First off, Merry New Year! Would you like some beef jerky? (There's plenty, you know.) Since, according to the Mayans, this is our last year of existence, it probably behooves us to do something amazing before we're all winked out by whatever shows up at the end of their calendar. Then again, the Mayans are gone, so we can't be too sure of their math skills - sure, they invented zero, but so did some people in India, and really, I think we would have figured out the concept of nothing eventually, just like SEINFELD - and we're still here, at least for the next twelve months.
So what should we do with this final year on Earth? Why, see a crapload of movies, of course. And so, here's a list of a bunch of movies that are coming in the next few months that you should definitely keep an eye out for, as well as the likely suspects that we are all chomping at the bit to see. In no particular order:
Yes, we've been talking about this movie incessantly since BNAT. But it really is very good. Joe Carnahan's survival horror film (just with no zombies) is rich with emotion and intense as hell. Liam Neeson does some of the best work of his career in this movie, and considering the roles he's played so far, that's saying something. This opens in a few weeks, and it really is worth your time. It's scary, heartfelt, and I honestly think this should have been put into the mix for Oscar consideration for 2011, but since it's not, you'll get to see it very soon.
Wes Anderson's first live-action film since THE DARJEELING LIMITED is about a small town in the 1960s that gets turned upside down when a young couple runs away together and everyone thinks that they have gone missing. The cast is stellar - Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman - and I'm a huge fan of Wes Anderson's films anyway, so this one registers very high on my need-to-see roster. Anderson's films have never done very well at the box office, which makes me sad, considering the great films we've gotten from him, like BOTTLE ROCKET and RUSHMORE. We'll know more about this one when it opens next winter.
Ruben Fleischer's gangster movie has another terrific cast - Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte - and we haven't seen a great 50s gangster movie in a while, so I'm very excited to see this one. Sean Penn plays Mickey Cohen, the premier gangster of Los Angeles, and the film centers on the local effort to take him down. Will this be Fleischer's L.A. CONFIDENTIAL? I sure hope so, considering how awesome that movie is. GANGSTER SQUAD opens this October.
George Lucas may not have directed this story about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American flying squadron in World War II, but you can feel his influence all over the dogfigthing scenes, which look extraordinary - even if they are all CGI. Directed by Anthony Hemingway (THE WIRE), RED TAILS features Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston, Method Man, and David Oyelowo in this war story about a group of fighter pilots who did amazing things in the sky but couldn't get any credit here on land. RED TAILS opens January 20th.
David Cronenberg's new film is based on Don Delillo's novel, about a young millionaire and his journey in 24 hours in New York City. I haven't read the book, but considering it's David Cronenberg, I'm sure to give it a chance. This one has a great cast as well, including Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, and Samantha Morton. Does Pattinson have the acting chops to pull this film off? Under the tutelage of Cronenberg, we'll see. COSMOPOLIS opens this year, with no specific release date announced yet.
It's the new Pixar. It's not a sequel. And it's got the first female hero in their roster. I think BRAVE is going to be worth the wait, and although I was disappointed in CARS 2 I think they're back on track with this new fantasy adventure. BRAVE feels like it's going to be epic for Pixar, and I can't wait to take my daughter to see it. This is the one movie next year that she's looking forward to more than the rest, and if Pixar delivers as I expect it to, BRAVE will probably be talked about at year-end, as per usual for this studio. BRAVE opens this summer.
Since there's no official art or trailer for Alfonso Cuaron's GRAVITY, I grabbed a picture of the Hubble telescope, which the plot of this film involves. A man is stuck alone in space without any backup, and only another astronaut can help save him and bring him back to Earth. There's only two cast members, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. There's the amazing work of Emmanuel Lubezki, who worked with Cuaron in CHILDREN OF MEN. And there's Cuaron himself, going back to science fiction, and the last time he dived into that genre, we got CHILDREN OF MEN, an amazing film. Expect Cuaron's long takes and some jawdropping cinematography. 2012 is going to be an incredible year for science fiction, and I can't wait to see what GRAVITY has in store for us. Opens November.
