The 25 most exciting films of 2011!

The 25 most exciting films of 2011. By Simon Miraudo.

2010 is sooo 2010. Sure, we were treated to a glut of wonderful features over the past 12 months, but take one look at the release slate for 2011 and you’ll agree that 2010 seems practically repulsive by comparison. I’ve compiled a list of the 25 films I am personally most excited to see in the New Year. Now, that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll all be great (last year’s list included the clunkers Clash of the Titans and The Expendables – whoops!), but each and every entry is a fascinating project we personally can’t wait to devour, digest and discuss … with you! Please let us know in the comments section below which pictures you are anticipating the most!

NB: Where available, we have listed the film’s month of release. Many of these are based on the U.S./U.K. release dates. As has become tradition, a number of the films on this list may not hit Australia until 2012. Sucks to be us, right?
Without much further ado:

The tone of the trailer is a little … off, but that tantalizing premise – Cowboys AND Aliens! – keeps me intrigued. Jon Favreau directs, and Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde star. (July 2011)

Brendan Fletcher’s directorial debut – an ambitious family drama set in the harsh terrain of the Kimberley, almost a decade in the making – will screen at Sundance later this month in the prestigious World Cinema category; the same category Animal Kingdom won back in 2010. Could Mad Bastards be the next big Aussie export? (May 2011)

23. Thor

Yep, another Marvel action film. We’ve gotten plenty of them in the past few years. This one is slightly more alluring than Captain America (also releasing in 2011) thanks to the involvement of director Kenneth Branagh, Aussie star Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins‘ eye patch. Hoping both Thor and Captain America can live up to Marvel’s promise and build excitement for The Avengers in 2012. (April 2011)

22. Larry Crowne

Tom Hanks has waited 15 years to follow up his directorial debut That Thing You Do, and we’re hoping the resulting product – Larry Crowne – is worth the wait. He stars as the eponymous Larry Crowne; recently fired from his job, he decides to return to college, where he starts a romantic relationship with a professor (Julia Roberts). LC also stars Bryan Cranston, Taraji P. Henson and Nia Vardalos (who co-wrote the script with Hanks, which is, admittedly, a red flag. You can’t win ‘em all). (July 2011)

21. Butter

Jason Micallef’s screenplay for Butter – a comedy about an intense butter-carving competition on the outside, and biting political satire on the inside – landed in the #3 spot on the 2008 Black List (a roll of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood). Buzz for the film is quite strong, and with Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell in the leading roles, our excitement feels justified. Spread the word. Gettit? (Unknown)

20. The Sitter

Jonah Hill stars in this pitch-black comedy as a woefully ill-equipped babysitter who is hunted by a couple of drug dealers (the brilliant J.B Smoove and Sam Rockwell) whilst caring for a couple of rowdy neighbourhood kids. It’s also directed by David Gordon Green. Sounds like good-old fashioned, 80s-inspired fun, not unlike Green’s Pineapple Express. Sold! (September 2011)

Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords) and Hamish Blake (of, well, Hamish and Andy) team up as former-BFFs in this New Zealand-produced comedy from director Robert Sarkies. Two great tastes that go great together! (Unknown)

It’s not just morbid curiosity that has us eagerly awaiting the first film to star Mel Gibson following the release of his widely publicized (and endlessly quotable) answerphone outbursts. Kyle Killen’s screenplay is reportedly a cracker (topped the ’08 Black List), and Gibson’s performance – as a depressed man driven to speak through a beaver hand-puppet – briefly courted Oscar buzz. But yes, morbid curiosity is certainly a factor in its ranking on this list. (March 2011)

17. Take This Waltz

The lovely Sarah Polley directs this romantic dramedy, starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen as a married couple whose relationship starts to fall apart. Polley also wrote the script, which landed on the Black List a couple years ago. Mostly, we can’t wait to see Rogen try his hand at something a little more dramatic. Those of us who loved him on the cult show Freaks and Geeks know he has the chops for it. (Unknown)

16. Drive

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive boasts what is perhaps one of the best casts of 2011: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac and Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks. Based on James Sallis’ crime novel of the same name, Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver who doubles as a getaway driver for a bunch of criminals. (September 2011)

15. Shame

Another Carey Mulligan inclusion! She stars as the sister of the equally magnificent Michael Fassbender in Steve McQueen’s Shame. The last time Fassbender and McQueen teamed up, the resulting product was the jaw-dropping Hunger. We have high hopes. (Unknown)

