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Eleven for Eleven: My Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2011

What with listing my top ten films of the past year and all that, I thought that I’d take the opportunity to look forward rather than backwards. So here are my eleven most anticipated movies coming out in the next year or so. I picked eleven, because I’m not 100% certain about the release date of one. As ever, these are for Irish and British cinemas, so four of these will be arriving in our theatres within the next three weeks. Which, I suppose is something to look forward to. Anyway, without any further adieu, here are my eleven most anticipated films of the year ahead.

Coming soon...

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we?

11.) The King’s Speech

Colin Firth deserves recognition, it’s as simple as that. My better half is excited because the film reunites Firth with Jennifer Ehle – his co-star from Pride and Prejudice all those years ago. It helps that the movie is timely, what with the royal wedding and such – and that there’s been a generally impressive trend with the movies that Hollywood has been producing about the monarchy of late. But, to be honest, it is mostly Colin Firth which signals us towards this film, and that Oscar he so sorely deserves.

10.)  127 Hours

In what you’ll notice will be a recurring theme of this list, I didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with this director’s last film. I felt that Slumdog Millionaire was just too cynically cute for director Danny Boyle. 127 Hours seems a much more grounded film which contains a lot of Boyle’s core ideas about what defines us as human beings and what people do faced with impossible situations. James Franco has done nothing but rise in my estimations (although Rise of the Apes may yet change that, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves). Plus there’s the fact that it’s a powerful true story (and one we all know), which always helps underscore a drama like this.

09.) True Grit

Jeff Bridges in an honest-to-goodness Coen Brothers’ Western? Everybody who has seen it is raving about it? Count me in.

08.) The Black Swan

Strange that this makes the list, given I’m not a huge fan of Aaronfsky’s earlier work. Don’t get me wrong, Requiem for a Dream is a superbly made film and The Wrestler is a very good one, but I don’t see the director as one who has fully realised his potential as of yet. The Black Swan marketing campaign and advanced word have swayed me, though. The trailer is dark and mysterious, suggesting a personal tale of jealousy, paranoia and betrayal.

07.) Thor

I really shouldn’t care about Thor, but I do. Everything I have heard about Kenneth Branagh’s superhero epic makes me want to see it. I loved the corniness of the set photos – some people said that they were tacky, but to me they called to mind the bright splendor of Richard Donner’s crystal Krypton. As for Branagh, giving the director of the best version of Hamlet ever committed to film a huge budget and a superb cast is always a good idea. I want a bright, bubbly and fun science fantasy epic – with copious amounts of Anthony Hopkins. This might just satiate those needs.

06.) Super 8

I didn’t love Cloverfield. I enjoyed it, I thought it was fun – if ultimately a little unsatisfying. However, for some reason, this film strikes me as more interesting – even though my inner cynic argues the magic of Abrams’ low-key approach should be gone. Maybe it’s the retro element, or the fact that I know nothing about it, but it seems like it’s a movie to watch. Plus, when a monster movie attracts the attention of my better half’s friends, there’s something special going on.

05.) Cowboys & Aliens

Seriously, you need more than the title? I like Jon Favreau, I always have. Even when he was just that dude who played Monica’s boxing boyfriend on Friends. I feel sorry for him that Iron Man 2 didn’t work out as smoothly as he planned, and I’m sorry he won’t be returning for Iron Man 3. However, perhaps it isn’t Favreau’s strength to match expectations – Iron Man, Elf and Swingers all came out of nowhere. While Cowboys & Aliens isn’t exactly low profile, it doesn’t carry a particularly heavy weight of expectation upon its shoulders. If you don’t accept that logic, it teams Indiana Jones up with James Bond, which is cool enough for me.

04.)  Tintin

I love Tintin. Not seriously love – I don’t even own all of the books (I’m missing the unfortunate Tintin in the Congo) – but he is a character I remember fondly from my childhood. Spielberg and Jackson are creators to watch, especially working in conjunction (even if they haven’t lived up to their filmographies of late) – and the fact that writer Stephen Moffat (or Doctor Who) was involved, even briefly, is a good sign. The CGI is a point of concern, as I fear the characters wandering too far into the uncanny valley, but if anyone can do it, it’s this team. With a Christmas release, this will be the last of these films I get to see – so I hope it’s good.

03.) The Irishman

Years ago, Robert deNiro and Al Pacino reuniting would have sent this movie to the top of my most anticipated movies of the year ahead by default. However, then Righteous Kill happened. However, I think Martin Scorsese is on a hot streak at the moment, so the two of them reuniting under Scorsese’s direction is reason enough for me to get excited. The fact that the three are working on a mob movie together, the genre in which all three have worked so much magic, is just icing on the cake.

Note #1: Do not confuse this movie with the similiarly-titled and -themed Kill The Irishman, which stars Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken. I’m sure it’ll be entertaining, but I’ll be surprised if it’s actually great.

Note #2: I think it’s actually scheduled for 2012, but I’m a.) hedging my bets by making this a “top eleven” list (seriously, who does that?), and b.) really that excited about it.

02.) Source Code

Moon was amazing high concept science fiction. The trailer for Source Code makes it looks just a little more hokey (you can relive the last eight minutes of a person’s life, and the army is using that to find a bomber), but some of my favourite movies are hokey, crazy fun. Duncan Jones proved himself to be one of the best young talents out there with his debut and the cast is reasonably strong, so I’m looking forward to this one.

01.) Green Lantern

Yes, I am biased. Like Tintin, I’m a fan of the character in his original medium. Geoff Johns has given this b-list character one of the best runs in modern comics over the past five years, and there’s no reason that he shouldn’t translate well to the screen – a cross between Richard Donner’s Superman and George Lucas’ Star Wars. However, Daredevil proved that a comic book property doing spectacularly in print can downright fail as an entertaining movie, and the trailer screams “standard boring Hollywood blockbuster complete with annoying comic relief”, but I hold out hope. Martin Campbell saved James Bond twice, and this could be a chance for him to make his own name. Ryan Reynolds is always at least watchable. But, you know what, I’m hoping against hope here.

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