Because I consistently adhere to my low expectation of upcoming releases, regardless of what season we're in or how much buzz/hype surrounds a film, I can't honestly say that I'm looking forward to any of this season's heavy hitters. Sure, there are new films from Scorsese, Eastwood, Almodovar, Aronofsky, Soderbergh and even my all-time favorite, Gilliam. However, I just can't begin to anticipate any of them, for fear they will disappoint me (which is more than likely, unfortunately). The one thing I can still depend on, though, is acting, and only when I can get a glimpse of the performances in whatever trailers are currently available. I will say that I have high hopes this fall for Matt Damon, Will Smith, Forrest Whitaker, Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman, but I've compiled a short list of three movies and their respective actors that I look forward to watching the most:
- Catch a Fire (Derek Luke) - I can always enjoy Tim Robbins, and while checking out the trailer for Philip Noyce's new film I couldn't believe the actor's seemingly perfect grasp of the South African accent -- despite being a great actor, he's not always the best with dialects. Sharing the film with Robbins, though, is the under-appreciated Derek Luke, who after gaining great acclaim for Antwone Fisher nearly disappeared into forgettable films like Biker Boyz and Friday Night Lights. In Catch a Fire, which is set in 1980s South Africa, Luke plays the real-life Patrick Chamusso, an anti-apartheid hero who went from being apolitical to leaving his family and joining up with the African National Congress. Regardless of how good the movie is, I expect to be blown away by Luke's handling of the role.
- The Queen (Helen Mirren) - Stephen Frears' look at Queen Elizabeth's reaction (or public lack of) to Princess Diana's death has been met with some controversy and is probably plagued by Frears' usual faulty direction, but there's no denying that Helen Mirren will be doing a bang-up job of playing the title character. The actress, who has been twice-nominated for an Oscar (for The Madness of King George and Gosford Park), is due for more recognition of her talents, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II should be her greatest part in years.
- Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Sacha Baron Cohen) - Though Sacha Baron Cohen won't be winning any Oscars for his performance as the controversial character Borat, which originated on the comedian's Da Ali G Show, he will be garnering the most laughs from me this season. But more importantly he'll be reminding me of what a great chameleon he is, playing Borat without hardly a discernible similarity to his other characters. After having watched him as French race car driver Jean Girard in this summer's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, I look forward to whatever role he comes up with next. I also salute him for maintaining a straight face so well -- what with the documentary-like filming on Borat -- in a time that we are constantly reminded of how often comedic actors crack-up during shooting (see any blooper reel). Directed by Larry Charles (who helmed that mess Masked and Anonymous), the film could be another technical wreck, but nobody will be paying attention to Borat's craftsmanship; they'll be too busy falling on the floor with laughter.