As I begin prepping all my end-of-2011 stuff, I can’t help but gloss over the release schedule for next year and get really excited. What 2011 has lacked in blockbuster fare 2012 looks to equally match, with some really strong indie fare scattered throughout the year. Without further ado, the 10 movies of next year that are highest on my radar.
10: The Cabin in the Woods (April 13)
“Cabin in the Woods” has faced multiple release-date shifts (it finished filming about three years ago), but the word-of-mouth on this 3D horror project from “Cloverfield” screenwriter Drew Godard has only been ecstatic. I’m going out of my way to avoid all trailers and posters for this flick, as the last 30 minutes of this film are reputed to be on a whole other level of insanity.
9: Lincoln (undecided winter date)
Steven Spielberg’s third film in 12 months, “Lincoln” focuses on the last couple years of the life of our country’s greatest president, enlisting perhaps the only actor massive enough to handle such a role — Daniel Day-Lewis. Based off of Doris Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”, a wonderful historical account gripping enough for ME to get into, expect “Lincoln” to be the talk of the Oscar season next year.
8: Les Miserables (December 7)
Tom Hooper took the Oscar this year for his work on “The King’s Speech”. “Speech” to me was massively overrated, but it was also unmistakably the work of an artist beginning to develop his own voice and passion. His adaptation of the great musical “Les Miserables”, with Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman among the leads, is looking very strong.
7: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June 29)
Don’t ask why this is here. I don’t know myself. The sequel to a 2009 film I cited among the worst of that year, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” looks to retain all the high-octane action of that first entry, but with a sharper sense of direction and goofier sense of fun. Chalk that up to the “Zombieland” writers taking control of the franchise. When a movie trailer has samurai running on a cliff-side with a rope in one hand and a sword in the other, you could say I’m hooked. Plus, Bruce Willis! (!!!!!!!)
6: Skyfall (November 9)
The third go-around with Daniel Craig as James Bond has a lot riding on it. The backing studio’s financial troubles and large-scale disappointment in the last film “Quantum of Solace” mean that Craig and co. really have to step up their game to create something distinctive in the scope of things. But with a cast including superb actors like Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes and a script reportedly equaling 2006’s amazing “Casino Royale”, I’m feeling confident that “Skyfall” will be a Bond to remember.
5. Prometheus (June 8)
Ridley Scott, though his recent output has been mixed, can put together a damn good science-fiction film. “Alien” and “Blade Runner” are among the defining classics of the genre, and “Prometheus” is a thematic and spiritual prequel to the original “Alien”. Set towards the end of the 21st century, it details humanity’s first encounter with those flesh-eating, acid-bleeding little buggers. The creepy, evocative posters suggest the results won’t be pretty, but the talented cast, including Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, will make the blood-bath one a compassionate one.
4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14)
An immaculate blending of spectacle, faith, character and scope, when all is said and done “Lord of the Rings” is easily one of my favorite films. Much of the original cast, the director Peter Jackson, and the same storytelling magic seems to have been brought to this two-part adaptation of “Rings”‘ prequel, the second part of which drops in 2013. This could be the event of the year.
3. Gravity (November 21)
“Children of Men” auteur Alfonso Cuaron has promised a film unlike anything we’ve ever seen before with “Gravity”. A film reportedly told in only a handful of shots, it’s the story of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney frantically trying to stay alive after their space station explodes. I expect it to take full advantage of its IMAX 3D format, in both technological and storytelling capacities.
2. Django Unchained (December 25)
Let me break this down for you. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sacha Baron Cohen, RZA, and reportedly even Lady GaGa in a Civil War-era slavery revenge epic from Quentin Tarantino himself. Having read the script myself, I promise you “Django Unchained”, which releases Christmas Day, will probably be better than most presents you’d receive that day.
1. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
You know you’re looking forward to a film where watching a trailer you get chills in your spine, tingles in your feet, and a massive freaking grin on your face. “The Dark Knight Rises” looks to conclude Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga in absolutely massive fashion, and considering he’s only been developing as a filmmaker (last year’s “Inception” in particular), this movie is going to rock your world. Now, excuse me while I watch this trailer for the 23rd time.