Friday, June 1, 2012



Well folks, we're already officially halfway through 2012... Can you believe it? It has been a big year for me personally with plenty of changes in store and plenty more to come. Thus, I haven't seen near as many new films (especially in theaters) as I would like to have, but I'm very happy with most that I have seen. The "worst" film I've seen in 2012 thus far has been "John Carter" and I reasonably liked it! Of course, I've been avoided most of the films that appear dead on arrival. I've raved about 2011, which I still think was/is the best year in movies since I've been actively watching (it was probably also my most active year in films as an attendee, non-professional critic, and all around scholar, so take that for what it's worth). That said, 2012 is already shaping up to be a fine follow-up and we haven't even seen some of the bigger releases. Sure, "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers" were mighty blockbusters, but as we head into the bulk of summer and the "award season" fall line-up we will be hit with one anticipated title after the other. I am going to highlight the ten that I am most excited below. Here we go!

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10. Lincoln (December)

Never underestimate Mr. Spielberg. Last Holiday he delivered "War Horse" and "The Adventures of Tintin," two polarizing films that were also somewhat polarizing in their reception. I thought both to be modern classics in their own right. One of our greatest actors, Daniel Day-Lewis plays our 16th president during the Civil War. (Note: This is not to be confused with "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," which I seriously considered for this list.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tommy Lee Jones play lead roles as well. Few filmmakers do as ambitious period pieces as Spielberg. Not one to miss in my book!

9. Wreck-It Ralph (November 2nd)

I felt I needed to spotlight an animated film. Studio Ghibli's already came and went ("The Secret World of Arrietty") and while "Brave" does look pretty great I had to swing over the other non-Pixar yet Disney feature, "Wreck-It Ralph." The title role is a video game character (voiced by John C. Reilly) who tries to shed his bad guy image from a classic arcade game by becoming the hero of a modern first-person shooter. As a gamer and fan of animation this sounds like one of the more fun shows of the year.

8. Les Miserables (December 14th)

If it weren't for the awe-inspiring trailer that hit the interwebs early this week, Tom Hooper's follow-up to the Oscar-winning "The King's Speech," may not have made my list. But that chilling clip was seen by me and I cannot ignore it! Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackson (who have both proved to us at the Academy Awards that they can sing) lead the group in the first film adaptation of one of the most beloved stage musicals of all-time, an adaptation of one of the most beloved novels in history. Can you hear the people sing?

7. Cloud Atlas (December 6th)

I know very little about "Cloud Atlas" and part of me wants to keep it that way. Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") and the Wachowski Brothers ("The Matrix") have teamed up on the adaptation of the novel of the same name. Six stories in different times intersect and... that's all I want to read or tell. Both sets are ambitious and wildly imaginative filmmakers. Yes please.

6. Prometheus (June 8th)

Now the wait is not long at all for Ridley Scott's return to science-fiction. With classics such as "Alien" and "Blade Runner" under his belt he has forever captured the interest of the film world. Early reviews expressing some disappointment have certainly challenged my anticipation, but I cannot forget the incredible images we've been seeing for "Prometheus" over recent months. I will be there in one week to see what they've crafted, in promising 3D no less.

5. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20th)

While the title still seems funny to me, that is the only thing about "The Dark Knight Rises" that does. Everything else about Christopher Nolan's drooled-after closing to the modern Batman trilogy demands our serious attention. After making the world's head spin with "Inception" (his best film) Nolan has proved his ability to carve story into his mega-budget features. Each trailer has raised the bar for what we can expect to see next month. I know the film will completely knock it off the poles.

4. Django Unchained (December 25th)

(Ever noticed that all of Tarantino's films are titled with two words? Think about it.) The genre thumping, homage paying, violent virtuoso is back with his first official Western, though it is especially influenced by Spaghetti Westerns and since it takes place in Mississippi is being called a "Southern." In any case, this is a genre Tarantino was born to lasso as you can see their influence in nearly ever one of his films (not to mention several of his favorite films are Westerns, namely "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and "Rio Bravo"). Jamie Foxx stars at the title character who is freed by a German bounty hunter. The two join forces on a mission to rescue Django's wife (Kerry Washington) who is still is slavery and property of the ruthless Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Honestly, this would have been my #1 choice had I not already read the screenplay. After a most-excellent first half the story went downhill in a bad way. I do not care to divulge details here, I only hope QT hammered things out and will deliver yet another masterpiece.

