Thursday, December 15, 2011

Most Anticipated Films of 2012 – Part 2: Prestige and Fun Films

The Most Anticipated Films of 2012 is a two part look at the movies that should be the biggest and the best of the year to come. Part One is a look at the biggest, the Blockbusters, and Part Two will focus on the films that should be among the most fun and best of the year (not counting the Blockbusters and those that details are not yet known about).

Prestige Films:

Release: Fall
Genre: Period Drama
Director: Joe Wright
Plot: An adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina about a girl trapped in a loveless marriage searching for more, only to find herself in a far more complicated life.
Why It’s Anticipated: Anna Karenina is one of the great dramatic stories, and really a perfect project for director Joe Wright and star Keira Knightley to tackle (they made Pride & Prejudice and Atonement together, both are brilliant). The cast as a whole is very solid, and Wright has his usual excellent craftsmen behind the camera. This has a lot of awards season potential.
Editor’s Thoughts: Both Pride & Prejudice and Atonement are among my favorites of the last decade, and I loved 2011’s Hanna – Wright is one of the great new generation auteurs and thus any new film from him comes with a lot of built-in anticipation. Plus, I am looking forward to great artistic work from Seamus McGarvey, Dario Marianelli, Sarah Greenwood, and Jacqueline Durran.
Trailer: Here

Release: Spring
Genre: Crime Thriller
Director: Andrew Dominik
Plot: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer and point man for the mob. When their assets are stolen in a heist, Jackie is enlisted to investigate on their behalf.
Why It’s Anticipated: Writer-director Andrew Dominik’s first feature Chopper was decent, but his second The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford announced him as one of the best new directors working today. Cogan’s Trade sees him again reteaming with Brad Pitt for what could be the best crime drama/thriller of the year (think 2011’s Drive).
Editor’s Thoughts: While the known actors are all really great for this genre, I am interested in seeing the work of excellent under-the-radar actors Garret Dillahunt, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy. I am also looking forward to the collaboration between Dominik and wonderful cinematographer Greig Fraser.
Trailer: Here

Release: Spring
Genre: Historical War Drama
Director: Yimou Zhang
Plot: In 1937 during the Nanking Massacre, an American priest John Magee helps a group of Chinese escapees find sanctuary when Japanese troops invade the city of Nanjing, China.
Why It’s Anticipated: Yimou Zhang is maybe the best director working in Chinese cinema today (he is like the Steven Spielberg of China for reference), and he is working with one of the top five leading men in Hollywood Christian Bale (not so much in terms of popularity, but in terms of talent). The Flowers of War is China’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2012 Oscars.
Editor’s Thoughts: Zhang is one of the great visual directors and his cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao’s work is utterly astounding (House of Flying Daggers for example). Bale is pretty much always excellent, but it will be great to see his work acting for one of the top international directors, whose style is much different than what is typically found in Hollywood.
Trailer: Here

Release: 5/25
Genre: Drama
Director: Wes Anderson
Plot: When a young couple runs away from their small New England island town in the 1960s, a local search party led by the town’s sheriff and the girl’s parents fan out to find them.
Why It’s Anticipated: Wes Anderson is one of the most artistically interesting filmmakers. His style is unique and plays off his love of both the medium of film and storytelling. He is working again with co-writer Roman Coppola (they wrote The Darjeeling Limited together with Jason Schwartzman who also stars in this film) and cinematographer Bob Yeoman (who has shot all but one of Anderson’s films).
Editor’s Thoughts: Anderson is one of those special filmmakers whose work is entirely original and unlike anything else in cinema. I love his films: the style, awesome soundtracks and wonderful quirky characters. I am excited to see how new faces to the Anderson group work in this film (specifically Norton, Swinton and Willis who is notoriously difficult to direct – but remember how great Gene Hackman was in The Royal Tenenbaums, plus Murray has got Anderson’s back).
Trailer: Here

Release: Spring or Fall
Genre: Romance
Director: Terrence Malick
Plot: A romantic drama about a man who finds love with a girl from his hometown after his rushed marriage to a European woman falls apart.
Why It’s Anticipated: Terrence Malick has made five films (his latest The Tree of Life), each is beautiful and sort of transformative. He is one of the great filmmakers working today (and with new passion – making four films between 1973 and 2005 and now four between 2011 and 2013), and thus his films are all cinematic events. He also has a great group of actors, which also includes Jessica Chastain, Olga Kurylenko, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper, and Charles Baker.
Editor’s Thoughts: Yes the cast is very good, and yes Malick is a phenomenal visual director, but what I am most interested in this film is Malick’s third collaboration with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. He also shot Malick’s The New World and The Tree of Life, which are both brilliantly photographed (especially The New World – probably among my top ten best photographed films of the last decade). They work so well together, and the same can be said for Malick’s work with production designer Jack Fisk. He has designed all Malick’s films since The Thin Red Line. The artistry of his films is what makes them so special and really the reason this is among my most anticipated.
Trailer: Here

