2011 Fall/Winter Preview

In this segment I will count down my 25 most anticipated fall/winter 2011 films. These are all upcoming, unreleased 2011 films (no 2012 films will be covered). The majority of these films should be available to view at most theaters, but a few of them will be difficult to find when they're released. At the bottom I will give honorable mention to ten other films that barely missed this list. Enjoy!

25. The Rum Diary (10/28) - Directed by Bruce Robinson. Starring Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart. -- This is supposedly a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas sequel, which should intrigue some. But this is one of those rare roles that should actually bring the best out of Depp (Public Enemies, The Tourist). He's definitely not one of my favorite actors, but he can be quite talented when given the opportunity.

24. The Sitter (12/9) - Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor. -- Green did make Pineapple Express and Jonah Hill (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad) is a very, very funny man, so hopes are high. The Red Band trailer for this film is hilarious, and I really hope Green doesn't shy away from raunch and vulgarity. The film is about a babysitter who takes kids to night-clubs and drug deals after all.

23. Straw Dogs (9/16) - Directed by Rod Lurie. Starring James Marsden, Kate Bosworth. -- This is a remake of the 1971 film, Straw Dogs (starring Dustin Hoffman). I haven't seen that film, but I've been told it's both graphic and shocking (and somewhat groundbreaking). I loathe Bosworth as an actress, so hopefully she gets raped and murdered (I'm only half joking). Marsden showed off his serious side in 2009s The Box, a film I enjoyed, and I think he will do just fine here as well.

22. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (12/21) - Directed by Brad Bird. Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner. -- Whether or not this film is necessary is irrelevant. A fantastic first trailer has me quite intrigued and quite optimistic that this franchise isn't quite dead yet. Cruise (Eyes Wide Shut, Vanilla Sky) isn't what he once was, but having newcomer Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town) on board certainly helps.

21. 50/50 (9/30) - Directed by Jonathan Levine. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen. -- I guarantee this film won't be nearly as funny as the eerily similar Funny People (also starring Seth Rogen), but it features a tremendous cast. It's written by a real cancer survivor, who this film is based on, so credibility shouldn't be in question. Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Rocket Science) co-stars and I'm in love with her, so that helps.

20. Like Crazy (10/28 Limited) - Directed by Drake Doremus. Starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones. -- This film is being called a mix between Blue Valentine and 500 Days of Summer. Being that I loved both those films, I'm highly anticipating this probably heartbreaking romantic comedy. Yelchin (Fright Night, Terminator Salvation) is a budding movie star in the making and this film also features the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, The Beaver). Like Crazy will most likely be a limited release, which sucks.

19. Machine Gun Preacher (9/23 Limited) - Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan. -- The usually dreadful Gerard Butler (300, Gamer) looks like he's finally found a role that may possibly suit him. Director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Stay) is one of my very favorite directors, so I'm excited to see where he takes this amazing true story. Sure, there will be lots of action and a few jokes thrown around here and there, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Monaghan (Source Code, Eagle Eye), Butler and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Bug) work together. This film opens on 9/23 in NYC and LA, but should get a wider release sometime in December.

18. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (12/25 Limited) - Directed by Stephen Daldry. Starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock. -- This serious Oscar contender opens on Christmas day at a few theaters, but will get a wider release on January 20th. It features a crazy good cast that includes: Hanks, Bullock, John Goodman, James Gandolfini, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis and Max von Sydow. I don't know much about the film other than that 9/11 plays a huge role in the film; sounds controversial.

17. Warrior (9/9) - Directed by Gavin O'Connor. Starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton. -- The buzz so far is that this film is fantastic, even for non-sports folk. I first got wind of this film last fall. It sounded like a low-budget MMA film, that stars Tom Hardy (fresh off his fame from Inception). It finally got picked up by Lionsgate and added Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom, The Square) to the mix. O'Connor's films are often a bit cheesy at times, so I'm withholding judgement for the time being. It drops this Friday; check it out.

