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My 25 Most Anticipated Films of the Season

Tis the season. What season is that? It’s kind of hard to say. I suppose it’s a combination of fall and winter. I suppose it’s when the awards season really starts to heat up. More than that, however, it’s the time of year when good movies are released. That’s what it is, primarily. It’s the season of good movies, and I look forward to it all year long.

In honor of that, I thought I’d throw up a little list entailing the movies that you absolutely should not miss. Now, these are not necessarily films that you’re guaranteed to like. I’m not even guaranteed to approve. Neither is this an Oscarish type of list, for its guaranteed that nearly half of these movies will never even see a nomination at the Kodak.

What these films do have in common is that they have not yet been released to the general public and from trailers, stills, stories, festival performances and what some critics have already said about them, they look pretty good to me. These are the movies that I really cannot wait to see. With each title in the countdown, I’ve included a few words about why I find these films so promising. I’ve also posted each film’s trailer (except for the small few that have yet to release one). So without further adieu, enjoy, and remember this list if you plan on seeing at least twenty-five movies in the next few months.

NOTE: Two films most would expect to be on here, are not. “Moneyball” would have made a spot on the list, but I have already caught an advance screening of it (AND LOVED IT). “Drive” would also certainly find its place on here, since I have not yet gotten a chance to see it, but since it has already been released, it excludes itself from the rest of films featured.

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25. “Margaret”

September 30th (limited)

WHY IT’S  HERE: Pretty weird situation here. The film looks to have an interesting plot, a great cast. However, after being delayed release for six years, you’d think this film’s going to have some severe flaws and issues. The winning flip side is that after that much time of waiting and hoping, the amount of anticipation this film carries with it is more than enough reel me in.

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24. “Coriolanus”

January 13th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: I’m disappointed the film is shaping up to be more of an action film than anything else. Vanessa Redgrave supposedly delivers a show-stopping performance, though. Plus, it takes a lot of chutspah to make a contemporary Shakespeare film, let alone a Shakespeare war film. Sounds risky adapting this to current themes and hopefully it can pull it off.

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23. “Paranormal Activity 3”

October 21st

WHY IT’S HERE: I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for these things. On TV, I almost regularly watch “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Adventures,” etc. I’ve seen both previous installments in this series and I won’t miss this one. It’s not just the ghostly themes, but subjective filmmaking on the whole that is always a huge draw for me. I don’t expect it to win any of my end of the year awards, but it should be a good time.

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22. “Melancholia”

November 11th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: Probably the only reason that this film isn’t higher on this list is that I don’t go head over heels for director Lars von Trier. I haven’t seen all of  “Antichrist” yet, but most of his previous fare I chalk up to overly pretentious hogwash, so commonly mistaken for some form of genius. The premise of this movie is right up my alley. Kirsten Dunst’s Best Actress award at Cannes doesn’t hurt (nor her supposed nude scenes).

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21. “50/50”

September 29th

WHY IT’S HERE: Not much more time till this one is released and many have already seen it. Early reviews are promising enough for a comedy and it appears that it crosses the line between hilarious and heartfelt drama quite well. Joseph Gordon Levitt looks to deliver a very strong lead and Seth Rogen has always been enjoyable to me.

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20. “My Week with Marilyn”

November 4th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: We now get to see the release of this long-awaited biopic of the one and only Marilyn Monroe. Everyone is talking about how Michelle Williams will perform in such a coveted role. However, it’s Kenneth Branagh that I’m most looking forward to. I don’t follow the actor that closely, but I know that this is the role of lifetime for him, playing his would-be idol, Laurence Olivier, in his later years during his relationship with the actress. The both of them should tear up the screen together.

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19. “The Iron Lady”

December 16th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: To be quite honest, my anticipation for this film is built almost solely around Meryl Streep’s performance. She plays the role of a lifetime (probably about the 6th or 7th one of those she’s had, but still), portraying the first female British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It’s a crowded year for Best Actress candidates, but maybe this will finally be the year for Streep’s third Oscar, and I can’t wait to see what she does with this role.

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18. “The Artist”

November 23rd (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: I haven’t bought completely into the super-hype that has been generated around this movie. Some people are seeing it as the second coming. However, all in all, it seems like an interesting package. A silent film with a strong lead acting performance (Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor award at Cannes). From the trailer, it also appears to have a touching little love story with some phenomenal black and white cinematography.