ONLY GOD FORGIVES
You google ONLY GOD FORGIVES in the Images page, and you get this picture. Considering the year they've had, that's a well-deserved kiss. After this year's DRIVE, my #1 film for 2011, of course I'm anticipating Nicolas Winding Refn's ONLY GOD FORGIVES, which brings back Ryan Gosling in a story about Bangkok cops, gangsters, and Thai boxing. I have no idea how that all comes together, but knowing Refn, it's going to be cool. There should be more o's in cool to describe how cool ONLY GOD FORGIVES could be. Coooooool. No release date as of yet, as it's in pre-production, and I hope it kicks all our collective asses in 2012.
I know DARK SHADOWS is coming, but this is the Tim Burton movie I'm waiting for, his return to stop-motion animation and a return to one of his best, most heartfelt stories. I love the original FRANKENWEENIE and I'll bet this one is going to be great as well. I've been critical of Tim Burton as of late, but that's because when he's on fire, he really isn't like any other director out there and I want to see him return to that mode of filmmaking. FRANKENWEENIE has the voice talents of Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, and Martin Landau, and I can't wait to see the movie in October.
Of course PROMETHEUS is on this list. It's Ridley Scott returning to the ALIEN universe, and ALIEN is easily in my top 10 all-time movies. That trailer has everyone speculating and extrapolating every single nugget of imagery that we've seen so far. Here's my unsolicited opinion about PROMETHEUS for the week - I think that Derelict ship we see in this trailer ISN'T the one on LV-426. I think that's a different ship altogether, considering how old it is. I think that might be the trick that Scott might be pulling here. Then again, I'll change my mind next week, I guarantee it. If you're not anticipating PROMETHEUS, you're simply not watching movies correctly, and should see an opthamologist.
LAY THE FAVORITE
This one looks like a lot of fun, and has Stephen Frears returning to his GRIFTERS roots as a young woman discovers a group of older men who seem to buck the gambling odds in Las Vegas. We get Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vince Vaughn, John Carroll Lynch, and Corbin Bernsen in a gambling movie done by one of the best directors of con movies ever, considering DANGEROUS LIAISONS is still awesome. LAY THE FAVORITE comes out this year, but no release date yet. Probably the fall.
JOHN DIES AT THE END
Don Coscarelli (PHANTASM, BUBBA HO-TEP) directing Paul Giamatti in a horror/alien invasion/drug comedy about two stoners who have to stop the end of the world? And hey, spoiler alert with that title! This is going to be awesome, and honestly I don't know why this isn't on more most anticipated 2012 movie lists. Based on the novel by David Wong, this movie stars Giamatti, Clancy Brown, and Doug Jones, and looks full of greatness. Expect to see John die this year (please play at Fantastic Fest, or SXSW...).
I'm no big fan of found footage movies, but the premise of this one is too interesting not to be curious about. In CHRONICLES we get our first superhero found footage movie, and I love how the guys, when given superpowers, do goofy stuff at first - that seems realistic. And then when one of them lets his power get away from him, the other two have to bring him down. I think the trailer looks cool and I think this one might surprise a few people this spring.
THE EXPENDABLES 2
Not even going to list the cast here. You all know who's in this. It's easier to list who isn't. Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) return, and so does everyone else - well, except for Mickey Rourke - and I anticipate we'll have long moments of tea, remembering good times past, and at some point we'll have a quiet walk in the countryside with longing looks shared between two loved ones. Or shit's going to blow up and people are going to get punched. I'm in the minority on this one but I had a blast with the first EXPENDABLES and I predict more of the same with this one. I hope Schwarzenegger and Willis feature more prominently this time. Can't wait.
I haven't seen LOOPER yet, but I already know it's going to be awesome. Too many people I trust have seen it and just gushed over Rian Johnson's time travel action epic, and seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis go at it is going to be worth it. And then we have Shane Carruth (PRIMER) working on some of the time travel paradoxes? This movie's going to mindbake me and give me some amazing action at the same time. Really can't wait for LOOPER - I think this one has the potential of being on a lot of geek's best of lists at year's end. It's going to be the science fiction film that we didn't see coming.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
You'll notice I didn't link the trailer for this one. I'm doing you a favor, believe me. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS will probably be one of the most talked-about genre films of the year, and for those of you who haven't read the script, here's why - because I don't think you're prepared for the next-level stuff that happens in the last 45 minutes. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is tremendous fun, and Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have made a movie that throws down the gauntlet to genre filmmakers everywhere - here, top THIS. Some people think you can't really "spoil" a movie, but having seen this one, I know that's not the case. April, 2012. Go, don't look at anything else, and you'll thank me for warning you, believe me.
