There's a lot to look forward to in 2012, though that doesn't always mean we're in for a great year in film. I wasn't terribly excited for much in 2011, but on the overall, it was a very solid year in film. Conversely, I was initially hyped about a lot of 2010's offerings, but felt the year was somewhat lacking. Who knows what this year will bring? I'm still very very excited, but realistic that at least something on my list is likely to let me down. Anyway, it looks like it's going to be a big year for Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling.
1. The Dark Knight Rises - July 20:
Well, this was an easy one. Christopher Nolan has built a nice level of respectability for himself in Hollywood and the mainstream in recent years. I'm a fan and I'm definitely interested to see what he has planned for this third, and reportedly final, installment in his Batman series. Can he match or possibly even improve upon The Dark Knight? How will it all end? How effective of a villain will Bane be? These are all questions which have answers that I'm greatly anticipating. The trailer hints at something massively epic, with hints of surprising social commentary - the "batten down the hatches" dialogue from Selina Kyle. Whatever the outcome is, I certainly appreciate Nolan's handling of the franchise. I grew up with Batman being something goofy and small, with episodic films that just seemed interested in cashing in on their predecessors. Nolan has given Batman an appropriate scale on par with his graphic novel exploits. This is his grandiose, three-trade run and I can't wait to see how it all pans out.
2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - December 14:
I really wanted Guillermo del Toro to direct this film, but I'll settle for Peter Jackson because of his adequate handling of the Rings trilogy. There's something special about this story and while it's not as expansive as its three-part follow-up, it might be more magical. It's a smaller story about a particular struggle instead of the fate of the whole world and I find that refreshing. Martin Freeman was the perfect choice to play Bilbo and there's a number of other castings that I'm happy about as well. As much as I still appreciate the Trilogy, recent viewings show it to be aging somewhat. Its CG was done at a time of exponential growth, but technology has advanced considerably since and the look of The Hobbit's trailer suggests a much more sophisticated level of visual effects. And speaking of the trailer - that song! I'm hoping that more of the book's musical numbers make it into the film, but the "Misty Mountain" track from the trailer really sold me.
3. Cogan's Trade - ?:
This film initially had first-quarter release date, but I can no longer find evidence of that. However, whenever it's released, I'll see it for the simple reason that it's directed by Andrew Dominik. The Aussie director made a name for himself with Chopper, but returned several years ago to a mixed-response with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. There's nothing mixed about my feelings on the film, however - I feel that it's one of the best films of the last decade and a personal top-10. In Cogan's Trade, Dominik re-teams with Brad Pitt, having him again playing a titular role. He's Jackie Cogan, a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game. That sounds interesting enough to me. The cast also includes other favorites of mine: Ben Mendelsohn, Sam Shepard, and Garret Dillahunt.
4. The Place Beyond the Pines - ?:
There's no release date for this one as of yet, but it's in post-production, so it's a safe bet to hit theatres some time this year. The synopsis is as follows: a motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician. This might not inspire a ton of confidence, nor does Bradley Cooper's place in the case, but the film was written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, who also wrote and directed the excellent Blue Valentine. This film also reunites him with Ryan Gosling, who has proven himself to be consistently solid. Signs point to this one being more than your average crime thriller.
5. Prometheus - June 8:
What can you say about this one? It's a big-budget sci-fi film directed by the man who brought us Alien and Blade Runner. It's mysteriously connected to the "Alien" mythos. It features a solid cast. It was co-written by Damon Lindelof. And it already has a stunning trailer. This one might be the one I'm most looking forward to in 2012 and that's saying a lot.
6. The Grey - January 27:
Why not? It's rare that I have much to look forward to in the early part of the year as far as movies go, but I'm excited for this one. Do I expect a lot? Not really and that's part of my excitement. Of my entire list, this one might have the least potential of letting me down. The trailer looks fun enough. I love this niche Liam Neeson has carved for himself as a badass, master of violence. And in this one he's fighting wolves! Outrageous!