We’re a week into 2012, and I feel comfortable enough sharing with you my most anticipated films of the remainder of the year. It isn’t anything special, and I’m sure there will be more to add as the proverbial diamonds in the rough make their rounds on the festival circuit, but in the meantime, these titles are those I’ve set my sights on. If you’re feeling bold, make sure to comment and voice your own picks. Enjoy!
Haywire (dir. Steven Soderbergh) – The twilight of his career looming precariously on the horizon, Mr. Soderbergh’s decided to tackle several niches of the cinematic spectrum he hasn’t entirely familiarized himself with. This time, the end product takes the form of an action-packed espionage thriller in the vein of Mission:Impossible, starring female MMA dynamo Gina Carano and quite literally every presently relevant A-list actor. The trailers look promising enough, and I assume there isn’t much to be said about the central story arc that hasn’t been found within similar films, but I have enough faith in Soderbergh to see this one through to its end. Haywire opens wide on January 20th.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (dir. Lorene Scafaria) – As a particularly grim yet supposedly comedic (at least mildly) take on your typical end-of-the-world scenario, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World boasts a pretty stellar ensemble cast and a premise that has always caught my eye regardless of poor execution. Little else is known about the project other than it focuses on a man (Steve Carrell) who takes it upon himself to seek out his former high school sweetheart after his wife flees in terror upon learning of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opens wide on April 20th.
The Five-Year Engagement (dir. Nicholas Stoller) – Given how much I adore both Segel’s brand of humor and 2008’s alternately hilarious and emotionally honest Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this second pairing (excluding The Muppets) of Segel and long-time partner Nicholas Stoller is an immediate sell, and the trailer unabashedly showcases the same seriocomic sensibilities I’ve always taken a liking to regarding contemporary, if more often hackneyed romantic comedies. Fingers crossed for this one, especially. The Five-Year Engagement opens wide on April 27th.
Moonrise Kingdom (dir. Wes Anderson) – It goes without saying that Wes Anderson’s latest would make an appearance on this list, but with a refreshing 1960s setting and central premise as peculiar as they come, at least for Anderson, I can’t help but wonder if Moonrise Kingdom will effectively mark a mild departure for the auteur while still sporting the trademark flair his earlier productions have always carried with them. Moonrise Kingdom opens in New York and L.A. on May 25th.
Magic Mike (dir. Steven Soderbergh) – The second of Soderbergh’s dwindling filmography to be featured on this list, I can’t quite grasp the auteur’s aim with the material, focusing on an upstart male stripper and his newfound mentor, of whom is portrayed by former male stripper and wooden actor extraordinaire Channing Tatum. Whether this will prove to be Soderbergh’s Showgirls or not is to be determined, but from the looks of things, it at least sounds interesting enough to warrant my attendance opening day. Magic Mike opens wide on June 29th.
Warm Bodies (dir. Jonathan Levine) – ZOMBIES. I’m sure we’re all sick and tired of the zombie apocalypse and its overbearing prevalence in Hollywood, however when regarding Jonathan Levine’s adaptation of the novel of the same title, think of Warm Bodies as a zombie romance, centering on the undead R as the consumption of a suicidal teen’s brain causes him to fall inexplicably in love with his victim’s girlfriend. Simple, yes, but the cult status of the novel itself and Levine’s direction should ensure that Warm Bodies receives the attention it deserves, even if it ends up being nothing but a misfire. Warm Bodies opens wide on August 10th.
Looper (dir. Rian Johnson) – Once again banking on a fledgling auteur’s initial success to serve as a precursor for future success, Rian Johnson’s dystopian sci-fi thriller stars one of my favorite working actors and boasts a particularly thin yet undeniably intriguing premise involving a contract killer’s obvious quandary in offing his future self. Looper opens wide on September 28th.
Savages (dir. Oliver Stone) – Oliver Stone and I have never really seen eye to eye. This aside, Savages, on the surface, seems to hold enough general appeal to push my unfavorable opinion of him to the side in an effort to enjoy this tale of two stoners who wage war against the Mexican drug runners that kidnapped their shared girlfriend. Absurd? Absolutely, but frankly, I don’t care; entertainment value is always worth the price of admission. Savages opens wide on July 6th.
Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino) – As a god amongst men, Quentin Tarantino has consistently produced some of the more worthwhile labors of the industry time and time again, and with Django Unchained, I doubt this particular trend will cease. Appearing to be yet another departure from familiar territory and starring an exceptionally well-rounded cast, waiting until December for this one will really test my patience. Django Unchained opens wide on December 25th.
Celeste and Jesse Forever (dir. Lee Toland Krieger) – Having been blown away by Lee Toland Krieger’s previous effort, a biting, exceedingly dark character study by the name of The Vicious Kind, I have especially high hopes for this one given Krieger’s apparent ability to deftly blend dark humor with straightforward melodrama. With Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones starring as the titular couple, this will also give Samberg a chance to prove to us that he’s at least mildly versatile in his acting abilities. Release date TBA.