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Django Unchained (2012)
What's really to say? It's the next Quentin Tarantino movie. Skeptics could say that perhaps Tarantino has worn the revenge genre thin and I may be inclined to agree but all these movies have been really f*cking good. If "revenge" is Tarantino's genre like Carpenter does horror, I'd be alright with that. DJANGO has a killer cast - Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell, Sacha Baron Cohen, Don Johnson, RZA - an amazing script and a hot topic (a slave getting his revenge). What will be interesting about this film is that it will be Tarantino's first without longtime editor and collaborator Sally Menke, who passed away this year.
Prometheus sort of got lost in the shuffle of holiday trailers but wrongfully so. While THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is what it is and (I suppose) deserves it's level of fervor, few movies tantalize like PROMETHEUS. It is something of a wild card, I'll admit, considering a) we really know very little about it, and b) it a prequel for one of the best sci-fi films of all-time. Now I'm sure director Ridley Scott would take umbrage with me even using the word "prequel" but I don't even know what else to call this thing. I just know I want to be there when it happens.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
What can I even say about this? With most other films, if they released a six-minute prologue and you couldn't understand a word out of one of the main character's mouths, there would be a big hullabaloo. But "In Nolan We Trust," I'm told. I'm not an insane TDK fanboy but I'm curious to see how Nolan - who has the clout to pull off a ballsy ending - chooses to wrap up his trilogy. Will Batman die? Is Robin in this movie? Will people start waiting in line next month just to see this?
The Avengers (2012)
I want to keep the amount of comic-based tentpoles on this list to a minimum because they tend to wind up disappointing, but how can you not put AVENGERS on this list. It's been Marvel's mega-gamble over the past few years. Not just making standalone superhero films but building to one epic crossover, the likes of which have never been attempted. It almost doesn't matter if it's not perfect: that they've come this far, will likely be enough. I was lucky enough to visit the set and I've seen some things that are enough to get the geek hairs on the back of your neck stand up and dance. Let's see if Joss Whedon can pull this off.
I was watching THERE WILL BE BLOOD the other day and, unable to turn if off, began wondering if Daniel Day Lewis' performance as Daniel Plainview is one of the best I've lived through in my lifetime. Just so damn good, it's amazing. I'm not sure what happened with NINE but DDL is back with Spielberg's LINCOLN and if reports that he's been living in character as our 16th President since June are true, well, I can't wait to see what he has in store. I'm not much of a history buff, but like a new Tarantino movie, any Daniel Day Lewis performance is worth my hard-earned money.
Only God Forgives (2013)
After striking gold with my DRIVE prediction last year, how could I not return to the Nicolas Winding Refn/Ryan Gosling well one more time? Their upcoming collaboration, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, hasn't even started filming yet, but is scheduled for a late-2012 release. That doesn't mean it will be some stuffy Oscar-bait drama though; no way. Refn says it's "a fast, powerful, high-profile, action and violent revenge story." Huh. Sounds familiar in a very awesome way.
Just this week we found out that Alfonso Cuaron refused to let his actors - George Clooney and Sandra Bullock - wear makeup while filming the sci-fi thriller. And I'll bet that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Cuaron is looking to accomplish with this film. The plot itself is fairly standard: two astronauts out working on a space station get untethered from their ship and must struggle to get back to their ship and back home to Earth. Guillermo del Toro said of what Cuaron is attempting: "I think he would kill me if I reveal [what is so crazy about it], and in time it will be publicized…[they] are absolutely pushing a new boundary in filmmaking, completely mind-blowing." Rumors had it that the entire film would be one long take but we'll have to wait and see, which is half the fun.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
CABIN IN THE WOODS, the long-delayed horror film from Drew Goddard (CLOVERFIELD) and Joss Whedon (THE AVENGERS), finally got to play for a public audience at Austin's Butt-Numb-a-Thon. Reaction was, well, ecstatic. It's a hard movie to convey without giving away much of the premise but you'll see some hints at some really weird shit in the trailer and perhaps this succinct synopsis sums it up best: "Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen." And maybe the best part? NOT IN 3D.
The Watch (2012)
I'm going out on a limb with this one. I should mention first off that it's being produced by Shawn Levy, the comedy vacuum behind DATE NIGHT and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. But it sports a pretty impressive pedigree that includes stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Will Forte, a script by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and directed by Akiva Schaffer (HOT ROD, SNL Digital Shorts). The film follows a group of suburbanites called on to save the world when an alien race crash lands in their cul-de-sac. Could be a HANGOVER style hit or it could be the reason Jonah Hill kicks himself for having to pass on DJANGO UNCHAINED.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
You'll notice, as this list goes on, that the movies I'm most looking forward to are low on concept and big on talent; especially directors. I tend to follow directors rather than actors or franchises because, to me, that's the best predictor for success. Such is the case here with the latest film from Wes Anderson. He hasn't made a live-action film since 2007's THE DARJEELING LIMITED and it'll be great to have him back. The film follows two young kids in love who run away from their New England town, prompting a citywide search. Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Frances McDormand and, yes, Bill Murray are all along for the ride.
I was a huge fan of director Rian Johnson's debut BRICK and mostly enjoyed his follow-up THE BROTHERS BLOOM, so I'm very curious to see what he does here with a bigger cast and a bigger budget. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as different version of the same man. I don't necessarily see the resemblance but, OK, that's not the point. The film takes place in a futuristic society where assassins send marks back in time to be killed. JGL is surprised to see the future version of himself show up, waiting to be killed. But he doesn't go quietly.
As a big fan of CORALINE, I was excited to see what upstart animation studio would do next. They're sticking with the macabre for their sophomore film, PARANORMAN, the story of a young boy battling zombies. I've often wondered why there aren't more "scary" films geared towards pre-teens. I mean, who loves zombies more than 12-year-old boys? Obviously some of the genre is going to be hard-R but why not more movies that feature zombies and ghosts and kids?
You're Next (2011)
This might be cheating considering I've alreeady seen this film (you can read my review here) but seeing this film once makes me want to see it again in 2012. Sadly, Lionsgate looks to be planning an October release, which means we'll have to wait a while but, trust me, it's worth the wait. Star Sharni Vinson might be the one of the best horror babes I've seen in a long time and I won't mention why for fear of spoiling some of the fun. It's a scary, funny and clever horror flick that, with any luck, will become a new horror classic. (Added bonus: I've seen another film on this list I'm not allowed to talk about...but which one is it?)
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