My Most Anticipated Films Remaining for 2011

"Most anticipated" lists are tricky. Come each year there are droves of independent and international projects from the prior 365 I'm only just hearing about that surely would have made such bills (and in some cases won't even see wider distribution for years to come, a la Davaa Byambasüren's 2009 "The Two Horses of Genghis Khan", which we're still waiting on), so sensibly making them ahead of time feels neglectful (though I have done a somewhat better job following the bigger festivals this year), while awkwardly cobbling them after the fact makes little sense either as certain reactions one way or another may skew my gauge on pre-viewing titillation.

In an upcoming episode of Ty Landis' Reel Time podcast, for which I have become a regular contributor, our most anticipated films for the remainder of 2011 will be discussed. I'm not sure I'll be able to make the scheduled recording time, so I figured I'd whip up this entry to compensate just in case. With heavies like Terence Malick's "The Tree of Life" and Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" having already seen release and lighter-weight letdowns such as "Thor" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" out of the way, this should be fairly simple.

Let it be taken in to account that these are films with official release dates between now and year's end or recent festival features not yet seen on a wider scale, so anticipated films already distributed but not seen by yours truly, such as Miranda July's "The Future" and Wim Wenders' "Pina", do not qualify. Let the as-per-usual embarrassing mainstream-ness ensue!

Blackthorn - Mateo Gil
I still can't get a read on why this unique-sounding, Eduardo Noriega-starring continuation of the Butch Cassidy legend from "Abre los ojos" and "Mar adentro" co-writer Mateo Gil is flying so low under the radar. I finally caught the trailer recently and while I can't say it did for me what I had been hoping for, it is, after all, only a trailer (an observation that should be minded throughout many of the thoughts to follow, as well). There's way too much goodness swirling about this project for it to go unnoticed. Although, really, where's Amenábar?

We Bought a Zoo - Cameron Crowe
This one ranks high based mainly on my usual adoration of Crowe's works. With few exceptions, I typically go head over heels for the guy and as has been no secret, "Vanilla Sky" is my favorite film. Then, the new Matt Damon dramedy doesn't quite break higher based on my skepticism over the apparently true premise, the always groan-worthy (post-"Lost in Translation", anyway) Scarlett Johansson factor and the newly premiered, super-sappy trailer. Then, "Elizabethtown" starred Kirsten "Snaggletooth" Dunst and didn't look too promising either, did it? Oh, shut up, it turned out splendidly; I love that film to pieces. Anyway, it looks like Crowe is returning to the safe yet iconic kind of material that made "Jerry Maguire" such an indelible hit, only in this case with more family-friendly leanings (maybe... the MPAA rating is not out yet... then again, "Maguire" was wholesome family viewing for me at the unripe age of 11), which could in this case turn out fantastic or, well, less fantastic. The score being orchestrated by Sigur Rós' Jonsi is a good sign.

Melancholia - Lars von Trier
Speaking of Snaggletooth... here's the film that seems to have made intimate apocalyptic portraits trendy, starring the Dunst-cap herself alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg (returning to von Trier after her bloody outing in "Antichrist") and other supporting talents such as the ever-sexy Charlotte Rampling and the deliciously distinct Udo Kier. I... don't have too much to say about this one, now that I think about it. It just looks good. Here's hoping it actually is!

A Dangerous Method - David Cronenberg
A film involving Carl Jung? I'm there! Its main character is Sigmund Freud? I'm doubly there!! And the two are played by Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender, respectively? Please excuse me while I adorn these here bells!!! Add Keira Knightley's ashamed excitement via sexual abuse and it sounds like Cronenberg is deftly continuing his new millenium hot streak that began with "A History of Violence" in 2005.

The Three Musketeers - Paul W.S. Anderson
As has been written about at length at least three times on this blog and even more on film discussion forums, "Resident Evil: Afterlife" not only galvanized my admiration and enjoyment of the "Resident Evil" series, it sparked a new love of Milla Jovovich's lucky groom, director Paul W.S. Anderson, and his under-appreciated action stylings. I'll refrain from further detailing as much here, but suffice to say by the virtue of "Afterlife", "The Three Musketeers" would have been toward the top here no matter what its individual outlook. It helps matters in a big way that the trailers have totally exhilarated me and appear to be utilizing 3D in the same artistically innovative way I hoped/knew they would. W.S. is the only person keeping my faith in 3D alive at this point, though, admittedly, thanks to just about everything I've seen in the format since "Afterlife", that faith is on life support... let "Musketeers" be my defibrillator!

