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Most anticipated of ’07: 30-21

In today’s 10 piece, we got a trio example of filmmakers who’ve waited a while before making their sophomore induction. There is also a healthy representation of big studio films – not necessarily a sign of the times but perhaps an example of better script/project development.

In today’s 10 piece, we got a trio example of filmmakers who’ve waited a while before making their sophomore induction. There is also a healthy representation of big studio films – not necessarily a sign of the times but perhaps an example of better script/project development.

51*. The Devil and Daniel Webster – Alec Baldwin
50. The Meat TradeAntonia Bird
49. Mister LonelyHarmony Korine
48. La Vie en RoseOlivier Dahan
47. Across the UniverseJulie Taymor
46. Youth Without YouthFrancis Ford Coppola
45. MargaretKenneth Lonergan
44. The Inner Life of Martin FrostPaul Auster
43. Hallam FoeDavid Mackenzie
42. Death at a Funeral Frank Oz
41. An American CrimeTommy O’Haver
40. Smiley FaceGregg Araki
39. Spring Break in BosniaRichard Shepard
38. Stop-LossKimberly Peirce
37. JindabyneRay Lawrence
36. Black Snake MoanCraig Brewer
35. Reservation RoadTerry George
34. Red Road – Andrea Arnold

33. RenditionGavin Hood
32. The HostBong Joon-ho
31. Rolling Stones documentaryMartin Scorsese

30. Lust, Caution
When: Focus Features – Sept 27th – look for a Venice world premiere.
Who: After Hollywood stint, foreign film consideration for Ang Lee.
What: Scripted by Wang Hui-Ling, this is adapted from a short story by the late Chinese author Eileen Chang. This is an espionage thriller set in WWII-era Shanghai and sees the main character try to seduce and assassinate a Chinese spy working for the Japanese government. Leung stars as a powerful Shanghai politician who becomes entangled with a young woman (Tang).
Why: A return to subtitles shouldn’t sway viewers away from espionage tale.
29. The Nanny Diaries
When: MGM and The Weinstein Company – April 20th wide release.
Who: Will bigger budget affect Shari Springer Berman (pictured) & Robert Pulcini American Splendor tandem?
What: Based on Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’ bestselling novel, this is a comedy that follows a 21-year old college student Annie Braddock (Johansson) who takes a job as a nanny to a very wealthy New York family to put herself through her last year of school.
Why: Might miss the mark if Johansson doesn’t bring the charm.
28. Margo at the Wedding (a.k.a Green Mango)
When: Paramount Vantage – October 12th release and perhaps a Toronto unveiling.
Who: The Squid and the Whale’s Noah Baumbach.
What: Originally titled “Nicole in the Country,” this is a multigenerational story that takes place over a weekend and follows a mom and her son who visit the mom’s sister.
Why: One of those rare years where a Kidman pic doesn’t find itself in the top 10 must see.
27. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
When: Warner Bros. Pictures – February date needs to be confirmed.
Who: 7 years after his Chopper with Eric Bana debut, Andrew Dominik goes high gloss.
What: Based on the Robert Hansen novel, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” delves into the private life and public exploits of America’s most notorious outlaw. As the charismatic and unpredictable Jesse James (Brad Pitt) plans his next great robbery, he wages war on his enemies, who are trying to collect the reward money – and the glory – riding on his capture.
Why: Jesse James story is enough to get me into line. Was a fan of Aussie indie film Chopper.
26. Things We Lost in the Fire
When: Dreamworks – Perhaps a Cannes showcase with a summer release.
Who: Brilliant Danish director Susanne Bier makes leap into big studio/ English language territory.
What: This is the story of a woman (Berry) whose husband suddenly dies. She invites her husband’s troubled best friend (Del Toro) to live with her family, and as the friend turns his life around, he helps the grief-stricken family confront their loss.
Why: Del Toro will stand out once again.
25. Charlie Wilson’s War
When: Universal Pictures
Oscar friendly. X-Mas day.
Who: The Veteran: Mike Nichols
What: Written by Aaron Sorkin and based on the book by 60 Minutes producer George Crile, this is about the CIA’s largest and most successful covert CIA operation, the arming of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The covert ops were engineered by Charlie Wilson (Hanks), a charismatic, wheeler-dealer, liberal Texas congressman who teamed with a rogue CIA operative. The two manipulated Congress, the CIA and a host of foreign governments in order to assist the Afghan rebels in their fight against the Soviets in the 1980s. Many of the men armed by the CIA went on to become the Taliban’s enforcers and Osama bin Laden’s protectors.
Why: Apparently based on one of the better screenplays out there.
24. The Savages
When: Fox Searchlight Pictures – Sundance premiere will dedicate release strategy.
Who: Tamara Jenkins finally back almost a decade after her debut Slums of Beverly Hills.
What: Based on the screenplay by Tamara Jenkins, fortunate to have escaped from the unhappy home of their childhood, the Savage siblings are firmly ensconced in their separate complicated lives. Wendy Savage (Laura Linney) is a struggling East Village playwright who is involved with a married man and makes ends meet by working as an after-hours temp in the financial district. Jon Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a writer and college professor in Buffalo who lives an isolated academic life and can’t commit to the Polish woman he has been intimately involved with for years.
Why: This Is That Productions have backed a long winning streak of worthy projects.
23. Be Kind Rewind
When: New Line Cinema – A Cannes date not out of the question – maybe a Tribeca long shot.
Who: The Magician: Michel Gondry
What: This follows a junkyard worker (Black) who attempts to sabotage a power plant that he believes is melting his brain. But his plan goes awry and the magnetic field he creates erases all of the videotapes in the local video store where his best friend works (played by Mos Def) – who works there and his co-worker (Diaz). Fearing that the mishap will cost his friend his job, the two team to keep the store’s only loyal customer — a little old lady (Farrow) with a tenuous grasp on reality — from realizing what has happened by re-creating and refilming every movie that she decides to rent – a long line of films including “The Lion King,” “Rush Hour,” “Back to the Future” and “Robocop”.
Why: Kid in a candy store script by Gondry will appeal to the VHS generation masses.
22. The Kite Runner
When: Paramount Vantage – A November date is set with a festival run very likely.
Who: This should be Marc Forster’s career highlight.
What: Based on the novel, the story is about the bond that develops in Afghanistan between a privileged youth and the son of his father’s servant, around a love of kite flying. The relationship fractures when one boy is set upon by toughs during a kite-flying tournament and the other boy does nothing to help him. Years later, a reunion amidst the wreckage of the Taliban regime reconnects the youths.
Why: Despite lack of names – various sources have said this is a solid script by David Benioff (25th Hour).
21. Savage Grace
When: Killer Films should find a suitor after world premiere probably in TIFF. release pegged for November.
Who: After a number of short films – Tom Kalin is back.
What: Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning book, this tells the incredible true story of Barbara Daly, who married above her class to Brooks Baekeland (Moore), the dashing heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune. Beautiful, red-headed, charismatic, Barbara is still not a match for her well-born husband. The birth of the couple’s only child, Tony, rocks the uneasy balance in this marriage of extremes. Spanning 1946 to 1972, the film unfolds in six acts. The Baekelands’ pursuit of social distinction and the glittering « good life » propels them across the globe. We follow their heady rise and tragic fall against the backdrop of locations including New York, Paris, Cadaques, Mallorca and London.
Why: It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a lonely lonely long time since 92’s Swoon.
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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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