagers in the 60’s.

Why I am excited:

Growing up, the X-Men comics were my favorite comics behind Daredevil, so naturally I have pretty high standards when it comes adaptations of the beloved series. Bryan Singer’s films were as good as the X-Men films could be (though I could eat my words with the news the Darren Aronfsky is directing the next Wolverine film). As I mentioned, the past two films in the series have been bloated messes; trying to stuff too many characters into convoluted plots that give no respect to the original material. While the choice of Vaughn at the helm doesn’t thrill me, there is one deciding factor that piqued my interest, which is the cast: Michael Fassbender as Magneto, James McAvoy as Professor X and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. Those are arguably three of the best young actors working today. The idea of McAvoy going toe to toe with Fassbender alone is enough to get me into the theater.

9. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Tomas Alfredson

Why you should be excited:

Swedish director Tomas Alfredson adapts the 1974 British spy novel of the same name by John Le Carré. This is the first in the Karla trilogy (the others being The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People) and was famously produced for the BBC in 1979 with Alec Guinness as the lead role of George Smiley.  This version stars Gary Oldman in the lead role with Tom Hardy and Colin Firth supporting. Set during the heyday of the Cold War, this film is a more intelligent look at the world of espionage then you’ll get from a James Bond or Jack Ryan flick.

Why I am excited:

While I am excited to see Gary Oldman in a leading role, it seems lately he only pops up in bit parts, so the director is the main draw for me. 2008’s Let the Right One In was easily the best film of that year and I am more than just a little excited to see what Alfredson can do with this hallowed material. He showed that he was more than competent handling suspense in his last movie. Given his talent he should have no problem recreating the tense world of Cold-War-era British/Russian relations. Michael Fassbender was signed up for a role in this film, but had to drop out because of his obligations on the X-Men film. While Tom Hardy is no Fassbender, he is about as good of a replacement as you can find.

8. Paul – Greg Mottola

Why you should be excited:

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, co-stars of the British cult hits Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, come to America with this new buddy road-trip/alien movie. The past two films were collaborations with fellow Brit Edgar Wright, but he was unfortunately too busy making his video game/comic epic Scott Pilgrim vs the World, so the comedic duo called Greg Mottola to helm. Mottola is responsible for the criminally overrated Superbad and the criminally underrated Adventureland. The supporting cast features a who’s who of American comedic television stars: Glee‘s Jane Lynch, Arrested Development‘s Jason Bateman and Jeffery Tambor, the State‘s Joe La Truglio and SNL‘s Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and David Koechner, plus Sigourney Weaver, John Carroll Lynch and the always grating voice of Seth Rogen. Unless it completely misses its mark, this is lining up to be one of the biggest comedies of the year.

Why I am excited:

Ever since their brilliant television show, Spaced, I have been loyal to these guys, and for the most part they have not let me down. They even made movies that have been sub-par as a whole (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, The Boat That Rocked and Run, Fatboy, Run) but were still worth the price of admission. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are without a doubt two of the most entertaining movies of the past ten years. My anticipation for this long awaited third outing is slightly hampered by the omission of their usual director/co-writer, and I am on the fence about Mottola. The rest of the cast is fantastic, so despite a lackluster trailer, I am still hoping for another comedy classic.

7. Hugo Cabret – Martin Scorsese

Why you should be excited:

Do you need any other reason other than that it is the new Scorsese film? Okay, how about the fact that it is the first DiCaprio-free Scorsese film in a decade?  Not that I haven’t been a fan of his past four movies (particularly Gangs of New York), but it is refreshing to think that I don’t have to stare at Leo’s latest attempt at facial hair for a change. This not only marks Scorsese’s first attempt at a family friendly film, but also his first venture into 3D. I haven’t heard much about the plot besides that it is about orphans in 1930’s Paris and something about robots. As with all of his films, Marty has assembled a fantastic cast, featuring  Jude Law, Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Christopher Lee, Chloe Moretz and Emily Mortimer. (The one big thing this movie has going against it is Sacha Baron Cohen, who is pretty much cinematic kryptonite to me.)

Why I am excited:

Do I need a reason other than Chloe Moretz as the female lead? After being the best parts of Kick Ass and Let Me In, I am convinced that she is the most promising actress under 18 working today. I can’t wait to see what she can do under the guidance of a legend like Scorsese. Besides Cohen, the rest of the cast are all favorites of mine. Hopefully his part in the film isn’t anything more than a cameo. Unlike most of the films that have jumped on the 3D bandwagon, I trust that Scorsese’s interest in the format is genuine and not just a request by the studio. The only films I have seen thus far on Hollywood’s current 3D kick that have done anything worthwhile with the format are Tron: Legacy and Piranha. It would be much more satisfying to see a solid movie use 3D to enhance the cinematography and depth of field of its shots (I count Avatar as a cartoon, not a live action film).

