January 5, 2012


Laptop? Check. Looking forward/up? Check.
Actual still from the film 2012? Check.
John Cusack? Check.

Yes, the Mayans have predicted that this is year the world ends. While I certainly don't believe it will (have we already forgotten Y2K?!), 2012 should nevertheless prove to be a big year for me, though perhaps not as film-watching focused as 2011. The reason being that, in the year to come, I will be heading back to school for the first time since 2003. I'll be doing the Masters in Scriptwriting at Victoria University. It should be, by all accounts, a challenging course and one I intend to fully exploit.

So, to be a poor student again. This will likely cut down on the number of films I can see but there are some films I simply have to see in 2012 and then there are those films I'm looking forward but are not quite as overly enthusiastic about. I've culled from a few places but these will, of course, only be the films that have announced release dates for this year. For example, will Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master get a release here in this calendar year? I doubt it, which is why it isn't on the list. There are also all those delicious surprises waiting at film festivals and during the year but this should serve as fairly decent overview (I apologise for the text heaviness of this post, but blogger was giving me a right headache with adding images for some reason):

The Films I Can't Wait For

 Scorsese's 3D kids film that has already been receiving great reviews in the States is out this month in New Zealand. My eyeballs are preparing for the visual splendour and my brain is anticipating a new film from one of the Masters of Cinema.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
This is one of those films I have consciously avoided reading anything about because I just want to go in as blind as possible. I do know that its an intelligent espionage thriller set in Cold War era London with a top-notch English cast headlined by Gary Oldman. How could I not be looking forward to this?!

The Raid
You should really just watch the trailer here. You're welcome.

Young Adult
Diablo Cody, for all the ridiculous backlash that followed Juno and her Oscar win, is one of the smartest, funniest and most perceptive writers currently working in Hollywood. Continuing her work dissecting and discussing contemporary women, and re-teaming with director Jason Reitman, Young Adult looks to be blisteringly funny. Charlize Theron stars as an immature YA fiction writer who returns to her old hometown. With Patton Oswalt and Patrick Wilson also bringing the funny.

2011 was a good year for Michael Fassbender - he quickly became one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood following work in Inglorious Basterds and X-Men: First Class. With Shame, the story of a sex addict, he returns to work with his director on Hunger, Steve McQueen.

Corman's World
A documentary about the legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman who, thanks to his early work with Scorsese, Coppola and more, has possibly given more to the world of American cinema than anyone else. Should prove fascinating.

A stop-motion film about a boy who can talk to the dead who has to help save his town from zombies, 
I'm hopeful that this is an oddball delight. The trailer looks fairly decent and it should at least be better than Hotel Transylvania, which has a neat idea but brought to us by Adam Sandler & co. 

The Avengers
Captain America. Iron Man. Thor. The Incredible Hulk. Black Widow. Hawkeye. The Avengers is a film unlike anything else, a superhero team-up blockbuster starring characters previously featured in their own films. I really hope Marvel and Joss Whedon have knocked this one out of the park. They need to.

The Dark Knight Rises
The FINAL film in Christopher Nolan's incredibly well regard Bat-trilogy, it is likely more anticipated than The Avengers. The trailer didn't really do much for me, and I'm still on the fence with regards to Bane as the main villain, but Nolan has promised that this is a definitive end to his Caped Crusader. I can't wait to see how it all shakes out.

Soderbergh continues to confound and surprise. Haywire is really a cheap 80's action film idea - take MMA fighter Gina Carano and put her front-and-centre as a burned CIA agent on the run and out for revenge. But in the hands of Soderbergh and with an insanely good cast this should prove to be sublime entertainment.

The Pixar film for the year, this is also the studio's first feature to star a female protagonist. Also, after two consecutive sequels and a Monsters Inc. prequel next year, Brave is a wholly original production. Watching the trailer again, this is a film I can't wait for: deliciously gorgeous animation, a mythic and fantastic setting, Scots and surely more this is undoubtedly a new Pixar classic.

The third film from Rian Johnson, the genius director behind the tangled, high-school noir Brick and the big hearted con-man film The Brothers Bloom. Looper stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mafia hitman who knocks off targets sent back from the future. But what happens when they send his older self (Bruce Willis) through? I can't wait to find out.

The Cabin in the Woods
This is a film I have been looking forward to for years. Initially due out in 2010 this smart horror-comedy was unfortunately caught up in the MGM finance/bankruptcy debacle. It is said to play with the conventions of the genre rather brilliantly. Coming as it does from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard that really shouldn't be a surprise.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
You've seen the trailer, right? As... interesting a relationship I find I have with Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, I'm very much looking forward to The Hobbit. The original book was, after all, one of my favourite and defining stories as a kid.

