Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2012

With the Oscar Nominations coming out today, I decided to take this chance to shed some light on a few films we might see dominated next year’s categories.

10. The Hobbit/Dark Knight Rises/Avengers

Why You Should Be Excited:

There is very little that I could say that hasn’t been already said about these 3 films. These are arguably the most widely anticipated franchise pictures of the year (though there may be other franchises that I refuse to acknowledge). Combined, they will most likely save the world’s economy as we know it. Do you like the associated films and/or source material? Then you’ll probably be in at least one of three lines this summer.

Why I Am Excited:

I grouped these 3 together because they hold about the same amount of water in my brain tank. The Avengers: I am a sucker for the movies from the Marvel Universe that feed into this amalgamation of a movie (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Incredible Hulk). None of them really grabbed me, but with the exception of Thor, I would gladly turn off my mind and sit down to any of them again. I have never been a big admirer of Joss Whedon, but I trust him to handle this fanboy’s wet dream tactfully. Dark Knight Rises: I liked but wasn’t in love with the previous Nolan Batman films. I know that this is on the top of most people’s list, but I found the trailer just kind of silly. That said, I’d watch Tom Hardy in almost anything (not This Means War however) and the previous two films were good enough for me to be interested in the finale. The Hobbit: out of the 3, this is the one that I am most excited to see. I am an unabashed supporter of the original trilogy, and if Guillermo del Toro was directing this (as he was on board to do for over 2 years) then this would be on the top of my list. And even though del Toro is still credited as a writer, he dropped out of directing because he grew tired of the drawn out pre-production process. Peter Jackson stepped in and took over the reigns, something he had previously stated he did not want to have to do. Whereas the first trilogy was a passion project for Jackson, this new set of films stinks of a money grab. The first trailer looks entertaining enough, but seemed to be screaming “hey, remember how great those other movies were ten years ago, well here is more of the same.”

9. Hyde Park on Hudson - Roger Michell

Why You Should Be Excited:

No, it’s not the long awaited sequel to the 1984 Robin Williams’ Russian immigrant dramedy Moscow on the Hudson. Even better, Bill Murray is Franklin Delano Roosevelt acting out an infamous semi-incestious affair with a cousin.

Why I Am Excited:

Well, besides the reason above, the rest of the cast is what is drawing me to this film. The always impressive Laura Linney is his kissing cousin. Murray is reunited with his Rushmore co-star Olivia Williams, as his wife (and also cousin, albeit a distant one), Eleanor. And one of my favorite British character actresses, Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz, “Peep Show” and “That Mitchell and Webb Look”) plays the Queen of England. FDR is my favorite president and the lord and savior of our country as we know it, so I always get a kick out of seeing him portrayed on screen. And while Bill Murray is certainly an odd choice, he is pretty much guaranteed to do a better job than Jon Voight did in Pearl Harbor (though, maybe not as good as Bill Hadar on “SNL”). The one element that gives me pause is the director, Roger Mitchell. With such titles as Notting Hill, Changing Lanes, Venus and 2010′s news anchor flop Morning Glory, his track record is shaky at best. This one may have to rely on it’s performances.

8. Les Miserables – Tom Hooper

Why You Should Be Excited:

Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical vision of Victor Hugo’s classic novel comes to the big screen for the first time. While the story of Les Mis has been put on screen many times before, this is the debut of songs from the longest running musical in history in the cinematic form. With an Oscar in hand from his previous film, The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper (who I like to pretend is the little brother of Tobe Hooper) hand picked this to be his next directorial effort. He also seems to have all of Hollywood at his disposal, casting Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sascha Baron Cohen and Taylor Swift.

