The Notable Films of 2011: Part One

Back for its third year (see the 2010 edition) and bigger than ever, today kicks off the first in a fifteen-part look at the various cinematic releases hitting the U.S. in 2011. Each ‘part’ contains brief descriptions and editorial opinion/analysis of varying length covering twenty films. Expect the remaining ones to go up between now and the first major releases in mid-January.

Like all cinematic lists set within a timeframe, there’s some overlap. Some films here have already opened worldwide but have yet to hit the U.S., some upcoming films you’d expect to be here aren’t because they’re either still in development or have already announced 2012 release dates, some were on last year’s list but got delayed so have been included again (but with all new analysis).

I confined my list to films that have either set 2011 release dates or had begun/completed production, and only films that have a good chance of getting some kind of theatrical release – even then its come out just shy of 300 titles at present. So, away we go:

Beastly

Opens: March 18th 2011
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: A teen gothic romance take on “Beauty and the Beast”, this is a film tailor made for young women. An arrogant sleaze with a rippling six pack whom the girl manages to tame into a kind-hearted man devoted to them? Check. A touch of the supernatural to give it a slightly dark and forbidden (but still safe) edge? Check. A non-threatening tween starlet whom they can empathise with? Yep.

Early last year CBS films kicked off a very visible online marketing campaign eiyh trailer and photo launches making impacts on social networks across cyberspace. It was uninspiring, showing off something that looked more akin to a TV movie for The CW, certainly something that felt distinctly soft-pedalled. Scheduled to open July 30th, CBS did the smart move and pushed it back to the far less competitive slot of March this year. At the time they cited the reasoning being the Zac Efron fantasy-drama “Charlie St. Cloud” opening the same week and fans were complaining that “Zac and Vanessa’s movies [were] opening on the same day”. Sigh.

To be fair though the fledgling distributor has refocused its campaign, playing up the darker elements of the story in more recent trailers and keeping just enough clips and previews out there to keep the awareness up but without pushing so much as to become annoying. Its only danger now lies in the one real piece of competition it has that month which opens the week before – Catherine Hardwicke’s more interesting looking “Red Riding Hood”. For those of us who don’t speak fluent BellaSwan-ian, the only saving grace in the previews is the potential comic relief from Neil Patrick Harris as a blind tutor.

The Complete Notable Films of 2011 Guide

Part One: 5 Days of August, 11-11-11, 13 Assassins, 30 Minutes or Less, Abduction, The Adjustment Bureau, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Albert Nobbs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Amigo, Anonymous, Apollo 18, The Apparition, Arthur, Arthur Christmas, Atlas Shrugged: Part One, Bad Teacher, Barney’s Version, Battle: Los Angeles, Beastly

Part Two: The Beaver, Beginners, Bel Ami, Bernie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, The Big Year, Black Gold, Blackthorn, The Black Tulip, Blitz, Born to Be a Star, The Borrower Arrietty, Bridesmaids, Brighton Rock, Butter, The Cabin in the Woods, Caesar: Rise of the Apes, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cars 2

Part Three: Catch .44, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Cedar Rapids, Ceremony, Certified Copy, Chalet Girl, The Change-Up, Clean Skin, The Cold Light of Day, Cold Weather, Colombiana, Conan the Barbarian, The Conspirator, Contagion, The Convincer, Coriolanus, Courageous, Cowboys and Aliens, Crazy Stupid Love, The Cup

Part Four: Damsels in Distress, A Dangerous Method, The Darkest Hour, The Debt, The Deep Blue Sea, The Descendants, The Details, The Devil’s Double, Dibbuk Box, The Dilemma, Dolphin Tale 3D, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dream House, Drive, Drive Angry 3D, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, The Eagle, Even the Rain, Every Day, Everything Must Go, The Eye of the Storm

Part Five: The Factory, Fast Five, The Fields, Final Destination 5, Flypaper, Footloose, Friends with Benefits, Friends with Kids, Fright Night, From Prada to Nada, The Future, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gnomeo and Juliet 3D, Goon, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Griff the Invisible, The Guard, Guns Girls and Gambling, Hall Pass

Part Six: The Hangover: Part Two, Hanna, Happy Feet 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, Haywire, A Heartbeat Away, The Help, Henry’s Crime, HERE, Higher Ground, Hobo with a Shotgun, Homework, Hop, Horrible Bosses, The Housemaid, House of My Father, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Hugo Cabret, The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, The Hunter

Part Seven: I Am Number Four, I Melt With You, The Ides of March, Immortals, The Impossible, In A Better World, Incendies, The Innkeepers, Insidious, Intruders, In Your Hands, Ironclad, Jack and Diane, Jack and Jill, Jane Eyre, Jeff Who Lives At Home, Johnny English Reborn, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Jumping the Broom, Just Go With It, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Part Eight: Kaboom, The Killer Elite, Killer Joe, Kill The Irishman, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Lady, Larry Crowne, Last Night, The Ledge, Life in a Day, Like Crazy, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Little Birds, A Little Bit of Heaven, Little White Lies, Live With It, London Boulevard, The Loneliest Planet, Love and Bruises, The Lucky One

Part Nine: Machine Gun Preacher, Mad Bastards, Man on a Ledge, The Man with the Iron Fist, Margin Call, Mars Needs Moms!, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Mechanic, Meek’s Cutoff, Melancholia, Midnight in Paris, The Mill and the Cross, Miral, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Moneyball, The Monk, Monte Carlo, Mother’s Day, Movie 43, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Muppets

Part Ten: My Idiot Brother, My Week with Marilyn, Neds, New Year’s Eve, No Strings Attached, Now, Of Gods and Men, On the Road, One Day, One for the Money, Oranges and Sunshine, The Other Woman, Paranormal Activity 3, Passion Play, Paul, Peace Love and Misunderstanding, Peep World, Perfect Sense, Piranha 3DD, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Priest, Project X

Part Eleven: Prom, Puss in Boots, Rampart, Rango, The Raven, Real Steel, Red Dawn, Red Dog, Red Riding Hood, Red State, Red Tails, Restless, Retreat, Rio, Route Irish, The Rum Diary, Safe, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Salvation Boulevard, Say Nothing

Part Twelve: Scream 4, A Serbian Film, Serge Gainsbourg: A Life Heroic, Shame, Shaolin, Shark Night 3D, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Shelter, The Silent House, The Sitter, The Skin That I Inhabit, Sleeping Beauty, The Smurfs, Snabba Cash, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Snowtown, Soldiers of Fortune, Something Borrowed, Son of No One, Soul Surfer

Part Thirteen: Source Code, Space Battleship Yamato, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, Straw Dogs, Submarine, Sucker Punch, Super, Super 8, Take Shelter, Take This Waltz, Ten Year, There Be Dragons, The Thing, The Three Musketeers, This Means War, This Must Be The Place, Thor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tower Heist