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The Notable Films of 2010: Part One

By Garth Franklin Tuesday December 15th 2009 09:47AM

After such success with this last year, today comes the first in an eleven-part look at the various cinematic releases hitting the U.S. in 2010. Each contains brief descriptions and editorial opinion/analysis of around twenty-five films. Expect the remaining ones to go up between now and mid-January:

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13
Opens: 2010
Cast: Jason Statham, Alexander Skarsgard, Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, 50 Cent
Director: Géla Babluani

Summary: A remake of 2005 French thriller "13 (Tzameti)". A naive young man assumes a dead man's identity and finds himself embroiled in an underground world of power, violence, and chance where men gamble behind closed doors on the lives of other men.

Analysis: Remakes are very common, the same director remaking his own film in English is rarer but still not unheard of ("Funny Games," "Bangkok Dangerous," "The Grudge"). Almost unique though is the same director doing an English language remake of a film that has taken home multiple awards, in this case the original "13 (Tzameti)" won both the prestigious Sundance grand jury prize and a best first film award at the Venice Film Festival.

This incarnation was shot late 2008/early 2009 with the completed product expected to be screened to distributors shortly according to a production company rep. A theatrical release isn't certain but with a cast like this and a reasonably high profile, one would expect it to be snapped up with reasonable speed should the product prove marketable. The presence of 50 Cent has drawn some early online debate, but the rapper is only in a supporting role and shouldn't affect the outcome one way or another.

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44 Inch Chest
Opens: 2010
Cast: John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Joanne Whalley
Director: Malcolm Venville

Summary: Shattered by the bombshell of his wife’s infidelity with a young French waiter, Colin Diamond and his motley crew of friends kidnapp the loverboy and assemble a kangaroo court to take revenge out on him as the mighty Colin wrestles with his own demons.

Analysis: Not a sequel but certainly fans of British black comedy/thriller "Sexy Beast" have been anticipating that film's scribes Louis Mellis and David Scinto re-teaming for this mostly single-room study of the male ego at breaking point. Featuring some of the best British acting veterans working today, festival reviews for 'Chest' were very complimentary, citing strong (if overly bombastic) performances all round and razor sharp dialogue.

However Malcolm Venville's inexperienced directing, the indecisive leading character and the general lack of plot did come under criticism. Still, 'Chest' is expected to become a cult film success on its own thanks to its poetic and obscene monologues combined with the presence of its "New Tricks"-style band of cranky ex-crim geezers. John Hurt as the obscenity spewing pro-violence hardliner, and Ian McShane as the sensible urbane gay gangster scored the most praise in early reviews.

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The A-Team
Opens: June 11th 2010
Cast: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Quinton Jackson, Jessica Biel
Director: Joe Carnahan

Summary: A contemporary action comedy feature based on the classic 80's TV series. A group of Iraq War veterans go on the run as they look to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.

Analysis: Looking to be one of the just plain outright fun films of the year, the somewhat corny but fan favourite 80's show looks to be getting a faithful modern translation thanks to writer/director Joe Carnahan. Despite a few initial hitches with John Singleton's departure and some early delays by the studio, things seem to have comfortably settled. The casting is spot on, reports from the set indicated things went smoothly (a few hiccups but nothing major), and the mid-June release slot is perfect timing as its a 'boys own' movie in a month likely to be dominated by "Twilight" talk.

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Abel
Opens: 2010
Cast: Carlos Aragon, Christopher Ruiz-Esparza, Gerardo Ruiz-Esparza, Jose María Yazpik
Director: Diego Luna

Summary: About a peculiar young boy who, as he blurs reality and fantasy, takes over the responsibilities of a family man in his father's absence.

Analysis: "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Milk" actor Diego Luna makes his feature directorial debut on this coming of age drama which is getting a non-competition premiere at Sundance later this month. Shot in Mexico City back in late Summer, the $2.7 million production is told from a child's perspective but otherwise very little is known about it. A lot more details and some early reaction from Park City should give us a better clue as to what to expect and will potentially start some buzz.

