It's like an event calendar. Plan your weekends accordingly.
Ponyo (August 14, 2009)
I'll tell you the truth: for me, it would be damn near impossible for Hayao Miyazaki to top Princess Mononoke and the dark majesty of Spirited Away. So, while i'm pretty positive this tale of a 5-year old boy who befriends a goldfish princess won't slip in at the top of the Miyazaki ouvre, I can just about guarantee that this fantastical tale will still remain a 2D animated masterpiece far surpassing anything Dreamworks animation has ever done with CGI. That's right Shrek, ya burnt. (Dir. Hayao Miyazaki English voice stars include Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White)
Inglourious Basterds (August 21, 2009)
Though the initial response at Cannes was a little lackluster, I've never met a Quentin Tarantino film i didn't like. Plus, I've been waiting for this film for years. Basterds seems a departure from his usual terrain. This time, instead of integrating past decades into the present, it's a solid period piece. Brad Pitt killing Nazis? Where do I sign up? (Dir. Quentin Tarantino Stars Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mike Myers)
Jennifer's Body (September 18, 2009)
Say what you will about Megan Fox, but if you appreciate high school horror movies this Diablo Cody penned flick looks like an awesome little throwback. Early word of mouth says it's as entertaining as its premise: teen mean girl gets possessed by a demonic spirit, goes from catty evil to seriously deranged instantaneously. Killer. (Dir. Karyn Kusama Stars Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, Amy Sedaris)
Where the Wild Things Are (October 16, 2009)
It's a pretty obvious choice for a lot of reasons. Namely, perhaps, that it's one of the most anticipated films in several years, as Spike Jonze's adaptation of the timeless children's book has been rumored for just about forever. Author Maurice Sendak has wholeheartedly endorsed the film, and the trailers indicate a work of sprawling imagination and captured innocence. (Dir. Spike Jonze, Stars Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano)
Antichrist (Limited release: October 23, 2009)
If you've read my other blog, you might already know that I'm carrying a growing morbid fascination with Antichrist. Purported to be an on screen sign of total mental breakdown by Danish director Lars Von Trier, the Cannes crowd didn't know how to react to this tale of a marriage troubled by much more than grief. Supposedly horrifying, superbly twisted, and near pornographic, for people who enjoy getting their mind blown by film this just screams: watch me!
(Dir. Lars Von Trier, Stars Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (November 13, 2009)
The fantastic Mr. Wes Anderson's next film is a stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book featuring a who's who of vocal talent and quirky 70's style stop motion animation. What's not to like? (Dir. Wes Anderson, Voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Angelica Huston, Owen Wilson)
Nine (November 25, 2009)
What I really can't wait for is the fallout of this film. I want to see all the people who dig the soundtrack run out and rent 8 1/2, the Fellini classic upon which Nine is based. Call me elitist, but it's safe to say 85% of the population will be a little confused. Nothing can beat the original, but Nine isn't going to try. It's a star studded musical version with Daniel Day-Lewis balancing the surplus of women in his life with his professional goals. (Dir. Rob Marshall , Stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Fergie, Sophia Loren)
The Princess and the Frog (December 11, 2009)
The return of a Disney, 2D, animated musical. True to form, it's based on a classic fairy tale. Princesses, talking animals, it's all here! After years without a really solid timeless piece, here's hoping this New Orleans twist overcomes initial obstacles and delivers something that feels like a return to form. (Voice talents of Terrence Howard, Keith David, John Goodman, Oprah, and Anika Noni Rose).
Avatar (December 18, 2009)
James Cameron claims he's going to redefine moviemaking forever with this massive budget sci-fi film still shrouded in mystery. Then again, this is the dude who accepted an Oscar by screaming about how he was the "king of the world". Do we trust him? I have no blind faith.
Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (December 25, 2009)
Terry Gilliam's newest completed cursed film. Heath Ledger's partial final performance. Supposedly a return to form for the too-visionary-for-his-own-good Gilliam, Imaginarium is about a fantastical traveling theater company and promises to be a spectacle. (Dir. Terry Gilliam Stars Johnny Depp, Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger, Colin Farrell, Verne Troyer, Jude Law, Tom Waits, Lily Cole)
Alice in Wonderland (March 5, 2010)
Some people live their life according to sacred texts like the Bible or the Qur'an. That's all well and good, but for me, the two stories that have had the greatest impact on my outlook since age 3 are J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Lewis Carroll's Alice books (this, in turn, should speak volumes as to my mental age). That said, i'm always thrilled by the possibility of a worthy reading of either of these visions. Tim Burton has proven in the past that he's more than capable when working with dark children's tales, and thus i'm totally psyched. Yet, at the same time, some of the content in the trailer seems a little....off. We'll see.
Iron Man 2 (May 7, 2010)
I mean, come on. I've only met one person who really didn't like the first one. What's not to like? Robert Downey Jr. suits up for a second go at playing Tony Stark, this time with a whole line-up of promising villains. Let's hope ScarJo puts in a better performance than she did in The Spirit. (Dir. Jon Favreau, Stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson)
Tron Legacy (TBA, 2010)
I thoroughly enjoyed the geek tech fantasy of Tron when i was a child, and still appreciate its 80's cult value. So really, are you surprised that i'd throw this on my most anticipated list? You shouldn't be. Also, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, i'd like to state for the record that i am not sponsored by the Disney corporation. What can i say? They're just really on a roll when it comes to targeting my inner child this year...
Others that sound promising: Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass, Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, Julie Taymor's The Tempest, Sally Potter's Rage, Drew Barrymore's Whip It!, Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, Marty's Shutter Island, Coen's A Serious Man, Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces, Guy Richie's Sherlock Holmes (this one, i'm quite sure, will either be great, or a British version of Wild Wild West)