2003 sucked. This year will surely be better for movies. In fact, this year looks awesome, with most of my favorite working filmmakers -- Yang and Lynch are the only exceptions, really -- putting out new movies.
Without further ado:
1. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai)
Why? A psuedo-sequel to my favorite movie released in the last forty years? With that cast? It's like A-Rod *and* Bonds on the Red Sox.
But... Brooding androids? A shoot that's gone on for almost three years? Gong Li shows up on the set, after shooting had supposedly wrapped? Many signs point to possible disaster.
2. Not on the Lips (Alain Resnais)
Why? It's a French musical by one of my all-time favorite directors, do I have to spell it out? Icing on the cake: Warm memories of Resnais' SAME OLD SONG, my favorite recent musical; good notices in France.
But... AMELIE looked awesome on paper, too...
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
Why? Kate. Charlie Kaufman. The most kickass Hollywood trailer since MINORITY REPORT. Awesome premise. Strong advanced word. Kate.
But... Hollywoof killed the video star...Hollywoof killed the video star (director)....
4. Clean (Olivier Assayas)
Why? Maggie-Olivier reunited. Not sure what this is about, but anything close to IRMA VEP and we have blast off. The cast includes...Tricky?
But... For all of his formal chops, Assayas' last two features have been mixed bags.
5. The Incredibles (Brad Bird)
Why? Get outta here, Brad "Iron Giant" Bird teaming up with Pixar, the most trusted brand name in the business? Add to this incredible embarrassment of riches, a terrific premise and teaser.
But... I don't see any downside. Do you?
6. Secret Agent (Eric Rohmer)
Why? Possibly the last film of cinema's greatest minaturist.
But... I sure hope it's not a spy movie. Or a Conrad adaptation for that matter.
7. Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino)
Why? Kill Bill, Vol. 1 was my #1 most anticipated movie of 2003. I sure like to see how it ends.
But... Though occasionally jawdroppingly awesome, Vol. 1 was ultimately something of a disappointment. Will Vol. 2 provide the emotional resonance that this fanboy love letter sorely needs? Or at least is less forced in its "coolness"?
8. King and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)
Why? An autobiographical Desplechin starring Mathieu Amalric for me is like an X-Men movie directed by Fincher for fanboys. See also 1997 Top Ten List.
But... It's a thin line between incisive self-revelation and wan navel-gazing.
9. Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar)
Why? Pedro keeps getting better and better.
But... Pedro's always in danger of overindulgence.
10. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
Why? The sequel to that pretty good faux Rohmer movie; goodwill to Linklater for his terrific SCHOOL OF ROCK.
But... That pretty good faux Rohmer movie was also kinda annoying; I still remember WANKING LIFE, bud.
11. Dogville (Lars von Trier)
Why? Supposedly awesome. Nicole. Lars doing the martyr thing.
But... "Masterpiece" is what some of this movie's biggest fans exclaimed when Lars last sent a woman through the ringer. (I didn't like that movie very much.)
12. The Life Aquatic (Wes Anderson)
Why? With Noam Baumbach co-writing and Murray, Blanchett and Owen Wilson in the cast, this is a can't miss, right?
But... Once bitten, twice shy: The Royal Tenenbaums was my #1 most anticipated movie of 2001.
13. Ocean's Twelve (Steven Soderbergh)
Why? Soderbergh's working on a more consistently high level than any other American filmmaker; the charming ELEVEN is that one rare blockbuster where you don't see the sweat.
But... Is anyone really hankering to see a sequel to that goofy throwaway? Isn't it time for SS to stretch in other directions?
14. The Aviator (Martin Scorsese)
Why? Howard Hughes is a freak and a half. Old Hollywood dish is always fun. Scorsese knows a thing or two about obsessive freaks. Marty also made one of the least conventional biopics of all-time.
But... The project sounds like a recipe for mediocrity. Also, Scorsese's due to lay a goose egg.
15. Collateral (Michael Mann)
Why? Mann & Cruise doing a "tight and sharp" LA crime story? I am so there.
But... Et tu, Michael w/ digital video? I'm only beginning to warm to Mann's macho man concerns.
16. Coffee Time (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)
Why? Hou's Ozu homage will be the most interesting experiment on influence since Haynes channelled Sirk.
But... Can anyone do justice to Ozu, whose mastery of familial dynamics looks impossible to imitate?
17. Troy (Wolfgang Petersen)
Why? Agamemnon. Achilles. Hector. Ajax. Odysseus. The Iliad's like the fucking Justice League of America, but better.
But... The only good versions of Homer have been "Homeric" homages (e.g., O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?). More pressing question: which Wolfgang Petersen will show up?
18. Cowards Bend the Knees (Guy Maddin)
Why? This insane movie by insane retro-auteur Guy Maddin is by all accounts awesome.
But... Maddin's hyper-mannered films can devolve into pointless camp.
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron)
Why? Cuaron's, fresh off of his Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN triumph, has worked wonders in the children's genre as well. (See A LITTLE PRINCESS.)
But... It took the force of ten Nicaraguan strongmen to block me from walking out of the puke-awful first HENRY PORTER.
20. Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi)
Why? The original is a textbook example of strong Hollywood blockbuster storytelling.
But... Doc Ock is the Spidey-villain equivalent of the lameass Penguin. Couldn't they get Sandman or Venom or Hobgoblin? And please, better CGI this time, Sambo.
Also: Robot Stories (Pak), Samaritan Girl (Kim), Starsky & Hutch, Zebraman (Miike), Bright Leaves (McElwee), Raja (Doillon), The new Kusturica, Untold Scandal (E).
Sundance a buzzin': The Primer, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, The Motorcycle Diaries, Napolean Dynamite, Open Water.
Not excited about: Alexander (Stone), Stepford Wives (Oz), The Manchurian Candidate (wtf, Demme?), King Arthur (Fuqua), The Passion of the Christ (Gibson), Shrek 2 (---). Dawn of the Dead (wtf?), Van Helsing (Sommers), Wimbledon (Loncraine), Sky Captain (Conran), Catwoman (Pitof -- wtf?), the new Angelopoulos.
Jury's out: The Ladykillers (Coen) [wacko trailer; Coens inconsistent], Hellboy (del Toro) [good director and comic, but can it work?], De-Lovely (Winkler)[Cole Porter musical -- good; Winkler -- very, very bad], I, Robot (Proyas) [cool premise, but Proyas?!?], Anchorman (McCay) [Could be funny, could be shite.].
Sounds totally awesome: Dodgeball: A True Underdog's Story; Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle; The Adventures of Iron Pussy.