Sunday, 8 January 2012

TOP FILMS FOR 2012: 20-1

20. Dark Shadows (May)
Dir: Tim Burton
Stars: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Chloe Moretz, Michele Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley
Probably the closest we'll get to Tim Burton doing The Addams Family (yeah, I thought he had directed that too), Dark Shadows is the feature film adaptation of the cult 1960s US TV soap about a vampire Barnabas Collins (Depp) and his family, who are plagued by strange occurrences... and guests. Burton hasn't had the greatest run of late, but I think this is going to be his best in a while.

19. Rush (TBA)
Dir: Ron Howard
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhel, Russell Crowe, Olivia Wilde
Well if there's one thing Senna did for film last year, it's brought the exciting and intoxicating world of Formula One to Hollywood's attention. Of course people have tried to do it on the big screen previously, but it's always been original stories and they've done pretty horribly for themselves (including last one of note 2001's Driven with Sylvester Stallone set during the Indycar championship. With guest cameos from Jacques Villeneuve and Dario Franchitti! Ah, not all bad then). But this time Ron Howard has a real life story to source the material for his new film from: the F1 year of 1976 and the rivalry between Niki Lauda (Bruhel) and James Hunt (Hemsworth - excellent choice!) and the horror crash which nearly claimed Lauda's life. Oh you know I'll be there. Still filming/pp at the moment, but hopefully we should see it in 2012.

18. Damsels in Distress (TBA)
Dir: Whit Stillman
Stars: Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Carrie MacLemore
Eeee! This could be a good 'un, folks! A group of beautiful girls plan to overhaul the lives of their fellow students at an American East Coast University by offering them comfort and guidance through the trials and tribulations of college. Led by ring leader Violet (Gerwig) the group are tested themselves through encounters with the male sex, including Charlie (Brody) who divides friendships... Arghh it's just my kind of thing! Deadpan and darkly funny as well, it gives me Pretty Persuasion vibes. And yes, that is Analeigh Tipton of America's Next Top Model Cycle 11 fame! She does movies now.

17. Mirror Mirror (March)
Dir: Tarsem Singh
Stars: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Sean Bean
There's lots of fairytale films out this year which I'm mega excited about (more to come in the Top 10..) and Mirror Mirror is the first of two Snow White tales. Tarsem Singh is at the helm, so expect lots of lavish colour and visuals, but surprisingly for Singh, he's chosen to camp up his adaptation somewhat with lots of silly humour and Julia Roberts more pompous than poisonous. Cheeky and light hearted, it's very different to its counterpart which I'll be talking about shortly. A little disappointing it must be said, but I've seen the trailer a couple of times now and it does annoy me less and less each time, which I suppose is something.

16. The Cabin In The Woods (April)
Dir: Drew Goddard
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker
This is the long delayed Joss Whedon horror/sci-fi project that fell victim to the financial woes of MGM but is now finally getting a release. It promises to turn on its head the 'kids go to stay at a creepy cabin in the spooky woods' premise, but not in a Tucker and Dale vs. Evil kinda way - in a from the writer of Cloverfield and Lost kind of way. And judging by the trailer, things get horrible, but things also get really really weird as well. Oh, and that's that guy from Dollhouse before you start scratching at your head trying to remember who he is.

15. The Hunger Games (March)
Dir: Gary Ross
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson
I'm quietly optimistic for this having not read the books but liking the dystopia/sci-fi edge to it, of 24 youngsters being let loose into an 'arena' (a forest) and battling each other until one comes out alive. Has lots of shades of the Theseus myth, and even Chris Bachelder's Bear V Shark. And the books are huge, so if it goes well there's bound to be countless sequels. My only qualm is the cast - I've yet to be won over by Jennifer Lawrence (she's a bit sour) and Josh Hutcherson, yulch. At least we have Woody Harrelson there to save the day (not literally though).

