Movies I Wanna See Most: Fall 2012

2012 will likely go down as the year of the nerds. I mean, the two biggest films of the summer were vastly different comic book movies. Movies that, at the beginning of the millennium studios were afraid to touch. Now, it has qualified as a genre in its own right and that is why we keep seeing different variations on the same story and will continue to see those until the box office really starts to lag. This is not an editorial about the superhero genre though, or even how geeks rule the world (or at least the movies) because the most anticipated film of the latter part of this year is Peter Jackson's return to the shire. No, this is a simple collection of films that I am eager to see as the studios have finished up with their blockbuster/summer tentpoles for the year and will now turn their focus towards the movies we will likely be hearing all about come Oscar time next February. There is a good mix of films that will certainly be exciting, thrilling, compelling, thought-provoking, but most importantly entertaining to see unfold. There are also plenty of films I wanted to include on the list but just didn't have the room. I am anxious to see how Robert Zemeckis returns to live action with Flight as well as Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty but I just can't get as excited about them as I am these others. Not to mention, this could be one of the more interesting Oscar races we've seen over the past couple of years (but we'll save that speculation for later). As always, let me know what you think of the list. Are you anticipating some of the same movies? Did your favorite not make the list? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Seven Psychopaths

Kicking off the list we have a little film that we haven't seen much from thus far. It is the first film from Director Martin McDonagh since his fantastically filthy 2008 film In Bruges. Re-teaming with star Colin Farrell while also picking up an amazing cast that includes Woody Harrelson as a gangster who goes on a rampage after his shih tzu is kidnapped by Sam Rockwell, an unemployed actor who's only way of making money is helping dognapper Christopher Walken. Get this, he steals them just so he can take them back for the reward money. Farrell gets mixed up in this whole thing as a struggling screenwriter friend of Rockwell's who is simply trying to help a friend out. This adventure will likely give him some great material for his next script though. The film also Co-stars Abbie Cornish, Kevin Corrigan, and Gabourey Sidibe. The story itself sounds just outlandish enough to spurn the same kind of witty, funny dialogue as McDonagh wrote for his hard to relate to characters in his previous effort. If he can work wonders with hitmen and drug dealers, making them seem appealing in the most honest of ways, giving us a reason to feel empathy for them while balancing it with some great comedy I can't wait to see what he does with this cast of characters. Seven Psychopaths is set to open October 12th.

Looper

Director Rian Johnson has delivered two great films already that have sadly been overlooked for the most part. In 2005's Brick which also starred Joseph Gordon Levitt, Johnson chronicled a simple story of a teenage loner investigating his missing girlfriend. The next was fairly reviewed but flew under the radar yet was one of my favorite films of 2008. I loved the tone, the vibe and the performances in The Brothers Bloom and if you haven't seen it go ahead and rent it. With his third directorial feature Mr. Johnson has gone in a completely different direction again but has reunited with the more in demand Gordon-Levitt for a trippy sci-fi flick that chronicles a looper or hitman (Levitt) who kills people sent back from the future by mobs. The twist comes when Levitt is forced to face his future self who is played by Bruce Willis. The trailers have been impressive and the film seems to have a nice tone going for it. When I first heard the casting for the film I thought it interesting that Gordon-Levitt could pull off a young Willis. Not just in a physical sense but also in his performance. I've liked what I've seen so far and can't wait to see how such an engaging story plays out. It's movies like this and last year's Source Code that continue to move the sci-fi genre forward and I only hope this lives up to the expectations I've set. You can see Looper in theaters on September 28th.

