The Movie Season Starts Now

With the Oscar season over and January and February mercifully behind us, we can finally plot out the new year. Don't kid yourself, Hollywood doesn't count the first two months, which is why we're treated to a steady diet of films like Norbit, Ghost Rider, and The Number 23. Any cash the studios get from you in the first 60 days of any year is bonus and unintentional.

There is a bright side to this. The next ten months offer a couple films per month that will actually be watchable. There are four "film" seasons to the rest of the year, and they are as follows:

March-April: "The season of the toe dip." Films released in these two months are destined to be underappreciated because the studio doesn't really know what to do with them. Past examples include V for Vendetta and Cinderella Man.

May-August: Summer Blockbuster! This is when Hollywood really wants your money. This year no less than FIVE movies will be the third part of an established trilogy, and two more are even farther along than that in a series. Don't worry, well be getting to all of them shortly.

September-October: "Toe Dip Two" Studios are again confounded by what they've got on their hands. Is this Oscar season? Is this a holiday movie? No one knows as the industry gears down a notch before hitting hard again.

November-December: Oscar-Holiday time! Hollywood's second big foray into your wallet starts, only this time the movies are a little more artsy and award- hawkish.

Without further dilly-dallying, here are some sure things and interesting projects for each month of the new movie year.

Sure thing: 300

It looks cool. It feels cool. Ergo, it must be cool. Early buzz is positive for the first "must see" of 2007.
Possible thing: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I was a big turtle fan as a kid, but I wonder if the CGI version will hold up. I'm interested enough to give it a shot.

Sure thing: The Nanny Diaries
Okay, it's not a sure thing but it's got Scarlett Jo and Paul Giamatti, so someone must have been impressed by the script. It also looks fairly gender inclusive, something for the whole family. No, they're not paying me.
Possible thing: Grind House
The only truly compelling horror of the year from Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

Sure thing: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
I don't know where people started disliking this franchise, but I'm still a huge fan. This is a threat to make a billion dollars and that's not hyperbole in the slightest.
Possible thing: Spider-Man 3

This franchise, on the other hand, I am not sold on at all. They need to get less bubble-gum and quickly. The black-suited Spidey in the trailers looks promising, though.

Sure thing: Ocean's 13
It is trilogy city around here. The boys get together for one last joyride in what has been a consistently fun series.
Possible thing: Live Free or Die Hard
This could go either way. They've maintained excellence so far, but Bruce is aging.

Sure thing: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Number five and the fans haven't been disappointed yet. Or have they? Hard to say because I'm not a fan.
Possible thing: Transformers
Michael Bay directing this has the warning flag up, but it's another childhood favorite coming to the silver screen.

Sure thing: The Bourne Ultimatum
This has replaced Mission Impossible and James Bond for me. I expect this to deliver in a big way.
Possible thing: Rush Hour 3
The seventh sequel I've listed for the summer is also the least interesting to me. However, the late summer release date means it may come out as a box-office winner.

Sure thing: The Kingdom
Based on the Oscarish cast (Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper) this looks to be an award contender. However, September is a smidge too early for Oscar watching, so maybe Universal isn't completely sold.
Possible thing: Balls of Fury
Chris Walken in a ping-pong movie. To me this sounds like a formula for greatness.

Sure thing: The Golden Age
Here is an Oscar contender for sure, and I wish I could slap myself for mentioning the award only days after the awards. Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen and Geoffrey Rush in an English period piece.
Possible thing: The Heartbreak Kid
The Farrelly brothers directing Ben Stiller. You may recall a little movie called There's Something About Mary as a reason for hope.

Sure thing: American Gangster
Denzel, Russel Crowe, and Cuba Gooding Jr. in a crime drama directed by Ridley Scott. Yes, please.
Possible thing: Fred Claus
I have legit concerns in what seems to be a largely sketch-comedy Giamatti-Vince Vaughn flick. The fact that they started advertising for it last Christmas has to be a decent sign, though.

Sure thing: Charlie Wilson's War
This film has an amazing pedigree. Oscar winners Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Phil Hoffman team up in political drama. It's directed by Mike Nichols (Closer) and adapted by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing). If you had to pick an early Best Picture favorite, you'd do well to start here.
Possible thing: Leatherheads
George Clooney puts his actor/director hat on again for a romantic drama set in the 1920s around the fledgling game of football. It's got Renee Zellweger and "it" guy John Krasinski (The Office).

Whew! That's twenty movies you are now officially obligated to see. That's okay, celebrate, have a glass of bubbly, the new year is finally upon us.

Laremy Legel -- Mail Laremy