Saturday, January 09, 2010

Most Anticipated Films of 2010

2009 is over. The 00s are over. It’s time for a new decade and an exciting new year of movies. Some years, I’ve had to scrounge around to find enough movies to fill out this list, but this year I’ve got an overflow. Of course, three of them are the same films that topped last year’s list, but hopefully they’ll all make it out this year, and hopefully this will be a great bunch of films. First off, some films I’m looking forward to that didn’t make the list include Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 3, Scott Pilgrim, Cemetery Junction and Kick-Ass. Here’s my ten most anticipated…

10. Tron Legacy - If I had to honestly guess, I’d say this will be a terrible film. The first Tron is pretty bad, though it does have some charms, and I think what I’m looking for from this film is not what it’s going to deliver. So why is it on here? It’s primarily because it’s being scored by Daft Punk and in my mind, I see a 90 minute avant garde burst of light and strange visuals, accompanied by a killer new Daft Punk score. The teaser reel shown at Comicon is pretty great, but I just fear the actual dialogue and narrative will kill the experience. So, let’s hope there’s not too much of that, and we can focus on the abstract Daft Punk experience. Bangalter’s score for Irreversible was the best score of the decade, let’s hope he matches it here.

9. Your Highness - I love the old David Gordon Green, “the next Terence Malick,” but he’s chosen now to become the next Ivan Reitman. Still, as long as he makes films as entertaining as Pineapple Express, I’m down. I’d love to see him do a non-studio project next, but the cast here is fantastic, with James Franco, Danny McBride and perhaps too much hipster cuteness to believe with both Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel in the same film. The premise is great, and hopefully it’ll be a really fun epic comedy. And, the thought of Natalie Portman in the role of a warrior princess brings to mind her fantastic work in The Professional, so I’m eager for that.

8. The Green Hornet - I remember the old 60s series, which was most notable for its great theme song. The film offers a lot more, with Gondry and Rogen sure to bring us an unconventional action film. The issue for me is that I’ve seen diminishing returns from Gondry’s work since Eternal Sunshine, his visual tricks have gotten a bit stale, and Be Kind, Rewind just didn’t work that well. Rogen has a similar problem, where his schtick has been so prominent, it doesn’t have the fresh quality it did in Knocked Up. But, Rogen’s never done a bad film, and maybe matching Gondry’s visual style to a blockbuster structure will make for something really special. The presence of Christoph Waltz is a great bonus, coming off an instantly legendary turn in Inglorious Basterds.

7. The Runaways - I’m pretty confident the two preceding films will at least be entertaining, this one’s more of a question mark. I like the premise, and musician biopics can be a great frame through which to explore social and cultural change. Of course, only filmmaker has used them in that way, the brilliant Todd Haynes. But, with director Floria Sigismondi at the helm, I’m hoping this will be something more than your typical rise and fall narrative. She has an amazing eye, and I’m eager to see what she does with a more long form work. The trailer looks pretty exciting, but I fear that she’s going to be constrained by a weak narrative and that she doesn’t have the clout to do Haynes style avant garde visual indulgence. But, it looks like a fun film and will hopefully deliver.

6. Kaboom - Gregg Araki followed up his most consistently great film to date, Mysterious Skin with a goofy throwaway, Smiley Face, that was unjustly neglected by its distributor. But, he’s back in his classic thematic wheelhouse with this tale of teenagers in a wacky universe of craziness. The initial stills look great, and I love Araki at his most personal and experimental, so I’m eager to see how he brings the style of The Doom Generation and Nowhere into a new era. His Twin Peaks comparisons only make me more intrigued.

5. The Black Swan - Speaking of films that have too much hipster cuteness, here’s Natalie Portman and Winona Ryder in the same film. And on top of that Vincent Cassel. But, the real attraction is Darren Aronofsky who’s following up his “comeback” The Wrestler with a thriller that sounds inspired by Argento’s Suspiria. I think Aronofsky’s never made a film that wasn’t great, and I’m eager to see him continue to branch out. I’d like to see a bit more stylistic experimentation here than in The Wrestler, but I’m sure whatever he does will make the film work. For all the attention that his technique gets, he always does a great job immersing you in character subjectivity, and that seems like a perfect technique for a film about identities in crisis.

4. Somewhere - Sofia Coppola is another director who’s never made a film that wasn’t great. Her new one sounds like a retread of some Lost in Translation themes, but I’m confident in her taste, and am sure that even if it is narratively similar, there will be a lot of wonderful images and moments to enjoy. I loved Marie Antoinette, and think she’s been consistent in really using film as a medium in a way that so few other filmmakers can. An assist from her partner Thomas Mars on music will only make it even sweeter.

3. Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance - This film was released in Japan in June, but thanks to the horrific distribution of foreign films, it’s still not made it over here in either a legal format or a subbed DVD release. But, it’s slated to drop on DVD in the spring, and I’m eagerly awaiting checking out this new film which diverges from the timeline of the original series to offer something new. Anno is one of the best filmmakers out there, and I’m sure he has good reason to revisit his masterpiece and bring it into a new, modern light. This film also introduces my favorite character from the series, Asuka. And, if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see 3.0 this year as well.

2. The Tree of Life - It was a big disappointment when this one didn’t make it out this holiday season, but hopefully we’ll see it in the late summer as rumored. Malick is a master filmmaker, telling stories through film in a way that no one else even tries to, and this sounds like his most ambitious, cosmic project yet. I’m also really excited for the rumored Imax companion project. It’s going to be very annoying if this film turns up on the most anticipated of 2011 list.

