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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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Wishful Thinking: Destined For 2013, But You Never Know...

Labor Day
Synopsis: On a Labor Day weekend in the 1980s, a divorced, depressed single mother (Kate Winslet) encounters a large man (Josh Brolin) bleeding profusely while shopping with her 13-year-old son. They give him a ride and later learn that the police are looking for an escaped convict.
What You Need to Know: “Labor Day” will be Jason Reitman’s fifth film, and for the first time, seems to mark a move away from the comedy genre, calling for a more sincere tone than "Up in the Air" or "Young Adult". Based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard, the story sounds like a suburban drama akin to something like “Little Children.” Reitman still has to cast 13-year-old Henry as he’s the narrator of the novel, likely looking for an unknown, and its one of the reasons the film hasn't started shooting yet (that and schedules for the two busy leads).. It’s definitely going to be a showcase for Winslet as this will be her first truly leading role in a feature film since she pulled double-duty on “Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader” in 2008, and we're intrigued to see how she works with Brolin. Filming likely won't get underway til the summer, which makes it a near certainty for a 2013 release, unless Reitman wants to fastrack even quicker then he did with "Up In The Air" (which did come out the same year it was shot).
Release: TBD

Frank Or Francis
Synopsis: A delicious satire on Hollywood: the worlds of an online internet commenter and a self-important filmmaker collide.
What You Need To Know: Look, of course we have an interest in this. If anyone knows about the ugly, back-biting world of narcissistic online film criticism, it’s us, and every other movie site you may frequent. Charlie Kaufman, who is writing and directing, may be throwing us a curveball, however, as he often does. “Frank or Francis” pivots around a vain filmmaker (Steve Carell) who represents half the title (he writes, directs and plays every part in his opus, “You”), a bitter, but sharp online film commenter (Jack Black), as well as a failed comedian with a resume of unflattering fat-baiting time-wasters, including “Fat Dad” (playing against type, it's Nicolas Cage). Add to that a rival filmmaking team, led by Kevin Kline, that designs a computer program to create the ultimate award-winning movie, and it’s clear that the mixed-to-negative reaction given to Kaufman’s ambitious directorial debut “Synecdoche, New York” possibly struck a chord in him. Even if his agenda wasn’t so clear (and it probably isn’t, since predictable is never a term associated with him), Kaufman is one of the unique filmmaking voices of his generation, and even if he were to direct a documentary on sloth mucus, we’d come running. Oh, and did we mention it’s a musical?
Release Date: TBD -- After a flurry of casting activity last summer, things have gone quiet, so we're doubtful this'll arrive before the end of the year.

"Untitled Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman Project"
Synopsis: A satire about a gathering of world leaders as they plan a series of world-changing events, from wars to shifting oil prices.
What You Need To Know: After moving away from his frequent collaborator for the excellent "Where The Wild Things Are," Spike Jonze has returned to Charlie Kaufman's side for the first time in a decade, since 2002's "Adaptation," and we couldn't be more excited. The project's being kept tightly under wraps, but it seems at first glance to be a "Dr. Strangelove"-style satire, which would mark quite new territory for the pair, with Warner Bros. and Annapurna Pictures backing the project. Furthermore, it's got two excellent cast members on board already, with Joaquin Phoenix and Carey Mulligan joining the project in the fall. Word's been quiet ever since, but we're assuming things are ticking along.
Release Date: TBD -- Last we heard, the project had a March start date, which means its likely a 2013 film (Jonze was in the editing room for two years on "Where The Wild Things Are"), but stranger things than a 2012 release have happened.

Also Long-Shots For 2013: James Gray gets moving on period drama "Low Life" in the new year, but he's such a Cannes favorite we imagine he'll hold our a Croisette premiere in 2013. Noirish thriller "Broken City," with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, is currently set for next January, but could move into awards season if it has the right stuff, while Paul Greengrass' "Captain Philips," with Tom Hanks, might try the same if production goes smoothly.  And who knows how many other surprises might be waiting?

-- RP, Kevin Jagernauth, Oliver Lyttelton, Sam Chater, Cat Scott, Cory Everett, Gabe Toro, Drew Taylor, William Goss, Christopher Bell, Simon Dang

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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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