Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Year In Preview: Most Anticipated Movies and Music of 2009

And so we end our year in review: with a look at the next. This has felt a bit drawn out, so instead of in-depth previews, I'll either just list what I'm looking forward to music- and movies-wise (I haven't yet got on board with how to be attuned to upcoming releases of books -- feel free to offer any helpful hints or suggestions), or if I have comments, they'll be brief. Enjoy; and soon enough we'll be back to theology proper.

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Albums of 2009
(Note: Many of these are guesses based on each artist's last album, and their general period of time in between releases. If I'm off, correct me, but don't shoot me.)

1. Wilco -- TBA (Late Spring)
2. Sufjan Stevens -- TBA (Fall/Winter)
3. Iron & Wine -- TBA (Fall)
4. Derek Webb -- TBA (Summer-Fall)
5. The Arcade Fire -- TBA (Fall/Winter)
6. The Decemberists -- TBA (3.24.09)
7. The National -- TBA (Fall)
8. Spoon -- TBA (Fall)
9. Burlap to Cashmere -- TBA (Winter)
10. U2 -- No Line On The Horizon (3.3.09)

Also Upcoming: Cat Power, Cotton Jones Basket Ride, Damien Rice, Interpol, Jars of Clay, John Mayer, Modest Mouse, New Pornographers, Richard Swift, The Shins, Switchfoot, Wolfmother

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Top 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2009

1. Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino) // 8.21.09
I love everything Quentin Tarantino does. The subject matter, universally beloved script, casting, and potential Sergio Leone score only enhance my excitement.
2. Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson) // 5.29.09
Everything Pixar does is good. Reports have Up as equal to or better than WALL-E. Do they have midnight screenings for kids' movies?
3. Watchmen (Zach Snyder) // 3.6.09
The Godfather of comic books finally makes it to the screen, with a to-the-T faithful script and a spot-on visual director and marvelous casting, even enduring a bitter legal battle ... but no squid. For lovers of the graphic novel, of which I am one, we can only be happy it's here.
4. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams) // 5.8.09
I was raised a dutiful Trekkie by my dad, and he will actually be in town this weekend to watch it together. I can't wait.
5. Avatar (James Cameron) //12.18.09
The master himself makes his return, with no less a spectacle than 3-D science fiction. Count me in.
6. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick) //Winter
I know not an ounce of information about this movie. Oh, except for "Directed by Terrence Malick."
7. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese) //10.02.09
Another Dennis Lehane novel adaptation, another excellent director, another superb cast. I will be dragging a cinephile friend who hates Scorsese to this one.
8. The Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson) //11.6.09
After four grand slams and one halfway failure, another zag from the auteur Anderson, in the form of an animated film, is fine by me.
9. The Human Factor (Clint Eastwood) // Winter
Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela! Matt Damon as the South African soccer team captain! Clint Eastwood directing! Yes!
10. Public Enemies (Michael Mann) //7.1.09
A 1930s true story gangster film starring Christian Bale and Johnny Depp directed by Michael Mann. My goodness, all I have to do is describe these movies and they sell themselves!
11. The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson) // 12.11.09
12. The Road (John Hillcoat) // TBA
13. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze) //10.16.09
Three embattled productions; three phenomenal directors ideally suited to their films' content; three films nearly devoid of pre-release images/stories/information. Color me blissfully ignorant and happily anxious.
14. Terminator Salvation (McG) //5.22.09
Skeptical, but hopeful. Just keep the mythology, set up the trilogy, don't kill Bale, and surprise us with something cool but unexpected. That's all we ask.
15. Invention of Lying (Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson) // Winter
16. The Year One (Harold Ramis) // 6.19.09
17. Funny People (Judd Apatow) // 7.31.09
18. Observe and Report (Jody Hill) //4.10.09
Is this the year of the comedy? Here is the combined cast of these films: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Patrick Stewart, Christopher Guest, Jeffrey Tambor, Jack Black, Michael Cera, David Cross, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Paul Rudd, Harold Ramis, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman, RZA, Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, Norm McDonald, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, Patton Oswalt, Michael Pena, and more. Wow.
19. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen) // Fall-Winter
20. The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson) //5.29.09
I'm fascinated to continue to watch the Coen Brothers' progression of post-No Country film choices, just as I'm fascinated to watch Rian Johnson follow up his strangely awesome high school film noir Brick.
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (David Yates) //7.17.09
I loved the direction Yates took the fifth entry; he's hoping he sets up his own two-part splitting of the seventh with a solid, Harry-and-Dumbledore's-relationship-centered sixth.
22. Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie) //11.13.09
I don't like Guy Ritchie; I do like Robert Downey, Jr. And I do like Sherlock Holmes. Let's see.
23. Green Zone (Paul Greengrass) //Fall-Winter
Paul Greengrass is always intriguing, especially when it's political, and this project seems no different.
24. Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn) //Fall-Winter
I had the benefit of seeing Matthew Vaughn make Daniel Craig Bond before he was Bond in Layer Cake at Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon in 2004. This adaptation of one quirky comic book tale sounds like a suitable follow-up to the disappointing Stardust.
25. Taking of Pelham 123 (Tony Scott) //6.12.09
I have a soft spot for Tony Scott pairing with Denzel Washington, and this (probably unneeded) remake is no exception.
26. The Three Stooges (Bobby and Peter Farrelly) // Fall-Winter
27. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright) //Fall-Winter
Totally unrelated, but both have the potential for me to be falling out of my chair laughing.
28. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp) // 8.14.09
29. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Terry Gilliam) // 6.6.09
30. The Box (Richard Kelly) //11.6.09
Three directors all in some sense unproven at the moment: Blomkamp the rejected Halo director doing straight-up sci-fi; Gilliam the respected master with prime powderkeg content (Heath Ledger's last acting job!) but having botched recent outings; and Kelly, Donnie Darko cult leader, following the disaster of Southland Tales. Here's hoping for rebounds all around.
31. Coraline (Henry Selick) // 2.6.09
32. 9 (Shane Acker) //9.9.09
Dark, animated tales by serious artists. I know little, but I respect the care and artistry on display.
33. Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen) //5.15.09
Borat was hilarious at times, even bitingly satirical, but ultimately proved ugly in its inhumanity and straw-man objectifying. Cohen is one smart dude; let's hope he learned his lesson.
34. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Michael Bay) // 6.26.09
35. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood) //5.1.09
As a childhood lover of Transformers, I was more than disappointed with Michael Bay's adaptation. I was also obsessed with Wolverine growing up; but, reports have it that Tsotsi director Gavin Hood has been pushed out of the driver's seat in production. Maybe Bay and (evil) Fox will prove our doubts wrong.
36. Nine (Rob Marshall) //11.25.09
Rob Marshall, no; Daniel Day-Lewis, yes. And what a cast of actresses!
37. The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (Ji-woon Kim) // Spring-Summer
38. Monsters vs. Aliens (Rob Letterman and Conran Vernon) // 3.27.09
39. Angels & Demons (Ron Howard) // 5.15.09
40. Ninja Assassin (James McTeigue) // Fall-Winter
41. The Wolf Man (Joe Johnston) // 11.6.09
42. Land of the Lost (Brad Silberling) //6.5.09
In order: the international joy of 2008; potentially fun; potentially better than the first; potentially cool; potentially terrifying; potentially goofy. We are now officially in the part of the list where it is likely that money, time, or interest will preclude actually seeing some of these movies this year.
43. Drag Me To Hell (Sam Raimi) // 5.29.09
44. Amelia (Mira Nair) //10.23.09
A horror meistro's return and a period epic; why the pairing? These could astound or flop, and I have no clue which way either is leaning.
45. A Christmas Carol (Robert Zemeckis) // 11.6.09
46. The Princess and the Frog (Ron Clements and John Musker) //12.25.09
Zemeckis continuing his (so far in my estimation, failed) foray into motion capture, though with the intriguing Jim Carrey as the peerlessly cynical Scrooge, as well as Disney's re-entry into the world of 2-D animation. I'm not on the edge of my seat, but it's likely I'll bite.
47. Riot (John Carpenter) // Fall-Winter
48. ...of the Dead (George Romero) // Fall-Winter
49. Red Cliff (John Woo) // Spring-Summer
50. Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola) //Fall-Winter
And so we come to the end, where four magisterial directors, known throughout the world, languish with unknown or questionable films. Any of these could very well be masterpieces waiting in the shadows, or just another fetid flop. I am more than ready to welcome all of these guys back to the relevant table again.
Honorable Mention: Toy Story 3-D //10.2.09
In celebration of Toy Story 3 coming out summer of 2010, Disney/Pixar is leading up to it with re-releases of the first two in Disney Digital 3-D. I'm not a 3-D guy especially -- I wear glasses, and am, at times, prone to motion sickness, so I'm not exactly the ideal candidate -- but seeing these classics on the big screen again, in digital 3-D, sounds about as good a gift as I can imagine. Now let's get on to the rest of the Pixar catalogue!
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And to conclude, for your viewing pleasure ... undoubtedly the most anticipated imaginary album of the year, as brought to you, in image and description, by my friend Patrick:

Tom Waits Covering Scarlett Johansson Covering Tom Waits!

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