The Playlist's 50 Most Anticipated Films Of 2012

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
January 4, 2012 12:02 PM
58 Comments
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"Untitled David Chase Project"
Synopsis: A '60s-set coming-of-age story following three Italian boys chasing the rock 'n' roll dream inspired by Chase's own musical ambitions as a youth in Jersey.
What You Need To Know: David Chase's first major production since the infamous finale of his HBO show "The Sopranos" in 2007 and his first venture into the world of feature films sees the acclaimed writer/director tackle a subject dear to his heart that was one of the strengths of his long-running, critically acclaimed show: rock 'n' roll music. The film has three unknowns in John Magaro, Will Brill and Jack Huston (who has since broken out with his role on "Boardwalk Empire") as the leads, which shouldn’t be a problem as Chase’s depiction of youth with inexperienced talent on his HBO show was stellar, but it also boasts a strong supporting cast with Bella Heathcote as the protagonist Magaro’s girlfriend, Christopher McDonald as her father, Molly Price as Magaro’s mother, Lisa Lampenelli as his aunt, Brad Garrett as a composer/producer, and Chase’s ‘Sopranos’ leading man James Gandolfini, who apparently shines as Magaro’s father, “a postwar, post-Depression era parent who has given his kid every advantage that he didn't have growing up.” There has been word of a Cannes premiere -- a 2011 release was potentially on the cards before a late switch-up so the film's probably close to ready -- with the leading trio's band, The Twylight Zones, also continuing to convene regularly and give promises of a performance at some stage in the future.
Release Date: October 12th

Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Bin Laden Project
Synopsis: Based-in-fact story centering on the Seal Team 6 who hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden.
What You Need To Know: Thanks in part to real-life intervention when its subject was finally killed over the summer, Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to her Oscar winner "The Hurt Locker," which will see her working again with scribe Mark Boal, has been a while coming. But the film's finally started casting up, with "Moneyball" star Chris Pratt and Aussie Jason Clarke on board, and more (possibly including the likes of Rooney Mara, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Nina Arianda and even Tom Hardy) to be announced in the coming weeks; the release date was pushed back to late 2012 from an intiial October slot to help accomodate a later shoot and to avoid any accusations of partisanship. Expectations will be riding high on the film, with folks expecting one of the biggest events in the last few years to be captured authentically, with no bias, while also being a few notches dramatically above something like “Act of Valor.” Add into that a compressed production schedule, and Bigelow has some major weight on her shoulders, but if her last film was anything to go by, she should be able to pull it off with aplomb.
Release: December 19

"Untitled Terrence Malick Project"
Synopsis: A philanderer feeling at loose ends travels to Paris, where he enters a hot-and-heavy affair with a European woman. He returns home to Oklahoma, and marries the European woman but when the relationship founders, he rekindles a romance with a hometown girl with whom he's had a long history.
What You Need To Know: First off, who knows if that plot outline will stick, but there are a couple of curious things to note. Firstly, just like the “The Tree of Life,” the story is again fairly autobiographical, as Malick himself also absconded to Paris and came back with a wife in tow, only to split with her and marry his childhood friend and current wife, Alexadra “Ecky” Wallace. Early word tossed around was that this film would be even “more experimental” than “The Tree of Life” although that remains to be seen. Once again an array of stars have come out to play with Malick -- Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, Barry Pepper, Olga Kurylenko -- with Michael Sheen and Jessica Chastain also filming small roles that could wind up on the cutting room floor. And as far as we know, the film remains in the editing bay for now.
Release: While the film has sold in numerous territories including the U.K. and Canada, Malick has apparently refused any offers for U.S. distribution so far. A 2012 release is expected and our guess is that the director may take it the festival route first before firming up a North American deal. But he's a notoriously slow editor: will it even be ready by Cannes?

Welcome to the Punch
Synopsis:  An ex-criminal is forced to return to London from his Icelandic hideaway when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. This gives a dogged detective one last chance to catch the man he’s always been after.
What You Need To Know: Though it might sound like a generic, B-movie thriller, the pedigree behind this one makes it one to watch. The project's been on our radar since since 2010, when the script placed highly on the annual Brit List, a collection of the best unmade screenplays in the U.K.. The material comes from the mind of writer-director Eran Creevy, who made an exceptional debut a couple of years back with the super-low-budget, award-winning, cult fave "Shifty.” And with this film drawing early comparisons to "Heat" (Michael Mann was also an influence on “Shifty”) we can’t help be but curious. Toss into the mix a great cast including James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan and David Morrissey and this little potboiler could come out nowhere in 2012 to be a major genre surprise.
Release:  None yet, as the film will need a U.S. distributor before that can happen, which likely means this will pop up on the festival circuit before it plays your local theater.

