[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 02:23 GMT
2004: The next 12 months in film

by Caroline Westbrook
BBC News Online

Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai has been tipped for Oscar nominations
Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hanks and Orlando Bloom are just a few of the stars whose new films are due on screens in the next 12 months.

Add to that offerings from such respected directors as Tim Burton, Ron Howard, Joel Coen, Lars Von Trier and Quentin Tarantino, and cinemagoers should find plenty to keep them happy in 2004.


Things get off to a flying start in January with the release of the much-hyped Tom Cruise epic The Last Samurai.

Cruise stars as Civil War veteran Captain Woodgrow Algren, who is sent to Japan to train the army to fight samurai warriors.
Colin Firth and Scarlett Johanssen in Girl With A Pearl Earring
Colin Firth and Scarlett Johanssen star in Girl With A Pearl Earring

The film, which co-stars Billy Connolly and Ken Watanabe, has been a big hit in the US and is being widely tipped for awards success.

Meanwhile, up and coming star Scarlett Johanssen is set to make her mark on UK audiences with two films in January.


Lost In Translation, released on 9 January, is director Sofia Coppola's follow-up to The Virgin Suicides and stars Johanssen and Bill Murray as two strangers who form an unlikely friendship while visiting Tokyo.

And Girl With A Pearl Earring, out the following week, sees Johanssen take on the role of the servant girl who becomes a muse for the Dutch painter Vermeer (Colin Firth) in this adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's best-seller.

Another book, Philip Roth's The Human Stain, is also brought to the screen in January, with Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman in the leads.

And after 2001's disappointing Planet Of The Apes, director Tim Burton is back on form with the excellent Big Fish. Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor and Jessica Lange are all on top form in this whimsical, touching tale.

The 2004 Oscars will take place a month earlier than usual, on February 29, with nominations due at the end of January.
Jack Black in School Of Rock
School Of Rock, which stars Jack Black, has been a huge US hit

The Last Samurai, Big Fish and Lost In Translation are all tipped to do well, alongside 2003 releases Return Of The King, Mystic River and Master And Commander.

In the acting categories, Sean Penn is gathering plenty of plaudits for both Mystic River and 21 Grams, a dark drama from Amores Perros director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, which is due on UK screens in March.


Other possible candidates include Bill Murray in Lost In Translation, both McGregor and Finney for Big Fish and Cate Blanchett for her role in Ron Howard's western The Missing.

Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly could also feature for House Of Sand And Fog, a dramatic tale about an alcoholic woman's struggle to win back her beloved home.

And Diane Keaton might well be making room for another statuette for romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give, released in the UK in February.
Brad Pitt in Troy
Brad Pitt stars as Achilles in Troy, based on Homer's Iliad

Other films to look out for in the early part of the year include the hugely entertaining crowd-pleaser School Of Rock, which sees Jack Black as a washed-up rock star turned music teacher.

Julia Roberts is on classroom duty in the "chick flick" Mona Lisa Smile and there is also Kill Bill Part 2, the conclusion of Quentin Tarantino's ultra-violent martial arts saga.

In the US, the early part of the year is traditionally a quieter time at the box office, following the release of Christmas blockbusters and awards contenders in November and December.

But there are still some potential hits to look out for, including romantic comedy Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!, which stars Blue Crush's Kate Bosworth and is due on US screens in January.

Also on the romcom front, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston team up for Along Came Polly, and Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez attempt to bury the ghost of Gigli with Jersey Girl.

Stiller, meanwhile, is one half of the 70s crimefighting duo in the big screen version of Starsky And Hutch, which arrives in both the US and the UK in March.

And Jim Carrey co-stars with Kate Winslet in the quirky comedy Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

But of course no year would be complete without its sequels and blockbusters, and 2004 has them in abundance.


The summer season, for example, promises vampire yarn Van Helsing, Will Smith in the Asimov adaptation I Robot, the live-action version of Thunderbirds, "ice age" thriller The Day After Tomorrow, Troy, based on Homer's Iliad and featuring an all-star cast including Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, and several sequels - Spider-Man 2, Shrek 2 and Scooby-Doo 2.

And let's not forget the long-awaited Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, starring the UK's very own Romola Garai.
Thunderbirds gets a live-action makeover in the summer

The latter end of the year also promises some treats, including the Coen Brothers' remake of Ealing classic The Ladykillers, starring Tom Hanks.

November sees the return of Renee Zellweger as the world's most famous singleton in Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason.

And Pixar is back in December with The Incredibles, a computer-animated adventure based around a group of retired superheroes.

But in all likelihood, box office honours for the year are likely to go to the third Harry Potter outing, Prisoner Of Azkaban, which welcomes new director Alfonso Cuaron and, if the trailer is anything to go by, a far darker approach.

Now that the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is over, Potter has the monopoly as far as book franchises are concerned.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific