William Goss August 31, 2012
Now that a mostly disappointing summer is behind us, we find ourselves in the home stretch for potentially great 2012 movies. The next few months promise plenty of awards bait, as well as some substantial blockbusters. As always, release dates are subject to change, and many of these films will open initially in limited release before expanding wider in the weeks to follow.
–‘For Ellen’: Paul Dano is a washed-up musician fighting for custody of his daughter in this drama.
–‘Girl Model’: This documentary puts the international industry of teen modeling under close scrutiny.
–‘Bachelorette’: All coked-up and extra-catty, Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan have to go about repairing the bride’s torn wedding dress after their plans for a bachelorette party fall apart.
–‘Branded’: A young man realizes the sinister extent to which corporate logos have infiltrated his daily life in this Russia-set riff on “They Live.”
–‘The Cold Light of Day’: The next Superman, Henry Cavill, first has to contend with his dad’s past life as a spy. Did we mention that his dad is played by Bruce Willis?
–‘Detropia’: The filmmakers behind “Jesus Camp” follow up that documentary with this look at the economic decay of modern-day Detroit.
–‘The Eye of the Storm’: Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling and Judy Davis star in this adaptation of Patrick White’s novel about a society woman looking to die with dignity.
–‘Hello I Must Be Going’: A newly-divorced Melanie Lynskey has a fling with a much younger man in this dramedy.
–‘The Inbetweeners’: The UK TV series that’s now the basis for an MTV series had initially spun off into its own feature, as four gawky teens attempt to have themselves a rowdy vacation.
–‘Keep the Lights On’: A gay filmmaker (Thure Lindhardt) tries to stay with his partner (Zachary Booth) through thick and thin.
–‘[REC] 3: Genesis’: This third film in the horror franchise abandons the visceral found-footage approach and opts for a traditional narrative, not to mention a more playful tone, as not-quite-zombies wreak havoc on a wedding.
–‘Toys in the Attic’: This stop-motion Czech film earned good buzz on the festival circuit and now finds itself treated to an English-language voice cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Joan Cusack and Cary Elwes.
–‘The Words’: Bradley Cooper plays a struggling author who finds success and guilt after passing a stranger’s manuscript off as his own in this literary drama. Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana and Olivia Wilde co-star.
–‘Francine’: In this character study, Melissa Leo plays an ex-con who gets along better with animals with people, to a fault.
–’10 Years’: A high school reunion between Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, Ari Graynor, Aubrey Plaza and others brings up old feelings, naturally.
–‘Arbitrage’: Richard Gere sweats well in a suit as a hedge fund manager having a really bad birthday in this corporate thriller that also stars Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling and Tim Roth.
–‘Finding Nemo’ (3-D): A re-release of Pixar’s adored aquatic adventure.
–‘Liberal Arts’: Josh Radnor follows up “Happythankyoumoreplease” with this college-set romantic comedy starring Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Zac Efron and Allison Janney.
–‘The Master’: Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated follow-up to “There Will Be Blood” is a period drama starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams that may or may not be all about Scientology.
–‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ (3-D): A genetically-enhanced Alice (Milla Jovovich) takes on the Umbrella Corporation and their countless mutant ghouls in this fifth shoot-’em-up based on the popular video game series.
–‘Stolen’: Simon West (“The Expendables 2”) directs Nicolas Cage (who should have been in “The Expendables 2”) in this thriller about a thief forced to rescue his kidnapped daughter. And you thought “Taken 2” didn’t come out until October…
–’17 Girls’: A drama based on the true story of sixteen girls who made a pact to get simultaneously pregnant after a friend found herself with child.
–‘About Cherry’: A young woman (Ashley Hinshaw) finds her way into the San Francisco porn scene, where she works alongside the likes of Heather Graham and James Franco.
–‘Dredd’ (3-D): The helmet-wearing comic-book crime-fighter gets another chance at ultra-violent big-screen glory, with Karl Urban taking over for Sylvester Stallone.
–‘End of Watch’: David Ayer (“Training Day,” “Street Kings”) continues his tradition of LA cop stories with this partially found-footage police procedural starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.
–‘House at the End of the Street’: Jennifer Lawrence moves to a new town and falls for the wrong boy next door in this thriller.
–‘How to Survive a Plague’: A documentary about those groups who fought for AIDS awareness throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
–‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’: Stephen Chbosky adapts his own novel of teenage dysfunction into a film led by Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller.
–‘Trouble with the Curve’: Clint Eastwood comes out of acting retirement while stepping away from directing to star as a grizzled baseball scout (of course) who recruits new talent with the help of daughter Amy Adams and non-daughter Justin Timberlake.
