Previewing the Films of 2011: The Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre

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After detailing my 25 Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 yesterday it’s time to begin looking at the rest of the field. While those may be the 25 as my most anticipated, it doesn’t mean they’ll be the best of the year by any stretch. Some of today’s films are certain to be contenders to be named Best of 2011, but which ones?

Before we go any further, let me again remind you of the schedule for the 2011 preview:

I’ll begin with my list of Curiosities, which is to say these are 20 films that have captured my attention for a variety of reasons, and I believe have some potential to be stand-outs. Some of my curiosity is based on the excitement of others, some is based on the previous success of those involved, some is simply my wonderment of just how a certain project will turn out. My expectation and hope is that a few of these 20 movies actually end up surprising us and end up as some of the year’s best.

Curiosities
(in alphabetical order)

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn [December 23]: I can’t figure out if the hubbub over this film has to do with the fact Steven Spielberg is directing and Peter Jackson is producing and will direct the sequel or if it’s a love for the source material. Either way the onliners are excited, which has me curious.

Area 51 [TBA 2011]: Was Oren Peli‘s success with Paranormal Activity a one hit wonder or will lightning strike twice? We’ll find out soon enough.

Arthur [April 8]: I can only assume Warners isn’t hoping for another Oscar with their remake of Arthur starring Russell Brand, but with Helen Mirren filling the shoes once filled by the Oscar-winner John Gielgud you can’t help but be a little curious as to how this one will turn out. Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte co-star.

Battle: Los Angeles [March 11]: This is another online buzz builder, and most onliners were excited about this one before they even saw footage at Comic Con. Now there seems to be a legitimate amount of “can’t wait” attitude. I hope it lives up to their expectations.

Caesar: Rise of the Apes [June 24]: Can director Rupert Wyatt tap into whatever it was that made the original Planet of the Apes a sci-fi hit and avoid whatever it was that made Tim Burton’s remake a massive failure? The first trailer for this film is either going to have people going, “Oh god that looks amazing!” or running to YouTube to make parody videos. There can’t be much room for in-between. The film stars James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox, Don Cheadle, David Oyelowo and Tom Felton.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark [TBA 2011]: Miramax was all set to release this one on January 21 when they went belly up and now the release is in limbo, but Troy Nixey‘s remake of the 1973 made-for-TV original with Guillermo del Toro aboard as producer is one to look out for based on what the trailer teased.

Drive [September 16]: Nicolas Winding Refn delivered Bronson and the Pusher trilogy, which means I am up for whatever he’s selling. While Valhalla Rising did nothing for me last year the cast for Drive and the plotline has me interested. The film is an adaptation of James Sallis’s novel centered on a Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) moonlighting as a getaway driver for thieves. When a bank heist goes wrong, he ends up on the run with a contract on his head and an ex-con’s girlfriend (Carey Mulligan) in his car. Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman co-star.

Fright Night [August 19]: I have never seen the original Fright Night, but I have heard it is actually quite enjoyable. However, the fact Craig Gillespie has put together a cast that includes Anton Yelchin, David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Colin Farrell and Toni Collette for this remake is what interests me most. There must be something here…. right?

Hugo Cabret [December 9]: While I have little interest in the fact Martin Scorsese is directing a 3D movie, the fact he’s directing a 3D kids movie is of interest. There must be something that drew him to this material and I’m excited to see what it was.

Now [September 30]: I want to get excited for Andrew Niccol‘s The Cross, but it looks like that film may have been shelved so I guess I’ll have to look on with a quizzical eye at this movie, which was once titled I’m.mortal and now has the more generic title of Now (NOTE: Not a good title if you were hoping people would find it on Google). The plot makes it sound like a Logan’s Run descendant. The cast is made up of Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Justin Timberlake and Olivia Wilde.

The Raven [TBA 2011]: Has director James McTeigue put together another film the quality of V for Vendetta or will this just be more trash to pile in the heap alongside Ninja Assassin? The film is a fictionalized account of the final five “mysterious” days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life with John Cusack starring as the famous writer as he joins the hunt for a serial killer whose murders are inspired by his stories. “It’s like the poem, ‘The Raven,’ itself, crossed with Se7en,” McTeigue has said. Okay, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Sanctum [February 4]: Before it received an R-rating for language, some violence and disturbing images I had no interest in the James Cameron produced Sanctum. But now I want to know what the hell is going on in this underwater feature that is so disturbing?

Sarah’s Key [TBA 2011]: This was a buzzy film while I was in Toronto last year, but I never got a chance to see it. With a cast that includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Niels Arestrup and Aidan Quinn I certainly want to give it a chance. On a side note, it may have been retitled Her Name was Sarah.

Scream 4 [April 15]: I can’t help but be curious for Wes Craven‘s latest Scream feature. Above all else it should be interesting to see the press tours now that Courteney Cox and David Arquette are divorced and he’s checked himself into rehab.

Sherlock Holmes 2 [December 16]: The first one wasn’t very good, but Robert Downey Jr. is so damned charismatic people will certainly line-up to see another one. The question is whether or not this one can actually deliver something of any interest to the more avid movie goer? The inclusion of Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is certainly something everyone will be keeping a close eye on.

Straw Dogs [September 16]: I was blown away when I first saw Sam Peckinpah‘s Straw Dogs and Rod Lurie‘s adaptation seems to have been in development forever. Will it be able to live up to Peckinpah’s intense feature? Lurie’s last film was Nothing But the Truth and it was pretty good, but this is a whole new deal. The film stars James Marsden, Alexander Skarsgard, Kate Bosworth, Dominic Purcell, James Woods and Willa Holland.