6. Wanderlust – David Wain

Why you should be excited:

Well, the reason why the majority of the population is going to be excited to see it is that apparently Jennifer Aniston is going to be featured in her first nude scene. Aniston and Paul Rudd play a couple of suburbanites that decide they need to spice up their lives and move to a nudist colony. The State alums David Wain and Ken Marino wrote the screenplay with Wain directing. Judd Apatow and Rudd are producing. Wain had a big hit with his last film Role Models, and this looks to follow in the same type of vein.

Why I am excited:

At one point, the likes of Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and Robert Altman were all too proud to produce comedies. The past decade has been pretty bleak on the cinematic comedic front. We are stuck with crap like The Hangover and 2nd rate parody movies to pass off as comedies. From the ashes of the sketch comedy show the State, 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer was a beacon of humor in an all too unfunny world. It brought back the genius of classic parody movies like Airplane! and Mel Brook’s films of the 70’s and mixed it with the energetic improv of the 21st century. For most of his career, Paul Rudd seemed to be one of the few actors that we could rely on to be consistently funny… But even he let us down last year with Dinner for Schmucks andHow Do You Know. Now he is reteaming with his WHAS director (whom he also worked with on the uneven the Ten and the surprisingly effective Role Models) for this new comedy which will hopefully bring back genuine laughs that have been all too absent from the theaters. Rudd seems to be most in his element when he is working with Wain. Wain was on the shortlist to direct the latest Focker movie, luckily he just missed the cut and decided to go into production with this. (And yes, I am that desperate for actually satisfying comedy.)

5. The Descendants – Alexander Payne

Why you should be excited:

This is Alexander Payne’s first feature length film since 2004’s indie darling Sideways. George Clooney plays a middle age land baron who is trying to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is involved in a tragic boating accident. It almost sounds like a companion piece to his 2002 effort About Schmidt, but this is kind of what Clooney does best. Now that his action film days are behind him, he has found a niche in these type of well-to-do egomaniacs that need to fill the various voids in their souls. The whole film was shot on location in Hawaii, and Payne has stated that the soundtrack will be comprised of entirely native Hawaiian music. This would most definitely be higher up on this list if comedian Louis CK, who was at one point attached, was cast in the lead.

Why I am excited:

While I liked Sideways, 1996’s Citizen Ruth is the film that I always put ahead of Payne’s other works. That film combined a perfect blend of social commentary and character struggle in a way that was effective while not being preachy, and pulled off dry, awkward situational humor without it feeling forced and gimmicky. Sideways walked that line and almost ventured into the Noah Baumbach territory, but I have faith that he has gotten back on track. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m pretty impartial to Clooney. I like him as an actor, but I won’t race out to see a movie just because he is in it. It is also a little worrisome that this role sounds an awful lot like his role in 2009’s overrated Up in the Air. I am really excited to see Robert Forester’s name on the cast list. It has disappointed me that he hasn’t gotten better roles since Jackie Brown, so it is always a plus to see him onboard a project. I anticipate that I will be comparing Alexander Payne’s take on Hawaii to that of Paul Thomas Anderson’s vision of it in Punch Drunk Love.

4. Drive – Nicolas Winding Refn

Why you should be excited:

To tell you the truth, besides the reasons why I am excited, I don’t have a very strong argument on why the average viewer should be excited about this film, aside from those that may have crushes on Carey Mulligan or Ryan Gosling. The story is about a stunt driver that drives getaway cars for bank robbers on the side. When a robbery goes wrong he ends up with a bounty on his head. Think of a mix between The Stunt Man and The Naked City.

Why I am excited:,

This is the new film by the Danish director of the spastically violent Bronson and 2009’s viking epic Valhalla Rising. Both films are notable for not being very good as a whole, but being distinctly unforgettable in their imagery. He’s like a stripped-down male version of Julie Taymor (Titus, Across the Universe) , apparently, only able to make mediocre films that are fun to watch. Hopefully he can break that mold and combine his inimitable visuals with a solid script here with a proper budget (and an amazing cast). A big draw for me is the inclusion of Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston. For three seasons he has made that show the best on television and now this year he is making the jump to feature films with this and Tom Hanks’ directorial follow up to That Thing You Do, Larry Crowne. Also worth noting is the casting of the villain, Albert Brooks?

3. The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made – James Bobin

Why you should be excited:

Once upon a time Muppet movies were the embodiment of perfect family entertainment. 1979’s The Muppet Movie, 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper and 1984’s Muppets Take Manhattan walked that narrow magic line that so many studios have tried to emulate since: movies for kids that are equally entertaining for adults. They were able to be both funny and touching, yet not saccharine and annoying. And somehow these movies could be packed full of how-did-they-get-them cameos without feeling too bloated. Once Jim Henson died and his son took over, all that changed. Starting with 1992’s The Muppet’s Christmas Carol the movies began to lose their magic. By the middle of this decade, Disney had turned the once legendary franchise into made-for-TV crap like 2008’s A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. All seemed lost until comedian Jason Segel decided enough was enough and began a campaign to bring back the magic. The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made is a full fledged attempt to make a Muppet movie that would make papa Henson proud.