1. Enter the Void - Another film that’s been released abroad, but hasn’t been seen here yet. The film got a mixed reception, but every critical review only made me want to see the film more. It sounds like a groundbreaking, sensory experience that redefines what cinema is capable of. Irreversible was the most innovative use of filmmaking in countless years, and I can’t wait to see Noe push it further with this film. I’m hoping to go to Europe in the spring, and if the film hasn’t made it here by then, there might have to be a special trip to France to check this one out.


malpractice said...

Inception and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World have to be my most anticipated for 2010.

Patrick said...

I'm definitely looking forward to Scott Pilgrim too, that would probably be number 11 on the list, though I'm more looking forward to the final book. I haven't seen any word on that, but I'd imagine it'll be a 2011 release.

Inception I'll definitely see, but I haven't liked that much Nolan, besides The Dark Knight. The Prestige, which people love, didn't click for me. My big problem with him is the oppressive, heavy quality of his films, and the lack of pop or joy. The reason The Dark Knight worked so great was that Nolan's filmmaking was Batman, heavy and orderly and Heath Ledger came in with total chaos, disrupting the world that Nolan had built. Sure, Nolan directed Ledger and it was all part of his plan, but I can't help but feel that without a force like the Joker, it's just going to be the same kind of heavy feel of Insomnia or Batman Begins.

malpractice said...

i think the next Scott Pilgrim book will be out right before the movie if i am not mistaken.

I don't know i guess this is one of the few things we disagree on as Nolan is one of my favorite filmmakers. I actually don't think that's a valid criticism of his work, would you lay that same claim at Michael Mann ? That's a directors you like who i would argue makes heavier, oppressive, and bleaker films than Nolan.

The Prestige is a great film in my opinion. It's about two very obsessive people and the lengths they will go for their craft, obviously the movie is going to be more on the bleak side of things. Is it really fair to say it wasn't joyous ? But even so i still think there is a bit of that pop joy there in the final scene with Jackman even if it's coming from a diffrent angle, and the fact that it all acts as a metaphor for filmmaking drives that home more. I think you should give that one a rewatch in the future.

I have also heard that criticism said about Nolan's Batman more times than i can count about how bleak and joyless it is but i still don't get it. Batman Begins is such a fun movie to me and the iteration of Batman in this universe is one of the most hopeful i have seen. No matter how much shit gets thrown at him he still thinks the best of people and he still always gets back up to fight another day with hope that things will get better (which is beautifully illustrated in the final scene of DK which i think often gets misinterpreted).

Also i think there is plenty of fun to be had in both movies with the Bruce Wayne scenes, the Alfred stuff, and i think all the villians are more colorful than people give them credit for. There's a lot of melodrama and stuff too but even that's a got a lot of larger than life feel to it as well. It's got some of the defenitve Batman imagery as well imo. I don't care what anyone says i love that movie, flaws and all.

I don't disagree with you on Insomnia though, that's the only film he has done that didn't really stick with me. It's not bad but it's not all that great either. It does have Nicky Katt and Maura Tierney in it though so it still gets points for that. You do like Memento though right ? lol.

Also check out Following if you haven't already. The Alex Haw 'Cobb" character is kind of the Joker character of that movie, might be your thing.

malpractice said...

Also i think Inception will be a bit of a departure for Nolan. He talked a bit after The Dark Knight about how he wanted to get away from that world and do something completely different, and this has been the project he has been sitting on doing until the time is right for years so i would bet that it is probably going to be a change of pace.

Regardless the cast alone has me excited, and i love the way they are promoting it. The fact that an original screenplay is getting a big budget movie which they are advertising by telling us as little about it as possible is exciting in itself. I didn't even think it was possible to do that anymore.

Patrick said...

I can see that and I think it might seem a bit hypocritical to knock Nolan for being too dark when I've got a Gaspar Noe film as the number one most anticipated on here. I think the thing that separates Mann from Nolan is that I can engage with Mann's characters in a more emotional way. Heat and Public Enemies both have a heavy current of sadness and impeding doom, but they're more about living with the time you have and in the darkness, there's a lot of beautiful isolated moments.

And, I think as a filmmaker, Mann, particularly recently, has a style that's a lot more exciting and in line with the kind of stories I like to see. Miami Vice is the apex of that, the very Wong Kar-Wai or Malick dreamy approach, which is a contrast to the more hard edged realism that Nolan brings. And, I can better relate to that subjective style than I can to the approach that Nolan has.

I liked Memento, and definitely admire the structure, but it's a movie that I respect more than love. Ultimately it's all subjective, but outside of the Joker sections of The Dark Knight, I've never totally loved one of his films.

But, I do have Following in the Netflix queue. I was working on a pitch with one of my film partners, and she mentioned that I should check it out since my idea had some similarities. So, I'll see if that one hits for me.

JF said...

I'm kind of dreading Evangelion 2.0. The original series is a little uneven, but the idea of reshaping it to make it more "accessible" seems misguided, and not only because most reviews of 1.0 (which I liked) seem to suggest that to the uninitiated it plays like something just for the fans. The messiness, and the uncanny way the story starts coming apart at the seams, is intrinsic to why the original series strikes a nerve (or, pardon me, NERV).

Patrick said...

I'd agree that I wouldn't want a cleared up version of Evangelion, but, based on 1.0, I think the future ones should work well. 1.0 didn't so much clean up the messy elements as just distill the story to its tightest emotional focus and cut out some elements that took away from that focus. It's not a simplification of the story, it's a distillation of it.

2.0 might be different, and I really do hope that the later films try to give a clear ending, but based on the way that End of Evangelion 'clarified' the TV ending, I'm not too worried that Anno is going to falter. I don't think he'll top EoE, but if he does, that would be amazing.