11 in 2011
These 11 upcoming movies are the ones Time Out has the strongest hunch about. What sets them apart? Perhaps it’s a brilliant director, a smart concept—or maybe it’s just a lack of a number in the title. (Full disclosure: We’re still totally in line for Piranha 3DD). In any case, here’s a peek into the crystal ball as to what will be dominating the discussion a year from now. How’s that for service? All dates are subject to change.
Contagion (October 21)
As much as we love it when Steven Soderbergh goes indie (Schizopolis, Che), it’s even more exciting when the director subverts a big Hollywood assignment—like this sci-fi thriller about a deadly disease gone global. The pre-Halloween release date suggests confidence, and the ensemble cast is to die for: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Elliott Gould, John Hawkes… it goes on.
The Descendants (date TBA)
Alexander Payne’s last full-length feature was 2004’s acutely perfect Sideways—and that came after About Schmidt, Election and Citizen Ruth. We have no reason to believe the man has forgotten his craft. His secret weapon: George Clooney in vulnerable-dad mode, a niche the rogueish actor could own in time.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (December 21)
How can we promise that you won’t be completely over this Lisbeth chick by the time Hollywood gets around to her? It’s not Rooney Mara (in the title role) that has us assured, but, rather, her Social Network director, David Fincher, who might be working in a lighter vein this time out. Reminder: This is the guy who managed to make a movie about a website exciting.
The Grandmasters (date TBA)
If there’s even the slightest chance that living legend Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love) will complete his ultracool-sounding martial-arts flick this year—a real-life biopic about the dude who trained Bruce Lee—then it needs to be on this list. We hear his shoot’s almost wrapped.
Hanna (April 8)
Talented Saoirse Ronan was hardly the problem with The Lovely Bones, so watching her play a steely 16-year-old assassin squaring off against Cate Blanchett has us all kinds of stoked. The real ace here is director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice), who should take to the movie’s action scenes with panache.
Hugo Cabret (December 9)
Marty, save us! We’re betting that Scorsese will be the first director to turn the increasing tyranny of 3-D into a virtue—here’s his debut in the deep-dimension format. The tale itself, a complex Parisian children’s fantasy, sounds potentially magical. Equally as exciting: no Leonardo DiCaprio this time.
Rise of the Apes (June 24)
The one summer blockbuster we can truly get behind, this relaunch of the Planet of the Apes franchise sounds about ten times smarter than it needs to be: Our favorite cryptic goofball, James Franco, plays a current-day San Francisco scientist whose prized chimp Caesar (a fully CGI creation voiced by Gollum’s Andy Serkis) begins to verbalize. Ethical quandaries, tragedy and revolt lie ahead.
The Tree of Life (May 27)
Ah, Memorial Day weekend. A time for hotdogs, multiplex madness and…the heartbreaking new drama from American master Terrence Malick (Badlands)? We won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Words like radical and stunning have been tossed around for months; the trailer is replete with Malick’s typical pastoral gorgeousness.
The Trip (May 20)
Of the many fine entries we saw at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, only one—this manic British buddy comedy—has had us quoting dialogue for months. You’ve seen Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon do their spot-on Michael Caine impressions via YouTube; it’s time to check out the whole movie, a sarcastic bonbon.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (March 2)
Finally, theatergoers will be able to experience what fest jury after jury has anointed a modern masterpiece. Thai writer-director Apichatpong Weerasethakul weds his gentle preoccupation with family life cycles to a twilight jungle fantasia straight out of a Henri Rousseau painting.
War Horse (December 28)
We hear good things about this Steven Spielberg guy. Expect the heat of many Oscar campaigns behind this WWI-era adventure about a courageous British lad (unknown Jeremy Irvine) and his conscripted horse, which he follows into the battle zone. Spielberg, 64, is a bit too young for career-capping summation works—but he sure sounds like he’s getting some practice.