Monday, January 30, 2012

25 (plus a few more) Most Anticipated Films of 2012

Most of the following films will hit US cinemas sometime in this calendar year.  Some of them will end up being held until 2013 (or even later) and therefore will pass onto my most anticipated list for next year (as in turn some of the films here have done after not arriving last year).  All of these films are (obviously) ones I am excited about for one reason or another.  Some of them will inevitably not live up to my expectations - hopefully not too many - but judging from last year's list, where two-thirds ending up being films I quite liked and twelve actually made my eventual top twenty list, it should be a pretty good year. So, without further ado, I give you my 25 most anticipated films of 2012.

1) Django Unchained - I don't think anyone who is a regular reader here will be surprised to find a Quentin Tarantino film at the top of this list.  With a cast that keeps growing every day (or so it would seem), this QT-styled Spaghetti Western beast of a motion picture should (I now boldly proclaim) take the top spot on my Best of 2012 list.   Granted, this film may end up going way past schedule (QT has been known to do that) and therefore not make its debut until 2013, but here's hoping the Christmas present that the Weinsteins plan on giving us (ie, the planned December release date) does not delay.

2) The Grandmasters - I sure do hope this Wong Kar-wai film about the man who taught Bruce Lee everything he knows, gets here soon.  It was number one on my anticipated films list last year and I do not want to have to put it on next year's as well.  Then again, WKW is rather notorious for production delays (2046 took four years to complete) so it is really anybody's guess.

3) The Master - Not to be confused with the number two film on this list, the next film from Paul Thomas Anderson is not about the man who taught Bruce Lee everything he knows.  Actually it is ever so loosely based on the rise and fall of L. Ron Hubbard, but don't tell the Scientologists that or they will try to sue again.  Seriously though, PTA has a new film coming - how freakin' cool is that?

4) Like Someone in Love - Like with last year's French/Italian hybrid, the brilliantly twisting Certified Copy, Iranian auteur extraordinaire Abbas Kiarostami (one of the five best director's working today!) has again ventured outside his native land (and its censors) and headed off to Japan for his latest film.  The film, listed under the name The End on IMDb, is in post production right now and is tentatively slated for a Cannes premiere, with a hopeful US release sometime in the fall.

5) Untitled Terrence Malick Project - Though still going nameless as of the compilation of this list, this Malick film, boasting a cast that includes Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdmas, Javier Bardem, Rachel Weisz, Michael Sheen and Jessica Chastain, is a strange creature to see on this list so soon after The Tree of Life.  Known for taking years to finish his films, Malick is still probably an iffy bet from whom to see a 2012 release, but here is hoping we do.

6) Cosmopolis - A David Cronenberg that takes place mainly in the back of a limo cruising around NYC, and is given the director's usual treatment of sexual obsession and murder, all based on Don DeLillo's novel.  From everything I have read this also seems to be a film that may delve back into the fringe dwelling the director used to partake in, while simultaneously playing as one of his more recent critical darling works.

7) Post Tenebras Lux - With each successive film, Mexican New Wave provocateur Carlos Reygadas gets better and better.  From Japon to Battle in Heaven to Silent Light.  A modern day Blend of Bresson and Dreyer (Silent Light was a remake of Ordet in many ways), Reygadas is an auteur to watch out for, and if my growing estimation of the director is any indication, then this new film, probably making its debut at Cannes, should be pretty damn good.

8) Inside Llewyn Davis - Based on the life of Dave van Ronk, and featuring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, this new biopic from the brothers' Coen has aspirations of being something akin to Todd Haynes' Dylan deconstruction I'm Not There.  Now granted, I do not think this film will go as far out as that brilliant work, but I still expect a damn good time.

9) Moonrise Kingdom - I can assure you that my lovely wife, a noted Wes Anderson hater (Rushmore notwithstanding) will not be a fan of this film, if I can even get her to watch it, but as I am much more thrilled with the auteur's past work, I am looking forward to this one with great glee.  Oh yeah, and as is to be expected, we get Bill Motherfuckin' Murray too.