3. Samsara (2012)

Ron Fricke's "Baraka" blew me away. His films are devoid of conventional narratives, but still tell stories of civilizations and customs the world over. The unmatched visuals that he captures and the rate and order at which they are presented make for powerful and unforgettable cinema. "Samsara" is clearly the spiritual successor to "Baraka" and that is all I need to know.

2. The Master (October 12th)

P.T. Anderson just might be my favorite American director alive today. His last three films offered something completely different each time. Not only were they at or among the top of their respective years, but "Magnolia" and "There Will Be Blood" have become some of the all-time greatest films in my tome. With "The Master" Anderson tells the story of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymore Hoffman), a bright and convincing man who starts a religious organization in America circa 1950s. Among his followers is Freddie Sutton (Jaoquin Phoenix in his first return to acting since his three-year-long publicity stunt). People are quick to compare the narrative to the forming of Scientology and Hoffman's character to L. Ron Hubbard. Amy Adams, who also is continually trying different roles, co-stars. The cast excites me, but I am most eager to see what yarn Anderson sews this time around. The recent clip that was released further whetted my appetite.

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14th)

I really hope this does not surprise anyone. It shouldn't. What Peter Jackson, the enormous cast, and even larger crew put together in New Zealand at the turn of the millennium was one of the greatest achievement in all of film. The fact that all involved parties (with obvious cast changes) are returning again for the adventure before the adventure is beyond exciting. Finally something can fill the void in my life that I've felt since driving home from the theater after I first saw "The Return of the King" nearly a decade ago. Furthermore, that this is an adaptation of my favorite book also helps significantly. If I could only see one film this year (or any year), this would be my choice.

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Quick shout out to Rian Johnson's "Looper," Ben Affleck's "Argo," the new Bond and Bourne films, Pixar's "Brave,""Only God Forgives," "To the Wonder," "Gangster Squad," and of course, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Those in the know of Alfonso Cuaron's next film, "Gravity," may be wondering about its absence. It looks like that has been pushed to 2013, otherwise that would be competition for the top of the list for sure.

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While I love lists (in true cinephile and film geek fashion) they are awfully hard to construct and, most of all, rank. I always have a sinking feeling that I am forgetting something major and I am going to have a forehead slapping moment in the near future. We shall see. There were so many to choose from, but these are the ones that I ultimately felt to spotlight. 

I am fully aware of how American-centric this list is. It just turned out that way. While I do try to keep an hear to the ground for international films it is evident that I need to do a better job at that. They are usually films one has to catch up with on their own as theaters usually don't show them and even finding out their release dates can be difficult. That's my excuse.

It is fun to look forward in a post like this because come the end of the year it will be equally fun to look back upon. I will try to do a Top Ten like this every January in the future.

I would love to hear what films you are looking forward to! Please comment below or head over to The Film Tome Facebook page and join the conversation.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

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Trent said...

I wasn't aware of a few of these films so thanks for that. I am unbelievably excited for The Master, probably second to that is Moonrise Kingdom (hopefully it makes it anywhere near here), I will definitely be in the theater for Prometheus and Dark Knight Rises as well. Oscar season always throws in some surprises though.

Galyn said...

Les Miserables is going to be fantastic,and btw I'm excited to see it at the Shakespeare Festival next month. In my opinion, the music totally makes the story come alive. I have seen movie versions that were not musical and they left me feeling like something was missing.

Thanks for showing me the trailer for Wreck It Ralph. I think you will enjoy that one.

Samsara and Baraka = yes, please.

And I know the Hobbit has been on several people's radar for years. It will be interesting to see if it is as popular as the Lord of the Rings movies were.