Sucker Punch [March 25]: Zack Snyder has described this as “an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with machine guns”. That’s enough to make me curious. This will obviously be a visual feast based on what the trailers have shown us, but will it be anything more than that?

The Thing [October 14]: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. directs a prequel to John Carpenter‘s classic. I have very little faith in this film, but still can’t help but hope some kind of entertainment comes as a result.

Unknown [February 18]: This one is releasing only a couple of weeks later than Liam Neeson‘s surprise hit Taken did in 2009 and you better believe Warner Bros. is hoping for a similar result.

Water for Elephants [April 22]: Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend) directs an adaptation of the acclaimed bestseller. This film’s source material and even the cast — Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz and Hal Holbrook — would lead you to believe Fox would be pushing for a potential Oscar campaign, but the February release date says otherwise. What are we looking at here exactly?


These next 13 (felt like an apt number considering the category) films just sort of struck me as falling out of the normal realm of your average, every day movie — more so than others so to say and I felt they deserved their own spotlight. Among these films I suspect we will find at least one or two that really causes a stir in the new year. There is bound to be a film from this group that gives cause for editorials and continued chatter.

Just know that when I classify the category as films that are “Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre” it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m talking about the plot or the genre the film falls in per se, but also the casting in some instances, the genesis of the project, the people involved, etc. That said, let’s have a look…

Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre
(in alphabetical order)

Apollo 18 [March 4]: I’ve already detailed much of the backstory on this flick right here and can’t tell you much more other than Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego is helming the picture and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) is producing.

Clown [TBA 2011]: In all likelihood this will end up being one of those films you have to search and search just to see, unless Cross Creek Pictures actually puts together a meaty marketing campaign and theatrical release schedule. This is the film that came to life merely due to a fake trailer that caught the attention of Eli Roth, but such a story makes for a film you really want to root for.

Haywire [TBA 2011]: The decision to cast MMA Fighter Gina Carano as the lead (a black ops super soldier) in his new movie is the reason Steven Soderbergh‘s Haywire has landed in this batch of 2011 films. Add to that a cast that also includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Angarano, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton and on the surface you have a cast that jumps off the page making me wonder just what does Soderbergh have in store?

Hobo with a Shotgun [TBA 2011]: Another faux Grindhouse trailer is ready to hit the big screen and this time it stars Rutger Hauer as a… Well, I think you can figure it out.

Looper [TBA 2011]: I don’t love the work of Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) the way most people seem to, but his new time travel movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Paul Dano sounds like it could be quite good. The story centers on a group of killers (called Loopers) who work for a crime syndicate in the future. Their bosses send their targets hogtied and blindfolded back in time to the Loopers, and their job is to shoot them in the head and dispose of the body. So the target vanishes from the future and the Loopers dispose of a corpse that doesn’t technically exist. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie if complications didn’t arise and they most certainly will…

Moon Rise Kingdom [TBA 2011]: I guess some could argue Wes Anderson has become a convention of his own. The guy is completely hit or miss with me, but after Fantastic Mr. Fox I am ready to give his latest a go. The cast of his latest already includes Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton.

Red State [TBA 2011]: I have no idea what to expect or think of Kevin Smith‘s Red State, probably because I didn’t watch the teaser and have paid as little attention to it as I possibly could. It will be interesting to hear the reactions out of Sundance.

Rubber [April 1]: A telepathic killer-tire goes around blowing people’s heads up. No apologies here, I want to see it even though early reviews tell me it won’t be too good.

Source Code [April 1]: When the trailer for Source Code first arrived one reader called it “Groundhog Day meets 12 Monkeys meets Deja Vu“, but I get the feeling people will still be interested in what Duncan Jones (Moon) has to offer next even if it doesn’t totally smell of originality. The cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan and Jeffrey Wright.

Super [April 1]: I saw this film from Slither director James Gunn in Toronto and it isn’t half-bad, but it is one of those films that will be best enjoyed with a late-night, rowdy crowd rather than an audience at a Saturday matinee. You can read my TIFF review here.

Super 8 [June 10]: From Super to Super 8 from J.J. Abrams. Little to nothing is known exactly about this film, which is part of what makes it so intriguing. It seems to have something to do with monsters or aliens so be on the look out.

Ted [TBA 2011]: “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane directs a film about a man (Mark Wahlberg) and his teddy bear, which has evolved over the years into a cursing, smoking, delinquent (voiced by MacFarlane) that is preventing the man from maturing. So basically it’s the anti-The Beaver. The film co-stars Mila Kunis and Adam Scott.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil [TBA 2011]: I am including Eli Craig‘s film only because I want to actually see it as I missed it at last year’s Seattle Film Festival as a result of being in Cannes. They’ve been asking for too much money from distributors, which is why this much loved festival favorite still hasn’t found a domestic release, but from what I’ve heard it is a film to see if given the chance.


So there you have it, 33 new films added to yesterday’s 25 brings us now up to 58 films from 2011 previewed and there is more to come. If you haven’t yet checked out my 25 Most Anticipated Films of 2011 you can click here to browse that list and stay tuned as tomorrow I’ll have over 40 more titles in my list of “Blockbusters and Popcorn Features” before closing out the preview on Friday with some Foreign Language titles and Oscar Contenders.

Until then, any of these films catch your eye? What films are you most curious about in the new year? What films do you suspect will be the most talked about?

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