Finally, summer blockbuster season appears to be finding its feet. There’s Inception, the glowing early reviews for Salt, Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me lifting the season out of the doldrums right now. And there’s still the small matter of The Expendables and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World ready to light up August.
And yet already, we find ourselves looking further ahead to some of the films that are set to keep us entertained in the last three or four months of the year. Here’s our ten to watch, although as usual, expect a few we’ve not mentioned to sneak up unexpected…
10. Morning Glory
Right then, Harrison Ford. This is it. The comedy that for some reason you’ve avoided making since Working Girl. The one that could and should give you an Alec Baldwin-esque surge of comedy power through your veins. The first film that you’ve made in some time that actually looks really, really good.
From what we’ve seen of Morning Glory so far, it’s a biting comedy about the quite nasty rivalry between Ford and Diane Keaton. The trailer offers glimpses of just how snarky the pair are to each other, and it also focuses on Rachel McAdams’ producer, who has to mediate between the two.
Yet, it’s the war of words between Ford and Keaton that looks like offering the real joy here, and with director Roger Michell (who made Notting Hill, amongst others) steering the ship, there’s further reason for optimism. Oh, and did we mention that JJ Abrams is producing? Thought you might want to know that.
It’s slipped to an early 2011 release in the UK, but qualifies for the list given that it’s scheduled for a November bow in the States. And if it encourages Ford to further explore his natural talent for comedy (heck, he was the funniest thing in Bruno too, remember), then that’s all the better.
US release date: 12 November 2010UK release date: 7 January 2011
9. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
We know, we know. We’ve read the reviews from the Cannes Film Festival screening too, and we know that the reunion of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko and director Oliver Stone is nowhere near the level of the first film.
And yet there was still an appreciation in those reviews that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was a fine way to spend a couple of hours. Coupled with that, we’ll gladly take the chance to see Michael Douglas in a proper movie lead role again.
Furthermore, we’re looking forward to seeing Carey Mulligan in her first major Hollywood part as well. Ever since she popped up as Sally Sparrow in the Doctor Who episode Blink she’s been on our radar (and, of course, she’s got an Oscar nomination under her belt now, too), and reports suggest that she more than holds her own in a strong cast.
Nobody is suggesting that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will reap the same Oscar attention and level of acclaim as its predecessor. But heck, Oliver Stone doing a big movie that we actually want to see? That itself hasn’t happened in a long time, and we’re not passing up the chance to see how he’s brought the thinking behind the original Wall Street to the credit-crunched world. Even if he has cast Shia in it.
US release date: 24 September 2010UK release date: 8 October 2010
8. Tamara Drewe
Should Tamara Drewe be lucky enough to earn an Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay, they’re going to have some fun working out just what it was ultimately based on.
For Tamara Drewe started off as a weekly comic strip in The Guardian newspaper but, in itself, it was based on the Thomas Hardy book Far From The Maddening Crowd. From those sources, Moira Buffini has shaped the screenplay, and Stephen Frears has directed the movie.
Frears, on his day, is a great director, and any project of his is one we tend to treat with great interest. Granted, the likes of Mary Reilly and Accidental Hero we can happily not watch again, but then there’s The Snapper, My Beautiful Laundrette, High Fidelity, The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons and The Grifters. If we’d made just one of those, that would make us very happy indeed.
For Tamara Drewe, he’s picked Gemma Arterton to star, her second interesting role this year after The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, and while the story of a newspaper writer heading back to the countryside where her childhood home is being put up for sale may not sound initially hugely enticing, we maintain there’s sizeable potential here.
US release date: 8 October 2010UK release date: 10 September 2010
7. The American
Now that Matt Damon-starring The Adjustment Bureau has fallen back to 2011, your best bet for an intelligent thriller looks like this adaptation of the Martin Booth novel A Very Private Gentleman.
Now entitled The American, it stars George Clooney as an assassin undertaking – yes! – one last job. Only – even more shock horror – it doesn’t all go to plan.
Okay. The American is clearly made out of very familiar pieces, but there are factors very much in its favour. George Clooney, for starters, whose lead roles in such thrillers tend to be very well chosen. Then there’s the fact that it seems much darker than your average Hollywood thriller. Finally, Control director Anton Corbijn is at the helm, and he’s an unusual choice at first glance for such a project.