Django Unchained
I think this really goes without saying doesn't it? A new Tarantino film is always something to look forward to and this is no exception. Jamie Foxx as a vengeful slave and Leonardo DiCaprio as a villainous slave owner all mixed in with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Christoph Waltz, Don Johnson and Kurt Russell.

Wreck-It Ralph
John C. Reilly stars as an 8-bit video-game villain who grows tired of the evil life and instead wants to be a hero. This could be something special but we'll just have to wait and see. Colour me intrigued.

Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men) is one of the most interesting directors working today. This long gestating film starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts may be his most ambitious yet. It'll also be in 3D - I'm drooling a little at the thought of Cuaron showing us space in the third dimension.

Based on a true-story almost too good to be true, Ben Affleck's latest directorial effort is about a group of CIA agents staging a fake film in order to extract six American's hiding in the Canadian embassy in Iran. Affleck has already proven himself as a director and, with a brilliant ensemble cast, this is easily one of my most anticipated releases of the year.

Cogan's Trade
Brad Pitt reteaming with his Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford director Andrew Dominik? Yep. You can count me in on that.

G.I. JOE: Retaliation
The appeal of this film for me can be summed up in two words and one person: The Rock. Dwayne Johnson is one of the most charismatic action stars of the last decade and, after slumming it in a slew of awful family films, he seems to have got his man-mountain mojo back (see Fast 5 if you don't believe me). Also, this trailer certainly helped.

The Other Films I'm Looking Forward To

Of course, 2012 is going to be a year packed with even more great films. What follows are those films I'm looking forward to seeing but that I'm not hanging out for:

Kill List - a horror/thriller from English newcomer Ben Wheatley that has been garnering a lot of positive press overseas.

The Amazing Spider-Man - the much ballyhooed reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, I'm still on the fence for this one. I really like the cast but the overly moody trailer for the film and that Marc Webb has only made one other film has me a little worried.

The Descendants - George Clooney paired with Sideways director Alexander Payne

We Need to Talk About Kevin - this well regarded adaptation of the Lionel Shriver novel actually played as one of the Secret Screenings at Fantastic Fest this year but I sadly missed it. 

Magic Mike - another Soderbergh film for the year, this time starring Channing Tatum in a film based on his days as a male stripper. Yes.

World War Z - I'm just not sure where I stand with regards to this. I like the general idea of it (Brad Pitt tripping about a zombie plagued post-apocalyptic world) but I just cannot get excited about a zombie movie any more. Filed under "wait-and-see".

Skyfall - emerging from the MGM debacle comes the latest Daniel Craig Bond film. I'm hoping the cast and crew are feeling re-energised and give us a great new Bond film.

Prometheus - there's a lot of geek-hype surrounding this "definitely not a prequel to Alien, no-sir, no-how" and I have to say... I'm not entirely feeling it. I'm liking the cast, the trailer was pretty cool but, but... but. Hmmm.

The Hunger Games - another year, another YA fiction adaptation... Though The Hunger Games could be something entirely different and could prove to be the star-making turn for breakout actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Dredd - another one to file under "wait and see", this could be a great, gritty adaptation of the popular 2000AD character. Or it could be along the lines of the Stallone starring Judge Dredd (probably not though).

John Carter - surely the most boring, derivative and uninteresting title for a truly fantastic film coming from pulp fiction roots. Pixar director Andrew Stanton is making his live-action feature debut with this adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs hero - an American Civil War veteran who finds himself transported to Mars. Could be fun, could be lacklustre and underwhelming.

The Artist - this is making a lot of End of Year Best of lists in the States and looks to be an affectionate film about the silent era of cinema. From the crazy French guys who made the two OSS 117 films.

The Grey - Liam Neeson is a hard-assed action hero nowadays. Who knew? Joe Carnahan directs what looks to be a pared down survival thriller.

Rampart - Woody Harrelson has had something of a career revival of late, and this is a film that looks to continue that. He's received positive notices for his portrayal of an intensely corrupt LA cop and this could be a great new noir.

The Woman in Black - there's a fair amount riding on this one little film - it's the first major release post-Potter for Daniel Radcliffe and also the first big release for the newly resurrected Hammer films. The trailer is proper creepy and it'll be intriguing to see how Radcliffe does far-removed from the spectacle (and the spectacles) of Potter.

Act of Valor - an action film about Navy SEALS starring actual Navy SEALS. It could be a overly-patriotic mess featuring non-actors but it could also be an authentic, action-filled experience. In any case, it should be tougher than Expendables 2.

Anna Karenina - Joe Wright returns to period films and brings Keira Knightley along with him. Wright's Hanna was one of my favourite films of 2011 but I remain dubious about period films (for no real reason).

The Lorax - I love Dr. Seuss; I was raised on his nonsense verse and moral lessons. That said, I don't think there has been (or can ever really be) a feature film that captures his essential Seussness (although the little-seen 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T comes the closest). But the trailers for The Lorax look uncanny and possibly delightful. Also, Danny DeVito sounds perfect as the Lorax.