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17. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

December 25th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: I do not believe there is another film left to be released this season that remains as big of a mystery. Most people who have read the book won’t shut up about it, but, on the other hand, literary criticism is actually quite negative. The question is whether cinematic magic will give it a boost big enough to please both audiences and critics, alike. The adaptation profits from a cast including Tom Hanks, John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis and Sandra Bullock. Not to mention Stephen Daldry who has now directed three feature films and been nominated for Best Director EVERY SINGLE TIME. That, flat out, doesn’t happen.

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16. “A Dangerous Method”

November 23rd (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: David Cronenberg has really become a legendary genre filmmaker, being that he practically invented his own genre. Part horror, part drama, part erotic thriller, his films have made a claim on everything that disturbs us most about sex and violence. Therefore, I can’t really see a better man to direct a film about the fathers of our that ideology, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The film also includes performances by Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley, who apparently has several scene-stealing moments.

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15. “Tyrannosaur”

November 18th (supposedly)

WHY IT’S HERE: I knew from the second I saw this trailer that it was going to be a film to keep an eye on. In particular, the performances by Olivia Colman and the perpetual underdog Peter Mullen. This looks to be a ferociously searing drama about real people attempting to battle their demons. I can only hope that Strand Releasing is able to get the film into theaters some time soon.

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14. “Sleeping Beauty”

October 28th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: No, I am not talking about the Disney animated film. Far from it. This is the story of a young girl who gets wrapped up in a twisted and dangerous racket of high class prostitution. The film was a pretty big (if not a little controversial) hit at Cannes and the trailer looks extensively dark and sexy. I’m honestly looking forward to this to see just how far and how provocative a world this film is going to take it’s viewer.

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13. “Red State”

September 23rd (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: Kevin Smith may be one of this country’s most overrated filmmakers in my mind, or at least he’s become that in the last decade. However, I just can’t resist this picture. Much of the Smith’s best material comes from when he takes on religious topics, and this is not just an examination, but an all out assault on religious extremists. It will also be interesting to see Smith so far outside of his normal comfort zones. The best horror films are ones that dwell on our deepest fears set in real life. This is a whopper for me.

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12. “Margin Call”

October 21st (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: I honestly have absolutely no idea why in the world people are not talking about this movie more. The film got pretty good early word out of Sundance, it was a 2010 Black List film, it has a stellar cast and a live wire trailer. Not to mention that the film is a thriller set on one of the biggest headline events of the last decade. It does have an inexperienced director at the helm, but from what we can see in the preview, his contributions might be one of the film’s best features. Can’t wait for this one.

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11. “Carnage”

December 16th

WHY IT’S HERE: Why wouldn’t it be? Four of Hollywood’s top performers (John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet) getting together in a single apartment to chew up dialogue based on a Tony Award-winning play and under the direction of one of the greatest auteurs of the last half century, Roman Polanski. It’s said that Christoph Waltz has a lot of the scene-stealing moments, but it’s Kate Winslet’s antics that I’m really looking forward to. We don’t get to see her do enough good comedy.

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10. “Shame”

 N/A

WHY IT’S HERE: I don’t know if any film profited as much from the Venice Film Festival. It picked up the coveted Volpi Cup for Best Actor as well as more buzz then a beehive for both the movie’s courageous portrayal and overwhelming adult themes. Early reports say that this incredible film is also one of the most sexually controversial ones to hit the US market in many years. Who can resist that, or a show-stopping performance by one of the world’s best rising actors, Michael Fassbender?

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9. “Take Shelter”

September 30th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: Like Fassbender, above, Michael Shannon is one of the most explosive actors working, today. He’s excelled in many great supporting roles over the last decade. Here, he gets a huge chance to shine in a powerhouse lead performance. There’s nothing like a great film of paranoia, hallucination and a little bit of destructive weather mixed in. This looks like a fantastic little film that has already performed very well at Cannes. Should be a mind-bending good time.