The Wettest County
Synopsis: The true story of the Bondurant brothers who run a bootlegging gang but find their moonshine dynasty in Franklin County, Virginia threatened by the authorities wanting a cut.
What You Need To Know: It feels like we’ve been talking about this movie’s delays, production and upcoming release for years which, unfortunately, is becoming a hallmark of John Hillcoat’s work. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, and is probably just indicative of his challenging, genre-oriented work, which is harder for studios to market and release. Based on Matt Bondurant’s novel of the same name, "The Wettest County" looks no different. Starring the trio of Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke as the leading bootlegging  brothers, the film has apparently been killing test screenings and features a stellar supporting cast including Jessica Chastain as Hardy’s love interest Maggie; Mia Wasikowska as LaBeouf’s belle; Dane DeHaan as Labeouf’s partner-in-crime; Guy Pearce as a violent deputy with the brothers in his sights, and Gary Oldman as a gangster who employs the boys. Script comes courtesy of Nick Cave who will also be reteaming with Warren Ellis to score the film as they did with Hillcoat’s two previous films, “The Road” and “The Proposition.”
Release Date: April 20

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58 Comments

  • Connor | January 7, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    MUST SEE
    Argo
    The Dark Knight Rises
    Gangster Squad
    The Hobbit:An Unexpected Journey
    Les Miserables
    Lincoln
    A Place Beyond The Pines
    Prometheus
    Frank Or Francis (2013 ?)
    Untitled Spike Jonze/charlie Kaufman Project (2013 ?)

    LIKE TO SEE
    Cogan's Trade
    Cosmopolis
    Django Unchained
    A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan
    Gravity
    The Great Gatsby
    He Loves Me
    Hyde Park On Hudson
    Inside Llewyn Davis
    Looper
    The Master
    Nero Fiddled
    On The Road
    Only God Forgvies
    Red Hook Summer
    Untitled Terrance Malick Project
    The Wettest Country

    MILDLY INTERESTED
    Anna Karenina
    Brave
    Cloud Atlas
    Magic Mike
    Mud
    Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
    Seven Psychopaths
    Under The Skin
    Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Bin Laden Project
    Welcome To The Punch

    NO THANKS
    The Bourne Legacy
    The Company You Keep
    The East
    The Five Year Engagement
    The Grandmasters
    Lay The Favorite
    Life Of Pi
    Moonrise Kingdom
    Rust And Bone
    Savages
    Sightseers
    The Silver Linings Playbook
    Stoker
    This Is Forty
    Untitled David Chase Project
    Labor Day (2013 ?)

  • Huffy | January 7, 2012 10:32 AMReply

    Pretty impressive-looking collection of films. I gotta say that I'm impressed by McConaughey's recent career choices. Its like he got tired of just taking off his shirt and smirking at Kate Hudson in every single role and decided to be an actual actor again.
    One thing you guys left out is Beyond the Black Rainbow. Technically it was released last year in the festivals but most of us won't get to see it until a few months down the road, and judging by the trailer it looks orgasmically good assuming that you like hallucinogenic Kubrick sci-fi with a strong 80's aesthetic.

  • Gena | January 6, 2012 6:39 AMReply

    Definitely so much to look forward to. What you need to know about Cosmopolis: No, there will be no head explosions or genital mutilations. For those who get Eric Packer, it might only make their heads implode...in the best of ways, Cronenberg style.

  • Gena | January 9, 2012 9:52 AM

    @Kanerwa: kill all the rats,don't deal with garbage, sh@t piles up, rats reappear. This rat implodes the system that created him, much more dangerous. Makes head explosions/mutilation so passé.

  • Kanerwa | January 8, 2012 1:48 PM

    Spoiler.
    Every f@king Wall Street rat ( very symbolic in this movie) responsible for world financial crisis should finished like Packer.Head explosion or genital mutilation are very welcome.:)

  • Misha | January 5, 2012 4:29 PMReply

    Very nice list with the added value of "What You Need to Know" segments. Some refreshing titles added compared to other "2012 titles to watch" lists I've read. Still...the offerings for Sci-Fi titles are lacking for my taste.

