This is a list of some of our most anticipated movies of 2011. These films have the potential to knock a cinephiles socks off and hopefully most of them will. I must admit, after making this list, this could be a truly fantastic year for movie fans.
Before I get started, a disclaimer: this is not a list for those of you who think that Transformers, The Green Lantern, Harry Potter, or Twilight are going to be the best films of the year. If you made a funny face and almost spewed just from thinking about the aforementioned films, this is your list. Maybe.
Feel free to leave comments down below. I was pretty thorough with my list, but I could have forgotten something. To see the list click the link below.
25. Red State
Director: Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy)
Starring: Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Stephen Root
Synopsis: Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.
Why you should see it: Kevin Smith is hit or miss with me, but I gotta say that anyone who makes a horror movie about crazy, right-wing-religious-fanatics is going up a notch in my book. Also, do I even have to point out that cast! Melissa Leo is fresh off an Oscar and John Goodman is John Fucking Goodman.
24. The Rum Diary
Release Date: 28 October 2011
Director: Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart
Synopsis: Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is an itinerant journalist who tires of New York and America under the Eisenhower administration and travels to Puerto Rico to write for The San Juan Star. Kemp begins the habit of drinking rum and becomes obsessed with a woman named Chenault (Amber Heard)
Why you should see it: Both the director and leading actor have worked with Hunter S. Thompson’s material before with great success. I’m also hoping that this role will re-instill my faith in Johnny Depp who has not impressed me in a drama since Blow back in 2001.
Release Date: August 5 2011
Director: Evan Glodell
Starring: Evan Glodell, Tyler Dawson, Jessie Wiseman
Synopsis: Two friends spend all their free time building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang “Mother Medusa.”
Why you should see it: This film by first time director Evan Glodell looks downright awesome! Guns, flame-throwers, muscle cars, and main characters who are hoping for a global apocalypse? I’ll admit that I let the trailer sell me on it, which I try to never let happen, but I figure in the worse case scenario, this film will be unique. That’s more than you can say about most movies these days.
22. The Muppets
Director: James Bobin (Da Ali G Show, Flight Of The Concords)
Starring: The Muppets, Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Synopsis: With the help of three fans, the Muppets must reunite in order to save their old studio from a greedy oil tycoon.
Why you should see it: Who doesn’t like the Muppets? It’s also written by Segel which gives it some big laugh potential. Let’s hope he didn’t write any full frontal nudity into this one though.
Director: Richard Linklater (Dazed And Confused, Before Sunrise)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine
Synopsis: In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she’s alive.
Why you should see it: Linklater has directed some good films, some funny (Dazed and Confused, School of Rock,) some trippy (A Scanner Darkly,) and some touching (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset.) I just have a gut feeling that this one is going to be a winner.
20. We Bought a Zoo
Director: Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Say Anything…)
Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning
Synopsis: Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.
Why you should see it: Although Crowe’s last narrative feature, Elizabethtown, was a letdown, let’s not forget that he helmed Say Anything…, Almost Famous, and Vanilla Sky. He’s also teaming up with two actors I have learned to trust in: Scarlett Johansson and the beautiful Matt Damon… Wait, I think I mixed that up.
19. The Ides of March
Director: George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind)
Starring: Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman
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: Do you know what a killer cast looks like? It looks like Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, and Marisa Tomei (probably nude.) Clooney has also had directing success in the political genre before with his 2005 film “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
18. Damsels in Distress
Director: Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days Of Disco)
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton
Synopsis: Violet Wister’s Damsels in Distress is a comedy that follows a trio of beautiful girls who set out to revolutionize life at a grungy East Coast university. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.
Why you should see it: When a director takes 10 years between movies, there is usually a good reason. It’s been 13 years since Stillman released The Last Days Of Disco and his new film, Damsels In Distress is once again giving his fans something to be excited about. His sophisticated and often humorous films offer a look inside the lives of the American bourgeois. For those of you not familiar with his work, he has inspired directors such as Wes Anderson.
Release Date: November 2011
Director: Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
Synopsis: The story of Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction. As Joseph’s life spirals into turmoil, a chance of redemption appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker. Their relationship develops to reveal that Hannah is hiding a secret of her own – with devastating results on both of their lives.
