Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks
Release Date: September 16
Why we’re excited: For years now, below the mainstream’s eyes, Nicolas Winding Refn has been directing some of the most stylish and visually captivating films in all the lands. Created with his kinetic energy and nihilistic spirit, the Danish filmmaker’s movies, namely 2008’s Kubrickian biopic Bronson and 2009’s trippy, at times meditative, Viking epic Valhalla Rising, are precisely the kinds of experimental knockouts that casual American audiences rarely get to see, if they even care to do so in the first place.

Something tells us that they’ll be curious about Drive, however—they sure as hell better be. Refn’s first Hollywood production, this adaptation of author James Sallis’ noir-ish novel should appeal to the masses due to star Ryan Gosling, as well as its accessible premise, that of a getaway driver who gets mixed up with ruthless gangsters in the name of true love.

Yet, what nonchalant ticket-buyers will experience is going to smack their eyeballs into gleeful submission. If anything, Refn’s livewire directing approach is even more meticulously gonzo than before under Hollywood’s watch; starting off hypnotically romantic before erupting into insane violence (behold Gosling’s shoe crushing a man’s skull!), Drive is cinema in its purest form, a dynamo in which Refn doesn’t waste a single shot.

So, yeah, we’re quite high on Drive. Expect this one to show up many Best Of 2011 lists, including ours.