The cinephile's hopes for originality dwindle as we enter a year featuring dozens of sequels, prequels, remakes, rip-offs and of course, 3D re-releases (Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Beauty & the Beast, Top Gun, Titanic, Star Wars: Episode I... I might throw up). To brighten the mood, I've compiled this list of 21 Films for 2012, where even the sequels, prequels, and remakes promise to lift our spirits. There are so many buzz-worthy films for one year that I'm starting to believe Hollywood is worried about Mayan prophecies.
Click the film titles to watch the trailers, and please comment below if you want to share grievances, agreements, amendments, or your own personal list for 2012. And vote in the poll at the bottom of the page for the film you're most excited to see. Enjoy the guide!
John Carter - March 9
Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong, Dominic West, Thomas Haden Church, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, and Willem Dafoe
This movie barely made it on to the list, but the trailer is too spellbinding to ignore. That being said, I'm concerned about Taylor Kitsch and the fact that it's a Disney film. I'm also quite skeptical that it's rushing to ride the coattails of James Cameron's Avatar, and like Avatar, will favor visuals over good writing. Two things, beside the trailer, have kept me intrigued: 1. The absurdly winsome plot introduction- "Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians." and 2. A supporting cast of understated, but sterling actors.
Casa de mi Padre - March 16
Director: Matt Piedmont
Cast: Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, and Diego Luna
Armando Alvarez (Ferrell) and his brothers get in deep with Mexico's most feared drug cartel when they try to save their father's ranch from financial ruin. The trailer boasts action, music, drama, and laughter, not to mention Mexico's best young actors in Luna and Bernal. Oh, and did I mention that the entire film is in Spanish? Yes, even Will Ferrell. Unless you can't handle subtitles, expect another hilariously random Ferrell movie and my pick for comedy of the year. A comedic actor of Ferrell's caliber doing an entire film in another language is absolutely unprecedented.
The Hunger Games - March 23
Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
The film adaptation of Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy has been highly anticipated by readers of all ages. The story takes place in the not-so-distant future when the Capitol of North America selects one boy and one girl from the 12 districts to fight to the death on live television. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to take her little sister's place as a "tribute" in the competition, thus commencing an epic adventure. Visit The Hunger Games Wiki for more information on the books and upcoming films!
The Avengers - May 4
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgård, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson
Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, the Incredible Hulk, and Samuel L. Jackson? What more could superhero fanatics and action film buffs possibly ask for? A hot babe? Well, Scarlet Johannson stars as the Black Widow as "S.H.I.E.L.D" rounds up the best Marvel heroes to save earth from Loki's evil army. I'm once again expecting Robert Downey Jr. to put his cast mates to shame. Visit the Marvel Database for everything you need to know about the comic books and films.
Dark Shadows - May 11
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Eva Green, and Helena Bonham Carter (obviously)
Tim Burton teams up with his wife and Johnny Depp for the umpteenth time in this remake of the cult television series from the late 1960's. The gothic tale follows the antics of vampire Barnabas Collins and his encounters with a sinister cast of werewolves, witches, monsters, and ghosts. You either love this stuff or you don't, and if you're in the former category, nothing can beat a Burton and Depp film! For more creepiness, check out the Tim Burton Wiki and the Vampire Encyclopedia.
The Dictator - May 11
Director: Larry Charles
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, and John C. Reilly
Master of disguise Sacha Baron Cohen (of Ali G, Borat, and Bruno fame) parodies the likes of dictators Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi in what's shaping up to be a ridiculous comedic spectacle. If you're a reader of international news, Cohen's tomfoolery should be all the funnier, but even fans of simple gross out jokes are certain to be pleased, considering the comic's track record. The trailer alone should have you in stitches.
Men in Black III - May 25
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve, Bill Hader, and Josh Brolin
Okay, you got me, I'm a sucker. MIB III may be too much of a blockbuster sell-out choice for this list, but I'm willing to take the risk of it coming back to haunt me. Most people felt that MIB II was mediocre, and I'm conflicted by the addition of two quality actors (Thompson and Brolin) contrasting with the addition of comics Hader and Clement. Another hit or miss aspect of this film is the fact that it takes place predominantly in the 1960s. If only Will Smith would make a rap song for the credits like back in the day, then this would be a no-brainer.
