Longtime readers know I try to list movies I’m looking forward at the beginning of the year (for the entirety of that year), for the Summer, and for the Fall. Well, that didn’t really happen this Summer since it wasn’t entirely clear which movies would actually open. Likewise, several movies I’m including in this Fall countdown were actually listed last year, and a few movies I had planned to list were bumped to 2022. Basically, this is a very tentative countdown and I’m just hoping all of these movies actually come out.
10 I’m Not Looking Forward to…
10. “Army of Thieves”…I didn’t like “Army of the Dead,” and there’s no reason to believe this prequel would be vastly better. We’re following a character we already know lives for (and dies in) a sequel, and one of the best parts of “Dead” were the opening credits that rushed through the beginnings of a zombie outbreak, whereas this movie seems like it will exclusively cover that part.
9. “Passing”…Another rich white woman (this time actress Rebecca Hall, making her directorial debut) exploits a story of racism for critical acclaim, and even manages to–no surprise–negatively feature a black woman/white male couple. You know, because Hollywood never gets tired of dumping on interracial couples…or cliches, apparently.
8. “Spencer”…There’s a chance that Kristen Stewart will absolutely nail her portrayal of Princess Diana, and that this will be–nope, there’s no chance. There have been countless Diana biographies, and even her portrayal in recent seasons of “The Crown.” How could there be any fresh material to explore or how could Stewart be the right actress to do it? [I also notice that the trailers released so far have Stewart speaking very little dialogue, almost as if they anticipate she’ll be critiqued for not sounding much like Diana.]
7. “West Side Story”…The idea of this remake leaves me with no feeling whatsoever. Sure, it’ll probably be at least decent, but how could anyone get truly excited about this?
6. “Halloween Kills”…2018’s “Halloween” reboot was an unexpected hit mostly because people really, truly, honestly, for-real-this-time expected it to be the last one. Now, Universal has decided to completely milk this never-ending franchise all over again with this sequel, and at least one more on the way. “Halloween Ends” is coming in 2022, but John Carpenter has said (threatened) that that won’t necessarily be the last one…despite the word “ends” being in the title, and there being no logical reason at all to continue this franchise except gobs of money.
5. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”…Sure, Woody Harrelson as the villainous Carnage should be a remarkable improvement from the first “Venom”‘s limp antagonist, but I’m already pre-cringing that his “love interest” is Naomi Harris, meaning this will be yet another Hollywood movie with a villainous black woman/white male pairing. Why don’t they get tired of this constant bashing? Even more perplexing: why doesn’t Twitter seem aware of it at all? Where are the Twitterati when you need them?
4. “Home Sweet Home Alone” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”…Two reboots of family franchises that haven’t showed any real promise in decades. In particular, “Home Alone” seems dead on arrival, and it’s no surprise it’s going straight to Disney-plus.
3. “The Addams Family 2”…This sequel to the animated film holds no promise at all. The first one was awful–beyond a slog to sit through, almost like a leftover Tim Burton script from the 90’s that wasn’t good enough to actually get made in that time period. There’s no reason at all to suspect this will be a lot better.
2. “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City”…Speaking of franchises that are impossible to get excited about.
- “God’s Not Dead: We the People”…Believe it or not, this is the fourth installment in the “God’s Not Dead” franchise, and so that apparently means there is a big enough market for straw-man arguments that rage against the same liberal-atheist doctrine for four movies.
And 5 I’m Not Sure About…
5. “The Matrix Resurrections“…It’d be amazing if this were anywhere near as good as the original “Matrix.” But the original trilogy concluded pretty thoroughly with “Revolutions,” and this seems (just based off the trailer) like a flavorless reboot more than a straight sequel. Still, in a time where CoVid has shutdown the world and had us all living through machines for over a year, the timing couldn’t be better–let’s just hope this is a lot better than we have any evidence to suspect it will be.
4. “Cyrano”…Peter Dinklage could read the phonebook and draw a crowd, but it’s a little hard to get excited about another remake of this story–which is bordering on Shakespeare-Territory when it comes to being done backwards and forwards. Also, it appears Dinklage’s romantic rival is a black male, which would–and I do get tired of saying it, but somebody has to–only reinforce Hollywood’s strange derision towards interracial couples, especially black-and-white ones.
3. “The King’s Man”…I’ve just never really liked the first two movies in the franchise (especially the second one), and don’t believe Matthew Vaughn has made a great movie since “Layer Cake” which was nearly 20 years ago.
2. “Red Notice”…One of those movies that most people will probably like, but will be instantly forgettable. Otherwise known as “a Netflix movie that’s not explicitly geared towards getting Oscar nominations,” and that’s a real shame since I can remember a time when they were being marketed as a great place for nervy-filmmakers to find gobs of cash and a wide audience. Instead, we mostly see junk action thrillers, C-grade horror movies, and Adam Sandler “comedies” that could be used to torture prisoners at black sites.