Why I Am Excited:

Mostly because as a kid I was a GIANT Les Mis devotee. My first two crushes in life were anyone playing Eponine and Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2. I knew every lyric to every song and cried every single time I heard “A Little Fall Of Rain”. It was the first time I could remember being physically moved by a piece of pop culture (and still the only musical I can more or less admit to liking). Two years ago I begrudgingly went to a movie theater in Emeryville to see the 25th anniversary performance “live” from O2 Area in Greenwhich. I hadn’t seen the musical since I was 8, and I can’t afford to shell out the money for an actual theater ticket, so I dragged a friend to relive my childhood in the cheapest way I knew how. And the music and the melodramatic French Revolution storyline still got to me (How has no one made an Occupy the Bastille joke yet?). Even despite one of the Jonas Brothers playing Maris, I still was just as in love the music as I was 20 years ago. Much to my surprise and delight the last thing that appeared on screen before the lights came up was a title announcing that a cinematic version of the musical was in the works. Naturally I was excited, and I pretty much have kept the level of excitement since. I fell for The King’s Speech‘s charm and found it to be genuinely one of the best movies of 2010, so I am looking forward to seeing what Hooper can do with the material. While it is not what I would have chosen, I can live with the casting for the most part. The only two that I might boycott is Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsieur Thénardier (I was hoping they were going to stick with Matt Lucas from “Little Britain” who was part of the 25th Anniversary cast) and Taylor Swift as Eponine (I was hoping that Asia Argento would reprise the role from the 2000 French Mini-Series). Luckily neither are confirmed at this time, so my ritual sacrifices could still pay off.

7. Prometheus – Ridley Scott

Why You Should Be Excited:

Hey kids! Its the kind of prequel to Alien, sort of, we think. At most it supposedly takes place in the same universe as the original film and it is rumored that it might explain the origin of that pesky giant “Space Jockey”. Did I mention that it is directed by Ridley Scott, who just happen to have launched his career and the franchise in 1977?

Why I Am Excited:

Did that thrilling explanation above not sell you on it? I too was a bit skeptical. I haven’t really been excited for a Ridley Scott film… well ever. Since I was old enough to be aware of his movies and to actually rent them, he has been making ones that I haven’t really been interested in. Alien, Blade Runner, Legend and The Duelists all came out before I entered my celluloid pretentiousness. When I first heard about this project, it posed little more than a novelty. A few key factors have changed my point of view. Mostly the casting of Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, but its first trailer being the single best of last year didn’t hurt. Another promising element was reported by Ms Theron, almost all of the sets that she shot on were completely practical and that there were only a handful of green screen shots in the production. This is a sign that Ridley Scott is going for the more old school tactile approach, appose to the George Lucas “lets add everything in post”.

6. The Impossible - Juan Antonio Bayona

Why You Should Be Excited:

In case you weren’t impressed enough by the tsunami re-enactment in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, then maybe this take will do the trick. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in this dramatic thriller as a part of a vacationing family caught up in the horror of the 2004 Thailand tsunami disaster. It was filmed partly in Thailand using many locations that were involved in the actual event and even employed many survivors as actors in the film. Unlike Eastwood’s film, which used CGI to create most of the tsunami effects, a huge man made reservoir in Spain was used to facilitate the flooding scenes.

Why I Am Excited:

2007′s the Orphanage  was a rare gem. A phycological thriller involving creepy children that was both genuinely terrifying and heartbreaking. I think that was the last film that I saw a full three times in the theater during its initial run. Spanish director J.A. Bayona has brought the majority of the production team from his previous film back for his English-language debut. Both McGregor and Watts are actors that have the capability of greatness, but all too often make poor decisions in their projects. Hopefully under the guidance of Bayona, they will bring believability to a scenario that is ripe for melodrama. A Spanish teaser trailer was posted last month that gave me the same familiar chills I experienced while watching the Orphanage.

5. Lincoln - Steven Spielberg

Why You Should Be Excited:

Arguably the greatest director and actor currently working are teaming up to resurrect the final months of who many would say was the greatest American president. Lincoln has been a passion project for Spielberg for almost a decade (though it seems like every movie he makes these days is “a passion project”), and for most of that time his Schinler’s List star Liam Neeson was attached to star. Two years ago Neeson dropped out because he was know too old to properly portray the 16th president (Ironically this would ultimately free him up to star as the 37th president, LBJ, in the upcoming film Selma). In stepped the only other actor I could possibly do the character justice, Daniel Day Lewis. Sally Field is on board to play Mary and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Robert Todd Lincoln. The impressive cast is rounded out by Jared Harris, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Lee Pace, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley and David Strathairn.

