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I figured it would be interesting to list my top ten most anticipated movies for the New Year… Here are the my choices (I ignored stuff like Wong’s 2046, Tarrantino’s Kill Bill, and von Trier’s Dogville that I don’t expect to be out by the end of the year, even if I’m frothing at the mouth for them.) It will be interesting to see how this pans out at the end of the year. It will probably look horrible in retrospect, since most of these decisions are based on the reputations people earned for other films more than subject matter for the new ones.

Ten Runners Up:  About Schmidt , The Bourne Identity , Confessions of a Dangerous Mind , Daddy & Them , Gerry , Minority Report , The Panic Room , Simone , Spider Man , Trouble Every Day

10. Adaptation – Spike Jonez’s directorial follow-up to the almost excellent Being John Malkovich supposedly has a superb and unique script by the prolific oddball Charlie Kaufman. The casting of Meryl Streep and Nic Cage (does any other actor as obviously alternate one for art and one for money as Cage does?) goes a long way toward making this look like a more attractive prospect.

9. Frida – Also known as the movie that saved us from a J. Lo Kahlo biopic. I thought Julie Taymour’s Titus was nearly great. Good enough to make me eagerly anticipate anything else she puts out. The cast of this film (Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Ed Norton, Ashley Judd, Antonio Banderas) seems reasonably well picked, and certainly the subject matter has the potential to be great. Mostly, I would imagine, it hinges on Hayek’s performance.

8. Baby’s in Black – I think the might be called something else now (IMDB lists it as Goodbye Hello), and that title change suggests it might not be superb, but I thought Brad Silberling’s City of Angels was almost astonishingly good for a Meg Ryan movie. Here’s to hoping that wasn’t a fluke and this might be the emergence of a great new talent. Certainly, the film’s attracted a good cast (Dustin Hoffman, Holly Hunter, and Susan Sarandon), but so did Stepmom… we’ll see…

7. The Lord of the Rings 2 – The first LOTR movie finished just outside my top ten for 2001, so the prospect of another Jackson-helmed epic naturally has me excited. Since there’s a bit more action in the second book in Tolkien’s trilogy, it would stand to reason that the second movie in the trilogy would be a bit more exciting. An extra year of editing can’t hurt, either.

6. Cremaster 3 – Mathew Barney’s three-hour magnum opus arrives in May to show us all what a real art film is. I’m sure it’s too obtuse for most, but I expect it will be right up my alley.

5. PTA’s untitled Sandler thing – So, I must assume PT had a good reason for casting Sandler, though my feeble mind can’t think of it. Rumored to be a musical about a pudding cup contest or something, I’m sure it’s going to be odd. Still, it will be a great litmus test to see whether or not its director is a flash in the pan or not. Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s contributions should be appreciated no matter what the end result.

4. The Hours – I thought Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot was merely passable, but the casting of three of our absolute best actresses (Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman) as the leads in this adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s fantastic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is enough to put this on my list. I wonder if Daldry will manage to convey the interior complexity of the novel, but those three actresses make me think it might not all depend on him.

3. Gangs of New York – Ah, yes. Martin Scorsese’s epic. Frankly, this would be topping my list if it wasn’t for the very public bad treatment that it’s been getting from Miramax. Originally supposed to be a December release, this gritty drama was moved back to the summer, because “it’s really a summer movie”. Huh? More likely, it was put there because it cost a bundle, its distributor didn’t know how to sell it, and hoped for a big opening weekend. I’m hoping that the thing won’t be too truncated, and that Daniel Day-Lewis’s return to screen after a five-year “retirement” will be worth the wait.

2. The Piano Teacher – Yes, this is directed by Michael Haneke, who directed my best picture of 2001, Code: Unknown. It won three awards at Cannes last year (though this is the same jury that gave the wretched The Son’s Room the Grand Prize), so it’s coming already recommended. Let’s hope that it lives up to whatever hype I impose upon it.

1. Far From Heaven – Todd Haynes and Julianne Moore Redux! It’s a Doug Sirk-style drama with fake backgrounds and Dennis Quaid in the big dumb lunk role! How cool is this? So fucking cool!



Jeremy Heilman