Shutter Island
directed by Martin Scorsese
In Martin Scorsese’s last narrative feature, The Departed (2006), he put together an all-star cast that helped bring home the Best Picture Oscar at the 2007 Academy Awards. In his latest effort, Shutter Island, Scorsese’s brought back Leonardo DiCaprio and has built perhaps this year’s most decorated film crew. Robert Richardson (director of photography), Thelma Schoonmaker (editor), Francesca Lo Schiavo (set designer) and Sandy Powell (costume designer) have nine Oscars and a total 27 nominations between them. With a crew featuring that kind of talent, this potential blockbuster could make some noise at the 2011 Academy Awards (despite the strange mid-winter opening). Set in 1954, Shutter Island tells the story of Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), a U.S. Marshal investigating the disappearance of a murderess from a hospital for the criminally insane. Daniels’ journey ventures far from routine, as he and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) find themselves trapped on the island for reasons that cannot be disclosed, lest we break the unwritten rules of spoiler courtesy. The film has been adapted for the screen by Laeta Kalogridis from Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.

The Ghost Writer
directed by Roman Polanski
Another novel adaptation, The Ghost Writer is about a British writer (Ewan McGregor) who agrees to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). Unfortunately, the details of the memoir put the life of our protagonist in grave jeopardy. I’ve got a hunch that director Roman Polanski won’t be in town for the film’s U.S. premiere, but if The Ghost Writer pulls off the right amount critical acclaim, who knows, maybe he’ll be back in the States for next year’s award ceremonies (whether he likes it or not). All kidding aside, hopefully Polanski’s off-the-set legal issues won’t consume the film’s premiere with complete negativity. With a cast featuring the likes of McGregor, Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams and Tom Wilkinson, The Ghost Writer brings us some of the most extraordinary actors the United Kingdom has to offer. This was Polanski’s second attempt (and first successful one) at turning a Robert Harris book into a movie; Polanski was set to direct Pompeii, but after numerous delays, producers Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde backed out and concentrated their funds into The Ghost Writer. Both deserve a pat on the back for that decision, considering what would become of Polanski’s life soon after.