This is it… the last push towards end-of-year accolades, with Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Julian Schnabel and the Coen Brothers all looking for that elusive critic’s choice seal of approval.
By all accounts, 2010 has been a pretty mediocre year for movies… so far. In the eight months that have transpired, we’ve seen the lingering effects of Avatar‘s billion dollar success (translation: more 3D titles than ever before), a surprise vote of confidence for intellectually challenging, cinematically spectacular popcorn fare (read: Inception), and more than a few miscues (Kick-Ass) and misfires (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). In between, the same filmic flotsam and jetsam ebbed and flowed. The RomCom and CG family genre both underperformed, while action spectacles aimed at the easy to please PG-13 demo keeled over and died. In fact, if the last two-thirds of the calendar have taught us anything, it’s that Hollywood no longer cares about pleasing the masses. While it would be nice, a few micro-managed, focus grouped hits will do just as well. [READ FULL INTRODUCTION]
Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder
At this point, every film that Darren Aronofsky agrees to helm is an event. Starting with his starling indie intro, Pi, and continuing through Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and The Wrestler, he’s made a name for himself as a unique and wholly original cinematic voice. Things look to continue with this ballet “thriller” centering on the classical piece Swan Lake. Featuring the competing comeliness of Ms. Portman and Ms. Kunis as two sides of the same psychological coin, the trailer provides an intriguing insight into the shocking shape of things to come. With Aronofsky, one expects the unexpected, and that’s clearly the case here.
Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto, Yasmine Al Massri, Ruba Blal, Alexander Siddig, Omar Metwally, Stella Schnabel, Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave
It’s been a stunning transition. Renowned artist Julian Schnabel has carved out a creative niche as a filmmaker, highlighted by his work with Jeffrey Wright in Basquiat, Javier Bardem in Before Night Falls, Mathieu Amalric in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Lou Reed for his Berlin concert film. Now he’s taking on the establishment of the state of Israel in this look at Hind Husseini’s effort to establish an orphanage in Jerusalem in 1948. Freida Pinto plays a young girl who grows up to discover the truth about her people’s struggles. Based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, it looks like another slam dunk for the divisive auteur.
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell, Haley Webb
It’s actually a rather intriguing question—who is the more attractive asset in this remake of Jérôme Salle’s Anthony Zimmer—Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie? Guess the answer depends on your orientation… cinematically speaking. On the plus side, The Lives of Others’ Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is directing this dark thriller, so expect some palpable suspense and a true European feel. Still, we can’t help but wonder about a movie that has Ms. Bragelina conning Captain Jack Sparrow into luring our a criminal she once had an affair with. Sounds like everyone involved are above such calculated cat and mouse.