Monday, August 30, 2010

Top Ten: Films I'm Most Excited About This Fall (Part One)

Haven't done this in a while. Here's a good ol' countdown list filled with films I've yet to see. Fall is near, and with that will be the big, bad Oscar contenders. It's a shame that they all come at the end of the year, these days. It used to be that all the smaller films would be more spread throughout the middle and end of the year (like this year's The Kids Are All Right or 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), but distribution decisions are a bit muddle by dreams of golden statues. Most of the time, even when acting in the film's best interest, smaller films are placed in the middle of the Fall, prestige film quagmire and get swallowed hole. If there's one perk, Fall movie season is almost like a sports season, where you have to go out of your way to try and watch as many of them as you can. In that way, you really have something to look forward to. Here are the first five films I'm looking forward to the most:

10. Love and Other Drugs
Release Date: November 24

I'll openly admit that Edward Zwick's newest film does not seem like the most introspective movie of the year. It is refreshing, though, to see Zwick making a light romantic comedy, as opposed to the heavy, Hans Zimmer-scored, please-give-me-my-Oscar films that he makes bi-anually (this style has never helped him reap the benefits he cherishes - no Best Director OR Best Picture nominations). My main interest with the film stems mostly from the two leads, Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. For those keeping track, this is a Brokeback Mountain reunion of Jack & Lureen Twist. When the trailer for Love and Other Drugs first came out, I wrote that this looked like Jerry Maguire if you cut out the sports and just added Viagara. While that comment smacks with sarcasm, I actually meant it as a compliment (but I guess whether or not that is a compliment depends on what your opinion of Jerry Maguire is). Early in the year, the word was that Hathaway had a good chance at a Best Actress nomination. The trailer doesn't exactly scream to be Academy material (Oscars prefer it when you tailor your marketing toward their sensibilities), but I'd like to think she still has a good chance. Since her astounding performance in 2008's Rachel Getting Married, I feel she is one of the most exciting actresses in Hollywood. All her films should be considered events at this point.

9. Biutiful
Release Date: December 17

Word from Cannes (where it premiered) was not that kind, with some even describing the film's unrelentingly dreary tone as downright pornographic in its dwelling in depression. They did like the film enough to give the film's star, Javier Bardem, the Best Actor award. On paper, this should be fantastic. Particularly if you consider the combination of recent Oscar-winner Bardem and the masterful Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarrítú (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel). After three films, Iñarrítú has shown vast upward progress, and he certainly is yet to make a bad film. In the trailer, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot in the way of plot synopsis - which is fine. I have no issue with the way today's trailers avoid explaining the story (must we have everything explained to us?), though I admit that I have very little knowledge of what the film's about. Of course, anyone who's seen an Iñárritú film would say that they cannot be accurately described in a short summary. They are not broad enough to support a short blurb, but in fact cover many themes and characters in great detail. It is because of this that Biutiful is one of few films I can get truly excited about without actually knowing what it is actually about. Combine that with the reputation of Bardem and I'd find it hard not to get excited about this film.

8. Rabbit Hole
Release Date: Unknown (Hopefully - for the sake of this list - sometime in 2010)

John Cameron Mitchell made two profoundly interesting and different films last decade in Shortbus and Hedwig and The Angry Inch (which I wrote about, in depth, about a year ago). The former actor has established himself as a formidable filmmaker, even if many will try to pigeon-hole him into being a great "gay filmmaker". In his latest film, he is adapting David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole. He's supplied with a cast that includes Nicole Kidman (also a producer on the film), Aaron Eckhart, and Dianne Wiest. Like Biutiful, this would probably be higher on the list if I knew more about the project (no trailer, only one screenshot). Most of my interest comes from the talent collected: proven actors, prize-winning writer, and a young filmmaker who, while brilliant, has yet to become a real name when talking about great contemporary directors. Of course it doesn't help when, as a director, you are the most famous actor to ever star in one of your films. Simply stated, this is the most exciting (certainly the most famous) cast that Mitchell has ever gotten a chance to work with, and it's exciting to see what will come of that collaboration. And let's not forget Diane Wiest, who makes any film she's in a real event. Why doesn't she make more films? Oh that's right, because she only works on the good ones.

7. The Social Network
Release Date: October 1

After The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008, I seriously considered never forgiving David Fincher. There are few pieces of cinema that are a bigger declaration of megalomania (it was kind of like the Heaven's Gate of the 00's, except a lot of people actually like it for some reason). That said, I'm done trying to convince myself that I don't want to see The Social Network. It's not that I'm particularly interested in the birth of Facebook - most involved here already said that the movie's screenplay is rooted in fiction - but I'm interested to see if Fincher has anything interesting to say about the crippling social effect this website has had on our society. I'm not sure how interested I would be to watch the actual birth of Facebook, anyway. Then there is the cast which includes nebbish, movie-dork extraordinaire Jesse Eisenberg, talented comic actress Rashida Jones, and inexplicably, pop star Justin Timberlake. Every thing about this film seems incredibly now in ways that are hard to explain. I hope Fincher is able to reflect that in the film in other ways beside having Radiohead's "Creep" in the trailer. I still have my reservations. Fincher has never been much of a "moment film director", but he did make Se7en and Zodiac. So, maybe I should quit my fretting.

6. The Fighter
Release Date: December 10

David O. Russell finished the 90's with Three Kings, arguably one of the best films of the decade. He followed that with 2004's I Heart Huckabees which, while intriguing and entertaining, is exasperating in its incessant need to be quirky. Since then, Russell has been fighting to get his film Nailed out of post production hell and fighting a serious image problem after some incriminating videos of him getting into a on-the-set screaming match with Lily Tomlin reached YouTube. Simply said, the guy could use a good movie right about now. The film is about famed boxer 'Irish' Mickey Ward and his relationship with his drug-addicted brother and trainer, Dickie. Mark Wahlberg is playing Ward and has been the film's biggest cheerleader as it struggled in pre-production. The film was dropped by Darren Aronofsky when he left to make The Wrestler, and both Brad Pitt and Matt Damon dropped out of the role of Dickie when production seemed far off. The role was eventually taken by Christian Bale, who dropped loads of weight (again) for the part. Point of the story, this is a real motivated Mark Wahlberg and, as evidenced by Boogie Nights and (full circle!) I Heart Huckabees, a motivated Wahlberg can be a real blast to watch.



Cal said...

I was disappointed with the "Love and Other Drugs" trailer, aside from Hathaway. The others all look interesting, although "Biutiful" will probably be a tough one to sit through.

Nice blog! :)

Emily said...

Wahlberg? Agreement.

Heidi Germanaus said...

I first saw the trailer for "Love and Other drugs" on ur blog the other day and was instantly intrigued. I've worked in a Dr.s office for ages and am bombarded with drug reps on a daily basis. Jake (who is hit and miss) seems to embody the persona to a T.

So with you on Fincher. Benjamin Button caused my gag reflex to kick in fully by the second act. And the end! OMG, if he's born as an old baby why would he revert BACK to a baby if he's aging in reverse? So flippin' stupid. Hated it but going by his previous work, I'll still give'm a chance.

The one role that changed everything for me when it came to my opinion of Wahlberg was "The Departed." I always thought he was a retard and that "Boogie Nights" was just so good that it over came what a shitty actor he is. Now, I keep on open mind when it comes to most of his projects. Also hoping Bale redeems himself from the snot ball that was "Terminator-Salvation".

Looking forward to part II!