23 March 2011
  looking forward: 2011

after a year at the movies that i consider as one of the best in recent memory, it is certainly going to be difficult for 2011 to live up to the bar that is set. this is coupled by the fact that i am particularly underwhelmed by some of the directors (spielberg, fincher) that are sure to dominate next year's awards season as well as by the nostalgic childhood theme that seems to be prevalent in this year's crop of films. somewhat strangely a great deal of this year's most prominent coming attractions are either about childhood or feature children prominently (the tree of life, hanna, hugo cabret, war horse, extremely loud and incredibly close, the adventures of tintin). and the few movies that don't seem to be about kids are biopics, which is probably my least favorite film genre (the iron lady, the dangerous method, j. edgar). that being said, there are at least a handful of films i am eagerly anticipating this year:

1. london boulevard (dir. william monahan). this is the movie i am most excited about this year, despite the fact that the few reviews it has gotten thus far are less than stellar. the trailer definitely evokes colin farrell's previous work in bruges, which i loved. and the film marks the directorial debut of departed screenwriter william monahan. throw in keira knightley, undoubtedly the best working actress under 30, and how could this fail? unfortunately there's no u.s. release date yet, but it's already been out in europe so it can't be that long til we see it here.

2. jane eyre (dir. cary fukunaga). i am a sucker for victorian lit dramas in general, and although there have already been a handful of jane eyre adaptations, i am excited for the this version which seems to really pull from some of the more gothic, even supernatural elements of the story. also, this marks the return of my beloved dame judi dench to the screen after a miserable year spent without her (she's in no less than 3! big movies coming out this year). jane eyre's already playing in new york and l.a. and should be everywhere in a couple weeks.

3. meek's cutoff (dir. kelly reichardt). i absolutely love reichardt's vastly underrated debut film wendy and lucy and couldn't be more excited about the follow up which has already gotten rave reviews on the festival circuit. i don't know if this film will be received any more prominently than reichardt's previous work but maybe the recent attention shined on star michelle williams will bring this film into this year's awards conversation (à la winter's bone). the good news is that this is an early release as well. it'll be out some time in april.

4. mildred pierce (dir. todd haynes). haynes' hotly anticipated mini-series adaptation of the oscar winning film starts this sunday. the whole project sounds so bizarre (why is todd haynes directing a tv show?) but given the fact that a few of what i consider to be the best "films" of the past decade (angels in america, grey gardens and tom hooper's john adams) all came from hbo, i guess it isn't hard at all to imagine that this will be one of 2011's best.

5. red state (dir. kevin smith). although i generally like kevin smith's work (mallrats is a personal fave), this probably wouldn't be something that would be at the top of my list to see, except for the fact that it has been getting stupendous reviews by those that have seen it so far, with many calling it smith's best work to date. that, plus the fact that i am a slasher movie slut, are definitely going to get me out to see this. coming in october.

6. j. edgar (dir. clint eastwood). i'm not entirely convinced that this is actually going to be released in 2011, but everyone is anticipating it coming out at the end of this year, and eastwood is known for making movies pretty quickly, so i am hoping to see this one by year's end. once again, i'm not a fan of biopics, but eastwood has yet to make a movie that i don't like, and i have no reason to expect that he would now. here's hoping that critics turn around on him and start putting him on the awards map again.

7. hanna (dir. joe wright). as much as i missed dame judi last year, it seems like it's been a really long time since we've seen much of cate blanchett at all. so i am psyched that she has a high profile film coming out this year. joe wright is on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite filmmakers, and i am very excited to see what he comes up with. this one could definitely be an awards contender even though it would be an early entrant into the race with an april release date.

8. the ides of march (dir. george clooney). george clooney's previous directing attempt, good night and good luck is one of my least favorite films of all time. i find it to be pompous, self important and preachy. that being said, his follow up seems to be much more up my alley, a suspenseful political drama with a great cast. here's hoping it's more michael clayton and less syriana. out in october.

9. the descendants (dir. alexander payne). george clooney is having a big year in 2011, but i think that if he gets oscar attention it is most likely to be for his performance in alexander payne's long awaited follow up to sideways. this script about an aging man trying to reconnect with his family seems made for a best actor nomination. i will be really disappointed if this doesn't end up being one of the favorite films of the year.

10. melancholia (dir. lars von trier). and then there's lars von trier and his upcoming sci-fi drama. this is going to be out in europe this summer, which means that we should be getting it here in the states sometime in. . . march of 2012? i don't know. that seems to be the record with his movies, but i am praying we get to see it sooner. this movie sounds really different from previous work that we've seen from the danish auteur, and i can't wait even to see a trailer just to get an idea of what this is going to look like. no doubt, it will be incredible.
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