Well, summer silly season is over and we're wading into the genre dumping ground of September. But you know what that means? The Oscar/holiday season is right around the corner -- when the very best movies of the year are brought out in hopes of big holiday cash and possible Oscar recognition. What five movies are our most anticipated? These five.
So let me get this straight: George Clooney plays a psychic warrior trained by the military, who might be more than just a little nuts, being followed around by a reporter played by Ewan McGregor, who is hot on the trail of the story of the century, while they get caught up in a wild adventure? All the while they are surrounded by veteran actors like J.K. Simmons, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff "The Dude" Bridges? What's NOT to be excited about? This looks like a Coen brothers movie for the rest of us, a wacky fun comedy with an intelligent backbone. Sign me up. Just not for the experiments in this movie.
Up in the Air
Two George Clooney movies in one season? Someone has been very good this year, I see. But this time, rather than a star-studded cast and killer premise, George is backed up by ubergenius director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking). This one seems to have a Lost in Translation vibe and is about a veteran traveller and professional downsizer who runs into some personal conflict on the eve of achieving 10,000,000 frequent flyer miles. Reitman has a great track record, and the premiere at the recent Telluride Film Festival garnered seemingly nothing but endless praise for what might be the indie underdog Oscar pick of the year.
James Cameron's much hyped re-entry into filmmaking (after a 12-year hiatus perfecting the technology to make this and his subsequent 3-D films). While the initial response to his trailer and promotional footage was lackluster to say the least, I've seen the trailer in 3-D now and I, for one, can't wait for this film. Cameron doesn't make bad movies, he just doesn't, and I have every confidence that this will deliver and that the trailer withheld every single money shot that is actually in the movie.
Richard Kelly is a deranged, brilliant madman. Left to his own devices, he is a self-indulgent, overly esoteric filmmaker very much in love with his own ideas (like Southland Tales and the director's cut of Donnie Darko). But when properly restrained and focused like a laser beam, he is capable of incredibly brilliant works that most folks can't totally wrap their minds around. And The Box seems to be every bit the restrained Richard Kelly. Based upon a classic short story which was once previously adapted to television for the '80s version of The Twilight Zone, this is the story of a young couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) who are visited by a man with a strange offer: They will receive $1 million for pressing a red button on a small box ... which will instantly kill one person they've never met. Sounds like exactly the kind of moody, dark morality piece that Kelly excels at.
Where the Wild Things Are
Based upon the classic children's book that most (if not all) of you have read, this has become a behind-the-scenes nightmare. Warner Bros. clearly was hoping for something along the lines of a holiday Seuss movie and instead hired Spike Jonze, who made a Spike Jonze movie. All accounts paint this as a dark, somber tale about a boy from a dysfunctional family who creates a fantasy world to escape the problems he has with his mother. Done correctly, this could alienate mainstream audiences and go on to become hailed as a brazen classic of the modern era. If not, it could be a tragic misfire in which the studio was right to be hesitant. But I hear good things and am very, very hopeful. Oh yeah, and my wife giggles and gets giddy every time she sees the trailer. What's not to like about that?