12 January 2012

The 50 Big Films of 2012

I love me some films - this list is from flicks.co.nz. For many reasons, these films are a 'don't miss list'. After reading through it, I want to see almost every film on this list! I'm going to cross out those I get to see.

Updated 10 October 2012
In no particular order, with NZ opening dates:

Hugo, January 12. Genre: Family fantasy
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen
Don’t Miss Because: It’s Martin Scorsese doing a family film. Who thought they’d see that happen? Based on the much-loved book The Invention of Hugo Cabaret, the movie has a whimsical sense of adventure, accompanied by a truly delicious use of 3D and a couple of sincere nods to early cinema. This may help you prepare.

War Horse, January 12, Genre: War
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson
Don’t Miss Because: War Horse is a combination of two things Spielberg excels at: World War spectacle (Saving Private Ryan) and getting us to adore seemingly vulnerable creatures to eye-dribbling levels (E.T.). It seems like a typical Steven Spielberg film, and that’s ‘cause it is. And that’s just fine by us.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, January 19. Genre: Mystery thriller
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy
Don’t Miss Because: Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes), Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s Sherlock), John Hurt (Alien), Ciarán Hinds (There Will Be Blood), Toby Jones (Captain America) and Stephen Graham (Snatch). How can you not be excited?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, January 26. Genre: Thriller
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer
Don’t Miss Because: The Millennium trilogy is awesome. David Fincher is awesome. That’s two times the awesome. Adding to that, Rooney Mara gives a performance that has been turning a number of critical heads, with some placing her embodiment of complex lead Lisbeth above and beyond Noomi Papace’s original incarnation. A bold statement indeed.

Young Adult, January 26. Genre: Comedy drama
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Oswald Patton
Don’t Miss Because: The last time director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody teamed up, they made Juno. And Juno was rad. They now shift from a coming-of-age story to a never-did-age tale, with Charlize Theron playing the grotty young adult who failed to grow beyond her high-school hey-days.

The Descendants, January 26. Genre: Drama
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Judy Greer
Don’t Miss Because: Old Georgie could be on track for his first leading role Oscar. Even if not, we're sure he had a great time filming this drama in balmy Hawaii, wearing his favourite collection of Hawaiian shirts and practicing his ukelele skills. Plus, few directors tread the bittersweet comedy drama line as adeptly as Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt, Election).

Like Crazy, February 2. Genre: Romance
Director: Drake Doremus
Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence
Don’t Miss Because: Much like last year’s Blue Valentine, this quiet indie film is a brutally honest look at how a tender romance can bloom into beauty and contort into misery. Critically adored at the Sundance Film Festival, this is a love story told with a sometimes sweet, sometimes severe simplicity.

Chronicle, February 2. Genre: Superhero found-footage thriller
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Dane DeHaan
Don’t Miss Because: The trailer sold it to us. Sure, we’re getting pretty oversaturated with the gimmicky use of found-footage (Apollo 18), but this indie film about cheeky mutating adolescents has made us believers again. Plus, if we had cell-phone cameras and telekinesis at that age, we’d fully be pulling the same pranks.

The Artist, February 9. Genre: Silent movie
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Malcolm McDowell
Don’t Miss Because: This French black and white silent film has been munching on the critical praise like a kid in a candy mausoleum. Though cautious thinkers may wonder if its extreme retro style is merely an attention-seeking gimmick, rest assured that there’s an intention behind its madness, with an elegant beauty to match.

The Ides of March, February 16. Genre: Dramedy
Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Don’t Miss Because: George Clooney is so darn good at telling us what sucks about American politics (see Goodnight and Good Luck). As an Oscar-winking film, it’s ticking all the right boxes: stellar cast, intricate plot, rock-solid direction, all wrapped up in a governmental conspiracy. Prepare for more back-stabbings than a bed of knives.

Moneyball, February 16. Genre: Sports drama
Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Don’t Miss Because: Although we’re not really a baseball-loving nation (let alone fantasy baseball), there are many enticing things about this true-story sports drama. The critical praise has been staggering, the acting talent serves quantity and quality and the script has been fine-tuned by screenwriting masters Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List).

Shame, February 23. Genre: Sexually-charged drama
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, Amy Hargreaves
Don’t Miss Because: Michael Fassbender gives an award-winning performance as a compulsive sex addict in this drama from Steve McQueen (not THAT Steven McQueen, the dude who directed the excellent Hunger). This isn’t your light-hearted Tiger-Woodsian sex addiction either; this is a sad, gruelling and exhausting dependence that impedes our protagonist’s ability to function normally.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, February 23. Genre: Drama
Director: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis
Don’t Miss Because: It’s a tender story about one boy’s love for his late father, and the lengths he’ll travel to show it. With heavy references to 9/11 and a young protagonist that may test your patience, the film has polarised critics; some love it, some ‘meh’ it. It’s intriguing, and a film you have to determine for yourself.