Why I Am Excited:

Every film critic, both amateur and published alike, have some form of a “Phonebook” list of actors. This is an elite group of men and women that they would pay to see perform anything, including reading the phonebook. At the top of my list is Daniel Day Lewis. I proved this point by actually sitting through Nine. I could give or take Spielberg. He is no doubt a master of his craft and occasionally he still puts out something of interest, but I don’t rush to the theater to see his latest. That said, with Day Lewis as the lead I would see it even if Garry Marshall was directing. I am keeping my fingers crossed that a local theater has the ingenuity to have a double feature with this and the other Lincoln film coming out this year, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This other, and more liberal, take on the legendary bearded one is conducted by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov and features Benjamin Walker as Lincoln, the babelier Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd (no offense Sally Field) and well, vampires.

4. Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson

Why You Should Be Excited:

Much like I did with my write up of the Tree of Life in the column last year, I could take the easy way out on my top four and simple say “Its a new ____ film” and call it a day. After his 2009′s brilliant, but criminally overlooked, clay-animation masterpiece the Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Anderson returns to the live action world. Set in 1960′s New England, the film is about a pair of young lovers that attempt to flee their mundane lives and the search party of townies that try and track them down. As usual, Wes has compiled an impressive group of actors including Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel. Oh, and of course it wouldn’t be a Wes Anderson film without Bill Murray.

Why I Am Excited:

As much as I’d like to pretend that I am above Wes Anderson’s quirky charm, in reality I eat it up as much as I did when I was a college freshman. Sure he is pretentious and I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a room with any of his characters for any amount of money, but he knows how to use his actors better than almost any other director. While his films tend to feel like they take place in another decade, this will be his first foray into a period piece. It’ll be interesting to see if he sticks to the continuity of the time or if he’ll pull a Sofia Coppola. The trailer was released recently and reeks of all of Anderson’s normal heavily witted sparse dialog mixed with muted color pallets and awkward glasses/hair combinations. Also, apparently Edward Norton is a chain smoking camp consoler. It is pretty obvious that this is not the movie that will change anybodies mind about the director. If you loved his previous movies then you are probably going to love this one. If you didn’t enjoy his previous films, then you should probably stop taking things so seriously.

3. The Master - Paul Thomas Anderson

Why You Should Be Excited:

P.T. Anderson’s long awaited and long delayed follow up to the 2007 Oscar Award winning There Will Be Blood is finally going to hit theaters (thanks to the help of Larry Ellison’s daughter). The details are vague, but what is known is that it is about a man who returns from the horrors of WW2 and decides to start a new religion. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the messiah and there are rumors going around that at one point this was to be a satirical take on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. This film is raising a few eyebrows for being Joaquin Phoenix’s return from crazyland. This will be his first role since 2008′s Two Lovers. Amy Adams and newly Golden Globe winner Laura Dern round out the leads.

Why I Am Excited:

Back to that concept of a “Phonebook” list, if I were to make one up for directors then PTA would be at the top. Every one of his 5 pictures have stood out on their own as a masterpiece. Even his worst film so far in his short career, Magnolia, is a classic in its own right. He has the ability to take a subject or genre as mundane as an Adam Sandler flick and make it the best movie of the year. He made me actually care about porn for a couple hours, that is an impressive feat. So why isn’t this film at the top of my list? Even in light of what I just previously said, I am not a big fan of the subject matter. The iconic cult religious biopic has been done to death (hell, it was even covered adequately enough a couple times last year with Martha Marcy May Marlene and Red State) and even with the talents involved, I am not too thrilled in the idea of revisiting the well worn path. That said, this may just be a defensive mechanism so I don’t hype this project too much in my head (also, given its delays, there is a good chance it won’t even see the light of day until 2013).