Appreciating that it might not all have gone to plan, there’s still the look of an intelligent thriller in the midst of The American, and the presence of arguably one of Hollywood’s finest leading men does the project no harm whatsoever either.
US release date: 1 September 2010UK release date: 26 November 2010
Granted, we made this mistake last year. Twelve months ago, we found ourselves looking forward to a Bruce Willis genre flick that had slipped into the autumn schedules. That film? Surrogates. It was? Utter shit. But signs are that Red should avoid that trap.
It’s based on the DC comic book of the same name, and the appeal here is the cast that it’s pulled together. For most comic book movies now seem to involve either very public casting searches, or the involvement of either unknown or quite young actors. Or all of the above.
Red doesn’t. Instead, Red not only puts Bruce Willis front and centre (and he’s lost that Surrogates haircut, tragically), but puts him alongside Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman.
Truthfully, it’s Helen Mirren that’s the fascinating piece of casting here, as she’s going to be playing one of the former black ops CIA team that Willis is going to lead. Mirren brandishing a gun in a Hollywood blockbuster? We never saw that coming.
Directing is Robert Schwentke, who made the first half of Flightplan very interesting, indeed, before it tapered off, and he’s also got The Time Traveler’s Wife on his CV.
And the trailer to Red looks quite promising too, which always helps…
US release date: 15 October 2010UK release date: 22 October 2010
5. Burke And Hare
Lots of reasons to look forward to this one, but if we had to cherry pick, the idea of John Landis back behind a movie camera is a good place to start. Sure, Landis’ career has had its bumps, and plenty of them (we’ve still not met the person who actually thought that Blues Brothers 2000 would be a good idea). But lest we forget, this is the man who brought the world The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, Innocent Blood, An American Werewolf In London and a few other movies firmly resident in our DVD collection. And this is his first cinematic release in twelve years.
Can John Landis still cut it? We’re certainly holding out hope, and he’s picked an intriguing project too. It’s looking like a very dark comedy, one based on the story of 19th century graverobbers who sell bodies to a medical school.
He’s also attracted a terrific-looking double-act for the main cast, with Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis taking the leading roles. Plus, there’s a supporting cast that includes the likes of Tom Wilkinson, Bill Bailey, Isla Fisher, the wonderful Jessica Hynes, Tim Curry, Christopher Lee and Ronnie Corbett. Yep, Ronnie Corbett.
The film arrives in October, and while we still await a trailer for it, it’s most certainly on our to-watch list.US release date: UnconfirmedUK release date: 29 October 2010
4. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part One
Even if you’ve not been following the cinematic adventures of Mr Potter and his chums, this is still the film where things get really interesting.
It’s the start of the end for the now-grown-up magician, as the story threads of the first six movies – some of which have taken an age to get this far – begin to be wrapped up, in what promises to be (not for the first time) the darkest Potter movie to date.
Certainly the promotional material for the film is making good on that. A poster featuring Hogwarts going up in flames? A trailer that seems to hint at peril from start to finish? Lots of Ralph Fiennes, albeit with a non-existent nose? It’s almost enough to get you to overlook the fact that the story has been split into two films, as Warner Bros seeks to extract as much blood as it can from the Hogwarts stone.
What’s more, David Yates is directing too, and this is a good thing.
While we felt he made more of Order Of The Phoenix than Half-Blood Prince, Yates has given the Potter franchise a shot in the arm when it needed it the most, and has demonstrated a terrific eye for balancing the necessary blockbuster sequences, character work and cutting out the chaff.
Here’s hoping he pulls off the same trick again, while also taking Harry Potter into something that feels like real danger.
US release date: 19 November 2010UK release date: 19 November 2010
Can we share a fear with you? As awesome as the trailers to Machete look – and they really, really do – we wonder if there’s going to be too much of a film in the midst of it all.
The core idea is brilliant, namely that Danny Trejo finally gets a title role in a movie, and that that movie surrounds his character going after the people who double crossed him, albeit in a very violent way.
