7. The Master - ?:
This film has long been in development by Paul Thomas Anderson and it actually still doesn't have a release date. However, it's in post-production currently, so I'll use the same logic as I used above and assume it's hitting theatres in 2012. A 1950s drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as "the Master" (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man (Joaquin Phoenix). To me, this sounds fascinating and Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights) certainly has a knack for creating excellent period films. I'm not a fan of everything he's done, but either way, I know the end result here will likely be interesting.
8. Moonrise Kingdom - May 25:
Another Anderson - this time Wes - has a film coming out this year. The plot revolves around a pair of young lovers who flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them. This sounds interesting enough, but the story really doesn't figure in to the film making my list. It appears here because, well, it's Wes Anderson. The guy doesn't know how to make a bad film, especially in recent years. There are plenty of detractors who will deride his films as being for hipsters and fanboys, but I'm neither - just a film enthusiast. I don't dislike Bottle Rocket or Rushmore by any means, but I do think his last four films were substantially better. Darjeeling Limited is simply one of the finest films of this young century and Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of its best animated features. I'm interested to see if he can keep this streak going.
9. The Avengers - May 4:
I'm starting to see that a lot of my list is auteur-based and this selection is no different. I'm not terribly excited for Amazing Spider-Man or The Avengers, but I'm going to see both and feel one of them deserved to make my list. Avengers gets the edge based on the fact that Whedon is in the director's chair. I have a hard time imagining such an ambitious, ensemble super-hero film turning out really well, but if someone can pull it off, it's Whedon.
10. Only God Forgives - ?:
This is wishful thinking somewhat, but there's a chance this film hits theatres this year, so I'm including. This is the scheduled follow-up collaboration to Drive between Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling. The latter is reportedly set to star as a Bangkok police lieutenant who ultimately ends up settling his differences with a troublesome gangster in a Thai-boxing match. Frankly, this sounds awesome, but the specific nature of the film hasn't been officially announced, so don't be surprised if it ends up deviating from the above synopsis. What we do know is that it's a violent revenge/crime thriller with a rad title, directed by a guy who does violence quite well. I'm just hoping that the Thai-boxing element remains because, well, wouldn't that be interesting? Production is slated to begin in February, so here's hoping we see this released before the world ends.
11. Django Unchained - December 25:
I'm really looking forward to Tarantino's "Southern", but who isn't? The film is a re-imagining of slavery in the American South about an escaped slave turned bounty hunter played by Jaime Foxx. Tarantino's last flick showed his skills in the area of historical-revisionism, so I'm hoping this is similarly effective. One only need look at the cast and marvel at the talent he has to work with on this project. Leo DiCaprio is the plantation-owning villain named Calvin Candie?! Kurt Russell is his whip-wielding right-hand man, Ace Woody!? Outstanding. I'm just sad that I have to wait nearly a damn year to get a look at this freaking thing.
12. The Raid - March (limited):
This Jakarta-set action film has been riding a wave of nerdy goodwill and interest since its screenings at film fests late last year and the release of its crazy teaser trailer (see below). To me, this just looks like a lot of fun and the trailer shows a lot of potential, so I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out for it. A minor synopsis is as follows (though critics say the plot is secondary): A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.
Abe Lincoln films - Two features focusing on the ill-fated President will be released this year - one based in fact and the other...not so much. Steven Spielberg's version, simply titled Lincoln, is set for a December release and is highlighted by Daniel Day-Lewis' return to the big screen in the titular role. This might have made the above-list if not for Spielberg's relatively poor track record since the turn of the century. My personal opinion: he just doesn't have it anymore, so Lincoln has the potential to fall flat.
The second of such films is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June) based on the revisionist novel of the same name. I actually quite liked the novel and found it surprisingly serious in tone. My concern is that the film will succumb to the ridiculousness of subject matter and end up lamely silly. Done right, this could actually be a really good film, but I have serious doubts. I also can't help be imagine the potential of such a film with Day-Lewis playing the lead here instead.
The movie Wettest Country (August) also fell just short of making my list. It's about prohibition-era bootleggers - interesting enough. It's directed by the extremely talented John Hillcoat (The Road, The Proposition) - sounds great. It also features the acting talents of Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce - this just keeps getting better and better. But there's a catch! The film also stars Shia LaBoof, who tends to knock down the quality of pretty much anything he touches. So, for his inclusion alone, I couldn't include the film in my official list.