Right now, 2009 remains a blank slate, untouched, full of promise. January is the graveyard month, during which studios drop mostly movies they don't care about, so it won't take long for the new year to become sullied. I'm thinking that this weekend's triple threat of Bride Wars, The Unborn, and Not Easily Broken are gonna get 'er real dirty real quick, but for now I choose to remain optimistic.
The following films are my ten most anticipated of the year, but of course, I am not in the possession of a crystal ball; some of these might be awesome, some of these might suck, and at the end of the year, most of my favorites will probably be movies I haven't even heard of yet. But I'm gonna have fun while I can, so here we go:
10. Drag Me to Hell
Release Date: May 29
So Spider-Man 3 was a disappointment. What better reason for director Sam Raimi to return to his whacked-out horror roots? Before he was an Oscar-nominated, blockbuster-directing force of nature, he was, after all, the guy who gave us Bruce Campbell battling his own demonically possessed hand. Alison Lohman is a loan officer who has to evict an old woman from her home, but unfortunately, she's the recipient of an ancient curse. As any watcher of ancient curse movies can tell you, this never ends well. The footage shown at the San Diego International Comic-Con last summer was gloriously goofy and unhinged (I'll just say that a stapler proves a key weapon against the undead), but if there's one concern I have, it's with the teaser they showed beforehand. It was somber and serious, advertising what is clearly a successor to the insanity of Evil Dead II as another horror du jour. If they stick with that marketing plan, viewers might be confused and disappointed, but one thing I know for certain: Bring Mr. Campbell in for a trademark cameo and everyone will be happy.
9. The Year One
Release Date: June 19
All I really need to hear is that Harold Ramis is directing, Judd Apatow is producing, and Jack Black and Michael Cera are starring. But if you must know more: this Biblical-themed comedy written by Ramis along with Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, a writing duo known for their work on The Office, is about two hunter-gatherers in the ancient world who are banned from their village and begin wondering about the meaning of life. Ramis' golden days are long gone, and it's been some time since he's been involved with a worthwhile film (1999's Analyze This was the last), but if he's looking to get back in the game, this is the perfect project. The Apatow brand isn't infallible — Step Brothers was a train wreck, and I avoided You Don't Mess with the Zohan — but The Year One has such a delightful premise and such talent both in front of and behind the camera, that I can't imagine this being anything but hilarious. Plus David Cross and Paul Rudd play Cain and Abel. Are you sold yet?