Friday, 7 September 2012

20 Movies We Can't Wait To See 4 Comments


If you haven't noticed from all the festival buzz, or the kids trudging back to school or that slight drop in temperature outside, the fall movie season is finally gearing up, helping us leave behind the thrilling blockbusters of summer and move along to the headier, chillier and sometimes even more thrilling films of autumn. From Oscar hopefuls to holiday-season blockbusters and everything in-between, the fall movie crop can often be the year's most exciting, and from what we can tell, 2012 is no exception.

There's no way we can possibly highlight everything we're excited to see between now and December, but below, we give a sampling of the movies we're most feverishly anticipating-- and starting with one due in theaters next week. We've divided them up into categories-- it's not all Oscar bait, we promise-- and guarantee there's at least something in this lineup you'll be thrilled to catch in theaters between now and 2013.



AWARDS SEASON CONTENDERS


The Master (September 14)
Certain filmmakers have to put in “their time” with the Academy before the get the recognition they deserve. Not Paul Thomas Anderson. The first of his to-date five Oscar nominations came in 1997 – a screenwriting nod for his sophomore effort Boogie Nights. Oscar appreciates Anderson’s obvious talents, and we expect the Academy to fall all over themselves in praise of PTA’s The Master. The cast list alone screams “pedigree.” Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a mysterious religious sect. Two-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix as the wayward soul who falls under Hoffman’s spell. Three-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams as the woman caught between them. Could PTA be the Master holding the Oscar early next year?

Trouble With The Curve (September 21)
Clint hasn’t acted in a movie in four years, and it’s been almost two decades since he’s acted in someone else’s movie. So, either he saw Moneyball and decided to find a role defending aging baseball scouts who don’t use computers, or there’s something quietly awesome about Scott Brown’s script that couldn’t be ignored. Considering Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake also boarded, the latter should be given the benefit of the doubt. Besides, who wouldn’t want to sit in the cheap seats with those three?

Cloud Atlas (October 26)
Can we guarantee this epic and emotional-looking saga from the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer will win awards? Not at all-- it looks far too risky and potentially crazy to be a slam dunk, even with Tom Hanks in the mix. But if Cloud Atlas works as well as we hope it will, it will have all the large scale emotions and star power and technical accomplishment you could ask for this side of Titanic. It doesn't look like anything else angling for awards this year, and that's exactly why we think it has so much potential.

Lincoln (November 9)
From the moment we first saw a picture of Daniel Day-Lewis in costume as our 16th President people have been screaming "Oscar!" Will Steven Spielberg's film about the last years of Lincoln's life live up to the hype? Even if it doesn't, it's hard to imagine this movie not getting any awards traction, with a killer cast-- Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones and many more add to the appeal-- and all the historical significance you could possibly want. Spielberg is coming off a fantastic 2011, and after giving World War I a grand and tearjerking polish in War Horse, we can't wait to see how he tackles the thorny politics and real-life greatness of Lincoln.

Anna Karenina (November 16)
From Joe Wright, the director of the Oscar-nominated Pride & Prejudice and Oscar-winning Atonement, comes an elegant translation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel Anna Karenina, adapted by celebrated playwright Tom Stoppard into a sure-to-be stirring drama. Wright's trusted leading lady Keira Knightley returns, but the game changer here is Wright's latest advancement in tracking shots, setting the entire film and its grand sets within a single theater as seen in this six-minute clip. Wright has a gift for bringing an incredible energy into period pieces set within repressed societies, and this creative element is a curious risk that could pay off big.

The Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)
David O. Russell has been making interesting films about fringe characters for years, even receiving Independent Spirit Award recognition for his first two features, but it was The Fighter that put the director in the Academy spotlight. Nominated in most of the major categories, and walking away with the two supporting trophies, Russell’s follow-up, The Silver Linings Playbook, could possibly put him (and/or his cast) right back in the running. Playbook, adapted from Matthew Quick’s tragicomic novel, is about a troubled family full of eccentric characters played by a cast as stellar as his last including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro. And dancing!

