One of the most fun aspects of being a movie goer is the looking forward - the anticipation of films to come. So with that in mind - let's look forward with eyes full of hope...
5. THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull
So I had to put at least one super-hero movie on the list, given my comic-book-nerd sensibilities, and this is the one. I like the fact that its got a period setting and Captain America isn’t quite as phenomenally super-powered as others in the comic book universe. Could be a different take on the super hero genre, could be a giant clusterf*** of a movie – but one way or another I’m looking forward to it.
Especially Chris Evans as Captain America. Show me a Chris Evans role and I'll show you one of the best things about that particular film. (Not another teen movie, Fantastic Four, Scott Pilgrim). So I can only hope that this is the film that puts Evans firmly on the A-List map. Expect him to turn on a witty, charming, layered performance that the material probably won't be worthy of.
I’m also excited for Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. Hugo Weaving is always awesome, even when he has no idea who he's playing *cough* Megatron *cough*. I can only assume he'll be an awesome Red Skull. Also add the presence of Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci to the list of promising acting talent.
So what’s working against it? Three words: Director Joe Johnstone. As I mentioned it my comic book movie preview he’s a massive, massive question mark over the film.
DIRECTED BY BENNETT MILLER
STARRING BRAD PITT, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, CHRIS PRATT
I’m trying to think of the last truly great team sports movie I’ve seen, but surprisingly I’m struggling. Sports movies have kind of settled into a that’ll-do-pig pattern of above-average to terrible – films like Glory Road, Coach Carter and so on at the top end – and I’m hoping that this is the project that moves the sports film on from the rut its been stuck in.
Moneyball is a movie based on one of my favourite books – Moneyball by Michael Lewis – and it offers the filmmakers a chance to make this one of the first sports movies about the creation of a team and all the politics involved. Great cast as you can see above – keep an eye on Chris Pratt who has a very charming presence – and the possibility that there could be a really good sports movie in 2011 puts this at number 4 on my list.
3. CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE
DIRECTED BY: GLENN FICARRA, JOHN REQUA
STARRING: STEVE CARELL, RYAN GOSLING, EMMA STONE
The plot to Crazy, Stupid, Love looks brilliantly simple – man has marital problems, young man he meets helps him get back on the horse – but hopefully the talent involved gives a signal that there’s more to it than that. The romantic dramedy is a tricky thing to get right at the best of times but if one man can pull it off I reckon it might be Steve Carell.
If you’ve ever seen the American version of the Office, you’ll know that Steve Carell can pull off pretty much any moment they give him. Broad comedy, subtle comedy, affecting drama, romantic, scared, angry or whatever he’s a far, far better actor than any sitcom deserves. Even when the writing has let him down in later seasons, he’s still been able to elevate the material. From what I know about the role, they couldn’t have found a better man to do it.
Add to that potent lead performance an assist from the wonderful Ryan Gosling and my new favourite actress Emma Stone and we’ve got the potential for a romantic drama that might rise above the mediocre mire the genre has been saddled with so far.
2. TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
DIRECTED BY: TOMAS ALFREDSON
STARRING: GARY OLDMAN, COLIN FIRTH, TOM HARDY
Anyone familiar with the material will know exactly why I’m so excited about this film. One of my favourite stories, whether filmed or read, this long-awaited version of the famous John Le Carre novel should provide us spy thriller aficionados with the fix we’ve been waiting for. What’s more, I think they’ve picked the exact right man to helm it in Let the Right One In director Tomas Alfredson, a man who understands the power of atmosphere better than most.
You may have noticed I focus a lot on the casts involved in these films and that’s for two reasons. Firstly I think that the mark of a promising film is the quality of the actors prepared to get involved in it and secondly good actors can elevate bad material to middling, middling to good, good to great and great to outstanding. There is an endless list of movies that depend on their performances for the greatness they achieve.
Here, the cast might just be the best assembled in any of these films. Gary Oldman is donning the brogues to play George Smiley, and he’ll be supported by Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham, Ciaran Hinds and Benedict Cumberbatch. As for the story, it’s second to none and with the talent involved, this might be the film of 2011. But what am I looking forward to even more than this?
1. THE IDES OF MARCH
DIRECTED BY: GEORGE CLOONEY
STARRING: RYAN GOSLING, GEORGE CLOONEY, PAUL GIAMATTI
Little is known about the Ides of March, so I’m taking a lot on spec here. This could go horribly, horribly wrong but if there’s one genre of film I love even more than the spy/conspiracy thriller, it’s the political movie, and specifically, the political movie about dirty tricks and backroom deals. Some of us are just predisposed to like certain types of movies. For some, it’s the zombie film, for some the underdog sports movie and for others any movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel.
For me, it’s the political thriller. The Ides of March is a stage play based on the Beau Willimon play about a young man in politics getting a crash course in dirty tricks. Once again, check out the cast – Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Max Minghella, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright – outstanding.
The real eye-catcher for me though is the presence of George Clooney as director. One of my favourite films of all time is Good Night and Good Luck, the political-journalism film about Edward R. Murrow and all the backstage drama that went on around him. Clooney directed and featured in that and if this film captures any of the lightning in a bottle that film had, it’s going to be my favourite film of 2011.
SOME HONOURABLE MENTIONS
THOR – Camp superhero fun with an interesting director in Kenneth Branagh.
SOURCE CODE – The new film from Duncan Jones who showed so much potential in the anything-but-perfect Moon.
APOLLO 18: Cloverfield meets Apollo 13 meets Night watch, kind of.
HORRIBLE BOSSES: Could be the better R-rated comedy of the year and maybe the first good Jennifer Aniston film in years?
WAR HORSE: Oscar bait from Stephen Spielberg sounds like the best tearjerker of the year.
COWBOYS AND ALIENS: Um, it has cowboys and aliens. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Angels and Samurai.
SUPER 8: J. J. Abrams Area 51-ish follow up to the found-footage, brilliantly promoted Cloverfield.
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and 'Roger Sterling' in a film adapted from a Philip K. Dick short story.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS: Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis’s combined charm and sexual charisma might make the screen explode.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS: The short production time is a worry but the presence of great actors and a more than capable director has be optimistic.