2012 – Disaster moviemaker Roland Emmerich uses the end of the ancient Mayan calendar and fears of the end of the world as an excuse to blow stuff up and showcase splashy special effects of global catastrophes.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel – I didn’t want to even include this on the list, but they’ve made it, it’s being released, it will probably make a ton of money like its predecessor, so you should know about it. Let's move on.
Avatar – James Cameron returns. Can his science fiction epic live up to the hype?
The Book of Eli – Denzel Washington stars in a post-apocalyptic tale directed by the Hughes Brothers who gave us Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, and From Hell.
The Box – Director Richard Kelly adapts a Twilight Zone episode. What would you do if a stranger showed up and told you to push a button in exchange for one million dollars but in return someone you never met would have to die? Of course there’s a catch. Starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella, I think this could be a cool movie, capturing the promise that Kelly showed with the cult favorite Donnie Darko and making people forget his dud Southland Tales.
Daybreakers – You didn’t think a season could go by without another vampire movie, did you? In this one, everyone in the world has become a bloodsucker, so blood is in short supply and becomes a precious commodity. Starring Willem Dafoe, Isabel Lucas, Ethan Hawke, and Sam Neill.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol – The classic tale of ghosts and redemption by Charles Dickens has been told and retold countless times. Robert Zemeckis takes a stab at it with a 3-D IMAX cartoon version. Jim Carrey provides the voice of Ebenezer Scrooge. Will this do better than Polar Express?
Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wes Anderson, who gave us Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, brings us…a stop-motion animation version of the Roald Dahl children’s novel? Interesting. Check out the all-star voices: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, and more.
The Fourth Kind – No, this is not a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s a horror movie about alien abductions. Will it scare up the box-office?
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – I don’t know what to expect from this. Director Terry Gilliam has made some of my favorite films but he’s also made some real clunkers. This movie features Heath Ledger’s final performance and everyone knows he died during filming, but the production went on with rewrites enabling Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell to play “transformations” of the character. This could be an utter trainwreck, or one of the most brilliant achievements in movie history. I don’t think there will be any middle ground.
Invictus – How many great movies can director Clint Eastwood give us? Here’s another one, this time starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as the captain of South Africa’s rugby team.
The Lovely Bones – Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was a commercial and critical success and a milestone in cinema history. His King Kong remake received mixed reviews. How will his adaptation of the Alice Sebold bestselling novel (about a murdered young girl who watches over her family and killer) do?
The Men Who Stare at Goats – The plot sounds ridiculous: soldiers claiming to have paranormal powers. But the cast is amazing: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Robert Patrick, and others.
Nine – The director of Chicago tries to bring another musical to life. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, and others, the talent is definitely there.
Planet 51 – A computer-generated cartoon about an alien world that looks an awful lot like 1950s suburban America, with voices provided by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman, Seann William Scott, John Cleese, and others.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire – This little drama, featuring Mo’nique and Mariah Carey, is generating so much buzz. Maybe it will make audiences forget Glitter and allow them to take Mariah seriously again.
The Princess and the Frog – Wow, they’re still making traditionally-drawn cartoons? I hope it succeeds. The voice talent includes John Goodman, Keith David, Terrence Howard, Angela Bassett, Anika Noni Rose, Oprah Winfrey, and more.
The Road – The post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son, based on the great novel by Cormac McCarthy, is brought to life on the big screen with Charlize Theron, Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, and Guy Pearce.
Sherlock Holmes – An action adventure romp from director Guy Ritchie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the most famous detective in fiction and Jude Law as his faithful sidekick – it hopefully will kick some ass and launch a franchise.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon – A new director brings us part two of the Twilight phenomenon. Honestly, you either love it or you hate it.
There’s some good stuff coming up amid the crap, so have fun at the movies.