- “The Many Saints of Newark”…I would absolutely love it if this movie were good–and I do think it has at least the potential to be. Still, “The Sopranos” was such a brilliant series (and I tied it with “The Wire” for “Best TV series of all time”) that the potential for error is large here. I also question if the show’s distinctive, offbeat rhythms and realistic style would really work condensed into a two-hour movie instead of a 13-episode season. Either way, there’s not a chance I’ll be missing this.
10 Movies I Am Looking Forward To…
Honorable Mention: “The Northmen”…I know, I know, I know, this movie isn’t scheduled to be released until 2022, but I guess I’m hoping someone at Focus Features might see how pitifully weak this year’s Oscar competition is, and move this movie up to 2021. Even if it just had a week’s release and then opened wide in January 2022 (where it would have most arthouse audiences to itself), that would be enough to run the table at this year’s Academy Awards, which are practically starving for something excellent to anoint.
10. “House of Gucci” and “The Last Duel”…Two separate Ridley Scott movies that star Adam Driver in very different roles. Scott hasn’t made a truly great movie in quite a while, but maybe one of these will break his cold streak? Either way, they’ve attracted extremely-exciting casts, and should at least be interesting to watch.
9. “Flee”…This animated documentary has received thunderous critical acclaim anywhere it goes, and that makes it hard to ignore. Even if I don’t know much about it–and would like to keep it that way before I watch it–it promises to at least be a unique experience.
8. “The Harder They Fall”…Idris Elba, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, and Zazie Beetz star in a Western. What else do you need to know? [And “The Power of the Dog” appears to be another interesting-looking Netflix Western opening this Fall.]
7. “Bruised” and “The Unforgivable”…If you’re wanting to see Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock make comebacks (and I surely do), then what could be more enticing than this pair of dramas? In “Bruised,” Berry plays a female MMA fighter over 50, and also directs the movie just for an extra-layer of challenge. And in “The Unforgivable,” America’s sweetheart herself plays a woman paroled for a violent crime, perhaps finally letting Bullock explore her darker side (with those great, dark eyes she should’ve played a villain or femme fatale a long time ago). Perhaps neither of these movies will turn out to be good, but I’ll be watching both, and probably back-to-back since they’re scheduled to open on the same day.
6. “Belfast”…Gorgeous, crips black-and-white photography and a very personal story from writer-director-actor Kenneth Branagh, who also grew up as a young protestant in divided, dangerous 1960’s Belfast. Sometimes, directors make their most personal films, and it’s a total snooze (like the overpraised “Roma”), but it can often be something special; here’s hoping for the latter.
5. “The French Dispatch”…I actually ranked this movie in last year’s countdown of movies I was looking forward to, but better late than never. Still, between now and then there have been a few…”middling” reviews for Wes Anderson’s latest, and that might’ve cooled my enthusiasm slightly. However, early reviews can be wildly wrong, Anderson has never made an outright bad movie or even an uninteresting one, and this is the most impressive cast he’s ever assembled. You know what? I’m still more than eager to watch this. [The Tom Hanks sci-fi drama “Finch” was another of last year’s holdovers that’s finally getting released this year as well, and my enthusiasm is still there for it too.]
4. “Don’t Look Up”…Adam McKay is certainly on a hot streak after “The Big Short” and “Vice,” and he’s corralled an impressive cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Chris Evans, Jennifer Lawrence, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Of course, DiCaprio is extremely selective of the scripts he agrees to star in, and he must’ve seen something special in this material.
3. “Nightmare Alley”…How could anyone not be excited to see Guillermo Del Toro making a “very dark, R-rated” noir film about a dangerous carny? Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, David Strathairn, and Willem Dafoe are just some of the excellent cast “Alley” boasts.
2. “No Time to Die”…Daniel Craig’s swan song from the Bond franchise would be reason enough to want to see this, but how about Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch as the new Bond women? Plus, we’ve been seeing trailers for this movie for nearly two years, so I’m excited to finally watch it. And I’ll be even more excited to watch it in a movie theater since some footage was shot with IMAX cameras and the director used film instead of digital to give it an even more impressive look.
And you probably already know the number 1 pick…
“Dune”…How could I pick anything else? Director Denis Villeneuve is a genius who knows how to do great wonders with difficult-to-adapt Science Fiction (did anyone really think “Blade Runner 2049” would be as good as it was?). For me, Frank Herbert’s “Dune” isn’t very captivating or accessible in book or David Lynch movie form, and so it’ll be interesting to see if Villeneuve can finally crack this tome and make–for me–the best possible version of a dense, dry work. To say I’m merely “looking forward” to it would be an understatement.