G. I. JOE: RETALIATION
I wasn't anticipating this one at all until I saw the trailer, which promises too much fun for one movie. I just have one question - based on the cartoon, does anyone actually hit anything they're aiming at? There's a distinct lack of Channing Tatum in the trailer, but we get the Rock opening up his patented can of Whoop-Ass, and just how many movies is Bruce Willis in this year? Holy crap, I count at least 5. Bruce Willis is the Jessica Chastain of 2012, except he's packing a machine gun. G. I. JOE - RETALIATION blows up your local cineplex this summer. Love the shot of the COBRA banners on the White House. That's like something straight out of the cartoon.
We'll see if Marvel's multi-tiere character releases pay off this year, with the culmiation of all those movies - THE AVENGERS. After seeing those other trailers like THE DARK KINGHT RISES and PROMETHEUS, THE AVENGERS looks almost quaint by comparison. But I have a good feeling about this one. I think it's going to be the light, frothy fun time at the movies as opposed to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES dark, sinister tones. There's room for all sorts of movies under the summer sun, and seeing the gang together does my heart good. I have confidence in Joss Whedon as a director and a writer, and I think if any movie's going to nail MAKE MINE MARVEL it's this one.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
I think people have written this one off, and I think that's a shame. Marc Webb is a good director, and sure, this is an obvious play by Sony to reboot the franchise and keep it in their hands, but I think Webb may actually make a real Spider-Man movie this time. I love Sam Raimi's movies, but I still don't think he got the character quite right. He's too somber - when Spider-Man fights his enemies, it's practically joyous and Peter Parker is free to be the man he always wanted to be. Raiimi's movies never quite got to that level. I don't know if Marc Webb's film will either but I'm the eternal optimist, so here's hoping.
THE HUNGER GAMES
I'm just starting this book, and already I can tell this isn't TWILIGHT. For one thing, Suzanne Collins can write. It may be BATTLE ROYALE light, but the characters make it work, and I think Gary Ross is a terrific director anyway - I love PLEASANTVILLE unabashedly - and I love how the trailer reveals little while saying so much to those who have read the book. I still think Jennifer Lawrence skews too old for the part, but she's a great actress and I think she'll make the movie work. The supporting cast - Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, and many others - looks impressive, and I'm really excited about the book and can't wait to finish it. I hope this is what the fans are waiting for, and we'll see this summer.
This trailer is my favorite trailer of last year, and I've heard that the movie delivers on the promise of it and more. THE RAID will be playing at Sundance this year at the midnight shows, and Screen Gems is supposed to be releasing the movie stateside sometime this year. Gareth Evans looks to have really knocked it out of the park with this one, and of all the movies on this list, this one has the potential to be that movie that really makes our geek hearts swell the most at the end of it. Could this have the potential of being the DIE HARD of this generation? We'll see this year. I can't wait.
Not gonna read the script. Flat out. I didn't read the script to INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and I was so much happier I didn't. I know people love Quentin Tarantino's writing so much that they just dove into it, but believe me when I say that I used to do the same thing, and then I saw the films without those expectations and was just so much more satisfied with the result. Amazing cast - Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, too many to mention - and I'm very curious to know if Tarantino hits that sweet spot of exploitaiton and amazing filmmaking that we all know he does so well. This is Tarantino's first film without his editor, Sally Menkes, and I'm interested to see how he works without her. She's one of the all-time great editors and she's missed terribly. DJANGO UNCHAINED has the potential to be something incredible. I just wonder if Tarantino's ever seen FAREWELL UNCLE TOM - wait, of course he has. If this goes to that level... I can't wait to hear the responses from the audience.