The Hobbit

Although I haven't read any of the books and I don't go back and watch the original trilogy over and over again and I haven't bought the extended editions on blu ray I still enjoyed the gorgeous look and epic scale of the Lord of the Rings films enough to be pretty excited about The Hobbit. Do I have any idea what really happens in the book? Not really, I know its the story of Bilbo and how he came to be the owner of the ring which I thought was already told in flashbacks in the previous trilogy but whatever, I'm up for seeing more of Jackson's work in what made him one of the best directors out there today. While alot of fuss around the film has been made about the high frame rate of 48 frames per second that screened at cinema-con and of all things was criticized for looking too real; it seems like the studio is taking precautions and is going to release the 48fps version in limited cities upon its initial outing. Besides this little bit of turmoil everything we've seen from The Hobbit gives us reason to expect nothing short of what we've grown accustomed to when it comes to the pairing of Jackson and Tolkien. With this now being a planned trilogy fans will get more than they originally hoped for though I am interested to see what I've heard described as a rather boring story span three, no doubt very long, films. The Hobbit sees the return of Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, and Andy Serkis along with newcomers Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Martin Freeman. You can see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters December 14th.

Lincoln

The simple fact that Steven Spielberg is directing Daniel-Day Lewis is enough to entice any film lover. The fact that Day-Lewis will be playing one of the most notable figures in history and one of our nations most prominent Presidents only makes the occasion that much more exciting. The film is based on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals, which focuses on the last four years of Lincoln's life and is particularly interested in the President and his combative cabinet. It is said to take an intense look at Lincoln near the end of the civil war and all of the strategizing that was going on to close it out as well as ensuring the end of slavery. The director and star are enough to make the intrigue unbelievably high with the film, but if you're still a bit skeptical just take a look at the supporting cast Spielberg has rounded up for this one. You have David Strathairn as Lincoln's loyal secretary of state, William Seward. His wife Mary Todd (Sally Field) and sons Tad and Robert (Gulliver McGrath and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Then we have Tommy Lee Jones playing Thaddeus Stevens who is known as a radical member of Lincoln's party. While little has been seen of the film besides a few paparazzi shots from set (or Day-Lewis doing his method thing at brunch) the first official still that was released a few days ago let everyone know the uncanny resemblance the actor shares with the President but also the gravitas that he will be pulling off. If he can impress so much with one still photograph I can't wait to see what he will do throughout a feature film. Win an Oscar, I'm sure. You can see Lincoln in limited release on November 9th before it expands nationwide on November 16th.

Anna Karenina

Though I've never read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina I am completely enthralled by anything that director Joe Wright decides to take on. I usually wouldn't be as intrigued by a period piece either, but that is what Wright does best. He takes these kinds of stories that might be easily considered boring by the mainstream movie-going audience and as we've seen with Pride & Prejudice and Atonement he takes things both visually and emotionally to higher levels than you'd ever expect. From what we have seen in the trailer, he again delivers a beautiful film that uses a single dilapidated theater location where over one hundred sets were built and provides a distinct style of fluid linearity to the whole thing. Based on the idea that the Russian aristocracy of the 19th century could be described as living on a stage Wright and his crew approached the project with that theme in mind and have run with it. I am anxious to see how this plays out across the entire film and how Wright again compliments his visual flair with what will no doubt be fine performances from a reliable cast that includes Kiera Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Mixed with what will of course be a wonderful musical score from Atonement composer and frequent Wright collaborator Dario Marianelli I am looking forward to every aspect of this film. And then, of course, there is the tracking shot. What will he do with that technique in this one? We will all find out when Anna Karenina hits theaters on November 9th.

The Master

I will be honest, I still haven't seen Boogie Nights. I know, I know; it is something I'm pretty much obliged to have seen if I'm going to claim to be any kind of film lover but I hope the fact I have seen all of Paul Thomas Anderson's films since will make up for it. I realize that is only three films but hey, if not I will get around to watching Boogie Nights before The Master hits theaters this fall. I have always been more perplexed by how cinephiles and critics seem to have an unconditional relationship with the director. That he is almost this untouchable type of filmmaker. He can do no wrong. While I found each Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood fascinating I have yet to go back and re-visit any of them after my initial viewings. I will likely do this soon, especially with the most recent but what makes me eager to see what Anderson will deliver with The Master is the tour de force performances that seem to be at play here from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams. That combined with the touchy premise that the film is supposedly based on the beginnings of Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard. There was never any direct correlation clarified but the similarities were there as Hoffman plays a man so shaken by the horrors of the world that he creates a new, nonspecific religion. I don't really know or care to know much about the actual Scientology religion, but from the beginning I was hooked with intrigue and now, after the secret screening Anderson held a few weeks ago I am more than ever ready to see the performance Phoenix displays. The Master opens in limited release on September 14th followed by a nationwide roll-out a week later.