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The Adjustment Bureau
Opens: Fall 2010
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Terence Stamp, Daniel Dae Kim
Director: George Nolfi

Summary: David Norris, a charismatic congressman meets a beautiful ballet dancer named Elise Sellas, only to find strange circumstances keeping them from getting closer. Norris discovers forces are at work to ensure they stay apart, and he pushes to find out why.

Analysis: Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story "Adjustment Team", the film adaptation has spent a good deal of the past few months shooting on location all around Manhattan where the story is set. Damon and Blunt are a good idea for an onscreen pairing and should play well off each other, while filming reports indicate plenty of on-foot chase sequences. The central tenant of the original short story I won't spoil, but it has been done before in several films so the big question isn't so much what the reveal will be but rather how it will play out.

The only real concern is writer/director Nolfi. Though he may have co-wrote "The Bourne Ultimatum", those films work almost in spite of their scripts which are bare bones and often ignored. Nolfi's other credits include the famously awful adaptation of Michael Crichton's "Timeline", the utterly forgettable Michael Douglas secret service thriller "The Sentinel", and "Ocean's 12" which remains the most divisive entry of that particular franchise. A PKD story is usually a good start but the quality can vary from solid sci-fi features like "Blade Runner," "Total Recall" and "Minority Report" to disappointments like "Paycheck," "Next" and "Impostor". Hopefully this will fall along the lines of the former.

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After.Life
Opens: 2010
Cast: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Alfred Molina, Justin Long, Josh Charles
Director: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo

Summary: A young woman is caught between life and death and a funeral director, who appears to have the gift of transitioning the dead, might just be intent on burying her alive.

Analysis: Though it hasn't scored an American distributor yet, this very strange take on both life and death did manage to get quite a bit of buzz surrounding it when it was on offer at the AFM back in November (and not just for a mostly naked Ricci). Wojtowicz-Vosloo's first feature, the psychological thriller features some top notch talent with Neeson's unsettling performance as the funeral director said to be the highlight.

Ricci's character and the writing were criticised, mainly for being not that clear, but the visuals and smarts of the film were praised even with its obvious budgetary limitations. Expect a quick theatrical release before a healthy life on DVD later in the year.

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Agora
Opens: 2010
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Rupert Evans, Michael Lonsdale
Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Summary: A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, the story concerns a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous female philosophy professor and atheist Hypatia of Alexandria.

Analysis: Spain's highest grossing film of 2009, the epic $73 million period piece shot throughout Malta marks the long-awaited return of "The Others" and "The Sea Inside" director Alejandro Amenábar. Anticipation however has cooled for the film after a screening of an earlier 141 minute cut at Cannes last May drew mixed reviews which praised the performances but weren't so kind to the script or the general lacking storyline (the final cut comes in at 126 mins).

The Christianity-bashing as well will deliver some divisive opinion, while others may go in expecting something more akin to "Gladiator" or "300" than the more solemn and theatrical tone which this seems to adhere closer too. Like all historical epics, this is bound to do significantly better by a large margin in the global market than it will do States-side.

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Alice in Wonderland
Opens: March 5th 2010
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Tim Burton

Summary: A pseudo-sequel to the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice returns to the fantasy realm years after her first visit. Now aged 17 and not fitting into Victorian society and structure, she returns to a slightly haunted and overgrown Wonderland.

Analysis: Though his take on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" didn't prove as definitive as hoped, Burton's new version of 'Alice' seems a slightly different and more potent beast altogether. Carroll's tale has been translated many times before of course, most notably the 1951 Disney cartoon along with the 1985 & 1999 TV versions, but none have been done with a budget of this size and Burton's trademark twisted imagination.