No longer an untitled project, Paul Thomas Anderson's film deals with a war vet, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who returns to America and decides to start his own religion. Joaquin Phoenix plays his friend and student who helps him. Is this PTA's take on Scientology? Or is this a film about the power of religion to sedate the masses? I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a bonafide masterpiece and anything that PTA does from this point out will be rabidly consumed by me. Hoffman is an amazing actor and I'd bet this material is going to show us just how amazing he is. Any PTA film should be cherished, and I'm glad that he got the funding to make this.
WORLD WAR Z
This is supposedly the epic zombie movie we've all been waiting for, based on Max Brooks' awesome book of the same name. I'm not too keen on the story changes, definitely not happy that they're going for a PG-13 (although that could change) and I'm not the biggest fan of Marc Forster as a director either. But I think Brad Pitt in a zombie movie sounds too crazy to be true, and yet here we are, a global zombie pandemic with Pitt's character at the center of it all. I have no idea if this is going to work, but I'm psyched to see it regardless. We zombie fans have been wanting to see this subject given a huge budget and we've been wanting to see the zombie apocalypse on a giant scale, and WORLD WAR Z, hopefully, will deliver the goods. Am I worried about the movie? Or course I am. But I'm still excited about it.
The first James Bond film in four years. Daniel Craig returns. Sam Mendes directs. We get Javier Bardem AND Ralph Fiennes as bad guys. And we get to see the characters of Miss Moneypenny and Q come into this iteration of the franchise. Yeah, I'm excited for SKYFALL. The story - about a downed intel satellite and the scrambling of various government agencies to retrieve it - seems genuinely different than the plots we're used to. But Craig has brought to Bond the grit and grim that i've wanted ever since I saw my first Bond film (FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, if you're curious). I think Craig is the best version of the character yet - and yes, I've seen, and love, the Connery films - and I'd bet that Ian Fleming didn't figure on how this character has stayd so cool throughout the years. SKYFALL may just be what Bond fans have been waiting for.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
If this isn't on your list of films to look forward to in 2012, I don't know what to tell you. Christopher Nolan is finishing out his epic take on the Batman saga, and although I don't think it's going to top THE DARK KNIGHT - there, I said it - I'm very curious to see if Nolan sticks the landing. There have been so many set pictures released, behind-the-scenes footage, and yet we still have only scratched the surface of what the movie is about. Personally, I'm looking forward to Christian Bale's and Tom Hardy's grunt-off. Will Gotham survive this war? Will the League of Shadows return? Is Ras Al Ghul waiting in the wings? What about Selina Kyle - how does she fit in to all of this? Our questions will be answered, hopefully to our satisfaction, this July.
Steven Spielberg's long awaited film about Abraham Lincoln has a tremendous cast, and it's a story he's been wanting to make into a film for many years. It's based off Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, TEAM OF RIVALs, and delas with the final months of the Civil War and of Lincoln's presidency. Seeing Daniel Day-Lewis in that gear set a lot of film fans' hearts at ease, as he looks so genuine in the part, and we all know how Day-Lewis works in his movies. I'd bet we'll be seeing quite a few golden boys for this film next year, and the idea of Daniel Day-Lewis and Steven Spielberg together might just be too much awesomeness for me to handle. This film's going to be amazing; I'm just going to say it now.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
This is it, my most anticipated film of 2012. I know this story backwards and forwards. One of my favorite books, and one of my favorite filmmakers returning to the world that he built so perfectly. I think the trailer strikes a lighter tone than LORD OF THE RINGS, and it's supposed to, considering these Dwarves aren't fighting to save the world, but to get their treasure and their kingoom back. It looks cast perfectly, and I love Martin Freeman as Bilbo. We see old friends, and I can't wait to see the Riddle Game between Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. I wonder if that will be the climax of the first film. I don't know. What I do know is that Peter Jackson has returned to Middle-Earth, and that's cause for rejoicing.
Are there other movies to look forward to in 2012? Of course. This is just sticking the big toe into the pool. I can't wait to see what the festivals bring us, especially Sundance and SXSW, which always surprises us with movies that we don't know are coming yet but will rock when we finally see them. i hope your 2012 is an amazing year and you have a great time at the movies before it all comes crashing to an end next December. Enjoy your final year on Earth, bitches!