Why you should see it: This UK film won three awards at Sundance this year: two for acting and one for directing. Tyrannosaur has been called “not a pleasant viewing experience,” “malicious and punishing,” and a film that you “won’t want to revisit anytime soon” – and all of this was said in favorable reviews. Sounds like my kinda movie.
16. The Artist
Release Date: 23 November 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius (OSS 117)
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Malcolm McDowell, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle
Synopsis: Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion. He sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.
Why you should see it: Once I heard one of the best received films at Cannes had a cast that includes John Goodman, Malcom McDowell, James Cromweall, and Jean Dujardin, it was going to make this list. I didn’t think I could possibly be more excited for this movie… then I found out something rather unusual and in fact almost unheard of in today’s film industry, it’s a silent film. That might scare a lot of people away but I want to see it twice as bad!
Director: Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather Trilogy, Apocalypse Now)
Starring: Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, Ben Chaplin
Synopsis: A writer with a declining career arrives in a small town as part of his book tour and gets caught up in a murder mystery involving a young girl. That night in a dream, he is approached by a mysterious young ghost named V. He’s unsure of her connection to the murder in the town, but is grateful for the story being handed to him. Ultimately he is led to the truth of the story, surprised to find that the ending has more to do with his own life than he could ever have anticipated.
Why you should see it: Some people have just completely forgotten that one of the greatest American directors is still making movies. Coppola is possibly the owner of the best directing streak of all time when he consecutively made The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather: Part II, and Apocalypse Now. Although admittedly he hasn’t continued to pump out crowd-pleasers like he did back in the 70′s I’m sure as hell not going to miss out on Coppola directing a horror/thriller.
Director: Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Trilogy)
Starring:Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law
Synopsis: An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.
Why you should see it: Is it just me, or is Matt Damon starring in an impossible amount of movies lately? The real question is: are we getting the awesome indie movie Steven Soderbergh, or the fun-but-generically-Hollywood-Ocean’s-trilogy Steven Soderbergh. Either way, the movie will be worth watching but if we get indie Soderbergh, this could be the next big Sci-Fi masterpiece.
13. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Release Date: 21 October 2011
Director: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes
Synopsis: Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.
Why you should see it: This Sundance favorite looks like it’s going to be a hit. It feels, both in story and quality, like a film that could be compared to 2010′s Winter’s Bone. This is only the second film starring Elizabeth Olsen, sister of Ashley and Mary-Kate, and I’m excited to see what she can bring to the table. One more similarity to Winter’s Bone is that it also stars John Hawkes who looks to offer an equally haunting performance.
12. The Last Circus
Release Date: 19 August 2011
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Starring: Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre, Carolina Bang
Synopsis: A ferocious battle between Sad Clown and Happy Clown, escalating to unbelievable heights in this absurd, shocking, irreverent and unforgettable film.
Why you should see it: This film looks like a brilliant, colorful, and bloody duel between clowns. It has been highly recommended to me and looks like it’s going to be mind blowing. Just watch it.
Director: Steve McQueen (Hunger)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale
Synopsis: A drama centered on 30-something Brandon, his myriad sexual escapades, and what happens when his wayward younger sister moves in with him.
Why you should see it: Because Steve McQueen’s only other film, Hunger, is effing awesome.
10. A Dangerous Method
Director: David Cronenberg (The Fly, Eastern Promises)
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender
Synopsis: A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
Why you should see it: Viggo Mortensen + David Cronenberg = Good movies. Past results are A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Plus, who doesn’t want to see Viggo tackle the role of Sigmund Freud.
9. The Skin I Live In
Director: Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother, Broken Embraces)
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Jan Cornet
Synopsis: A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
Why you should see it: Pedro Almodóvar doing a sci-fi drama is something that I’m not going to miss. How often these days do we get the pleasure of watching an established dramatic director venture into the sci-fi genre? This film has huge potential.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Bronson)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
Synopsis: A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
Why you should see it: To me Ryan Gosling is on the brink of becoming a movie star. He’s already proven himself as a great actor but he has yet to grab the roles that make me think “this guy was made to be in movies.” Last year he was phenomenal in Blue Valentine and this year I’m hoping Drive will take him to the next level. Also, I have been hearing great things about the films of Nicolas Winding Refn and I can’t wait to check one out.