We Need To Talk About Kevin, March 1. Genre: Thriller
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly
Don’t Miss Because: The award-winning direction (British Independent Film Awards 2011) and Tilda Swinton’s Oscar-worthy performance should be reason enough to jot this grim drama on your must-see list. Adding the ever-increasingly excellent John C. Reilly to the mix as well as a musical backdrop by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood doesn’t hurt either.

The Grey, March 1. Genre: Survivalist Action Thriller
Director: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge
Don’t Miss Because: It’s Liam Neeson in the Alaskan snow being hunted down by a pack of wolves and that just sounds plain awesome.

The Sitter, March 1. Genre: Comedy
Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, JB Smoove
Don’t Miss Because: It looks stupidly funny. Stupid probably being the key word there… The film has Jonah Hill staring as a guy who is – but really shouldn’t be - babysitting some kids. Sure, it sounds G-rated but believe us it’s not. With Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green behind it how could it be? Like that film, it’s foul-mouthed, drug obsessed, actiony and likely to be very funny.

My Week With Marilyn, March 8. Genre: Period drama
Director: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kennetg Branagh
Don’t Miss Because: Michelle Williams won’t give up her hunt for an Oscar, and she’s willing to impersonate the hell out of another actress to do it. Any obvious physical differences between Williams and Monroe are eradicated by her freakish performance. When it comes to impersonation, you needn’t the body of an icon; you need to embody them.

John Carter, March 8. Genre: Sci-fi-adventure
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Hayden-Church
Don’t Miss Because: Disney has poured the big bucks into this sci-fi fantasy adventure, at times being accused of folly. But they’re right to believe in the film as it marks the live-action debut of famed Pixar director Andrew Stanton, the man who was in charge of Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Visually the film’s sure to astound and Stanton’s pedigree suggests that the importance of story won’t have been forgotten.

Martha Marcy May Marlene, March 15. Genre: Drama
Director: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes
Don’t Miss Because: Apparently there’s a talented Olsen sister, and she’s not a twin. That’s got to get you a little curious. This small film has been quite the buzz generator. After leaving an abusive cult, a mentally broken woman (Elizabeth Olsen) tries to re-assimilate with her family, but painful memories hold her back.

The Devil's Double, March 15. Genre: True-Story Drama
Director: Lee Tamahori
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Raad Rawi
Don’t Miss Because: Our very own Lee Tamahori directs this ruthless based-on-truth tale set in late ‘80s Bagdad. Dominic Cooper (Tony Starks’ father in Captain America) plays a duel role: one as Saddam Hussein’s sadistic sex-crazed son Uday and the other as an unfortunate Iraqi army lieutenant ordered to be his body double.

Two Little Boys, March 15. Genre: Kiwi comedy
Director: Robert Sarkies
Starring: Bret McKenzie, Hamish Blake, Maaka Pohatu
Don’t Miss Because: Flight of the Conchord’s Bret McKenzie and Hamish and Andy’s Hamish Blake pair up in the Kiwi black-comedy as best buds Nige and Deano, caught up in the accidental death of a Scandinavian soccer star brought on by a policeman, a ginger cat and a hot meat pie. Curious yet?

The Hunger Games, March 22. Genre: Action thriller
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson
Don’t Miss Because: It’s based on Suzanne Collins’ much appreciated novel about a futuristic world where two dozen teenagers are rounded up to fight to the death, all in the name of televised entertainment. It also stars young Oscar-nominee and current Hollywood head-turner Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique from X-Men: First Class).

Attack the Block, March 29. Genre: Sci-fi
Director: Joe Cornish
Starring: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway
Don’t Miss Because: Having been pushed around last year’s release schedule like an unloved ginger, hope still remains that this time the acclaimed British indie will actually get shown on a New Zealand cinema screen… This sci-fi action flick is about a street gang on a South London council estate battling it out with invading aliens and was the break-out hit of last year’s SXSW festival before going on to conquer many ‘Best Of 2011’ lists.

Carnage, March undated. Genre: Comedy
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz
Don’t Miss Because: Roman Polanski takes four incredible actors/actresses, puts them in a room and shakes it up like an ADHD kid holding a snow globe. Based on the hit play God of Carnage, Polanski’s take is bound to have the same level of humour, and he’s no stranger to one-room films (Death and the Maiden).

The Pirates! Band of Misfits, April 5. Genre: Family comedy
Director: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt
Starring: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, David Tennant
Don’t Miss Because: Aside from being the year’s best excuse to bust out your Pirate impressions it’s also practically guaranteed to be a winner. Aardman Animations rarely muck things up and Pirates returns the studio to its dazzling hand animated plasticine roots after the CGI of their recent festive hit Arthur Christmas.

