Most Anticipated Movies of (the Rest of) 2012

I should have done this list at the beginning of the year.  In fact, I made the list up at the beginning of the year, but forgot to put it on here.  It would have included The Hunger Games and Chronicle for sure, both of which I did enjoy.  So minus those two movies, here are 15 that I’m looking forward to in 2012.

15. Stoker – TBD 2012 – Chan-wook Park’s first American film.  After killing it in South Korea for the last 15 years or so, Park takes a stab at exporting his horror/thriller sensibilities to America.  With an interesting cast (Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Goode) I’m going to be keeping my eye on this one.

14. The Campaign – August 12 – A comedy featuring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis about two rival North Carolina politicians on the campaign trail running against one another, directed by Jay Roach.  Sounds like a quality trio of hilarity.

13. Gravity – November 21 – Alfonso Cauron’s first directorial feature effort since 2006’s Children of Men.  This movie stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  Bullock plays a woman returning home from a space mission by herself to reunite with her daughter.  Cauron is famous for having long, extended takes in his films, and I heard recently that this one has a 17 minute uninterrupted opening take.

12. Brave – June 22 – Pixar attempts to get back on top of the animated mountain after their first real blemish with Cars 2.  I believe this is going to be a slightly “darker” and “grown up” Pixar movie (relatively speaking, of course).  Everything I’ve seen so far has looked amazing.

11. Only God Forgives – TBD 2012 – Drive was one of my favorite movies of 2011.  This movie has the director (Nicolas Winding Refn) and the star (Ryan Gosling) of that movie getting back together for a movie about a police officer and a gangster settling their differences in a Thai-boxing match in Thailand.  I’m willing to go wherever these two are taking this movie.

10. Skyfall – November 9 – I like the Bond franchise, but I’m looking forward to this one more than the usual Bond film.  Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are back.  But it seems like they have decided to blow the doors out on this one, by surrounding Craig with great talent that has maybe never been equaled in a Bond movie before.  Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem are in this movie along with Naomie Harris and the director is Sam Mendes.  I’m especially intrigued by Mendes, as a franchise film in the Bond series is such a departure from anything he has ever done before.

9. The Master – October 12 – Paul Thomas Anderson’s first movie since There Will Be Blood.  This is a very tight-lipped production.  Not much is really known about it.  Most of the speculation is that it is loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, but most likely as a jumping off point for a more fictional tale as opposed to an outright biopic or in-depth portrayal of the Hollywood “religion.”  I’ll be interested to see as its release nears how the Scientology folks in Hollywood will react to it.

8. The Cabin in the Woods – April 13 – The only movie on this list currently in theaters.  I am seeing this movie on Friday.  I have been anticipating this movie for a while, as it has been on the shelf for 3 years after multiple delays.  The studio that produced it closed up shop.  Then the studio that bought it wanted to convert it to a 3-D feature.  Then that plan was scrapped.  And now it’s getting a release a few weeks before The Avengers, the “other” feature film that Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth are attached to this year.  Reviews for this movie have been through the roof!

7. Seven Psychopaths – TBD 2012 – One of my favorite black comedies of the last few years was In Bruges.  While it has some dark subject matter, dealing with hitmen lying low in Bruges after a job gone wrong, it had a hilarious dialogue and great performances from Colin Farrell and Brenden Gleeson.  Writer/director Martin McDonagh actually got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay, which was totally deserved.  Here, Farrell and McDonagh re-team for another gangster comedy, along with Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, and a great supporting cast.

6. Looper – September 28 – Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt should be enough to warrant interest in a movie for me.  But what really puts this movie over the top is that it is written and directed by Rian Johnson, the man behind Brick and The Brothers Bloom.  Not only that, but it’s a movie about time travel.  And not only that, but he also had Primer writer/director/actor Shane Carruth consult on the movie.

5. Django Unchained – December 25 – Quentin Tarantino is back this Christmas with the sure-to-be bloody tale of a slave-turned-bounty hunter who sets out to free his wife from a notorious plantation in the pre-Civil War South.  Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and an all-star cast easily make this an event to see.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – December 14 – Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth!  This project has been long in the making and once had Guillermo Del Toro attached to direct with Jackson only serving in a screenplay and production capacity.  Del Toro left and Jackson stepped back in to finish the job.  Very excited for this.  Love the cast.  Interested to see how they treat this story as they are breaking the book into two movies and expanding on some parts of the book and adding in some extras of their own.  But I trust Peter Jackson, despite his misstep with The Lovely Bones.  He could make a quality Hobbit movie in his sleep.

3. The Avengers – May 4 – This movie has had a long build-up, starting all the way back in 2008 with the first Iron Man in a scene at the end of the credits between Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.  Since then there has been a Hulk movie, a second Iron Man movie, a Thor movie, and a Captain America movie that have all built toward assembling them all in this movie.  They went a got Joss Whedon to write the screenplay and direct the movie, a move that is sure to win over the fanboys.  Everything is suggesting that this will be a huge kickoff to the summer movie season.  More importantly, the early buzz is that the movie, especially its last act, is awesome.

2. The Dark Knight Rises – July 20 – “Whaaaaaaat????” you may be asking yourself.  How is it possible that there is any other movie I am looking forward to more this year than the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga?  Well, I’ll get into that coming up, but make no mistake, I am eagerly awaiting this movie.  Christopher Nolan is a director I trust implicitly.  I do not think the man has made a bad movie yet.  And I think he will nail it this time around and give the audience a proper ending to his trilogy, something that is apparently hard to achieve in superhero movies (damn you, Spidey 3…).  I love the casting of Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway as Bane and Catwoman, respectively.  And you’ve also got JGL and Marion Cotillard in supporting roles.  This is going to be the biggest movie of the summer, no doubt about it.  I am hoping/expecting it to break all kinds of box office opening weekend records.  Could it be the first movie to break the $200 million opening weekend mark?  I think it’s got a shot.  I have nothing but love for The Dark Knight and this movie is really more like a “1b.” than a “2” for me.

1. Prometheus – June 8 – For the longest time, whenever the words “movies” and “2012” popped into my head, the only thing I could think of was The Dark Knight Rises.  For another movie to come along and knock it out of the #1 spot for me would require a “Once in a Generation”-type of potential.  And for me, Prometheus has the potential to reach that level.  It started out as a full-on prequel to Alien.  Then it shifted a bit and we were told it would merely “exist in the same universe” that Alien had established.  And then the trailers and stills and promotional material and viral videos started to come out for the movie and it was clearly more than just a movie that existed in the “same universe.”  It is a prequel, whether director Ridley Scott wants to call it that or not.  However directly or indirectly, it is a prequel to Alien.  It takes place on the same planet that the Nostromo goes to in response to a distress signal at the beginning of Alien.  It’s got the famous “space jokey” in the trailers.  It doesn’t have Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley or (as we’ve been told repeatedly) a Xenomorph alien, but for all intents and purposes, this movie will set the stage for the conditions that the original Alien starts in.  And this is a BIG DEAL.  Ridley Scott is returning to the sci-fi genre for the first time in 30 years.  His other two sci-fi efforts were the aforementioned Alien and Blade Runner.  Those two movies are all-time greats.  If there were a Mt. Rushmore of sci-fi movies they would be on it right beside 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars.  They are pantheon-level movies.  So for the director of those movies to feel like there is something there worth still exploring, that is something I am excited about and am going to take notice of.  Alien is one of my favorite films of all time.  I can still vividly remember the first time I watched it as a teenager.  All of the promotion for this movie has worked like a charm.  I am captivated.  I would take on a face-hugger for this movie!  And it’s got a great cast.  June 8th cannot come fast enough.