While Academy voters are studying their ballots and watching their videos, believe it or not there are a lot of new movies coming soon. Here’s a short list of what we’re looking forward to in 2010:
Howl – a docudrama about poet Allen Ginsberg’s obscenity trial following publication of his famous poem is one of the Sundance openers this year. James Franco is Ginsberg, and should be riveting. Great supporting cast, too: Mary-Louise Parker, Jon Hamm, David Straithairn, Treat Williams, etc.
Shutter Island – Martin Scorsese’s thriller with Leonardo DiCaprio was supposed to have been released a few weeks ago. But Paramount delayed it, saying Oscar campaigns for “Up in the Air” and “The Lovely Bones” had them overextended financially. A February release isn’t always bad — look at “The Silence of the Lambs.” And Scorsese is rarely off key.
The Ghost Writer – Roman Polanski’s new epic comes as he finishes it from lockdown home arrest in Switzerland. The film is supposed to open the Berlin International Film Festival on Feb. 8. Polanski won’t be there, but emotions and support will be high. He’s one of our greatest filmmakers, regardless of his past activities. An eclectic cast comprises Pierce Brosnan, Ewan MacGregor, Kim Cattral, Jim Belushi, Tim Hutton and beloved 93-year-old Eli Wallach. Get ready, this is going to be big news when it’s finally seen.
The Tempest — Julie Taymor’s take on Shakespeare, with Helen Mirren playing Prospera, the distaff version of the Bard’s conjurer.
The Tree of Life — Terrence Malick is never less than interesting. Now he’s got Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in a “Benjamin Button”-type ethereal epic that we probably won’t see until the fall. Will it be great? Weird? Self-referential? Or magnificent, like Malick’s “Days of Heaven”? We can only hope.
Hereafter – Clint Eastwood won’t stop making movies, which is just fine. Following “Invictus” he went straight ahead to make this thriller with Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard. My money’s on Clint. And unlike “Invictus,” this may have a love story.
The King’s Speech — Colin Firth is so hot right now — and Oscar bound — in “A Single Man.” Add all that to Geoffrey Rush and very hot HBO director Tom Hooper (”John Adams”) and we may have a new “Shakespeare in Love” next fall. Woefully underused Jennifer Ehle, plus Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, and Michael Gambon round out this cast. If this isn’t an Oscar nominee, I don’t know what it is.
Robin Hood — Russell Crowe at least doesn’t have to fake an accent the way Kevin Costner did long ago. Saddled with many false starts and millions spent on scripts that didn’t work, Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” should nevertheless prove to be a success. Cate Blanchett is Marian, and there’s a strong supporting cast including breakout star Oscar Isaac (also in “Sucker Punch”) and stalwarts like William Hurt and Max von Sydow.
Sucker Punch — The first new film from Zack Snyder, whose “Watchmen” was a watershed fantasy film this year. Snyder puts together Jena Malone, Abbe Cornish, Scott Glenn and Jon Hamm. Could be a winner, and nothing less than interesting.
The Conspirator – Mary Surratt was the only woman charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Robin Wright (ex-Penn) gets to play her, directed by Robert Redford. If this is good, it’s also great, with awards awaiting. James McAvoy, on the edge of being huge, is featured along with Kevin Kline, Justin Long and Tom Wilkinson.