I know this list has been a little foreign/indie heavy so far. What can I say? I don’t understand the appeal of Les Miserables. I promise the rest of my list is (slightly) more populist. Here are the next five.
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Why: This year’s Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes film festival. Director Haneke won the Palme d’Or for his previous film The White Ribbon, a film I really liked. Haneke is a consistently fascinating filmmaker, but the notorious provocateur seems to be going for something different with his latest. It’s about an elderly couple dealing with heartbreaking realities when one falls ill. Not very upbeat, but I’m sure it will be compelling.
14. Life of Pi
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Gerard Depardieu, Rafe Spall
Why: I’ve never read the book, but the trailer has me very curious. It’s a survival story with the surreal twist of zoo animals. Like Cloud Atlas, I can’t believe a studio gave this one a greenlight. It has a no-name lead, a weird premise, and a huge budget. It’s also another master filmmaker experimenting with 3D. The clip I saw in theaters looked insane, so count me in.
13. The Impossible
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Why: Basically the entire creative crew from The Orphanage made The Impossible. This time they stepped outside the horror genre and made a true-life survival tale set during the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami. The recent trailer seems to indicate this will have a nice balance between terror and drama. I’m a big fan of Watts and McGregor (both have free passes for life after Mulholland Dr. and Trainspotting), and I’ve heard some very good early buzz about newcomer Tom Holland.
12. Wreck-It Ralph
Director: Rich Moore
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman
Why: It’s like Toy Story but with video games! Um, yes, with an extra side of yes! Disney has actually been on a nice roll lately with their Thanksgiving releases. Bolt and Tangled are way better than anyone told you, and last year’s Muppets was a big success. John C. Reilly is great and heads up an impressive voice cast. Director Rich Moore isn’t a household name but he was behind some of the best episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama. Did I say yes already?
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Don Cheadle
Why: I’m a big Zemeckis fan, and the guy hasn’t made a live action film since Cast Away. His motion capture films have been good to great, but I’m happy to see him out in the real world again. This also looks like Denzel is actually trying and not just getting by on cruise control like he so often does. The footage looks great, especially the plane crash sequences. And as you know, Zemeckis is already responsible for one of the best crash sequences on film.
Check back tomorrow as I dig into the top 10. And stay tuned all week to get the full list.