Friday, September 2, 2011

Film Friday: The Top-15 Films You Should be Looking Forward to in Fall 2011

Fall is easily my favorite season.  People always talk about New Year’s as the time of year for starting over, renewal, resolutions, etc., but I’ve always thought of autumn as the time for starting over, personally.  There’s something about the weather changing, the shorter days, and getting back into the swing of things after the summer that really invigorates my soul. 

Top 5 Things About Fall:

5.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks
4.  Cooler Weather
3.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks
2.  Football
1.  Good Movies (duh)

As such, this is probably one of my favorite columns to write every year (see: only the 2nd year now) because it is ripe with anticipation, potential, and most of all, because I freaking LOVE making Top-10 lists (well, 15 in this case).  

Let the countdown begin!

15.  Contagion  (Trailer Here)

You’d think a movie made by one of my favorite directors (Steven Soderbergh) starring two of my favorite actors (Matt Damon & Kate Winslet) as well as a host of A-listers (Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Lawrence Fishburne) would be much higher on my list.  It looks intriguing enough, but I feel like this apocalyptic ground has been tread before, and I’m not sure how interesting and moving it can ultimately be.  Still—Soderbergh + Damon + Winslet = A spot on this list. 

14.  Young Adult (No Trailer Yet, Dang)

Director Jason Reitman is probably one of Hollywoods youngest success stories, with all three of his films having been heavily rewarded by the industry (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air.)  Charlize Theron always brings her A-Game and she looks very interesting here as a woman returning to her hometown after a divorce.  I’ve heard this is a bit of a departure from his earlier work, but as long as Reitman brings his usual dramedy elements into the film, I have no reason to believe it won’t be good.

13.  Take Shelter (Trailer Here)

I’m not totally sure what all this film is about other than some sort of apocalyptic weather issue, but the trailer looks amazing and I’ve read that Michael Shannon (known most notably for his sinister supporting role in Revolutionary Road) is simply stunning. 

12.  The Artist (Trailer Here)

A silent film??  Yes, a silent film, which is already being hailed as a bona fide contender in the Oscar race.  Had I not already heard all of the raves out of Cannes film festival for this film, I would have said that it looks slightly too self-conscious and gimmicky for my taste.  But I will trust the general consensus that it is a heartwarming and effective film. 

11.  War Horse  (Trailer Here)

A World War I film?  A period film?  Based on an award-winning play??  Directed by SPIELBERG???  ABOUT A NOBLE HORSE AND A BOY?????   There’s no way this won’t be the best movie in the history of cinema, right?  Well, I haven’t read/seen the play but I hope Spielberg takes it easy on the sentimentality, because the trailer is absolutely dripping with it.  Still, Indiana Jones/Crystal Skull excluded, I trust Spielberg, and can’t see any situation where this isn’t at least the best popcorn film of the year, if not better. 

10.  Moneyball (Trailer Here)

This film wins the newly-created “The Social Network Award” this year for being the most incredibly uninteresting subject matter in a movie that could actually be very good.  The subject matter being the Oakland A’s, a baseball team that never won anything or even got to the World Series during the time this movie takes place.  However, it does have something else in common with The Social Network, in that it was written by Aaron Sorkin.  He rarely lets me down in the writing department, and when you throw in Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jonah Hill, I’m pretty excited for this film.

9.  Melancholia (Trailer Here)

This film by notorious weirdo Lars Von Trier could turn out to be one that I either love or hate.  I’ve never been a huge fan of his work, although Dogville starring Nicole Kidman is one of the most interesting films of the 2000’s, IMO.  This end-of-the-world flick, however, looks visually stunning which usually means it will be right up my alley, and plus, Jack Freaking Bauer is in it, which is never a bad thing.

8.  Martha Marcy May Marlene (Trailer Here)

So all of this time, the Olsen Twins have had a younger sister who was prettier, a much better actress, is way more in touch with reality, and actually went to acting school at NYU?  How does that make sense?  In any case, her name is Elizabeth Olsen, and she is the star of this eerie indie drama that won Best Director at Sundance Film Festival this year.  Look for it to be a “little engine that could” hit in the vein of Winter’s Bone. 

7.  A Dangerous Method (Trailer Here)

Viggo Mortenson, Michael Fassbender, and Keira Knightley, in a movie about Sigmund Freud and his associate, Carl Jung, involving some, ahem, questionable psychological treatment methods.  Color me excited.

6.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Trailer Here)

This Cold-War era espionage thriller starring Gary Oldman is one that has been on my radar for awhile.  If you’ll allow me to be my most snobbish self for a minute, the reason it’s been on my radar is chiefly due to it having been directed by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson, who made one of my favorite movies of 2008, Let the Right One In (which is my favorite vampire movie ever).  He has the perfect tone to create a cold-as-ice spy movie and the perfect star in Oldman to pull that off.    

5.  The Ides of March (Trailer Here)

Political thriller, directed by and starring George Clooney, with Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Giamatti.  So you can see why this one wasn’t difficult to sell to me. Oh, and this is my favorite movie poster of the year, hands down.  

4.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Trailer Here)

As a general rule, I am opposed to American remakes of foreign films, but exceptions certainly have to be made when one David Fincher is involved.  Rooney Mara looks crazy weird/sexy as the title character Lisbeth Salander, and co-star Daniel Craig should be a major upgrade from his Swedish version’s counterpart, which I thought was the worst aspect of that movie.  I don’t expect this film to be in the Oscar picture, but I do think it will be a pleasant return to gritty Fincher fare a la Se7en and Fight Club.  Also, a Fincher film has my favorite trailer of the year for the second time in a row, so that’s cool.

3.  Drive (Trailer Here)

The other Ryan Gosling film on my list is this Hollywood heist flick about a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver.  My man crush on Gosling would be enough of a reason for me to be excited anyway, but it also happens to star Carey Mulligan, who is probably my favorite under-30 actress right now.  If the movie is even half as good as all of the rave reviews have been so far, then I will be happy.  I do, however, hate that they stole the tagline "There are no clean getaways" from one of my favorite movies, No Country For Old Men.  

2.  The Descendants (Trailer Here)

Been waiting around for this one for a long time.  If you’ll recall, director Alexander Payne’s Sideways was my #7 film of the 2000’s decade, so his pairing here with George Clooney in a family drama fascinates me.  I’ve read that this film is a little less of a dark comedy than some of his prior work, but as long as Payne holds on to the emotional realism that he wielded so well in Sideways, then this should end up on many-a critic’s Top-10 lists this year. 

1.  Carnage (Trailer Here)

Two of my Top-10 movies of all time are A Streetcar Named Desire and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  The films are probably two of the best acting showcases in cinematic history, and both are centered around the interaction of two male/female couples, with varying levels of craziness involved.  Roman Polanski’s new film Carnage, based on the Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage, follows a similar formula as those two movies—it’s about the parents of two junior high boys who meet to discuss a fight that occurred between them.  Starting out fairly cordial and gradually deconstructing into craziness, it should be a very humorous and sadistic piece of filmmaking, and the acting quartet of Winslet, Waltz, Reilly, and Foster is probably my favorite cast of the year.  

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