16. The Thing (10/14) - Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. Starring Joel Edgerton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. -- This movie better not suck, because the original 1982 film is one of the best horror films ever made. To be quite honest, I'm not all impressed with the cast or the first trailer. So, I'm prepared for a letdown. However, I still have some hope thanks to Edgerton and the fact that this is actually a prequel and not a remake. Cross your fingers.

15. We Bought a Zoo (12/23) - Directed by Cameron Crowe. Starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson. -- It's about damn time Cameron Crowe (Vanilla Sky, Almost Famous) graces us with his presence after a long, six year absence. His last film, Elizabethtown, was ripped to shreds by critics, and his previous one (Vanilla Sky) was misunderstood. I happen to think Vanilla Sky is a masterpiece, and Elizabethtown is rather funny and somewhat charming. I'm weird like that I guess. His directorial re-debut, if you will, stars my main man Matt Damon (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Informant!) and has some decent Oscar buzz surrounding it. I have little doubt that I will love this film.

14. Melancholia (11/11) - Directed Lars von Trier. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland. -- Apparently this is another masterpiece from von Trier (Antichrist, Dogville), but the only thing that seems to get headlines when this film is mentioned is his big, stupid mouth. The guy is a creep supposedly in real life, and he has a few interesting views on some moral and historical issues. But, the supporting cast here is top notch, and the subject matter (the end of the world) is right up my alley. The word is that Dunst (Spider-Man, Elizabethtown) will prove herself worthy with this film (she's not a bad actress as far as I'm concerned, though).

13. The Descendants (11/23) - Directed by Alexander Payne. Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley. -- It's a pretty safe bet that this film will be one of the ten films up for best picture at the 2011 Oscar's. Early reviews have nothing but extreme praise for Clooney (Solaris, Michael Clayton), which should come as no surprise; the guy is all-time great. Payne has already won an Oscar for his Sideways screenplay, and may very likely be up once again this year. That's a tremendous film by the way, for those of you who haven't seen or think it looks stupid. It's simply delightful.

12. A Dangerous Method (11/23) - Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortenson. -- Knightley (Atonement, Never Let Me Go), Mortenson (The Road, A History of Violence) and Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Inglourious Basterds) lead this extremely intriguing look into the lives of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. This film looks intense, and we all know Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, A History of Violence) is a master at just that. Once again he hooks up with Viggo Mortenson, which has worked extremely well twice before, so I'm on board.

11. Carnage (12/16) - Directed by Roman Polanski. Starring Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly. -- Polanski's (The Ghost Writer, The Pianist) films are always must-sees, especially as of late. This film features a small, but stacked lineup that includes two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs, The Accused), Oscar-winner Kate Winslet (The Reader), Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) and Oscar-nominee John C. Reilly (Chicago). Are you on board yet? This film looks hilarious, touching and down-to-earth. It's going to be fun to see these four fantastic actors go to work.

10. Moneyball (9/23) - Directed by Bennett Miller. Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill. -- I'm a sucker for a good baseball flick. This is just Bennett Miller's (Capote) second feature film, and I'm very optimistic that he will have a long, illustrious career. He's teaming up once again with Capote star Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Boogie Nights, Along Came Polly). I'm looking forward to seeing Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill clash as they try to piece together a baseball team with a minuscule budget. This film looks stylish, well-acted and downright fun (although predictable).

9. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (12/16) - Directed by Guy Ritchie. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law. --Everyone is back for a second installment of Sherlock Holmes. The first film did very well at the box office and reasonably well with critics. It's an elegant, witty and entertaining film. Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch.) knows what he's doing, and the addition of Roomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) has got me all excited. If you didn't like the first film, then disregard this paragraph.

