26 for late 2010, or early 2011 (Part 1)


So this is my first blog post that’s not a review, but it’s also the first time since I started running this thing that the Fall of a year has approached. That means it’s Oscar season. Because of the Academy’s short memory, it seems all studios make sure their films are released in the three months leading up to the announcement of the award winners, and that means, if you’ll forgive a cliché, all our cinematic Christmases come at once.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in the forthcoming film Blue Valentine (see below).

Of course there’s been the odd excellent piece scattered throughout the year. Shutter Island is technically a 2010 film, and given how long it took The Secret In Their Eyes and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to reach British mainland, these 2009 releases are in a way 2010 films as well. This goes without even mentioning summer-favourites Inception and Toy Story 3, both of which are of a stupidly high standard for the time of year at which they were released. I’d like to think Inception in particular will defy convention and pick up some awards-recognition, with DiCaprio being nominated for an Oscar at a minimum, and perhaps Nolan getting a nod for his screenplay. Inception might even be good enough to deserve winning Best Picture. To know that, however, we’d have to see the future. And as you should have deduced from this post’s title, a lot will get in its way on its quest for that Holy Grail.

The following, then, is a two-part guide through the next few months. It has been inspired partly by my own wish to map it all out for myself as a tick-list (on which I hope to score at least 75%), and partly by the announcement today of the schedule for the BFI’s annual London Film Festival, which will take place next month. If all goes to plan I will catch a few of the following there, much earlier than their official release dates. I considered ranking the films below in order of which excite me most, but then realised I can just convey that with words. The order is thus chronological instead. Where release dates aren’t known, those films are left until later or part two, in groups of descending order reflecting my weakening faith that we’ll get a glimpse of them in British cinemas. If you live in London, you’ll be fine. You’ll also probably be very fortunate, if not perfectly successful, if you’re lucky enough to have a nearby independent cinema or smaller chain like the Phoenix in Oxford. If you only have the local Odeon or Vue, however, you should, tragically, probably not bother reading past part 1. It’s a sad indictment of British taste, but there’s little we can do.

With that in mind, here it goes…

The 6 to look out for with certain release dates

1. The Social Network (David Fincher). Acclaimed director of Benjamin Button, Fight Club and Se7en, David Fincher here is set to turn his eye on Facebook, one of two filmmakers to do so this summer (see Catfish in part 2). The trailer is selling it as a quasi-legal drama, and there’s no reason to think it’ll be lying. Expect a careful retelling of what the university students who had the idea had to go through to make it materialise, as they battled with friends, Harvard disciplinarians, and finally even US judges, the latter presumably over privacy concerns. There’s no reason why this won’t deliver as an exploration of the network we now use every day of our lives without a second thought. Its very nature, however, seems to limit it insofar as how inspiring it could potentially be. Release date: 15th October.

2. The Deathly Hallows (David Yates). This one has the potential to go dreadfully wrong. Whilst the two part strategy is a guaranteed money maker, artistically it could splinter this finale to the Harry Potter series something dreadful, not to even mention the fact this one is infinitely darker than all the other novels put together. Hogwarts won’t be here to keep this one packed with laughs, nor will teenage romances be able to get in the way. It’s going to have to be deadly serious drama. I await its arrival, truly intrigued to see if Yates can pull it off. Release date: 19th November.

3. The American (Anton Corbijn). Now this one looks like it has potential. The poster is almost reminiscent of something from the French New Wave like Godard’s Breathless. Either way, Clooney is back in a role sounding super-hip; this time he’s playing an assassin hiding out in Italy for one last assignment. From the director of Control and already with a four-star review from Ebert, this one should be a safe bet well worthy of the cost of a cinema ticket. Release date: 26th November. Also showing in October at the London Film Festival.

4. Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek). This one sounds like it should have been an Ian McEwan novel, but it turns out it’s based on a book by an apparently equally famous author – Kazuo Ishiguro. Keira Knightly and Carey Mulligan star as childhood friends at an English countryside boarding school, who grow up and are compelled to contemplate the feelings they have for one another and their other friend, Tommy. Far from a telling plot line, but it’s the names surrounding this one which give it credibility. Another one that will no doubt be worth a look. Release date: 14th January. Also available at October’s London Film Festival.

5. Tree of Life (Terrence Malick). Okay, so we know absolutely nothing about Tree of Life. It didn’t even have a distributor until very recently. IMDb gives us some clue about sons in the 1950s witnessing a loss of innocence, but all that can be said for sure is that it stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt. Intriguing, no? Release date: 28th January.

6. Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky). Again, little is known of this one except that it’s a thriller that ‘hones in on the relationship between a veteran ballet dancer, and a rival.’ What matters is that it’s Aronofsky, who’s developing a bit of a reputation for consistently delivering and always being hugely innovative. Fans fond of his style will be eager to see if with Natalie Portman on board, he can reach the heights of such favourites as Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler. Release date: 11th February. Also showing at the London Film Festival.

7 that will definitely reach you, but nobody knows when

7. True Grit (Joel & Ethan Coen). Remake of a John Wayne Western adventure (the second remake of the Coens’ career after The Ladykillers), I first heard of this one when attending a press conference with Damon around the time of Green Zone‘s release. Destined to be Fargoesque in its dark humour and plot revolving around a murder, this one’s another safe bet, with the Coens back after last year’s wonderful A Serious Man.

8. You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen). You’d think we’d know the release date of this one given it’s set in our own capital, but the latest annual edition to Woody Allen’s back catalogue, once again in London, is still lacking an official opening. Needless to say it stars Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, and Freida Pinto, and yet whether it will miss (Match Point), just about hit (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) or excel (Christ, I’m having to think back to Deconstructing Harry), is anyone’s guess.
9. Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance). Hadn’t heard of this one until today when announced as part of the London Festival, it stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, and the few clips available on YouTube look very promising indeed. Revolutionary Road had style and serious contemplation of relationships; I’m hopeful this one will have razor-sharp chemistry on an infinitely higher level (Leo and Kate weren’t crap, they were incredible; it’s just April and Frank had little to be romantic over) and with a little luck this will have even more to say.
10. 127 Hours (Danny Boyle). This one does technically have a release date – its premiere is the finale of the London Film Festival. But otherwise general opening is yet to be publicised. It’s Boyle’s first since the storming success of Slumdog, and is set to be a (better) Vertical Limit style thriller except it’s one person trapped after extreme sports go wrong, and he’s in the Moab desert of Utah (not on top of snow-laden Everest). No, I’m not convinced of what will be special here either. But the BFI seem sure of themselves, and it is Danny Boyle after all. That gives the film more credibility than my hunch ever would.
11. Hereafter (Clint Eastwood). So like Woody Allen this old master refuses to give up, but his track record over the last few years is definitely not to be scowled at – Changeling, Invictus, Letters From Iwo Jima and the apparently decent Gran Torino are just a few of his recent efforts. No doubt this thriller will be of a similarly high standard.
12. Conviction (Tony Goldwyn). Another one showing at London but yet to have a formal release date confirmed, Hilary Swank stars as a working mother putting herself through law school to help free her brother from charges of murder she is convinced he’s innocent of. Far from the most original of lines to go down this Fall, but another worth a look in nevertheless, if only for the ever-brilliant lead actress.

Javier Bardem in Alejandro González Iñárritu's up and coming Biutiful.

13. Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu). Now, this is officially the film I am most excited about that will come out over the next 6 months. It’s Iñárritu, so it’s going to be grim, as all of his previous efforts have been from 21 Grams to Babel. Those two were part of what he himself dubbed his ‘Death’ trilogy, for Christ’s sake. But both of them were utterly captivating as a perspective on how suffering is caused in the world (often through no bad intent), and how humans across cultures react. Here Bardem is playing a father juggling multiple illegal jobs on the backstreets of Barcelona. Just look at the picture, and if you’ve seen No Country For Old Men like me then the prospect will probably give you similar chills. I’m very, very excited.

To be continued…
(In Part 2, I’ll list films you’re both less likely to see but still have a fighting chance of doing so, and films that certainly won’t reach your local cinema but eventually look worthwhile hunting down on LOVEFiLM or Amazon.)

4 Responses to “26 for late 2010, or early 2011 (Part 1)”

  1. 1 Fielding

    Meanwhile, in the real world, Woody Allen has been enjoying a fair degree of success. Indeed, his last 5 films have grossed $278.5 million at the global box office, earning a nice return on their $77 million collective cost. Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona did especially well, attracting a whole new audience to his films.

    In other words, drop dead!

    • 2 jacobwilliamson

      That shows lots of people flocked to see them (including myself). Doesn’t mean they were any good. And by that I mean solely relative to his old school 80s NY efforts.

  2. 3 Greg Mooney

    (In Vertical Limit it’s set on K2 not Everest)

  1. 1 The other thirteen (Part 2) « jacob williamson | thoughts on film

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