Some Exciting New Films in Play as the Year Winds Down

I feel like it has been a relatively weak year in terms of Oscar-worthy films, but the latter stages of the year might just bring us some real contenders.

In addition to A Dangerous Method and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, there is a handful of other films I am really looking forward to seeing. Of course, some of them have or will only have limited released in the States, so I might not get to see them until they’re out on video. Then again, if some become Oscar nominees, then they might get a wider release. We can only hope. 

Anyway, here are a few promising movies that are either out right now in limited fashion or set to be released later this year:

Martha Marcy May Marlene

When I heard the phrase “psychological thriller” in association with this movie, I immediately turned my head. Martha Marcy May Marlene premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and received a limited release in the U.S. on October 21. Written and directed by newcomer Sean Durkin and starring Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) and John Hawkes (of Deadwood and Winter’s Bone fame), the early buzz has been very positive, and Olsen’s performance has been described in the Rotten Tomatoes consensus as “mesmerizing.” Martha Marcy May Marlene is about a young woman (Olsen) who, after fleeing from a cult led by Hawkes’ character, is haunted by those memories and becomes paranoid that the cult is tracking her down. This sounds like a fairly minimalist plot, which actually excites me because the focus will have to be on characters and their psyches. While this approach is very much in the high-risk, high-reward category, the film’s categorization as a psychological thriller, as well as its positive reviews, have me very eager to see it. The idea of a young woman unraveling amidst paranoia that people are after her reminds me a little bit of Black Swan, which I loved. Here’s to hoping that Martha Marcy May Marlene can at least knock on the door of that level.


Directed by Steve McQueen (the guy who directed Hunger; not the deceased actor…that would really be something), Shame appears to be another character study about a man (the increasingly prominent Michael Fassbender) who cannot manage his sex life and who continues to lose control over his life after his younger sister (Carey Mulligan, another rising star) moves into his New York apartment. I’d be lying if I said that Shame’s recently-received NC-17 rating did not have me at least a little interested to see what this is all about. However, I am more so looking forward to this film because of the stars (Fassbender and Mulligan) and the excellent early critical response. Shame will get a limited release in the United States on December 2.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This is a pretty obvious one for me. If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know that I’m a HUGE David Fincher fan. Just the fact that he’s directing this project is enough for me to want to see it. But there’s more. First, as most people know, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on the first novel of the late Stieg Larsson’s posthumously published and worldwide phenomenon, the Millenium Series. There has already been an acclaimed Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but this is another adaptation of the book and not the prior film, so this fresh cinematic take on the story should be interesting. There is also a great cast that includes Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, and Robin Wright. Additionally, the newly-adapted screenplay has been written by the great Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Awakenings, Gangs of New York, Moneyball). Anyway, the main plotline involves a journalist (played by Daniel Craig) who enlists the help of the titular character (Rooney Mara) — a young, heavily pierced and tattooed (imagine that) computer hacker — in investigating the 40-year disappearance of a certain woman and tracking down an apparent “killer of women,” as the trailer (see below) hints at.  Fincher has always been good with movies that involve murderers (Se7en and Zodiac exemplify his prowess with this type of storyline), so that aspect just adds to my level of interest. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will get a wide release (thankfully) on December 21.

Margin Call

Margin Call is a dramatic thriller that chronicles the goings-on at one particular firm over a tumultuous 24-hour period in 2008, the onset of the financial crisis. Starring the great Kevin Spacey, as well as Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, and Stanley Tucci, Margin Call has also received very good early reviews and has been described as “smart, tightly wound, and solidly acted…gripping, thought-provoking drama.” That description, along with the cast, is enough for me. First-time writer and director J.C. Chandor appears to be kicking off his career with a bang. Margin Call was released limitedly on October 21.

J. Edgar

Like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this is another can’t-miss film, simply because of the combination of Leonardo DiCaprio and directorial great Clint Eastwood. It doesn’t hurt that the film has a very interesting plot as a biographical drama of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Naomi Watts and Jeffrey Donovan (best known for TV’s Burn Notice; he also had a supporting role in the Eastwood-directed Changeling) will also star. Eastwood could very well be giving us more Oscar material here. J. Edgar will be released nationwide on November 11 after a limited release on November 9.

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About Tommy D

Clemson and UGA alum with a market research job in LA. And I kind of like movies.

Posted on October 28, 2011, in Upcoming Films and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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