I am not a great fan of movies that are billed as “the most original since…” or “brilliant ★★★★” (how I loathe those stars). I don’t particularly care for gut-wrenchers that seem to exist solely to beat your spirit to the ground with an iron rod. And I wouldn’t go out of my way to catch an avant-garde, indie film whose creators lost sight of the story amidst their obsession with being different.
What I do enjoy are films that have a strong story, strong characters and strong directing. Actors are neither here nor there; I’ve rarely seen a good movie ruined by a poor actor, and never seen a bad movie saved by one. Cinematography is important, but must take second place to the story. Explosions, too, are important, but must also be a passenger to the story. Effects in general should serve the story, and not the other way around. This is why Hugo was amazing, and Transformers was not.
My favorite films include Alien, Angel Heart, Corpse Bride, The Crow, The Da Vinci Virus (not Code), The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola’s version), Ginger Snaps, The Goonies, The Hitcher (with Rutger Hauer, not Sean Bean, love him though I do), Jacob’s Ladder, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Love Actually, The Lovely Bones, The Muppets’ Treasure Island, Ring (Hideo Nakata’s version), Sin City, Star Wars (yes, all of them), This Is Spinal Tap and WALL•E.
An odd mix, perhaps, but it sets the scene, I suppose. Some of these have spectacular visual effects; Coppola in particular impressed me by using absolutely no digital effects at all in his Dracula. Jackson impressed me just as much with his almost entirely digital Lord of the Rings. Both of these were based on exceptionally good story material. In fact, I like to think the same could be said of each of the above. And so that is why the following films are the ones I am looking forward to seeing the most this year (knowing, of course, that some might change):
April 13: The Cabin in the Woods
Can’t say I know much about this; critics are being very wary of giving anything away, and this in itself is intriguing me. It reminds me of the glory days of Hitchcock (or even E.T. The Extraterrestrial for that matter) when nothing but actually seeing the movie would tell you anything about it. People are calling it art-horror, and I’m good with all of that. [IMDB]
April 27: The Raven
An interesting play into the fictional history genre; detectives seek out Edgar Allan Poe to help them capture a murderer inspired by his own writing. I love Poe; I love John Cusack; I love period films. Period. [IMDB]
May 11: Dark Shadows
I’ll be honest – I didn’t even look this one up. It’s based on a TV series, apparently. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp…enough said (no Helena Bonham Carter though, disappointingly). [IMDB]
June 8: Prometheus
Ridley Scott has done an excellent job of keeping the nature of this movie a secret, and even the tantalizing images and trailers that are leaking out are giving nothing away. Remember the first one in my list of favorite films? Yep. [IMDB]
June 15: Brave
Disney and Pixar’s thirteenth outing is a must-see for me because I have an eight-year-old, and…well, just because. Pixar are gods in my eyes, and this goes way beyond the animation; WALL•E was a dangerously unorthodox love story, as was Up, which followed it. This one looks like an interesting departure from the usual tales, however – as someone pointed out to me, it is the first Disney/Pixar release to feature a female lead. I also like Scotland. [IMDB]
June 15: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
I’m not sure how this film ever got green-lit, but I’m glad it did. Like The Raven, we’re looking at fictional history, and this time it just looks plain silly. Tim Burton at the helm again (he’s busy this year!), and Abe looks awesome wielding an axe! [IMDB]
July 20: The Dark Night Rises
Pretty predictable, I guess – first summer blockbuster of the year, and probably going to outsell every other single film in the history of anything, ever. Batman Begins was good. The Dark Knight was astonishing, and unexpected. I was brought to the edge of my seat, and was so glad that Christopher Nolan didn’t back off, and pushed the story all the way off the edge and into darkness. I’m anxious to see if The Dark Night Rises falls somewhere between the two, or becomes simply the most amazing action movie of all time. [IMDB]
August 3: Total Recall
I don’t think they could possibly top Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, but still…I’m just going to have to see it, for the hell of it. Along with Robocop next year. [IMDB]
October 5: Frankenweenie
A return to the magic of Tim Burton animation. I can’t wait. [IMDB]
October 29: Cloud Atlas
This movie looks impossible, in concept at least. The characters are spanned across time and space, and are yet connected to each other in way that has not been revealed, and will probably rent the fabric of the universe when it is. Oh, and I should mention: Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant. I realize I said actors were neither here nor there…but these ones are all here. [IMDB]
December 7: Les Misérables
December 14: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I have been looking forward to this movie for ten years, and it can not come soon enough. In a way, though, I’m glad I still need to wait another 274 days; no matter what happens this year, no matter how terrible things might get, finishing 2012 with The Hobbit will make it all okay. This is magic of another kind. [IMDB]
And that’s it. Maybe more will come out, and there might be some I’ve somehow missed. I don’t really keep up on these things; these are just the ones Zite told me about. Perhaps you’d like to share the films you’re most excited to see this year?
Note: The further away the movies’ release dates are, the less accurate these dates will be. The ones I’ve given are as stated on the IMDB as of writing.