10) A Place Beyond the Plains - From Derek Cianfrance, the man who gave us the deafeningly emotional Blue Valentine, comes a movie starring Ryan Gosling as a motorcycle rider who turns to robbing banks to feed his family.  I know, I know, it does bring up shades of Drive, but I am sure that is mere coincidence, and this film will be able to stand on its own.

11) Only God Forgives - The new film from Danish director Nicolas Winding-Refn will be coming to town sometime in late 2012.  After having Drive take the fifth spot in my favourite films of this past year (though I must admit to not having seen any of this volatile director's other films - an oversight that will surely be corrected very soon), and seeing the Gosman cast again (directors must like working with the guy), this could easily become one of my favourites of this coming year.

12) The Great Gatsby - If any classic of 20th Century American literature deserves a brash 3D treatment from an over-the-top director like Baz Luhrmann, it is The Great Gatsby.  Yeah, that was sarcasm.  The thing that  gives this strange strange film such an anticipatory flavour is the fact that it actually is a brash 3D treatment from an over-the-top director like Baz Luhrmann.  Not sure I like the casting of Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby, but with Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire seemingly perfectly cast as Nick, hopes are rather high.

13) Stoker - Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode, this is Park Chan-wook's English language debut.  The film may not actually make it to theaters until 2013, but if it is ready for Cannes, it could sneak in as a late 2012 release.  The film seems a departure for the Korean filmmaker so famed for his revenge trilogy of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance, but that means nothing really, for this still looks quite intriguing.

14) On the Road - This Walter Sallas directed adaptation of Kerouac's classic was on this very same list last year, but I think it may actually finally arrive this time around.  Being a Beat aficionado from way back, I have been looking forward to this inevitable but always thwarted literary adaptation, through all of its tempting incarnations for years and years and years.  It is about time dammit!

15) Magic Mike - With Steven Soderbergh's claims of early retirement, one supposes that with each of the director's new films, it could very well be his last.  Now of course this talk of retirement has been scoffed at by many, including Soderbergh himself, decrying an upcoming sabbatical as the more likely outcome of cinematic frustrations, so we probably have nothing to worry about with this one being his last.  As for the film itself, it is the story of a young male stripper who is taken under the wing of a mentor.  Oddly enough, the film is based on the early days of Channing Tatum, with Tatum himself playing the mentor.  Sounds fun.

16) Gravity - Now it may be somewhat surprising that I would place a film starring Sandra Bullock on this list, but here it is anyway.  Actually, Bullock aside (though I did like her in the oft-overlooked Murder by Numbers), my main reason for anticipating this 3D sci-fi thriller (yeah, I know, everything is in 3D these days) is that it was written and directed by Alfonso Cauron.  Starring Bullock and George Clooney as the only two surviving astronauts on a semi-demolished space station, the film should have a very high creep factor indeed with Cauron at the helm.

17) Amour - Austrian auteur Michael Haneke can be a bit hit or miss (though never having made an outright bad picture) but the hits certainly outweigh the few misses.  Here is hoping this film about octogenarians in love and the daughter (played of course by the great Isabelle Huppert) who must care for them after one has a stroke, is one of those hits.

18) Nero Fiddled - After turning out the biggest box office hit of his career, Woody Allen is back with a film featuring Jesse Eisenberg as the movie's Woody surrogate (and a perfectly cast one at that), and boasting a cast that includes Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page.  Sure, the prolific auteur is hit or miss in recent decades, but here is hopin'.

19) Cogan's Trade - Directed by Andrew Dominik of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford fame (and we have had to wait five years for a follow-up), and featuring the cinematic outlaw himself, Brad Pitt, as a mob enforcer, this crime thriller promises to be a hell of a lot of fun.  Well, at least we all hope so.

20) Prometheus - Ridley Scott is back, and he is at his probable sci-fi wheelhouse best.  First rumoured to be an Alien prequel but now apparently taking on a life of its own (though still shrouded in mystery), this outer space horror movie starring Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender (fuck yeah!) could bring Scott back from his more recent spate of mediocrity.

21) Anna Karenina - This a hefty movie that Joe Wright has taken upon himself and it is a hefty role that his usual star Keira Knightley has taken upon herself.  There are some questions about Knightley's ability to tackle such a role, but I have faith in the actress - she is a much weightier actor than many give credit for her being.  The film also stars Aaron Johnson (John Lennon in Nowhere Boy) as Count Vronsky, and that may be a damn good casting choice indeed.