Fun Films:

Release: 12/25
Genre: Western
Plot: Django, a slave turned bounty-hunter, sets out to rescue his wife from the brutal Mississippi plantation owner Calvin Candie.
Why It’s Anticipated: After the fantastic job writer-director Quentin Tarantino did with his genre film Inglourious Basterds, tackling the western genre seems like a great idea (as we could always use more quality westerns). Plus, Tarantino’s stardom as a cult director brings with it a lot of cinema fans. Releasing this at Christmas makes me think that Sony Pictures and The Weinstein Company have high hopes for this as a critical (as in awards season potential) and commercial success.
Editor’s Thoughts: We all know the talent Tarantino brings to his films, but I am very interested to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s work as a villain (I cannot recall him every playing a straight-up bad guy). He has been brilliant in his last few films. I am also a big fan of Christoph Waltz ever since his breakout role in Inglourious Basterds – really I look forward to any performance from him. I love westerns. It is one of my favorite genres and I am eager to see what Tarantino brings to it (even if this is not quite a classic style western).
Trailer: Here

Release: 4/27
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Plot: The story of Tom and Victoria and their ups and downs as an engaged couple.
Why It’s Anticipated: This is the new film from the team of Jason Segel (star, writer), Nicholas Stroller (writer, director) and Judd Apatow (producer) creates of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was the best R-rated rom-com of the last decade. Segel and Stroller also wrote 2011’s The Muppets.
Editor’s Thoughts: Forgetting Sarah Marshall is very funny, but what makes it great is its heart and characters. The Five-Year Engagement hopefully will be the same. Segel and Stroller have certainly put together a stellar cast with dramatic talent in Emily Blunt (who I think is one of the top leading ladies to emerge at the end of the 2000s), Rhys Ifans and Jacki Weaver (who was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 for Animal Kingdom) and comedic talent in Alison Brie (who is brilliant on Community), Chris Pratt (who is very funny on Parks and Recreation) and Mindy Kaling (who is awesome on The Office). This very likely will be the best comedy of the year.
Trailer: Here

Title: Looper
Release: 9/28
Genre: Action Sci-Fi
Director: Rian Johnson
Plot: Joe is an assassin who works for the mob. When he is hired to kill his next target, he recognizes him as his future self.
Why It’s Anticipated: Writer-director Rian Johnson’s first film was the very good genre-meshing Brick. He is reuniting with Brick’s star Joseph Gordon-Levitt for this, his third film (Gordon-Levitt also has a very brief cameo in Johnson’s ambitious and artistically interesting film The Brothers Bloom). Sci-fi is a genre that does not often produce good feature work, so when a project that have a lot of great potential comes along fans take notice.
Editor’s Thoughts: Johnson is one of the most inventive indie directors, but Looper comes with a ton of expectations as The Brother’s Bloom while good was a little bit of a letdown after Brick. On concept alone, Looper sound awesome, and it is something completely different from Johnson’s first two films.
Trailer: Here

Release: Spring or Fall
Genre: Comedy
Director: Woody Allen
Plot: Four vignettes involving the city of Rome.
Main Cast: Woody Allen, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin
Why It’s Anticipated: Woody Allen has made six of his last seven films in Europe garnering three wonderful films (I also really like Scoop, but realize I am in the minority). With Nero Fiddled, he focuses on the city of Rome (much like Midnight in Paris and Vicky Cristina Barcelona did for Paris and Barcelona and Match Point, Scoop, Cassandra’s Dream and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger did for London). Penelope Cruz is reuniting with Allen after winning her Oscar starring in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Editor’s Thoughts: In addition to the big names starring in this film, I am excited to see Alison Pill, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page deliver Allen’s dialog. Allen is also working again with cinematographer Darius Khondji whose work on Midnight in Paris was excellent. I have really enjoyed Allen’s work in Europe since 2005 and I look forward to seeing how he utilizes the Italian capital.
Trailer: Here

Title: This Is 40
Release: 12/21
Genre: Comedy
Director: Judd Apatow
Plot: A spin-off of Knocked Up focusing around the relationship of Pete and Debbie.
Why It’s Anticipated: Judd Apatow is maybe the top working writer-director and producer in comedy right now (this will be his fourth film – The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People). It also has a great group of comedians with Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, Albert Brooks, and Annie Mumolo also starring in addition to the main cast (Megan Fox, Ryan Lee, Maude Apatow, and Iris Apatow are also in it). While Funny People was a disappointment for critics who were mixed (though, I liked it) and at the box office, Apatow looks to return to the success of his first two films, which is maybe why he is reusing characters for his biggest hit.
Editor’s Thoughts: While this seems much more like a summer movie, Universal pushed it back until December so that they could put Snow White and the Huntsmen in its place in June. For me, Apatow working with Rudd, Mann and Segel is enough for me to be excited to see this. I think Rudd and Segel are two of the best comedic actors right now.
Trailer: Here

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