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Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 in Preview: Films TAKE ONE!

Inception blew our minds. Toy Story 3 brought nostalgia-soaked tears to our eyes. The Social Network captured an era and helped make the “Zuck” Person of the Year.

What will the films of 2011 achieve? What stories will resonate with us? While time, critical reviews, and box office revenue will surely tell, I can still guesstimate! Below is the first half of my list of the most anticipated films of 2011.

Behold the top 25 of 2011! (25–13)

25.) Cars 2
This sequel to the 2006 Pixar film features McQueen venturing out of Radiator Springs on “a kind of James Bond-style spy adventure around the world.”¹ With Disney “dedicating a section of its California Adventure Park to Cars,” a lot is riding on Cars 2 to perform well after its first installment had to make up average box office bucks with commendable consumer product sales.

24.) I Am Number Four
Even though I Am Number Four is based on a book that just hit shelves in August and it doesn’t release during the summer blockbuster season, this YA fantasy flick is garnering a lot of buzz. It was even number one on USA Today’s list of “11 Films to Lift 2011.” In addition to staring Glee’s Dianna Agron, this film—about teenage aliens with special powers doing battle with other aliens in Paradise, Ohio—has the potential to make Alex Pettyfer a household name.

23.) Sherlock Holmes 2
What do you get when you add Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, and Jared Harris to a cast already starring Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. and then have Guy Ritchie run point? You get a sequel ripe for the 2011 holiday season. The first one was loads of fun, and this one is certain to match with Harris playing Watson and Holmes’s fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty, and Fry playing Holmes’s smarter-but-lazier older brother.

22.) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Fair winds, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly! Ahoy, Penelope Cruz! In the fourth installment of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Jack Sparrow returns in all his Keith Richards-knock-off glory along with once-enemy Barbossa to find the much desired Fountain of Youth. Unfortunately for these two swashbucklers, the terrible pirate Blackbeard and his con artist daughter are after the bounty too.

While I lost interest in these films long ago, this series continually performs well and folks can expect nothing less from this next installment.

21.) Moneyball
Egad! Another film based on a book based on a true story by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side)! If that association isn’t enough, Moneyball also combines two things America loves: baseball and underdog success. The film “centers on Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who takes over as general manager of the cash-strapped Oakland Athletics baseball team and, through analysis and a new, nontraditional Sabermetric approach to scouting players, creates a competitive baseball team.”² Add Philip Seymour Hoffman and the comedic relief talents of Jonah Hill and you’ve got Oscar bait, my friends.

20.) Captain America: The First Avenger

19.) Transformers: Dark of the Moon
This is the third and final (thank goodness) installment of the series, and Michael Bay is gunning to end on a high note after a terribly terrible second film. He kicked Megan Fox to the curb (or she quit) and enlisted Victoria’s Secret supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. The film will also be in 3D; but it has the same scriptwriter as Revenge of the Fallen, so I’m not sure how improved the plot will be. Nothing you can’t cover up with some explosions and 3D, though, right? Right?

18.) Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol
I can’t tell you much about this fourth flick in the MI series as it’s fairly under wraps. However, I do know these things (thanks to Screen Rant):
  • Tom Cruise is returning as Ethan Hunt.
  • Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner is joining the cast along with Lost star Josh Holloway.
  • This is a planned start to a series re-launch—a whole new trilogy—with Renner as the franchise’s new leading man.

17.) Battle: Los Angeles
Awesome effects, cool song, Aaron Eckhart (AKA Harvey Dent), the tough helicopter pilot from Avatar, and apocalypticism via alien attack.

16.) Conan the Barbarian
This is a reboot of the 1982 cult classic. To quote Screen Rant, “the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Stargate: Atlantis star Jason Momoa can live up to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stature and become a Hollywood action star from this film.” I just hope the film and Momoa don’t take themselves too seriously. I mean, c’mon, it’s Conan.

15.) Scream 4
Say what you want about Scream 2 and 3, but the original was awesome. Scream rebooted the horror genre, and it didn’t need any creepy kids, crazy effects, or implausible paranormal-ness to do so. It was also “one of the first horror films to acknowledge the genre and its fans.”³ For all these reasons, I say “Yay, Scream 4!”

14.) Your Highness
This didn’t just make my list because Pineapple Express is hilarious (and underrated, I might add) and this movie is from the makers of that comedy. It also stars current Oscar nominees Natalie Portman and James Franco as well as “Hollywood’s current most sought after comedy actor Danny McBride.”⁴ In this sure-to-be lewd and funny flick, Prince Fabious (Franco) teams up with skilled warrior Isabel (Portman) and his useless brother Thadeous (McBride) to rescue his kidnapped bride (Zooey Deschanel).

13.) Contagion
I had never heard of this flick. But when The Daily Beast, Coed Magazine, and all listed it on their 2011 guides, I figured it was worth investigating, and I discovered that there is a great deal to buzz about:
  • Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven) is directing—and it may just be his final film.
  • The writer (Scott Z. Burns) of The Bourne Ultimatum is writing the script.
  • Jude Law, Matt Damon, and Gwyneth Paltrow are reunited for the first time since The Talented Mr. Ripley.
  • The cast also features Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, and John Hawkes.
  • The film was shot in 10 countries and is about “a deadly disease and the international team of doctors contracted by the Center for Disease Control to deal with the spread.”⁵ It’s also about the spread of information virally online.

Ta-da! Twenty-five through thirteen on my list of the Top 25 Films of 2011. Who will make my top twelve? Stay tuned for next week’s post!

¹ Sequels among most anticipated films of 2011
² Screen Rant’s 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2011
³ USA Today’s 11 Films to Lift 2011
2011's 11 Most Anticipated Movies (The Daily Beast)
Movie Moron’s 2011 Movies Guide

Additional Lists:
Coed Magazine’s Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2011
11 Movies People Will Be Talking About in 2011: 'The Green Lantern,' 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' and More (MovieFone)

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