Russ Fischer’s 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2012

Enough about 2011; let’s look ahead to 2012. This past year was good about offering a diverse set of films that catered to many tastes, especially crowds that wanted something out of the range of standard multiplex fare. But 2012 looks like a much stronger year. We can almost always look ahead to a new year and say that there is a great batch of new films from established favorite filmmakers, movies with wonderful casts,  giant event movies and promising indies. But 2012 looks like it has more of those than usual. It’s going to be a good year for movie watchers.

After some deliberation (which no doubt has still allowed me to overlook something for which I’ll facepalm later) here is a list of ten films that I’m very excited to see in 2012, followed by a full page of discussion about a whole bunch of other movies that didn’t make my personal cut but are still bright spots on the 2012 calendar for various reasons. This list could change a lot in the next couple weeks, as Sundance (and then Cannes in May) could reveal a good many new films that will be bright spots on the calendar in ’12.

I’ve also exercised a certain hopefulness here, as there are a few films that don’t yet have official 2012 release dates. Let’s hope they don’t slip.

To some extent, I’ve assumed when writing the blurbs that follow that readers have been following along as we’ve covered news of these films over the past year. To make things easier for those who haven’t, I’ve linked trailers where possible, and pointed to our news coverage of films for which trailers don’t yet exist.

10. The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)
I like Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, though they don’t inspire the degree of fervor in me that they do in others. But The Dark Knight Rises can’t be denied as a movie of serious interest, in part because it represents Nolan having his final say with the character. (Graph the spectrum of popular movies, and you’ve got Michael Bay’s Transformers on one end and Nolan’s Batman on the other. This is the way to do it, Mr. Bay.)

As a bonus, Nolan is presenting a good chunk of the movie in native 70mm IMAX. After the spectacle of Mission: Impossible, that IMAX footage would be enough to get me in the theater even if I hated Nolan’s Batman. I’d be lying if I said the intelligibility of Bane’s dialogue in the prologue didn’t bump this down a couple spots on my list. On the other hand, there is the presence of Tom Hardy as a real positive factor. If this film gives me anything as weirdly and giddy fun as the hospital conversation and subsequent explosion from The Dark Knight, I’ll go home happy.
(July 20 — trailer)

9. Seven Psychopaths (dir. Martin McDonagh)
Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell made In Bruges, and while promoting that film McDonagh talked about a script with this name; now the two have worked together once more to make it a reality. That’s all I need to know. You may want to know that the cast also features Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Abbie Cornish, Tom Waits, and Kevin Corrigan, and that the story is about dogs and gangsters and, yeah, psychopaths. But I look to McDonagh’s skill with plot and dialogue, and the cast’s ability in making those elements seem vital, and my ass is in a seat and ready to stay there until the credits roll.
(Release TBD — news recap)

8. Wettest County (dir. John Hillcoat)
John Hillcoat’s work is essentially a pure pulp storytelling with an identity derived from an active social awareness. The Wettest County is based on the mostly-true story of three bootlegging brothers, and I can easily see how Hillcoat’s general worldview and character sets, in which regular people are pushed to strange and sometimes extraordinary action, could take root in that narrative soil. Add a Nick Cave script, a score by Cave and frequent collaborator Warren Ellis, and a cast that includes Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain, and the ingredients are there for a story that is thrilling and entertaining but also just relevant enough to get a little extra boost.
(April 20 — news recap)

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