Why I am exicited:

I love it when a studio not only admits that they have done wrong, but decides that they are going to fix it. Even Disney, a studio famous for bastardizing their most sacred of franchises, had to own up to the fact the the quality of Muppet films aren’t what they used to be. Segel and his writing partner wrote a script and pitched it to Disney, basically arguing that they could produce a film that would be in the tradition of those first three movies. On board to direct is James Bobin, who presided over all of the episodes of the series “Flight of the Conchords”. Also on board from the series is Bret McKenzie, who will act as musical supervisor. The cast is pretty solid. Segel is the lead, Amy Adams is the love interest, Chris Cooper is the villain and the most attractive woman in Hollywood, Rashida Jones, has a supporting role. The cameos that have been announced include Alan Arkin, Billy Crystal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ricky Gervais, Donald Glover, Dave Grohl and Lady Gaga. I have been waiting for a proper Muppet movie for along time, and it seems like the right cast and crew are about to make it possible.

2. Tree of Life – Terrence Malick

Why you should be excited:

It’s a new Terrence Malick film.

Why I am excited:

It’s a new Terrence Malick film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. A Dangerous Method – David Cronenberg

Why you should be excited:

After the critical successes of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, Cronenberg reunites for a third time with his current go to guy, Viggo Mortensen. This time they are tackling the friendship/rivalry between the infamous analysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Mortensen steps into Freud’s shoes and Michael Fassbender is handling the role of Jung. Set on the eve of WWI, it centers around the love triangle between the two influential cognitive thinkers and the pioneering female Russian psychoanalysts Sabina Spielrein (played by Keira Knightley). Vincent Cassel also makes an appearance as Freud’s disciple and future anarchist Otto Gross. With his last two films Cronenberg has more than demonstrated that he can step outside the genre of body horror that made him famous and still get legendary results. With two scene stealers on the scale of Mortensen and Fassbender chewing up every piece of scenery available, I am betting that this will be one of the best dramas of the year.

Why I am excited:

I have to admit that the plot is enough to put this at the top the list alone (though it does sound like a sociologist’s wet dream). But the real reason it is my number one most anticipated film of 2011 is the cast. Mortensen and Fassbender are my two favorite actors working today. And the idea of the two of them squaring off portraying historical figures of this magnitude all under the guidance of Cronenberg is almost too much for me to handle. While he has disappointed some of his die hard fan base with his last three movies, I have welcomed Cronenberg’s maturing into more realistic fare. The two films I’ve mentioned and  2002’s Spider had him displaying the horrors that exist in the human mind.  This is a departure from subjects that revolve around the external consternation of the science fiction world that he refined for over 20 years, so it will be interesting to see how Mortensen holds up against some of the other greats that have tried their luck at portraying Freud.

Special Feature: A Brief History of Freud in Cinema!

The first notable portrayal of the Austrian turn-of-the-century mama’s boy was Montgomery Clift in 1962’s little seen John Huston picture, Freud. The remainder of the 60’s would see the character of Freud pop up as bit parts in American TV shows such as The Twilight Zone, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie. In the 70’s Freud lived mostly in made for TV movies. The only real gem in this decade was the Sherlock Holmes’ adventure The Seven-Per-Cent Solution from 1976. It featured Alan Arkin as the wizard of id trying to cure Holmes of his cocaine habit. Freud is used in the early 80’s rather well in two rather ludicrous comedies. The first is 1983’s Lovesick, where we see Sigmund (played by Alec Guiness) in ghost form giving love advice to Dudley Moore. And 1984’s cult favorite The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud, starring none other than Bud Cort as the psycho-sexual psychotherapist (and his real-life wife Carol Kane as Mrs. Freud). The remainder of the 80’s had Freud continue to show up randomly to give people advice, the best use in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. BBC did do a self titled mini-series, but unfortunately that was only seen by a handful of elderly Brits. Since then, not many notable entries have been added to Freud’s IMDB page (besides Max von Sydow in an episode of The Young Adventures of Indiana Jones), so the door is wide open for Viggo to stake his claim as the ultimate celluloid Freud (Cellufreud?).

Honorable Mentions of 2011 (in no particular order and ever-growing):

The Cold Light of Day – Mabrouk El Mechri

The Ides of March – George Clooney

Contagion – Steven Soderbergh

Moneyball – Bennett Miller

Crazy Stupid Love – Glenn Ficarra , John Requa

The Beaver – Jodie Foster

Jane Eyre – Cary Fukunaga

Rise of the Apes – Rupert Wyatt

Melancholia – Lars von Trier

13 Assassins – Takashi Miike

Immortals – Tarsem Singh

30 Minutes or Less – Ruben Fleischer

Dream House – Jim Sheridan

The Thing – Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Man on a Ledge – Asger Leth

The Man with the Iron Fist – RZA

Meek’s Cutoff – Kelly Reichardt