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Our Most-Anticipated Films of 2011

Written by on February 21, 2011 

Young Adult (Jason Reitman)

Synopsis: A divorced writer from the Midwest returns to her hometown to reconnect with an old flame, who’s now married with a family.

Why You Should See It: Reuniting Juno’s screenwriter, Diablo Cody, and director, Jason Reitman, this black comedy also pairs the darkly daffy Patton Oswalt with the surprisingly funny Charlize Theron, who proved her comedic chops on the cult comedy series Arrested Development as a MRF love interest. With all this talent on board, let’s call the twisted turn on the long lost love tale a bonus. – Kristy P.

My Idiot Brother (Jesse Peretz)

Synopsis: A comedy centered on an idealist who barges into the lives of his three sisters.

Why You Should See It: Paul Rudd shines as a lovable loser who’s got a nasty penchant for honesty. Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel and Rashida Jones play the women who are in his life whether they like it or not. If you liked the sweet-natured R-rated comedy of ‘I Love You Man,’ you’ll love this. – Dan M.

The Ides of March (George Clooney)

Synopsis: An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail. Based on the play by Beau Willimon.

Why You Should See It: Currently shooting, Clooney’s next directorial effort brings together Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Max Minghella, and Jeffrey Wright. Based on Beau Willimon’s play, the drama will see a release matched with its high awards season potential. – Jordan R.

Machine Gun Preacher (Marc Forster; Sept. TBD)

Synopsis: The story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been forced to become soldiers.

Why You Should See It: Helmed by the director of Stranger Than Fiction and Monster’s Ball, you have to expect something gripping and daring with this wildly titled biopic. Combine this promise with a cast that includes a trio of actors that are unstoppably charismatic and always fun to watch: the ever-cool Michelle Monaghan*, the oft off-the-wall Michael Shannon and the undeniably winsome Gerard Butler, and you have an action film that is guaranteed to be something exhilarating. – Kristy P.

W.E. (Madonna)

Synopsis: A two-tiered romantic drama focusing on the affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson and a contemporary romance between a married woman and a Russian security guard.

Why You Should See It: After seemingly realizing she wasn’t a very good actress, pop star Madonna has now moved on to directing in order to get her cinematic fill. After struggling to find a lead actress for this film, Abbie Cornish has signed on for the romantic drama that will parallel the romance between Edward VII and Wallis Simpson and two modern day lovers. Madge’s previous directorial outing, Filth and Wisdom, flew under the radar to mixed reviews but this project seems to be much meatier material. – John L.

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach)

Synopsis: A free-spirited Brooklynite twentysomething couple who inspire an uptight documentarian and his wife to loosen up — with comedic consequences.

Why You Should See It: Bringing back Ben Stiller and adding James Franco and Cate Blanchett, Baumbach is looking to shoot his next comedy/drama this summer and hopefully see a release by the end of the year. As a fan of all of his work thus far, count me in. – Jordan R.

My Week with Marilyn (Simon Curtis)

Synopsis: Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.

Why You Should See It: In what appeared to be an arms race between Michelle Williams and Naomi Watts for who could get their respective Marilyn Monroe projects off the ground first, it would appear that Williams has won. Photos have surfaced of Williams as the famous sex symbol but this is easily a role that could end up being a massive misfire for the talented actress. This could cement Williams as the most talented actress working in Hollywood or serve as a blemish on her otherwise impressive filmography. – John L.

Jeff Who Lives at Home (Jay and Mark Duplass)

Synopsis: When he leaves his house on a seemingly banal errand for his disgruntled mother, Jeff discovers that the universe might be sending him signals about the nature of his destiny.

Why You Should See It: With Cyrus premiered to strong buzz at Sundance, we’ve been waiting for the next film the Duplass brothers. Reportedly still in post-production, they have still continued their low-budget “mumblecore” style adding Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, and Susan Sarandon into the mix. – Jordan R.

ATM (David Brooks)

Synopsis: On a late night visit to an ATM, three coworkers end up in a desperate fight for their lives when they become trapped by an unknown man.

Why You Should See It: This is the follow up original script written by Chris Sparling (Buried) fame. Sparling is well on his way to becoming one of the most admired screenwriters for low-budget independent thrillers. – Josh B.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Adrian Grunerg)

Synopsis: A career criminal nabbed by Mexican authorities is placed in a tough prison where he learns to survive with the help of a 9-year-old boy.

Why You Should See It: Once the world can make it through The Beaver, we have another Mel Gibson vehicle in store. This action/drama, co-written by Gibson, is the directorial debut from Grunerg, an assistant director on Apocalypto and Edge of Darkness. – Jordan R.

Rampart (Oren Moverman)

Synopsis: Follows veteran police officer Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, as he struggles to take care of his family, and fights for his own survival.

Why You Should See It: Both Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster are back on board for Oren Moverman’s follow up to The Messenger. Joined by an eclectic cast of respected actors (Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Wright), Moverman’s film see’s Harrelson as a renegade cop struggling to fight for his own survival. Harrelson was Oscar nominated for his last outing with Moverman so this is definitely one to look out for. – John L.

The Beautiful and The Damned (John Curran)

Synopsis: The true story of Zelda Fitzgerald (and her famous husband Scott), the Jazz Age icons who lived large, soared high and crashed very hard.

Why You Should See It: Curran has made a steady career making overlooked films with big stars. His next, starring Keira Knightley, will hopefully gain a bit more traction. – Jordan R.

Red Dawn (Dan Bradley)

Synopsis: A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of Chinese and Russian soldiers.

Why You Should See It: Sitting on MGM’s shelf, this remake is waiting for a release after the financial troubles of the company. Now that they are getting back on track with The Hobbit and Bond 23, we may finally see this remake. While it could be disaster, aren’t you the least bit interested? – Jordan R.

Man on a Ledge (Asger Leth)

Synopsis: An ex-cop turned con threatens to jump to his death from a Manhattan hotel rooftop. The NYPD officer responds to a screaming women and calls dispatch.

Why You Should See It: After the impressive doc Ghosts of Cité Soleil, Leth recently finished shooting his narrative debut, Man on a Ledge. The heist thriller stars Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Kyra Sedgwick, Edward Burns, and Anthony Mackie. – Jordan R.

The Impossible (Juan Antonio Bayona)

Synopsis: An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.

Why You Should See It: From the director of The Orphanage comes his English-language debut, an action/drama starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. If he can match the focus and tension of his last film, it will definitely be one to look forward to. – Jordan R.

The Raven (James McTeigue)

Synopsis: A fictionalized account of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life, in which the poet is in pursuit of a serial killer whose murders mirror those in the writer’s stories.

Why You Should See It: While his past films have always seemed to be style over substance, McTeigue is thankfully trying something different after Ninja Assassin. With John Cusack as the famous poet and rising star Alice Eve as our female lead, this could be a winning combo. – Jordan R.

Check out the rest of the list on the next page >>

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