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Up Next: Top Movies to Close Out 2011

Entertaining the Masses columnist Sean Fox looks at some of the best upcoming movies.

Up-and-down seems to be an accurate description of 2011 in terms of cinema. On the one hand we were treated to quality releases likeBridesmaidsThe Tree of Life, and the conclusion of the Harry Potterseries; on the other hand, audiences were forced to suffer through garbage like No Strings AttachedZookeeper, and Green Lantern.

So yeah, up-and-down seems appropriate.

But take heart fellow cinephiles, because the year is not yet over!

The next five months will hopefully give us some serious cinema to sink our teeth into. Reboots and adaptations are some of the most appealing items on the menu, but there are some original offerings that should also do well. (Click the movie title to view the trailer).

30 Minutes or Less – August 12th

Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride in an ‘R’ rated comedy is a recipe for hilarity. Best known for their TV roles on NBC’s Parks and Recreationand HBO’s Eastbound & Down, the two men are a tornado of laughs. Jesse Eisenberg stars as a pizza boy who gets roped into robbing a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest. While I’m on the fence about Eisenberg – he’s a talented actor, but seems so affected – the film’s premise and cast should ensure 83 minutes of near-constant laughter.

Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy – September 16th

Relative unknown Tomas Alfredson directs this British spy-thriller, and he has a great deal to live up to. The film is based on John le Carré’s 1974 novel of the same name; it is the gold standard for spy novels. On top of that, the book was adapted into a fantastic seven-part miniseries starring Alan Guinness in 1979. The TV series was dark, understated, and invariably more fleshed out than the film will be. However, I’m intrigued to see what the star-studded cast that includes Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy can do with the source material.

Drive – September 16th

The film has already been screened at several film festivals, and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Ryan Gosling, a fantastic actor who is finally beginning to emerge from his indie shell, is a perfect fit for the nameless “Driver.” Based on a 2006 novel of the same name by James Sallis, Drive follows an unnamed Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver. Comparisons have been drawn to Bullitt and early noir films, and audiences should expect plenty of heart-pounding action.

Moneyball – September 23rd

Adapted from Michael Lewis’ 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, the film stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill as baseball revolutionaries. Based on the real life exploits of Billy Beane (GM of the Oakland Athletics), Moneyball depicts his struggles to bring about serious change in the Oakland organization, and his eventual success. The film has a talented supporting cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, and Robin Wright. Sports buffs will be keen to observe the inner workings of an MLB organization.

50/50 – September 30th

The pairing of Seth Rogen as comedic foil and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the straight man is genius. Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a young man recently diagnosed with cancer, and the shows his attempts to deal with the diagnosis. Rogen plays Kyle, Adam’s best friend and confidante. It’s difficult to make a film about a person diagnosed with cancer that is both honest and enjoyable, but director Jonathan Levine may be successful. Gordon-Levitt’s boyish charm hides an inner fragility that will undoubtedly appear front-and-center.

The Ides of March – October 14th

This seems to be the year that Ryan Gosling finally decided to become a Hollywood star. In The Ides of March, based on the play Farragut North, Gosling stars as George Clooney’s campaign manager and similarities between the two actors are quite noticeable. Clooney plays a Democratic presidential candidate who struggles to keep hold of Gosling’s loyalty. A political drama loosely based on the 2004 Democratic primary, the film should be a riveting tale of backstabbing and double-dealing that’s sure to appeal to audiences.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – December 21st

I think subtitles take away a lot from a movie, but the US version ofThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a lot to live up to. The Swedish version, released in 2009, was nominated and earned several awards. Daniel Craig stars as Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist hired to dig into the past of a wealthy corporate patriarch; Rooney Mara plays Lisbeth Salander, a prodigiously-talented hacker who is hired to assist Blomkvist. Mysteries abound, and even audiences familiar with the story are likely to be drawn into the intrigue as master-director David Fincher pulls the strings.

Other promising movies include: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the UnicornWarrior.

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