With 2010 almost behind us, what can we look forward to watching in cinemas in 2011? Presuming that you’ve already bought a ticket for blockbusters such as Thor, The Green Lantern, The Hangover Part 2, X-Men: First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger, here’s a list of lesser known and smaller features that might pique your interest throughout the next 12 months.
10. The Company Men (dir. John Wells)
Written and directed by John Wells (one of the writers on the esteemed The West Wing, as well as being the President of the WGA), The Company Men trains its focus firmly on the global recession, in particular on a year in the lives of three men trying to survive the corporate downsizing of a major company. An all-star trio fill the film’s leading roles in Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck.
Wells has had his hand in dozens of episodes of both The West Wing and ER and this will be his feature film debut. Devon-born eight-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins is also on board the project, with a wealth of fantastic films behind him, such as A Serious Man, The Reader, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, The Shawshank Redemption and many more.
9. Sucker Punch (dir. Zack Snyder)
Before tackling the Man of Steel himself with Christopher Nolan’s backing, Zack Snyder brings the story of an institutionalized little girl’s escape via alternative reality to the big screen using his always slick and always stylish sensibilities.
Snyder has got an impressive rap sheet so far featuring the brilliant Dawn of the Dead remake and slow-mo actioner 300. He also succeeded where other directors have failed in bringing Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic book to the big screen -garnering both critical and box office plaudits in doing so. Sucker Punch looks big and bold, with the story giving effective free reign for Snyder’s trademark visual effects.
8. Source Code (dir. Duncan Jones)
Moon was a big critical success for Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), and almost notched up an Oscar nomination for lead actor Sam Rockwell following a Twitter-based internet campaign. His follow up film will be Source Code, an action thriller which looks like the bizarre offspring of both Deja Vu and Groundhog Day.
Jake Gyllenhal stars as soldier Colter Stevens, who wakes up in the body of an unknown man to discover that he is part of a mission to identify the bomber of a busy commuter train. To deduce the bomber’s identity, Stevens will have to relive the attack multiple times. Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga co-star.
7. The Beaver (dir. Jodie Foster)
Jodie Foster takes up the directorial reigns for the first time since Little Man Tate with The Beaver. Recently troubled Mel Gibson plays recently troubled Walter Black, a once successful toy executive now struggling to cope with a failing marriage and his own personal demons.
While throwing away his worldly belongings, Walter finds a beaver hand puppet in the trash and begins to get his life back on track. Kyle Killen’s script (which topped last year’s Black List) was superb and Mel Gibson has a chance here to start winning back some of the respect he’s lost in droves this past twelve months. His channeling of Michael Caine for the beaver’s voice is probably a good start.
6. Black Swan (dir. Darren Aronofsky)
Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is a brutal, psychological thriller with a plot that centres in on the production of Swan Lake by a New York ballet company. The film plays out as a modern-day telling of Swan Lake itself, while also managing to be a formidable spiritual successor to Aronofsky’s previous film, The Wrestler. Black Swan features a number of performances that will be considered for Oscar nomination -most notably from Natalie Portman as the film’s lead, Nina, and from Vincent Cassel as the ballet company’s director, Thomas.
5. The Muppets (dir. James Bobin)
The Muppet-based segments and songs in Forgetting Sarah Marshall were nothing short of hilarious, and the writer (and star) of that movie, Jason Segel, is also writing and starring in this one. Bringing with him Paul Rudd, Amy Adams, Zach Galifianakis as well as a huge rumoured cast ranging from Emily Blunt, Danny Trejo and Jean-Claude Van Damme to Katy Perry, Mickey Rooney and Jack Black. Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords will be contributing on the musical front and Flight of the Conchords director James Bobin will be making his feature film directorial debut on the movie.
4. Paul (dir. Greg Mottola)
Written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, they have forgone working with their creative cohort Edgar Wright for this sci-fi comedy, with Gregg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad) directing instead. Pegg and Frost play two comic book geeks on a road trip through America where they discover an alien named Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen. With a supporting cast that reads as a who’s who in movie comedy of today (Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Jeffrey Tambor), this one can’t possibly miss the target.
3. Red State (dir. Kevin Smith)
Red State marks a huge tonal shift for indie filmmaking’s beloved son. Smith rose to fame with his debut Clerks, the inspired telling of a day in the lives of retail slaves Randal and Dante, and he has grown steadily as a filmmaker since then.
Here, he’s leaving the comedy behind completely and breathing some abject terror into the horror movie genre. Inspired by pastor Fred Phelps, Red State is a tale of extreme fundamentalism in middle America featuring a cast including up-and-comers like Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun, as well as established stars such as John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Michael Parks.
2. Hugo Cabret (dir. Martin Scorsese)
Based on the bestseller The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Hugo Cabret will be Martin Scorsese’s first venture into 3D filmmaking. Hugo Cabret is an orphan boy living a secret life deep within the walls of a Paris train station. After an encounter with an eccentric girl and a toy shop owner, Hugo is caught up in a magical adventure that jeopardises all of his secrets.
On board is cinematographer Robert Richardson, who Scorsese worked with on Shutter Island and The Aviator, on which he won an Academy Award. Ray Winstone, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield and ChloÃ« Moretz all feature on the cast.
1. Super 8 (dir. JJ Abrams)
JJ Abrams’ latest feature is shrouded in mystery, with the Star Trek director wanting to keep the entire thing a tightly-wrapped secret. Little is known about the project, only that it will be a homage to Steven Spielberg’s (who is producing here) Amblin works of the ’70s and ’80s. The teaser trailer hints at the sci-fi elements that will undoubtedly be prevalent throughout, much as they are in most of Abrams’ work.
- Between a rock and a hard place – 127 Hours: review - January 13, 2011
- No stinkers here! The 10 best films of 2010: a year in review - December 31, 2010
- 10 films to look forward to in 2011 - December 27, 2010