Scarlett Johansson may seem like an unlikely lead for a Judd Apatow film, but in this context her casting actually makes a lot of sense. Johansson has signed on to star in Can a Song Save Your Life?, which will be written and directed by John Carney (Once) and produced by Apatow. The film follows “a washed-up A&R man who forms a passionate bond with a young singer-songwriter (Johansson) from out of town.”

The project calls for Johansson to sing, which shouldn’t be a problem for the actress. Johansson is in fact a professional singer, having released an album of Tom Waits covers titled Anywhere I Lay My Head back in 2008 and a collaboration with Pete Yorn called Break Up in 2009. Though the male lead has yet to be cast, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Carrey have been rumored as possibilities. (FWIW, I vote Ruffalo.) Shooting on the film will begin in New York City next year. [The Playlist]

After the jump, new gigs for the stars of Twilight, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the late-’90s/early-’00s teen alien show Roswell. Gosh, remember that?

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AFI’s Top 10 Movies of 2007

AFI Top 10

On Saturday, the American Film Institute picked its Top Ten American Films of 2007. The list is available below in alphabetical order:

  • Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Into the Wild
  • Juno
  • Knocked Up
  • Michael Clayton
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Ratatouille
  • The Savages
  • There Will Be Blood

I tend to agree with this list more than I agreed with the Golden Globe nominations. I’m not sure if “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” deserves to be up there, and while The Savages is a great movie, I’m not sure if it deserves to be in the top 10. Fox Searchlight’s Once would have been my choice. errr I forgot the AFI list only includes American films. I’m glad to see that AFI included my favorite comedies of the year: Juno and Knocked Up. And why has everyone forgotten about David Fincher’s Zodiac?

Here are AFI’s Top 10 lists from the last six years:

  • 2006: Babel, Borat, The Devil Wears Prada, Dreamgirls, Half Nelson, Happy Feet, Inside Man, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, United 93.
  • 2005: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Good Night And Good Luck, A History of Violence, King Kong, Munich, The Squid and the Whale, Syriana.
  • 2004: The Aviator, Collateral, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Friday Night Lights, The Incredibles, Kinsey, Maria Full of Grace, Million Dollar Baby, Sideways, Spider-Man 2
  • 2003: American Splendor, Finding Nemo, The Human Stain, In America, The Last Samurai, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander, Monster, Mystic River
  • 2002: About a Boy, About Schmidt, Adaptation, Antwone Fisher, Chicago, Frida, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Quiet American
  • 2001: A Beautiful Mind, Black Hawk Down, In The Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Memento, Monster’s Ball, Moulin Rouge, Muholland Drive, Shrek
  • 2000: Almost Famous, Before Night Falls, Best In Show, Erin Brockovich, Gladiator, High Fidelity, Requiem For A Dream, Traffic, Wonder Boys, You Can Count on Me.

Toronto Film Festival LogoToday I finally found some time to sit down and sift through the 352 official selections of the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. Many hours later, I present to you 65 must see movies at the Toronto International Film Festival. I did the work so that you don’t have to. So why should you care about these films if you’re not making the trip up to Canada in September?

In 1998, Variety acknowledged that the Toronto International Film Festival “is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity.” Roger Ebert has also said that “although Cannes is still larger, Toronto is more useful and more important….”

Toronto is essentially a preview of which Independent to mid-sized film releases might be big in the next five months. The festival is considered a launch pad for many studios to begin “Oscar-buzz” for their films.

How do I know that you should see these movies? Well, in most cases I don’t. I have seen some press screenings of a couple of the films listed below (Valley of Elah, My Kid Could Paint That…) and can personally recommend them. But for the most part, I have no idea. I have cobbled this list from an exhaustive day of research. Some of the films I chose because of the director, writer, or cast. Others because of the plot synopsis.

When a review was available, I read it. If a trailer was available, I watched it. I’ve included films that were recommended to me by trusted friends. Some films that I missed but were highly reviewed at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (Son of Rambow, The Savages).

I must offer this disclaimer: I tend to be attracted to American, British and Japanese cinema to a fault. I do have a handful of picks outside my comfort realm, but if you’re looking for more “Worldly” selections, you might have to look elsewhere.

It should also be noted that some of the films (especially in the Gala and special presentation sections) will hit theaters within the next two months. Some films even hit theaters days within the festival’s conclusion. I put these movies on the list because they are movies of interest. But you, like me, might want to hold off on some of these flicks until they hit your city next month. For me, there are some films that I won’t be able to resist like Across The Universe and No Country for Old Men. I know they come out sooner rather than later, but I need to see them sooner. I’ve noted the release dates of films that are opening in the next two months, just so you have that information.

I’ll be at the festival for nine and a half days, so chances are, I won’t be able to see all of these films. The reality is, I won’t see even half of these films. I’ll be doing some interviews, so I’ve lowered my goal to around 30 movies, which most people would still consider extreme (that’s at least three movies each day of the festival).

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The Savages Movie Trailer

The Savages

Another one of the many wonderful films that I missed at Sundance this year was The Savages. Writer-director Tamara Jenkins’ (Slums of Beverly Hills) dramedy about a sister and brother (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) who must set aside their lives to come together and care for an estranged elderly parent.

The trailer is now online at MSN Entertainment. Check it out now, so you can say – “Hey, I knew about that film before it became the next indie hit. But then again, I didn’t see it, so don’t take my word for it:

“superb performances” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

“strikingly hilarious” – Alex Billington, FirstShowing

“Smartly written, perfectly delivered dialogue, accompanied by a sunny, hopeful ending.” – Eric D. Snider

The Savages hits theaters on September 7th 2007, just in time for Oscar season.

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