Monday, January 09, 2012

My Most Anticipated Films of 2012

This is the third consecutive year I've written about upcoming movies that I'm excited to see in the ensuing months. Looking back at my last two such notes, it's a tad embarrassing to see the garbage (I'm pronouncing that "gar-bozh") I put on my lists—reviews were so bad on many that I didn't even consider seeing them. (From 2010's list: Edge of Darkness, Valentine's Day, The Losers and The Last Song; 2011's list included Sanctum, Battle: Los Angeles, and The Thing.) Even some of those I did see in 2011 were enormously disappointing—Sucker Punch, Cowboys and Aliens, Human Centipede 2, for example. In fact, only two of the movies from last year's list ended up being among my favorites of the year: The Descendants and Midnight in Paris. Indeed, I've learned that many of the movies that turned out to be my very favorites are ones that I didn't even know about when the year began. Thus, it would be the height of folly for me to expect anything different from the list below. Still, it's fun to look back in a year's time and shake my head sadly at the kind of drivel I was once actually looking forward to.

The following 12 months promise great drama, suspense, terror and comedy, but what it has the most of is sequels, prequels and reboots. (It's also got two movies about Snow White and two radically different takes on the life of Abraham Lincoln.) I'm not against sequels—indeed, I'm quite looking forward to the latest upcoming chapters of Piranha, Paranormal Activity, Taken and Ridley Scott's Alien prequel—but since I've never been a fanatic of superheroes, spies, fantasy and video-game adaptations, a huge chunk of 2012's fare may be automatically dispensed with. It's a long list that includes The Dark Knight Rises, Scary Movie 5, The Hobbit, The Amazing Spider-Man, Skyfall (James Bond), American Reunion (American Pie 4), Wrath of the Titans, Bourne Legacy, Men in Black III and Expendables II. Sequels with colons are more popular than ever these days, too...consider Underworld: Awakening, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Resident Evil: Retribution, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. That's a hell of a lot of colons, if you ask me.

While I realize that very few of the following are destined to become 2013 Oscar nominees, here are my 20 most anticipated films of the year ahead:

THE GREY—I'd never have guessed Liam Neeson would become my favorite action film star, but he's so entertaining in Taken and Unknown that I actually prefer watching him in a vengeful frenzy than in dramas like The Other Man and Chloe. This survival-in-the-snow thriller is due on Jan. 27. UPDATE: Saw the film on Jan. 30 and will be awarding it an (8) in my blog.

CHRONICLE—Here's the latest "found footage" horror movie, about some high-school kids who discover they have superpowers...but it begins to feed the darker sides of their souls. (Feb. 3)

THE WOMAN IN BLACK—Susan Hill's supernatural novel has been turned into a hit play as well as a TV-movie; now Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe is starring in a big-budget feature. (Feb. 3)

SAFE HOUSE—Denzel Washington a CIA crime drama. The Denz is back! This time, he's got Ryan Reynolds as a co-star; seems like this will be a variation of The Defiant Ones. (Feb. 10)

THE VOW—I make no apologies for wanting to see this corny chick flick about a woman with amnesia. I enjoy that sort of drivel! With Rachel McAdams (who starred in The Notebook, an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel) and Channing Tatum (who starred in Dear John, an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel), it's not difficult to see that the target audience is lovers of romantic dramas. Co-starring Sam Neill. (Feb. 10)

THE HUNGER GAMES—Now that the Harry Potter series is over and the Twilight installments come to a close this year, Suzanne Collins is poised to become the next female author with an immensely popular series of novels that has spawned a major film franchise. This is undisputedly the most anticipated movie of 2012. (March 23)

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY—I like a good kidnapping and revenge story (i.e., Taken), and this Henry Cavill / Bruce Willis movie seems like it might be a good take on the genre. (April 6)

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS—This horror movie was on my list last year, but its release date was pushed back. I still want to see it, mostly because Joss Whedon wrote and produced; it has the potential to be more than the usual haunted-house movie. (April 13)

MOVIE 43—The portmanteau—an omnibus film comprising several different stories—used to be much more prevalent in days of yore, but pictures like Love Actually have evidently repopularized the idea (even Woody Allen's next movie is a portmanteau). One hopes that Movie 43, which features an all-star cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Elizabeth Banks, Emma Stone, Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts and Richard Gere, will be better than the recent Garry Marshall crapfests (Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve) that have sullying movie screens of late. (April 13)

THE LUCKY ONE—Unlike The Vow, which is merely trying to appear like a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, this one really is. From the looks of the trailer, this looks every bit as formulaic and sentimental as all the others, but I can dig it. (April 20)

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD—Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in an end-of-the-world comedy with a rather unweildy title. He's hilarious, she's beautiful...what could possibly go wrong? (April 20)

THE AVENGERS—I am not a big fan of superheroes or TV shows restyled for the big screen, but when Joss Whedon is writing and directing, all you have to do is hand me a pen, and I'm signed up for the ride. (May 4)

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL—Another title I'll be wrestling to remember. This one features a British dream cast, including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton (from TV's The Norman Conquests). If the movie is half as good as its trailer, I'll be delighted! (May 4)

PROMETHEUS—Ridley Scott's return to outer space (supposedly a prequel to Alien) has all the earmarks of being a sci-fi summer blockbuster...throw in Charlize Theron, and I'll be buying advance tickets! (June 8)

