News

The Notable Films of 2010: Part Seven

By Garth Franklin Tuesday December 29th 2009 09:16AM

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Marmaduke
Opens: June 4th 2010
Cast: Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Ron Perlman, Judy Greer
Director: Tom Dey

Summary: Brad Anderson created the decades-running newspaper comic strip, about a mischievous Great Dane who lives with the Winslow family, in 1954.

Analysis: When the likes of Garfield and those bloody chipmunks made millions for Fox, every other newspaper comic strip and old cartoon was brought out for consideration of movie potential. Sadly many half-decent ones were bypassed in favour of that Great Dane Marmaduke in a live-action meets CG animated family comedy with Owen Wilson voicing the pooch. These are the kind of films that truly make me hate life.

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The Mechanic
Opens: 2010
Cast: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Christa Campbell
Director: Simon West

Summary: A highly-skilled but emotionally detached hitman is planning to retire when a young man asks to be trained up in the profession. Only problem is that this new apprentice is the son of one of the Mechanic's handler and may have ulterior motives.

Analysis: A remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson thriller, one wonders how much it will resemble or hopefully improve upon the dark and brutal original which was noted for its dialogue-free opening sixteen minutes and its world-weary and often existentialist take on remorseless killing.

While the casting of Foster as the apprentice is a great choice, Statham seems too young for a part better suited for an awards-calibre veteran actor. Similarly using director Simon West ("Con Air," "Tomb Raider") means the action sequences should look great, but the story will likely be thin on the ground.

Nu Image/Milennium however plans a big release for this in the "Avatar" weekend slot next year with little competition at present for its target audience aside from Disney's big-budget "Tron: Legacy".

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Megamind
Opens: November 5th 2010
Cast: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller
Director: Tom McGrath

Summary: When super villain MegaMind defeats his archrival Metro Man, the world should be his oyster. But instead, he falls into despair. It turns out that life without a rival is life without a point for him. So, he creates a new superhero rival who wants to be a super villain.

Analysis: Having gone through at least three different titles, Dreamworks Animation's superhero satire sounds quite similar to Universal's "Despicable Me" also opening this year, while both will likely suffer when compared to Pixar's 2004 masterpiece "The Incredibles". Putting a super villain front and centre should make for a more interesting character, but the family-targeted nature of Dreamworks Animation pretty much nullifies any potentially interesting character exploration.

There's also the strange need of the studio to yet again rely heavily on celebrity voices, even though when it comes to animation it's usually the non-household names that make it memorable. Those who go to a Brad Pitt film for example either want to see him naked or giving a good performance. Would anyone go to a film just to hear his voice? Did having Angelina Jolie as a purple fish in "Shark Tale" help boost that film's credibility or profits in any way? Still there's money to be made for Katzenberg, and to give him credit I like the character design a lot.

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Micmacs
Opens: 2010
Cast: Dany Boon, Andre Dussollier, Nicolas Marie, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Yolande Moreau
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Summary: Bazi, a man whose father was killed by a roadside bomb, is hit by a stray bullet in a freak drive-by shooting incident. When he gets out of the hospital without a job or any money, he falls in with an ex-con who lives in a scrap dump and makes plans to get revenge.

Analysis: Say what you will about his beautiful looking if woefully incoherent "Alien Resurrection", French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is always a talent to watch with the likes of "Delicatessen," "The City of Lost Children" and "Amelie" cementing his place as a great filmmaker. Five years after his last film "A Very Long Engagement" in 2004, he returned this year with this arms trade satire that scored generally positive reviews on its bow in Toronto.

Essentially about a guy and his friends trying to bring down two major weapons manufacturers, the usual Jeunet visual stylings were praised but the plot and something of a missing emotional connection were criticised. Still there were comments that this is amongst his most accessible work to date which may take the edge off the critical praise but could result in stronger box-office. Sony Classics will release the film sometime in 2010.

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Middle Men
Opens: 2010
Cast: Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, James Caan, Gabriel Macht, Kelsey Grammar
Director: George Gallo

Summary: The story centers on a straight-and-narrow businessman who builds the first online billing company dealing exclusively with adult entertainment and finds himself in the middle of a whirlwind filled with starlets, conmen, Russian mobsters, federal agents and terrorists.