Moonrise Kingdom - May 25
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, and Bruce Willis
Alas, a new Wes Anderson film! Fans of The Royal Tennenbaums, The Life Aquatic, and Mr. Fantasic Fox will be on tenterhooks waiting for another artsy-fartsy masterpiece. Most of the usual gang is missing, with the exception of Murray and Schwartzman, but Anderson always delivers with quality ensemble casts. The story follows two teens in the 1960s who succumb to young summer urges and run away together. The rest of the cast, who make up a small town on an island in New England, must combine resources to find the pair. This film promises to provide dry, witty humor, uniquely flawed characters, top of the line acting, and an amazing sound track.
Prometheus - June 8
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce
No, it's technically not the Alien prequel, but it is Ridley Scott's long-awaited return to the sci-fi genre. Set in the 21st century, the story finds the crew of the spaceship Prometheus stumbling upon an extraterrestrial civilization that yearns to discover the origins of humanity. Look for Michael Fassbender as an android and Noomi Rapace sans tattoos. Prepare to geek out!
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - June 22
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Dominic Cooper
The saddest moment of 2012 so far was the revelation that a trailer for this film does not yet exist. This might be my favorite movie title of all time, and the whole idea was inspired by a passing reference to a fictional movie of the same name in an episode of Showtime's Party Down. The cast and crew of this historical horror film is virtually unknown (in the mainstream), but the plot lies inherently within the title. Anyone with a decent sense of humor should be easily captivated when "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer" lights up the marquee, especially as an alternative to Spielberg's Lincoln biopic that comes out at the end of the year (see below). UPDATE: Trailer release!
Brave - June 22
Director: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, and Emma Thompson
Even if you've only seen one Pixar movie, I probably don't need to convince you to see the animation studio's newest film. In the harsh, but mythical Scottish highlands, Princess Merida defies the customs of her kingdom and relies on her bravery (and archery skills) to reverse a horrible curse. As a fan of Braveheart and everything made by Pixar, this is a must-see! Check out the Pixar Wiki for more!
The Amazing Spider-Man - July 3
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Rhys Ifans
I was initially quite perturbed when I first learned about this second attempt at Spider-Man's origin story. It's only been 10 years since the original! But now I'm looking at the facts: 1. Andrew Garfield is better than Tobey McGuire 2. Emma Stone is more charming than Kirsten Dunst 3. The original 3 Spider-Man movies are actually not that good. So, why not reboot? If the reset button helps emphasize character development over special effects AND makes the film more gritty and contemporary, like it did to the Batman and James Bond legacies, then this might be a blessing in disguise (unlike a certain Broadway show). Get in the mix at the Spiderman Wiki and the Marvel Database.
The Dark Knight Rises - July 20
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman
This film is the undisputed most anticipated film of 2012. Whether you're going to line up for the midnight showing or wait for the rental, nobody can deny the general consensus. After The Dark Knight, this may be the most buzz-worthy superhero movie of all time. Three members of Nolan's Inception cast join the already stacked lineup of the Dark Knight Trilogy, along with young starlet Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. If you don't see this movie in 2012, you clearly don't enjoy the cinema. For more Batman love, there is a Batman Wiki and the DC Database.
The Gangster Squad - October 19
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte, and Emma Stone
Like last year's Drive, The Gangster Squad shall for one thing entertain the man who gets dragged to the theater by a Gosling fanatic girlfriend. More importantly, the film aims to be driven by an all-star team of actors sporting fantastic suits from the 1940s and 50s. They are LAPD's finest and invading East Coast Mafia wise guys. Naturally, a donnybrook ensues. And look, Emma Stone is in this movie too! Regardless of performance, she's certainly in for a good year at the box-office with this and Spider-Man.
