The Last Song
It's Miley! Singer-actress Miley Cyrus ("Hannah Montana") stars in this Southern coming-of-age drama written by novelist Nicholas Sparks, who has already given the world such gems as The Notebook 53, A Walk to Remember 35, and Nights in Rodanthe 39. Of course, you can't fully blame Sparks for those previous efforts: he only wrote the books, not the screenplays. That changes with The Last Song, which Sparks penned as a script first and a novel second.
Letters to Juliet
This modest bit of summer blockbuster counterprogramming matches rising star Amanda Seyfried ("Big Love," Mamma Mia! 51) with Gael Garcia Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave and Chris Egan on a romantic adventure in Italy. Based on the novel of the same name, it's directed by Gary Winick (Bride Wars 24).
Eat, Pray, Love
Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir about her globetrotting search for meaning following her divorce becomes, as they say, a "major motion picture" starring Julia Roberts. The female-oriented film with the best chance of box office success this summer, Eat, Pray, Love also stars Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins, and is helmed by Ryan Murphy, who has had success in television with "Glee" and "Nip/Tuck" but whose previous feature film experience is limited to the mediocre Running with Scissors 52, another memoir adaptation.
Alejandro González Iñárritu's first feature since Babel 69 finds the director working without screenwriting partner Guillermo Arriaga for the first time. The Spanish-language drama follows a father involved in shady dealings (Javier Bardem) who is confronted by his childhood friend-turned-policeman.
The Company Men
Like Oscar contender Up in the Air, The Company Men -- which will debut at Sundance -- revolves around the timely issue of corporate downsizing. The big-screen directorial debut for noted TV writer-producer John Wells ("ER," "The West Wing"), the drama examines the impact of one company's layoffs from multiple perspectives -- including those of an executive (Tommy Lee Jones), a newly-unemployed worker (Ben Affleck), and the drywall installer who gives him a new job (Kevin Costner).
Based on the true story of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband Joseph Wilson, this drama from director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity 68) stars Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. The film uses Plame's own account of the Bush-era scandal (which led to the fall of Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby) as its source material.
A hit at the Toronto film festival, this quirky dramedy set in rural 1930s Tennessee stars Robert Duvall as a man who decides to throw himself a funeral. Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek also star.
James Franco stars as Beat poet Allen Ginsburg in a drama that focuses on the 1957 obscenity trial following the publication of Ginsburg's poem "Howl" by San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore. "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm plays lead defense attorney Jake Ehrlich, and the strong cast also includes Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathairn, and Jeff Daniels.
A rare drama from prickly but talented director David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees 55, Three Kings 82), The Fighter tells the true story of boxer "Irish" Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), who trains with his ex-con half-brother (Christian Bale) in an unlikely quest for a title. A potential award contender itself, the movie replaces Russell's aborted comedy project Nailed, which originally was expected to arrive by 2010 but may never be completed. Expect a November or December release date.
Adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the drama focuses on a couple (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) dealing with the death of their 4-year-old son in an auto accident. John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch 85) directs.
The Rum Diary
For the second time, following 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 41, Johnny Depp stars in an adaptation of a novel by iconoclast Hunter S. Thompson (basically as Thompson himself). Directed by Bruce Robinson (who also helmed the cult classic Withnail and I and hasn't directed since 1992's Jennifer Eight), The Rum Diary follows a journalist's adventures in Puerto Rico during the 1950s.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
Late English rocker Ian Dury -- best known as the frontman for the New Wave band Ian Dury & The Blockheads -- is the subject of a biopic starring Andy Serkis. While well-known in the UK, Dury never achieved great fame in the States, making a U.S. release possible but not a sure thing.
Helen Mirren plays Prospero -- here, re-christened "Prospera," to account for the gender reversal -- in this reworking of William Shakespeare's play about a shipwreck and sorcery. Known for her visually adventurous work, director Julie Taymor (Across the Universe 56) has adapted Shakespeare before, with mixed results.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Woody Allen's annual release continues his recent trend of filming in Europe (in this case, London). The cast for this dramedy includes Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, and Antonio Banderas.