I’ve got my eye on you…

where_the_wild_things_are_ver2Those who follow film may have read that this summer – the season that matters to studios at the box office –  has been more profitable than that of 2008.

What gets swept under the rug in this announcement is the fact that there were more 3-D films released this year (4) than last (1), thus taking on an extra $3 to ticket prices, and that there were actually fewer people attending films that last year. In fact, there has not been a boost in attendance since 2004.

There was also no runaway “The Dark Knight” smash that seemed to cause everyone to pour into the theaters, only a few solid blockbusters followed by a number of smaller releases that performed better than expected.

Who knows what it all means in the grand scheme of cinema, but one thing is clear: viewers are becoming much more selective about the films they opt to see, selecting films that matter to them, not necessarily bandwagon jumping (though it could be argued that is the only reason “Transformers” exists at all).

So, as the season shifts to its more prestige pictures (plus a sprinkling of potential holiday blockbusters), I am offering a list of 10 films to keep your eye on in the months ahead for the finicky film-goer. This is not an endorsement of any of these pictures, but instead a compilation of those mainstream releases that are currently receiving the most buzz on the internet and festival circuit before making a big splash in local theaters.

In chronological order:

  • Where the Wild Things Are”: (Oct. 16) Maurice Sendak’s gloriously simple (but not simplistic) children’s book is brought to life by the imagination of director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation”). Eschewing CGI for real feathers and fur monsters, “Wild Things” has a tangible warmth that is seen in the incredibly stirring trailers that stirs both nostalgia and wonder.
  • Men_Who_Stare_at_GoatsThe Men Who Stare at Goats”: (Nov. 6) It looks like a Coen Brothers movie, it sounds like a Coen Brothers movie, it’s even cast like a Coen Brothers movie (with “O Brother Where Art Thou’s” George Clooney as the lead and Jeff Bridges in full “Big Lebowski” Dude mode). But this based-on-a-true-story tale manages to glide along with its own style and looks like one worth climbing aboard.
  • christmas_carolA Christmas Carol”: (Nov. 6) Robert Zemeckis continues to bathe audiences in the warm glow of a computerized yule log, hopping from “The Polar Express” to this beloved holiday fable. Jim Carrey takes on the misery Scrooge role, as well as the visiting apparitions that populate his home over the course of Christmas Eve in this animated retelling.
  • roadThe Road”: (Nov. 25) Cormac McCarthy helped lead Javier Bardem and the Coen Brothers to Oscar glory with “No Country for Old Men” and his bleak vision serves as a template for more potential awards. Viggo Mortensen stars as a man determined to protect his family in a harsh post-apocalyptic landscape. The film has been bumped more than once on release calendars, which typically not a great sign, bt the film’s pedigree demands attention.
  • upintheairUp in the Air”: (Nov. 25) George Clooney’s third film scheduled for release (if you count his voicework for the animated “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”) is rumored to be the one to lead him to award nominations. Jason Reitman (of “Juno” fame) directs this adult dramedy of a man whose job is to dump employees and who finds out he is about to become “downsized” himself. Vera Fermiga co-stars as the female version of Clooney’s character.
  • nineNine”: (Nov. 25) Five words: A musical with Daniel Day-Lewis. Perhaps that is six words, but whatever. Rob (“Chicago”) Marshall adapts the Broadway tale of a director struggling to juggle all the ladies in his life (wife, mother, muse and mistress). This one beats heavily with prestige, as Marion Coutillard, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren all co-star. And regardless of your feeling toward musicals, any screen return of Day-Lewis is cause for attention.
  • princesss and frogThe Princess and the Frog”: (Dec. 11) Cornering the market on all things princess-themed, Disney goes retro with a traditionally animated retelling of “The Frog Prince,” only this time with its first black princess. The update relocates the action to 1920s New Orleans, and to help with the move, Disney has enlisted some talent who specialize in heavy lifting: the directors of the blockbusters “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin.”
  • The Lovely Bones”: (Dec. 11) Peter Jackson breaks his habit for Hobbits and returns to more intimate filmmaking that earned him such acclaim in “Heavenly Creatures.” He recreates for the screen author Alice Sebold’s best-seller of a girl who watches over her family and struggles with feelings of vengeance and healing.
  • avatarAvatar”: (Dec. 18) And speaking of computer generated images, James Cameron comes back to direct his first film in more than a decade with the promise of reinventing how we watch movies. Years in the making, and arriving with a healthy price tag (at last count, more than $200 million), Avatar has many a hope riding on it. And for those who may doubt, jettison back in the memory banks to 1997, when the masses who laughed at a pricey film about a boat, and iceberg and an ending that everyone knew.
  • sherlockSherlock Holmes”: (Dec. 25) Robert Downey Jr. takes a trip to Baker Street, with Jude Law in tow as his charge, Watson. Guy Ritchie breaks from documenting the fast-talking, London crime syndicate switching to epic mode with the oft-filmed supersleuth.

~ by usesoapfilm on September 17, 2009.

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