Big 2009 Preview Part 1, Part 2
Worst-Looking Summer Movies
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (Mark S. Waters): Matthew McConaughey's latest crappy romantic comedy, this time dragging Jennifer Garner and director Waters (Mean Girls) down with him.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Shawn Levy): Self-explanatory.
Land of the Lost (Brad Silberling): Will Ferrell and Anna Friel in a nostalgia-bait movie for a show I never watched.
Nowhereland (Karey Kirkpatrick): Eddie Murphy's latest high-concept abomination.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (Tony Scott): I'd hold out hope for brainless, fun action if not for John Travolta and Denzel Washington as the stars.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Michael Bay): I'm still mustering the interest to remember what happened in the first one.
2012 (Roland Emmerich): I should cover this movie's assholish marketing campaign in an upcoming Trailer Trash, but as for the movie, it's like asking me to watch The Day After Tomorrow without the pleasure of being able to stare at Jake Gyllenhaal and Austin Nichols.
The Wolf Man (Joe Johnston): Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Emily Blunt star; not sure how much of writer Andrew Kevin Walker's (Seven) screenplay was rewritten by David Self, though.
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze): This book wasn't a major fixture in my childhood, so I'm probably undervaluing this a bit, but it'll be good to see Spike Jonze behind the camera again.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (David Yates): For incredibly obvious reasons.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood): It's X-Men, so I'd be in anyway, but kudos for the easy-on-the-eyes supporting cast (Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schrieber, Taylor Kitsch).
Star Trek (J.J. Abrams): It's kind of an asshole thing to say, but the more the Trek fanboys wail and moan about this, the more I want to see it. I have absolutely zero loyalty to the Star Trek franchise in any incarnation, so the fact that they decided to reboot the franchise as a young, sexy action film with a smoking hot Captain Kirk is so completely fine with me.
Award-able Movies I'm Looking Forward To
Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar): Yet another chance for the Penelope Cruz International Fan Brigade to spend the whole year talking about how much they love her.
The Road (John Hillcoat): This is the rare movie that got pushed back a year but (at least so far) hasn't gotten any bad buzz for it.
Cheri (Stephen Frears): Michelle Pfeiffer's return to prominence or something only the die-hards will notice?
Up in the Air (Jason Reitman): This was near the top of that "best unproduced screenplays" list that was circulating about a month ago. George Clooney plays a corporate drone who gets joy from racking up frequent flier miles. Could be potential for Clooney and Vera Farmiga.
The Human Factor (Clint Eastwood): Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, as directed by Clint Eastwood? Just try to give an award to anything else next year. Hopefully there's room for Matt Damon to get some love too.
Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper): Cooper's unproven, but the washed-up guy looking for redemption model could work for star Jeff Bridges. Also potential for Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall.
Green Zone (Paul Greengrass): Political thrillers can be dicey prospects for awards, but Greengrass and Matt Damon re-teaming should bring some residual "why didn't you ever nominate any of those Bourne movies" guilt.
Crossing Over (Wayne Kramer): Multi-character drama about illegal immigration with Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, and Ashley Judd. Could be the next Traffic if it's good, or the next Crash if it's bad. Either way, those movies got Best Picture love.
Award-able Movies I'm Dreading
Ameila (Mira Nair): Besides the fact that Nair's uneven and never seems to deliver when the expectations are high, this is Hillary Swank's bid for Oscar #3. Quick, what's Annette Bening doing this year?
The Soloist (Joe Wright): The fact that it got bumped to April makes me think we may not have to worry too much about this.
Hurricane Season (Tim Story): Inspirational sports coach movie meets inspirational Hurricane Katrina movie meets Forest Whitaker's Best Actor follow-up.
Powder Blue (Timothy Linh Bui): The unholy legacy of Crash lives on; Jessica Biel plays one of the four leads, all Los Angelenos who randomly encounter each other in terribly deep and random ways.
Could Go Either Way / Directors Teetering on the Edge
The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson): The coverage of the last-minute casting swap of Mark Wahlberg for Ryan Gosling gave me the impression that critical types might have the knives out for this one. Fairly or not.
Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie): It's a big evolutionary leap for Guy Ritchie -- unless Watson starts speaking in indecipherable slang and shooting up warehouses full of gangsters, this is incredibly different than anything he's ever done before. He either gets some post-Madonna goodwill or else he fails miserably.
Funny People (Judd Apatow): This is either going to be Apatow's best-received movie yet or his worst. Doesn't it feel like the film community wants him to deliver a high-profile failure just to cut him down to size? He's going to need to knock this out of the park, and Adam Sandler as the lead makes it even more if a question mark.
Biutiful (Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu): Is Inaritu as off-putting without screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga penning his stories of random chance and cruelty? We shall see.
Most Anticipated Horror Movies
The Box (Richard Kelly): The plot sounds a bit like that short story "The Monkey's Paw" that I read in about three different high school English classes. But I'm still firmly in Kelly's corner, and James Marsden is fine by me.
Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi): Raimi's return to horror, starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long.
A Perfect Getaway (David Twohy): Murderous Timothy Olyphant stalks Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn across Hawaii? In.
Friday the 13th (Marcus Nipsel): Teens getting hacked to bits. Good times.
Antichrist (Lars von Trier): Von Trier makes his murderous cruelty overt this time. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willen Dafoe take to a wooded cabin to mourn the loss of their child and bad, bad things happen to them.
Final Destination 3D (David R. Ellis): Hilarious and elaborate death sequences, this time in 3D!