Analysis: The world of online porn is massive and highly popular, yet still remains largely unexplored on film or in cinema beyond brief comedy-centric subplots. Here comes a true story that looks to play out like "Blow" but with digital tits instead of cocaine as the product. A five minute unrated trailer for the film is online and actually shows a good amount of promise even if Wilson seems slightly miscast in the lead role.

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Morning Glory
Opens: 2010
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson
Director: Roger Michell

Summary: The story centers on an aspiring news producer (McAdams) who tries to save a failing morning show by getting control of its feuding anchors. Ford and Keaton will play the dueling on-air personalities. Goldblum will portray McAdams' boss.

Analysis: Didn't Kelsey Grammar just do a failed sitcom along these lines? Paramount seems to have forgotten that and gone ahead with this rather thinly premised romantic comedy which is impressive far more for who is involved than what it is. In front of the camera there's Harrison Ford in a genre that sometimes can actually quite suit him, while Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams seem a good fit as foils.

Behind the camera there's acclaimed helmer Roger Michell ("Notting Hill," "Changing Lanes"), a script by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada," "27 Dresses") and even "Star Trek" and "M:I-3" helmer J.J. Abrams in a producing credit. Why in the world is such top tier talent signing onto this? Hopefully the script is good but with no footage so far, short of an unimpressive pirated scene that recently leaked online, it's too early to call.

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Mother
Opens: 2010
Cast: Bin Won, Ku Jin, Hye-ja Kim
Director: Bong Joon-ho

Summary: A widow goes to extreme lengths in her attempts to clear the name of her mentally handicapped, 28-year-old son, who is wrongly accused of brutally murdering a young woman.

Analysis: Following on from impressive reviews at various festivals throughout the year and in general release in several international territories, Magnolia Pictures is set for a limited early 2010 bow for Bong Joon-ho's fourth film. Having found himself a fanbase with 2007's superb creature feature "The Host", Bong's next project scored enough praise in Cannes, Toronto and the like that it became Korea's official submission for best foreign-language film at the upcoming Oscars.

Though it avoids the political and social commentary of his other films, "Mother" is essentially a mystery noir procedural that makes strong and entertaining statements about maternal devotion. It's a vigilante picture in many ways, the lone parent failing to find help from authority figures and going out to find the killer herself. With strong atmosphere and gripping characterisation on offer, add this to your must see foreign film list.

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Mother's Day
Opens: 2010
Cast: Rebecca DeMornay, Patrick Flueger, Jaime King, Matt O'Leary, Shawn Ashmore
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Summary: Three brothers on the run from the law head for home, only to discover that their mother lost the house in a foreclosure. Mother ingeniously orchestrates her sons' escape, teaching the house's new owners and their guests a few lessons along the way.

Analysis: While I'm not a fan of the "Saw" sequels, I do think highly of "Saw" 2-4 and "Repo The Genetic Opera" director Darren Lynn Bousman. While he overindulges himself on the gore factor and the fast cut editing, an interesting visual style and sense of ambition underly everything and he's one of the few out there in the genre with the balls big enough to take some chances even if they backfire.

'Day' looks like his most interesting project yet, a Troma cult classic remake that in this version will ditch that studio's signature cheese factor for a realistic home invasion thriller. Even more exciting is Rebecca De Mornay as the cruel and calculating matriarch, a welcome return to the genre I still most associate her with thanks to "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" being a seminal film of my youth.

There's a good supporting cast too from babes like Jaime King and Deborah Ann Woll, to hottie hunks Matt O'Leary and Patrick Flueger as the two sadistic brothers. Already apparently cut and finished, I'm hoping this ends up one of the better horror remakes.

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Mother and Child
Opens: 2010
Cast: Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington
Director: Rodrigo Garcia

Summary: A tale of a mother and daughter, separated at birth, who struggle with the damage done by the most important person missing in their lives while a young African-Americn woman deals with an unwanted pregnancy and the adoption process.

Analysis: Scoring rave reviews in Toronto, the $7 million latest effort of Rodrigo Garcia ("Nine Lives," "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her") once again shows off his skill at weaving multiple narratives together in clever and unexpected ways. At its heart it's an emotional family drama, but Garcia excels with his female characters which makes the involvement of Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington and especially Annette Benning thrilling.