14. Shame (January)
Dir: Steve McQueen
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie
I still can't believe this isn't out yet! I've seen it twice already, ha. It's a difficult one to put into my Top 40 as it definitely needs to be in there, but obviously I'm not as excited about it as I was a few months ago (actually in all honesty it surpassed all my emotions about it). I just urge every one of you who haven't caught it at a festival showing before now to go and see this when it comes out next week. It's one of the best films of the year, and I ain't even seen any others yet (apart from another one I'll talk about in a minute). It's powerful and mesmerising, and if you've never seen a Michael Fassbender film before it's essential. Hopefully my review will help decide matters, and the trailer:

13. Martha Marcy May Marlene (February)
Dir: Sean Durkin
Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy
Again, I can't believe this isn't out yet, either! It's been nearly a year since this drama about a girl escaping a cult and moving in with her family premiered at Sundance 2010 and won for Best Director. And it's been that long since I've been waiting to see it as well! Elizabeth Olsen breaks the mould of her Olsen twin sisters with a standout performance in a film that blurs a paranoid reality with painful memories and bad dreams. Oh I do like a good blurring.

12. Movie 43 (TBA)
Dir: Various
Cast: (deep breath): Emma Stone, Chloe Moretz, Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Kristen Bell, Anna Farris, Sean William Scott, Josh Duhamel, Kate Bosworth, Naomi Watts, Justiin Long, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Liev Schreiber, Kieran Culkin, Christoper Mintz-Plasse, Stephen Merchant, etc etc
Remember that amazing cast I mentioned earlier when talking about Tar? Well this is it. You ain't gonna get bigger than this. And it's a similar set up, too: lots of mini segments by different directors (I haven't even got round to talking about the directors involved yet!). Yes, like Paris Je T'aime or New York I Love You, the only difference being... they're all comedy segments. Unsure if they'll all be loosely connected yet or even be set in the same city, but it's a different spin on the ensemble piece and I have confidence it will be worth watching.

11. Like Crazy (February)
Dir: Drake Doremus
Stars: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennier Lawrence, Charlie Bewley
Yes, I'm still going on about it! This would be much, much higher up my list if I hadn't already seen it. Still, I'm uber excited about going to see it again next month even though I will be doubling my tears ratio. It's just an absolutely beautiful film, one everybody should go and see if they've been in a relationship. It's not a rom-com, there's no cookie cutter happy ending (or is there?), there's no simple answers and just when you think it's going in one direction, it takes another step entirely. I'm also going to go into my second screening with a new found appreciation of the dialogue, which amazing anyway, I later discovered was all improv. And need I remind you it's the current Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, and Felicity Jones won Best Actress there too? GO SEE IT!

10. Jack The Giant Killer (June)
Dir: Bryan Singer
Stars: Nichlas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane
Another fairytale blockbluster now! (blockblusters are OK if they have magical source material). This is the first time Jack and The Beanstalk has been done on the big screen - in fact I mentioned it in my Top 10 Fairytales That Need The Disney Treatment last year. Whilst this isn't Disney, the fact it's live action/CGI means it will be visually arresting, and have huge scale too (this is the guy who directed X Men). Also loving the hints at a giant in the trailer but not actually getting to see it properly... here's hoping it will be Trollhunter worthy.

9. Brave (August)
Dir: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Stars: Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters
Pixar's next film is a very British affair indeed. Well, Scottish. Set in medieval times, a young princess goes against family laws (women can't fight, and all that) to defeat a deadly curse. It all looks stunning, and the cast are a homegrown lot as well. I still feel like there's something missing which I can't put my finger on from watching the trailer, but it's Pixar and we've got to be in safe hands. This is first time outing for the directors, so here's hoping they can rank up another success for the studio.

8. The Great Gatsby (December)
Dir: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo Di Caprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgarton, Isla Fisher
Now this may be a bit of an odd choice as I tried to read the novel last year and, yes even though it's only short, I got so bored with it I had to get the man to tell me what happened. But to many, this is the greatest book ever written and though it's had film adaptations in the past, this is the first one in 35 years and it's due a new polish. And that comes courtesy of brilliant (in all ways of the word) director Baz Luhrmann, who is sure to make the whole thing utterly dazzling to look at (in 3D, I believe). But the cast is excellent too. Even though I skipped out on the book, this will be a perfect post Christmas trip to the cinema.

