2012 Preview

Yes, there’s plenty I still haven’t seen from 2011 (and even 2010) but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to a whole new batch of cinematic treats due for release in the following 12 months.

Aside from the obvious box-office magnets of The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Prometheus and Skyfall, below I have compiled my top ten. In addition to wishing that the likes of Michael Mann, David Lynch, Lukas Moodysson and Lucrecia Martel would pull their fingers out in terms of new film projects, I’m also hoping that Giorgos Lanthimos’ Alps will get some sort of UK release date; his previous effort Dogtooth was a marvellously brutal, Haneke-esque melodrama and one of the most intriguing films of the decade.

10. Untitled Bin Laden film (dir. Kathryn Bigelow) – starring Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton and Edgár Ramírez.

After the deserved success of her last film The Hurt Locker and subsequent best director Oscar, Bigelow’s stock has rocketed. Her new film is in a similar field and has been described as an international thriller surrounding the hunt for, and capture of, Osama Bin Laden. Earmarked for a December release there are few details around for this Mark Boal written project, although the likes of Guy Pearce and Idris Elba have been linked to additional roles.

9. Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino) – starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Leonardo Di Caprio and Kerry Washington.

Back on form with the outrageous Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino fans (of which I am one) have been waiting with baited breath for this Western/Slave/Revenge/Thriller hybrid follow up. With an outstanding cast headlined by Leonardo Di Caprio, Jamie Foxx and the extremely busy Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this tale of a slave-turned-bounty-hunter who sets out to save his wife from a sadistic plantation owner looks set to be spectacularly bonkers, if nothing else.

8. Wettest County (dir. John Hillcoat) – starring Shia LeBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce and Jason Clarke.

Adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novel The Wettest County in the World, this Depression-era crime drama boasts one of 2012’s most impressive casts. And with John Hillcoat, of The Road and more impressively, the gritty, scorching The Proposition fame, at the helm, it’s safe to say it could also be one of the most impressive films of the year. The Nick Cave scribed project stars Tom Hardy, Shia LeBeouf, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke as members of a bootlegging gang whose operation is threatened by the Guy Pearce-led authorities that what to shut them down.

7. Looper (dir. Rian Johnson) – starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Bruce Willis.

After his outstanding debut film Brick was released in 2005, Rian Johnson looked set for an extremely bright future. Follow up The Brothers Bloom was somewhat uninspiring however, and he failed to kick on. Now back with his third film Looper, Johnson reunites with Brick leading man Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as well as adding the Paul Dano, Bruce Willis and the superb Emily Blunt, to an impressive line up. The future-set film centres on a contract killer who recognises one of his targets as his future self; a premise that admittedly, does not sound the most appealing, but I remember thinking the same thing when reading about The Adjustment Bureau and Source Code – both of which I enjoyed immensely.

6. The Grandmasters (dir. Wong Kar Wai) – starring Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang

This story of Ip Man, the great martial artist who trained Bruce Lee, promises to be excellent if the previous oeuvre of the visually sumptuous Wong Kar Wai is anything to go by. It stars regular collaborator Tony Leung as Ip Man and the world renowned Ziyi Zhang, back for her second stint with Wai following 2046. The Grandmasters will be the director’s first film since his critic dividing English language debut My Blueberry Nights (2007), and marks a return to his native tongue.

5. Rust and Bone (dir. Jacques Audiard) – starring Marion Cotillard.

The master of French crime-noir is back with this adaptation of Craig Davidson’s short stories collection of the same name. Little is known about what direction Audiard’s version will take, but given that the source novels frequent the seedy underground world of illegal fighting, gambling and sex addicts, and that the director has a penchant violence, gangsters and crime, then it is safe to say we have a rough idea. The addition of Cotillard as protagonist elect is interesting however, as Audiard’s previous work has dealt almost exclusively with male leads.

4. The Master (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson) – starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix.

After the release of instant classic There Will Be Blood in 2007, Anderson has taken his time in pulling together his follow up which is not about scientology. Instead, The Master, stars Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, a ‘charasmatic intellectual’ whose ‘faith-based organisation’ begins to gain popularity in 1950s America. OK, so maybe it is about scientology. Either way, acting support comes from the wonderful Amy Adams, and the rejuvenated Joaquin Phoenix, who plays a drifter taken under Dodd’s wing. Staple Anderson themes of male bonding, father-son relationships and questions of faith seem implied, and this looks set to be a very good, and possibly controversial, one.

3. Amour (dir. Michael Haneke) – starring Isabelle Huppert, William Shimell, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

After forays into English (Funny Games U.S.) and his native German (The White Ribbon), Haneke’s twelfth feature Amour reverts to the French of which we have grown accustomed in the latter half of his career. It stars regular collaborator Isabelle Huppert who plays Eva, as well as the now trademark, recurring character names of Anne and Georges, played by Riva and Trintignant respectively. The premise revolves around a retired couple who struggle to cope in the aftermath of the wife suffering a debilitating stroke and is set for a May time release. This sounds like vintage Haneke, therefore expect no punches to be pulled in what is sure to be a difficult and demanding film.

2. Untitled (dir. Terrence Malick) – starring Javier Bardem, Ben Affleck, Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, Jessica Chastain and Martin Sheen.

Having made just five films in a 38 year career to date, the most recent of which being the mesmeric The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick appears to be making up for lost time. He now looks set to almost double his life’s work in the next two years, with a staggering four projects on the go. The Brad Pitt and Emma Thompson narrated ‘examination of the birth and death of the universe’ is due out some time this year, whilst star-studded duo Knight of Cups and Lawless featuring the likes of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Ryan Gosling, are both scheduled for a 2013 release. An equally impressive list of names has been working on an as yet untitled film that is due to hit cinemas this year however. The project is described as a ‘romantic drama’ and purportedly centres on a man (Affleck) reconnecting with an old flame as his marriage falls apart.

1. Cogan’s Trade (dir. Andrew Dominik) – starring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Sam Shepard, Garrett Dillahunt and Ray Liotta.

It’ll be almost five years since the release of Dominik’s previous film when Cogan’s Trade finally hits screens later on this year. That last film just so happens to be The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – one of the most exquisite films of the last twenty years, and my personal all time favourite. My excitement and insatiable anticipation for Dominik’s next project has been growing since 2007, and my mind was blown when preliminary cast lists included seemingly the entire Assassination crew of Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Sam Shepard and Garrett Dillahunt. Affleck and Rockwell have since dropped out however, only to be replaced by the likes of James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins and Vincent Curatola. The film has been adapted from the George V. Higgins novel by Dominik himself, and centres around a professional enforcer (Pitt) who investigates a heist that took place at a mob protected poker game. Excited is not the word.

A few others worth keeping an eye on are: the multi-directed 7 días en La Habana (featuring input from the likes of Julio Medem, Gaspar Noé and Benicio del Toro), Carlos Assayas Apres mai, the multi-narrative Cloud Atlas directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski brothers, and Pawel Pawlikowski’s long awaited My Summer of Love follow up, The Woman in the Fifth.

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