Sure, there will be plenty of crap released this year just like any other. We all have another delightful Transformers installment to look forward to in the summer, and the coming winter months are when Hollywood dumps its crap that wouldn’t make money during prime Christmas season. So, while the award contenders from last year and the buzz-kills duke it out in January and February, here are our picks for what to watch for the rest of the year.
The Tree of Life (May 27)– Terrence Malick has made some of the most visually stunning movies ever to grace the screen. Film-wise, he hasn’t made as many as other auteurs his age, but his mark is no less indelible. With The Tree of Life, he will most likely twist audience expectation for what a “summer blockbuster” with A-list stars is. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are headlining in this tale about a young boy in the 50s who “witnesses the loss of innocence.” The hypnotic trailer is almost as vague as that description, but infinitely more beautiful. It draws you in without ruining it.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21)- Fresh off his hot streak with The Social Network, David Fincher attempts to Americanize the already explosively popular book series and its Swedish film adaptations. It will be hard for him to do worse than the original Dragon Tattoo movie, which captured the atmosphere but gutted the story of Stieg Larssonn’s original. The story, about a hacker and a disgraced journalist teaming up to hunt down a serial killer, is the perfect fit for Fincher. Here’s hoping Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are also up for the dark twists and brooding revelations.
Midnight in Paris (May)– Woody Allen is to comedy what Ridley Scott is to action: these two crank out movies like no other reputable director. Yes, they’re hit and miss, but when Allen hits a bulls-eye, there are few things like it. Continuing his stint in Europe, we find him in France in the company of natives Marion Cotillard and French First Lady Carla Bruni and fellow travelers Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams. He always assembles dynamite casts and the opportunity to see Cotillard, who is on an unstoppable streak right now, work with him should be a treat.
Melancholia (May)– The latest from Lars von Trier will likely cause controversy at Cannes much like Antichrist (and most of his other films) did. No synopsis has been given, but with the return of Charlotte Gainsbourg, the addition of Kirsten Dunst in the lead and Kiefer Sutherland and True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard backing them up, it’s impossible not to be interested.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (July 15)– This will likely be one of the highest grossing, if not the highest grossing, films of the year. Up until now David Yates has taken excellent care of the Potter films, and with the spectacular Battle of Hogwarts to look forward to, he’d almost have to try and screw this one up. Among other things, this will mark the definitive end of this series, with no more books waiting in the wings to be adapted into gold.
Contagion (October 21)- Steven Soderbergh helms another large ensemble cast, with such illustrious members as Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow. As the title suggests, it’s about the breakout of some kind of disease, but Soderbergh has always been good at subverting the action-thriller genre, so it’s hard to take any simple synopsis like that at face value.
Source Code (April 1)– After his excellent debut feature Moon, Duncan Jones hopes to avoid a sophomore slump with another identity-bending thriller. The tone is much different, focusing on a soldier who wakes up in someone else’s body and finds himself tasked with stopping a terrorist in Chicago. With Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga in front of the camera, there’s no absence of talent in this high-concept movie.
Young Adult- Jason Reitman again teams up with hilarious screenwriter Diablo Cody, and it’s not for Juno 2. Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a woman who returns to her hometown to reignite with her former lover. Simple enough setup, but Cody is likely to shed some unlikely insights with her biting dialogue and the help of Reitman’s smooth film making.
Super 8 (June 10)- A sure-fire summer blockbuster from writer/director J.J. Abrams, even with no synopsis announced other than it’s not a prequel to Cloverfield. The Abrams hype-machine, which helped make gold out of his nifty Star Trek remake, has already put out a teaser trailer for this one that does nothing aside from announcing that it’s a sci-fi film from J.J. Abrams. For his devout following, and those looking to cool off in the summer, that will be enough.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (September)- Tilda Swinton plays the mother of a kid who went on a high school killing spree. She tries to cope by writing him letters. Simple enough set up, but Swinton has been taking her career in endlessly interesting directions, and this latest experiment (with John C. Reily and executive producer Steven Soderbergh along for the ride) should serve all involved well.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20)– There is a high probability of this next installment being awful, simply because all this franchise has ever offered is great moments if not a great whole. That being said, cutting out the boring Orlando Bloom/Keira Knightly subplot should help, and the addition of Penelope Cruz and Deadwood’s Ian McShane can’t hurt. Oh, and Johnny Depp returns to the role that made him a huge star.