2010 Advance Warning: My Most Anticipated Films of 2010
Now that the US summer is over, it’s time for quality cinema to reign. Aside from Inception and Toy Story 3, is there any other noteworthy 2010 release that comes to your mind? None, I thought so. The latter part of the year is filled with prestige films, arthouse fare, Oscar baits, and films “for your consideration”. Why do producers and distributors do whatever it takes to secure a 4th quarter release date for their films? The answer is simple. They want to be fresh and easily remembered by the time film critics make their top 10 lists and hand out their critic’s choice awards. And so, a tidal wave of quality films will come crushing down on us in the next four months.
2009 set a number of milestones in the landscape of cinema. Avatar became the gold standard in 3D filmmaking and box-office success. Katheryn Bigelow stumbled upon Oscar gold and became the first woman to win Best Director. As Hollywood slaughtered originality for remakes, sequels, and squeakquels, independent cinema offered a viable alternative. Elsewhere in the world, South Korean and Romanian directors continue to astound everyone with their distinct filmographies. If these are signs of things to come, 2010 promises something bigger.
The factors that influenced my level of anticipation for these films are the following: the director’s reputation, the star wattage in the cast, the film’s story and style, and the buzz generated from early reviews. Given that Venice and Toronto Film Festivals are just around the corner, promotional materials are already abundant. There are already teasers, trailers, and posters which gave me a taste of how the final product may turn out. With that said, let me share the 17 films I am dying to see in 2010.
17. The Town
Directed by: Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively
Can you believe that Ben Affleck will turn out to be an acclaimed filmmaker? He will try to convince non-believers that Gone Baby Gone is no fluke, so he directs himself in this crime saga that looks as intense and as gripping as his debut film.
16. The Tree of Life
Directed by: Terence Malick (The New World , The Thin Red Line)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn
My excitement for this film is not as great as everyone else for the mere reason that I haven’t seen any Malick film. But since The Tree of Life is on everybody’s lips, it’s hard not to get carried away by the pandemonium. According to Wikipedia, this is the tale of a Midwestern boy’s journey from the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as a lost soul in the modern world and his quest to regain meaning in life.
Directed by: Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin, Smiley Face)
Starring: Thomas Dekker, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida, Juno Temple
Kaboom is a candy-colored comedy/thriller about horny college students and hallucinogenic cookies. With Araki’s reputation of helming “totally fucked up” characters, his latest creations will join the ranks of memorable characters such as: a teenage hustler, an alien abductee, an actress on pot, and an HIV-positive film critic.
Directed by: Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation)
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning
I have no interest in this film initially, but the trailer totally changed my mind. This looks like a tender and touching family drama. Somewhere is about a Hollywood bad boy on a wild goose chase who gets an unexpected visit from his 11-year old daughter. This led him to re-examine his lifestyle and priorities.
Directed by: Rodrigo Cortes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
This year’s Phone Booth, but our hero is six feet below the ground. With only a cellphone and a lighter, he must find a way to escape before his oxygen supply runs out. This one is tricky. How will you make a 90-minute film set inside a coffin exciting? I’m ready to be surprised.
12. 127 Hours
Directed by: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting)
Starring: James Franco
Like the film above, 127 Hours is another one-man show. Boyle will test the patience of moviegoers with the life story of Aron Ralston who gets stuck in a boulder for five days. You won’t believe what he did to survive this ordeal. Engrossing or boring? We’ll see.
Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu (Babel, 21 Grams)
Starring: Javier Bardem
Described as depression porn, Iñarritu’s latest seems like another laborious stretch of tragedy and hopelessness. How exciting. But before your prejudices take over, watch the trailer below and marvel at this beautiful disaster. Bardem is not a Cannes Best Actor for nothing.
10. I Am Love (Io Sono L’amore)
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Tilda Swinton
2 words. 12 letters. Tilda Swinton. After her miracle work in Julia, I’ll watch Tilda recite lines from the bible. It doesn’t hurt that her new film is a gorgeous but tragic love story that revels on her unearthly beauty and the stunning locales of Milan . Truly, Tilda is looooove.
9. Never Let Me Go
Directed by: Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Kiera Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Sally Hawkins
Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel, Never Let Me Go is described as a haunting and poignant story about love and death. The trailer suggests that it’s a coming-of-age story and a three-way love story, but online sources claim that there is a sci-fi aspect to the story. That’s when I stopped searching so as not to spoil it for myself. But now I’m itching to know what the grand mystery is. My wild guess is that they are clones or robots or aliens from another galaxy.
