It's that time once again! I'm a little early, and wasn't even sure I'd do one of these posts, this year but here we are. 2012 has been, thus far, a pretty decent year with many films I'd highly recommend (Shame, The Descendents, Like Crazy, Chronicle, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Young Adult, The Avengers, The Raid, Beyond The Black Rainbow) and some I'm really looking forward to catching up on (Tatsumi, Coriolanus, The Muppets, Michael, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Kid with a Bike, The Cabin in the Woods, Damsels in Distress, Goodbye First Love). But what does the rest of the year have in store for us? Here are twenty or so upcoming 2012 releases that I'm highly anticipating:
Director: Wes Anderson
Release Date: 25/05/12
Story: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.
A new film from idiosyncratic director Wes Anderson is always a cause for celebration and reviewers seem to be falling over each other to praise his latest entry, a tale of young love set in the mid-60s (a notable inspiration for the director throughout his career).
Director: Ridley Scott
Release Date: 01/06/12
Story: 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.
What is now quite clearly a prequel to Scott's 1979 'Alien', Prometheus looks to be a harsh, sharp hit of sci-fi storytelling. Scott has pulled together an extremely impressive ensemble cast and from the look and tone of the trailers released so far he may actually be able to live up to all the hype surrounding the film.
Director: David Cronenberg
Release Date: 15/06/12
Story: Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
As much as I enjoyed Cronenberg's recent relatively commercial thrillers such as 'A History of Violence' and 'Eastern Promises' I avoided 'A Dangerous Method' entirely and was beginning to give up hope that he would ever make a film like 'Crash' or Videodrome' again. As soon as I saw the above teaser for his latest offering my fears were allayed. Let's hope the audiences at Cannes react as well to the actual film as I did to the trailer.
Director: William Friedkin
Release Date: 29/06/12
Story: When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.
Friedkin, arguably, hasn't made a truly great film since his phenomenal 1973 feature, 'The Exorcist'. This looks set to change, however, as his latest effort seemingly nails the down-and-dirty pulp of Tarantino by way of trailer-trash stereotypes and a eerily off-kilter performance from Matthew McConaughey.
Your Sister's Sister
Director: Lynn Shelton
Release Date: 29/06/12
Story: Iris invites her friend Jack to stay at her family's island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack's drunken encounter with Hannah, Iris' sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.
If you've not seen Shelton's brilliant film 'Humpday' do so asap as it's a hilarious yet seriously affecting character study. I'm excited to see if she can pull off the same trick twice, reuniting with Mark Duplass (always a great screen presence) in this upcoming indie dramedy.
The Dark Knight Rises
Director: Christopher Nolan
Release Date: 20/07/12
Story: Eight years after Batman took the fall for Two Face's crimes, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.
Nolan's third stab at the Batman franchise already seems poised to (comparatively) fail. The reaction to promo material has been tepid, Bane is no Joker (and there's no Ledger-like tragedy to fuel promotion and curiosity over the film) and 'The Avengers' has already set the superhero summer bar extremely high. Nevertheless I'll still be there on the day of release, ready to be proven wrong by a film that's unlikely to eclipse 'The Dark Knight' but will surely be a good, if not great, ending to the trilogy.
The Forgiveness of Blood
Director: Joshua Marston
Release Date: 10/08/12
Story: An Albanian family is torn apart by a murder, resulting in a blood feud that finds Nik becoming the prime target and his sister, Rudina, forced to leave school in order to take over the family business.
Anyone who's seen Marston's brilliant 'Maria Full of Grace' will know that he's more than capable of portraying the violent, criminal side of foreign culture in a strikingly eye-opening way and his new film looks no different. Coming off of high festival praise, 'The Forgiveness of Blood' is not to be missed.
Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Release Date: 14/09/12
Story: A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.
Whilst not being written or directed by Henry Selick ('The Nightmare Before Christmas', 'Coraline) this new supernatural adventure animation is being made by the same company, Laika, and definitely displays his signature style and tone. ParaNorman is basically a children's zombie film, done in gorgeous looking stop-motion. Count me in.
Killing Them Softly
Director: Andrew Dominik
Release Date: 21/09/12
Story: Jackie Cogan is a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game.
What is surely to be dubbed this years 'Drive', director Andrew Dominik follows up his modern classic 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' with this gritty looking crime drama. Whilst some critics at Cannes have criticised the films heavy-handed political message its also been praised left and right, especially due to the performances by Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini.
Director: Rian Johnson
Release Date: 28/09/12
Story: In the year 2042, a mob hitman assassinates targets that arrive from the future of 2072. For him it's just a job... till he receives a new target: himself from the future.
Dodgy facial prosthetics aside, Looper looks to be the smoothest sci-fi thriller since 'Inception'. Directed by the brilliantly talented Johnson ('Brick', 'The Brothers Bloom') and fronted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, the film should provide brains to go with your brawn in a slickly cinematic fashion.
Silent Hill: Revelation
Release Date: 31/10/12
Story: Heather Mason and her father have been on the run, always one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn't fully understand, Now on the eve of her 18th birthday, plagued by horrific nightmares and the disappearance of her father, Heather discovers she's not who she thinks she is.
Admittedly I enjoyed 2006's 'Silent Hill' a lot more than most due to my obsessive passion for the computer game series on which it was based. And once again, I'm extremely hyped for a film which most will care little for and I, myself, will probably find disappointing. That said I know the creepy atmosphere, disturbing imagery and disquieting soundtrack to this horror film will be more than worth it.
Director: Michael Haneke
Release Date: 16/11/12
Story: Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested.
If you know anything about director Michael Haneke then you'll know not to expect a heart warming tale filled with whimsy and laughs from 'Amour'. Having built himself a reputation as a film-maker concerned with human suffering, social critique and - most of all - immense skill, Haneke's new film looks ready to take the Cannes jury by storm, and rightfully so.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Release Date: 14/12/12
Story: A curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.
Peter Jackson's prequel to his acclaimed 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy has had a rough ride to screens (to say nothing of the recent negative reaction to the new frame-rate during test screenings) but production is now in full swing with a release date in sight. Based on the above trailer is looks as if Jackson will be continuing the high quality displayed in the previous films with a impressive mix of old and new cast members. Colour me excited.
And last, but most certainly not least...
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Release Date: 18/01/13
Story: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Ok, ok, so technically it doesn't reach these shores until next year but I couldn't not include it in this list. Although I wasn't the biggest fan of 'Ingourous Basterds' I thoroughly enjoyed it and Christoph Waltz (working for the director once again) was one of the highlights. All that's known of the film thus far (I've never been one for leaked scripts) is a sizzle reel recently shown at Cannes which positioned it as controversial but brimming with Tarantino's typical sense of humour and a distinct 70s funk and soul feel. Whatever the film ends up like I'm sure to be delighted and disgusted in equal measure.
Also of note are the following films which have yet to secure a UK release date but are more than worth keeping an eye on: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Master, Seven Psychopaths, Kill Bin Laden, The Hunt, Reality, Holy Motors and Sightseers.