The few criticisms levelled at the film were toward some pacing and credibility issues in the last act, but otherwise praised it for not falling into cliche and melodrama like so many female-geared ensemble dramas do. If it lives up to that buzz, or at least the quality of Garcia's skill on his previous films and work on shows like "Carnivale" and "Six Feet Under", it could make a lot of Top Ten lists next year.

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Mr. Nobody
Opens: 2010
Cast: Jared Leto, Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley, Rhys Ifans
Director: Jaco Van Dormael

Summary: In the year 2092, a time when Mars is a vacation spot, Nemo Nobody is a 120-year-old man who is the last mortal among humans who have become immortal due to scientific advances. When Nemo is on his deathbed, he reviews the three possible existences and marriages he might have experienced.

Analysis: A $58 million, English language, Belgian experimental sci-fi feature shot in 2007 is led by Jared Leto who plays twelve different versions of one life. Director Jaco Van Dormael ("The Eighth Day") pursued the project starting in 2001 and at this price it is by far the most expensive Belgian film to date. Yet funding came relatively easy based on Dormael's skill and what was said to be the strength of his script.

The film displays its protagonist's life in three stages, with each stage based on the work of British photographer Martin Parr and shot with different lighting and musical cues (ala "Traffic"). Premiering at Venice in August and later playing Toronto, the 140-minute feature scored generally good reviews with some very strong supporters. Yet all used similar words - odd, ambitious, confusing, surreal, nonsensical and no-holds-barred.

Comparisons to "Donnie Darko" and "Synecdoche, New York" were made, though they generally pegged those films as more engaging and rewarding than Dormael's work here. Will almost certainly prove a cult hit that will be utterly adored by some, beyond that it'll likely go over most people's heads.

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Multiple Sarcasms
Opens: March 2010
Cast: Timothy Hutton, Mira Sorvino, Dana Delany, Mario Van Peebles, Stockard Channing
Director: Brooks Branch

Summary: A successful architect with a beautiful and devoted family realises that he is not really happy. He decides to quit his job and write a play about the sorry state of his life with the help of a pushy literary agent friend. The changes that occur in his life lead him to question what truly makes him happy.

Analysis: The low-budget indie ensemble drama shot in 2008 is finally getting a Spring platform release through Multiple Avenue Releasing kicking off in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle in March. Writer/director Brooks Branch has no previous writing/directing credits to her name but has assembled a good cast for what looks like a decent if unremarkable coming-of-middle age piece.

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My Own Love Song
Opens: 2010
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Renée Zellweger
Director: Olivier Dahan

Summary: The story centers on a roadtrip to Memphis undertaken by a wheelchair-bound former singer and her friend. Both have faced tragedy in their lives, and each becomes the other's chief support.

Analysis: The fourth film from French director Olivier Dahan has a lot to live up to after his third, the Edith Piaf biopic "La Vie En Rose", became the first French cinema film ever to win two Oscars. 'Song', a low-key indie road movie which marks his first English-language effort, was shot around Kansas and New Orleans in late 2008.

Zellweger plays the wheelchair-bound protagonist which marks an interesting departure for the actress, and the hope is that the French helmer will avoid imbuing the whole thing with too much schmaltz and sentimentality. An extended promo trailer that leaked online earlier this month looked quite strong, with the pair sharing an unusual but enjoyable chemistry. Early reviews and word of mouth though are where it needs to start generating buzz soon if its to score critical and commercial success.

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My Soul To Take
Opens: 2010
Cast: Max Thieriot, John Magaro, Emily Meade, Nick Lashaway, Denzel Whitaker
Director: Wes Craven

Summary: In the sleepy town of Riverton, legend tells of a serial killer who swore he would return to murder the seven children born the night he died. Now, 16 years later, people are disappearing again. Has the psychopath been reincarnated as one of the seven teens, or did he survive the night he was left for dead? Only one of the kids knows the answer.

Analysis: Though he's helmed various films in the past fifteen years, 1994's quite clever Elm Street reinvention "New Nightmare" was the last time Wes Craven both wrote and directed a feature. 'Soul', originally titled "Bug" and later "25/8", marks his return on that front with what sounds like a less inventive take on Stephen King's "It".

An unfortunate leak the other week of a behind-the-scenes photo showed a hermit-like killer with make-up that made him appear more like a rejected design for "Ghosts of Mars". Craven himself says the photo is of a killer whom only appears in footage from an ‘additional shoot’ and not on screen in the original version of the film.

