By John Young
Updated May 13, 2009 at 05:30 AM EDT
Macall Polay

So, apparently Esquire has seen The Road — the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oprah-endorsed apocalyptic novel — and has labeled it the most important movie of the year. A bit early for such a grandiose proclamation, dontchathink? After all, The Road won’t even be in theaters until Oct. 16 (it was delayed a year from its original November 2008 release date to provide additional time for post-production work).

I’m looking forward to seeing The Road, even though I became so frustrated with McCarthy’s repetitious language that I never finished the book. Yet, being constantly told how “gray” the world is and actually seeing that apocalyptic wasteland are two very different things, and the movie version of The Road will benefit from having a director with an imposing visual style. That director is John Hillcoat, an Aussie whose last film, 2005’s The Proposition, worked because of its authentically filthy atmosphere (rarely have swarming flies and human sweat played such significant roles). I’m eager to find out what Hillcoat does with McCarthy’s colorless American landscape; if anything, The Road should look great.

But, back to the issue at hand: The most important movie of 2009? Please. That title should be reserved for one, and only one, movie: James Cameron’s Avatar. The future of Hollywood seems to be riding on that film’s shoulders. If Cameron can turn his mega-budget experiment into a critical and commercial smash, Avatar may very well signal the dawn of a new era of digital 3-D filmmaking. But if the sci-fi epic flounders on arrival, it’s back to the drawing board.

Or am I wrong, PopWatchers? Is there another movie coming out this year that’s even more “important” than Avatar? And fans of The Road: How optimistic are you for the movie adaptation?

addCredit(“Macall Polay”)