FUTURE BLOCKBUSTERS

Skyfall (November 9)
You know what James Bond hasn’t had in some time? A memorable villain. An antagonist who’s either as arrogant as Blofeld, as menacing as Francisco Scaramanga, or even as campy as Jaws. The latest Bond villains (aside from maybe Mads Mikkelsen’s LeChiffre) have been typecast as vanilla megalomaniacs out to rule the world and blah, blah, blah. Javier Bardem looks to change that. We’re not sure what he’s going for in Skyfall, the latest Bond thriller, but it looks fantastically dangerous and strange. Everything about Skyfall looks stellar. Craig looks dapper as 007. Sam Mendes appears to have concocted a stream of memorable action set pieces. Let’s hope this is the Bond adventure that puts the spy back on top … or, at least helps us forget Quantum of Solace.  

The Hobbit (December 14)
It wasn't so long ago that there was a worldwide holiday season tradition of taking a trip to Middle Earth. Now, nearly ten years after the enormous Lord of the Rings franchise, Peter Jackson is returning to the world of hobbits and dwarves with another giant movie that's the first in a trilogy. With groundbreaking 48 frames per second photography and 3D and the kind of massive scenery and effects budget that we knew from the first series, The Hobbit promises to be bigger and more adventurous than nearly anything else coming out this year. Will it also bring in the audiences in droves? Even if it doesn't, you can guarantee we'll be there in hobbit feet on opening night.

Jack Reacher (December 21)
We hear you, dedicated readers of Lee Childs’ butt-kicking Jack Reacher novels. Tom Cruise was not your first choice to play the towering wanderer of a hero. Heck, Cruise likely wasn’t even your fifteenth choice. But the actor’s relationship with Paramount put him in the driver’s seat for the first of three planned Reacher movies, the first being an adaptation of Childs’ One Shot. A few things to ease your mind: Childs’ source material is strong enough to survive any casting decision; Cruise is being directed by Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun); and the first trailer for this December thriller actually did kick a lot of ass. We’re willing to give Cruise at least One Shot.  

This is 40 (December 21)
40 is the new twenty. But is This is 40 the new funny? Judd Apatow fans who were lukewarm on his Funny People certainly hope so. The writer-director wisely drifts back to a familiar environment, creating an unconventional sequel to Knocked Up by focusing on married couple Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd). The everyman pair played the welcome dose of reality to Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl. And Apatow has surrounded his already amusing leads with hilarious support in Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd. If Apatow wants to pull a “Linklater” and revisit this couple every few years to see how they (and we) are progressing, that’s quite alright with us.  

ARTHOUSE HIGHLIGHTS

Seven Psychopaths (October 12)
Heralded playwright Martin McDonagh shocked and delighted movie critics in 2008 with his thoroughly twisted crime caper In Bruges, which earned him an Oscar nod for Best Screenplay, and reminded us all what a comedic talent Colin Farrell really is. Now McDonagh and Farrell are re-teaming for Seven Psychopaths a deeply dark comedy set in Hollywood that centers on the ill-advised dognapping of a merciless gangster's beloved Shih Tzu. While it might sound wacky, trust in the man behind The Pillowman to bring out the best of a cast that includes Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits and Christopher Walken.

The Sessions (October 26)
With a different writer and a younger cast, The Sessions could have been the stupidest and boldest National Lampoon straight-to-DVD release of all-time. With this writer and this cast, however, it may well go down as a contender in several Oscar categories.  Featuring both John Hawkes and Helen Hunt in roles Sundance attendees raved about, the film chronicles a man in an iron lung’s visits to a sex surrogate, but rather than the bold subject matter, most are raving about the touching performances and quiet charm. The Sessions picked up both the Dramatic Audience Award and Dramatic Ensemble Acting Award at the festival, and with any luck, it’ll break through the shackles of its aggressive content and reach a wider than expected audience.

Rust and Bone (November 23)
The latest film from Jacques Audiard, the French director behind the Academy Award nominated A Prophet and the equally excellent The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Rust and Bone was already up for the Palme d’Or in Cannes this spring and, after its festival run, will receive limited release in North America. The powerful love story of a drifter (Matthias Schoenaerts) suddenly responsible for his son and an Orca trainer (the lovely Marion Cotillard) injured on the job looks gorgeous, depressing and raw. And don’t be surprised if Cotillard, back in her native, Oscar-winning tongue is out there walking red carpets this awards season.