Skyfall - November 9
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Helen McCrory, Naomie Harris, and Javier Bardem
Ok, so maybe the last Bond film wasn't that great. Daniel Craig claims to have had a go at finishing the script when the writer's strike tormented it's production and a clear ending. But c'mon, it's a new Bond film, and the days of cheesy gadgets and silly one-liners are behind us. Casino Royale was bad ass, and at least Quantam of Solace had a good cinematic feel and superb acting despite lacking any semblance of a good story. Here's hoping that Javier Bardem hits one out of the park, which he often does, and that Daniel Craig keeps Bond sophisticated. 007 Wiki.
Gravity - November 21
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
Mexican director Cuarón has made some solid films (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Prisoner of Azkaban), but not much is known about Gravity. We know that Sandra Bullock will play the lone survivor of a mission to repair the Hubble telescope, and that George Clooney recently replaced Robert Downey Jr. as the male lead. Otherwise we can only speculate about the type of space film we're in for. Will it be extravagant like Armageddon? Somber, but profound like Apollo 13? Perhaps it will be psychologically-twisted like Cillian Murphy's Sunshine or Sam Rockwell's Moon? The name of this film certainly fits the latter group.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - December 14
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Richard Armitage, etc.
What is there to say about Part 1 of the Hobbit movie other than "Gosh dang why can't Christmas come early!?" If you've seen the LOTR Trilogy, I dare you to watch the Hobbit trailer and not get chills. Everybody knows the story of Bilbo Baggins and wants to see it Peter Jackson style. If you're unlucky enough to have no idea what I'm talking about, get thyself to the Lord of the Rings Wiki immediately. Buy the books. Rent the movies. Why are you still reading this?
This is 40 - December 21
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, and Jason Segel
I'm not sure whether to call this a sequel or spin-off of 2007's Knocked Up, but it's another Apatow comedy, so our laughter expectations are very high. We get a glimpse at the evolving relationship between Debbie (Mann) and Pete (Rudd) a few years after the events of Knocked Up, but the protagonists from that movie (Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl) appear to be missing, hence the confusion. I'm going with spin-off. The addition of Jason Segel is nice, and until this comedy proves itself to be completely unnecessary, Apatow's close-knit gang of humorists will remain on our radar.
Django Unchained - December 25
Jamie Foxx plays Django, a former slave turned bounty hunter who, with the help of his mentor, must save his wife from a wicked plantation owner in Mississippi. Not much is yet known about this Western-inspired flick, but you can expect a lot blood, twisted humor, epic dialogue, and just maybe the most memorable film of the year. If Tarantino can give the slave-era South the same treatment he gave to Nazi-occupied France in 2009's Inglorious Basterds, then we're in for a doozy. Jamie Foxx is an interesting choice, but did you take a look at this cast? Exemplary!
The Great Gatsby - December 25
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey McGuire, Isla Fisher, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, and Amitabh Bachchan (you know, the most famous actor in India)
You can't make a list of great films in a calendar year without two major appearances by Leonardo DiCaprio. Between Luhrmann reuniting with DiCaprio and Django Unchained, Christmas day will require some difficult decision making. Leo's a safe choice for Jay Gatsby considering the plethora of options blasted by fans online, but nobody expects him to hold a candle to Robert Redford. I'm skeptical of the selection of Tobey McGuire as Nick Carraway, but F. Scott Fitzgerald's American masterpiece needed a contemporary cinematic turn, and this movie is already garnering a lot of attention. Please read the book first if you haven't yet.
Lincoln - December
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and Jared Harris
What a lucky guy, that Joseph Gordon-Levitt. To fade away after 3rd Rock from the Sun only to return straight to the top of the box offices, appearing in Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, and here as the son of Daniel Day Lewis in Steven Spielberg's biopic of Abraham Lincoln. The real focus here, however, should be Daniel Day-Lewis, the consummate method actor. This man is destined to channel the spirit of Lincoln like no actor has portrayed an American historical figure before. Spielberg and Day-Lewis together results in automatic Oscar nominations.