Nick is listing out the 15 mainstream movies that are most exciting for 2010, and he’s asked me to do a supplemental list for the smaller movies that should be on your radar. The problem is that 15 is such a small number! So I’ve decided to do 30, and to split it between 15 smaller and indie American films and 15 foreign films (and yes, I’m including British movies as foreign).

The hardest part of this kind of a list is that I have no idea what is actually coming; the joy of smaller and indie films is that they often surprise you – the best movie of 2010 might be something nobody has heard of  that will debut at Cannes or Toronto. With that caveat, I’ve done a lot of research (some of which was greatly enabled by Garth Franklin’s monstrous Notable Films of 2010) and I think this list will be filled with movies worth paying attention to in 2010.

Day One


DOMESTIC
The Town

Directed by Ben Affleck
Starring Ben Affleck, Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper
Written by Ben Affleck and Peter Craig
Based on the novel by Chuck Hogan

The Gist
Four masked men rob a Boston bank and hold manager Claire Keesey hostage. Everything goes according to plan except for one minor flaw: robber Doug MaRay falls for Claire and seeks her out in real life. As the two begin a love affair, Doug has to deal with the secret he’s hiding from her and with his own criminal past.

Participants to Watch
Ben Affleck is directing his second feature after the excellent Gone Baby Gone, and this time he’s also starring as Doug. Affleck showed serious promise with his first film, and the idea of another Boston-set crime movie from him is exciting. The big question is how being the leading man will impact his directing.

Rebecca Hall needs to become a name actress now, and Affleck could be helping. You may have seen her in Vicki Cristina Barcelona, and you’ll love her in Red Riding: 1980. She’s the love interest here, and I’m excited to see Affleck matched up against a woman who seems strong and capable of holding her own in every way.

Jeremy Renner is coming off the career-making The Hurt Locker. I’m assuming he’s playing one of the guys in Affleck’s bank robbing crew, and I’m hoping it’s a meaty, swear-filled role. Renner has been talked up as a Captain America candidate, but I think there’s something way too dangerous about him for that. But he has just the right amount of danger for a Boston bank robber.

The Buzz
None yet. Hogan’s novel has mixed reviews, but some of the best movies come from iffy novels. The film isn’t released until September, so we’ve seen almost nothing from it so far.

Best Case
Affleck proves that he’s as good a director as we suspected post-Gone Baby Gone. We end up with a great little crime movie that’s got plenty of terrific acting, some real character work and maybe even a cool action scene or two. Rebecca Hall finally gets famous.

Worst Case
It’s a dud, but an honest one. With a cast like this the movie would have to be a disaster to be truly bad, and I’m thinking that’s unlikely – but you never know. Still, my thoughts at the moment are that we get a worst-case scenario of a little movie that plays well on home video.

CHUD’s Prognosis
Beats me, man. It’s easier to make guesses on the big blockbuster movies. If this is good enough, we could see some Oscar noms coming from it – it’s being released in the correct season.

Useful links
Buy the novel on Amazon


FOREIGN

Valhalla Rising

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Gary Lewis, Alexander Morton
Written by Roy Jacobson and Nicolas Winding Refn

The Gist
In the year 1000AD the fierce warrior One Eye is held captive by a Norse chieftain. Working with a slave boy, One Eye escapes captivity and hightails it on a boat, but ends up in a new world that he never expected to visit. See if you can guess where that is.


Participants to Watch
Mads Mikkelsen, fresh off Quantum of Solace and just before Clash of the Titans, plays One Eye, the mute warrior who I’m assuming messes up all sorts of motherfuckers.

Nicolas Winding Refn has proven himself to be one of the coolest directors around, first with his Pusher trilogy and then last year with Bronson, his arthouse ode to the poetry of violence. If Refn proved nothing else with Bronson he proved that he can stage a fight scene, and any Viking movie must contain many awesome fight scenes. The trailer for Valhalla Rising indicates that it meets this Viking film requirement.

The Buzz
Word from early festival screenings has been good, although from what I hear it’s not a 13th Warrior clone. Refn makes dense movies, and Valhalla Rising may be highly impressionistic. Still, it’s supposed to be filled with amazing imagery and strong performances.

Best Case
Refn hits another one out of the park. It’s a mystical, bizarre, violent journey through a lush and fully realized world.

Worst Case
It’s a mess. The thin narrative doesn’t hang together and the gritty realism becomes exhausting. No amount of splattered blood will be able to retain your interest if Refn slides up his own ass with this one, something he definitely seemed poised to do on occasion during Bronson.


CHUD’s Prognosis

It’ll be modestly successful on the arthouse circuit, but the reality is that Refn’s stuff seems to be too brutal for the hoity toity crowd and too cerebral for the B-movie crowd. He’s stuck with an audience who likes Godard and Golan/Globus.

Useful links


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