Henry Lee Hopper, son of actor Dennis Hopper, was originally cast in the lead role until he contracted mononucleosis. He was replaced by the more experienced Max Thieriot. Originally slated for an October 2009 release, Rogue Pictures pushed it back into sometime in 2010 but no further date specifics are yet locked down.

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Nailed
Opens: 2010
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jessica Biel, James Marsden, Catherine Keener, Tracy Morgan
Director: David O. Russell

Summary: A socially awkward small-town receptionist has a nail accidentally shot into her head by a clumsy workman, eliciting wild sexual urges. Going on a crusade to Washington to fight for the rights of the bizarrely injured, she meets an immoral congressman who takes advantage of her sex drive and her own career plans.

Analysis: No production in this entire guide has gone through more reported trouble than this David O. Russell-directed political comedy which filmed in early-mid 2008. From alleged prima donna behaviour from cast members you wouldn't expect, to cast and crew walkouts, and most visibly financing problems leading to numerous production shutdowns.

The $25 million indie didn't so much wrap as limp to the finish line in June 2008 with a few crucial scenes, including the key one where Biel's character gets the nail in her head, apparently going unfilmed. Biel herself in an interview in May confirmed that the film is sitting around unfinished but hopes it will come out some day.

Unfortunately no-one else related to the production has gone on record about its fate so finding out what state the film is in at this juncture and whether a working cut can be released is almost impossible. Russell himself has moved on and despite recent talk that the film could be on offer for sale in Cannes at May, "Nailed" has essentially become like the 2005 Matt Damon-drama "Margaret" - one of those lost projects that may never see the light of day.

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Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang
Opens: Easter 2010
Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Susanna White

Summary: Nanny McPhee appears at the door of a harried young mother, Mrs. Isabel Green, who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war. But once she's arrived, Nanny McPhee discovers that Mrs. Green's children are fighting a war of their own against two spoiled city cousins who have just moved in and refuse to leave.

Analysis: It's not a huge surprise that Emma Thompson opted out of the final "Harry Potter" in favour of this other sequel. Unlike 'Potter' which is essentially just another acting job for her, this film series is a lot more personal to the actress as she adapts the scripts from Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda book series along with producing and playing the titular role.

2005's "Nanny McPhee" was surprising. In spite of the amateur looking make-up and wild visual touches, it delivered a quite restrained and adept approach to children's fantasy that wasn't afraid to mix moral life lessons, cheeky fun and a dark edge. It also did pretty good business internationally which made the green lighting of this sequel inevitable, albeit a five year gap that's more considerable than expected.

'Potter' fans though will get a kick out of two of the franchise regulars - Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) and Maggie Smith (McGonagall) - appearing in supporting roles here. An Easter release is planned in the UK and several other international territories, no word on when it'll hit the US.

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Never Let Me Go
Opens: 2010
Cast: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins
Director: Mark Romanek

Summary: A woman reunites with her two friends to face the dark secrets buried in their communal past at a private school in the English countryside. With no knowledge of the outside world during those years at the school, they must prepare for the haunting reality that awaits them.

Analysis: Part English period drama, part sci-fi dystopian thriller - "The Remains of the Day" author Kazuo Ishiguro was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize for this work about the touching friendship and romance between a trio of clones made to provide donor organs for transplant. Though the concept is sci-fi, the tone and text avoids the genre and its cliches as much as possible - keeping the focus almost entirely on the relationship of the main trio and the historical setting in an alternate but essentially same version of the 1990's.

"The Beach" author and "28 Days Later" scribe Alex Garland adapted the work in a script that made the 2008 British equivalent of the Blacklist, while "One Hour Photo" director Mark Romanek came onboard right after being let go from the troubled "The Wolfman" remake. Added to that is a stellar cast, most notably the older version of the trio themselves and the various teachers at the school.

If Romanek manages to pull it off with aplomb, what you have here could be something along "Children of Men" lines in terms of major critical acclaim and cinematic impact. A special screening of the film took place in October, but that was apparently a rough cut with further changes likely to be made before a worldwide release sometime in 2010. Fox Searchlight has the rights to distribute this States-side so if the reviews are strong we might see a potential awards push.