Cloud Atlas

While many of the films I get excited about seeing have a great deal of ambition about them (if the filmmakers are ambitious the audience is surely in for a treat of some sort, right?) it is easy to see that the most ambitious film on this list is Cloud Atlas. Based on the 2004 novel by British author David Mitchell, the story follows six different storylines where, in the book anyway, each tale is revealed to be a story that is read or observed by the main character in the next. Sound a little difficult? That isn't even scratching the surface of how the book lays out its time traveling from the South Pacific circa 1850 to a post apocalyptic future. The story goes that Natalie Portman gave a copy of the novel to Lana Wachowski on the set of V for Vendetta who became extremely interested in it having her and her brother Andy write separate scripts and then inviting Tom Tyker (Run Lola Run) to draft a version as well. What ended up happening after failing to find a studio to fund the dream project with multiple actors (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant) playing multiple parts or versions of themselves and three directors was receiving funding from several German studios allowing the Wachowski's (The Matrix trilogy) and Tyker to shoot with parallel units sharing no crew members except for the actors playing multiple parts. If that doesn't meet the description of ambition I'm not sure what will. I only hope it translates to the screen with real beauty and grace. If the extended trailer is any indication this will be ambition at its finest. Cloud Atlas opens on October 26th.

Killing Them Softly

Five years after The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford I will still go back to the film every now and then just for the stunning visuals and tone it captured of one of our most famous movie stars playing the most famous of outlaws. Pitt throws himself into the role of James and director Andrew Dominik captures the essence of what made this man a legend. Now, having re-teamed on Killing Them Softly I anxiously await what the pair have done with the story of a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that occurs during a high stakes, mob protected poker game. The movie is based on the 1974 novel Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins and besides having Pitt in the lead role as Jackie Cogan we have some other pretty heavy hitters here as well. James Gandolfini seems to be back doing what he does best while Ray Liotta is in comfortable territory and Richard Jenkins looks to give a great performance but just seeing all these guys in action together makes the prolonged wait for the film all the more aggravating. With the recent release of the first trailer we finally got a taste of what Dominik has turned his crime story into and his strengths are obvious here as the New Orleans set story has a clear and present tone as well as a definite visual look and style to match that mood every step of the way. Not to mention putting a Johnny Cash song in the background never hurts. Pitt has continued to make nothing but great quality films as he ages with Jesse James, Benjamin Button, Inglorious Basterds, The Tree of Life, and Moneyball all being fantastic. When the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival it received positive reviews; we will be able to make up our own minds when Killing Them Softly opens on October 19th.

Django Unchained

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino are really the only words I need to hear to know the movie is going to be worth watching. When entering film school all you would hear about is the importance of Pulp Fiction and the overall love for Tarantino and his craft as well as what he'd done for the simple role of a director. The teachers and students alike practically worshiped the guy. I'd seen a few of his films, including the structure defining Fiction, but never truly understood why he had left such a mark on the world of cinema. Then I saw Inglorious Basterds. It blew my mind, everything about it. The guy was following nothing but his own rules and left nothing to convention. It was glorious-the dialogue, the extended scenes of heightened tension based on verbal exchanges alone was incredible. The characterization, the performances and the liberties he took with history. It was all perfectly bombastic and yet effective in the most meaningful of ways. At two and a half hours it wasn't the shortest film, but never did I feel tested by the length, rather I never wanted it to end. Seeing as Tarantino has focused his energy towards the western genre this time and has put together a stellar cast that again re-teams him with Christoph Waltz (in probably the best thing Waltz has done since his Oscar winning Basterds role) as well as his first collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. Then there is Jamie Foxx as the title character (I understand his reasons, but I wish Will Smith would have taken the role) as a freed slave who treks across America with a bounty hunter (Waltz) to track down and free his wife from a ruthless plantation owner (DiCaprio). A spaghetti western at heart with plenty of controversy going for it and undoubtedly no shortage of blood, violence, and laughs. "The D is silent" and we can see Django Unchained on Christmas Day.

