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).

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 Four

Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Lee
Written by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright
Based on the comics by Bryan Lee O’Malley

The Gist
Canadian twentysomething slacker Scott Pilgrim is dating a high school girl. But then he meets Ramona Flowers, the girl of his dreams (literally: he first meets her in his dreams) and falls in love. There’s one major roadblock, though: Scott has to fight each of her seven evil exes in order to keep dating her. Hardcore kung fu, musical numbers and endless video game references follow.

Participants to Watch
Edgar Wright defied the sophomore slump with Hot Fuzz, but will he be able to keep up the streak with Scott Pilgrim? O’Malley’s comics are silly and sweet at once, and they’re packed full of geeky references and nods. On the surface the combination of director and material seems perfect.

Michael Cera has a lot to prove. After his explosion into stardom he’s experienced a major backlash, and his name hasn’t proven to be a box office draw just yet. On top of that many fans were put off by his casting – Scott in the comics couldn’t be more different from Cera’s usual comedic persona. I was barely able to talk to Cera while on the film’s Toronto set – he’s very press shy – but it seemed like he’s interested in pushing himself. Scott Pilgrim could be a new phase for him.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty, but how is she as an actor? She’s never had a role that’s given her a chance to strut her stuff, and if the movie goes anywhere near the comic, Ramona will give her plenty of room to show what she’s made of. Winstead looks amazing as Ramona, but will she be the perfect heartbreaker?

Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright’s script is going to be interesting because it was written while Bryan Lee O’Malley was working on the (still unfinished) comic series. From talking to Wright and O’Malley it seems that there’s a place where the movie and the comic diverge; it’ll be interesting to get a look at Scott Pilgrim from Earth 2.

The Buzz
Suddenly pretty good. There’s been very little seen so far, but a great first image and some strong fan reviews out of a Las Vegas test screening has made it seem like Wright has not done wrong (sorry). I suspect that Edgar Wright has nailed this one, but only time will tell. Also getting buzzed: strong performances from the actors playing Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes, something that is crucial to making the film work as a whole.

Best Case
Guys love the video game references and the martial arts and their girlfriends love the romance and O’Malley’s group of strong female characters. It becomes a crossover hit in a way that Wright’s previous films never quite did.

Worst Case
Universal has a track record of making really good, interesting, brave films over the last few years. They don’t have quite the same record when it comes to opening them. The hardest part of making a movie that’s totally unlike anything else out there – convincing people to come see it. Even if Scott Pilgrim is great it’s possible that people won’t figure that out until it hits home video.

CHUD’s Prognosis
You gotta have faith. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a dog in this fight – not only do I know both Edgar Wright and Bryan Lee O’Malley, I’m also a slobbering fanboy for their work. But I suspect that if the initial hump of this movie – selling it – can be overcome, Scott Pilgrim vs The World could be not only a tidy hit but one of those movies that captures a moment in pop cultural history.

Useful Links
Buy the books from Amazon!

Directed by Joon-ho Bong
Starring Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin, Jin Goo
Written by Eun Kyo-Park and Joon-ho Bong & Wun-kyo Park
The Gist
When a young girl is found murdered, the local police zero in on a mentally handicapped 27 year old. Confused and frightened, Do-Joon signs a confession. But his fiercely protective mother knows that her son didn’t do it and begins an investigation into the murder that turns up the town’s ugly secrets.

Participants to Watch
Joon-ho Bong is one of the great directors to come out of the Korean new wave of the last decade, and he’s returning to the mystery and character drama of Memories of Murder (even though my heart will always be with The Host, as it’s a monster movie, there are many who argue that Memories of Murder is his masterpiece). Honestly, if you’re a film fan the idea that there’s a new Bong should be exciting enough.

The Buzz
The movie has played some festivals and so far the reviews are great. People are calling it possibly Bong’s best, and the acting is getting specifically called out as terrific.

Best Case
It’s a classic.

Worst Case
Your taste in film is suspect.

CHUD’s Prognosis
I don’t expect a big crossover on this one, but I think it should roll far enough that people outside of New York and LA will have a chance to see it. There will likely be a remake announced soon, if there isn’t already one I missed.

Useful Links
Watch the trailer