Left off due to 2013 possibilities: The Master – The new film from PT Anderson, while it’s one of my most anticipated by far, it’s unknown if they’ll be able to make a 2012 Oscar run before the year is out (as the Weinsteins often do) but I’m not counting on it. At the same time, they dated Django Unchained and that is about to start shooting. We’ll see.
The Golden Suicides – The new film from Gaspar Noe, who has made some tremendous films in his career. Here, he teams up with Bret Easton Ellis for a film based on the strange relationship of two lovers that killed themselves within a week of each other, mostly due to government conspiracy theories.
Upstream Colors – The new film from Shane Carruth, who made the great film Primer in 2004. This is his next feature, but not even a storyline is known yet, and to me that rules out a date. Hopefully we’ll see it sooner rather than later.
Written by Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron, & Rodrigo Garcia
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
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.”
A big budget sci-fi epic starring Sandra Bullock sounds awful any way you put it, until you mention it was co-written and is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, director of Children of Men, the hit serious sci-fi film from 2006. His involvement, and the casting of George Clooney are the only things that caught my interest, at least until we get to see a trailer, which we’ll probably see in early spring, I’d hope. The film is set for a Thanksgiving release, we’ll keep you updated as things come along.
Written & Directed by Michael Haneke
Starring Isabelle Huppert
“A retired couple deals with aftermath of the wife suffering from a debilitating stroke.”
The master of uncomfortable, harsh dramas is back to cover the relationship of a married couple who has their love tested when the woman is debilitated by a stroke. Haneke continues to garner critical praise for each of his films, winning some major awards with his last film The White Ribbon. While I’m not sure what the US release date is like (it releases in Europe in May) I’m sure that American critics will get to see it before 2012 is out at the very latest.
8. Wettest County
Based on the novel by Matt Bondurant
Written by Nick Cave
Directed by John Hillcoat
Starring Tom Hardy, Shia LeBouf, & Guy Pearce
“Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.”
Cave and Hillcoat have quickly become one of my favorite filmmaking teams, so the fact that they’ve adapted an exciting book, and they got rising star Tom Hardy as one of the leads has me excited. I would watch anything the writing/directing team puts out, but with the excellent source material and interesting cast, it bolsters interest for me. This one comes out April 20th, 2012 from The Weinstein Company.
7. Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
Based on the novel by Yasuhiko Takiguchi
Written by Kikumi Yamagishi
Directed by Takashi Miike
“An tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.”
Miike’s last film, 13 Assassins is arguably his best film. He returns to Feudal Japan in order to revisit themes he explored on many different levels in 13 Assassins but without the aspect of the group of ronin, this one focusing on the specific story of two families from different classes, and where their lives collide in the midst of honor and disgrace. If you’ve seen his last film, you know that he’s not afraid to show a little hara-kiri as well, so expect it to be big, long, bloody, and damn good.
6. Only God Forgives
Directed by Nicolas Windig Refn
Starring Ryan Gosling & Kristen Scott Thomas
“A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match.”
The two emerging talents behind Drive return to work with each other again, this time shooting in Thailand what is described as “a Thai western”. While not much is known other than the basic story, a cop and a gangster fight in a Thai boxing match, but that’s enough to get me interested, especially since Refn has yet to make a bad film. Set to be released sometime in 2012, probably in time for awards season.
Written by Wentworth Miller
Directed by Chan-wook Park
Starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Dermot Mulroney, & Matthew Goode
“A teenage girl mourning the death of her father deals with an uncle who mysteriously shows up to meet the family.”
A horror film with American actors from the master of Korean cinema, Chan-wook Park. The only thing that worries me is the presence of Nicole Kidman, but she can do well when she’s directed well. With an interesting cast and little known about the plot, it’s tough to get too excited for anything other than the pedigree, but once we’ll see a trailer, that’s when we’ll see what’s coming. Releases sometime in 2o12.
4. Dark Horse
Written & Directed by Todd Solondz
Starring Justin Bartha, Mia Farrow, Jordan Gelber, Chistopher Walken, & Selma Blair
“Romance blooms between two thirty-somethings in arrested development: an avid toy collector and a woman who is the dark horse of her family.”
The first script from Solondz that his agents actually like, it’s also one of the first that doesn’t feature pedophilia or rough anal sex. With that said, it’s getting good critical notices so far playing at a few overseas film festivals. With a very Solondz-friendly cast, that features Jordan Gelber in a starring role, it’s sure to be another interesting trip from Solondz into the world of family dysfunction.
3. Seven Psychopaths
Written & Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, & Christopher Walken
“A screenwriter gets caught up in his pal’s dog-kidnapping plot.”
After the much-loved In Bruges, writer/director Martin McDonagh is re-teaming with Colin Farrell for his next film Seven Psychopaths. The very sparse story that has been revealed so far sounds like it falls right into McDonagh’s ballpark, with some violence and dark humor. After In Bruges, I’m excited for anything he does.
Written & Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt & Bruce Willis
“A killer who works for the mob of the future recognizes one of his targets as his future self.”
A crazy mind trip of a story, Looper is the next film from Brothers Bloom and Brick director Rian Johnson. A time travel story about hitmen and the mob of the future, it’s a puzzle of a film that will require every detail to make sense, and if anyone has the ability to tell a brilliantly crafted puzzle story, it’s Johnson. Looper comes out September 28th, 2012 from TriStar pictures.
1. Django Unchained
Written & Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell, Michael K. Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, & Sacha Baron Cohen
“With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.”
After you read that huge, ridiculous cast list, and the guy who wrote the script, who is also directing the movie, what more is there to say? One of the best ensemble casts since Tarantino’s last film, coupled with a very strong script, and arguably the most exciting director working today? You have a pre-determined hit before a frame of film is shot. Django Unchained will be out at Christmas from The Weinstein Company.