Shutter Island

Since the first time I saw the trailer for Shutter Island I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be one of those movies with the obvious twist ending that you can see coming from months away.  Well, Shutter Island is one of those movies but surprisingly the ending is the best part of the film.  Even though it’s predictable, the revelations at the end of the film aren’t rushed like you might expect and manage to pack the biggest emotional punch.  Scorsese is obviously an incredible filmmaker, so the cinematography, editing and music are all a pleasure to watch even as the film drags a bit through the middle.  The actors here are great as well, but I imagine many people who were sold by the horror movie vibe of the trailer (This movie will scare the shit out of you!), will be disappointed to find out it’s more a psychological thriller.  I still like the film because Scorsese in B-Movie mode is still better than most filmmakers best efforts.

Listomania: My Most Anticipated Films of 2010

I may still be finalizing my Top 10 List for 2009 but that doesn’t mean I can’t start looking forward to all the films coming out this year. For many of these films, very little is known about them so it’s possible by the time they’re released I’ll be much less/more interested in them, and very disappointed/surprised shortly after. But right now any of these could be a masterpiece. Here is 2010.

1. Inception
dir: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Memento)
First, watch the teaser. Mind blown, right? While the exact plot is still a mystery, the film has been described (countless times) as a “contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind.” Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who is clearly on a roll with Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight, I’m pretty sure I already love this movie, I just have to see it to confirm. Also: if this has anything to do with the film, I’m going to need a fresh pair of underpants.

2. The Tree of Life
dir: Terrence Malick (The New World, Days Of Heaven, Badlands)
Reclusive director Terrence Malick has made 4 movies in the past 37 years, so when he makes one it’s probably time to pay attention. Though I haven’t been a huge fan of his recent films, I have a feeling his latest might be the one to win me over. Also cloaked in mystery this film stars Brad Pitt & Sean Penn in a "cosmic epic, a hymn to life". Also: this might be two movies, they might be shot/shown in IMAX and there might be dinosaurs involved.

3. Black Swan

dir: Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem For A Dream)
I can remember seeing Requiem For A Dream opening night and walking out of the theatre pretty shaken, so as a longtime fan of director Darren Aronofsky I’m pretty interested in anything he does. Coming off his Oscar nominated The Wrestler, so will everyone else. His latest stars my 2 movie crushes Winona Ryder and Natalie Portman (along with Mila Kunis) as rival ballet dancers in a supernatural thriller loosely based on the ballet Swan Lake.

4. Somewhere
dir: Sofia Coppola (Marie Antoinette, Lost In Translation, The Virgin Suicides)
It’s been a long time since Sofia Coppola’s last film Marie Antoinette failed to capture the same attention as her previous films. I was mixed on Marie as well, but as a huge fan of her first two features I think it’s pretty safe to say she’s my favorite female director. In it, Steven Dorff stars as an actor living at the Chateau Marmont whose 11 year old daughter shows up unexpectedly. Described as "brighter, warmer and funnier" than her previous work, I’m hoping for the best.

5. Your Highness
dir: David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Snow Angels, All The Real Girls)
Director David Gordon Green has undergone a major career transformation from moody somber dramas (George Washington, Snow Angels) to stoner comedies (Pineapple Express, HBO’s Eastbound & Down). His latest appears to fall into the latter category as a medieval comedy starring James Franco & Danny McBride as two princes on a mission to save their land and two princesses (Natalie Portman (again!) and Zooey Deschanel) who end up saving them. I think they also fight dragons.

6. Never Let Me Go
dir: Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo)
Mark Romanek was my favorite music video director back when there was a such thing as music videos. While he’s only made one film, 2002’s somewhat disappointing One Hour Photo, I still have faith that he will make great long form films. Originally attached to the upcoming Wolf Man remake, (he left over creative differences), instead decided to make this sci-fi film about a trio of boarding school kids who grew up with no knowledge of the outside world. Supposedly footage from this film made Spike Jonze cry.

7. The Social Network
dir: David Fincher (Zodiac, Fight Club, Se7en)
Facebook: The Movie. Actually it’s the true story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook, as well as becoming one of the richest men in the world. If David Fincher weren’t attached to this film I’m not sure if I would have any interest at all, but knowing what an odd fit of director to material, (script by Aaron “The West Wing" Sorkin), makes me curious what he sees in it.

8. Toy Story 3 
dir: Lee Unkrich (co-director Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. Toy Story 2)
I love the Toy Story films, but rewatch them today and you will see a very different Pixar from the studio that released the more adult Up, Ratatouille and The Incredibles. I’m interested in seeing if they attempt to add more depth and subtlety to the new film or to recreate the tone of the first two films (which might put me out of their target audience)? As much as sequels worry me, Pixar have proven themselves once already with Toy Story 2, one of the greatest sequels of all time. I hope they can do it again.