Visuals from the trailers look good (especially in 3D) and while Burton regulars may balk at the very kid-friendly corny antics of Depp's silly turn as the Mad Hatter in the trailers, the stellar mostly British cast in small roles like Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Matt Lucas, etc. give one hope that adults will get some enjoyment as well.

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Alpha and Omega 3D
Opens: October 10th 2010
Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Justin Long, Christina Ricci, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper
Director: Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck

Summary: A disciplined female wolf and a fun-loving male wolf are relocated from Canada to Idaho by park rangers. In order to return home they must work together to battle the elements as well as one another as they journey across unfamiliar territory.

Analysis: Mini-major Lionsgate dips its legs in the 3D computer animation waters with the family-friendly story of timber wolves? Just make sure the kids don't try to pet one next time they visit the zoo. The animation here is being done by an outfit in Burbank called Crest Animation Productions which up until now has been contributing most of its output to India's animation industry. The project marks their first major co-production and is the first of a multi-picture partnership with the distributor should this succeed. The team behind it have worked on the likes of "Open Season," "The Boondocks" and "Brother Bear 2" which doesn't give one much cause for excitement.

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The American
Opens: September 1st 2010
Cast: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli
Director: Anton Corbijn

Summary: After a botched job that kills his lover, an assassin vows to quit after his next assignment in a small but picturesque Italian town. As his guard lowers, a dangerous threat closes in while the woman who hired him may not be all that she seems.

Analysis: Not a lot is known about this assassin thriller with George Clooney as a hitman which only recently wrapped filming. Acclaimed music video director Anton Corbijn, whose first theatrical feature was the 2007 biopic "Control" about the late Joy Divison singer Ian Curtis, helms this which seems like an unusual choice.

"28 Weeks Later" scribe Rowan Joffe adapted the story from Martin Booth's book "A Very Private Gentlemen", but the two previous adaptations of his work have yielded only TV movies. Despite Clooney's presence, the film is essentially an indie picture but could prove a welcome distraction in the otherwise usually anaemic early Fall period.

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And Soon the Darkness
Opens: 2010
Cast: Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, Karl Urban, Adriana Barraza
Director: Marcos Efron

Summary: A remake of the 1970 British cult thriller. Two American girls set out on a bike-riding trip in a remote part of Argentina. When one goes mysteriously missing, the other must find her before her worst fears are realised.

Analysis: The original French-set 'Darkness' was an enjoyable if very dated little cult thriller that played up western xenophobia of foreign countries. Of course films like "Hostel" and "Turistas" have since taken that particular scare-mongering to gory new heights, so a remake like this seems a trifle pointless beyond the picturesque South American locales. One of the bigger titles on offer at the American Film Market in November thanks to the participation of actors like Amber Heard and Karl Urban, Optimum Releasing snapped it up in the UK but the film still has yet to score a North American distribution deal.

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Animal Kingdom
Opens: 2010
Cast: Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelson, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jackie Weaver
Director: David Michod

Summary: Pope Cody, an armed robber from Melbourne, is in hiding with his roughneck friends and family. Soon his nephew Joshua "J" Cody arrives and moves in with his hitherto estranged relatives. When tensions between the family and the police reach a bloody peak, "J" finds himself at the center of a cold-blooded revenge plot that turns the family upside down.

Analysis: Without question the biggest Australian success story of recent years in television was 2008's multi-award winning first season of "Underbelly" which looked at the brutal and often very public real-life Melbourne gangland wars between 1995 and 2004. Thus when acclaimed Aussie short filmmaker David Michod decided to try his hand at a feature-length Melbourne-set crime drama, some early comparisons popped up to that small screen major success. Early footage however has quietened the talk, showing us a far less over-reaching and more personal story about a family tearing itself apart with crime, corrupt cops and bursts of violence only adding fuel to the fire.