2. Inside Llewyn Davis - Joel and Ethan Coen

Why You Should Be Excited:

Because much like the previous director, even when the Coens are at their worst, it is better than 99% of the movies out there. Coming off the success of 2007′s No Country For Old Men and 2010′s True Grit, the most well respected brothers in Hollywood return with their take on the folk scene in Greenwich Village in the 1960′s. Its cast consists of some of the “hottest” talents currently on screen including Cary Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garret Hedlund and the sexiest man alive, John Goodman. It is apparently based on the life on once close friend of Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk.

Why I Am Excited:

The biggest draw for me is the reuniting of the Coens and John Goodman. Goodman was the best part of the much over rated critical darling The Artist, absolutely killed it in the under-seen and surprisingly good Red State and was one of the best parts on this season of “Community”. I love it whenever he is allowed to grin or scowl or both to a camera, and he never does it better than for the Coens. After doing a superb job recreating the harsh landscape of the 1800′s midwest, I trust that Joel and Ethan will cut through the whimsical and relay something more interesting about the heyday of the American folk scene. I can’t say that I am a fan of Van Ronk, but I am an admirer of enough of his peers to be interested in how he helped sculpt a scene that would end up being a model for small towns and cities all over the country. In a lesser director’s hands I could see this being like a folkier Velvet Goldmine, but with the expertise of the Coens I trust that it will be so much more. Currently IMDB has this film listed as a 2013 release, but production is scheduled to begin shortly in New York, so I am betting that we’ll see a late December award push for it.

1. Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino

Why You Should Be Excited:

Whether you find him to be the ultimate blow hard or a cinematic genius, it is hard not to find Tarantino’s films entertaining. 2009′s Inglorious Basterds welcomed something of a career resurgence for the poster child of the 90′s independent cinema and he’s decided to ride the wave of historical fiction. This time he has set his film in the midst of southern slavery. Leonardo DiCaprio is a wealthy and ruthless plantation owner and Jamie Foxx is a former slave hell bent on revenge (I am guessing that we are going to be subjected to some sort of Mexican stand off). Throw in Samuel L. Jackson as a house slave, Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter, Kurt Russell as a slave trainer (who trains slaves to fight in death matches), and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in some type of unknown role and you got yourself Quentin’s take on the spaghetti western.

Why I Am Excited:

Much like Wes Anderson, I totally get why people can’t stand Tarantino films. And try as I have to pretend like I am so much better than that, I love his films, I just love them. I can’t stand to hear him talk, but I love to see him direct. With Inglorious Basterds it really felt like he went out of his way to make a film specifically for me. Nearly everything about that movie seemed like it was catered to my interests and I ate it all up and asked for more. Tarantino doing a spaghetti western, bring it on and bring it strong. I look forward to seeing how over the top he can get. Plus, he has cast Dennis Christopher from the cult classic Fade to Black as Leo’s lawyer. The thought of one of the biggest movie stars in the world interacting with Eric Binford will keep me going until I can see it for myself in December.

SPECIAL FEATURE:

My Top 10 Movies of 2011 (so far):

I didn’t make an entire entry for this, because honestly I have not seen enough of the films last year to make a proper list. So instead, here are my favorites of what I have seen.

10. Red State

9. the Descendants

8. Win Win

7. Tabloid

6. Young Adult

5. A Dangerous Method

4. Tree of Life

3. Shame

2. Meek’s Cutoff

1. Drive


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2 Responses to “Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2012”

  1. I love you man, but Young Adult was one of the worst movies I saw last year. And I saw Bad Teacher..

    I’m a Tarentino hater for sure, but I too loved Inglorious Basterds so will have to see. Spaghetti Westerns are perhaps my favorite genre and I will watch pretty much anything that has cowboys in it (I even watched Blackthorn which has a terrible, shitty ending) unless it’s Football, coz that is rubbish. Haven’t seen Meek’s yet, but want to, it’s on my list..

  2. There’s another slavery epic on the way as well called Nat Turner Unchained. http://www.NatTurnerUnchained.com it’s about the slave revolt of 1831.

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