  • Gena | January 9, 2012 9:45 AM

    You kill all the rats, don't deal with garbage, it piles all up, rats reappear.
    Obliterating Packers without dealing with the system solves nothing. It is about imploding the system, not simply dealing with what it produces. Implosion...much more dangerous, makes head explosions and mutilation kinda passe :)

  • isabella | January 5, 2012 3:42 PMReply

    What about 47 Ronin - - I think 47 Ronin will be awesome; you did not include it probably because Keanu Reeves' on it . . . Keanu is so underrated as an action star. He is better than Tom Cruise!!

  • padre | January 5, 2012 4:58 PM

    YES! BOOYAH! 47 Ronin will rule in triumph, with Superstar Keanu Reeves!

  • Brandon | January 5, 2012 12:23 PMReply

    So why is The Expendables 2 not up here? I assure you every straight man and dyke in America wants to see it.

  • Georgeann | January 5, 2012 11:38 AMReply

    What about Carlo Carlei's Romeo & Juliet, said to be released in 2012, with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth in the leading roles?

  • Kanerwa | January 5, 2012 10:33 AMReply

    I wait only for Cosmopolis.

  • Kotomi | January 5, 2012 4:00 AMReply

    Great job,Playlist! It's very good list.But no Ashes? No Upside Down? I'm bit disappointed..(there is very little info about Ashes though..)I think Jim Sturgess will finally break this year.

  • Padre | January 5, 2012 3:33 AMReply

    "Blake Lively as the girl" <--- touche, Playlist. I don't even know if that was intentional (since the girl has a name... Opehlia) but it made me LOL. Blake Lively will most likely play her as one-note and bland as she does everything so "the girl" is an appropriate description. Regardless I hope the movie is good. Glad to see Uma T. and John T. in a film together again.

  • padre | January 5, 2012 4:55 PM

    You gonna swipe my handle dude? Seriously? Of course I may have started posting here in my sleep, and just don't remember it in the morning. Sleep-posting is real.

  • 42nd comment | January 5, 2012 3:29 AMReply

    Also Labor Day is one of my favorite books that I've read recently so I'm stoked Reitman is adapting it. Killer cast with Winslet and Brolin. I can totally picture Brolin in the role as the drifter. The key here is casting a really talented kid. The entire story is told from the kids perspective so lets hope Reitman doesn't pull a Daldry and cast the most annoying kid to grace the big screen (I'm looking at you, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). I think the kid from Super 8 would be perfect- Joel Courtney I believe is his name. I wonder if he will stick to the same ending as the book... that was the only part I didn't like. A bit lackluster but nonetheless a solid read and hopefully a damn good movie. I'm sure Reitman can pull it off-- Young Adult proved Up in the Air and Juno were no flukes.

  • 41 comment | January 5, 2012 3:25 AMReply

    Where's the Tim Burton film? Can't remember the name... Johnny Depp, draculas, the usual suspects...??

  • jingmei | January 5, 2012 2:23 AMReply

    Awesome list!

  • Jordan | January 4, 2012 6:44 PMReply

    I'm happy, but surprised to see that ONLY GOD FORGIVES is on this list, as I would assume that with Gosling already having two films set for release in mid-to-late 2012, that holding this one back until 2013 would help spread things out (though Gosling did have three films out as well last year)

  • Finn | January 4, 2012 5:51 PMReply

    Am really looking forward to director Eran Creevy's second film, "Welcome to the Punch" (James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, David Morrissey). Perhaps executive producer Ridley Scott can help secure a U.S. distributor!

    Also want to see writer Ol Parker's ("Imagine You & Me") "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" with an amazing cast--just pushed from February to May 2012.

  • cirkusfolk | January 4, 2012 4:22 PMReply

    Good list but the hypocrisy of leaving off most of the blockbuster type films such as The Avengers, Snow White and Skyfall while including The Dark Knight, Prometheus and The Hobbit bugs me. You can't have it both ways. The Dark Knight is still a comic book movie like The Avengers no matter how you spin it. Sure you will cover those films in your escapism piece but why play favorites?