Skyfall

I was never that interested in the legacy of James Bond until I wandered into a theater that was showing Casino Royale after watching Stranger than Fiction. I didn't expect to see a second great film that day especially as I had no real history or investment in the world of Bond, but this was something completely different than I ever expected. It was dark and gritty, it was complex and not goofy like the few bits of the Pierce Brosnan ones I'd seen and Daniel Craig exuded badass to the point all he had to do was stare at you and you knew what drink he wanted to order. It took only that one film to make me appreciate what I hadn't found appealing enough to investigate in twenty previous movies. This no doubt upped the expectation for its follow up Quantum of Solace released two years later, but no one would argue with you in saying that was nothing short of a disappointment. Now, after a four year delay, most of which is due to studio issues that dealt with MGM filing for bankruptcy we have a new Bond film. Since, the company has been restructured and shooting on Skyfall finally began last November. Though I didn't have any affection for the character until Craig took the role it is hard to ignore the impact the character has had on pop culture society. Without Bond there would be no Jason Bourne franchise or John McClane one-liners, heck there wouldn't even be an Indiana Jones. Bond films were the first of their kind, they were event films and Skyfall feels like a return to form. A Bond for the modern age, but an event nonetheless. See Skyfall when it opens everywhere on November 9th.



5 More I'm Excited For...

Like I said, there are a ton of movies coming out in the latter part of the year that I'm really anxious to see. I had a tough time deciding which films would fall into those top ten slots and these are five films that were in the mix to make my top ten at one point or another. The first being the next directorial effort from Ben Affleck titled Argo. The film tells the true story of a covert operation to rescue six Americans that unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis. Affleck has a great track record as a director and I'm excited to see what he does next. October 12th.

The King's Speech director Tom Hooper follows up his best picture winner with an adaptation of the extremely popular stage play. Les Miserables tells the story of ex prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) who has been hunted by a ruthless policeman (Russell Crowe) for breaking his parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) young daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) their lives are changed forever. Having seen the stage play and having loved it I'm looking forward to how this material will translate to a feature. December 7th.

While the next film may have created a rift between Director David O. Russell and his Fighter star Mark Wahlberg, I understand why Russell stuck to his gut. I couldn't see Marky Mark playing the former high school teacher who returns home to live with his parents after four years in a mental institution. That is the basis for The Silver Linings Playbook which Russell instead chose Bradley Cooper to headline. Cooper seems to have pulled it off quite well and seemingly has great chemistry with his co-star and current "it" girl Jennifer Lawrence. The film also stars Robert DeNiro, Julia Stiles, and Chris Tucker. November 21st. 

After a three year hiatus Director Ang Lee returns with what looks to be one of the most visually stunning pictures of the year. Life Of Pi is based on the 2001 novel by Yann Martel (which I am currently trying to start reading along with Cloud Atlas) and tells the story of an Indian boy named Pi who is a zookeeper's son and finds himself stranded with a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific Ocean. I am not overly familiar with the story and wasn't aware of the novel until I heard talks of the film adaptation, but if the trailers are any indication this looks to be some seriously epic visual storytelling. November 21st.

The lone all out comedy on the list was probably the closest to making the actual top 10 as I like to provide a good variety, but I guess Seven Psychopaths will do. Despite many people complaining his last comedy wasn't comedy enough I absolutely loved everything it explored about life and laughing. With his follow up being a sequel to his most successful picture I hope Judd Apatow will not just reaffirm his spot as Godfather to the comedy world, but also deliver a great film. This is 40 looks to be a reliable comedy in the least and might reach for that something more that will separate it from everything else in the rush of Oscar hopefuls that will be shoved down our throats this winter. Here's hoping. December 21.