Even though there is still much in the way of 2011 cinema to talk about, our attention has gradually begun to shift towards 2012. There will undoubtedly be new movies and filmmakers to appear that were completely off our radar at the beginning of this year, but for now all we can do is guess based on what we know. There are certain filmmakers, actors, studios, and franchises that we can count on to deliver high quality cinema and that knowledge informs our current lists. Read ours below and be sure to share your answers in the comments!
QUESTION: What are your three most anticipated movies of 2012?
Brave: Unlike last year, 2012 is so teeming with exciting Hollywood projects that I’m astonished my little fanboy heart has not yet given out (even the first two bars of that Hobbit trailer music was enough to give me goose-bumps). Of those countless productions, the thirteenth effort from Pixar Animation Studios seems the least likely to disappoint. Taking a much-appreciated sabbatical from direct sequel-making (for a year, at least), our most invaluable American movie studio is placing its bets on first-time director and Mark Andrews to tell their first female-driven story. It’s a gamble, but when has a Pixar gamble ever led to something less than a smashing success? (c.f. Cars 2, evidence of what a “safe” Pixar film looks like)
Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men was a mis-marketed box office disappointment in 2006, but enough time has passed that everyone has finally bothered to see it, and the film has finally earned its rightful accolades as one of the most singular filmic achievements this past decade. I hope that same enthusiasm transfers to Cuarón’s follow-up , which is a story of two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) struggling to survive in space after a serious accident kills their colleagues. I don’t know what quite to expect, but I do know I can look forward to some great performances and a chance to see yet another legendary collaboration – this time in 3D – between Cuarón and his favorite cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.
Life of Pi: I am not terribly familiar with the beloved Yann Martel novel of the same name, but Life of Pi effectively sold my ticket at the box office the day it hired Ang Lee, perhaps my favorite director working today. Famous for his willingness to tackle a diverse array of projects ranging from martial arts epics to comic book adaptations to costume dramas, this adventure story of a young boy stranded for 277 days on a boat with a Bengal tiger ironically suggests that the famously chameleonic Brokeback Mountain helmer is still operating quite comfortably outside his personal comfort zone.
I’ve said it many times before, but it is worth being repeated: 2011 was an awesome year for movies. Whether or not 2012 can live up to this heightened reputation that the newly birthed decade has set, we will have to wait and see. Unfortunately, when trying to answer this question, I was repeatedly thwarted in that most of my most anticipated films are not set for release until 2013. Films such as the Coen brothers’ mockumentary Inside Lewellyn Davis and Charlie Kaufman’s Oscar blogging based musical, Frank or Francis likely won’t surface in the next twelve months. However, given what is available, these are the films I am most excited for.
Gambit: The film is a remake of an older heist film, but in the hands of screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen, I know this one will be an improvement. That said, I’ve not seen the original. What I do know is that is about an upper-class art curator enlisting the aid of Texan in an art heist. With Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, and Cameron Diaz spouting off the Coens’ dialogue, how could this go wrong? The only odd part is, the Coens are not directing it.
Django Unchained: I wouldn’t be too surprised if this one got pushed back another year. But then again, Tarantino shot at lightning speed last time around to have his film prepared for Cannes, so let’s hope for the best. At any rate, this slavery western reunites the famed director with Christoph Waltz and unites him with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio among others.
The Dark Knight Rises: Holy shit, I love that trailer. And I love The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan may not be the sharpest writer or the artsiest director, but he damn well may be the most visceral. He also seems to have an eye for acting as he casts Tom Hardy as the main villain, Bane, after similarly unexpectedly casting Heath Ledger as the Joker. We all know how the earlier decision went, let’s hope for similar results. I know this is a cliche choice for my number one, but hell, I’d be lying if I had anything else here.
I shared my top 10 most anticipated movies of 2012 in this week’s podcast, so be sure to check that out, but here are more details on my top three:
The Master: Paul Thomas Anderson is undeniably one of the best filmmakers of this generation. His most recent film There Will Be Blood was an endlessly quotable and instantly iconic character study of epic proportions. He seems to be following it up with a film that also focuses in on one particular character instead of the large ensembles of his earlier films. The Master tells a story that is parallel to the founding of Scientology, depicting a spiritual leader forming a controversial community of faith. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, and Laura Dern. Set in the 1950s, it offers another period film for Anderson that he will undoubtedly knock out of the park.
Inside Llewyn Davis: My favorite movie of 2010 was True Grit. My favorite movie of 2009 was A Serious Man. One of my favorite movies of 2007 was No Country for Old Men. The common thread between these wonderful films is that they have the Coen Bros. at the helm. In my opinion, the brilliant brothers from Minnesota are the most prolific filmmakers working today. Their new film Inside Llewyn Davis is a period film set in New York in the 1960s among the folk music scene. It stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and Justin Timberlake, although I suspect that a lesser known character actor will steal the show, as is common with the Coen brothers. The film’s release date is still TBA, but it will probably be announced for a major upcoming festival. It doesn’t matter when I get to see it, but I have little doubt that I will love it.
The Grandmasters: Having just wrapped up our Wong Kar Wai marathon, I feel prepared to handle anything that this eclectic and exciting director has to offer. His next film tells the story of Ip Man, the martial arts master who trained Bruce Lee. This seems more in the vain of his epic film Ashes of Time than his fleeting love stories like In the Mood for Love or Chungking Express, but I have faith that he will get it right this time around. I would be surprised if this film does not premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, so we will hear some instant reactions by mid-May on whether The Grandmasters lives up to the greatness that Wong is capable of achieving.
Hear Vinny’s top 10 most anticipated movies on this week’s episode of the Film Misery Podcast.
Stay tuned for the 100 movies we are looking forward to in 2012. If you have a question for the Film Misery staff, please e-mail Alex@filmmisery.com.