  • Carson Wells | January 4, 2012 11:55 PM

    I side with The Playlist on this one. It's clearly The Playlist staff 's most anticipated and, if they don't care so much for fluff like Avengers, well, all the more reason for me to read this site over others. Thanks for a great list The Playlist, keep up the good work. As for me - even though no one asked nor likely cares - my most anticipated are 1) Cogan's Trade 2) The Master 3) Mud. Looks certain to be a good year regardless.

  • Tyrannosaurus Max | January 4, 2012 7:33 PM

    Thanks Playlist. I actually really appreciate your including those films on this list while excluding The Avengers and Snow White. Mainly because Prometheus, TDKR, and The Hobbit all look at the very least quite decent or exciting and have a respectable director to their name. The Avengers looks like shit. Who cares about Snow White? Probably not most of the people other than Cirkusfolk reading this article. Sorry Cirkusfolk. Thank you, The Playlist.

  • Christian | January 4, 2012 5:34 PM

    EDIT: Lol, won't deliver... :)

  • Christian | January 4, 2012 5:33 PM

    ...(continuing) Without sounding pretentious, I think the purpose of the article was to give an overview on some of the not so obvious anticipated films. But I agree that it's kinda elitist/hipster to justify TDKR, but not Spidey or Avengers? Sure, those films are not directed by Chris Nolan, but that doesn't mean the films will deliver.

  • Christian | January 4, 2012 5:30 PM

    I agree that Skyfall is one of the most promising films of 2012; Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Roger Deakins, etc. The elements are in place, that's for sure. The Avengers could also be great or at the very least very fun and entertaining. But this blog is for people who are so interested in more than JUST mainstream films. I visit this blog to expand my horizons.

  • The Playlist | January 4, 2012 4:48 PM

    We can have it any way we want because it's our burger. :)

    Plus there's a few more lists in the next few days. Keep those pants on.

  • Snag | January 4, 2012 4:11 PMReply

    No On The Road or Paperboy??

  • Edward Davis | January 4, 2012 4:45 PM

    On The Road is there son, open your eyes.

  • cirkusfolk | January 4, 2012 4:41 PM

    They mentioned it in the Mud article as well as Killer Joe and Bernie but apparently two McConaughey movies was all they could muster despite Ryan Gosling getting three.

  • Lenz | January 4, 2012 4:00 PMReply

    Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt)
    While We're Young (Noah Baumbach)
    Lotus Community Workshop (Harmony Korine)
    Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas)
    Love (Michael Haneke)
    Holly Motors (Leos Carax)
    Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski)
    Open Five 2 (Kentucker Audley)
    Meanwhile (Hal Hartley)
    Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas)
    The End (Abbas Kiarostami)

  • The Playlist | January 4, 2012 4:47 PM

    Good ones, but While We're Young isn't even solidified let alone shooting this year. You'll be seeing a foreign film and indie list as well and some of those clips will be included. It's unclear whether Night Moves has funding yet (or has shot yet), but it might be on our indie-er list.

  • Marcel | January 4, 2012 3:57 PMReply

    Great List, Great Site ! Keep up the good work!

  • rodie | January 4, 2012 3:34 PMReply

    This is a pretty good list, but I don't like the premise because 50 Most Anticipated Films presupposes that, essentially, any given week there will be one new movie worth watching. I don't think that is the case. Maybe 35 or 40 max.

  • Chris | January 4, 2012 7:59 PM

    If you really think only 35-40 movies per year - MAX - are worth seeing, then you really must not get to the movies very much. Or you just go to the wrong movies. Hundreds of films come out every year - a lot more than 35 prove to be worth seeing.

  • Belgian | January 4, 2012 3:07 PMReply

    "French character actors Matthias Schoenaerts, Bouli Lanners and Celine Sallette".

    Aargh, Matthias Schoenaerts is a Belgian actor!! For crying out loud, it's the only Belgian mentioned in this article - which is very informative by the way, many thanks - and you mistake him for a Frenchman... Please rectify or no more Belgian chocolates for you!

  • Sven | January 5, 2012 3:04 AM

    Bouli Lanners is also a Belgian actor!