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8. “War Horse”

December 28th

WHY IT’S HERE: Not sure that I really even need to justify this. Steven Spielberg helming a Tony Award-winning adaptation. The trailer displays some absolutely gorgeous cinematography and great design in all other categories. Plus, this film will also most assuredly gain John Williams his 46th Oscar nomination and perhaps his best chance to nab his sixth award since 1993. There’s really no question that this will be an illustrious cinematic journey as told by one of its best artists.

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7. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

December 9 (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: Between the stellar cast that includes Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones and John Hurt, an up-and-coming director (Tomas Alfredson of “Let the Right One In”) and a script based on novel by the fantastic John Le Carre, this is shaping up to be one of the best spy thrillers in years. Gary Oldman is said to deliver an absolutely golden performance and many critics called it the best film to come out of the Venice Film Festival circuit.

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6. “The Descendants”

November 18th (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: Even though it didn’t take down any awards, I’m not sure if any mainstream film has had a better festival run than this one. It picked up a lot of buzz in Toronto, especially for the film’s lead actor, George Clooney, and writer/director Alexander Payne. The last time Payne made a movie, it was my favorite time I spent in a theater that year. Hopefully, lightning can strike again with this film. I also cannot wait to watch Robert Forster punch thar kid in the face as I have watched on the trailer, over and over.

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5. “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

October 21st (limited)

WHY IT’S HERE: Of all the independent fare that’s slated for release this season, not many have me more stoked than this twisted tale. Elizabeth Olsen supposedly delivers a breakout performance on par with Jennifer Lawrence of last year. Speaking of “Winter’s Bone,” my Best Supporting Actor, John Hawkes, is back in another hard-nosed, creepy, standout role, this time as a cult leader. The trailer truly burns anticipation into one’s brain with the question of what will and won’t be real and I can’t wait to find out the truth.

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4. “The Ides of March”

October 7th

WHY IT’S HERE: I’ve been looking forward to this particular project for a long time. My adoration of “The West Wing” has given me a penchant for political drama. George Clooney stars in, wrote and directed this flick about the political corruption of good men. His last drama, “Good Night, and Good Luck,” was one of the most insightful and liberally proficient films of the decade. Even still, throw everything having to do with Clooney aside and take a look at this phenomenal cast and tell me you’re not excited for it.

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3. “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

December 2nd

WHY IT’S HERE: For the longest time, I had no idea what to make of this movie and couldn’t even understand what it was even really about. Then I watched the United Kingdom’s trailer and my expectations went through the roof. There’s not that many topics as frightening or off-putting than a school shooting. Yet we’ve never really examined the topic through the point of view of the parents. Tilda Swinton apparently gives an incalculably great performance, and it’s not often that the author of a book calls it’s film a “brilliant adaptation” of their work.

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2. “J. Edgar”

November 11th

WHY IT’S HERE: Up until yesterday, we had barely seen a glimpse of this Oscar heavyweight. Now that the trailer has been released, instead of disappointing, it has enthralled me. Clint Eastwood is hit or miss in my book. He’s made some truly overrated and subpar movies, but he’s also made some truly remarkable cinematic contributions, over the years. Hopefully, this will be one of the latter. A script by recent Oscar-winning writer Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) doesn’t harm its chances. The film does apparently focus much on Hoover’s secretive homosexual tendencies, raising it above the bar for run-of-the-mill biopics. I also truly believe that Leonardo DiCaprio is perhaps the Al Pacino of his generation and this role might finally earn him his first well-deserved Oscar.

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1. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

December 21st

WHY IT’S HERE: My excitement for this movie practically defies all of my own logic and standards. In almost any other case, the idea of remaking a foreign film in English would be shunned by this blog. However, there is one key factor that separates this endeavor from all the others and that factor is David Fincher. It’s really difficult not to see this man as arguably the most talented director working in Hollywood. “The Social Network” was the best movie I’ve seen in the last decade or so and for this dark little feature, Fincher has brought along many of the same collaborators, including those responsible for the “TSN”‘s Oscar-winning editing and original score. Not to mention that the director has given a leading shot to Rooney Mara who apparently encompasses all of the best parts of the novel’s title character. Recently, the studio released eight minutes of the upcoming film at a premiere and many critics and pundits say that it is like nothing they have ever seen before. What we may be looking at is a great artist reaching the pinnacle of his talents. How can any self-respecting movie-buff possibly resist? I know I can’t.

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  1. September 22, 2011 at 11:15 am

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