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The Next Three Days
Opens: Late 2010
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Russell Crowe, Brian Dennehy, Olivia Wilde, Jason Beghe
Director: Paul Haggis

Summary: With no legal means left to him, an English teacher devises a daring plan and takes extreme actions to rescue his wife from jail where she has been wrongfully imprisoned for murder...or has she?.

Analysis: He cleverly reinvented James Bond with the brilliant "Casino Royale", then made him an unrecognisable thug with the contemptible "Quantum of Solace". For several years he was the hottest screenwriter in Hollywood and his second feature "Crash" won the Oscar for Best Film. Yet now that's seen as one of the least deserved wins in the Academy's history, while his next directing effort "In the Valley of Elah" came and went with barely a whimper. However you feel about Paul Haggis, his name attached to any project still draws a lot of notice.

Here he remakes Fred Cavaye's 2007 effort "Pour Elle" (aka. "Anything for Her") which starred Diane Kruger as the wife. Haggis' version transfers the location to Pittsburgh where he shot the film late last year with an impressive cast. The idea of Crowe and Liam Neeson teaming had many salivating at first, but Neeson's role is just a cameo sadly. Haggis says theme wise one thing he wanted to explore here is "that by saving the woman you love, you could quite possibly turn into someone she could no longer love." Sounds like he's reaching there, but no doubt the marketing will likely play this up as a "Taken"-style actioneer with Crowe - that will definitely sell tickets.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street
Opens: April 30th 2010
Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker
Director: Samuel Bayer

Summary: A remake of Wes Craven's seminal 1984 horror classic. A group of teenagers find their dreams haunted by a figure, a badly burned man with razor knives for fingers. His name is Freddy, and if he kills you in the dream then you die in real life.

Analysis: Leatherface, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers have all had their due, now comes the inevitable update of arguably the biggest of the 80's horror titans - Freddy Krueger. As per usual, Platinum Dunes brought in a music video director, a grittier visual aesthetic and a bunch of good looking young actors with recent small screen experience to pad out the victims list.

Unlike his masked and mute counterparts who could frankly be played by anyone of decent height and build, Krueger has always been inexorably tied to actor Robert Englund. From the chilling heights of the first, third and seventh film to the embarrassing lows of the second, fifth and sixth film (not to mention the cable series spin-off), Englund was the rock which the franchise built on. Thus the big question here is how will Jackie Earle Haley go as a replacement.

During production there was talk of the less than stellar script, in-fighting between the director and the producers over various issues, and Haley himself being unhappy. Troubled sets however don't mean a lot in the final analysis, and the early trailer looked impressive. The more realistic burn victim style makeup, replacing Freddy's bolognese face for something more akin to a four cheese sauce, is still too hidden for the moment and so remains a big question mark as to its effectiveness in motion.

An early test screening review for the film cited it as a typically thin but flashy effort in line with Dunes' other remakes, a few jump scares but nothing like the atmosphere or depth of the original. However it did credit Haley as nailing the character, and does suggest that the storyline sticks close to the original even if it avoids some of Craven's more famous moments (such as Johnny Depp's famously bloody demise).

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Night Catches Us
Opens: 2010
Cast: Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Hector, Wendell Pierce, Novella Nelson
Director: Tanya Hamilton

Summary: In 1976, complex political and emotional forces are set in motion when a young man returns to the race-torn Philadelphia neighborhood where he came of age during the Black Power movement.

Analysis: Making vivid use of its mid-70's time period and working-class Philadelphia setting, 'Night' is one of the lesser known entries in competition at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival and may prove a strong surprise if the reviews give it enough momentum.

Its advantage lies in its pedigree, feature filmmaking newcomer Tanya Hamilton developed the film under the title "Stringbean and Marcus" at the Sundance Lab in 1999 where the screenplay was the first to receive a Pew Fellowship grant of $50,000 and was also awarded an Annenberg grant. Hamilton herself won an award at Berlinale in 1996 for her short film "The Killers".

The likes of Mos Def, Sophie Okonedo, Snoop Dogg, Andre Braugher and John Legend were attached to this project when it was first announced back in 2006, all dropped out as delays pushed back shooting until this past Summer. The leads ended up being a reunion of Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie who previously starred in Spike Lee's 2004 effort "She Hate Me".

