With summer winding down and nothing thrilling opening in theaters (despite marquees suggesting otherwise), it's the perfect time to look both backwards and forwards. Now's the time to catch up with some of 2010's best in case you missed any. Some of them like I Am Love, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone and Toy Story 3 are still in theaters. Other acclaimed first quarter releases like Fish Tank and South Korea's Mother have hit DVD. So get caught up before the Fall films hit.
As with the summer preview, we're dividing the intriguing offerings up into categories using handy film titles because You Gotta Have A Gimmick. For each month we'll look at THE CHAMP (a possible blockbuster), DIVA (fierce women), THE PRESTIGE (Oscar hopefuls), WHERE THE BOYS ARE (for the hotness) and TRUE STORIES (documentaries or fact-based fiction). Obviously what follows is but a small sampling of what's to come. All in good time…
Have you seen Betty White and Sigourney Weaver's catfight with Kristen Bell? The ladies of You Again get their claws out AFTER THE JUMP…
"If you say Avatar.."
SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER
DIVA: In addition to You Again's enviable roster of actresses, September brings us Emma Stone doing a modern riff on Hester Prynne in Easy A. The trailer was warmly received and the cast (including Patty Clarkson!) looks strong. Clueless spun a literary classic into high school comedy gold. Can this movie prove a witty and worthy ancestor?
THE CHAMP: Fall releases are generally not perceived as blockbusters-to-be since it's a slower moviegoing frame but something could break out. Will Drew Barrymore have another hit with Going the Distance? And how many movies is that now wherein Barrymore costars with her current off again/on again boyfriend. The girl can't help it, the girl can't help it. RED ("Retired. Extremely. Dangerous"), an action flick with senior citizen killers, could have many dollars in its future, too. The seasoned cast includes badasses like Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and weirdo icon "Malkovich! Malkovich! Malkovich!".
THE PRESTIGE: The dystopian sci-fi premise of Never Let Me Go, based on the acclaimed novel and starring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley, should provide critics and audiences with plenty to chew on.
But the big drama that's already winning deafening buzz is David Fincher's The Social Network. It's about the creation of Facebook and the legal and emotional fallout of that billion dollar idea. The film stars the ubiquitous Jesse Eisenberg, future "Peter Parker" Andrew Garfield, future "Lisbeth Salander" Rooney Mara and Justin Timberlake as the founder of Napster.
WHERE THE BOYS ARE: Fall's leading men are a miserable lot. Ryan Reynold spends an entire movie Buried (literally). To his credit, he carries the one man show quite well. The handsome leading men of The Town (Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner) don't look much happier to be above ground in another crime thriller set in Boston.
TRUE STORIES: Conviction used to be titled Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) and its a true story about a woman who pursued a law degree to free her brother from prison. The movie is probably seeking Oscars as many biographical dramas do. But if you like a little "truth" in your movies, but you recognize that Truth is a highly flexible construct, the must see of the fall is the documentary Catfish (pictured left). It's better not to know too much about it going in other than that it's about an online relationship that starts spilling over into real life in surprising ways. It's fascinating and guaranteed to provide after-movie conversations with friends. But if you're taking a date, make sure it's not a first date. That'd be… awkward.
DIVA: The anachronistic brattiness of Rapunzel in the trailers for Disney's Tangled suggests that the top tier Disney Princesses (Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, etc…) don't have to watch their backs. But no matter. November brings the return of a true diva.
Cher returns for her first big movie role since 1999. Even if Burlesque, from out gay writer/director and former actor Steven Antin, is a mess (who knows) it'll still be a musical that stars Cher and Christina Aguilera (a more effortful diva but a diva nonetheless) and Stanley Tucci and Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming (whew).Ticket already purchased.
THE CHAMP: Warner Bros has their hands deep in your pockets to steal thrice the normal ticket price for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows since it's a) split into two parts with Pt 2 coming in 2011 and b) in 3D. I can't imagine how that book splits into two parts well since the middle third consisted solely of Harry, Hermione and Ron arguing in a tent for thousands of pages. But this franchise is in desperate need of cash flow. That .5 billion from the first six movies can only stretch so far.
THE PRESTIGE: Colin Firth is a royal with a speech impediment. Dependably hammy awards magnet Geoffrey Rush will help him fix it in The King's Speech. Sounds like something Oscar might love.
WHERE THE BOYS ARE: The buzz from early industry and test screenings says that Jake Gyllenhaal gives Anne Hathaway plenty of good (naked) lovin' in Love and Other Drugs and that their chemistry, which wasn't exactly the point of their pairing in Brokeback Mountain, is sensational. He plays a Viagra salesman and she the free-spirited woman who transforms him.
The buzz isn't just that it's fleshy, it's that the movie is actually terrific.
TRUE STORIES: James Franco plays Aron Ralston in 127 Hours. He has to resort to desperate measures to survive a rocky accident in gorgeous southern Utah. Since true stories hit the screen already plot-spoiled herein lies the suspense: Can Franco nab his first Oscar nom? One imagines he came close for Milk (2008).
Which films are you most looking forward to and which do you need to catch up with?