Michod himself has said he went to great lengths to "make a piece of cinema" and avoid the "Underbelly" comparisons though freely admits "it'll be interesting to see how it stands apart". The film itself is not debuting locally, rather having its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival where its become a hot ticket. Many noted Australian film critics are far too generous when it comes to local product, so it will be interesting to see the take more objective overseas critics have on the low-budget drama/thriller.

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Area 51
Opens: Fall 2010
Cast: Reid Warner, Darrin Bragg, Ben Rovner
Director: Oren Peli

Summary: The curiosity of three teenagers leads them to the notorious Area 51 portion of Nellis Air Force Base in the Nevada desert. The trio never returned from their excursion and this is the footage found in their camera.

Analysis: Peli's $15,000 supernatural thriller "Paranormal Activity" looks like it will yield a little over $150 million to Paramount Pictures by the time the global box-office comes in, one of the best returns on investment in cinematic history. Thus it comes as no surprise the distributor is releasing Peli's next effort which is essentially the same kind of film but with a sci-fi instead of a supernatural slant, not to mention a bigger budget ($5 million).

Follow-ups to pop culture events though rarely work, look at "The Blair Witch Project" sequel ten years ago which famously tanked at the box-office. Sure '51' isn't "Paranormal Activity 2" but in many ways it might as well be, and certainly will be marketed on the fact that it comes from the same director. One would expect more traditional marketing techniques will likely be employed along with the online and viral methods used for PA, but the film itself now has a level of hype to live up to - unlike 'Activity' which had the element of surprise.

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The Back-Up Plan
Opens: April 16th 2010
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin, Eric Christian Olsen, Danneel Harris
Director: Alan Poul

Summary: On the day of her artificial insemination, a desperately single woman meets a man with real possibilities. When she tells him the truth, he commits fully to the relationship to help her, but as the birth draws near they begin to wonder if they are right for each other.

Analysis: J-Lo gets artificially knocked up and falls for a hunky guy who bonds with her over her pregnancy. Penned by a writer/producer for "Will & Grace" and "What About Brian", and helmed by "Swingtown" showrunner Alan Poul, what's here looks fairly standard and tedious. A lot will depend on the trailer of course, but CBS Films got the first bit of marketing right as first stills they put out were all about showing off Australian "Moonlight" hunk Alex O'Loughlin's half-naked torso. They definitely know their demographic, you have to give 'em that.

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The Baster
Opens: August 20th 2010
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum, Scott Elrod
Director: Will Speck, Josh Gordon

Summary: An unmarried 40-year-old woman turns to a turkey baster in order to become pregnant. Seven years later, she reunites with her best friend, who has been living with a secret: he replaced her preferred sperm sample with his own.

Analysis: Hard to say how this one has turned out and a lot will depend on both early reviews and marketing materials as the concept could go zany comedy, overly sentimental drama, or off on its own strange tangeant. Both leads are coming off film streaks that wildly skew between big studio hits (Marley & Me, The Break-Up, Couples Retreat, Hancock) and often sadly dismissed smaller comedies (Friends with Money, Management, Extract, Invention of Lying).

Directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon showed potential with the funnier than it deserved to be "Blades of Glory" back in 2007, while scribe Allan Loeb is more noted for penning drama ("21," "Wall Street 2") than comedy. Yet an early online script review pegged Aniston's character as one of the most unlikable female leads to ever hit the big screen which sounds a little serious. The film could also become one of the more prominent victims of Disney's gutting earlier this Fall of its speciality arm Miramax. Those few left are keeping their promotional and marketing budgets on an extremely tight leash in these difficult economic times.

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Beastly
Opens: July 30th 2010
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen, Neil Patrick Harris
Director: Daniel Barnz

Summary: A spoiled rich kid is cursed by a girl who turns him into a hideous figure. His only solution is for someone to fall in love with him, and he tries to force it by making the daughter of an addict he has power over live with him.

