With the mainstream film landscape now set, here are some films (in no particular order) that you may not be planning to see but should probably consider. Some of these may already be out depending on where you are. They won’t all be for everyone, of course, but at least give the trailers a whirl. And if you think I’ve missed anything, definitely let me know!
Moon – Intelligent science fiction in the 2001 vein, about a mining technician stationed alone on the moon. Sam Rockwell’s performance looks superb.
(500) Days of Summer – a offbeat romantic comedy for people who don’t like romantic comedies (i.e. without the formulaic cliché)
Thirst – Korean director Park Chan-wook (of Oldboy fame) turns his hand to vampires. A devoted small town priest volunteers for a medical experiment that goes wrong, turning him into a vampire and struggling to maintain his the remnants of his humanity. This ain’t no Twilight probably doesn’t cover it.
Brothers – Now, the story may seem somewhat familiar: when her is husband killed at war, a wife is comforted by his brother and a relationship develops until the husband is found alive and returns. But with powerful-looking performances from Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, this could be worth a look.
An Education – a 1960s coming-of-age story in which an intelligent young girl headed for Oxford meets a charming, older playboy.
Shrink – Kevin Spacey leads in this independent drama as a top shrink for Hollywood celebrities, unable to cope with his own personal tragedy and increasingly questioning his ability to help his patients.
Surrogates – Coupled with Moon, intelligent sci-fi could be making a return with this futuristic world where humans interact solely through surrogate robots, while living in isolation. Bruce Willis’ character is forced to venture outside to investigate murders of these surrogates. Whether this goes too far down the I, Robot glitz-over-brains route remains to be seen.
District 9 – Director Neil Blomkamp was initially intended to helm the Halo film until plans fell through. Instead we have an intriguing view of extraterrestrial refugees in South Africa.
Downloading Nancy – I’m not really backing this until I’ve seen it, but this daring film is inevitably tainted by the fact the Sundance crowd hated it. An emotionally scarred wife, married to a cruelly cold husband, uses S&M and self-harm as an escape, while cultivating a relationship with an internet boyfriend. Her husband is oblivious until she goes missing.
Departures – Despite winning a best foreign language film Oscar, this Japanese film has only received a limited release worldwide. An out-of-work cellist is only able to find work, by accident, in the funeral industry, but is unable to admit this to his wife.
Sin Nombre – both a romance and a chase film, Sayra is a Honduran teenager dreaming of a better life in the States. On a freight train taking her there, her journey is entwined with a young recruit in the ruthless (and real-life) Mara Salvatrucha gang.
Daybreakers – With vampires having hunted humans nearly to extinction, both species now face a struggle to survive. Vampires are clearly all the rage at the moment, and this film could easily go either way: a lukewarm Equilibrium is the danger.
Alice in Wonderland – okay, so Tim Burton is now undoubtedly mainstream, but as an unabashed fan of Alice, I can’t wait to see his vision of Wonderland so I’m including it anyway.