My mammoth fall movie preview will run in tomorrow's paper. Here is a list of the ten films I am looking forward to the most. The preview only runs through Nov. 25, so no Avatar or The Lovely Bones or the new Almodovar.
I've ranked these in order of anticipation level. Shutter Island would have been fourth on this list if they hadn't moved it.
1) The Road: I've been babbling about this one since they started filming, and it's finally almost here. Reading Cormac McCarthy's novel about a father and son (Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee) wandering a post-apocalyptic U.S. gave me the same feeling reading No Country For Old Men did: I could practically see the movie in my head, and it was magnificent. I don't know how director John Hillcoat (The Proposition) is going to navigate the book's relentlessly grim tone, but I can't wait to find out. (Oct. 16)
2) Where the Wild Things Are: Even if I hadn't read Maurice Sendak's book a hundred times as a kid, the combination of Spike Jonze (directing his first movie since 2002's brilliant Adaptation) and screenwriter Dave Eggers would have still piqued my curiosity. Max Records stars as Max, the mischievous little boy who becomes ruler of a land populated by monsters. It's good to be the king. (Oct. 16)
3) A Serious Man: Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen go semi-autobiographical for the first time in their careers, telling the story of a Jewish academic (Michael Stuhlbarg) who seeks advice from three rabbis on how to straighten out his messed-up life. Unlike most of the Coens' recent films, this one has a no-star cast, implying a lack of the irony the brothers usually use to comic but distancing effect. The trailer alone is marvelous. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. (Oct. 9)
4) Antichrist: Three of the most powerful experiences I've ever had at the movie theater (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark and Dogville) came courtesy of Lars Von Trier. I'd be looking forward to his new movie -, about a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) mourning the death of their child - even if it hadn't caused a scandal at Cannes. I only wish I had exercised more discipline and not read so much about it, because I feel like I know too much of the story already. I just couldn't help myself. Don't make the same mistake. (Nov. TBD)
5) The Box : Cameron Diaz and James Marsden are a married couple who receive a magic box with a single red button. Push the button and you become instantly rich, but someone somewhere in the world drops dead. How's that for a story hook? Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly gets back to basics after the fascinating, impenetrable mess of his second film, Southland Tales. (Nov. 6)
6) An Education: Nick Hornby's novels have already generated two movies I love (High Fidelity and About a Boy), and now Hornby has written his first screenplay, based on Lynn Barber's memoir, about a teenaged girl (Carey Mulligan) growing up in 1960s London who falls for an older man (Peter Sarsgaard). Sounds chick-flickish, but do not discount the Hornby factor. Plus the reaction at Sundance was really strong. (Oct. TBD)
7) Nine I've never seen the original Broadway musical, so this one will be completely new to me. But I liked director Rob Marshall's Chicago a lot more than I expected to. Plus this has Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren singing. Plus there is the Fellini 8 1/2 factor. (Nov. 25)
8) Michael Jackson: This Is It; Despite the relentless media coverage, the death of Michael Jackson still feels somewhat surreal to me, as if it hadn't really happened. That will change, I suspect, with the arrival of this concert documentary, which consists of rehearsal footage and behind-the-scenes interviews with the singer as he was preparing for his string of London shows. Some will find it ghoulish and opportunistic, but I'm looking forward to seeing Jackson perform one final time, which I expect will be cathartic and moving on some level. (Oct. 28)
9) The Fantastic Mr. Fox: The films of Wes Anderson (The Royal Tennenbaums, Rushmore) have often flirted with fantasy without ever taking the plunge. You could argue that The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou did it, but I don't think Anderson pushed the movie far enough. But Anderson goes the full fantasy route with this fabulously animated tale of a fox (voiced by George Clooney) who must protect his wife (Meryl Streep) and family from mean farmers. Tell me this trailer doesn't make you want to see the movie right now. (Nov. 25)
10) Zombieland: One of my all-time favorite zombie movies is 1985's Return of the Living Dead: There is something about flesh-eating ghouls that lends itself to comedy, and I love how that film manages to be funny and scary at the same time (also: best ending of any zombie movie ever). This story of a group of survivors (including Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg) in a world overrun by the dead promises to strike a similar balance. (Oct. 2)