9. Kick-Ass
dir: Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake)
Based on a comic book by Mark Millar about a high school student who decides one day (without any super abilities) to become a super hero. The film premiered at AICN’s Butt-Numb-A-Thon festival last month to a rapturous response from geeks so it shot immediately up on my list. I know I shouldn’t put too much faith in geek-hype, I’ve been burned before, but I’m trying keeping my expectations reasonable. Also: Nic Cage is in this, which is always a good thing.

10. Shutter Island
dir: Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver)

This was on my list last year, and I’m still excited. I’m hoping the film isn’t made or broken by a twist ending that the trailer seems to be leading towards. Still, the cast is great, the film looks beautifully shot and it looks like this is the closest Martin Scorsese has gotten to making a horror film.

11. The Fighter
dir: David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings, Flirting With Disaster)
Originally, this was to be Darren Aronofsky’s follow-up to The Wrestler, his shoes have surprisingly been filled by the very different David O. Russell.Christian Bale & Mark Wahlberg star as half-brother boxers. Russell is one of 3 directors who has been able to draw a great performance out of Mark Wahlberg, (PT Anderson & Scorsese are the others), and Christian Bale is always great so this should be one to watch.

12. Greenberg
dir: Noah Baumbach (Margot At The Wedding, The Squid & The Whale, Kicking & Screaming)
I hated Margot At The Wedding, but the trailer for this won me over instantly. LCD Soundsystem contributes new music!

13. Cemetery Junction
dir: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant (co-creators of “The Office”)
(Real) Office is one of the most brilliant television shows of all time. Co-creators Gervais & Merchant direct (but don’t star) in their debut film about a group of friends in 70’s London "joking, drinking, fighting and chasing girls". Please be brilliant.

14. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

dir: Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead)
Shaun of the Dead is one of the best horror-comedies of all time, as well as one of My Top 25 Films of the Decade. Writer/director Wright returns in his first film without Shaun/Hot Fuzz stars Simon Pegg & Nick Frost. Based on a series of comics Michael Cera stars as Scott Pilgrim who meets the girl of his dreams and must fight off her 7 evil ex-boyfriends. I’m trying to wrap my head around what the tone of this will be and I can’t yet.

15. The Green Hornet
dir: Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Seth Rogen is The Green Hornet. Michael Gondry directs Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet. It’s so crazy it just might work.

Also Released: Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, Greg Mottola’s Paul, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs, Todd Phillip’s Due Date, Matt Reeves Let Me In, David Yates Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part I, Adam McKay’s The Other Guys, Alexandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, Anton Corbijn’s The American, Tron: Legacy, The Wolf Man, A Nightmare On Elm Street and more.

My Most Anticipated Films of 2009

1. Avatar

dir: James Cameron (Aliens, Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day)

Dec. 19
James Cameron’s long-long-long awaited follow-up to the highest grossing film of all time, this 3D epic has been waiting for technology to catch up to his imagination.  I almost can’t believe it’s 2009 already.  Change everything, James Cameron!

2. Where The Wild Things Are

dir: Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation)
Oct. 16
After many delays I think this will actually come out this year.  Time will tell if the final version will be something not fit for kids or film geeks.

3. Watchmen

dir: Zach Snyder (Dawn of the Dead (2004), 300)
Mar. 6
This looks so good.

4. Inglorious Basterds

dir: Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill)
Aug. 21
Nazi hunting Jews.  Though I didn’t care much for his last two films (Death Proof or Kill Bill: Volume 2), but every Tarantino film is still an event.  Redeem yourself Tarantino!

5. The Fantastic Mr. Fox

dir: Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic)
Nov. 6
A stop motion animated film like Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas or A Corpse Bride, this will hopefully be something completely different for director Wes Anderson.

6. Funny People

dir: Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up)
Jul. 31
I wasn’t crazy about The 40 Year Old Virgin but I loved Knocked Up.  And though he has produced a dozen movies in the past few years this is only his 3rd directorial effort.  I hope the film continues Apatow’s path towards Freaks & Geeks level greatness.

7. Up

dir: Pete Docter (Monsters Inc.)
May 29

8. The Lovely Bones

dir: Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy)

Dec. 11
Based on the bestselling book about young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family and her killer from heaven. Ignoring his King Kong remake, this is Peter Jackson’s real follow-up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Will it be awesome?  Or boring?

9. Star Trek

dir: J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, LOST, Alias)
May 8
I have never seen a Star Trek film or even episode of one of many series.  But J.J. Abrams co-creator of LOST (the greatest series of all time), and director of the summer popcorn blast MI:III, I will follow you anywhere.

10. Shutter Island

dir: Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed)
Fall ‘09
Two U.S. marshals are summoned to a remote island to investigate a disappearance from the fortress-like hospital for the criminally insane.  As if this being Martin Scorsese’s follow-up to the excellent Best Picture winning The Departed wasn’t enough.