Cameron Crowe returns from his self-imposed, post-Elizabethtown exile to adapt the Benjamin Mee memoir We Bought A Zoo. Matt Damon stars as a father who purchases a dilapidated zoo and plans on running it with his family. Thomas Haden Church, Scarlett Johansson and Elle Fanning all co-star. (December 2011)

We adore the writer/director duo of Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair, Baghead) and even if we’re yet to get their last film Cyrus in Australia (seriously Fox, what are you waiting for?!) we’re plenty pumped for their next project, Jeff Who Lives At Home. Jason Segel stars as the hero, who, after leaving the house on a tedious errand, discovers a number of symbols relating to his destiny being hinted at by the universe. Yes, he’s stoned. (Unknown)

Lars von Trier directs apocalypse movie. Have six words ever been so tantalising? The Danish provocateur will be joined by Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland and the always-game Charlotte Gainsbourg in this existential disaster film. Looks to be 2011’s most riotous thigh-slapper. Sharpen those scissors! (September 2011)

11. Moneyball

The long delayed Moneyball finally arrives in cinemas in 2011, directed by Bennett Miller (Capote) and starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Now, it has to do with sports stuff – yeah, I’m in over my head too – but fear not movie geeks; with Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network) polishing Steve Zaillian’s script, this thing could be about handball and It’d still be a must see.

10. 30 Minutes or Less

Zombieland-helmer Ruben Fleischer reteams with Jesse Eisenberg for this action comedy. Eisenberg stars as a pizza-delivery boy who is forced by two criminals to rob a bank – with a bomb strapped to his chest. The hilarious Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari co-star. Taylor Lautner reportedly has a cameo. We won’t hold it against the film. (August 2011)

9. Live With It

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a young man diagnosed with cancer in this dramedy, produced by Seth Rogen (who stars as Gordon-Levitt’s best friend) and directed by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness). We love JoGo (who doesn’t!) and he’s joined here by the equally adorable Anna Kendrick. The original title of this film was Awwwwww… (not really, but you get the point). Jokes aside, this could be a poignant, powerful little comedy. Just how we like ’em! (Unknown)

After the triumphant Tangled, Disney Animation Studios bring back to life everyone’s favourite honey-loving bear Winnie the Pooh. We could barely keep ourselves from crying when we saw the trailer, so we eagerly anticipate the torrent of tears the release of the new Winnie adventure will instigate. (July 2011)

7. Snowtown

Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown looks to be one of the most controversial releases of 2011. Based on the gory Snowtown murders of 1999 (in which the remains of eight of the twelve victims were found in barrels of acid), this crime thriller will likely be one of the big water-cooler films of the year. Side note: Do people still talk at water-coolers? I bring my own bottle of water to work. (May 2011)

6. Bridesmaids

First things first: this ain’t Bride Wars. At least we hope it’s not. Bridesmaids tells the story of two women who try to plan the wedding of a friend, and battle over their conflicting ideas. Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig penned the screenplay, and the wonderful Wiig stars alongside the bewitching comic actresses Rose Byrne, Maya Rudolph and Ellie Kemper. The lovely ladies are joined by a trio of talented dudes: Judd Apatow produces, Paul Feig (creator of Freaks and Geeks) directs, and Jon Hamm co-stars. Those are a lot of really great ingredients for one small project. (May 2011)

We know, we know, but this time, it really is the last Harry Potter film. Here’s hoping for some dodgy ageing makeup! (July 2011)

After months and months of rumours regarding J.J. Abrams’ secret project that supposedly pays homage to the early films of Steven Spielberg, we’re just going to admit we’re not really sure what this film is about. Who cares?! The teaser trailer was mighty enticing, and frankly, we’re just glad a filmmaker can keep a blockbuster project like this secret. (June 2011)

3. The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Martin Scorsese adapts Brian Selznick’s fantastical book of the same name about an orphan boy who winds up embarking on a magical adventure. This doesn’t really sound like a typical Scorsese film – it was also shot in 3-D – but Marty is most definitely involved (he’s credited as director and everything!), as is regular cinematographer Robert Richardson and inseparable editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Hugo Cabret stars Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law and many, many others. After enduring The Chronicles of Snornia: The Voyage of the Yawn Treader, we’re desperately in need of a good family adventure (and with Scorsese in charge, hopefully there will be a lot of f-bombs). (December 2011)

