A while back I wrote a most anticipated list for 2012 and it seems like the right time for an update. The big summer blockbusters have come and gone and we’re still a few months away from the Oscar-bait season but this fall and early winter is set to have some potentially great films come out. Time to break down ten to look forward to:
Note: Click on the title for a trailer.
10.) Cloud Atlas
Director: The Wachowski Siblings
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant
I’m excited for this film because it’s one of the very few films that somehow flew under my radar. I know very little about it but the stellar cast, visually impressive trailer and the up and down Wachowski track record has me interested. Based on the novel of the same name by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas tells a series of interconnected stories spanning a huge period of time from the mid 1800’s to a dark, distant future. I have no idea what to expect, but I’m hoping for an unexpected treat that’s heavy on ideas and acting.
Director: Roger Michell
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney
I went to college a few miles away from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Hyde Park Estate so this film has an inside track on my rankings. It focuses on King George VI’s 1939 visit to the U.S. It was the first visit by a British Monarch and FDR viewed it as a crucial meeting of the minds with a war in Europe looming on the horizon. The film also explores FDR’s growing relationship with his eventual mistress.
I’m excited for a few reasons. First, I love history. Second, I love FDR. Lastly, and most importantly, I am always glad to see Bill Murray show off his range. He’s one of the funniest movie stars ever but his dramatic work is always really enjoyable. I refer you to the excellent Lost In Translation and the okay Get Low as examples. Will this film be revelatory? Probably not. But it should be a fun little period piece that is flying under the radar.
Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
I’d be pumped for this film even if the premise wasn’t an amazing true story. Argo is the story of a CIA operation to save hostages during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979. A team of Americans and Canadians infiltrated Iran disguised as a production company making an action movie called Argo. Using this cover the pulled off a daring rescue.
Pretty damn cool, huh? Now take a look at that cast. Check. Now take a look at that director. Ben Affleck was hiding his directing talent all these years and his first two films both make this a must watch for me. The Town had its ups and downs but Affleck’s debut, Gone Baby Gone, is a fantastic film that put Affleck on the directing map. It proved he’s more than just the friend whose favorite part of the day was when he never thought he’d see Matt Damon again. I’m excited to see him tackled this kickass story.
Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits
This is another one of those, “director earned a must watch” pick. Martin McDonagh’s first film was the fantastic In Bruges. If you haven’t seen the film, stop reading and watch the entire thing right now. I’ll wait. Still waiting. Watch it. Waiting. Okay.
Great, wasn’t it? That, along with the cast, is why I’m so excited for his newest flick, Seven Psychopaths. It focuses on a struggling writer (Farrell) geting tangled up with criminals when his best friend, a part time dog thief played by Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken steal a violent gangster’s beloved dog. Need I say more?
Director: Stephen Spielberg
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones
There’s a whole lot to look forward here. Daniel Day- Lewis’s method acting may be extreme but it’s provided us with some of the best acting ever committed to film and he is the perfect choice to bring a titan like Abraham Lincoln to life. Couple that with Spielberg’s directing and a wonderful supporting cast and you can already hear the Academy fighting to take a bite of the Oscar bait.
My aforementioned love of history is a big factor here. Lincoln is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and will focus on “the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War.”This fascinating period in US history is woefully underrepresented in film and I, for one, can’t wait.
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judy Dench, Ralph Fiennes
I’m a Sam Mendes fan and I think he’ll bring some gravitas to this iconic franchise. I’m also excited to see Javier Bardem take on another villainous role but really, there are only three words I need to write to express why I’m looking forward to Skyfall: Bond. James Bond.
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch
Remember that little known trilogy from the early 2000’s? You know, it was a fantasy story? You probably haven’t heard of it. It was called The Lord of the Rings and it pretty much dominated the world which made a nerd like me (read the books as a 5th grader) quite happy. Well, 5th grade me always preferred the prequel to the trilogy, “The Hobbit.” Now Peter Jackson is making young me happy again by converting the prequel into a brand spanking new trilogy. It was originally going to be directed by Guillermo Del Toro but financial troubles sidelined the project and he eventually had to leave. His fingerprints are still all over the designs of this movie as Jackson kept much of his pre-production work intact. Middle Earth, here we come.
3.) The Master
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix
The Master is PTA’s follow up to the 2007 masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. Some of Anderson’s other films include the supremely interesting (and weird) Magnolia and another classic, Boogie Nights. PTA is one of the premier filmmakers working today and his movies are truly must watch stuff for any serious film fan.
The Master uses the cult of Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard as a jumping off point focusing on the relationship between a troubled drifter/ex soldier (Phoenix) and the founder of a new religion (Hoffman). The film has big buzz coming out of the Toronto film festival with many critics hailing the performances of Hoffman and Phoenix.
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels
Here is another example of me being sold on the director and cast no matter the material (noticing a trend in how I pick films?). You put Rian Johnson, director of Brick, The Brothers Bloom and one of Breaking Bad’s best episodes (“Fly”), behind the camera and this cast in front of it and I’d watch the movie if it was just people arguing over the merits of mayonnaise and miracle whip. Luckily, there’s a little more to the plot than that.
In the near future a young man named Joseph Simmons (Gordon-Levitt) works as a special sort of hit man known as a Looper. 30 years after the film’s setting time travel was invented and the mob sends victims back for a nice tidy execution. Loopers do the deed. Everything is going fine for Joe until the mob sends back his future self (Willis). If a great sci-fi premise wasn’t enough, Gordon-Levitt will undergo make up work to resemble a young Willis and his performance will be modeled on Bruce’s mannerisms. One of the best young actors working today imitating John McClane? I’m in.
1.) Django Unchained
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
Let’s see. One of the best filmmakers ever? Check. An epic premise in which an ex-slave is trained by a bounty hunter to hunt down the plantation owner who has his wife? Check. Leonardo Dicaprio playing a plantation owner/virulent racist/villain? Check. This face? Check.
My final pitch on why you should see this film? Two words: Quentin. Tarantino.