No time to dwell on the best movies of 2010! ...Well, that's a dirty lie -- there is PLENTY of time to dwell on the best movies of 2010, and expect me to do so in some depth. But we can also take time to look ahead at the first few months of 2011 and the ... interesting mix of movies found therein. I'm chucking January as a no man's land (sorry, Green Hornet) and starting in February. Yes, I know "spring" isn't for another couple months, but Feb.-April is a seasonal grey area, and we should all just deal.
Movie: The Roommate (Christian E. Christiansen)
High-Concept Synopsis: Blair Waldorf and Lyla Garrity are college roommates who get into a poor man's (or woman's) Single White Female situation. Cam Gigandet and Aly Michalka co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Folks eager to watch Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly, who each have their fans. CW network partisans, as pretty much each show on their schedule has a rep in this movie, from Gossip Girl (Meester) to Hellcats (Michalka) to 90210 (Matt Lanter) to One Tree Hill (Daneel Harris) to The Vampire Diaries (Katerina Graham). People who saw Michalka stink up the joint in Easy A and are maybe looking forward to seeing her end up as collateral damage.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who actually saw Single White Female and don't think these new girls can hold a stiletto heel to Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda. Folks trying to avoid Meester and Kelly, who certainly have their detractors. College grads waiting for a movie to take a more realistic look at the lives of female roommates. It'd be no less cruel and terrifying.
Why I'd See It: Trashy movies about psycho girls in college are pretty much what February was made for. But while I am suddenly on Team Gigandet, after Burlesque, and while I'm one of two people in the whole world who enjoy Minka Kelly as an actress, this one just looks like a pale and witless attempt to capture that SWF magic. February 4
Movie: Gnomeo and Juliet (Kelly Ashbury)
High-Concept Synopsis: The final frontier in Shakespeare adaptation is reached as his tale of star-crossed lovers is depicted in animated form. Among anthropomorphic garden gnomes.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who will put up with some silliness in order to listen to James McAvoy (Gnomeo) and Emily Blunt (Juliet) romance each other. People who've taken a look at the truly eclectic voice cast, which classic stately Brits (Patricj Stewart, Michael Caine, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith) with ... um ... Hulk Hogan, Dolly Parton, and Ozzy Osbourne. People who have been longing for the definitive garden-gnome movie.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who have a hard time warming up to the idea of garden gnomes committing suicide over doomed teenage love. People who are indignant that Ozzy and Dolly weren't allowed to voice the leads. Modern audiences who have been conditioned to only accept animated movies that seem whimsical but are actually nonstop sadness machines.
Why I'd See It: Hey, I'll take my James McAvoy/Emily Blunt/Dolly Parton action where I can get it. February 11
Movie: Just Go With It (Dennis Dugan)
High-Concept Synopsis: Adam Sandler wants to score with hottie (Brooklyn Decker), so naturally he asks his pal Jennifer Aniston to pretend to be his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Kevin Nealon and (um...) Nicole Kidman co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People for whom 15+ years of increasingly crappy Sandler movies haven't yet proved a deterrent. People for whom 10+ years of Jennifer Aniston constantly lowering her worth by co-starring in romantic comedies about womb theft and possible incest and sweaty Ben Stiller haven't yet proved a deterrent. Andy Roddick.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Working actresses everywhere, outraged that non-actresses like Brooklyn Decker and Heidi Montag are getting their roles instead. Casting directors for good movies, as they clearly have forgotten Aniston exists. Anyone looking to see Nicole Kidman, as she's been entirely absent from the film's marketing thus far.
Why I'd See It: Honestly, this whole Kidman thing has me flummoxed and thinking it's an IMDb prank. As for the rest of it, neither Sandler nor Aniston seem remotely interested in making movies I'll like, so I don't see myself stepping out on a limb, particularly for a movie with such a tired, contrived premise. February 11
Movie: The Eagle (Kevin Macdonald)
High-Concept Synopsis: Channing Tatum plays a Roman centurion who must trek into Scotland to retrieve his legion's standard, a golden eagle. To help him on his quest, he's bringing his slave (Jamie Bell) and a whole lot of homoeroticism.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of director Macdonald, whose One Day in September and The Last King of Scotland were highly acclaimed. Fans of the rather distinguished supporting cast, including Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, Denis O'Hare, and Tahar Rahim (Un Prophete). Certain segments of the audience for whom "Channing Tatum" and "Roman soldier" make for a compelling case.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who are skeptical that this seemingly decently-pedigreed movie is being dumped in February. Anyone who is interested to see women in a movie whatsoever. Title purists who are peeved that the film has streamlined itself from "The Eagle of the Ninth."
