Ten reasons to go to the cinema in 2008

1. Johnny Depp returns to acting

Yes, after bumbling and gurning his way through the three Pirates of the Carribean films, it looks like our JD may finally be returning to what he does best – that is, actually acting. Tim Burton’s film version of the Steven Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street seems natural enough material for the straggly-haired auteur, and, lets face it, anything with Alan Rickman in it is fine by me.

2. Juno

Hard to tell at this stage whether this is going to be the great film that I think it might be, or a tiresome post-Wes Anderson kook-fest, but is must be something special for a film of this type to be declared ‘best film of 2007′ by Chicago Sun-Times’ influential Roger Ebert. From what i can gather, Ellen Page puts in a truly wonderful performance as the titular Juno MacGuff; whether the over-sharp dialogue proves to be an annoyance, we will have to wait and see.

3. The new Coen Brothers film

Already being hailed as a masterpiece in the States, No Country For Old Men may well end up being the Coens’ greatest film so far. IMDB lists in its keywords for the film ‘blood splatter’, ‘shot in the leg’, ‘captive bolt gun’ and ‘vomit scene’ – how can it be bad?? I love Javier Bardem as well, great to see him becoming a major star in Hollywood (see Love in the Time of Cholera).

4. The return of Paul Thomas Anderson

The director of Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love returns with a dark western chock full of violence, greed, betrayal and Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood. Anderson’s films, for me, have become progressively greater as he has gone along, and this looks like topping those further still. Day-Lewis’ performance has already picked him up a Golden Globe nomination, and once again he looks a shoe-in for the Best Actor Oscar.

5. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Based on Toby Young’s famous memoir, this may well end up being a bit of a stinker, directed as it is by Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Robert B. Weide, a TV director with no previous feature-length experience. I might be wrong though, but it will be a tough job to do the source material full justice. Still, good to see Simon Pegg getting big Hollywood roles, and i’m sure he willl bring his usual charm and natural comedic timing to the role; lets hope the film is up to his considerable talents.

6. A new Charlie Kaufman film

Entitled Synecdoche, New York, and starring the best actor in Hollywood, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as well as personal favourite Hope Davis, this will be Kaufman’s first filmed screenplay since 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and his directorial debut. Little has been revealed as yet about the plot, but expect the unexpected.

7. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated follow-up to Batman Begins reunites him with his muse Christian Bale, but most excitingly sees Heath Ledger as the Joker, an absolutely inspired piece of casting. Katie Holmes has been replaced by the superior Maggie Gyllenhaal, but elsewhere the cast looks consistent with the predecessor. And do I spy one Anthony Michael Hall in the cast list?? Should be good.

8. Spike Jonze finally makes another film

Winning the prize for 2008’s most interesting collaboration, Spike Jonze directs an adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak children’s story Where the Wild Things Are with a screenplay by writer Dave Eggers. It seems this is the project that led to Jonze turning down the chance to film Charlie Kaufman’s new project – a wise move? Whether its much cop, we will have to wait and see.

9. Guillermo Del Toro is back!

Fresh from the international success of Pan’s Labyrinth, Mexican director Del Toro returns to one of his personal pet projects, his bringing of Mike Mignola’s comic-book hero Hellboy to the big screen. Given his newly found international status, hopefully GDT will be given a little more creative freedom for Hellboy II: The Golden Army, so he can fully realise his vision for the film.

10. Indy and Rambo

Of course, everyone and their dogs will be queueing up for days on end to go to see the 5000 year-old Harrison Ford don the hat and whip and strut his stuff once again in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Crap title – makes it sound like a Harry Potter book.

And comedy of the year will surely go to Sylvester Stallone’s reprise of his role as Vietnam vet John Rambo, in the simply titled Rambo, amazingly his seventh feature as director. Lord help us…

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