This week's Big Picture offered a countdown of films I'm most excited (or, at least, interested) to see in the coming year. For the sake of tradition (and my own sanity) it was kept to an even ten, which obviously means that there are plenty of films that didn't quite make the cut that I'm nonetheless looking forward to for one reason or another.
So, in no particular order* ... here's the cream of the not-quite-cream of the crop:
*NOTE: There's at least one upcoming feature that would be on this list but can't be because I've already seen it and just can't break the embargo to talk about yet. So keep that in mind when the "what about ... ?" stuff starts.
People tell me that my hatred of "found footage" filmmaking is a generational thing, and I basically agree, inasmuch as I understand that I am a member of the last generation who didn't have its aesthetic sensibilities ruined by YouTube and camera phones. But every once in a while, someone does something interesting with the genre. Chronicle's hook is that a bunch of teenage douchebags have been filming themselves making mischief, but that these particular teenage douchebags have acquired telekinetic superpowers. So, Jackass meets X Men, I guess. The trailer certainly looks interesting.
In the future, gangsters dispose of their victims by zapping them back in time to our present to be executed by specially-designated hitmen (I guess the idea is that they'll just turn up as "John Doe" corpses because they wouldn't have records of existence.) Joseph Gordon Levitt is one such hitman, whose latest time-displaced mark (Bruce Willis) is different from the others. To say anything more would be spoiling (though I'd bet anything they'll put it in the trailers) but rough versions of this have already screened to rave reviews. Rian Johnson (Brick and The Brothers Bloom) directs.
The Woman in Black
Ghost story, remake of a cult classic, good trailer, blah blah blah ... the reason to care is that this is our first chance to see if Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe can transition to full-fledged leading man material now that his term at Hogwarts has ended. Note to future viewers: Calling out "ten points to Gryffindor!" every time he does something cool/heroic will only be funny once per theater, per showing on opening night. After that, knock it off.
Lock-Out (aka Ms-One in some territories)
In the near future, dangerous criminals aren't just jailed - they're put into suspended animation hypersleep and shelved in a massive high-tech super-prison ... in space! Unfortunately, a jailbreak occurs and a group of non-incarcerated innocents are now hostages aboard the orbiting Alcatraz, including - yes - The President's daughter. Guy Pearce is the bad-ass ex-military ruffian conscripted to break in and save her, presumably because, in the future, all contingency plans are just repurposed John Carpenter movies. Here's a trailer.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
For my money, the first G.I. Joe movie got the tone (re: aggressively silly) exactly right but left a lot to be desired in its somewhat bland reimagining of the franchise's basic look. Retaliation seems poised to correct that second part, with its teaser trailer showing off candy-colored ninjas, a cartoon-accurate Cobra Commander and a killer money shot: The Cobra Flag being raised over the White House.
The Hunger Games
Why didn't this make the first list? Well, to be frank, because the only people who are really, really psyched for this are fans of the books and studio executives hoping that this will be the next Potter/Twilight-style mega-hit spawned from a Young Adult franchise, and I'm neither. Haven't read `em. Sorry. I'll get around to it. All I've seen is an incredibly underwhelming trailer and a plot description (teenagers forced into armed combat by decadent future society) that sounds WAY too much like Battle Royale. But, fans of the books assure me that they're some kind of life-changing brilliance, so we'll have to see.