Analysis: One of CBS Films' launch titles, this teen gothic romance take on "Beauty and the Beast" seems to be struggling to find its true identity. On the one hand it knows exactly who its target audience is, teenage girls, and is doing a great job so far of marketing to that outlet with very visible online marketing campaigns, trailer and photo launches making impacts on social networks and so forth. Rather slim similarities with "Twilight" and the draw of its cast to the target demo should ensure a healthy opening.

The trouble is no matter how well it is being promoted, it's difficult to hide the fact that the film looks more like a TV movie made for The CW network than an actual feature film. Daniel Barnz's last film, "Phoebe in Wonderland", had a similar feel and that film barely scored any notice on its release. This film will get noticed, but critically it will likely have a tough time with much of its business depending on that opening weekend pull, a tough call as several other major films are hitting the same day.

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The Beaver
Opens: 2010
Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence
Director: Jodie Foster

Summary: A depressed toy company CEO with a failed marriage starts to wear a beaver puppet on his hand as a form of therapy, much to the initial bemusement of his family. He soon begins talking only through the character.

Analysis: Whatever your opinion of Mel Gibson's off-screen lifestyle, the one thing he was always good for on screen was comedy. Ten years on since he starred in 2000's "What Women Want", he returns to the genre with this refreshingly different black comedy/drama from his "Maverick" co-star Foster who herself is returning to the director's chair fifteen years after she shot 1995's "Home for the Holidays".

The result is one of the more anticipated titles from Summit Entertainment which explains why international distributors quickly jumped at the chance to release it in their own countries. Kyle Killen’s script topped the 2008 Black List and scored rave reviews for its blend of sophisticated humor and sad pathos, which explains why before it went into production that a lot of top comedic talent were pursued for the project. The more serious-minded Gibson however feels a more compelling fit for the material.

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Bitch Slap
Opens: January 5th 2010
Cast: Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo, Michael Hurst
Director: Rick Jacobson

Summary: A down-and-out stripper, a drug-running killer and a corporate powerbroker arrive at a remote desert hideaway to extort money from a ruthless underworld kingpin. As allegiances change, truths are revealed and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Analysis: Described as a parody and homage to exploitation cinema of the 50's to 70's, the film has been playing the festival circuit to good reviews and was said to have had Roger Ebert chuckling along. While it may be marketed to the macho guy crowd with all its fan service and action brou-ha-ha, it'll be the film geeks and the gay community who'll appreciate the sheer ridiculous camp of the whole endeavour.

There's spontaneous water fights, lipstick lesbian make-out sessions, an evil Japanese school girl, double entendres galore and cameos by many of those involved on "Xena" and "Hercules". The trailer does look like fun, though the prevalent and rather obvious blue-screen work for quite a few of the scenes does the film no favours. I'm not sure if this is one to bother with at the cinema, but it certainly holds more appeal and fun than a lot of other films like it (I'm looking at you "Zombie Strippers").

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Biutiful
Opens: 2010
Cast: Javier Bardem, Bianca Portillo, Martina Garcia, Ruben Ochandiano
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Summary: A loner uses shady dealings to maintain a balance between survival in a marginal neighborhood and safeguarding the future of his young children who are floating aimlessly through life. Things take a turn for the worse when he is confronted by his childhood friend, who is now a policeman.

Analysis: Inarritu ("21 Grams" "Amores Perros") returns to directing four years after his last effort, "Babel", scored multiple award nods. Story details on the Mexican/Spanish drama are scarce but the director's flawless track record has already set this up to be one of the big awards contenders of 2010. Originally scheduled for December last year, post-production on the film took longer than anticipated. It is now likely to score a high-profile Cannes Film Festival premiere in May before a platform release sometime in the Fall.

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Black Death
Opens: 2010
Cast: Sean Bean, Carice van Houten, Eddie Redmayne, John Lynch, David Warner
Director: Christopher Smith

Summary: In plague-ridden medieval England, a young monk is charged with leading a fearsome knight and his group of mercenaries to a remote marsh to hunt down a necromancer - a mysterious beauty able to bring the dead back to life.