The Avengers, April 25. Genre: Superhero action
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
Don’t Miss Because: This will be the first superhero collaboration to have actually worked, at least that’s what we’re hoping for. Given Marvel’s current track record and beloved comic geek Joss Whedon helming the director’s chair and writer’s pen, they’ve made optimists out of us all.

A Dangerous Method, April 26. Genre: Period drama
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley
Don’t Miss Because: David Cronenberg is superb at telling messed-up stories about messed-up people, or at least people who are about to get messed-up (The Fly, 1996’s Crash). Michael Fassbender’s looks set to further his current winning streak (Inglourious Basterds, Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, Shame). And Viggo doing Freud? Uhh… hell yes!

Dark Shadows, May 10. Genre: Spooky soap opera
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Moretz
Don’t Miss Because: The pairing of Tim Burton with cult gothic-horror TV series Dark Shadows is as fitting as a goth in a skin-paling convention. A powerful wealthy man, played by Johnny Depp, is turned into a vampire and buried. Jumping from the 16th Century to 1972, he escapes to find his once-thriving establishment in dismay.

The Five-Year Engagement, May 17. Genre: Romantic Comedy
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Alison Brie
Don’t Miss Because: The romantic comedy genre often gets a bum rep for peddling predictability and delivering cheesy schmaltz, but this looks different. This actually looks – wait for it – very funny. Co-written by star Jason Segel and director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) the pair look to have injected some much need vitality and, more importantly, comedy into the stagnating genre.

Men In Black 3, May 24. Genre: Sci-fi action-comedy
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Jemaine Clement
Don’t Miss Because: This third outing for the MIBs involves a time travel plot so mind-boggling that production has been halted numerous times to allow the writers to sort it all out. Have they succeeded? We’re looking forward to finding out…

The Dictator, May 31. Genre: Comedy
Director: Larry Charles
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Megan Fox, John C Reilly
Don’t Miss Because: It’s likely to be the funniest film of the year. Adapted from the romance novel written by Saddam Hussein (yes, that Saddam Hussein) by some of the top writers from sitcom classic Seinfeld, and starring the fearless Sacha Baron Cohen, you can be sure that The Dictator will be wildly askew, mercilessly offensive, contagiously funny and devastatingly intelligent.

Rock of Ages, May 31. Genre: Musical comedy
Director: Adam Shankman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Russell Brand
Don’t Miss Because: It will be good fun. Sure, the story sounds plenty hokey but it’s a musical and we’re pretty sure that’s being hokey is the number one rule for musicals. So forget things like plot and well-rounded characters and just enjoy the clichéd characters rocking along the film’s clichéd plotline to a rocking soundtrack of glam rock classics. Afterall, it’s the music that’s the most important part of a musical and that’s where Rock Of Ages shines.

Prometheus, June 7. Genre: Sci-fi
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: (Flicks seem to have confused 'Bad Teacher' with 'Prometheus' here LOL - will post when they correct it, though I do know it stars Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace)

Jack the Giant Killer, June 14. Genre: Fantasy adventure
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor
Don’t Miss Because: This is a revision of the classic fairy tale seen through X-Men director Bryan Singer’s retinas. The trailer promises a more adventurous fairy tale adaptation than the likes of the woefully tame Red Riding Hood. Plus, there’s gonna be a giant tearing shiz up. In 3D.

Brave, June 21. Genre: Family adventure
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Don’t Miss Because: After Pixar’s misstep with Cars 2, they’re ready to remind the movie world why they are considered to be the top of the animated medium. The unique Scottish styling is exposed in full force, from the rich accents to the gorgeous jaw-collapsing vistas. Brave looks to be Pixar’s return to form.

Snow White and the Huntsman, June 21. Genre: Fantasy adventure
Director: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Don’t Miss Because: Fairy tale remakes are going to be inescapable this year, and this is the one we’re giving the just made up Flicks Fairy Tale Seal of Approval too. More a reimagining than a straight reboot, here the classic tale’s tropes have been infused with a dark realism and some fierce swordsmanship. The first released picture showed star Kristen Stewart in full steel body armour brandishing a mighty sword proving that despite its namesake, this ain’t gonna be no fairy tale…

The Amazing Spider-Man, June 28. Genre: Superhero action
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
Don’t Miss Because: Like it or not, emo-Spider-Man is the Spider-Man 2.0 that’s here to stay for the next long while so you may as well get on-board early with it…

Ted, July 12. Genre: Comedy
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane (voice)
Don’t Miss Because: This is the directorial feature debut of Seth MacFarlane, animated comedy honcho (Family Guy, American Dad) and freakishly talented voice actor. Voyaging into the realm of live-action, Ted is a comedy about a man (Mark Wahlberg) and his teddy bear (voiced by you-know-who) who comes to life after a childhood wish.