  • Christian | January 4, 2012 2:01 PMReply

    Impressive list and well-done research, guys, as always! This is what seperates you from other film blogs. All the other film blogs goe on and on about blockbuster sequels/reboots/prequels/spin-offs like The Avengers, Twilight: The Shit Is Ending,Wrath of the Titans, The Hunger Games, Men in Black 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Bourne Legacy, G.I. Joe 2, American Pie: Part 117, Ghost Rider 2, etc. Maybe some of them will surprise? I don't want to sound like an elitist hipster, but I think there are going to be some much more original films this year directed by some truly visionary masters (Chase, Malick, Dominik, Refn, Nolan, PTA, Tarantino, Hillcoat, etc) This site is truly a film fan's site! Great job, Playlist!

  • Mark | January 4, 2012 1:58 PMReply

    Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut was pretty close to a masterpiece. If you can ignore Orlando Bloom's performance.

  • Edward Davis | January 4, 2012 2:01 PM

    I can't disagree more with that statement. More like Extra ZZZZZZZZZZZ..........

  • hank | January 4, 2012 1:48 PMReply

    do we all understand that no one officially involved with the film has ever referred to it as "The Master"? That stupid title is really starting to get on my nerves. I don't see you referring to "Untitled Terrence Malick Project" as "The Burial" be a journalist for Christ's sake.

  • Mikael | January 4, 2012 1:30 PMReply

    Caught a test screening of David Chase's film last fall, and it's a big disappointment. It's an entirely autobiographical coming-of-age story, and honestly plays more like Outside Providence than Almost Famous. Anyone telling you Gandolfini "shines" is spinning things (his character is a one-note oppressive father, save for one late-in-the-film scene), and unfortunately, the main kid lacks any gravity and smirks his way through the film. Some clever moments recall the Sopranos (particularly his use of T.V. clips and music), but otherwise, it's a cliche-riddled post-war bildungsroman.

  • jajko | January 4, 2012 1:06 PMReply

    Sam Rockwell won't be in Cogan's Trade! Also The Master is set for 2013 release isnt it ? Anyway this is a pretty great list , i really hope 2012 delivers some future classics.

  • Cory Everett | January 4, 2012 1:10 PM

    'The Master' finished principal photography almost 5 months ago, so unless he's taking a Malick-ian amount of time to edit, we're hoping it'll be out by end of the year.

  • [A] | January 4, 2012 12:55 PMReply

    wow, I knew nothing about MUD or SAVAGES before reading this article so....thanks for the tip

  • Chris | January 4, 2012 12:49 PMReply

    Zoe Kazan was not in "Midnight in Paris."

  • HombreGato | January 4, 2012 12:37 PMReply

    Pretty close to my own list but for the blockbusters I'm a lot more excited for The Avengers and Star Trek than Batman, Brave, or The Hobbit.

    Pretty curious to see what happens with the untitled Luc Besson thriller as well.

  • HombreGato | January 5, 2012 12:13 AM

    (Forgot that Trek was moved to 2013)

  • kure | January 4, 2012 12:29 PMReply

    its nice to see bruce willis has 3 films on this list

  • [A] | January 4, 2012 12:28 PMReply

    Why would anyone anticipate something from Judd Apatow or The Wachowskis is beyond me..

  • HombreGato | January 5, 2012 12:15 AM

    Wachowskis plus Tom Twyker, plus a best selling novel.

  • Paul | January 4, 2012 4:45 PM

    Co-sign - Apatow lost his touch eons ago

  • Bobhoff | January 4, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    Great list, as always each year, but no Skyfall?

  • k. | January 4, 2012 12:23 PMReply

    Where is Dark Shadows? It'll probably suck but I doubt it'll suck more than Great Gatsby so it should be on here!

  • alish | January 4, 2012 12:19 PMReply

    Searching for a Friend is one of the greatest scripts I have ever read.

  • JM | January 4, 2012 12:41 PM

    I second that... amazing script. ARGO has a *really* strong script as well.

    I have a friend who worked on HE LOVES ME that said it was hilariously bad and features the most annoying Manic Pixie Dream Girl of all time.

  • anna | January 4, 2012 12:12 PMReply

    I was waiting for this, thank you! Great list.

  • Glyrics | January 9, 2012 2:44 PM

    I'm waiting for Total Recall. I can't believe you included a couple on here that should go straight to video, but Anna Karenina? With Keira "Lockjaw" Knightley? I can't beieve she still gets work, much less as a fictional icon. Sex appeal??? She has no figure at all! Blasphemy!

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