Analysis: The fourth horror effort from Christopher Smith after subway thriller "Creep," black comedy "Severance" and mystery piece "Triangle". Smith's previous works have often started out strong with a decent premise but quickly disintegrate into tedious and very gory C-grade horror re-treads. The tone here though seems to be more supernatural period drama which Smith may be more suited for (the comedy of "Severance" worked far better than the horror for example). There's a solid cast here and again a nice setup, but a lot will depend upon how the film performs in the UK when it opens there late February. "Triangle" ended up going direct-to-DVD in a lot of countries, the same may happen again for this if it fails to please.

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Black Swan
Opens: Fall 2010
Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Summary: A veteran ballerina finds herself locked in a competitive situation with a rival dancer, with the stakes increasing as the dancers approach a big performance. However it's unclear if the rival is a ghost or the ballerina herself is delusional.

Analysis: Darren Aronofsky's much anticipated first effort after the success of "The Wrestler" is a slow burn psychological thriller that should be compelling. A script review cites that much of the film is about following Portman's character through her day-to-day mundane life, lulling you into a false sense of security so that when the big moments happen they have a real impact.

The storyline itself about a rival that may be all in her head sounds fairly mundane admittedly, but the director has shown a real knack for taking that kind of material and giving us a whole new and fresh perspective on it that ventures into some very dark territory. Early drafts had a rather hardcore lesbian sex scene between Portman and Kunis that, while I couldn't frankly care less about, much of the male population that reads film scoops has already spanked one out to the idea of. Hudgens herself played coy about the scene in an interview which means it may not show up at all, but if it does there's a guaranteed box-office boost right there.

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Blitz
Opens: 2010
Cast: Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, David Morrissey, Aidan Gillen, Zawe Ashton
Director: Elliott Lester

Summary: Three members of the South East London police squad - a sociopathic rage-fueled detective, a newly widower DCI, and a black female investigator find their lives worsened by a serial killer targeting cops on different beats around the city.

Analysis: "Moon" scribe Nathan Parker and "Love is the Drug" director Elliott Lester team on this well cast British crime thriller with a great premise. Based on the fourth of seven novels by Irish crime writer Ken Bruen that feature two of the lead characters, it means that if successful there might well be a sequel based on one of the other books. Bruen himself is proving popular with another of his works, "London Boulevard", getting a film adaptation by William Monahan later in 2010.

The project also marks the first production of Lionsgate's new UK branch which in 2008 announced a commitment to develop and produce more local films for Blighty. Shot around London in the early Fall, the film's performance and reviews in the UK will likely have a major bearing on international and US release plans. No word on dates yet.

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Blue Valentine
Opens: 2010
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman
Director: Derek Cianfrance

Summary: A couple who have been together for several years have hit an impasse in their relationship. She has blossomed into a woman with opportunities and options, he is the same person he was when they met and is unable to accept the situation.

Analysis: One of the higher profile films to be screened at Sundance in a few weeks, Derek Cianfrance ("Brother Tied," "Meet the Lucky Ones") wrote and directed the project which has the same producers of "Half Nelson" who won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2006. The hope is that impact will strike again with 'Blue' which scored headlines in early 2008 when Cianfrance delayed the film's production for more than a full year rather than recast it to give his leading lady Williams whatever time she needed to grieve over the untimely death of her ex-fiancee Heath Ledger.

It also marks the welcome return of Gosling, one of the young Hollywood stars of real striking talent who last appeared onscreen in 2007's "Lars and the Real Girl". After a famous fall out with Peter Jackson over "The Lovely Bones", Gosling shot this and the mystery drama "All Good Things" in which he co-stars with Kirsten Dunst. That film presently doesn't have a release date yet set beyond a generic 2010 date, while Gosling hasn't signed on for anything after this. So it's a case of watch him while you can.