–‘War of the Buttons’: In Nazi-occupied France, the kids of a local village put aside their differences to stand up for a Jewish girl in hiding. Based on Louis Perguad’s novel.
–‘Bringing Up Bobby’: Actress Famke Janssen (the following week’s “Taken 2”) makes her directorial debut with this drama about a con artist (Milla Jovovich) fighting for custody of her son (Spencer List). At least she’s not fighting with Paul Dano over him.
–‘The Hole’ (3-D): Joe Dante’s long-awaited theatrical follow-up to 2003’s “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” concerns a pair of brothers who find a mysterious hole in the basement of their new home and are faced with their deepest fears soon thereafter.
–‘Hotel Transylvania’ (3-D): The Happy Madison collective lends their voices to this cartoon, in which a monster-friendly resort run by Dracula (Adam Sandler) is stumbled upon by one hapless human (Andy Samberg).
–‘Looper’: In the near future, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) kills targets sent back by the mob from the far future and is paid handsomely for it, expected to ultimately close his own loop by killing his future self. Once his future self (Bruce Willis) fails to cooperate, things get out of hand in this action-thriller from writer/director Rian Johnson (“Brick,” “The Brothers Bloom”).
–‘The Other Dream Team’: This documentary concerns the hurdles faced by the Lithuanian basketball team leading up to the 1992 Olympics.
–‘Solomon Kane’: James Purefoy stars as pulp writer Robert E. Howard’s ass-kicking Puritan anti-hero in this fantasy adventure.
–‘Won’t Back Down’: Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal rally together to fix their children’s inner-city school.
–‘Butter’: Jennifer Garner takes a butter-carving competition far too seriously in this political satire from the director of “She’s Out of My League.” Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry and Hugh Jackman also star.
–‘Decoding Deepak’: Gotham Chopra, son of health guru Deepak Chopra, filmed his father for a year, and the resulting documentary struggles to resolve Deepak’s public persona with the man that his son knows and loves.
–‘Frankenweenie’ (3-D): Tim Burton expands on his early short film about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life.
–‘The House I Live In’: Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight,” “The Trials of Henry Kissinger”) continues his streak of acclaimed documentaries with this examination of the actual toll of America’s War on Drugs.
–‘The Oranges’: Two friendly suburban families are torn apart once one young daughter sleeps with the older man across the street. The cast of this dramedy includes Oliver Platt, Catherine Keener, Adam Brody, Alia Shawkat, Leighton Meester, Allison Janney and Hugh Laurie.
–‘The Paperboy’: Lee Daniels’ follow-up to the Oscar-winning “Precious” is a sweaty Southern mystery starring Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and John Cusack. Its reception at Cannes earlier this year was notorious for all the wrong reasons…
–‘Pitch Perfect’: Anna Kendrick reluctantly leads her university’s a cappella group to glory in this comedy, which also stars Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and John Michael Higgins.
–‘Sinister’: Ethan Hawke finds some freaky home movies in the attic of his new house and only finds more trouble after that in this supernatural thriller from director Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and co-writer C. Robert Cargill, perhaps better known as a former Film.com contributor.
–‘Taken 2’: Liam Neeson still has some very special skills on hand when a family vacation in Turkey goes awry, thanks to the revenge-seeking father (Rade Serbedzija) of some of the men that Neeson killed in the first film.
–‘V/H/S’: Five separate segments make up this scary-fun found-footage horror anthology from the minds behind “The Signal,” “The Innkeepers,” “You’re Next” and more.
–‘Wuthering Heights’: Andrea Arnold (“Red Road,” “Fish Tank”) offers this latest adaptation of Emily Brontë’s romantic classic.
–‘3, 2, 1… Frankie Go Boom’: Chris O’Dowd and Charlie Hunnam star as two brothers who rekindle their childhood pettiness. Hunnam’s “Sons of Anarchy” colleague, Ron Perlman, most notably co-stars as a transsexual hacker named Phyllis.
–‘Argo’: Director Ben Affleck follows up “The Town” with this real-life story of a CIA mission to rescue American civilians from a hostile Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis by assembling a fake film crew to retrieve them.
–‘Atlas Shrugged Part 2’: Last year’s first chapter in a three-part on-screen adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel was a dud on arrival, but that hasn’t stopped the rights owners from proceeding forth with a sequel starring an almost entirely new (if still unknown) cast.
–‘Here Comes the Boom’: Kevin James basically remakes “Warrior” as a schoolteacher who takes up MMA fighting in order to save his school’s extra-curricular programs.
