So, I'm only 3 months late on this. I'm a working boy. Bite me.
Before going on to the list, I must make three notes:
One - there are two movies on here (maybe three) that have been released already. I already know this. Don't be all "that movie came out two months ago" on me. Just because I saw it already doesn't mean it can't be on the list. The list isn't just for me, it's also for YOU. I'm trying to spread the word on some cool-looking flicks that you may not give a crap about otherwise. I'm doing you a service, bitches.
Two - 6 movies from last year's list actually didn't come out in 2006. 4 of those movies are coming out this year - CYBORG GIRL (more accurately called I'M A CYBORG, BUT THAT'S OK), GRIND HOUSE, SHOOT 'EM UP and SOUTHLAND TALES. ZODIAC came out just last week. Hell if I know when REVOLVER will ever be released.
Three, most of the synopses are from CHUD.
On to the list.
Synopsis: A ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. The film brings Miller's (Sin City) acclaimed graphic novel to life by combining live action with virtual backgrounds that capture his distinct vision of this ancient historic tale.
I saw this two nights ago in a packed theater at 11:15PM. Not even the smell of used diapers (with Indian food in it) nor the annoying guy that was sitting next to me hootin' and talking to his girlfriend like we were in his living room could ruin this movie. Prepare for glory, indeed.
2. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
Synopsis: A romantic musical told mainly through numerous Beatles songs performed by the characters. A young man from Liverpool comes to America during the Vietnam War to find his father. He winds up in Greenwich Village, where he falls in love with an American girl who has grown up sheltered in the suburbs. Together they experience the sweeping changes of America in the late 60's.
A musical with Beatles songs. You can't go wrong with that. Oh, and the name of that young man from Liverpool? Jude. How can you not see that coming?
Synopsis: Down-on-his-luck petty criminal Andre (Jamel Debbouze) has reached the end of his rope. Irreversibly in debt to a local gangster, with no one to turn to, his only solution is to plunge himself into the Seine. Just as he is perched to do so, a fellow bridge-jumper beats him to the water. Diving in, he saves Angela (Rie Rasmussen), a beautiful, statuesque and mysterious woman. As they pull themselves out the water, the two form a bond and venture into the streets of Paris determined to get Andre out of the hole he has found himself in. As Andre will find out, not all debts are financial, and sometimes the solutions to life's problems are found in the unlikeliest of places. Is Angela simply repaying Andre for his kindness, or are there other forces at work beyond his comprehension?
Do you recognize that guy in the poster? You better, if you've seen AMELIE. Also, this was made by Luc Besson, the French filmmaker that directed LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL.
4. AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE
Synopsis: An action epic that explores the origins of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force (better known as Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad,) who somehow become pitted in a battle over an immortal piece of exercise equipment.
My sanity will be severely tested with 90 minutes of Aqua Teen craziness. The early word on this is that it's not very good, but I don't care. I have to see this. Aqua Teen was my favorite show until Venture Bros. came along.
5. THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
Synopsis: Delves into the private life and public exploits of America's most notorious outlaw. As the charismatic and unpredictable Jesse James (Brad Pitt) plans his next great robbery, he wages war on his enemies, who are trying to collect the reward money - and the glory - riding on his capture. But the greatest threat to his life may ultimately come from those he trusts the most.
I love long titles, and this is definitely a long one. The coward Robert Ford is played by Casey Affleck, who has worked with Pitt on the OCEAN'S NUMBERS movies.
6. BALLS OF FURY
Synopsis: In this secret society, the competition is brutal and the stakes are high. It is the unsanctioned, underground, and utterly unhinged world of clandestine Ping-Pong tournaments. Down-and-out former professional Ping-Pong phenom Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is sucked into this maelstrom when FBI Agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) recruits him for a secret mission. Randy is determined to bounce back and win, and to smoke out his father’s killer – arch-fiend Feng (Christopher Walken).
This can either be really terrible or balls-out funny. HAH! I kill myself.
7. BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON
Synopsis: The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo, all the while deconstructing the conventions and archetypes of the horror genre for them.
What an awesome idea. It's going to be tough trying to find a showing of this, so I'll most likely see this on DVD.
