As noted by most theatrical distributors and even studio execs during this week's ShoWest convention, er, CinemaCon in Las Vegas, the first quarter of 2011 wasn't exactly the movie industry's finest moment.  Sure, there have been worse stretches, but outside of wide releases for Oscar nominated films you could count the number of quality films on one hand.  April should improve this year's track record on a number of fronts. One film opening next month that will be talked about for quite some time is Joe Wright's "Hanna."  

This pundit has been a fan of Wright's since he broke on the international scene with "Pride and Prejudice."  He hit a high note with his follow up, the Oscar nominated "Atonement," but even the underrated "The Soloist" is a keen example of his visual flair and rich attention to detail.  With "Hanna" he easily segues into action mode with an original thriller that constantly surprises and surpasses its source material. "Hanna" isn't the sort of film that is usually remembered during awards season and that's not why Wright made it (probably his mistake on "The Soloist"), but don't be surprised if it ends up on numerous top ten lists this December.  To be blunt, it's already the second best film I've seen this year.

HitFix's own Drew McWeeny will have a complete review later today, but in the meantime, here are five reasons why "Hanna" should make your must-see list this year.

Saorise Ronan isn't the next great actress, she already is one
Ronan gives a powerhouse turn as Hanna, a girl who knows little of the outside world and, despite her "programming," is instinctively curious about what is out there.  To say Ronan rocks in this role is something of an understatement.


Joe Wright pulls off almost the impossible
The Oscar nominated director has already shown impressive storytelling skills, but here he turns a somewhat familiar conspiracy thriller on its head by making the substance just as prominent as the style. 


Cate Blanchett is back
Blanchett has been something of a caricature in her last few performances veering off into the dangerously self aware world of Glenn Close in films such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Robin Hood," but in "Hanna," Wright pulls out the Oscar winner's best turn since her work in Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There."

An impressive score from "The Chemical Brothers"
In this scene, Hanna realizes she's being pursued and that the family she's with is in danger.  Notice the distinct pauses in the score setting up the eventual pursuit.

Tom Hollander almost steals the show…again
Why British actor Tom Hollander doesn't work more in American films is incredibly puzzling.  Especially considering his great work in the last two "Pirates of the Caribbean" films and the now classic satire "In the Loop."  Joe Wright knows exactly how talented Hollander is.  He's cast him in every film he's made besides "Atonement" (conflict with those never-ending "Pirates" flicks) and once again, the mercurial actor delivers.  This time he's playing a German hitman for hire who moonlights as a Berlin club owner.  Once you see the picture, all you have to know is Hollander picked out most of his own wardrobe to truly understand how fully realized his character of Issacs really is.

"Hanna" opens nationwide on April 8.  Don't miss it.

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