8. The Housemaid (Hanyo)
Directed by: Im Sang-Soo (The President’s Last Bang, The Old Garden )
Starring: Do-yeon Jeon, Jung-Jae Lee, Seo Woo, Yeo-Jong Yun
This erotically-charged remake of the 1960’s Korean classic was screened at Cannes to mixed reactions. Despite rants that The Housemaid is a sleazy and soapy update of the original, my anticipation is still high especially after seeing the trailer below. The Housemaid remains intriguing, sexy, and irresistible.
7. Enter the Void
Directed by: Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, I Stand Alone)
Starring: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta,
There are still plenty of films from last year’s Cannes that I haven’t seen like Xavier Dolan’s I Killed My Mother, Lou Ye’s Spring Fever, Tsai Ming-Lai’s Visage, and Chris Chong Chan Fui’s Karaoke. But standing high above everything else is Noe’s psychedelic, visceral, neon-lighted, mind-fuck of a film. Some critics even compared it to the iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey. When will I get my hands on this film? Lord, please make it soon.
6. Blue Valentine
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Blue Valentine charts the unmaking of a relationship through the passage of time. Ryan and Michelle play the young couple trying to salvage their disintegrating marriage. The film, screened in Sundance and Cannes to great acclaim, is poised to be the relationship drama to beat in this year’s awards season. This gives me the same vibe as Revolutionary Road and for that reason alone, I’m bracing myself to be mesmerized.
Directed by: Steven Antin
Starring: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Stanley Tucci, Kristin Bell, Cam Gigandet
Let me get this out of the way. It is unfair that Christina is getting all the flak for this film. Admittedly, Burlesque has the makings of a major, major stinkeroo but let’s give Christina a chance. Let’s hold our judgment till we see if she can hold a candle against Cher . Then let’s decide whether Burlesque will score zero like Nine or razzle dazzle like Chicago . Nevertheless, I’m watching this film because of her. Musicals need REAL singers. I rest my case.
4. The Social Network
Directed by: David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield
It’s the Facebook movie! We all wanna know how the world’s most popular social networking site came about. We can trace its roots back to Harvard University where some geeks just want to be cool. What transpired after that involves naked women, cocaine use, billion-dollar lawsuits, and the unfriending of two friends.
3. Love and Other Drugs
Directed by: Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway
Jake is a ladies’ man. He meets his match in Anne. They are on sexy time mode 50% of the time. But she has Parkinson’s! Is she going to die? I don’t know. This looks predictable and cheesy. But Jake and Anne’s chemistry is so palpable that I’ll accept whatever they throw my way. Besides, we all need a cheesy rom-com every once in a while. I’m sold.
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Directed by: Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead)
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh
This epic tale of epic epicness is so awesome that the most awesomely outrageous films aren’t awesomely outrageous enough in comparison. Scott Pilgrim, our geek-hero, must defeat the not-so-awesome seven evil exes of her awesome new girlfriend in order to win her heart. If that plot alone doesn’t sound awesome enough for you, then you’re better off with the glittery Edward Cullen and slutty Bella Swan. Btw, I just heard a confeeeermed rumor (but a rumor nonetheless) that Scot Pilgrim will not be shown here. How fucked up is that? We getVampires Suck and Twilight, but no Scott Pilgrim. Man, give me a break!
1. Black Swan
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler)
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder
It’s no secret that Requiem for a Dream is my most favorite film of all time. Aronofsky’s adaptation of the Hubert Selby’s novel is a work of a true master. So naturally, I am expecting a lot from Aronofsky’s latest. After seeing Black Swan’s trailer, my expectations are now off the roof. Black Swan doesn’t look like your typical drama about rival ballerinas (not that we have plenty of that). It has psychological thriller, lesbianism, body mutilation, and identity crisis written all over it. Black Swan is the hottest ticket during the Venice Film Festival, where it was chosen as opening film.
Early reviews from Venice are mostly positive. They are raving over the stellar supporting cast, Natalie Portman’s unhinged performance as lead (I smell a Best Actress trophy), and Aronofsky’s direction that resembles the best work of David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski. To say that I’m excited to see this film is a gross understatement.Read less