Antici-pation: 10 notable coming attractions

Lists are stupid.

Looking over the schedule for the rest of 2003 (including films being released for award consideration that you may not see until next year, if at all), it doesn't look like I'm going to have a lot of days where I wake up with a smile thinking, "Wow, I'm going to the movies!"

It would be easier to come up with 20 titles I'm dreading (The Cat in the Hat, e.g.) than 10 I'm eagerly anticipating, but I'm sure when the hype machines get busy, they'll raise my expectations (and yours) for many more.

Actually, low expectations work to a film's advantage where critics are concerned. Had I expected Seabiscuit to be the best picture of the first seven months of the year, I wouldn't have been as excited when it turned out to be just that. The higher my hopes, the harder the fall.

This isn't necessarily a list of the movies you should be looking forward to. That would include American Splendor, Camp, and The Magdalene Sisters, which might not have been on my list before I saw them.

Most of my choices involve directors and/or actors whose work I've enjoyed previously. I'd include Tim Burton's Big Fish, but it doesn't have a release date yet, other than "4Q."

This list is ordered by national release dates, which don't always indicate when (if ever) they'll play Charlottesville. Some of the dates will change, but they're taken from the latest lists.

And lists, as we know, are stupid.

The United States of Leland (9/12) - Ryan Gosling is the most exciting young performer of recent years (yes, I've seen all of Ashton Kutcher's movies), and this one got a lot of good buzz at Sundance, as did runners-up The Station Agent and The Mudge Boy.

Anything Else (9/19) - Woody Allen's recent track record hasn't been great, but he should have another masterpiece in him. Maybe this will be it. Then again, it's got him romancing a woman (Christina Ricci) one-third his age...

Out of Time (10/3) - Sounds like director Carl Franklin is returning to the noir-ish tone of One False Move, and this time he's got Denzel as his star.

Kill Bill (Part I) (10/10) - It's Tarantino, man, so it makes the list, even though I'm only half as excited as I was before Harvey Weinstein decided to double his money by releasing it in two parts. If each Lord of the Rings segment can run three hours, why can't Kill Bill?

The Runaway Jury (10/17) - Cusack, Hackman, and Hoffman in a John Grisham courtroom thriller. Sounds like a supersize popcorn movie. Curiously, they've changed the villain from a tobacco company (in the novel) to a gun manufacturer.

Stuck on You (12/12) - Cher meets the Farrelly Brothers, with Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear playing conjoined twins. I'm already feeling guilty for enjoying it!

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (12/17) - After the disappointment of The Matrix Reloaded, which trilogy are you looking forward to seeing concluded? It's been speculated from the start that this one will bring home the Oscars for all three. But please, not so much Gollum this time.

Mona Lisa Smile (12/19) - Julia Roberts in what sounds like a female version of Dead Poets Society. Wait, can I change my vote?

Cold Mountain (12/25) - Round two of the Oscar showdown between Kidman and Zellweger in Anthony Minghella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's well-respected Civil War novel. Did they really have to go to Eastern Europe to film the American South?

The Company (12/25) - Robert Altman doesn't make a Nashville or The Player very often, but I'm always first in line to see what he'll do next. Based on Neve Campbell's idea of a story set in a ballet company, it could be a "turning point" in both their careers.