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Sean P. Means
Movie critics try to be impartial, to give every movie the same fair shake when the house lights dim. But, hey, we're human, and we feel the anticipation when a big movie is on its way.
Critics don't always get excited about the same things as other moviegoers. While some fans will say "Hey, a new Adam Sandler movie," critics are more likely to say, "Oh, boy, a new Paul Greengrass movie." (Greengrass wrote and directed "United 93," which topped my and many other Top 10 lists.)
Greengrass, as it happens, has a new movie coming out in 2007 - one of 20, listed here in order of release date (and all dates are tentative), that I'm looking forward to in the coming year:
* "Smokin' Aces"
(Jan. 26): Joe Carnahan showed great promise with his 2002 Sundance Film Festival hit "Narc." He hasn't made a movie since - largely because he was tangled up by Tom Cruise to make "Mission: Impossible III" before being replaced by J.J. Abrams. This gangland shoot-'em-up, starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Piven, could be a fun return.
* "The Messengers"
(Feb. 2): Hong Kong horror auteurs the Pang Brothers, best known for the creepy "The Eye," make their American debut with this supernatural thriller.
(Feb. 16): Chris Cooper plays Robert Hanssen, the churchgoing FBI agent who turned out to be a double agent for the Soviets,
with Ryan Phillippe as the young agent who helps nab him. The MVP here may be director Billy Ray, who showed his flair for this true-life drama with "Shattered Glass."
* "Reno 911!: Miami"
(Feb. 23): I'm a big fan of the Comedy Central series, and I have faith the clueless Nevada cops can get laughs on the big screen, too.
(March 9): The ancient Battle of Thermopylae will be brought to life by "Dawn of the Dead" director Zack Snyder, adapting the graphic novel by Frank Miller ("Sin City"). If the trailer is any indication, it's going to be cooler than cool.
(April 6): Speaking of cooler than cool, this double-feature tribute to old-fashioned exploitation flicks - a psycho-with-a-car thriller directed by Quentin Tarantino, and a zombie flick directed by Robert Rodriguez - takes the cake, especially the image of Rose McGowan with a sub-machine gun for a leg.
* "Hot Fuzz"
(sometime in April): The crew behind the zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead" - director/co-writer Edgar Wright, star/co-writer Simon Pegg, and co-star Nick Frost - reunite for a police comedy.
* "Spider-Man 3"
(May 4): The first blockbuster of summer may be the biggest, as the web-slinger (Tobey Maguire) battles his toughest foe: himself.
* "28 Weeks Later"
(May 11): I'm leery that director Danny Boyle isn't back for the sequel of his terrifying zombie movie "28 Days Later." But the new director, Spain's Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, made the cool gambling drama "Intacto," so it's got a chance.
* "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
(May 25): Can Captain Jack be found? What the heck was he doing in Utah? (Yes, Johnny Depp shot for a day on the Bonneville Salt Flats.) And can Jack find his father (Keith Richards)?
* "Ocean's 13"
(June 8): I stand in that minority that enjoyed "Ocean's 12" almost as much as I enjoyed "Ocean's 11." This time, Andy Garcia joins the good guys (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, et al) to go after a bigger bad guy (Al Pacino).
* "Nancy Drew"
(June 15): Emma Roberts, Julia's niece, takes on the role of the teen detective. Could be fun.
(June 29): A new Pixar film. 'Nuff said.
* "Live Free or Die Hard"
(June 29): If Sylvester Stallone can resurrect Rocky Balboa, why can't Bruce Willis bring tough-cop John McClane out of mothballs?
* "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
(July 13): The Hogwarts kids are growing up fast, going head-to-head against Lord Voldemort. It's a big summer for Harry - the seventh and last book in J.K. Rowling's series is also expected.
(July 20): The Broadway musical version of John Waters' 1988 family film hits the big screen, with John Travolta in drag. Could go either way, so to speak.
* "The Simpsons Movie"
(July 27): My hope is the reason the current season of "The Simpsons" is weak is that the writers are saving their best stuff for the movie.
* "No Reservations"
(July 27): American remakes of European movies don't always work, but I liked the German romantic comedy "Mostly Martha," about an uptight chef who learns to smile thanks to her orphaned niece and a fiery new cook. The remake stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Abigail Breslin and Aaron Eckhart in the key roles.
* "The Bourne Ultimatum"
(Aug. 3): Matt Damon is back as Robert Ludlum's super-spy Jason Bourne, with "United 93" director Paul Greengrass (who also directed "The Bourne Supremacy") back for another round.
* "Fred Claus"
(Nov. 9): The first trailer, out this Christmas, featured funny banter between Paul Giamatti as St. Nick and Vince Vaughn as Santa's bitter older brother. Here's hoping we have a nice present waiting next Christmas.