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The Book of Eli
Opens: January 15th 2010
Cast: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals
Director: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes

Summary: The story revolves around a lone warrior (Washington) who must fight to bring society the knowledge that could be the key to its redemption. Oldman has been set to portray the despot of a small makeshift town who's determined to take possession of the book Eli's guarding.

Analysis: When Denzel does action, the box-office always opens well for him and a teaming with Gary Oldman makes for a film geek wet dream. Yet beyond Washington doing some kung fu antics, one wonders how many will be inclined to check out what otherwise looks like a bland retread of "Mad Max" with Biblical overtones. The Hughes Brothers previous foray into blockbuster territory, the visually striking but painfully bad adaptation of Alan Moore's "From Hell", means it'll look great either way. More exciting is that some typically rather critical reviewers of this kind of material have been shown this and have passed on word that it ain't half bad.

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Born to Be a Star
Opens: September 3rd 2010
Cast: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Stephen Dorff, Don Johnson, Edward Herrmann
Director: Tom Brady

Summary: A small-town nerd learns his quiet and demure parents were famous porn stars in the 1970s. This motivates him to leave for Hollywood, hoping to follow in their footsteps and fulfill his destiny as the biggest adult-film star in the world.

Analysis: Co-written by Adam Sandler and helmed by the director of Rob Schneider vehicles "The Hot Chick" and "The Animal", the film may not star Sandler but his fingerprints are definitely all over it. Thus the gags are almost certain to go for the lowest common denominator, which is a shame as the premise could make for a biting black comedy.

One could be sure that this was already set for some 'worst of' lists if it weren't for some of the clever supporting casting such as Don Johnson as a washed up porn director, and Stephen Dorff as a porn star named Dick Shadow. Maybe it'll surprise, but when the first marketing materials hit they should give a pretty clear indication of what to expect (the utterly dead first weekend of September release date already does in many ways).

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The Bounty Hunter
Opens: March 19th 2010
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Christine Baranski, Jason Sudeikis
Director: Andy Tennant

Summary: A bounty hunter's next assignment may turn out to be his toughest yet: his ex-wife who has skipped bail and has gone on the run from the law.

Analysis: One of the better premised formula rom-coms of next year, the matching of gruff Butler with Aniston is a pretty good one while the rest of the cast is stacked with scene-stealing comedians. Shot around New York and Atlantic City, there seems to be quite a bit of action to try and appease the guys who'll be taking their dates along.

Killing much of the joy is that the director is Andy Tennant who has delivered films that, though profitable for the studio, are often rather a pain to sit through such as "Sweet Home Alabama", "Hitch" and most recently "Fool's Good" - itself an action-oriented rom-com that had all the elements to work but failed miserably. Like 'Gold', the trailer will probably be a lot better than the final film which is a concern as the trailer is rather flat and awful in itself.

The Complete Notable Films of 2010 Guide

Part One: 13, 44 Inch Chest, The A-Team, Abel, The Adjustment Bureau, After.Life, Agora, Alice in Wonderland, Alpha and Omega 3D, The American, And Soon the Darkness, Animal Kingdom, Area 51, The Back-Up Plan, The Baster, Beastly, The Beaver, Bitch Slap, Biutiful, Black Death, Black Swan, Blitz, Blue Valentine, The Book of Eli, Born to Be A Star, The Bounty Hunter

Part Two: Bran Nue Dae, Breaking Upwards, Brighton Rock, Brooklyn's Finest, Buried, Burlesque, Carlos the Jackal, Case 39, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Cemetery Junction, Centurion, Chloe, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Clash of the Titans, The Company Men, Confucius, The Conspirator, Cop Out, Cracks, The Crazies, Crazy on the Outside, Creation, Cyrus, Date Night, Daybreakers

