2012 Movie Preview: 20 Movies You Should Anticipate

Django UnchainedMost previews that list upcoming films are pointless and unhelpful. All they do is tell us things we already know. If a certain list is to have any value, it should introduce its readers to something great that they may have never heard of before. But such lists are rare and ignored, precisely because it doesn’t fit well with the expectation of the general public. People like to root for their favorite franchise, or for the impending movie that’s based on their favorite book. I’m sure that countless Harry Potter fans were enraged whenever they saw “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” place second to “Thor” in any list regarding The Most Anticipated Movies of 2011.

Summer Blockbusters that are already popular, like “Fast Five” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”, tend to headline every movie-related article on the web while Better Movies aren’t even given a chance to present themselves.  It’s been almost three years since “Moon”, the excellent sci-fi film by Duncan Jones, was first released, yet it remains unknown to many. “Trick ‘r Treat”, which can be argued as one of the best Halloween movies of the past two decades, went straight to DVD. It’s sad, but the past has been done with. 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for great movies, where we’ll get the chance to see the latest works of Wes Anderson, Tarantino, Spielberg, and so on. And because my list has only 20 spots to spare, I shall be focusing on less popular films that we should anticipate, rather than blockbusters that are already implanted in our subconscious.

Observe the following titles: “The Dark Knight Rises”, “The Avengers”, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “The Hunger Games”, “The Bourne Legacy”, “The Amazing Spiderman”. They will not be featured on this list because their status has already been established by the strength of the material that came before them. What will take their place are movies that you also might enjoy, only without the inflated publicity. But how can I objectively arrange the list, since I have yet to see any of them? Here: The ordering of the films will be determined by the collective appeal of 1) the director in charge, 2) the actors involved, and 3) the story at hand. (Note: All the storylines found below are credited to The Internet Movie Database.)

The Great Gatsby (2012)20. The Great Gatsby

Director: Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet)
Release Date: December 25, 2012
Starring:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire
StorylineNick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.

Tim Burton's Frankenweenie19. Frankenweenie

Director: Tim Burton (The Nightmare before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland)
Release Date: October 5
Starring:  Winona Ryder, Martin Short, and Martin Landau
Storyline: Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

Ang Lee directing Life of Pi18. Life of Pi

Director: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, The Ice Storm, Sense and Sensibility)
Release Date: December 21
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Gérard Depardieu, Suraj Sharma
Storyline: The story of an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper’s son who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwrecked sends them adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper17. Looper

Director: Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom)
Release Date: September 28
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Bruce Willis
Storyline: A killer who works for the mob of the future recognizes one of his targets as his future self.

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis16. Cosmopolis

Director: David Cronenberg (The Fly, A History of Violence, A Dangerous Method)
Release Date: “To be Announced”
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Jay Baruchel
Cosmopolis follows a multimillionaire on a 24-hour odyssey across Manhattan.

Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows15. Dark Shadows

Director: Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Batman)
Release Date: May 11
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley
StorylineA gothic-horror tale centering on the life of vampire Barnabas Collins and his run-ins with various monsters, witches, werewolves and ghosts.

Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in Take this Waltz14. Take this Waltz

Director: Sarah Polley (Away from Her)
Release Date: June 29
Starring: Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams, Sarah Silverman
A funny, bittersweet and heart-wrenching story about a woman struggling to choose between two different types of love.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in The Gangster Squad13. The Gangster Squad

Director: Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland)
Release Date: October 19
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone
A chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.

Ben Affleck in Argo12. Argo

Director: Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, The Town)
Release Date: September 14
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Ben Affleck, John Goodman
As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.

Prometheus by Ridley Scott11. Prometheus

Director: Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, American Gangster)
Release Date: June 8
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace
A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

This is 40 by Judd Apatow10. This is 40

Director: Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Funny People)
Release Date: December 21
Starring: Jason Segel, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd
A look at the lives of Pete and Debbie a few years after the events of “Knocked Up”.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Timur Bekmambetov9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Director: Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch, Wanted)
Release Date: June 22
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper
President Lincoln’s mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator8. The Dictator

Director: Larry Charles (Borat, Bruno, Religulous)
Release Date: May 11
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Megan Fox, Ben Kingsley
Storyline: The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.

Will Ferrell in Dog Fight7. The Campaign

Director: Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery)
Release Date: August 10
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis
Two rival South Carolina politicians with presidential aspirations tangle with one another.

Brave (DisneyPixar)6. Brave

Director: Brenda Chapman (The Prince of Egypt) and Mark Andrews
Release Date: June 22
Starring: Emma Thompson, Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd
Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

World War Z5. World War Z

Director: Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace)
Release Date: December 21
Starring: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, David Morse
A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.

Moonrise Kingdom4. Moonrise Kingdom

Director: Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Release Date: May 16
Starring: Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton)
A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

Geroge Cloony in Gravity3. Gravity

Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, A Little Princess)
Release Date: November 21
Starring: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
The lone survivor of a space mission to repair the Hubble telescope desperately tries to return to Earth and reunite with her daughter.

Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)2. Django Unchained

Director: Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds)
Release Date: December 25
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz)
With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln1.  Lincoln

Director: Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Empire of the Sun, The Adventures of Tintin)
Release Date: December
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Jared Harris
The sixteenth President of the United States guides the North to victory during the Civil War.



Ten Movies I Am Not Anticipating

10. Men in Black III

9. Wrath of the Titans

8. Battleship

7. G.I. Joe: Retaliation

6. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

5. Scary Movie 5

4. Resident Evil: Retribution

3. The Three Stooges

2. Step Up 4

1. Halloween 3D

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2012 Movie Preview: 20 Movies You Should Anticipate