7. J. Edgar
Director: Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Mystic River)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas
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: Although Clint’s last two films (Hereafter, Invictus) have disappointed me, I still think he’s one of Americas greatest living directors. Teaming him with DiCaprio and Watts in a movie about a cross dressing FBI director might be all the help Eastwood needs. And to remind those of you who think Eastwood has lost his directing edge, within the last 10 years he’s turned out such films as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Gran Turino.
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgård
Synopsis: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander (Mara), a young computer hacker.
Why you should see it: I have to admit that I was not a big fan of the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Every time I was getting into the story, there was a crime solving montage that totally took me out of it. It was a classic example of trying to fit a long book into a short movie and taking the cheap way out. With Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York) writing the screen play, I think that Fincher has a chance to turn this into a classic. That is if fake Swedish accents don’t ruin it.
5. Take Shelter
Director: Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories)
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham
Synopsis: Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.
Why you should see it: Micheal Shannon is getting typecast as a crazy guy but it’s OK because he’s so damn great at it. This film is going to be his nutcase tour de force, so if you love movies about people falling off the deep end as much as I do, this is a must see.
Director: Lars von Trier (Antichrist, Dancer in the Dark)
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland
Synopsis: Two sisters find their relationship challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide into the Earth.
Why you should see it: Kirsten Dunst has yet to convince me that she can act, but this is the perfect role for her to do it in. Lars von Trier has said something to the tone of, “I am tired of directing comedies.” If you have ever seen one of his films, this should deeply disturb you. Antichrist and Dancer in the Dark, among others, are films that not only didn’t make me laugh but pretty much sucked out every iota of my happiness. Be warned.
Director: Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Pianist)
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly
Synopsis: Tells the story of two sets of parents who decide to have a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a schoolyard brawl.
Why you should see it: I feel like I shouldn’t have to spell this one out for any cinema fans. Roman Polanski directing this cast could rip space-time in half. If you’re one of those people who won’t watch Polanski films because of his personal life, I feel really, really, really, really bad for you. This movie is going to be awesome.
2. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Director: Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In)
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy
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: Now I know all of you who saw “Let The Right One In” like I did immediately thought, “this Alfredson guy needs to direct a Cold War film.” Your prayers have been answered by the gods of cinema. Teaming up with Gary Oldman and Colin Firth gives this film the potential to win a handful of Oscars and I really hope it does.
Director: Bennett Miller (Capote)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill
Synopsis: The story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
Why you should see it: It’s my list and I’m an A’s fan. Deal with it. I still wasn’t excited about this film though until it secured a real director in Bennett Miller, then the real cast of Brad Pitt, Robin Write, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Then I saw the writers, Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. I’m sorry what did you guys write again? Oh yeah! Schindler’s List and The Social Network. Game over. Moneyball takes the cake in 2011.
Films that just missed out
- Immortals Tarsem Singh’s newest film was high on the list until we realized it was a Hollywood shit fest like 300.
- The Thing prequel is something I am excited for but don’t trust. Young hot cast and CGI are no thing I want to see.
- Restless (Gus Van Sant) was looking way too indie melodrama for me, but I hope I’m wrong.
- Hugo is sure to have some folks excited but family movies don’t do it for me.
- The Texas Killing Fields I just want to see if the spawn of Michael Mann can direct.
- The Descendants Didn’t like Up In The Air that much, getting the same vibe here.
- The Iron Lady has Meryl Streep starring as Margaret Thatcher. Love Streep but don’t trust director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!)
- One Day looks a little too sappy for me.
- In Time could be great, could be typical Hollywood Sci-Fi.
- Cowboys & Aliens Because cowboys and aliens are two of my favorite things.
- Like Crazy I’m interested in seeing what Jennifer Lawrence does post Winter’s Bone