I’m not a Terrence Malick fan, but even I’m wildly intrigued by his latest (and typically long-delayed) film The Tree of Life. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain star in this picture that is both about a young boy’s childhood in Texas, and, slightly more ambitiously, the meaning of life. Whatever. Did you see how pretty that trailer was? (May 2011)

Chalk this one up to childhood nostalgia run rampant, but there is no film I’m looking forward to more in 2011 than the latest picture to feature Jim Henson’s Muppets. Jason Segel pens and stars in this new Muppet adventure, and he’s joined by the whole gang (Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf, Miss Piggy), as well as Amy Adams and Chris Cooper. Segel co-directed the film with James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords), while the Conchords’ own Bret McKenzie wrote a number of songs to be performed by the cuddly cast. We trust Segel and the Conchords’ boys to not turn this into a sketch-driven cash-grab a’la the last few Muppets films. If it can recapture even some of the magic of the original Muppet Movie, or the Muppets’ TV show, well, this could be something really special. (Dec 2011)

Fun Facts from Last Year’s List:

Last year’s top 3: Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Inception and Toy Story 3.

Titles that ended up in my top 10 movies of 2010: 4

Titles that ended up in my 10 worst movies of 2010: 2

Films that were not released in 2010, and thus, were deemed ineligible for this year’s list: 6 (Area 51, I Love You Philip Morris, Your Highness, Paul, The Green Hornet, True Grit).

Most embarrassing assumption: In regards to The Expendables – “Sly Stallone has positioned himself as one of the best action directors working today. The Expendables might just be his masterpiece.”

Discuss: Which films are you most looking forward to in 2011? Care to call us out on the lack of foreign-language films? What did we miss?

5 Responses to “The 25 most exciting films of 2011!”

  1. >Drive, 30 Minutes Less, and The Sitter look promising. Super 8 will be a must see.As for Mad Bastards, isn't it great to finally see an Australian movie about real Aussie blokes set in the outback.

  2. >Awesome list, with a bunch that weren't yet on my radar. 30 Minutes or Less and Live With It both seem especially intriguingAs for ones you missed, two spring to mind. The first is Kevin Smith's Red State – I'm a huge fan of Smith's and have been listening to all the Red State podcasts, so perhaps I'm biased, but I can't wait to see what such a great writer like Smith does now he's switched genres and (according to him) starts pushing himself visually. The teaser trailer looked great!The other one is one that I only just heard of, directed by George Clooney, called The Ides of March. Still in pre-production, it's a political thriller/drama I THINK, don't know much about it to be honest, but check out the reported cast: Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Max Minghella & Jeffrey Wright. It could be about paint drying and I'd still be excited with that level of talent involved

  3. >With most people having access to the internet and the ones who have any sort of understanding with it can easily access the movies that "hit the internet" so most won't be in the "sucks to be us" basket of having to wait until the official premiere dates to see said movies.I hope this is a wakeup call, as it should have been years ago to stop leaving Australia in the dark with movie showings. They (the movie execs that make such decisions) only have themselves to blame about crying poor of people not going to movies because they have already seen them.

  4. >Great work on this list. Rather than just list the blockbuster pictures of the year you've gone much deeper to find the gems to look out for.Now referring to the above post by 'wazza' As someone who works in the Australian movie industry I find his comments uninformed and frankly disturbing. There are a myriad of reasons why film release dates are set the way they are. These can range from things as obvious as school holidays, down to competitive positioning in the release calendar. Sometimes certain films aren't even picked up for a local release until after they have finished screening overseas.What really disturbs me though is that people think it is their right to illegally download movies from the internet, simply because it hasn't released at the cinemas yet or that the movie is not worth paying for at the cinema. Illegal movie piracy on the internet is a major problem around the world (as is music, video games and now books), and any justification of it is simply nonsense. To bring a movie to the big screen is an incredibly expensive process, with no guaranteed return. Many companies spend huge amounts of money to fund or buy the rights to feature films. All they ask in return is for you to buy a ticket, not steal their film.

  5. >When you say the films weren't released in 2010, what is your criteria? True Grit and Phillip Morris were released in 2010 (the former in the US in 2010, then worldwide in 2011; the latter was released worldwide in 2010 after premiering in late 2009).

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