22) Argo - A new film starring Ben Affleck?  Not really a reason to get all hot and bothered.  A film directed by Ben Affleck?  Now we are talking baby.  After the spectacular Gone Baby Gone (one of the best films of the last decade) and the smart and intense The Town (albeit with a rather lackluster ending) this new film, set amidst the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, could and should prove quite intriguing.

23) The Cabin in the Woods - A self-proclaimed "twist" on the usual formula, this Joss Whedon written horror movie is co-written and directed by Drew Goddard, one of the writers of Lost, so we should possibly expect something that perhaps makes no sense at all.  The Joss Whedon connection makes it an interesting-looking movie though.  The film was originally set for an early 2010 release before being shelved indefinitely due to MGM financial woes.  It appeared on this list last year but now there is an actual set release date, so here we go.

24) The Wettest County - Written by Nick Cave and directed by John Hillcoat, the team that last gave us the new wave revisionist western The Proposition back in 2005, this looks to be a quite rousing film about rural gangsters.  Granted, the casting of Shia LaBeouf gives one pause, but perhaps we can get past that and just have a good old time.

25) The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man & The Avengers - Being a old comic book head, these three films needed to be on this list.  Christopher Nolan's final piece in his Dark Knight trilogy, Mark Webb's retooling of everyone's favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man (and what a perfectly named director for the job) and Joss Whedon's supergroup extravaganza (based on my personal favourite comicbook) all have great possibilities.  Hopefully they all come through.

Some other films to look forward to (in no particular order): Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas); Gangster Squad (Ruben Fleischer); Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer and the Walchowskis); Take This Waltz (Sarah Polly); Looper (Rian Johnson); Rust and Bone (Daniel Audiard);  Savages (Oliver Stone); The Hunger Games (Gary Ross); Snow White and the Huntsman (Rupert Sanders); Piranha 3DD (John Gulager); The Hobbit (Peter Jackson); Lincoln (Steven Spielberg); A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson); Skyfall (Sam Mendes); Dark Shadows (Tim Burton); Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Timur Bekmambetov); A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (Roman Coppola).

And one final film before we go:

Ted - A live action Seth MacFarlane movie?  This is either going to be the greatest idea ever or it is going to end up being the very worst thing to ever happen.  It really could go either way, but my love of Family Guy and MacFarlane make me willing to give it a chance.


Dave Enkosky said...

The more I read about Django Unchained, the more I excited I am for this movie. Also, can't wait to see Andrew Dominik's new movie. Assassination of Jesse James was probably my favorite movie of the past decade.

Kevyn Knox said...

Two other films I wanted to put on were the new films from Kelly Reichardt and Kathryn Bigelow, but it looks like we are going to have to wait until 2013 for these.

Sam Fragoso said...

Nice choices. Magic Mike seems so peculiar.

Malick, Anderson, and Tarantino coming out with a film is exctiing.

Page said...

I found 2011 to be a great year for cinema. And after seeing this list I think we're in store for another year of excellence.
Obviously The Great Gatsby is on my must see list (J. Edgar was a disappointing so here's hoping Leo does F.Scott's work justice)

Interesting that Anna Karenina is being remade. Could be good. Cosmopolis sounds promising as well as Cogan's Trade.

I run hot and cold on Afleck and like you I enjoy him behind the camera so I'll keep an open mind for Argo. I will say though that I thought he was great in Company Men. A film I liked a lot more than Ides of March.

A great article on what we can look forward to.

Page said...

I added a link to this article on my sidebar so my readers don't miss out on it.

Kevyn Knox said...

Thanx Page. Greatly appreciated.

Diana said...

Your list is very good and it shows that 2012 is going to be a great year for movies- I, personally, can't wait for On the road (rumored to premiere at Cannes in May), Stoker, The Great Gatsby (Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton!!), Only God forgives (anything Refn will do from now on, I will see), Inside Llewyn Davis and I will throw in some popcorn movies- Hunger Games, Hobbit, Spiderman.

I really like your blog, I will surely come back!

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