The Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Cara Seymour, Sally Hawkins, Olivia Williams
Director: Lone Scherfig
Fest Cred: Sundance, Berlinale, Sydney
The Gist: Already tipped to be an awards season darling, “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself” director Scherfig and “High Fidelity” author Hornby’s adaptation of Lynn Barber’s memoir of growing up in 1960s London stars Carey Mulligan as a middle-class teen who abandons plans to attend Oxford when she falls for an older man (Sarsgaard) who promises her much more, but may not be all that he appears. However, audiences at Sundance decided “An Education” was the real deal, bestowing an Audience Award to the film.
Director: Margot Benacerraf
The Gist: Venenzuelan female filmmaker Benacerraf’s 1959 classic will receive its first stateside release nearly a half-century after sharing the Cannes International Critics Prize with “Hiroshima, Mon Amor,” courtesy of a Milestone Films restoration. The film centers on three families who live in the Araya Peninsula and work hard to make ends meet as their community suffers from growing industrialization.
The Cast: Tom Hardy, Matt King, Kelly Adams, Katy Barker
Writer/Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Fest Cred: Sundance, Glasgow, Seattle, Los Angeles, Karlovy Vary
The Gist: “The Pusher Trilogy” director Winding Refn constrains his considerable skill for manic action to only one film this time around, but spares no energy in bringing the life story of England’s most terrifying prisoner Charles Bronson (a.k.a. Mickey Peterson), who spent 30 years of his 34-year sentence in solitary confinement. However, audiences and critics haven’t complained about spending time with him as played by “Layer Cake” star Tom Hardy, who added on 42 pounds for the part.
The Cast: Juliette Binoche, Liron Levo, Jeanne Moreau, Barbara Hendricks, Hiam Abbass
Director: Amos Gitai
Fest Cred: Venice, Toronto
The Gist: Juliette Binoche stars as a woman whose father’s recent death leads her to travel to Israel with her stepbrother in search of her daughter who she gave up for adoption two decades earlier, only to get tangled in the dangerous Israeli disengagement of 2005 when they attempt to travel to Gaza.
“From Mexico With Love”
The Cast: Kuno Becker, Bruce McGill, Steven Bauer, Angélica Aragón
Director: Jimmy Nickerson
Fest Cred: San Diego Latino
The Gist: A veteran stunt coordinator on such films as “Fight Club” and “Rocky,” Nickerson turns his attention to a drama that stars Becker as a migrant worker who learns he can make the big bucks in boxing and gets taken under the wing of an old-time trainer (McGill), who becomes weary when a promoter (Bauer) comes calling with a big payday.
Director: Jeff Stilson
Fest Cred: Sundance
The Gist: At the request of one of his daughters, Chris Rock gets to the roots of African-American hair, interviewing everyone from Maya Angelou to Al Sharpton to Ice-T about their own follicles and opinions about relaxers, weaves and natural curls. The doc spans from Atlanta, with its annual hair-care convention, to India, where women’s shorn hair can make a mint as future extensions overseas.
“Night of the Demons”
The Cast: Edward Furlong, Shannon Elizabeth, Monica Keena, Diora Baird, Bobbi Sue Luther, John F. Beach
Director: Adam Gierasch
Fest Cred: Film4 FrightFest
The Gist: Remade from the 1988 gorefest, “Autopsy” director Gierasch gives Elizabeth, Keena and Baird plenty to scream about by placing them in a haunted New Orleans mansion where they’ve come to party, only to discover after the cops have come and gone that their locked in with ancient demons.
The Cast: Michelle Monaghan, Joey Lauren Adams, Jimmy Bennett, Benjamin Bratt, Nathan Fillion, Mika Boorem
Writer/Director: James Mottern
Fest Cred: Tribeca, Vail, Austin
The Gist: After premiering at Tribeca ’08, Mottern’s directorial debut will come to a screen near you, featuring a sharp performance from star Monaghan as a single mom who is forced (somewhat) to change her hard living ways when a son she gave up long ago reappears in her life after her ex’s (Bratt) health starts to fail.
The Cast: Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Alia Shawkat, Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden, Zoe Bell, Ari Graynor, Eve
Director: Drew Barrymore
The Gist: For a well-regarded screenplay that made the 2007 Black List (the industry’s tally of best unproduced scripts in any given year), Barrymore finally steps up to the director’s chair to helm this comedy starring Page as a beauty pageant contestant in a small Texas town who finds real joy in taking down competitors as part of a female roller derby team, much to the dismay of her mother (Harden). Eve, Wiig, “Death Proof” star Bell and Barrymore herself join Page on the track.
“The Yes Men Fix the World”
Directors: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr
Fest Cred: Sundance, Berlinale, Buenos Aires, Hot Docs, Seattle
The Gist: A sequel of sorts to Chris Smith’s 2003 doc on the mischievous corporate anarchist duo, Bichlbaum and Bonanno (with the help of Engfehr) take matters into their own hands this time around, filming themselves in what’s best described as a “screwball comedy about the end of the world,” pulling pranks like posing as Dow Chemical spokespeople who accept full responsibility for the Bhopal Catastrophe on BBC Television (bringing down the company’s stock price) or printing an issue of the New York Times with only good news.