The Plot: A young man (LaBeouf) and his mother (Monaghan) become unwitting members of a terrorist cell plotting a political assassination.
THE BUZZ: When Disturbia surpassed everyone's expectations last spring, DreamWorks execs quickly reunited Shia LaBeouf and director D.J. Caruso for a second project, and it'll be interesting to see if all the kids who swooned for Shia in a retooled Hitchcock thriller will be as engaged by our hero trying to prevent political terrorism. By the way, there are a lot of screenwriters present here -- perhaps an indication of how quickly this was rushed into production, which is confirmed by the release-date slippage from August (summer vacation) to late in the back-to-school season. How awesome is this teaser trailer?
7) The Soloist
Director: Joe Wright
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener
Release Date: 11/21
The Plot: In Los Angeles, reporter Steve Lopez (Downey Jr.) befriends Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx), a brilliant but troubled musician and one-time Julliard student who currently lives on Skid Row. In a series of revealing articles, Lopez draws attention to Ayers's remarkable story, while Ayers still dreams of a grand performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall.THE BUZZ: Director Joe Wright deftly moved between time periods in Atonement, and he'll undoubtedly employ some of this skill to tell Ayers's remarkable story (get some background here). Bank on top-notch performances from Foxx, Downey Jr., and Keener (who plays Steve Lopez's wife), as well as a gritty screenplay from Susannah Grant (Erin Brokovich). One of two fates await this one: multiple-Oscar glory or brilliantly miscalculated melodrama.
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman
Release Date: 11/14
The Plot: Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat (Kidman) who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man (Jackman) in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.
THE BUZZ: Originally Russell Crowe was set to star opposite Kidman in this paean to the antipodean outback, but everyone's favorite bad boy balked at the salary, stating, "I don't do charity work for major studios." Charming or surly? In stepped Wolverine to help Mrs. Keith Urban herd cattle. This better deliver more than cattle or you're looking at the Australian Atonement come Oscar time.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Gerard Butler, Jeremy Piven, Tom Wilkinson, Gemma Arterton, Thandie Newton, Ludacris
Release Date: 10/31
The Plot: In London, a crooked land deal puts millions of dollars up for grabs, pitting some of the city's scrappiest tough guys (Butler, Elba) against its more established underworld players (Wilkinson).
THE BUZZ: Is Guy Richie back? Will he still be married by the time his fifth movie is released this fall? Those are the two stories running concurrently while Richie tries to keep his cool as the pressure builds around his career and his family life. Back in his criminal element, with a formidable cast that includes Thandie Newton, Jeremy Piven, and Ludacris, I'm thinking Richie could be in for his biggest international success to date. The lid is sealed tight on the production, with barely a peep from the editing suite since a slew of coverage hit last last fall, including photos of Butler and his love interest, Ms. Newton, who plays an accountant to underworld types.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Colm Feore, Amy Ryan
Release Date: 10/24
The Plot: 1920s Los Angeles: A woman (Jolie) who is reunited with her missing son is subsequently committed to an insane asylum when she begins to question whether the boy is her child. Ultimately bringing her case to the city council, she begins to pick apart a conspiracy that reverberates throughout the city.
THE BUZZ: This is the higher-profile project from Clint Eastwood this year and it's definite awards-bait in the vein of L.A. Confidential and Chinatown, because we all know how much the Academy likes Angelina when she's been institutionalized. Cinematical has great things to say about Eastwood, Jolie, Amy Adams, and the rest of the talented cast and crew after seeing its Cannes debut.
The Plot: Texas Governor, George W. Bush, follows in the footsteps of his father, former President George H.W. Bush, in the wake of a controversial election to lead the United States of America.
THE BUZZ: People love him, people hate him, and we're just talking about the director. Whatever your take is, one thing's for sure: Stone's the perfect choice to bring this biopic to life. As for Mr. Bush, we're pretty sure this film will get a higher approval rating than he does. Not that that's saying much. But, with an all-star cast including the red-hot Brolin as the man-in-charge and Mr. Fantastic as Teflon Tony, this one's got my vote based on curiosity alone.
Director: Marc Forster
Stars: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric
Release Date: 11/7
The Plot: Picking up where Casino Royale left off, James Bond (Craig) sets his sights on the organization behind Vesper Lynd's betrayal. The mission puts him on a collision course with Dominic Greene (Amalric), a ruthless businessman who, Bond soon learns, is brokering a deal to take total control of one of the world's most precious resources. Relying on allies new and old -- including Camille (Kurylenko), a beautiful woman with her own agenda -- Agent 007 looks to bring down Greene and his conspirators.
THE BUZZ: Is Bond losing his edge? With the Jason Bourne's and Jason Statham's of the world busting the roof off of Hollywood's typical car-chasing action genre, 007 can't really rest on his martini-sipping laurels anymore. Don't think we didn't notice you pulling up in a Honda rental car in Royale, Bond. The parkour stunts and blood stains on your tux were a nice touch, though. Keep it up. You know, we'll keep coming back for more. For the latest goods on Quantum, park your Aston Martin here.
1) Burn After Reading
Director: Ethan Coen Joel Coen
Stars: Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, George Clooney
Release Date: 9/12
The Plot: A disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to benefit from the discovery.
THE BUZZ: Oh, it feels good to laugh again, less than a year after breathing in too much of Anton Chigurh's compressed air.