After updating our Australian release date calendar for 2012, it is possible that the Best Films of 2011 are set to be eclipsed by the torrent of goodness that will be coming out way next year. From the massive blockbusters, to the little films that could (or at least, just might), chances are we will see the vast majority of the hundreds of films that come out next year.
Some of those films will surprise us with how good they are, other we will see out of a sense of obligation to the temple of cinema. Yet there are those movies that even jaded critics would willingly do anything, and we mean anything, to get to see these films right now. Mind you, it is interesting to look back: our most anticipated list for 2011 only partially matches up with our Best of 2011.
We’re going state up front, that we are looking forward to a lot of big blockbusters. Yes, but who can say no to the allure of hype? It will be The Year of the Geek after all! Be sure to check this list in 12 months time to see if we are in any way still liking any of these films…
1. Prometheus (US, Ridley Scott)
8 June 2012 (US)/7 June 2012 (Australia)
Ridley Scott returning to the genre that he helped shape the course of? You better believe this is at the top of our list. Scott has gone on to do amazing things in the last thirty years, but he hasn’t gone near sci-fi since 1982’s Blade Runner. After one of those “worst kept secret” promotional campaigns that tried to have us believe that this film was completely unrelated to his 1979 film Alien, we now know better. Space jockeys, strange objects immersed in mist and that giant U-shaped ship thingy? There is more Alien DNA to this thing than the god-like Scott was willing to let on. Now that the cat is out of the bag, this already highly anticipated film is now not just a must-see but the most must-seeingest film of 2012. We’re so excited, we made up a word.
2. The Avengers (US, Josh Whedon)
4 May 2012 (US)/25 April 2012 (Australia)
You have to hand it to them: they said they would, and they did it. Starting with 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios didn’t just create a series of films, but a whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, one that runs parallel to their comic book world. Through the wonders of The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel has been building up to this film over the last four years. It is the final piece of the puzzle, where all the elements come together. What’s even more exciting for comic book geeks is the promise that a second run of films will lead up to The Avengers 2, pending the inevitable success of this outing. Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 are already in production, so we expect entries in this series to be on these anticipated lists for years to come.
3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (US/New Zealand, Peter Jackson)
14 December 2012 (US)/26 December 2012 (Australia)
When Guillermo del Toro announced that he was leaving the planned prequels to Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the world cried inside, somewhat safe in the knowledge del Toro would be working on three more projects before the week was out. However, it was perhaps fated all along, as Jackson back on board just seems right. Coupled with the second part due out in 2013, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, this will form a mini-cinematic adventure that might be smaller in scale than its predecessors, but will be no less popular at the box office. When the first official trailer came out earlier this month, everything clicked into place and made this finally something to look forward to, even if splitting it into two parts still seems like a blatant cash-grab. Who can blame them with a reported $500 million budget? Our precious.
4. The Dark Knight Rises (US, Christopher Nolan)
20 July 2012 (US)/19 July 2012 (Australia)
“Surely this can’t be only No. 4”, you might say. If you find yourself talking to the screen regularly, you might need to have that checked out. It is also indicative of the strength of the Top 3. There is a certain sense that we’ve seen it all before, with all of the same creative team back for more. Either way, this is a must-see in 2012. Nolan has successfully managed to transplant his clever sensibilities from earlier hits Memento and Insomnia into his grounded world of a costumed hero, and made us believe a man really could legitimately dress up as a bat and stalk the night. Although there have been some concerns over the vocalising of Tom Hardy’s Bane, on the plus side…Tom Hardy is playing Bane! There is so much that feels right about this final installment in a saga that has not always been flawless, but has been internally consistent and has given the world the Batman us comic geeks have always loved.
5. The Amazing Spider-man (US, Marc Webb)
3 July 2012 (US)/4 July 2012 (Australia)
OK, another obvious one. Only a decade since Sam Raimi first launched Spider-man onto the world, and half that time since Spider-man 3 ruined it for everybody, Marc Webb and star Andrew Garfield will be working hard to make you forget Tobey Maguire ever did an Emo musical number. He’s off with the Gatsbys now anyway. Director Webb’s name may have made him the obvious choice for this fourth cinematic outing for the friendly neighbourhood Spider-man in the last 10 years, but his previous credits including rom-com with a difference (500) Days of Summer didn’t. Expect this one to be higher on character development, especially with Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary and Rhys Ifans in the cast.