8. BLACK SNAKE MOAN
Synopsis: Desire is a burning sickness for Rae (Ricci), a feverish need that eats at her soul, while making her the white-trash sexual target of every man and boy in her small Tennessee town. When her true love Ronnie (Timberlake) leaves for military service, Rae plunges into wild excess. Beaten, left for dead, she’s taken in by Laz (Jackson) a reformed bluesman, a private self-contained black man who nurses deep anger of his own. Fiercely committed to his task of keeping her alive, Laz makes Rae his prisoner to give her a chance at freedom, and finds his own way back to the full force of life in the bargain.
This is Craig Brewer's second feature, after 2005's HUSTLE AND FLOW (which I still haven't seen). And uh, it came out last week. So go watch it, unless that whole "sexual" thing is scaring you off. Pansy.
9. BLADES OF GLORY
Synopsis: A pair of world-class men's figure skaters who are banned from the sport after their disgraceful brawl during the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. After three years of toiling in obscurity, they attempt to put aside their feud and exploit a loophole in the terms of their suspension, partnering to compete in the only category open to them -- pairs figure skating.
You've seen the trailer. What you haven't seen is the real-life-husband-and-wife comedy duo, Will Arnett (Gob!) and Amy Poehler ripping it up next to Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. Should be good.
Synopsis: Welcome to Willard, a small town lost in the idyllic world of the 50's, where the sun shines every day, everybody knows their neighbor, and rotting zombies deliver the mail. Years ago, the earth passed through a cloud of space dust, causing the dead to rise with a craving for human flesh. A war began, pitting the living against the dead. In the ensuing revolution, a corporation was born: ZomCon, who defeated the legions of undead, and domesticated the zombies, making them our industrial workers, our domestic servants - a productive part of society. ZomCon would like the people of Willard to believe they have everything under control… but do they? Timmy Robinson doesn’t think so. At eleven, Timmy already knows the world is phony baloney - Mom and Dad just won’t admit it. Now ZomCon’s head of security has moved in across the street, and Timmy’s Mom refuses to be the only housewife on the block who doesn't have a zombie of her own. When she brings a zombie servant home, Timmy discovers a new best friend, and names him Fido. And even though Dad has a bad case of zombie-phobia, Timmy is determined to keep Fido, even if he does eat the odd person... Sometimes, it takes a dead man to teach us all what it means to be alive.
The world needs more zomcoms (zombie comedies).
11. HOT FUZZ
Synopsis: Nicholas Angel is the finest cop London has to offer, with an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force. He's so good, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, Angel's superiors send him to a place where his talents won't be quite so embarrassing - the sleepy and seemingly crime-free village of Sandford. Once there, he is partnered with the well-meaning but overeager police officer Danny Butterman. The son of amiable Police Chief Frank Butterman, Danny is a huge action movie fan and believes his new big-city partner might just be a real-life "bad boy," and his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he so longs for. Angel is quick to dismiss this as childish fantasy and Danny's puppy-like enthusiasm only adds to Angel's growing frustration. However, as a series of grisly accidents rocks the village, Angel is convinced that Sandford is not what it seems and as the intrigue deepens, Danny's dreams of explosive, high-octane, car-chasing, gunfighting, all-out action seem more and more like a reality. It's time for these small-town cops to break out some big-city justice.
First of all, did you see that poster? Straight out of BAD BOYS 2. Second of all, this is supposedly even better than SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Third of all, I will watch anything these guys make. Fourth of all, a granny gets jumpkicked in the face.
12. LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD
Synopsis: An attack on the vulnerable United States computer infrastructure begins to shut down the entire nation. The mysterious figure behind the shattering scheme has figured out every digital angle – but he never figured on an old-fashioned, “analog” fly-in-the-ointment: John McClane.
Yeah, the title sucks. I much prefer the international title - DIE HARD 4.0. I'm not sure the world needed another installment of this franchise, but after watching the teaser all I can think was "ooooh, explosions". And that's all that matters, I guess.
13. THE LOOKOUT
Synopsis: Centered around Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a once promising high school athlete who becomes mentally impaired after a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist.
Watch the trailer and try telling me you're not getting a MEMENTO vibe from it. You're not? Okay then, me either.
14. OCEAN'S THIRTEEN
Synopsis: In the new sequel to Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve, the cast is reunited with director Steven Soderbergh and producer Jerry Weintraub. Joining the cast for the new adventure are Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin.
Nothing to add, other than that I liked 12 better than 11. Yeah, really. I hope to see more witty banter and clever in-jokes. Oh, and I was trying hard to get this entry to be number 13, but couldn't. I know, nerd. I fail at life.
15. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END
Synopsis: In the follow-up to the record-breaking smash 2006 hit PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST, we find our heroes Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) allied with Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) in a desperate quest to free Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from his mind-bending trap in Davy Jones’ locker – while the terrifying ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman and Davy Jones, under the control of the East India Trading Company, wreaks havoc across the Seven Seas. Navigating through treachery, betrayal and wild waters, they must forge their way to exotic Singapore and confront the cunning Chinese Pirate Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat). Now headed beyond the very ends of the earth, each must ultimately choose a side in a final, titanic battle – as not only their lives and fortunes, but the entire future of the freedom-loving Pirate way, hangs in the balance.
If Chow Yun-Fat kills Orlando Bloom in this movie, I'll die a happy boy. I hope he dual-wields two swords.
16. THE SIGNAL
Synopsis: A horror film told in three parts from three perspectives, in which a mysterious transmission which invades every cell phone, radio and TV, turing people into killers.
The three parts were also directed by three different people. This was a huge hit at Sundance, I believe.
Synopsis: Les Franken (Michael Rapaport) leads a painfully unremarkable life as a metermaid until he enrolls in a drug study for an experimental anti-depressant. An unexpected side effect of the drug convinces Les he is developing special powers and must quit his job to answer his new calling in life... Superhero. A very select group of people in life are truly gifted. Special is a movie about everyone else.
This looks like UNBREAKABLE, if it were made by Michel Gondry (not in a visual sense, but storywise). And I love both.
18. SPIDER-MAN 3
Synopsis: Peter Parker has finally managed to strike a balance between his devotion to M.J. and his duties as a superhero. But there is a storm brewing on the horizon. When his suit suddenly changes, turning jet-black and enhancing his powers, it transforms Peter as well, bringing out the dark, vengeful side of his personality that he is struggling to control. Under the influence of the suit, Peter becomes overconfident and starts to neglect the people who care about him most. Forced to choose between the seductive power of the new suit and the compassionate hero he used to be, Peter must overcome his personal demons as two of the most-feared villains yet, Sandman and Venom, gather unparalleled power and a thirst for retribution to threaten Peter and everyone he loves.
Number 2 was better than the first, so I'm hoping that trend continues here and this will be even better. And that little teaser with Venom at the showing of 300 the other day was badass.
Synopsis: A young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) tries to win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller), the beautiful but cold object of his desire, by going on a quest to retrieve a fallen star. His journey takes him to a mysterious and forbidden land beyond the walls of his village. On his odyssey, Tristan finds the star, which has transformed into a striking girl named Yvaine (Claire Danes). However, Tristan is not the only one seeking the star. A king’s (Peter O’Toole) four living sons – not to mention the ghosts of their three dead brothers – all need the star as they vie for the throne. Tristan must also overcome the evil witch, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), who needs the star to make her young again. As Tristan battles to survive these threats, encountering a pirate named Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro) and a shady trader named Ferdy the Fence (Ricky Gervais) along the way, his quest changes. He must now win the heart of the star for himself as he discovers the meaning of true love.
I haven't read Neil Gaiman's graphic novel that this is based on, so I'm not sure how this will turn out. But that's a damn fine cast you got there, Mr. Matthew "I almost directed X3 but screwed ya'll with Brett Ratner" Vaughn.
20. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Synopsis: After the defeat of their old arch nemesis, The Shredder, the Turtles have grown apart as a family. Struggling to keep them together, their rat sensei, Master Splinter, becomes worried when strange things begin to brew in New York City. Tech-industrialist Max Winters is amassing an army of ancient monsters to apparently take over the world. And only one super-ninja fighting team can stop them—those heroes in a half shell—Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael! With the help of old allies April O’Neil and Casey Jones, the Turtles are in for the fight of their lives as they once again must face the mysterious Foot Clan, who have put their own ninja skills behind Winters’ endeavors. Making this new incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles truly cutting-edge, the film will be created entirely with state-of-the-art CG animation, giving them a completely new look for the 21st century.
I was hoping this would be a badass R-rated (or at least PG-13) CGI fest hearkening back to the original graphic novels, alas, I'm going to have to accept this kid friendly PG fare. However, it feels damn good to see the ninja turtles making a comeback. Ahh, memories.