Part Three: Dear John, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, Death at a Funeral, The Debt, The Descent: Part II, Despicable Me, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dinner for Schmucks, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, District 13 Ultimatum, Don McKay, Dorian Gray, The Dry Land, Due Date, The Eagle of the Ninth, Easy A, Eat Pray Love, Edge of Darkness, Enter the Void, The Exam, The Expendables, The Experiment, The Extra Man, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Extraordinary Measures

Part Four: Fair Game, The Fighter, The First Gun, Fish Tank, Flipped, From Paris with Love, Frozen, Furry Vengeance, Georgia, Get Low, Get Me to the Gig, The Ghost Writer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Glorious 39, Going the Distance, The Good Guy, The Greatest, Greenberg, The Green Hornet, Green Zone, Grown Ups, Guardians of Ga'Hoole 3D, Gulliver's Travels, Happy Tears, Harry Brown

Part Five: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, Heartless, Henry's Crime, Hereafter, Hesher, High School, Hippie Hippie Shake, Holy Rollers, Hot Tub Time Machine, Howl, How to Train Your Dragon, The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, I Am Love, I Love You Phillip Morris, Inception, The Irishman, Ironclad, Iron Man 2, It's Kind of a Funny Story, It's A Wonderful Afterlife, Jackass 3D, Jack Goes Boating, John Rabe, Jonah Hex, The Joneses, The Karate Kid

Part Six: Kick Ass, The Kids Are All Right, The Killer Inside Me, Killers, The King's Speech, Knight and Day, The Last Airbender, The Last Song, The Last Word, Leap Year, Legion, Let Me In, Letters to Juliet, Life as We Know It, Life During Wartime, Little Fockers, London Boulevard, The Losers, The Lottery Ticket, Love and Other Drugs, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Love Ranch, MacGruber, Machete, Main Street

Part Seven: Marmaduke, The Mechanic, Megamind, Micmacs, Middle Men, Morning Glory, Mother, Mother's Day, Mother and Child, Mr. Nobody, Multiple Sarcasms, My Own Love Song, My Soul to Take, Nailed, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, Never Let Me Go, The Next Three Days, A Nightmare on Elm Street, North Face, Nowhere Boy, Oceans, Once Fallen, Ondine, The Other Guys, Our Family Wedding, Paul

Part Eight: Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, Perrier's Bounty, Piranha 3-D, Please Give, Predators, Priest, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, A Prophet, Rabbit Hole, Ramona and Beezus, Rapunzel, Red, Red Dawn, Red Riding, Red Tails, Remember Me, Repo Men, The Resident, Robin Hood, The Romantics, The Roommate, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead, The Rum Diary, The Runaways, Saint John of Las Vegas

Part Nine: Salt, Sanctum, Saw VII 3D, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Season of the Witch, Secretariat, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Sex and the City 2, Shanghai, Shelter, She's Out of My League, Shrek Forever After, Shutter Island, Skateland, The Social Network, Solitary Man, Solomon Kane, Somewhere, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Special Relationship, Splice, The Spy Next Door, The Square, Stay Cool, Step Up 3D, Stone

Part Ten: St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, Sympathy for Delicious, Takers, Tamara Drewe, Tell Me, The Tempest, Three Backyards, Toe to Toe, The Tooth Fairy, The Town, To Save a Life, Toy Story 3, The Tree of Life, Triage, Tron: Legacy, True Legend, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Twelve, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too, Unstoppable, Unthinkable, Untitled Mike Leigh Project, Valentine's Day, Valhalla Rising

Part Eleven: Vincere, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Warlords, Warrior, Waska, The Way Back, Welcome to the Rileys, What's Wrong With Virginia, When in Rome, The Whistleblower, Wild Grass, The Winning Season, Winter's Bone, The Wolfman, Womb, Wonderful World, The Yellow Handkerchief, Yogi Bear, You Again, You May Not Kiss the Bride, Young Americans, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Your Highness, Youth in Revolt, The Zookeeper

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