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 Two


DOMESTIC
Your Highness
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Justin Theroux
Written by Danny McBride & Ben Best

The Gist
Danny McBride is the slacker prince whose brother, James Franco, is always running off on heroic quests and slaying dragons. When Franco rescues a young maiden from an evil wizard and the wizard wants revenge things get real bad. McBride is forced to go off on a quest with his brother, picking up a sexy ranger (Natalie Portman) along the way. Minotaurs, magic, monsters and occasional bong hits follow.

Participants to Watch
David Gordon Green proved that he could do comedy with Pineapple Express, and it looks like Your Highness is him in fine form. Green plays everything dead straight, uninterested in going for just cheap gags. It worked with Pineapple, perfectly capturing the feeling of 80s films like Midnight Run. How will it work here? My money is on very well.

Danny McBride isn’t just the star of the film, he wrote it with Ben Best, one of the other minds behind Foot Fist Way and Eastbound and Down. McBride brings the kind of unearned pomposity only he and Will Ferrell seem to be able to pull off, but Danny always brings it just a shade darker.

Justin Theroux is incredible. I visited the set of this movie and got to see him in action, and to see some of his ridiculous wardrobe, and I have to say  that this is a movie that will catapult him to the next level. The guy is hot as hell in Hollywood – he wrote Iron Man 2! – but this role will turn him into somebody that average audiences know and love. It’s a brave and insane performance.

The Buzz
None yet, but the negative buzz is obvious in advance. This kind of movie isn’t for everybody, and not everybody liked Pineapple Express. But for folks who are in on it – especially folks who love Eastbound and Foot Fist – this is going to be a movie to cherish.

Best Case
It becomes a solid hit like Pineapple Express. It doesn’t break any records, but it turns into a movie that people really like and that has a long shelf life on home video and cable. People quote it for years to come.

Worst Case
It can’t find the right tone and fizzles. While I trust Green with the material, this is a tricky act to pull off. Fantasy movies already look silly, and that’s before you start making them funny. On top of that you have to stay away from simple spoof movie nonsense and create real characters that you care about. Green wouldn’t be the first great director to drop a ball like that.

CHUD’s Prognosis
I really won’t know until I see some trailers. Universal has been very brave the last couple of years, and I feel like Your Highness is one of their last truly brave movies – a film they made without figuring out how to market it first. I hope it pays off for the studio in ways that the wonderfully weird Land of the Lost didn’t.


FOREIGN
Micmacs
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring Danny Boon, Dominique Pinon, Julie Ferrer
Written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurent

The Gist
A video store clerk finds himself the victim of a wayward bullet in the brain. After getting out of the hospital his life falls apart and he ends up living with a troupe of… people in a junk yard. Eventually he enlists them to help bring down the weapons manufacturers that made the bullet in his head and the weapons that have killed so many.

Participants to Watch
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is back in a very Jean-Pierre Jeunet film. If A Very Long Engagment didn’t do it for you, this film will – it’s all rusty metal and weird people and wacky devices and general whimsical strangeness

Dominique Pinon returns with the director who has put him to so much good work. It’s a big role, with lots of emotion, something the actor doesn’t always get to do.

The Buzz
Well, I’ve seen the movie. I didn’t like it at all – too precious while also trying to make me feel bad about land mine injuries. It felt like reheated Jeunet, just trodding the same ground from decades ago. That said, other folks who saw it did like it quite a bit, so this may be a real ‘Your mileage may vary’ movie. If a bit of the old Jeunet is just what you’re looking for, you’ve got it. If you want a movie that has a central crux beyond one wacky heist after another, you’re going to be annoyed.

Best Case
You like it, I guess.

Worst Case
You feel how I do about it. I could barely sit through the film.

CHUD’s Prognosis
It’ll play like latter-day Gilliam, except it’s objectively better made than anything Gilliam has done in years. Some people will love it, some will hate it, both sides will enjoy arguing about it forever on our message boards.