–‘Middle of Nowhere’: A long-suffering wife (Emayatzy Corinealdi) finds herself falling for a bus driver (David Oyelowo) while waiting for her husband (Omari Hardwick) to finish his jail time in this well-reviewed drama.
–‘Nobody Walks’: A NY artist (Olivia Thirlby) crashes with an LA couple (John Krasinski and Rosemarie DeWitt) and raises concerns within their marriage. This low-key drama was co-written by Lena Dunham (HBO’s “Girls”).
–‘Seven Psychopaths’: Playwright Martin McDonagh follows up his hilariously profane “In Bruges” with this dark comedy starring Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko and Tom Waits.
–‘Smashed’: A pair of married alcoholics (Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul) struggle with sobriety and each other in this drama.
–‘Alex Cross’: Tyler Perry replaces Morgan Freeman as the big-screen version of James Patterson’s detective in this reboot from director Rob Cohen (“The Fast and the Furious,” “XXX”). Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols and Jean Reno round out the cast.
–‘Killing Them Softly’: Andrew Dominik’s mob drama stars Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta and Sam Shepard.
–‘Paranormal Activity 4’: Another Halloween brings with it another entry in the fright-filled found-footage franchise.
–‘The Big Wedding’: Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton pretend to stay together as their daughter (Amanda Seyfried) gets married. Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, Topher Grace, Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes also star.
–‘Chasing Mavericks’: A teen surfer (Jonny Weston) is taken under the wing of a local legend (Gerard Butler) in this true-life story.
–‘Citadel’: A SXSW favorite, this Irish thriller follows an agoraphobic young father (Aneurin Barnard) trapped in the projects as he tries to protect his daughter from feral locals.
–‘Cloud Atlas’: The Wachowskis (the “Matrix” films, “Speed Racer”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) team up to tackle David Mitchell’s expansive novel about love, identity, revolution and consequences that span centuries. In aptly ambitious fashion, cast members Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent and Jim Strugess each play multiple roles.
–‘Fun Size’: Nickelodeon starlet Victoria Justice manages to lose her little brother en route to a Halloween party in this one-crazy-night comedy.
–‘The Loneliest Planet’: I’ve been advised to check out this backpacking thriller starring Gael García Bernal while knowing as little as possible going in. As such, I hope that sentence was sufficiently intriguing.
–‘The Sessions’: Inspired by a true story, this dramedy centers around the efforts of polio-stricken Mark O’Brien (a terrific John Hawkes) to lose his virginity, despite spending most of his days in an iron lung. Helen Hunt stars as Mark’s sex surrogate, and William H. Macy plays his priest.
–‘Silent Hill: Revelation’ (3-D): Michael J. Bassett (September’s “Solomon Kane”) wrote and directed this sequel to the 2006 video-game adaptation, in which the daughter of Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean’s characters returns to the ash-covered, demon-ridden alternate reality of that quiet town.
–‘Sleep Tight’: In this tense Spanish thriller, a building super (Luis Tosar) indulges in some creepy late-night activities while his tenants sleep in their beds.
–‘The Bay’: Barry Levinson, of all people, has decided to crank out a found-footage eco-horror flick.
–‘Flight’: Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump”) drops his motion-capture toys of late and makes his live-action return with this drama about an airline pilot (Denzel Washington) who struggles to explain, or even understand, how he pulled his flight out of a deadly tailspin.
–‘Jack and Diane’: Two girls (Juno Temple and Riley Keough) fall in love with one another in New York City, only for one of them to undergo a beastly transformation. How odd that this hits the same day as “Vamps” does. (See below.)
–‘A Late Quartet’: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener and Imogen Poots make up an especially contentious string quartet in this drama.
–‘The Man with the Iron Fists’: Hip-hop star RZA directed, co-wrote (with Eli Roth) and stars in this ultra-violent homage to marital arts movies. Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe also star.
–‘This Must Be the Place’: Reactions have been all over the map regarding this tale of a retired rocker (Sean Penn, doing his best Robert Smith impression) who decides to hunt down a Nazi war criminal with ties to his father.
–‘Vamps’: Amy Heckerling (“Clueless”) returns from a five-year absence with this comedy about two vampire women (Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter) trying to balance their love lives with being undead in New York City.
–‘Wreck-It Ralph’ (3D): A video-game villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) decides that he’s tired of being the bad guy and ventures into other games in this animated comedy.
–‘A Royal Affair’: Early word is strong on this Danish historical drama, which concerns a love triangle between a queen (Alicia Vikander, also starring in the following week’s “Anna Karenina”) and her physician (Mads Mikkelsen, “Casino Royale”).
