I didn’t see anywhere near enough movies in 2011. In fact, I saw ten, which is pathetic. My aim is to at least double that figure in 2012, and I’m already kicking off the year with three films in one week (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, MI: Ghost Protocol, and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, all reviews coming soon) so it shouldn’t be such a hard target.
Here, though, is my list of 2012′s must-see movies, in order of UK release.
Shame – 13th January
Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in a story of sex addiction by Steve McQueen? What’s not to love? Fassbender also turns up in Steven Soderbergh’s female-Bourne tech thriller Haywire on the 18th, if you need another quick fix of the lithe Irishman.
Coriolanus – 20th January
Yes, the credit “from the writer of The Last Samurai” doesn’t exactly send the blood racing, and Gerald Butler seems his usual, unexceptional Spartan self, but the rest of the cast – Redgrave, Fiennes, Cox - are reliably magnificent and shifting Shakespeare’s text into a contemporary military setting has worked before, notably for Ian McKellern’s ‘Richard III’ (although that was set in an alternate 1930′s.) Blending fragments of Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan into the tragedy should lend even more heft to Fienne’s adaptation, and I’m a sucker for great Shakespeare, so bring it on baldy Bard boy.
Chronicle - 1st February
I don’t think I’ve seen a trailer this year that’s made me want to watch a movie more, because it starts with characters, with these three kids just goofing around. It has no interest in showing me superpowers wreaking expensively amazing havoc. Instead, it’s about the impact of those powers when they get beyond control. I am definitely intrigued.
A Dangerous Method – 10th February
Fassbender. Again. This time as Carl Jung to Viggo Mortenson’s Freud in a Cronenberg movie, and that’s really why I want to see this. Both ‘A History of Violence’ and ‘Eastern Promises’ had a brilliant intelligence, but lacked that element of true Cronenbergian perversion. Psychoanalysis - particularly in this period form – offers the perfect canvas for a classic Cronenberg treatise on human desire. I might take Pablo to see it. He’s three, he’ll understand.
Rampart - 10th February
We’ve all seen it before – the amoral cop working beyond the law, whether it be Nick Nolte, Guy Pearce, Michael Keaton, or Woody Harrelson. They’re juicy Oscar bait because they’re essentially nutcases throwing a stark light onto the everyday rules by which we define our lives, rules of non-violation broken by the very force meant to uphold them. A bent cop, standing tall for the schism within us all. It’s an age old conceit, but ‘Rampart’ is co-written by James Ellroy, and I think Harrelson deserves an Oscar for services to the industry.
John Carter – 9th March
I don’t know much about the source material (a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs that’s apparently been in development for a millenia) but any fusion of Conan, Avatar, Mad Max, Gladiator, and Sinbad, directed by the Pixar boy genius behind Wall-E, is OK by me.
The Avengers – 27th April
I loved ‘Thor’, liked ‘Captain America’, and thought the first ‘Iron Man’ was pretty neat, so why wouldn’t I want to see this? And it’s Joss Whedon. If anyone can fuse all these tentpole characters into a single coherent entity it’s him. And Marvel made a bold choice handing the Buffy maestro their landmark supergroup flick six years after the comparative flop of ‘Serenity’. They deserve to be rewarded for such courage, and Whedon deserves a big movie break. This should hand it to him on a plate, if he can pull off the action and has got the right villain.
Prometheus – 1st June
Straightaway you can see why folk are excited by this. For all Ridley Scott’s original BS about ‘Prometheus’ not being an ‘Alien’ prequel, they quite obviously share a universe. Unlike his 1979 classic, though, this is not a contained masterclass in claustrophobic horror. I’ve read a detailed synopsis, and ‘Prometheus’ is epic – spanning centuries, redefining humanity. It’s not so much ‘Alien’, as ‘Alien’+'Aliens’+'The Tree of Life’. There’s a lot that could go wrong with it as a consequence, but it’s Ridley’s first return to big screen sci-fi since ‘Bladerunner’. That’s thirty years. We’ve been waiting too long not to get just a little bit moist in the sci-fi gusset about this. And it’s got Michael Fassbender in it. Again.
Jack the Giant Killer – 15th June
This looks the most average of my must-see movies so far, but it’s Nicholas Hoult, who deserves stardom, and Bryan Singer, who is still a great mainstream director despite ’Superman Returns’ being ultrapants. It could just be a case of a trailer simply failing to capture what truly makes a movie magical. I hope so.