8. Take Shelter (9/30) - Directed by Jeff Nichols. Starring Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain. -- I don't know for a fact, but my guess is that this film won't hit a large amount of theaters. Which is a crying shame because I've been told that it's a revolutionary, haunting and masterful film. Nichols (Shotgun Stories) is still a relatively young director, but he's already made a name for himself. It's no secret that I love Michael Shannon, and I hope this role helps his career blossom.

7. Contagion (9/9) - Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet. -- Chances are that you've already seen dozens of trailers for this film. If the cast, the terrific director and the intriguing trailers aren't enough to turn you, then I suppose I have no shot in persuading you to see this film. Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven, The Informant!) has made one great film after another, and I've been told this film is no different. This film may be a work of fiction, but much like Children of Men, this type of thing could easily happen someday in the possibly near future.

6. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (12/9) - Directed by Tomas Alfredson. Starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth. -- I've already been told from a very good source that this is one of the best films of the year, if not the very best thus far. It's an easy Oscar contender considering the epic cast that includes: Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King's Speech), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, The Book of Eli), Tom Hardy (Inception, Bronson), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Sunshine), John Hurt (V for Vendetta, The Skeleton Key), Ciaran Hinds (Munich, The Eclipse). This is Alfredson's (Let the Right One In) first English-language film, and just thinking about it gets me giddy. Oldman may not attract a huge audience, but he's easily one of my favorite supporting actors.

5. We Need to Talk About Kevin (12/2 Limited) - Directed by Lynne Ramsey. Starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly. -- Apparently this film is as intense, uncomfortable and edge-of-your-seat as any drama in recent memory. It centers around Swinton (Michael Clayton, The Beach) and Reilly (Magnolia, Gangs of New York), whose son just went on a murdering rampage at his high school. It's a difficult and uncomfortable subject for some people, but I've been told this film doesn't pull any punches and attacks some key issues. The latest trailer looks extremely bleak and ferocious.

4. The Ides of March (10/7) - Directed George Clooney. Starring George Clooney, Ryan Gosling. -- This is classic Clooney material here. He's put together a wonderful cast that includes: Gosling (Blue Valentine, Stay), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler, My Cousin Vinny) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cold Souls). Politics isn't the most interesting subject in the world, but if anyone can make it fascinating then it's Clooney. Clooney directed one of my favorite drama/comedies of all-time (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), so I can't wait to see what kind of tricks he has up this sleeves for this one. Hoffman looks like a serious best supporting actor contender from what I've seen from the trailers.

3. J. Edgar (11/9) - Directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts. -- Eastwood (Mystic River, Gran Torino) directing and DiCaprio starring? Ahh, sign me up. I'm still anxiously awaiting a trailer for this highly anticipated thriller based on the life of J. Edgar Hoover. I really, really, really hope Leo gets his long awaited Oscar for his portrayal of J. Edgar. Time will tell, I'm almost certain he will get his fourth nomination here. Can't wait.

2. Drive (9/16) - Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan. -- It would appear that Gosling is going have himself another terrific year with Ides and Drive. Critics and audiences are in love with this film, and I just hope I get a chance to see it on the big screen. Winding Refn's (Bronson, Valhalla Rising) films aren't easy to sit through, but they're very rewarding. I guarantee this film will be nothing like his previous work, which will probably be good news for those of you who hated Valhalla Rising (which is almost everyone, but me).

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (12/21) - Directed by David Fincher. Starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara. -- For those of you who know me, this selection should come as no surprise. I love the books and the original Swedish films. I shouldn't have to mention the brilliance of Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) and the acting chops of Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Munich). It's been a rough year for films, but I have a feeling that starting Friday things will begin to heat up. This will be the film right before Christmas to turn your smile upside down.

Honorable mentions: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (11/4), Coriolanus (12/2), Hugo (11/23), In Time (10/28), Intruders (10/7), Pearl Jam Twenty (9/23), Sleeping Beauty (10/28), Texas Killing Fields (10/31), The Darkest Hour (12/25), The Skin I Live In (10/14)

The Sitter


Carnage


J. Edgar

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