The Dark Knight Rises, July 19. Genre: Superhero action
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy
Don’t Miss Because: Christopher Nolan’s final instalment in his Batman trilogy is arguably the biggest release of the year, and is definitely the most anticipated. The trailer is incredible, showing that the mumbling, near indecipherable villain Bane is both, a suitably badass opponent for Gotham’s caped crusader and a menacing enough follow-on from Heath Ledger’s definitive Joker. Let’s put it this way, if we could only see one film this year, it would be this one.

Rivals, August 9. Genre: Comedy
Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudekis
Don’t Miss Because: The idea of pitting two of this generations funniest man-childs against each other is an inspired one. Pitting them against each other in the juvenile world of politics and electioneering borders close to comedic genius. And that’s exactly what Jay Roach, the director of Austin Powers, has done. If you’re looking for a laugh this year, then this one gets our vote.

The Bourne Legacy, August 16. Genre: Action
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz
Don’t Miss Because: It represents another bold move by the Bourne franchise in its aggressive targeting of its super spy rival, the Bond series. Here, the filmmakers have taken a leaf out of the 007 handbook, by controversially replacing aging series star Mat Damon with spry young action-man Jeremy Renner (who is also being groomed to take over from Tom Cruise on Mission: Impossible). Is Bourne bigger than Damon? Only one way to find out…

Total Recall, August 23. Genre: Sci-fi
Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston
Don’t Miss Because: Unlike Arnie’s stupidly fun yet stupidly stupid version, this retelling promises to be more faithful to Philip K. Dick’s short story. Expect an intelligent plot, a fully realised sci-fi world and the return of the infamous tri-boob hooker.

The Expendables 2, August 23. Genre: Action
Director: Simon West
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris
Don’t Miss Because: It stars practically every action hero of the '80s, '90s and today. The first one may have been a bit of a fizzer, but for the sequel the ante’s been raised and even more action stars have been enlisted, including perennial tough guy Chuck Norris. You’ve really got to give it up to writer, conceptualiser and star Sly Stallone for turning every action fans dream into one bullet ridden, explosion heavy, reality.

Neighbourhood Watch, September 20. Genre: Comedy
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Starring: Vince Vaughan, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill
Don’t Miss Because: Vince Vaughan and Ben Stiller are a terrific comedy combo and this sci-fi laughfest from writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg promises to be ripe with Stiller’s snappy one liners and Vaughan’s fast talking snark. It’s about a group of dudes who start a neighbourhood watch group in order to get some 'guy time' away from their wives only to discover that aliens are about to attack Earth. And as they're the ones watching the neighbourhood, it's up to them to stop the attack.

Savages, October 4. Genre: Crime thriller
Director: Oliver Stone
Starring: Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch
Don’t Miss Because: It’s Oliver Stone doing something that doesn’t involve 9/11, American politics or the stock market. Two marijuana agriculturalists must face the Mexican Baja Cartel who kidnaps their shared girlfriend. A glut of A-listers fill the cast list: Blake Lively (The Town), Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek.

Frankenweenie, October 4. Genre: Animated Fantasy
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara
Don’t Miss Because: No-one does cartoonish macabre better than spider-haired director Tim Burton. Here he returns to the world of stop motion animation for this Frankenstein-inspired tale about a boy who reanimates the corpse of his beloved dog. Fans of Burton’s trademark kooky ghoulishness will not want to miss this one.

Gangster Squad, November 1. Genre: Crime
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn
Don’t Miss Because: Round here we love a good gangster flick and this one from the director of the cult-fave Zombieland sounds like it’s going to be exceptionally good. Set at the height of the mafia’s power in the 1940s and starring Time Magazine’s ‘Coolest Person of the Year’ Ryan Gosling, the increasingly vital Emma Stone and the always on form Sean Penn, we’re expecting The Gangster Squad to be a hit – cinematically of course...

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, November 15. Genre: Romantic horror
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Don’t Miss Because: Whether you’re a lover or a hater, you should be excited (for one reason or another) about the last entry into the Twilight Saga. Similar to last year’s The Deathly Hallows Pt 2, this conclusion marks the end of a wildly successful film franchise.

Skyfall, November 22. Genre: Action
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench
Don’t Miss Because: This 23rd film in the franchise will largely ignore the intertwined plot of Bond’s last two outings and instead be a focused, stand-alone adventure that will see Britain’s super-spy blowing things up in exotic locales, pausing only for the occasional martini with a classy broad or to deliver a devastating quip…

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, December 14. Genre: Epic fantasy adventure
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis
Don’t Miss Because: Sir Pete’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy was such a towering achievement, the epic to end all epics, that having the chance to return to Middle earth under his careful custodianship is a real cinematic privilege. With Martin Freeman bringing his affable everyman shtick to author JRR Tolkien’s briskly paced, high-spirited adventure this is one journey we are very much looking forward too. Also, dragons.

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