For many people, a new year means a time for new habits, resolutions, and fresh starts. For myself though, it’s always been about one thing and one thing only: 365 days of brand-new films!
And of course, Hollywood being Hollywood, there’s the usual litany of sequels, super-hero spectacle, remakes, and state-of-the-art Hollywood summer craziness filled with all manner of digital monsters and explosions. But there’s also new films from Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and – most intriguing of all – a ballet thriller from Darren Aronofsky. Come on, admit it – you know you got excited when you heard the words “ballet thriller!” All that, and we also see the return of Michael Douglas in his seminal role as Gordon Gecko.
Read on after the jump for my list of the ten films that – for reasons both good and bad – I’m most looking forward to seeing in the new year.
10. IRON MAN 2
Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. is back as everyone’s favorite armored super-hero Iron Man. This time around, Stark battles Whiplash played by Mickey Rourke, all the while trying to keep his proprietary technology out of the hands of the U.S. government.
Also stars Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Why I want to see it: As a former self-professed comic geek, I haven’t been overly keen on the film adaptations of so many super-heroes in recent years. Aside from Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man, I was left pretty cold by Hulk, Superman Returns, and even the much lauded original X-Men directed by Bryan Singer. And please, don’t even mention Daredevil; that still gives me chills. So imagine my surprise when the guy from Swingers directed one of the most exciting and faithful adaptations of a super-hero ever to be brought to the silver screen. Add in Scarlett Johansson in tight leather, John Favreau back in the director’s seat, and the addition of War Machine to the film, and I’m getting fairly excited.
Release Date: May 7
9. GREEN ZONE
Based on the book Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Green Zone is directed by Paul Greengrass (United 93 and The Bourne Ultimatum) and stars Matt Damon as a warrant officer in pre-surge Iraq searching for weapons of mass destruction.
Also stars Greg Kinnear.
Why I want to see it: As of yet, Iraq-themed war movies haven’t gone over well with a war weary public. Even Kathryn Bigelow’s critically acclaimed The Hurt Locker couldn’t find an audience last year, and that was easily one of last year’s best films. But with Damon starring and a competent director at the helm, Green Zone might be the film to finally connect with a mainstream audience. And with an award-winning piece of highly provocative journalism as its source material, Green Zone looks to be one of those “thinking man’s ” action films that might have just the right mix of brain and brawn.
Release Date: March 12
8. CLASH OF THE TITANS
Starring Sam Worthington, who had the good fortune to star in a little film you might have heard of called Avatar, it’s loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus and a re-make of the 1981 film of the same name. You remember the 1981 version don’t you? It starred Harry Hamlin and Ursula Andress? It had Laurence Olivier playing Zeus and Medusa the monster with snakes for hair who could turn soldiers to stone with a single glance?
Yeah, that one!
The plot has something to do with Greek Gods battling each other, a hero’s quest, and most importantly, lots and lots of epic battles and monsters.
Also stars Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson.
Why I want to see it: Look, some films are sacred cows that you don’t ever want to see remade under any circumstances. Films like Blade Runner, maybe. But then there are other films custom-made for a CGI-enhanced polish. Films like, say…Clash of the Titans? With a healthy budget and early previews that look chock full of action and plenty of monsters, Clash of the Titans seems like the perfect Friday night movie in which to check your brain at the door and indulge in two hours of sensory overload.
Release Date: March 26
7. ROBIN HOOD
Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe yet again, this time in another period-epic, as they bring the down and dirty ugly realism of Gladiator to the legend of Robin Hood. Do we really need to tell you what the film’s plot involves? (Here’s a hint: The film’s title is Robin Hood!)
Also stars Cate Blanchett.
Why I want to see it: It’s simple – I’m damn tired of waiting for a proper rendering of the iconoclastic hero of Sherwood Forest – and this means I expect blood, violence, and maybe some dirt for good measure. With Scott and Crowe on-board I can expect all three and finally for the legend of Robin Hood to be assumed with a properly epic scale. Call me crazy, but Kevin Costner swinging from rope vines in Sherwood Forest to the love ballads of Bryan Adams while Christian Slater watches doesn’t really cut it.
Release Date: May 14
Just as I also like to do, Predators pretends that Predator 2 starring Danny Glover and both Alien vs. Predator films simply don’t exist, instead acting as a stand-alone sequel to the hit 1987 film starring Governor Schwarzenegger. No plot description has been released yet but I’m willing to bet it involves these alien-type creatures that hunt people?
Why I want to see it: For a film like Predators, it’s probably easier to start with the reasons that I don’t want to see it. Most notably, because except for the 1987 original, which itself is one of those films that’s sometimes better left as a memory of the 1980s, all the other Predator films have been quite bad. I mean, really bad.
Another big red flag is that the budget is estimated to only be about $40 million. And while budgets never have any correlation to the quality of a film, with sci-fi action movies vying for a spot as a summer Blockbuster, they do tend to at least ensure, if nothing else, that the film is fun to look at. (Roland Emerich’s 2012 is a good example of this; not a very good film, but visually entertaining as it flickers over your eyeballs.)