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North Face
Opens: January 29th 2010
Cast: Benno Furmann, Florian Lukas, Johanna Wokalek, Georg Friedrich
Director: Philipp Stolzl

Summary: Based on a true story. In 1936 a combination of Nazi propaganda and the love of a childhood sweetheart sees two reluctant mountain climbers begin a daring attempt to be the first to scale the northern face of the Eiger, the most dangerous climb in the Alps.

Analysis: When I hear of the Eiger, my mind keeps drifting back to Clint Eastwood's "The Eiger Sanction". Deliciously politically incorrect these days, the bad guy is camper than Christmas and has a pet dog named faggot, the film nevertheless still looks impressive thanks to its authentic mountain-climbing sequences.

Released over a year ago to modestly good reviews, "North Face" scored notices for similarly convincing scenes and tension, most notably a 70-minute stretch that reconstructs the actual climb and its various setbacks. Its human dramatic elements however, especially an invented romantic subplot, weren't as well regarded but are apparently offset by strong pacing and convincing production values.

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Nowhere Boy
Opens: 2010
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Thomas Sangster, David Morrissey
Director: Sam Taylor-Wood

Summary: John Lennon is an ordinary 15-year-old on the streets of Liverpool raised by his aunt who is suddenly reacquainted with his mother. A bitter war rages between the two sisters for John's love and he soon learns the secret heartbreak of his past and the gift his mother gave him - music.

Analysis: Though many films have been made about the colourful life of The Beatles frontman, few have looked at the period of John Lennon's childhood and adolescence. Artist-turned-director Sam Taylor-Wood has a go at it with 'Boy' which attempts to examine the family dysfunction that lead inspiration to much of Lennon's best material.

Released in the UK and Australia this past Boxing Day weekend to mixed reviews, the film seems to deliberately avoid even mention of the Beatles despite small appearances from young incarnations of Paul McCartney and George Harrison. While generally praised for its family drama, the most common criticism is that it gives no real insight as to how these difficulties manifested into a musical passion.

Performances were well regarded though, particularly rising newcomer Aaron Johnson as Lennon and Kristin Scott Thomas as the prudish Aunt Mimi. The film gets its North American debut at Sundance next month before a limited release later in the year through The Weinstein Company.

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Oceans
Opens: April 22nd 2010
Director: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud

Summary: Disneynature, the studio that presented the record-breaking film "Earth," brings "Oceans" to the big screen on Earth Day, 2010. Nearly three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered by water and "Oceans" boldly chronicles the mysteries that lie beneath.

Analysis: The second documentary released under the 'Disneynature' label, "Oceans" follows on from the successful "Earth" which managed a gross of just over $100 million since its debut starting in Europe in 2007. Though generally scoring good reviews, "Earth" suffered from a lot of criticism over the fact it was essentially a cutdown version of the BBC's far superior 11-part TV series "Planet Earth" from 2006 (the same way 2003's "Deep Blue" was made from the ground-breaking "Blue Planet" series).

The trailer for "Oceans" doesn't start out promising as it spends half its runtime flogging the Disney brand more than actually showing the movie itself. Once it does get to the footage though it actually looks impressive, helped by the involvement of French filmmaking duo Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud who directed 2002's brilliant "Winged Migration".

The project was essentially a purely French/Spanish doco that Disney came onboard with and will slap its label on for mass soccer mom consumption. Reviews the other month were glowing but hinted that the entire film is more of a strange mood piece than a straightforward narrative-driven affair (ala "March of the Penguins") and thus will be more difficult for younger kids to follow. A scene involving the simulated mutilation of sharks may also get the chop for its content.

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Once Fallen
Opens: 2010
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Amy Madigan, Ed Harris, Peter Weller, Ash Adams
Director: Ash Adams

Summary: A father and son struggle with crime, family and prison.

Analysis: Not a hell of a lot is known about this upcoming indie crime drama beyond a good cast that includes Ed Harris and real-life wife Amy Madigan. Shot in Los Angeles in late 2008 by actor turned filmmaker Ash Adams for Emmett/Furla Films, the project still seemingly hasn't locked down a theatrical distributor as yet which makes release date speculation pointless for now.

