This part of the list is a hodgepodge of weird and unique movies. I'm really stoked (pun intended! You'll see once you read number 33) about all of these movies - they offer up some very unique tales. What's great about this list is that a lot of these movies are spread out throughout the year. There's five separate months represented in this section of the list and that's a great thing. Hollywood is slowly coming around to the idea of having some blockbuster movies during the springtime. And rightfully so - sometimes the summer can get too crowded and I think number 35 is a great example of trying to sell a summer blockbuster during March.
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Release Date: March 8
I wish Sam Raimi would make more movies. He's only directed 4 movies in the past ten years. And 3 of those were Spider-Man! I loved the original Spider-Man trilogy - they had their own sensibility and were way more campy than most comic book movies nowadays. Once again, Raimi is tackling a very iconic pop icon - The Wizard of Oz and trying to deliver a fantastical and fresh new take on the story - albeit a story that precludes the one told in the original film. What's really interesting about this movie is that you know how things are going to end so it's all up to the characters and setting to provide the drama. I don't know where the story will go throughout the film, but I do know the setting looks pretty spectacular. It's got the same vibe as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and it's no surprise a producer from that movie is on board this one. While that movie was pretty awful, the visuals were awesome and I expect the same here. I just don't know how the story is going to hold up. I love the cast - Franco, Kunis, Williams and Weisz are all going to deliver here no doubt, it's just I worry about the material. The two writers haven't really done anything good (Robots, Inkheart; The Whole Nine Yards, Into the Blue 2 - yes they made a straight to DVD sequel) and I feel like the movie might be relying to heavily on the past film to drive moviegoers to see this one. Despite all that - I trust Raimi to bring to life the world of Oz in a strangely fantastical and somewhat sinister way. If the story and characters are as intricate as the visuals, this is going to be a spring blockbuster, which is increasingly becoming a common thing every year (I'm not complaining!)
34. Pain & Gain
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Release Date: April 26
Michael Bay goes back to his roots with this movie - working with his smallest budget ($20 million) he's had since his first movie, Bad Boys. This can only be a good thing in my opinion. Not only was Bad Boys amazing, it's probably Bay's best movie. And I think the budget restraints on this movie may bring out the more creative side of Bay. The story is about a couple of bone-headed bodybuilders who get involved in extortion, kidnapping and murder. It's based on a true story if that floats your boat, but usually there's way too much creative license for it to even come close to the facts. Which is fine as long as the action and comedy are truly awesome. I'm thinking this is going to be a much darker version of The Other Guys (which had Wahlberg and Johnson in it!) - it sounds like the movie is closer in tone to any of Guy Ritchie's crime films (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch). As long as Michael Bay can restrain himself (which he probably has to according to the budget he got), this should be a fun action flick to pre-start the summer action season.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writers: Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson
Release Date: February 28
Chan-wook Park is a demented genius - he's done nothing but twisted and dark tales about revenge, love and lust and his new movie seems more of the same, albeit with a story more grounded in reality (well, kind of). This movie reminds me a lot of Black Swan - there's a psychological aspect to this movie - not everything is as it seems. I think the casting is brilliant - Nicole Kidman can really play creepy and she looks absolutely bat shit crazy in this movie, Mia Wasikowski looks like she can kill a man with a paintbrush and Matthew Goode decides to throw away all his devilish handsome charm to provide us with some weird ass vampire/serial killer stepfather figure. They even got the visage of Dermot Mulroney to play the dead father! How sweet! This is the movie The Stepfather wants to be and I think Park is the right person to bring this tale to life. A tale written by first time writer (but not first time actor) Wentworth Miller! You know! The dude from Prison Break! So I guess he's been holed up somewhere Stephen King-like in a shack in the woods making sure he can soak in all the creepiness so it comes out on paper for this movie. And I just know from watching the trailer this is going to be a visual masterpiece - there's a lot of really great shots and the editing looks fabulous (well, at least the trailer editing does...). Count me in to see this and then have nightmares about playgrounds and phone booths for the next few weeks.
32. Ender's Game
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin
Director: Gavin Hood
Writer: Gavin Hood
Release Date: November 1
One of the most acclaimed science fiction novel is finally coming to the big screen. After years of will-they, won't they, Orson Scott Card relinquishes the film rights and has played a very significant role in the production of the movie (he originally wrote the script himself before eventually using Hood's own script). I remember reading this book when I was a teenager, and it being phenomenal and one of the few science fiction novels whose story has stayed with me over time. The story follows the events after a devastating alien attack on Earth and the ensuing war afterwards. A uniquely gifted child is sent to an advanced military school where he participates in war games aimed at training him for the war. It's up to him to save humanity from extinction. It's an epic story and it has the blessing of Card himself, so brace yourself for awesomeness. Gavin Hood really hasn't done much except for the Wolverine movie and Rendition, both of which were okay films. The cast seems adequate enough - the kid from Hugo plays the main role of Ender and shares the screen with Harrison Ford, who plays his commanding officer. I'm not exactly thrilled with the cast and director, but I don't think it could possibly ruin such a great story.
31. Only God Forgives
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristen Scott Thomas
Director: Nicholas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicholas Winding Refn
Release Date: May 23
After coming off of high praise from his breakout hit, Drive, Nicholas Winding Refn teams up with Gosling again to bring a story about Thai boxing and the mafia. Weird, no? According to Gosling, the story is "the strangest thing I've ever read and it's only going to get stranger." The story follows Julian, who runs a Thai boxing club as a front organization for his family's drug smuggling operation, as he is forced by his mother Jenna to find and kill the individual responsible for his brother's recent death. While I wouldn't say Drive was a masterpiece, there was something poetic about the whole film. Refn is such a unique and exceptional talent behind the camera that he's hard to ignore. The film was even shot in chronological order from the script and sometimes edited that very day! Ryan Gosling is so hot right now and he deserves it - he's not just good looking, he's a great actor and I'm always excited to see what he's up to next. It sounds like this is going to be a great alternative to all the bombs and explosions on the other screens at the theaters. I'm excited to see where this one is going and the poster is such a great tease.