Midnight In Paris (Woody Allen)
Synopsis: A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.
Why You Should See It: Selected for the opening night film at Cannes, Woody Allen is due for a hit after his last two films have disappointed. The large ensemble cast includes Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody, Nina Arianda, Corey Stoll, Mimi Kennedy, Kurt Fullerby, Carla Bruni, and Léa Seydoux. – Jordan R.
This Must Be The Place (Paolo Sorrentino)
Synopsis: A bored, retired rock star sets out to find his father’s executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the U.S.
Why You Should See It: Making his English language filmmaking debut, Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo) is bringing us the story an aging rock star (Sean Penn serving up some serious Robert Smith) who sets out to track down the former Nazi who killed his father. Penn looks a tad ridiculous in the stills for this film but there is always hope he can pull it off. – John L.
Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold)
Synopsis: A poor young English boy named Heathcliff is taken in by the wealthy Earnshaw family where he develops an intense relationship with his young foster sister, Cathy. Based on the classic novel by Emily Bronte.
Why You Should See It: Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank was tremendous and, without a doubt, one of – if not the – best films of last year. Arnold had proven herself beforehand with Red Road, but Fish Tank showed that she was a true marvel of a filmmaker. If Wuthering Heights is half as good as Fish Tank, it will still end up being pretty damn good. – Jack G.
Set Me Free (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Synopsis: Involves a young boy that is abandoned by his father and placed in the care of a woman’s oblivious and incapable character.
Why You Should See It: After picking up numerous awards for their previous films, this Dardenne project is currently in post-production and may see a Cannes premiere, something the duo is familiar with. Starring Cécile De France (Hereafter) we’ll likely see it very late in 2011 here in the US. – Jordan R.
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay)
Synopsis: The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief — and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions — by writing to her estranged husband.
Why You Should See It: Tilda Swinton has been on a hot streak since her 2007 Oscar win with career best performances in Julia (2009) and I Am Love (2010) but failed to garner significant awards consideration for those roles. Her luck could change, however, with this baity adaptation of the popular book about the mother of a highschool shooter. Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood) was recently announced to be providing the score for this film which is a good sign for the quality of Lynne Ramsay’s film. – John L.
Chicken With Plums (Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud)
Synopsis: Nasser Ali, whose favorite meal had been his mother’s recipe for chicken with plums, was a renowned musician who played the tar, but who, very depressed, chose to lie down and let himself die.
Why You Should See It: The brilliant Persepolis showed that feature animation isn’t relegated to talking animals for children and now the filmmakers are back with their next film, currently in post-production. – Jordan R.
The Monk (Dominik Moll)
Synopsis: The story follows Capucin Ambrosio – a pious, well-respected monk in Spain – and his violent downfall. He is undone by carnal lust for his pupil, a woman disguised as a monk (Matilda), who tempts him to transgress, and, once satisfied by her, is overcome with desire for the innocent Antonia. Using magic spells Matilda aids him in seducing Antonia, whom he later rapes and kills.
Why You Should See It: Vincent Cassel’s participation in this dark drama is my sole reason for excitement. With a likely Cannes premiere, we will find out if it is worth it soon. – Jordan R.
Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley)
Synopsis: A funny, bittersweet and heart-wrenching story about a woman struggling to choose between two different types of love.
Why You Should See It: Sarah Polley is taking a departure from the serious drama of her debut film (Away From Her) for a more comedic film starring indie darling Michelle Williams. Also in the cast are Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen, so it should be interesting to see how these two comedians fit within Polley’s developing directorial style. – John L.
The Rum Diary (Bruce Robinson)
Synopsis: Paul Kemp is a freelance journalist who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life while writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean. Paul is challenged on many levels as he tries to carve out a more secure niche for himself amidst a group of lost souls all bent on self-destruction.
Why You Should See It: Johnny Depp’s first foray into the world of Hunter S. Thompson brought us the amazing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This time, he brings along Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, and up and coming Amber Heard. – Josh B.
J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood)
Synopsis: Biopic on FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, focusing on his scandalous career and controversial private life as a homosexual and rumored cross dresser.
Why You Should See It: While this may not see a release until 2012, I’ve heard rumors that Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic could see a theaters by the end of this year. His output has been heavily declining quality-wise, with Invictus and Hereafter, but Leonardo DiCaprio usually chooses his projects wisely. Matched with a script from Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black, this is likely a strong awards contender. – Jordan R.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Stephen Daldry)
Synopsis: A nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist, searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks.
Why You Should See It: After his Oscar-bait misfire The Reader, Daldry is back for a more pressing drama. This September 11th-related film starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock could be one of the most devastating of the year. While a 2011 release date hasn’t been confirmed there are rumors we may see it by then. – Jordan R.
Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy (Tomas Alfredson)
Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6’s echelons.
Why You Should See It: From the director of Let The Right One In, comes one of my most-anticipated dramas of the year. The fantastic cast top-lined by Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Gary Oldman match with Alfredson’s keen style could make one of the best thrillers we have. – Jordan R.
Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
Synopsis: A young woman witnesses a bus accident, and is caught up in the aftermath, where the question of whether or not it was intentional affects many people’s lives.
Why You Should See It: My god, Margaret may finally be coming out? For years acclaimed playwright Kenneth Lonergan’s follow-up to the fantastic You Can Count On Me seemed to be in total limbo. There were legal issues and disagreements over the final cut that led to its 2 or 3 year delay. But now that all the disagreements may have been cleared up, we’ll now finally see the film Martin Scorsese once described as a “masterpiece.” – Jack G.
The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard)
Synopsis: A twisted and unusual take on the familiar “cabin in the woods” formula.
Why You Should See It: Famed sci-fi, Buffy, nerdverse, director and writer Joss Whedon finally returns to the big screen with his take on a modern edgy horror film. Set to direct the upcoming Avengers flick in 2012, Whedon brings us his famously quirky and quick witted dialog to the horror genre. – Josh B.
Violet & Daisy (Geoffrey Fletcher)
Synopsis: Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan.
Why You Should See It: Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher is making his directorial debut with this assassin tale. It will mark the second of its kind this year for Saoirse Ronan, after Joe Wright’s Hanna. – Jordan R.
The Cold Light of Day (Mabrouk El Mechri)
Synopsis: A young American (Cavill) uncovers a conspiracy during his attempt to save his family, who were kidnapped while on vacation in Spain.
Why You Should See It: Coming off of JCVD, Mechri directs Henry Cavill (our upcoming Superman), Bruce Willis, and Sigourney Weaver in this action thriller. If he can bring the same kinetic, unique style found in his last film, we are in for a treat. – Jordan R.
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