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Ondine
Opens: 2010
Cast: Colin Farrell, Tony Curran, Stephen Rea, Alicja Bachleda, Dervla Kirwan
Director: Neil Jordan

Summary: A lyrical fairy tale in which an Irish fisherman fins his life transformed when he catches a beautiful and mysterious woman in his nets. His daughter comes to believe that the woman is a magical creature, while he falls helplessly in love.

Analysis: Acclaimed Irish helmer Neil Jordan returns to the fantasy genre with this straight-up fairytale that scored solid reviews on its debut in Toronto this year. The lush visuals shot mostly off the Irish coast combined with understated performances and a breezy albeit unhurried tone will make this too lightweight of an effort for some fans hoping for another great Jordan effort like "The Crying Game" or "Interview with the Vampire".

Yet it may find more commercial success outside of Ireland than many of its ilk thanks to its family-friendly tone. Certainly it looks to have a lot more heart and charm than M. Night Shyamalan's similar if woefully inadequate water nymph story "Lady in the Water". Plus Sigur Rós' keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson provides the score which makes this one where the sensory aesthetics alone are enough to recommend it.

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The Other Guys
Opens: August 6th 2010
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson
Director:

Summary: A pen-pushing police accountant and a trigger-happy Detective are reluctantly teamed together. When the city's top cops run into trouble, opportunity arises for this pairing to step up, but things don't quite go as planned.

Analysis: Buddy cop action/comedies are all about the chemistry of the pair - do well and you get a "Lethal Weapon", do badly and it's like that DeNiro/Eddie Murphy excrement "Showtime". The teaming of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg though seems inspired.

'Guys' marks the fourth film of director Adam McKay whose first two collaborations with Ferrell gave us "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights". How the pair will do in this all too familiar genre though should be interesting. Supporting casting is truly great from Michael Keaton as their captain, The Rock and Samuel L. Jackson as the best cops in the city, and the likes of Steve Coogan, Anne Heche, Eva Mendes, Ray Stevenson, Damon Wayans and Craig Robinson in small roles.

The hope here is that we don't get another letdown of "Starsky and Hutch" calibre, a film that should've worked as a great spoof and ultimately turned out to be a disappointing and often humor-free cop action movie that just happened to star comedians. If it does work though, expect a big commercial smash hit.

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Our Family Wedding
Opens: March 19th 2010
Cast: Forest Whitaker, America Ferrera, Carlos Mencia, Regina King, Charlie Murphy
Director: Rick Famuyiwa

Summary: Described as a clash-of-cultures comedy, the story centers on two overbearing fathers (Whitaker, Mencia) who must put aside their differences to plan the wedding of their son and daughter (Ferrera) in less than two weeks.

Analysis: If it weren't for the mild amusement of witnessing Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia butting heads on screen, there'd be nothing to recommend about this otherwise ordinary sounding and more dramatic 'Meet the Parents' style story from "The Wood" and "Brown Sugar" writer/director Rick Famuyiwa. Maybe it'll surprise and score some good reviews, but for now it's one of the year's more immediately dismissible pictures (not helped by a lack of promotional material thus far).

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Paul
Opens: 2010
Cast: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig
Director: Greg Mottola

Summary: Two British sci-fi fanatics on an American road trip find their conspiracy dreams coming true when they encounter an escaped alien near Area 51. As they try to reunite him with his mother ship, they find 'Paul' has many more opinions than your typical ET.

Analysis: One of the best current onscreen comedy duos, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, return to deliver a comedic tribute to geek cinema with "Paul". Sadly it doesn't involve them re-teaming with their regular brilliant directing cohort Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz"), but they've got the next best cross-Atlantic equivalent in the form of "Superbad" and "Adventureland" helmer Greg Mottola who will direct from a script Pegg and Frost penned.

Supporting roles are stacked here with the likes of SNL stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader; "Arrested Development" stars Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor; and flat out movie greats like Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver and Blythe Danner. There remains some concern about the alien creature itself, but Seth Rogen easily stole the show in "Monsters vs. Aliens" as Bob the Blob's voice - given a proper script it'll be great to see what he can do.

Though scheduled for a worldwide release in 2010, there's no specific dates locked in as yet. However with the San Diego Comic Con featuring prominently in the plot, it's not a stretch to consider a special screening/premiere and/or publicity launch at the event in July. Pegg and Frost originally were slated to film at the convention but had to end up recreating it in New Mexico later because the actual event has become too big for a feature film shoot to take place.

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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