With 2010 done and dusted, what cinematic pleasures does 2011 hold? These are the films I'm most looking forward to at the top of 2011. Think of this as a "Coming Soon" trailer for the next year on the blog, in how it's highlighting the best of what's to come and being curiously unrepresentative of the catastrophic rants in between...
ATTACK THE BLOCK (dir. Joe Cornish, released April 8th)
What's it all about? A trainee nurse becomes embroiled in an alien invasion of Earth when a crashing meteor saves her from council estate muggers. The muggers murder the alien inside the meteor and exhibit it on top of the tower block where they live, attracting extraterrestrial attention.
Why so excited? I'm a huge fan of Joe's work with Adam Buxton, and I've been dying to see what he's been working with while the BBC 6Music Adam and Joe show has been off-air. Hopefully the radio show will return around the time the film comes out too, so there's doubly good news about Cornballs' debut feature film.
THE BEAVER (dir. Jodie Foster, released February 11th)
What's it all about? Toy executive and family man Walter latches onto a prescription puppet after a mental breakdown leaves him estranged from his loved ones. He learns to reconnnect with humanity by speaking through his beaver puppet.
Why so excited? Walter is played by Mel Gibson. Nuff said. It'll be really interesting to see if Gibson will be forgiven by audiences for the real life madness that's hitting the press at the moment. To me, personal life doesn't get in the way of art, even if Gibson off-camera is very clearly in need of help for some of his prejudices. But if you need more persuasion, then you can take a peek at the really very interesting trailer here.
What's it all about? Nina is a seasoned ballet dancer who's perfect for the role of the white swan in an upcoming production of Swan Lake, but the lead is traditionally supposed to play the black swan too. Just as a younger rival draws the eye of her director, she finds trouble tuning into her darker nature.
Why so excited? It's not just that Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis are very beautiful women, but the prospect of Aronofsky turning his appreciable talents to a psychological horror film. This one's been earning rave reviews too, and it looks brilliant to boot. And it might have a little bit to do with the beautiful women. And their sex scene together.
What's it all about? In 1873, an amnesiac outlaw called Jake Lonergan is jailed in a scumbucket Wild West town called Absolution. When an alien invasion (yep, another one) touches down in Arizona, the townspeople face a fight for their very existence, and it could be that only Lonergan can help them win the day.
Why so excited? I hated Jonah Hex. I wasn't crazy about Wild Wild West or The Warrior's Way. However, I do like Westerns, and if there's a fun genre hybrid to be had, it's going to be this one from Jon Favreau. Cutting loose from the Iron Man franchise, he brings a cast that includes James Bond and Indiana Jones to what promises to be a very enjoyable summer blockbuster. If this turns out shit after all, I will be heartbroken.
What's it all about? Yeah, no one's ever heard of this, right? A journalist about to go to prison for a wrongful libel conviction becomes embroiled in a 40 year old cold case, and along the way he attracts the attention of anti-social computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, who helps in his investigation and beguiles him in equal measure.
Why so excited? I went from dreading this remake when I first saw the Swedish version to really looking forward to it after seeing the sequels. Also, Fincher cemented his position as one of my favourite directors with The Social Network, so I can be relatively certain that we won't get a repeat of Let Me In- I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to bring to this story...
What's it all about? After making it around two-thirds of the way through JK Rowling's final instalment in Part I, the Harry Potter saga comes to a close. There are three of Voldemort's Horcruxes left, and all of them need to be found and destroyed before the Dark Lord can finally be killed. Harry, Ron and Hermione bring the fight to Hogwarts, and the final confrontation begins.
Why so excited? Stop asking me that! There's been seven films already! It's going to be hugely satisfying to see this story completed- the end of a phenomenal cinematic undertaking over the course of a decade, with the series' very best director at the helm and an incredible momentum built up by its imminent predecessor. Part I was as close as this series will ever come to arthouse. Now it's time for an explosive finale...
What's it all about? I'm eager to avoid having one of those blogs that Smith vents his spleen about on Twitter, so I'll quote only from the Red State of the Union Smodcast podcasts. The film is about "three high school boys go in the woods to find sex and instead find God." Yep, it's a horror film from Kevin Smith...
Why so excited? With its interesting subject matter and the great cast, Red State intrigues me in a big way. It's a complete regeneration on Kevin Smith's part- I'm a big fan of his work, and I'm sure there are many film fans who'd love to see a favourite director take on an entirely new genre as Smith has done with this film. The hype does seem to be coming largely from Camp Smodcastle, but I'm actually rooting for the "no pandering to press/critics" approach to pay off in marketing and selling this film.
What's it all about? Colter Stevens wakes up in a body that is not his own, on a train travelling place to place, putting right what once went wrong, and hoping that the next leap is the leap home. OK, it's not actually Quantum Leap, and Stevens relives the same eight minutes in the mind of a victim in a bombing attack. His mission is to find out who the bomber is, but can he also change the past and save the train?
Why so excited? Aside from the really good trailer and the intriguing premise, it's Duncan Jones' follow-up to Moon. Moon was one of my favourite films of 2009, and so Jones' name on the director's chair builds up my expectations in all kinds of ways- if it's anything like as intelligent, as moving or as inventive as Moon, Source Code will be one of my favourites of 2011.
What's it all about? More of an adaptation of the original book than a remake of the 1969 John Wayne version of the story, the Coen brothers give their spin on the tale of Mattie Ross, a 14 year old girl whose father is murdered by one of his hired hands. Mattie hires an alcoholic US Marshall, Rooster Cogburn, and travels outwards to track the killer and avenge her father.
Why so excited? I'm there for whatever Joel and Ethan Coen decide they want to do next, and as I've already mentioned, I'm always happy to see a good Western. And this film has Jeff Bridges in it. There couldn't possibly be any more ways to sell me a ticket, and I'm really dying to see this one when it finally gets its UK release next month.
What's it all about? In a fantasy land, Prince Fabious is adored by his people while his younger brother Prince Thadeous sits at home getting stoned on wizard's weed. Thadeous is spurred into action when his father threatens to cut him off unless he helps Fabious on a quest to rescue his betrothed.
Why so excited? It was the trailer that eventually sold me, but let's not forget that Green was also responsible for Pineapple Express, which merged action and comedy better than any other film in recent memory. Now that he's aiming to fuse fantasy with comedy, we could end up with something really special. A dirtier version of The Princess Bride is going to be a sight to behold, either way.
Have I missed any of your own personal picks for 2011? Why not share them in a comment below? Unless you're looking forward to Transformers: The Dark of the Moon. In which case, we don't welcome your kind here.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.