2011 is well under way, and now that I’ve already stopped by the theater a couple times – in the form of The Adjustment Bureau and Rango – I thought it was high time I took a gander at the potential best of what 2011 has yet to offer. So without further adieu, my cornered-down list of my 25 most-anticipated movies of the impending year.
Bridesmaids (dir. Paul Feig)
On its face, this movie looks as though it could become yet another example of female-driven comedy that disappoints. But the difference here is that there’s a virtual who’s-who of talented comediennes heading up the cast (Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, and Ellie Kemper are particularly pleasing). And judging from the two trailers that have been released, what may set this sisterly comedy apart from others is the absence of shrill bickering over eligible men. There’s always the chance that this could enter sexist Bride Wars territory, but early reviews from its premiere at SXSW this week have generally positive things to say about its humorous appeal. (May 13)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (dir. David Yates)
Though I didn’t find it a place in the top 25 of this list, I believe I’d be remiss in not anticipating the final chapter of the epic blockbuster series. Do I think that the final pay-off will result in some awards season legs as tribute to the decade-long successful run in theaters that came before it? Doubt it. But if we’re judging from the source material (and the promising first half last fall), this closer has potential to go beyond typical kid-fantasy movie tropes. Let’s hope that Yates’ improving vision from film to film continues here, as Harry and the gang go toe-to-toe with Voldemort’s crew in a final showdown. (July 15)
#25 – Beginners (dir. Mike Mills)
Like Bridesmaids before it, this movie just as easily has the potential to dip into pandering or stereotyping, but I want to trust the talented ensemble that’s been assembled to do the unique story some justice. Mostly the reason this indie effort cracked the list is the return of Shosanna Dreyfus herself to American film – after an incredible break-out performance in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds it’ll be nice to see her in a romantic role opposite nuanced performer Ewan McGregor. And I think we’d all like to see more of Christopher Plummer’s sudden octogenarian renaissance. He’s one of the last remaining classic screen stars, to to see him continue to challenge himself – here playing the role of McGregor’s dad who’s dying of cancer and comes out late in life. (June 3)
#24 – The Muppets (dir. James Bobin)
After a painfully long hiatus from theaters thanks to the unsuccessful 1999 outing Muppets from Space (which I sort of secretly enjoyed), Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang are back for a return to form. With Jason Segel’s able writing skills put to work penning the screenplay and a host of big-name actors on board to play parts (Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, and Segel himself, among MANY others), The Muppets could be an incredibly fun ride. We don’t know much about the premise, other than that it follows the Muppets struggling to save their theater by putting on one big show, so the element of surprise should prove fun. Let’s hope there’s lots of singing involved, as Adams and Liza Minnelli are both attached. And judging from Segel’s work on the fictitious Dracula musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this film could have a bit of much-needed bite that previous entries may’ve lacked. (Nov. 23)
#23 – One for the Money (dir. Julie Ann Robinson)
Call me crazy, but I have faith that this movie just might work. Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Katherine Heigl’s string of bad career moves and missteps and box office bombs is urging me to include this movie on my list – it’s how much faith I have in fans of Janet Evanovich and the like that does so. As one of those fans (throw out your pre-conceived notions about chick-lit and give at least this first book a read – the woman can write funny like nobody’s business), I’m thrilled that Stephanie Plum is finally coming to the big screen. If all goes well, the material and the fan base (and those killer casting choices of Debbie Reynolds and Sherri Shepherd in supporting roles) will hopefully elevate Heigl’s box office poison status to a more stable franchise heroine. It’s been a long time coming, so Evanovich fans deserve a good time at the movies. (TBA)
#22 – The Rum Diary (dir. Bruce Robinson)
Johnny Depp has suffered from overexposure of late, all culminating with his baffling double-Globe nod for two of his most reviled performances (Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist), but his work on this month’s Rango at least shows promise of a return to form. The Depp that dazzled audiences as Edward Scissorhands, Jack Sparrow, and Sweeney Todd may be back – as we can assume he’s not playing in this Hunter S. Thompson adaptation for the paycheck. This time, Depp is playing a journalist struggling through a mid-life crisis (which could be a welcome change from his otherworldly freak-show fantastical characters). The cast boasts a couple other faves – Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins, and recently ubiquitous Amber Heard – so let’s hope Bruce Robinson’s indie cred translates to a great subversive film. (TBA)
#21 – Jane Eyre (dir. Cary Fukunaga)
Yes, yes – I know this one has already been released in theaters just last week. But I haven’t yet seen it, so technically it qualifies. The reviews so far have been mostly positive, so my high hopes for this Bronte adaptation might not be in vain. After an auspicious beginning in her breakout year of 2010 (heading up one of the biggest box office hits of the year and managing a stellar performance amongst such talents as Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), Mia Wasikowska is reportedly excellent as the plain and tragic title character. And as Michael Fassbender’s star keeps rising, this duo could potentially bring a truly unique spin to an over-adapted novel. I doubt it’ll have much awards potential due to its early release, but I definitely consider it one of the potentially best movies of the year straight out of the gate. (In theaters)
The next five to come very soon!