5 - True Grit - Now, this is an odd one. The Coen Brothers are almost impossible to pigeonhole. They can make the best dark crime films tinged with black comedy (Blood Simple, Miller's Crossing, Fargo, No Country For Old Men), they can make bizarrely heightened comedies (Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?), totally unique and obscure art films (Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn't There, A Serious Man) and attempts at more broad hi jinks that are interesting misfires (The Hudsucker Proxy, The Ladykillers, Burn After Reading). With this film they're making their first full-fledged western (though No Country...was close) and they're tackling a role that won John Wayne his sole Oscar. Granted it's Jeff Bridges, but still, that is daunting. I for one am really quite excited to see their take. It could fall into their misfire category, but the Coens are never boring. (Dec. 25)
4 - The Fighter - I'm of mixed feelings about David O. Russell. His films Flirting With Disaster and Three Kings are amazing. I Heart Huckabees has its fans, but I'm not one of them. His actions on-set border on the utterly reprehensible and unbalanced. He seems to have generated no shortage of ill will but he is still regarded (justifiably so) as talented. So, when you hear he's just made a boxing movie with frequent collaborator Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, maybe he's met two actors who either won't take or can handle his technique of mental cruelty. Wahlberg plays a welterweight fighter on the road to a comeback, who is helped by his recovering Crack Addict brother (Bale). If done well, you've got a lean, powerful and crowd-pleasing Oscar contender. (Dec. 10)
3 - Biutiful - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest film stars the incredible Javier Bardem as Uxbal, a lonely man involved in criminal enterprises and who, Bardem won Best Actor at Cannes, and Inarritu is getting praise for this film, which, like his previous films (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel) is dark, but unlike them follows a more linear story. Bardem seems incapable of being anything other than captivating (he was even amazing in a terrible film like Love in the Time of Cholera), so at the very least, you'll be blown away by his performance. (Dec. 17)
2 - The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay. It's about the creation of Facebook and the subsequent legal battles, and friendships that ended, in the aftermath. The cast is full of young actors on their way to the top, and has David Fincher ever made a bad film (Okay, let's not count Alien3)? What more is there to say? (Oct. 1)
1 - Blue Valentine - The story of a married couple's life together, told in a non-linear style, this film directed by Derek Cianfrance took Sundance by storm this year, and apparently, both stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are amazing. I'm excited to see a grown-up look at the realities of a truly adult relationship. Both of the stars have shown real potential in the past, and could possibly mature in two of the best actors of their generation. One not to miss. (Dec. 31)
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - I love Woody Allen, but he can miss as often as he hits these days.
Hereafter - Clint Eastwood dives into the metaphysical and the supernatural? I'm intrigued, but as a film maker he's never been interested in the fantastic.
Howl - James Franco as Allen Ginsberg. Could be brilliant. Could be beyond irritating.
The American - George Clooney as an assassin is intriguing, but it otherwise looks familiar.
The Tree of Life - Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star in a film directed by the legendary Terrence Malick, which will certainly look beautiful, but could also be ponderous to the point of dullness.