It has been quite a while since I have seen a really good film at the theater. My number one of the year is still God Bless America, just edging out Moonrise Kingdom. Both are totally solid 3.5 star films, but neither film should be at the top of any list in September. Maybe I just do not live close enough to a major festival, but either way I need something to look forward to. Here are a rundown of my most anticipated films for the rest of the year…
Others receiving votes: Frances Ha, Lincoln, The Man with the Iron Fists, Not Fade Away, On the Road, Promised Land, Seven Psychopaths, Zero Dark Thirty
10. To the Wonder (Terrence Malick). When Terrence Malick makes a movie, I pay attention. Each one of his five films has ended up in my top 10 of its respective year. This film does not necessarily look like one that will continue that trend, but Malick’s track record alone warrants its spot on this list. How did we get so lucky to have back-to-back years with a Malick film?! Whenever we get to its release date (who honestly knows when we can finally see it) I will be first in line.
Release date: sometime in 2012 (hopefully)
9. Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore). This is a very personal choice for me. It just looks like so much fun. The idea of it, the clever animation, the voice of John C. Reilly. Has there been a more consistently interesting actor in the last 5 years than Reilly? From Walk Hard to Cyrus to Cedar Rapids to Carnage. The guy is on a roll, and this looks like the animated embodiment of the actor. Much like Jack Black with Kung Fu Panda in that way, but I digress. This is definitely my most anticipated animated film since Toy Story 3.
Release date: November 2
8. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell). The trailer for this movie is pretty good, but early word on the performances and Best Picture aspirations definitely solidified its spot on this list. Winning the Audience Award in Toronto is nothing to take lightly. Toronto jumpstarted previous unknowns Precious, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, and Hotel Rwanda. This movie is going to be the real deal, and it may finally be that De Niro comeback we have all been waiting for.
Release date: November 21
7. This Is 40 (Judd Apatow). All three of Apatow’s feature films are brilliant, each ending somewhere in or near my top 10 lists. The best one is of course Knocked Up, one of the most watchable movies of the past decade. I never really thought a sequel would come, and supposedly I was “sort of” wrong. A movie about Pete and Deb is sheer brilliance, and I cannot wait to see what people like Lena Dunham, John Lithgow, and Albert Brooks are doing there.
Release date: December 21
6. Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard). I loved the last film by Audiard (A Prophet), and this one seems like a return to more of a Read My Lips (also great) type of tone. Marion Cotillard can do wonders with the right director, and Audiard just feels like the guy to pull the best out of her. Expect a career performance and possibly a second Best Actress award if enough people see it.
Release date: November 23 (limited)
5. The Grandmasters (Wong Kar Wai). I wasn’t really a fan of My Blueberry Nights, but when Wong Kar Wai is directing Tony Leung, few directors are more interesting and colorful. The story is Ip Man seems like something custom built for the duo. I am not sure if this passion piece is a sure-fire 2012 release since there isn’t a trailer yet, but it is set for a Chinese run in December. Hopefully there will be some buzz or awards that will bring it to the States as soon as possible.
Release date: sometime in 2012 (probably LA-NY for awards season)
4. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson). When PTA makes a film (just 2 in the last 10 years), every film buff in the world hypes it to the point that it cannot meet expectations. Somehow, amazingly, PTA makes his films fresh, different, and better than anyone could have imagined. This film looks like it could feature three of the best performances of the year, and the material feels like PTA’s most audience-friendly ever. It has been called a “new American classic”. Maybe this will finally be his world-renowned film that crosses all barriers.
Release date: September 21 (expanded)
3. Smashed (James Ponsoldt). This was one of the big winners at Sundance. I do not really have a solid reason why I want to see this so much, other than I am curious to see how Jesse Pinkman, I mean Aaron Paul, comes off on the big screen. He has all the makings of major movie star if he gets the right roles. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an Oscar-contender for this film as well. Together, they could make one of the most interesting and endearing on-screen couples in years. We will see how it turns out, but if it is anything like Ponsoldt’s debut feature Off the Black, then we are in for something special.
Release date: October 12
2. Argo (Ben Affleck). I have loved both of Affleck’s features thus far, so this was instantly on my must-see list the moment it was announced. In all honesty, it is only a matter of time before Affleck becomes one of the most respected, go-to directors in the industry. He has all the directing talent in the world, and this is easily his most ambitious film yet. The cast, the story, the cinematography all elevate this to being potentially the film to beat at the Oscars. Aside from a late-bloomer like Silver Linings Playbook or Hyde Park on Hudson, this will be the most talked-about film of the year, unless Lincoln and Daniel Day-Lewis can somehow exceed their lofty expectations.
Release date: October 12
1. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino). I really should start to disqualify Tarantino films from my lists. It is almost not fair to compare them to anything else. The original Django is a spaghetti western classic. It is like it was made just to inspire Tarantino to make another masterpiece. The trailer is brilliant. The suddenly legit actor Jonah Hill’s casting is beyond intriguing. I can’t wait to see what kind of roles Don Johnson, Franco Nero (original Django!), and Zoe Bell get. It may finally be Leo’s Oscar film. I have tried to downplay my anticipation, but screw it! Tarantino makes a film and it is instantly an event to start counting down the days to! 98 days and counting!
Release date: December 25
So what do you all think? What is on your must-see list? Let me know!