The Dark Knight Rises - 20th July
Do I really need to talk about this as a must-see? It’s a given, surely. And I hope Nolan does kill him off, just so we can avoid yet another reboot within a decade. Overfamiliarity is exactly why I’ll be avoiding The Amazing Spiderman this summer. Didn’t Sam Raimi do a good enough job of Spidey’s origin story back in 2002? The thought of Batman beginning again in 2022, say, drives me insane. Nolan’s doing such a great job of defining the whole Dark Knight mythology, I hope his trilogy buries Batman deep & long enough for us to actually want to hear Bruce Wayne’s story retold.
Skyfall – 26th October
Too early for any trailers as yet – not even a tease – but it’s Sam Mendes directing and I think Daniel Craig has the potential to be the best Bond ever. And I’ve always watched the Bonds. Even when Sofia was tiny and we saw only a couple of films a year, one was always Bond.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 14th December
Well there’s a trailer that makes it plain, that really shows us what we’re getting – i.e. more of the same. If you loved ‘Lord of the Rings’ you will love ‘The Hobbit’. Guaranteed. I didn’t particularly love LOTR but I could see the sheer craft & sweat & passion that went into it and I thought it was the best possible cinematic adaptation of that particular source material. Sadly my soul lacks a Tolkien shaped hole, so I wouldn’t be too aggrieved if I missed ’The Hobbit’, but I won’t, because it will be made with such obvious Love.
Django Unchained – 26th December
‘Inglourious Basterds’ was Tarantino’s WWII picture and this is his Western. It might be good, it might be shite, but, as always with Tarantino, it’s a must-see for those few magic movie moments between the indulgences. I wonder if Michael Fassbender’s in it.
Other movies that don’t quite qualify as ‘must-sees’ but should still make for a fine night out at the flicks include Steven Spielberg’s epic equine weepie War Horse, grumpy ol’ Liam Neeson wrestling wolves in The Grey, as well as busting balls in a Taken sequel (I loved ‘Taken’, and was infuriated by Simon Mayo & Mark Kermode’s dismissive confusion over its appeal. Here were two critics, both with young daughters, wondering why anyone would want to see a classic father fantasy: daughter kidnapped, pappy kicks ass – it’s not rocket science gentlemen.)
Returning briefly to Joss Whedon, he’s produced The Cabin in the Woods, which deserves a peek for at least trying to tweak its template. Later in the year, bizarre musical adaptation Rock of Ages looks like breast-signing fubar fun for Tom Cruise, and there are reboots for Total Recall and the Bourne franchise, the former aiming for a more cerebral angle on Arnie’s sci-fi tackfest, and the latter replacing Matt Damon with professional Jeremy Kyle-lookalike Jeremy Renner, which is weird, but at least it’s being directed by original trilogy writer Tony Gilroy, so shouldnt be too wide of the mark.
Renner turns up again as Hansel opposite Gemma Arteton’s Gretel in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, a March release that’s obviously a close cousin to August’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. What next? Maggie Thatcher: Barista Buggerer, in which the iron lady slinks from Starbucks to Starbucks sodomising unsuspecting teenagers, much as she did in the ‘eighties? Damn! I almost forgot Dame Meryl Streep’s no doubt Oscar-nommed portrayal of the iron lady in, er, The Iron Lady. But then, that’s the one movie I won’t be watching this year out of principle.
Other movies reeking like Maggie’s nappy include another directorial stab from that other Madge, Madonna, whose biopic of Wallace Simpson (entitled W.E.) should be stinking up cinemas everywhere from January 20th. Clint Eastwood’s biopic of J. Edgar Hoover has also been racking up negative reviews, but at this point in his canonisation Clint could do a Derek Jarman and just release a ninety minute close-up of his own backside and there’d be no backlash. I do hope Men in Black III bombs, though. Yes, Josh Brolin’s in it as a young Tommy Lee Jones, but I’ve always despised Barry Sonnenfeld’s sterile hip vibe.
Overall, though, 2012 looks like a magnificant year for movies. I’d like to see a few more new heroes up there, but hey, maybe with the Bat finally gone there’ll be more room for truly original material in 2013. Step forward Jack Reacher, the definitive blend of Sherlock & Seagal, a man-with-no-name for the 21st Century, a six foot man mountain embodied onscreen by….Tom Cruise?!
Damn. Now where did I put my script for that Condorman reboot?