While the adult drama is seemingly endangered thanks to the hegemony of brand-based franchises and tentpoles there are still a few directors managing to convince the studio system to work within these limits. Sure, you can probably count them on one hand, but Jason Reitman, the filmmaker behind "Up In The Air," and "Juno" is one of these directors. It probably helps that these budgets aren't extraneous, but we'll take what we can get. So here's a first look at one of The Playlist's most anticipated films of 2011, "Young Adult" starring Charlie Theron wearing a Hello Kitty T-Shirt, hip shades and carrying a little toy pooch accessory. Being released by Paramount on December 9th in limited release, likely vying for Oscar contention, the film reteams Reitman with "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody.
And while a humanist dramedy, sort of in the vein of "Up In The Air" and "Thank You For Smoking," we've read the script for this one and it won't be a pretty affair. The film centers on a narcissistic 30-something writer (Theron) of young adult fiction who finds out her ex-high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) is expecting a baby with his wife and so she returns to rural Minnesota ostensibly to see if she can get him back. "She's still living like an adolescent in her 30s, something we've seen male characters do a lot," Cody told EW this month in their Fall Preview issue. "We haven't really seen a woman who's still living that kind of selfish, childish life. I'm sure there's a rom-com version of this script somewhere, but this isn't it."
Cody's not kidding. Unless Reitman loses his nerve and softens up this picture, it is dark, ugly and at times, really uncomfortable. We've got faith though. There's a reason this film is not hitting the fall film festival circuit. It's not a crowd pleaser, but it could be a major Oscar threat. It also stars Elizabeth Reaser and Patton Oswalt, who we're hoping will surprise us all in the role of Cody's enabling drinking friend and pity partner. A larger version of the image below, plus first looks at "The Big Year" and "The Woman In Black" starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Hitting theaters on Feb. 3, 2012, in "The Woman In Black," Radcliffe plays a father and grieving widower who discovers the ghost of a scorned woman set on vengeance. "Harry had his share of harrowing moments, but this film is far more harrowing than any of the Potter films,'' Radcliffe told EW this week, who says that it was relatively easy to portray a dad because he got his real-life godson to play his onscreen son. ''I guess I cheated a bit,'' he laughed. Directed by James Watkins ("Eden Lake"), the horror/thriller and drama also stars Ciarán Hinds.
Lastly, there's one new look at one of the most under-the-radar films of 2011. Lack of buzz, hell, there's likely a huge number of audiences that don't even know that this film exists. Way to go 20th Century Fox? Well, yes, but no. This one's a strange bird, pardon the pun, and the studio is likely being cagey about how they present it since it's a) not an Oscar contender, b) doesn't look remotely hip or cool (forget the geek or online blogger crowd going ape for it), c) not quite a family film either and they might have no clue what to do with it. Directed by David Frankel, the man behind "Marley & Me," "The Big Year" centers around competitive bird watching. No, really. Starring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, Jack Black, the film focuses on the Big Year, an annual bird watching competition in North American which bird obsessives flock to. Martin plays a "charismatic silver fox" who teams up with Black, a down-in-the-dumps divorcé, to try and outwit the record-holding past champion (Wilson). Apparently birds are just a side-dish in this film about friendships and life. "For me, it was never a movie about bird watching," the director told EW. "This is about three guys who want to be the best at something. There's kind of a bromance at the heart of it. The picture also stars Jim Parsons, Rashida Jones, Angelica Huston, Dianne Wiest, JoBeth Williams, Brian Dennehy, Rosamund Pike and Tim Blake Nelson, but something tells us unless your mom and dad connect with this one, Fox is going to have trouble selling this one.
[hi-rez of "The Big Year" via Cinemablend]