SMARTER-THAN-AVERAGE THRILLERS

Looper (September 28)
Brick not only marked the arrival of Rian Johnson as a director to watch but also announced the return of an all new Joseph Gordon Levitt. The high school set neo-noir is one of the most inexpensively innovative, not to mention sharply scripted, films of the last several years and just having Johnson and Levitt re-team after their success apart is more than enough to make me mark my calendar. Looper stars JGL and Bruce Willis as the same hitman, the latter sent back to be executed by the former, in what looks like a visually stunning time travel mob movie. Levitt ‘playing’ Willis looks insane and I also can’t wait to see what Johnson does with the camera during the action sequences.

Taken 2 (October 5)
Yes, it’s unlikely another member of Bryan Mills’ family would be taken. None of them would even go to Europe again after the horrors that happened last time, but if ignoring those facts is what needs to be done to get another installment of Taken, we all need to take one for the team and shut out damn mouths. Liam Neeson has played a lot of brilliant roles and been in a lot of wonderful movies, but there’s something about him as an aging action star that feels completely in his wheelhouse. He projects the right balance of physical skills and intellectual prowess to make his Mills ooze with relatable competence.  Fingers crossed this one works so I can write about Taken 3 in 2014’s fall preview.

Argo (October 12)
Argo is no longer just the the fake science fantasy adventure that helped smuggle six American diplomats out of Tehran during the Iran Hostage crisis in 1979 but also the title of Ben Affleck’s upcoming adaptation of the true story famously published by Wired five years ago. Argo impressed at Telluride and we're expecting many more raves as it plays the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend. Affleck is once again directing (not to mention starring as CIA ‘exfiltrator’ Tony Mendez) and the thriller could easily find itself amongst ‘Award Season Heavyweights’ come Oscar time. You think Warners offered him Justice League without knowing what they have on their hands?

Zero Dark Thirty (December 19)
Though this film offers an imagined take on the Navy SEAL Team 6 operation that located and killed world-feared terrorist Osama Bin Laden, don't expect something garish or exploitative of this darkly inspired thriller. As follow-up to director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal's hard-hitting six-time Academy Award-winning war drama The Hurt Locker, this feature is sure to deliver major emotional impact. Little is known about the details on this drama—even the mysterious name on its poster has been redacted—but with Bigelow, Boal and a cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt, and Joel Edgerton, what else do you need to be sold?

  ANIMATION GOOD ENOUGH FOR GROWN-UPS

Frankenweenie (October 5)
Tim Burton has had some ups and downs lately, sure, but we've got really high hopes for this return to the story that he first told in a short film back in the 1980s, before Batman and Beetlejuice made him an icon. With stop-motion animation that promises a lot of creepy Burton-style characters, and of course the lovable risen-from-the-dead dog Sparky, the movie looks right for kids but with enough style and substance to make it appealing to grown-ups. We're not sure it can be the ghoulish pleasures of this year's ParaNorman, but if anyone can do it, it's Burton getting back in touch with his roots.

Wreck-It Ralph (November 2)
Featuring almost two hundred beloved video game characters and new ones voiced by the likes of John C Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch and even the Allstate voiceover guy, Wreck-It Ralph looks like a loving tribute to the arcade and perhaps more importantly, a grandiose adventure with a sense of humor about itself.  Disney Animation may have gone through a bit of a lull in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, but under John Lassetter’s direction, the company has churned out three wonderful movies in The Princess And The Frog, Tangled and Winnie The Pooh.  There’s no reason to think Wreck-It Ralph won’t continue the revitalization.

Rise of the Guardians (November 21)
You might think you've outgrown tales of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, but DreamWorks is looking to prove you wrong with Rise of the Guardians. Based on William Joyce's inventive The Guardians of Childhood book series, this animated adventure re-imagines classic characters like Jack Frost, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy in a modern context where they battle against darkness—in this case a slinking villain of nightmares named Pitch—to keep childhood a time of innocence and joy. The first trailer revealed a tatted up Santa along with an enticing voice cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, and Jude Law.  
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