7. Alps (TBA)
Dir: Giorgos Lanthimos
Stars: Aris Servetalis, Johnny Verkis, Ariane Labed, Aggeliki Papoulia
VERY excited about this one - it's the director's follow up to Dogtooth which remains one of my favourite films of all time (you must see it if you haven't already). This was on at the London Film Festival last year but just after the weekend I went down which was a real kicker. It stars the eldest daughter from Dogtooth and also the main girl from Attenberg and revolves around a group of unconnected people who call themselves 'Alps' whose job it is to stand in for the dead. Sounds bizarre, but going on Dogtooth this is going to be original, challenging and bleakly funny. Don't expect the trailer to make a tail load of sense either, but this is definitely worth checking out when it gets a release date.

6. Moonrise Kingdom (TBA)
Dir: Wes Anderson
Stars: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman
It's the new one from Wes Anderson! That's all I need to say really, and I could finish the blurb right there. This one is about a young couple who flee their town to be together causing the locale to put a search party together to help look for them. Cue whimsy madness! The usual crowd are back (Murray, Schwartzman) but with a few fresh faces this time. He's one of my favourite directors so I'm gonna love it - here's hoping it comes out this year, though! No real photos as of yet - this one here is a pic of the set.

5. Young Adult (February)
Dir: Jason Reitman
Stars: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Reaser
Speaking of favourite directors... Not only is this Jason Reitman's new film (LOVE) but it's also written by Diablo Cody, so the pair's first collaboration since the wonderful Juno. I have high expectations for this one, and Charlize Theron is supposed to deliver a fiendishly superb performance as the bitch prom queen from high school now returning twenty years later to reclaim her childhood sweetheart...who's married with a child. Delicious!

4. The Amazing Spider-Man (July)
Dir: Marc Webb (love it)
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen
A superhero film? So high up on my list? Why yes, you read correctly. And the main reason why I'm so excited about the reboot of Spiderman, apart from the fact I love Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (perfect match)? Because I've seen a lot of clips from Movie Con last year, and this looks SO good. It may, on paper, sound exactly the same as the Sam Raimi version a decade ago, but that's all it is - words. Forget about all the spidey action for a minute - this is going to properly tackle Peter Parker at high school, and Andrew Garfield is brilliant. It's from the director of 500 Days of Summer remember... Just trust me on this one - it's going to be immense.

3. Snow White and the Huntsman (June)
Dir: Rupert Sanders
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Bob Hoskins
It's the other Snow White movie! And far superior it looks, too. Far from the frivolity and rainbow colours of Mirror Mirror Rupert Sanders' take (and his debut film) is far grittier, with huge battle sequences, and an Evil Queen (Theron) who eats the hearts of women so she herself can remain the fairest of them all. The cast is ultimately better in this one as well - think what you want about Kristen Stewart, but the calibre of dwarves alone is pretty impressive (and all British!). Can't wait for this in June - proper epic.

2. The Woman in Black (February)
Dir: James Watkins
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Shaun Dooley, Janet McTeer
IS IT FEBRUARY YET?! I am so excited about The Woman in Black that I've already organised when I'm going to see it (excellent timing with my anniversary. And with Young Adult out the same day AND going to see Zach Braff's play in Manchester with Zach Braff IN IT it's going to be the most exciting weekend evah!...y'know, just sayin'). To be honest I've been looking forward to this since it was announced - I have a deep soft spot for Daniel Radcliffe (I just think he's so refreshing to listen to) and I love spooky horror stories - best sub of the genre. But after Movie Con, with footage and talks from the director James Watkins (who did the underrated Eden Lake) I've been on a serious buzz about this since last Summer. So, BRING IT ON! I can't wait to have sleepless nights about it.

Oh so close to being Number One! But not quite...

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December)
Dir: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage
But it's got to be this, hasn't it? It has only got to be this at Number One. I'm so excited for this one, that I'm going to dress up as an elf* and go to the midnight screening** when it comes out. That's how excited I am. I completely fell in love with the LOTR films - I think they changed the cinematic experience forever, and the fact that we're going back again for two whole new films.... giddy shivers. Then the trailer came out and that got me even more excited - it looks absolutely beautiful, and just gave me a warm, happy sense of familiarity. I don't know how I'm going to wait another 11 months! Better get on and read the book I suppose... plus constant repeat viewings of this:

*this probably isn't true

**though this probably is

So there's my Top 40 to watch out for in the coming year - I shall try and get round to watching and reviewing them all for culturemouse. I was pretty thorough, but do let me know if I've missed anything out...

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