Why I'd See It: Look, I prefer Channing Tatum in movies where he dances. Or fights in back rooms in Queens. Or plays soccer and fails to notice that the girliest boy he has ever met is actually a girl. But this? This will do. February 11
Movie: Cedar Rapids (Miguel Arteta)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ed Helms plays a loser in life sent to the bustling metropolis of Cedar Rapids, Iowa for an insurance convention. Debauchery and mayhem ensue. John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, and Isiah Whitlock play his fellow conventioneers.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Ed Helms fans hoping to give him the final push into comedy leading-man status. People who were looking for a dorkier take on The Hangover. Audiences eager to see bit parts by hilarious folks like Stephen Root, Rob Corddry, and Alia Shawkat.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Non-fans of director Arteta's previous feel-bad films Youth in Revolt, The Good Girl, and Chuck and Buck. Sigourney Weaver fans angry to find her completely absent from the trailer.
Why I'd See It: I am rather fond of Ed Helms, and I'll take any opportunity to give Anne Heche viability outside that awful show about Thomas Jane's penis. But man, am I ever not in the target demographic for Miguel Arteta's movies. February 11
Movie: I Am Number Four (D.J. Caruso)
High-Concept Synopsis: Sometimes you just have to quote the IMDb: " Nine alien teens come to Earth after their planet is destroyed by an enemy species. But soon discover that their enemy is now after them on Earth." So! That's happening!
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of embryonic action-fantasy film series that, while based on a source novel (co-written by James Frey!), aren't an established fanchise themselves. Audiences eager to lay eyes on burgeoning star Alex Pettyfer. Member of the Free Quinn Fabray movement, hoping to give co-star Diana Agron a leg up on her Glee co-stars.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Moviegoers made wary of director D.J. Caruso's previous, dubious output (Disturbia; Eagle Eye). Timothy Olyphant fans indignant that he still hasn’t gotten to headline a franchise but pretty-boy Pettyfer suddenly does. Oprah.
Why I'd See It: I don't think much of D.J. Caruso at all, but the story sounds fun (if derivative of Superman and the X-Men), and I'll watch Timothy Olyphant, Diana Agron, and this Pettyfer person in some stuff, sure. February 18
Movie: Vanishing on 7th St. (Brad Anderson)
High-Concept Synopsis: Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, and John Leguizamo are among the only survivors of a massive (possibly worldwide) vanishing, which seems to be connected to increasingly oppressive blackouts.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of apocalyptic, "last outpost for humanity" thrillers. Fans of director Brad Anderson, who has shown particular skill with suspense and atmospheric dread on films The Machinist, Transsiberian, and most especially Session 9. The tiny handful who haven't given up on Hayden Christensen yet.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: The vast majority who most certainly HAVE given up on Hayden Christensen. Not to mention the not insignificant portions of the audience who aren't crazy about Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo. Audiences who, if they've seen one "spooky shadows fakeout" movie, they've seen 'em all.
Why I'd See It: I kinda don't hate Hayden Christensen. I LOVE Brad Anderson, and if there's any chance we've got anything close to another Session 9 on our hands, I am in. February 18
Movie: Happythankyoumoreplease (Josh Radnor)
High-Concept Synopsis: How I Met Your Mother star Radnor does the Garden State thing, with a story about meandering twentysomethings in New York, co-starring Malin Akerman, Zoe Kazan, Kate Mara, and Richard Jenkins.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of crowd-pleasing indies (it won the Audience Award at Sundance last year). Fans of cutesy titles. Fans of winsome, increasingly ubiquitous actresses who may or may not be interesting.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: How I Met Your Mother fans who have grown to loathe Ted. Garden State non-fans who think they can smell self-serving faux indie fare. Makers of the upcoming film "Angryfuckyoucutitout" who don't want to open themselves up to subconscious material-stealing.
Why I'd See It: It gets a lot of crap, but I really liked Garden State. Not that has anything to do with whether Radnor's made a movie worth watching. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to the story but some twentysomething navel-gazing, but I've been known to enjoy just that from time to time. February 18
Movie: Unknown (Jaume Collet-Serra)
High-Concept Synopsis: Liam Neeson wakes up from a car accident into a nightmarish world where his wife (January Jones) doesn't know him and nothing is what it seems! Diane Kruger, Aidan Quinn, and Frank Langella co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of movies where seemingly everyone everywhere is out to get you. Fans of watching Neeson tear shit up in Western European locales. Fans of director Collet-Serra's wonderfully insane Orphan.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Mad Men fans who have had quite enough of January Jones being a withholding monster. Neeson fans patiently waiting for him to exit this potboiler stage of his career. People who have noted that Collet-Serra also directed that junky House of Wax remake.
Why I'd See It: This seemed like a generic and entirely skippable movie ... but this Orphan connection does have me intrigued. February 18