This was, of course, the film that came out of the fake trailers interspersing the Grindhouse double bill of Death Proof and Planet Terror, and it’s attracted an Expendables-quality cast: Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal, Cheech Marin, the peerless Jeff Fahey, Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez are among the names on show here.
And the first trailer for the movie proper is easily one of the best of the past few years. It’s gleefully entertaining, and if someone had walked past selling tickets the minute we saw it, we’d have snapped them up there and then.
Our slight reservation is that we wish Robert Rodriguez was the film’s sole director, as opposed to sharing duties with Ethan Maniquis. This may yet prove to be a masterstroke, but with Predators, we got the impression that ultimately Rodriguez was more hands-off than we’d have liked, and in spite of the co-director credit, we wonder if the same will apply with Machete.
Or perhaps that’s us trying to temper our hopes. We’d rather have Machete over a dozen generic Hollywood action flicks, and it’s a fabulous looking film to look forward to nonetheless. It’s this high up the list because if it does all go to plan, then Machete is a film we’ll be watching lots of times over the next few years.
But are all the good bits in the trailer? We’ve got until October before we find out…
US release date: 3 September 2010UK release date: 29 October 2010
2. The Social Network
I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but The Social Network very nearly took the top slot in this list. It very nearly usurped a film that’s I’ve been waiting to see for nearly three decades. That might seem like madness, but then few films in recent times have seemed such an inviting cocktail of unlikely ingredients as The Social Network.
For starters, it’s a movie about Facebook, which we suspect for at least half of you sounds akin to slow torture, the kind of pain which you can only replicate by watching Big Momma’s House movies back to back.
But, what’s this? Aaron Sorkin’s written another movie script that got made? West Wing Aaron Sorkin? Even appreciating that Charlie Wilson’s War felt like a bit of a disappointment, this is still a big deal.
And then perhaps the biggest masterstroke of all: getting David Fincher in the director’s chair. The same David Fincher who happens to be one of the finest helmers working in Hollywood today.
From the trailer that emerged a week or two back, this looks like a majestic piece of work. It’s the film, too, that, back when it was first mooted, was about the last movie we’d expect to top a list like this.
But The Social Network has been the slow burn, and it’s a movie we’ve been talking about in one form or another for much of the last year. Even if we didn’t always realise we were.
If it reaches the potential it’s showing, and has the convictions of the book that it’s based on, then it should be damn near unmissable.
US release date: 1 October 2010UK release date: 15 October 2010
1. Tron: Legacy
The English language is a fine tool, and has aided communication between millions of people each and every day. But there are moments when its lexicon of adjectives simply isn’t sufficient. And that’s why it’s hard to describe just how exciting a blockbuster Tron: Legacy is shaping up to be.
Never mind the fact that it’s arriving in a year when most exciting blockbusters haven’t been very exciting at all. This has been lining up the dominoes of glee since the very moment it was conceived. Whoever finally took the plunge and pressed the green light button is, frankly, welcome to my house for Christmas dinner right now. And they can bring a friend, too.
So why so special? Well it’s a sequel to Tron! That’s a good start. And how about the kind of breathtaking visuals that put pretty much every other movie on the planet to shame right now? Yep, that too. Jeff Bridges? Oh yes, lots of Jeff Bridges. Olivia Wilde? One of the most exciting trailers in a long time? Pixar experts brought in to give extra notes? The fact that we’ve been waiting 28 years – count ‘em – to see a Tron 2? Just stack them all up, and they make for one of the most easily sold tickets of recent times.
December 17th really can’t come quickly enough…
US release date: 17 December 2010UK release date: 17 December 2010
I’m fascinated to see what the Coen Brothers do with True Grit, which sneaks in at the very end of December. DreamWorks’ MegaMind could go either way, the idea of a Yogi Bear movie is horrific, but Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter could prove to be a welcome surprise. There’s the third Narnia movie too, but for a film set at sea for large parts, it looks mightily dry.
Saw 3D and Paranormal Activity 2 are going head to head, but look out for Buried to snatch the horror crown. And the jury is very, very out on Let Me In, which could yet prove to be a remake worth checking out. We’ll see…
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