BRAVE—This year's Pixar/Disney animated offering appeals to me far more than 2011's Cars 2 (which grossed half as much as 2010's Toy Story 3). If anybody can make me care about a kingdom-based, fairy-tale fantasy adventure, it's Pixar and Disney. (June 22)

PREMIUM RUSH—Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bicycle messenger with a very important delivery that evidently gets him in very hot water in this fast-paced action thriller. It has a great trailer and features beautiful Jamie Chung. (Aug. 24)

TAKEN 2—Liam Neeson is back as Bryan Mills in this sequel to the kidnapping thriller. Supposedly he's the hostage this time out. (Oct. 5)

NERO FIDDLED—Filming in Spain this time, here's Woody Allen's follow-up to his biggest all-time hit, Midnight in Paris. And it's his first "omnibus" film since the 40-year-old Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (I'm not counting New York Stories). He's pulled together a typically impressive cast: Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni...and, acting in one of his own films since 2006's Scoop, the director himself. (Oct. 19)

LES MISERABLES—Victor Hugo's classic novel was turned into a phenomenally successful stage musical by composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyricists Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel; it remains the only musical I've seen three times on Broadway. When one of my other all-time favorite musicals, Sweeney Todd, was brought the the screen in 2007, the results were excellent; I'm hoping they do a similarly smooth job this time out as well. (Dec. 7)

DJANGO UNCHAINED—Two words: Quentin Tarantino. His newest directorial effort automatically qualifies this to be one of the year's most eagerly awaited movies; the fact that it's a revenge-themed spaghetti Western-type flm only adds fuel to the fire. (Dec. 25)


ALSO ON MY RADAR....Here are a bunch others I've got my eye on. I'm not exactly breathless with anticipation on any of the following, but each interests me...for one reason or another.

THE DIVIDE—Huddled together in a basement, the survivors of a nuclear blast start to get on each other's nerves...This has all the makings of a post-apocalyptic nightmare, but whether that's good or bad remains to be seen. (Jan. 13)

JOYFUL NOISE—This year's Queen Latifah comedy pairs her with Dolly Parton in a movie about a singing competition, but the main draw for me is off-the-charts beautiful Keke Palmer, a young black actress who melts my heart with her incredibly sexy smile. (Jan. 13)

HAYWIRE—Director Steven Soderbergh's follow-up to Contagion is another thriller, this time about a special-ops soldier who's double-crossed. (Jan. 20)

THE INKEEPERS—There's a haunted hotel, see, and...well, that's all I know. But the trailer looks good. Don't they all? (Feb. 3)

GONE—Amanda Seyfried as a former kidnap victim who plots to confront her abductor. Should have plenty of violence and terror! (Feb. 24)

THE LORAX—Another big-screen Dr. Seuss adaptation, coming on the heels of 2008's Horton Hears a Who! Like its predecessor, the TV version will probably prove to be the superior commodity, but the trailer does look appealing. (March 2)

BEING FLYNN—Robert DeNiro in a comedy-drama "based on a true story." (March 2)

THE THREE STOOGES—I am not a fan of the Stooges, and this will probably wind up being terrible...but for some reason, I like the idea of updating them. Also, I will follow Sofía Vergara to the ends of the Earth. Larry David has a cameo as well. This one is a real longshot, but hope springs eternal. (April 13)

SAFE—Action thriller about an agent (Jason Statham) who must rescue a 12-year-old Chinese girl from a dangerous New York gang. (April 27)

DARK SHADOWS—I run very hot and very cold on the Tim Burton collaborations with Johnny Depp; I loved Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride, but others (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland) leave me feeling simply bewildered. I'm crossing my fingers that this will be one of the home runs. If not...Burton always has a remake of his own Frankenweenie coming out in October. One of them is bound to be a winner. (May 11)

MOONRISE KINGDOM—I'm not a Wes Anderson fan, but I rarely miss a Bill Murray film, and this one also has Bruce Willis. (May 16)

JACK THE GIANT KILLER—Presumably this will be an improvement on the cheesy 1962 fantasy about a giant and the guy charged with killing him. (June 15)

TED—Writer-director Seth MacFarlane (of Family Guy fame) has Mark Wahlberg as a guy whose teddy bear comes to life; Mila Kunis provides the eye candy. (July 13)

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN—Disney comedy/fantasy about a couple who wish for a child...and magically get one. (Aug. 15)

PARANORMAN—An animated movie about a boy who battles supernatural elements could have a Corpse Bride appeal. (Aug. 17)

SINISTER—A supernatural thriller starring Ethan Hawke as a writer of true-crime novels. (Aug. 24)

7500—Supernatural forces threaten passengers in a jumbo jetliner. With delectable lovelies Amy Smart, Jamie Chung, Leslie Bibb and Nicky Whelan—I'd watch any one of them in virtually anything. (Aug. 31)

THE BIG WEDDING—Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton play a divorced couple who pretend to be married for appearances at a wedding. With Robin Williams, Katherine Heigl, Susan Sarandon, Amanda Seyfried and Marc Blucas. (Oct. 19)

MY MOTHER'S CURSE—Seth Rogan is the inventor, and Barbra Streisand plays his mother in this road-trip comedy. (Nov. 2)

1 comment:

Ethan said...

Les Miserables is a great story of redemption. I like the stolen house goods part.
You have an eclectic movie list.