A Dangerous Method - Cronenberg. Mortensen. Fassbender. Knightley. Freud. Jung.

Jeff Who Lives at Home - the Duplass brothers' Cyrus was an unexpected hit of awkwardness and this Jason Segel and Ed Helms starring follow-up could see them continue to the mainstream.

Butter - a political satire starring Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman and Alicia Silverstone about butter-carving. Yep, competitive butter carving.

Wettest County - Australian John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road) directs this tale about bootleggers who face off against corrupt authorities. Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Noah Taylor and Mia Wasikowska are among the talented cast.

Gangster Squad - now, if I knew a little more about the film itself this could have easily found a spot on my "Can't Wait" list. Set in LA in the 40's and 50's it sees the LAPD facing off against the encroaching East Coast gangs. With Zombieland's Ruben Fleischer directing Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Joch Brolin, Sean Penn, Anthony Mackie and Nick Nolte.

Dark Shadows - I'm not sure how I feel about Tim Burton. He has surely crafted some of the most delightfully offbeat and oddball films of modern times. But I also feel like he's become too set in his style and his last few films have been nothing but that style. Can this adaptation of an old TV show break the cycle? We shall see.

Premium Rush - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (one of the smartest, clued-up young actors around) is the bicycle courier who gets caught up in shenanigans involving a package to deliver and a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon). This is one that seems to have been around a while so it'll be intriguing to see how it shakes out.

The Five Year Engagement - Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are two very likeable actors and they'll be a big factor in determining if this romantic comedy works or not.

The Bourne Legacy - oooh, a dicey one this. The non-Bourne Bourne movie, action man of the moment Jeremy Renner steps into the CIA-trained assassin shoes with Michael Clayton director Tony Gilroy helming. Joan Allen and Albert Finney return, while Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton step up. Will it be the start of something new? Or a damp squib.

Killer Joe - Matthew McConaughey plays against type as a hitman. And remember, the last time McConaughey played against type we got the awesome Reign of Fire. The fact that William Friedkin is directing doesn't hurt either.

Lock-Out (MS One: Maximum Security) - the basic pitch is: Escape from New York... in space! Guy Pearce is a convict offered his freedom if he can rescue the President's daughter 
(Maggie Grace) from an orbiting prison facility. Could be great; could be crap. 

John Dies at the End - Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep director Don Coscarelli offers up a new slice of fantasy-horror genre weirdness. Another film I haven't heard too much from but one I'm looking forward to nonetheless.

Moonrise Kingdom - the new film from Wes Anderson, not much is known aside from a vague idea of the plot and the cast. And an interesting cast it is - Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDorman, Bill Murray (of course), Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman.

Take This Waltz - Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams make an unlikely pair in Sarah Polley's directorial follow-up to Away From Her. I haven't heard too much about it, but the talent involved has me interested.

The Ides of March - foolishly missing my chance to see this when I was in the States, I can correct that when it gets a release in New Zealand early this year. A political thriller directed by and starring George Clooney as a presidential candidate and "Man of 2011" Ryan Gosling. Inteelligent political thriller? Yes, please.

Carnage - a comedy from Roman Polanski? With John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet as two sparring couples who's initially polite evening descends into fighting and chaos.

The Skin I Live In - also playing a Secret Screening at Fantastic Fest was Almodovar's latest, about a brilliant but demented plastic surgeon played by Antonio Banderas. I've actually yet to see an Almodovar film and I'm looking forward to rectifying that this year.

Two Little Boys - on my trip to the States I took along Duncan Sarkies' comic novel about two no-hoper Kiwi lads caught up in murder, betrayal and best friendship. It was, to quote Jermaine Clement, "really, really good". I'm quite keen to see what Duncan's brother Robert had made of the material.

Bellflower - a low-fi indie post-apocalyptic love-story I believe. This is another film I've heard initial good word on, and want to go in as blind as possible. 


  1. I'm hearing plenty of good things about 'The Cabin in the Woods' so that's now on my 2012 radar. And 'The Artist' looks stunning - who'd have thunk the men behind the OSS 117 films would be capable of a magnificent black and white silent film that is sweeping through the world (Simon Pegg is just the latest in a long, long line of people singing its praises). However I'm doing my best not to get over-excited about 'Tinker, Tailor' though I can't help feeling it has already inked itself onto my end of year best of 2012 list.

  2. I'm also trying to keep my excitement/expectations with "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (someone should do some sort of mash up - "Martha, Marcy, Soldier, Spy"?) to a reasonable level.

    I mean, that's a fair few films I've listed there and then we'll still have all the currently unknown wonders to come out of Showcase and Festival too. Huzzah!