It has just been killing me not to be in Toronto with Grierson this week. Not just because he's seeing so many movies I'm desperate to see -- "Moneyball," "Take This Waltz," "The Descendants," "Shame" -- but because he's seeing them first. Grierson and I have been having a "I beat you this to one" since we graduated from high school, when he moved to Los Angeles and I stayed in the Midwest. He always saw everything first out there, so I had savor my victories when I could get them. I saw "Short Cuts" at a special screening three months before it came out, and I still bring it up, all the time. It's exciting to come in completely fresh, to not have to avoid Growing Consensus and the Chattering Hive Mind Of People Who Write About Movies For A Living. Movies are meant to be solitary experiences. The less we know about a movie coming in, the better.
The Toronto, Venice and Telluride Film Festivals make this extremely difficult to do if you're not there, particularly if, you know, run a movie site. There is buzz on everything, and even though I try to shut it out, I know the buzz is up on "Shame" and "The Descendants" and down on "The Ides of March" and "360" and mixed on "A Dangerous Method." I try to avoid it, and I'll go into each of those movies with as clear eyes and open mind as possible ... but I am only human. I missed the initial surge. I can't make that leave my brain.
So I find myself looking forward to the movies that no one has seen yet, the ones either still being put together or not being shown to anyone yet, the ones that have no consensus or buzz or pre-existing baggage I'll have try to push out of my head. These are the ones I will feel like I'm discovering, whether they're good or bad. I won't feel like I'm playing catchup on these; these are the films that matter, either in awards season or year-end quality lists, that no one has seen yet. There are, sadly, not many left. Here they are, each month.
"Dream House," starring Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts. Directed by Jim Sheridan.
"Margaret," starring Matt Damon, Anna Paquin and Matthew Broderick. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan.
"The Rum Diary," starring Johnny Depp. Directed by Bruce Robinson.
"My Week With Marilyn," starring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh. Directed by Simon Curtis.
"J. Edgar," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Naomi Watts. Directed by Clint Eastwood.
"Hugo," starring Ben Kingsley and Sasha Baron Cohen. Directed by Martin Scorsese.
"The Muppets," starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams. Directed by James Bobin.
"Young Adult," starring Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt. Directed by Jason Reitman.
"The Adventures of Tintin," directed by Steven Spielberg.
"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Directed by David Fincher.
"Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," starring Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner. Directed by Brad Bird.
"We Bought A Zoo," starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Cameron Crowe.
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Directed by Stephen Daldry.
"In the Land of Blood and Honey," directed by Angelina Jolie.
"War Horse," directed by Steven Spielberg.
So, that's it: fifteen movies. Let's see how many get spoiled before we get to see them. I feel like I'm back in the Midwest again. At least back then I didn't have to rely on the subway.