My Most Anticipated Films of 2006
I've no doubt that more stuff will emerge at Cannes, Venice, Toronto and the likes. But for the moment, here are ten films – due to come out this year – that are causing me excess salivation…
#10 GOYA'S GHOSTS
Dir: Milos Forman
Cast: Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgård, Randy Quaid
Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgård in the same film? Under the direction of Milos Forman, who directed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus ? With a script co-written by Jean-Claude Carriére, former collaborator of Luis Buñuel? AND boasting a story that promises to deal with blasphemy? I realise that the prospect of Natalie Portman headlining is enough to make anyone weary, but let's be fair - I thought she was pretty good in Closer and Forman managed to direct Courtney Love (Courtney friggin' Love) to an acclaimed performance. I mean, Cuckoo's Nest , maaaan... Forman's overdue another great film, here's hoping Goya's Ghosts does the job.
#9 THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP
Dir: Michel Gondry
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg
This looks like exactly the sort of dreamlike fantasy that'll float my boat. Gondry's direction of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was beautiful. The guy clearly knows how quirk SHOULD be done, so hopefully he can pull it off again minus a Kaufman script. The Science of Sleep has already played to a lukewarm reception at Berlin, but I'm retaining my optimism. And does anyone else think that Gael García Bernal is fast-becoming one of the most interesting actors around?
#8 THE FOUNTAIN
Dir: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn
Again, this is in here due to my love of the director's previous film, Requiem for a Dream . This story looks like the sort of thing Tarkovsky (my most recent love) would lap up, and I'm curious to see how Aronofsky will handle it. It's either gonna fall flat on its face or it's gonna end up brilliant… fingers crossed for the latter.
#7 I'M NOT THERE
Dir: Todd Haynes
Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Richard Gere, Julianne Moore
Seven characters, portrayed by seven different actors, each "embody a different aspect" of Bob Dylan's life and work. Again, this could potentially be a disaster, but I fuckin' LOVED Haynes' Safe and I really liked Far from Heaven too, so the talent is most definitely there. The brilliant Julianne Moore is back under his direction again, along with a cast too interesting to ignore. And um, Bob Dylan rocks.
#6 A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION
Dir: Robert Altman
Cast: Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Garrison Keiller, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen, Lindsay Lohan, Maya Rudolph
Altman doing an ensemble piece = guaranteed to be brilliant. The outstanding reception to this at Berlin has gotten my hopes up big time. And I mean, who else can direct a large cast like Altman can? This looks like great fun, and last time he tackled the music scene we ended up with Nashville . 'nuff said.
Dir: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas, Blanca Portillo
Even I'm wondering why I'm looking forward to this so much. I adored All About My Mother , but was fairly lukewarm to both Talk to Her and Bad Education . That's all I've seen out of Almodóvar's oeuvre, although I have every intention of getting to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown asap. Anyway, I'm rambling. This has already opened to a rapturous reception in Almodóvar's native Spain, and the buzz has managed to get inside my head. Directing a bunch of women in an outrageous comedy is playing right to Almodóvar's strengths, I reckon. Can't wait to see the results..
Dir: Steven Shainberg
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr., Jane Alexander
The prospect of Kidman, by far and away the finest actress of her generation IMO, returning to the world of art cinema is just too much for me to bear. Every time Kidman does one of these smaller flicks, she gets it spot on and delivers an astonishing performance to boot. This certainly doesn't look like a conventional biopic, and Shainberg apparently did a great job with Secretary , which I haven't seen. I'm praying that he excels here…
#3 PARIS, JE T'AIME
Dir: Ethan & Joel Coen, Christopher Doyle, Gus Van Sant, Oliver Assayas, Alexander Payne, Walter Salles, Tom Tykwer, Sylvain Chomet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Gurinder Chadha, Gérard Depardieu, Vincenzo Natali (amongst others)
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Gena Rowlands, Nick Nolte, Willem Dafoe, Fanny Ardant, Javiar Cámara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Steve Buscemi, Ben Gazzara, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Emily Mortimer, Ludivine Sagnier, Natalie Portman, Marianne Faithful, Bob Hoskins
Ok, look at the directors. Then look at the cast. The term "spunkworthy" has never been more apt. "20 stories of love, from the City of Love" is the tagline. Each director provides a five-minute ode to Paris' twenty "arrondissements". It's destined to be uneven, but it should nevertheless be fascinating. Cannot wait.
#2 THE DEPARTED
Dir: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin
J'adore M. Scorsese. No, really, I fuckin' love the guy. After the mess that was Gangs of New York , Marty showed signs of being back on top of his craft with The Aviator . Will The Departed , a remake of the much-lauded Infernal Affairs , be the next step up? It's a return to his gangster roots, which could be promising. But all I know at heart is this: the teaming of Jack Nicholson (my favourite actor evah) and Martin Scorsese (one of my favourite directors) is one that I've been aching to see for a long long time. I can't believe that it's finally happening, and now I'm just praying for this damn movie to be worthy of the talent involved.
#1 MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS
Dir: Wong Kar-Wai
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Norah Jones
The unreliable IMDb list Wong's next project as The Lady from Shanghai . I desperately desperately wish it was, for that would mark the teaming of my favourite contemporary actor (Kidman) with my favourite contemporary director (Wong, duh). Unfortunately, it's been postponed until next year whilst Kidman finishes working on new films with Noah Baumbach and Baz Luhrmann. So, whilst Wong waits around for Ms. Kidman, he'll be directing this here movie – and it'll subsequently assume its place as my most anticipated flick for 2006. I have no idea what it's about, nor do I particularly love the stars involved (although Law has hit greatness before). I just know that Wong Kar-Wai is a cinematic magician, and whatever he conjures up for his English-language debut is likely to be mesmerising.
Oh, and here's an honorary shout-out to Snakes on a Plane . At first I thought it was a disaster waiting to happen, but every day I become more and more won over by its camp value. If this is done right, then it could well be THE comedy of the year.