So why put it on my list then? Two reasons.
First, it’s written by Robert Rodriguez. And while Rodriguez has always been hit and miss with me, it is something that I find to be “interesting.”
And second, it stars Adrian Brody and Topher Grace. No, I’m not kidding. Really. And any action film that replaces the role of Schwarzenegger with Adrian Brody and Topher Grace is also something I find very “interesting.” So interesting, in fact, that it becomes one of those films that I might end up seeing regardless of reviews, if for no other reason than to see what Topher Grace looks like battling a Predator.
Release Date: July 9
Perhaps one of the most secretive films of the summer, all that we know about it is the single-line description of plot which has been released: “A contemporary science fiction action thriller set within the architecture of the mind.”
Sounds intriguing, no?
Also stars Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine, and Lukas Haas.
Why I want to see it:
- It stars Leonardo DiCaprio who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors if for no other reason than because of the consistency in quality roles that he takes on time and time again. (Did I really say I hated him back when he starred in Titanic?)
- It’s directed by Christopher Nolan, director of two little films you might have heard of called Memento and The Dark Knight.
- The enigmatic trailers for Inception are making it look like the heir apparent to The Matrix.
- It cost two hundred million dollars. And while normally I’d groan at the idea of someone like Michael Bay being given that much money to indulge with, in the deft hands of Christopher Nolan, I become quite intrigued.
Release Date: July 16
4. WALL STREET 2: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS
Wall Street raider Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) is back in this Oliver Stone directed sequel to his own 1987 hit film. Taking place twenty years after the events of the first film, it’s set during the almost collapse of the economy in late 2008. Also stars Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon, and Frank Langella.
Why I want to see it: In an era of Wall Street bail-outs and over-leveraged financial firms and AAA ratings offered to sub-prime mortgages and credit default swaps, we have never needed the illuminating wisdom of Gordon Gecko more than at this moment. And while I’d normally be excessively wary and suspicious of the motives of a sequel to a classic Hollywood property appearing twenty years later (one with a cheesy subtitle, no less!), this is a sequel directed and written by Oliver Stone. Should be a compelling, fascinating, and illuminating expose on what the hell just happened to our economy, including everything from corporate implosions to taxpayer funded Federal bail-outs.
Release Date: April 23
3. BLACK SWAN
Starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as rival ballet dancers. It’s been described as a thriller. And a supernatural drama. And it involves mental illness. And it contains “aggressive sex” between the leads Portman and Kunis.
Did I mention it involves ballet?
Why I want to see it: Well, besides maybe for the “aggressive sex” scene between Portman and Kunis, I want to see this for the same reason everyone wants to see this movie: Aronofsky.
If anyone can make a ballet thriller compelling, it’s Darren Aronofsky. Remember, this is the same director who, in Pi, made a compelling edge-of-your-seat thriller about a paranoid mathematician dodging Hasidic Jews while trying to figure out a hard math problem. Between Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, Aronofsky is easily one of the top directors working in the business today. Between Aronofsky scripting, the two solid lead actresses, another musical score by Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream), and that rumored sex scene between Portman and Kunis, Black Swan promises to be a trippy, sexy, intense rollercoaster ride.
2. SHUTTER ISLAND
It’s 1954 and Leonard DiCaprio plays one of two U.S. Marshalls investigating the disappearance of an inmate at a hospital for the criminally insane located on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. Mystery abounds.
Also stars Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Max Von Sydow and Ted Levine.
Why I want to see it: The film is directed by Martin Scorsese (his fourth collaboration with DiCaprio), what else do you need to know?
Release date: February 19
And the number one film of 2010 that I’m most looking forward to? The film that I need to see more than any other?
1. RED DAWN
In a remake of the 1984 classic of Cold War paranoia and teenage angst, a band of plucky high-school students holes up in the Rocky Mountains during an invasion of the USA, this time with the Chinese replacing the Soviets. And again, just as in the original, the teenagers take the fight to the enemy, single-handedly taking on the entire red Army.
Why I want to see it: To be honest, I don’t really want to. The 1984 original starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen was not a good film. And without having seen a single preview or still from the new version, based upon nothing other than knowing the source material this upcoming remake was born from, I don’t anticipate this film being very good either.
But nonetheless, the original was such a cultural benchmark, and so integral to my identity as a child (yes, I spent an entire summer running around the forest with my friends, fake guns in hand, yelling, “Wolverines!”) that I feel compelled to see this film. So much so, that it takes the top spot in my films to watch for in 2010, even though I can’t imagine it being very good under any circumstance.
You see, there’s a difference between wants and needs. Sometimes you have responsibilities that you can’t simply forgo because you don’t want to. If you don’t get that, you don’t get anything.
Release Date: TBD – but probably sometime in November