Honorable mentions, in descending order of anticipation:

Swirl (Marins, Jr.)
- In all honesty I only just learned of this one, but oh, my goodness does it look wonderful. Here's hoping it's as up my alley as it appears.

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (Six)
- Have you read the plot summary for this thing?

Carnage (Polanski)
- I was interested enough in checking out the play, I may as well get excited about a Polanski rendering starring none other than John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet!

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Durkin)
- This looks akin to Reygadas' "Silent Light", which I recently viewed and loved, in its laid back examination of certain peoples' lives. Here's hoping all that storyline stuff is either worthwhile or gets out of the way.

The Ides of March (Clooney)
- Not sure how it'll turn out, but the trailer has grown on me enough to warrant a relatively high placement among these honorable mentions. If it's 3/4ths as good as "Good Night, and Good Luck", I'll be happy enough.

The Descendants (Payne)
- I like "Sideways". I like "About Schmidt". I like George Clooney, who miraculously maintains hyper-sexy status even after years of playing schlubs and schmucks. 'Nuff said.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Bird)
- I have yet to be sold on Jeremy Renner, the trailer is supremely disappointing and after the excellence of the series' third installment, it just plain ol' doesn't look like Brad Bird - of whom I am no devotee, mind you - has not cut the mustard. Still, it's Tom Cruise. It's Mission: Impossible. Come on.

Hail (Courtin-Wilson)
- Trailer looks quite good. Simple as that.

The Muppets (Bobin)
- Jason Segel became an instant favorite after "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", and the fact his Muppets script is being realized is delightful. The only shame is that it couldn't keep its original title, "The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made". Is it really that difficult to remember movie titles? Now that I work at a movie theater, I'm realizing what a hard time many, many people do seem to have with exactly that (if it retained its original title, wouldn't everyone just call it "The Muppets" anyway?). See the next film down for another heinous title cleave.

Hugo (Scorsese)
- AKA The Film Formerly Known as "The Invention of Hugo Cabret". I'm just curious what the notorious director's first (only?) crack at 3D will look like. He claims to have learned a lot on set.

Alps (Lanthimos)
- "Dogtooth" didn't blow me quite so far out of the water as it did some, but it did excite me for Lanthimos' next, which is sounding even more ingenious through its decidedly odd insularity.

War Horse (Spielberg)
- Could be pretty. Here's hoping there isn't too much dialogue.

Coriolanus (Fiennes)
- The modern setting came as a surprise, but it's a great Shakespeare story done with what appears to be purely source dialogue added to the curiosity of what Fiennes as a director turns out like. Don't ruin this for me, Gerahhhd!

Immortals (Singh)
- Looks like arse - glittery arse, to be specific - but a recent trailer showed me, through its shots of the Titans, that there may be some true goodness hiding behind the yet-ostensible mess.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Ritchie)
- Also looks like arse, and the first one is terrible... but I often loves me some gratuitous slo-mo.

The Thing (Heijningen, Jr.)
- Strange concept for a prequel (in that, more than in many other prequels, we already know the outcome) that seems devoid of a great hero a la Kurt Russell... but the trailer doesn't exactly suck and the excellent Morricone score is intact.

Moneyball (Miller)
- Don't have to wait long for this one, eh? Doesn't look out of the park, if you will, but I've come around on the notion that it could be a nice surprise.

As for 2012, well, just see paragraph one as to why I'm hesitant to name names too hastily... but let's just admit any form of the list would have to include "Resident Evil: Retribution" (which I'm following via @MillaJovovich on Twitter as I did "The Three Musketeers") and "Rock of Ages". I suppose we could toss in "Underworld: Awakening" somewhere for good, leather-clad measure. We're also probably getting another Terence Malick, another Paul Thomas Anderson, another Quentin Tarantino and another "Lord of the Rings" - how's that for a promising year!? And don't forget Gore Verbinski's "The Lone Ranger" from "Pirates of the Caribbean" writers Terry Elliot and Ted Rossio! Oh... wait... yeah...

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