6. Brave (US, Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)
22 June 2012 (US)/21 June 2012 (Australia)
After the massive disappointment of Cars 2, bringing to an end the near-perfect run of Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3, it is great to see Pixar back on track for an original non-sequel film in 2012. The film seems to be much lighter in tone that the earlier previews would have suggested, all filled with fog and Scottish mysticism. From the latest trailer, Brave has more of a Tangled vibe, and that couldn’t possibly be a bad thing. Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald joins the Disney/Pixar princess line as Merida, giving Pixar it’s first strong female lead. With decades of animation experience between them, and directorial credits including The Prince of Egypt and the brilliant Oscar-nominated short One Man Band under their belts, and a screenplay by Chapman and The Lion King‘s Irene Mecchi, this is definitely in safe hands. Unlike other recent animated efforts, this is not one Australians have to wait 3 months to see either!
7. The Great Gatsby (US/Australia, Baz Luhrmann)
25 December 2012 (US/Australia)
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel has already been adapted half-a-dozen times for film and television, including Jack Clayton and Francis Ford Coppola’s famous 1974 version with Robert Redford, Sam Waterson and Mia Farrow. This time Moulin Rouge and Australia director Luhrmann will bring his unique vision to the work, in 3D no less! Marking a ‘dramatic’ leap for a technology that has been largely reserved for action pieces may be reason enough to check this out, but the amazing cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Australia’s Joel Edgerton will provide some substance to the style. Thankfully, Nicole Kidman is nowhere to be seen in this Sydney-shot 3D epic.
8. Skyfall (US, Sam Mendes)
9 November 2012 (US)/22 November 2012 (Australia)
Bond. James Bond. Without a doubt, the Daniel Craig James Bond films have given a shot in the arm to a franchise that also turns 50 next year. Still looking sprightly despite being 10 years away from a seniors card, 007 will be joined by Bond Girl Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw as Q, Javier Bardem and Albert Finney. American Beauty and Revolutionary Road director Sam Mendes, who was recently seen in Australia directing a production of Richard III with Kevin Spacey, comes to the franchise for the first time, and will hopefully leave his mark on the series, but not in the same way that Die Another Day‘s Lee Tamahori did. Not much is known about the film at the moment, but expect it to be bigger than anything under your Christmas tree at the end of next year.
9. Django Unchained (US, Quentin Tarantino)
25 December 2012 (US)/Australia (TBA)
Anything from Quentin Tarantino will be overhyped, over-the-top and over-cast, but chances are it might also be the best genre film of the year. A throwback to Tarantino’s beloved Spaghetti Westerns, the kind that Sergio Leone whipped up in the 1960s, the script of this film has already leaked onto the Internet so we kind of know what we are in for. As long as Tarantino keeps his tendency to confuse pastiche and rip-off under wraps, this looks like it will be something really special. Tackling the subject of slavery, Jaime Foxx will play the titular Django, who under the care of German bounty hunter (who else but Christoph Waltz?) becomes a bounty hunter himself, determined to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from an evil plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). It also stars pretty much everybody who has ever had a meeting with Mr. Tarantino.
10. Wreck-It Ralph (US, Rich Moore)
12 November 2012 (US)/Australia (TBA)
If there is a new Disney animated film coming out, we have to rank it as most anticipated. It would be higher on the list, except we really don’t know much about it. What we do know is that it was due out in 2013, but was ahead of schedule and was bumped up to November 2012. If delays are a bad sign, then this surely means good things, right? Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is an 8-Bit villain who wants to be one of the good guys, and move out of the shadow of Fix-It Felix, Jr (Jack McBrayer). Looking very much like a parody of the characters from such classic 8-Bit games as Donkey Kong Jr, Super Mario Bros. and Rampage, it is also said to have a variety of cameos from video game history. Like we said, this will be the year of the geek. If the name of director Rich Moore looks familiar, its probably because you’ve seen his name on countless episodes of The Simpsons, Futurama and The Critic.
11. Himizu (Japan, Sion Sono)
19 January 2012 (Japan)/Australia & US (TBA)
Any year in which Sion Sono releases a film is a good year, and given that he bats them out at a fairly steady rate, we’ve had a few good years. After the somewhat crazy (but brilliant) Love Exposure, the similarly described Cold Fish and the noir/thriller/insane (but brilliant) Guilty of Romance (one of our favourite films of 2011), Sono is adapting Minoru Furuya’s manga of the same name. However, in the wake of the tragedy of the March earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku in Japan, Sono has adapted the story to fit this world. Starring Life Back Then‘s Shota Sometani, this will definitely be one to watch out for on the festival circuit this year, or we can keep our fingers crossed for a theatrical release. Sono plans this as part of a series of films on the March 2011 disasters, and his first English language film will be Lords of Chaos, starring Twilight‘s Jackson Rathbone and examining events around Norway’s Black Metal scene. That may also come out in 2012, but is more likely due in 2013. Sono is always one to watch.
12. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (US, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor)
17 February 2012 (US)/16 March 2012 (Australia)
Before the trailers started coming out, we never thought that this would wind up on a “most anticipated” list. Then they did and we promptly wet ourselves, something Ghost Rider also did in the trailer, but it was on fire. Flaming urine people! We haven’t seen the likes since A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and that was from a dog! Call us gluttons for punishment, but we *cough* didn’t mind the first Ghost Rider too much *cough*, and the Crank duo of Neveldine/Taylor on the project means that this one is going to be turned up to 11. It promises to be everything that Ghost Rider is supposed to be: bold, brash and full of racing/exploding things. Plus, we get to play the always interesting game “What is Nicolas Cage’s hair doing now?”. Have we put you off from reading on?
13. Stoker (US, Park Chan-wook)
Like Sion Sono, Park Chan-wook’s English-language debut is something to get excited about. The official plot description seems fairly innocuous: “A teenage girl mourning the death of her father deals with an uncle who mysteriously shows up to meet the family”. Knowing Chan-wook’s run of films, which include the “Vengeance” trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), Thirst and JSA, we can probably expect a little more. Produced for Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free productions, it will star Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew William Goode and Australia’s Jackie Weaver. Given that Chan-wook’s film prior to this was the award-winning short Night Fishing, shot entirely on an iPhone, and a screenplay from actor Wentworth Miller (TV’s Prison Break and Resident Evil: Afterlife) we can’t really have any expectations on this one. It could literally go anywhere!
14. Only God Forgives (US, Nicolas Windig Refn)
Following the phenomenal pairing of the dynamic duo of Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling on Drive, which came in at #6 on our Best Films of 2011 list, what could be more exciting than the same team back together? Well, if they went to Thailand for a film where a Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match. That’s how. It sounds like it will have something for everyone: slick action from Refn, a chance for brutal bouts to get the testosterone pumping and undoubtedly tons of shots of Gosling with his shirt off. So pretty much all the films of 2011 all over again. Go and see this film, as we know you will, because they plan on doing a remake of Logan’s Run together if this one works out. Speaking of remakes of classic sci-fi films…
15. Total Recall (US, Len Wiseman)
3 August 2012 (US)/23 August 2012 (Australia)
…Len Wiseman is taking a crack at remaking Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall. Or should we say, a second adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. This time out, Colin Farrell takes on the role that Arnold Schwarzenegger inhabited over twenty years ago (feeling old now?), amidst cries of heresy and outrage at remaking a classic. Before we get too outraged, let’s remember that Len Wiseman has Underworld and Die Hard 4.0 under his belt, and because he’s on board, so is his missus Kate Beckinsale. If that’s not reason enough to front up, try on Jessica Biel for size. Not to mention Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, John Cho and Ethan Hawke. Let’s also remember that the original doesn’t hold up all that well, and departed from the source material somewhat. There’s a great chance to get a proper Philip K. Dick vibe out of this film, and we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed for this.
Surely that’s not all? Of course it isn’t, and don’t call us Shirley. We saw 250 films at the cinema last year, and chances are we’ll see even more next year.
- Red Tails (US, Anthony Hemingway) – 20 January 2012 (US)/Australia (TBA): It has been a while since there has been legitimate reasons to be excited about some with George Lucas’ name attached to it, but the WWII dogfighting film Red Tails, directed by Anthony Hemingway (TV’s Treme, True Blood), may just remind us of why LucasFilm is one of the most famous production companies in the world. As long as this this doesn’t get too “Lucasy” before it hits screens next year it should be one to watch out for.
- Snow White and the Huntsman (US, Rupert Sanders) – 1 June 2012 (US)/21 June 2012 (Australia): Yes, we put Red Riding Hood on our list last year and got severely burned. With Mirror Mirror now looking as though it will crack a few, we are now pinning our hopes on this slightly cooler looking Snow White film. Yes, we know it has Kristen Stewart in it. Sanders is somewhat untested, but the excellent cast also includes Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Eddie Izzard and Toby Jones.
- Frankenweenie (US, Tim Burton) – 5 October 2011 (US)/29 November 2012 (Australia): Oh, Tim Burton. You’ve finally given up pretending that you are making new films and have just started outright retreading old material. Actually, a new stop-motion style film from the makers of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline has us a little giddy.
- Lincoln (US, Steven Spielberg) – December 2012: Actually, this one could go either way. Spielberg has the potential to be just a tad sentimental with his historical material, especially with the inevitable John Williams score. However, this will be worth checking out if for no other reason than Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as Abraham Lincoln. Not to be confused with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, also due out in 2012.
- Wettest County (US, John Hillcoat) – 20 April 2012 (US)/Australia (TBA): We love The Proposition and The Road, and can’t wait to see the Australia-born director’s take on . Starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain and Noah Taylor, this might already be a winner.