AFI Fest 2011 Preview: 10 to Watch - Galas & Specials

Festivals Editor; Los Angeles, California (@RylandAldrich)
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AFI Fest 2011 Preview: 10 to Watch - Galas & Specials

Hollywood's AFI Fest 2011 kicks off Thursday November 3rd and we've got a three-part 10 to Watch preview series for you in preparation. Part one takes a look at the big galas and special screenings that the studios use to launch their awards season campaigns. Take a look at our interview with AFI Fest programming heads Jacqueline Lyanga & Lane Kneedler for more on the fest and enjoy the previews.

There has certainly been a lot of buzz for Steve McQueen's Hunger follow-up, though most of it has been around the film's NC-17 rating and the member of the cast that likely causes it. While it is likely the film's intensely sexual subject matter more than any particular body part to blame for the rating, no one can deny Michael Fassbender's talent. The first real must-see film of the awards season, Shame's big LA premiere is bound to be the toughest tickets of the fest.

Michael Hazanvicius's black, white and silent love story has had audiences from Cannes to Toronto applauding. With the awards machine of the Weinsteins behind it, this is an early fave for big success on Oscar night.
Review | Trailer

Post-trailer buzz for Clint Eastwood's latest awards-bait has been pretty negative due in part to star Leonardo DiCaprio's rather scary makeup job. However early iffy buzz isn't always the worst thing for a film pretty much no one has yet to see. We'll know a whole lot more after the world premiere of the film at AFI's opening night gala.

Michelle Yeoh is the majestic Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi and David Thewlis the man she loves in Luc Besson's epic that is as much about one family's personal battles as it is a nation's.
Trailer | Teaser

The idea of an all new franchise headed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson (Spielberg is helming this one but there is talk they'll reverse roles for the second) is a pretty exciting prospect. Throw in the writing team of Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and now you've got me really excited. The film has been out in the Old World for a week or two but we'll get the North American premiere as AFI Fest's closer.
Review | Footage | Trailer

This Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe and Thomas Jane starring flick is ostensibly about a gang of old friends heading up to Big Sur to blow off some midlife steam. Then shit gets really crazy. Pretty much off the radar since its what-the-hell-was-that reaction at Sundance, music video director Mark Pellington's best film since Arlington Road is pretty bizarre - but worth a watch for its sheer audacity.

Every time I hear about a new Duplass Bros. film, I hope it can be as funny as brother Mark's hit show The League. They usually aren't - but that's a pretty high bar to set. Mark's wife and hilarious The League co-star Katie Aselton is in their latest film alongside Jason Segel and Ed Helms - so that can't hurt.

Lars von Trier's end of the world psychological drama is one of the most divisive films of the year (shocking for LvT, right?) but I'm in the huge fan category. Kirsten Dunst masterfully plays a newlywed watching her sanity tumble off the cliff after shacking up with Alex Skarsgaard. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt and Udo Kier each turn in noteworthy performances alongside KiKi.
Review | US Trailer | UK Trailer | Teaser

Woody Harrelson stars as a cop on the edge, trying to sort out wrong from right as a police scandal puts him in the media's crosshairs and pushes his family out the door in Oren Moverman's follow-up to 2009's The Messenger.

Director Simon Curtis may be better known for his work in television, but his big screen debut already has awards buzz for the performance by Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. Judi Dench, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper and Kenneth Branagh co-star.

Other notable titles in the Specials and Galas program include Lynne Ramsay's Tilda Swinton starrer WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, Werner Herzog's death row docu INTO THE ABYSS, and Roman Polanski's film adaptation of the hit play (God of) CARNAGE.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of ScreenAnarchy AFI Fest Preview.

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