–‘Lincoln’: Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis in a biopic of Honest Abe’s life. If that weren’t enough, rounding out the cast are Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley, Jared Harris, John Hawkes, Hal Holbrook and Sally Field.
–‘Skyfall’: James Bond (Daniel Craig) is finally back in action and pitted against a blonde-haired Javier Bardem. Sam Mendes (who previously directed Craig on “Road to Perdition”) takes the reins this time around.
–‘Anna Karenina’: Director Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Pride & Prejudice”) reunites with star Keira Knightley as he translates Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel to the screen in surely lavish fashion.
–‘Rust & Bone’: Jacques Audiard’s follow-up to “A Prophet” involves a whale trainer (Marion Cotillard) who bonds with a brute (Matthias Schoenaerts, “Bullhead”) as she attempts to recover from a tragic accident.
–‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2’: The insanely popular inter-species love triangle finally, finally comes to a close.
–‘Life of Pi’ (3-D): Ang Lee (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) adapts Yann Martel’s best-selling novel about a boy stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger.
–‘Red Dawn’: This long-shelved remake of the oddly beloved ’80s actioner about teens protecting their town from a foreign invasion on American soil stars Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck and others.
–‘Rise of the Guardians’ (3-D): Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny must team up to protect children the world over from a new threat in the latest effort from DreamWorks Animation (“How to Train Your Dragon,” “Kung Fu Panda”).
–‘Silver Linings Playbook’: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence share overlapping dysfunctions in this adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel. David O. Russell (“The Fighter,” “Three Kings”) directs; Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles and Chris Tucker also star.
–‘The Collection’: The masked, trap-setting fiend from 2009’s “The Collector” is back for more pain.
–‘Deadfall’: Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde go on the run after a robbery gone wrong in this blizzard-set thriller.
–‘Hyde Park on Hudson’: Bill Murray stars as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in this year’s answer to “My Week with Marilyn,” with a supporting cast that includes Laura Linney, Olivia Williams and Olivia Colman.
–‘Playing for Keeps’: A former star athlete (Gerard Butler) begins to coach his son’s soccer team and earns the affections of Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones along the way.
–‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ (3-D): Peter Jackson returns to the realm of Middle Earth for this first volume in a new trilogy of films based on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.
–‘Les Miserables’: Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) adapts the beloved stage musical to the screen. The all-star cast includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.
–‘Amour’: The reliably dour Michael Haneke (“Cache,” “The White Ribbon”) takes an unflinching and already acclaimed look at the hardship of love at old age.
–‘Monsters, Inc.’ (3-D): Pixar’s 2001 hit sees a re-release before next summer’s prequel, “Monsters University.”
–‘Zero Dark Thirty’: Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) breaks down the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong and others star.
–‘Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away’ (3-D): The acclaimed acrobatic troupe puts on a show for movie screens, finally making it affordable to take your folks. James Cameron produces.
–‘The Impossible’: Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts struggle to reunite their family in the wake of 2004’s devastating South Asian tsunami in this survival drama from the director of “The Orphanage.”
–‘Jack Reacher’: Tom Cruise stars as the stoic investigator of Lee Child’s crime novels. Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall and Werner Herzog co-star; writer Christopher McQuarrie (“Valkyrie,” “The Usual Suspects”) also directs.
–‘Not Fade Away’: James Gandolfini stars in this drama from David Chase (“The Sopranos”) about his son’s rock band trying to make it big in the 1960s.
–‘On the Road’: Walter Salles adapts Jack Kerouac’s famous tome with a cast that includes Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Viggo Mortensen.
–‘This is 40’: Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” spin-off follows Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) through the travails of middle age.
-‘Django Unchained’: Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to “Inglourious Basterds” concerns Django, a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) who teams up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife from a plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
-‘The Guilt Trip’: An inventor (Seth Rogen) hits the road with his mother (Barbra Streisand) in tow. Writer Dan Fogelman’s previous screenplays (“Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “Tangled”) have us hopeful.
-‘Parental Guidance’: A grandfather (Billy Crystal) agrees to watch his daughter’s children when she (Marisa Tomei) has to leave town on business. It’s a fairly safe bet that family-friendly hijinks will ensue.
-‘Promised Land’: Gus Van Sant’s latest is a small-town drama co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski in which a natural gas company representative (Damon) finds himself at odds with a leader of concerned citizens (Krasinski).
-‘Quartet’: Not to be confused with November’s “A Late Quartet,” Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut concerns a group of retired opera singers including Maggie Smith, Billy Connelly and Michael Gambon.
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