If 2012 is indeed our final year, movie fans shall perish with smiles on their faces. Well, so long as none of their most anticipated films are disappointments. But with new works from Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Alfonso Cuaron, Rian Johnson, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton and Baz Luhrman, as well as a new Alien movie from Ridley Scott, a new Batman movie from Christopher Nolan and a new Tolkien adaptation from Peter Jackson, there has to be something satisfying for everyone I think. Especially with new Avengers, Spider-Man, G.I. Joe, James Bond, Jason Bourne and Twilight installments to compete against exciting franchise starters like The Hunger Games and John Carter.
What's my most anticipated film of the new year? Not to cop out, but I don't have the Twitter handle @thefilmcynic for nothing. Nor did I long ago have a website called LowExpectation.com -- on which I found and spouted reason to be skeptical of every single film set for release --to one day sell out and suddenly have high hopes for Hollywood or even any typically great filmmaker destined to deliver a disappointment every now and again.
Plus, as is illustrated best by Mike Ryan at Moviefone, making lists of anticipated movies might jinx them, or at the very least set us up for embarrassment twelve months from now. Jordan Raup of The Film Stage also summed these things up well when he tweeted, "Seeing a lot of The Avengers on most-anticipated 2012 lists. I'll bet anyone a nickel it won't appear on any "best-of" a year from now.
Okay, so I am pretty excited about new docs (expected in 2012) by Kirby Dick (The Invisible War), Kevin Macdonald (Marley), Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia), Alex Gibney (Untitled WikiLeaks Doc), Louie Psihoyos (The Singing Planet) and Rob VanAlkemade (Training for the Apocalypse), as well as the many surprises I don't even know will come out of nowhere this year.
For now, let's feed the hype machine and consider the big boys of 2012 we're at least looking forward to as guilty pleasures. Below are ten major tentpoles that have topped or been prominently celebrated on preview lists recently. I've ordered them based on what seem to be highest to lowest anticipated. While The Hunger Games wasn't #1 on as many professionals' lists as The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit, it has been the favorite in polls conducted by NextMovie and Entertainment Weekly.
Anticipated films that didn't top any lists I found but which featured on many include The Amazing Spider-Man, Lincoln, Dark Shadows, The Great Gatsby, Life of Pi, Skyfall, The Bourne Legacy, Gangster Squad, Savages, Brave, Magic Mike, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman, and of course The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn Part 2.
What are people saying is their most anticipated film of 2012? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:
The Hunger Games
In the race for the Movie Most Looked Forward To in 2012, "The Hunger Games" beat "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" 51% to 45%, with "The Avengers," "The Dark Knight," "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Hobbit" -- generally considered to be four of the biggest releases of the upcoming year -- combining for just 4% of the vote. - Scott Harris, NextMovie, based on the site's year-end poll
With a fervent fan following, an amazing cast and one of the most inventive plot premises ever snatched up by Hollywood, not even the final film in "The Twilight Saga" or the promise of extended footage of Joe Manganiello's bare-naked butt [in Magic Mike] could compete with the thrilling first film adaptation of Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy of YA books - Kat Rosenfield, Hollywood Crush
You knew this was going to be my top choice! To start, I absolutely fell in love with Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and then the stakes were raised exponentially when I was asked to write Movies.com’s Hunger Games Countdown column, basically handing over a good portion of my time, and existence for that matter, to the big screen adaptation of the first book. Further adding to my excitement, Lionsgate and director Gary Ross assembled a cast beyond my wildest dreams and then, best of all, showed off a trailer that quite literally brought my imagination to life. A testament both to Collins’ writing and Ross and co.’s understanding of the world she created, the footage and photos we’ve seen of the feature film have been absolutely spot on suggesting that not only could The Hunger Games be one of the biggest hits of 2012, but it really could become the next YA adaptation of quality, perhaps filling the Harry Potter void. - Perri Nemiroff, Shockya.com
The Dark Knight Rises
The IMAX prologue and the new trailer are both intriguing because we have no idea how the pieces we're seeing all connect. That's exciting. There are certainly things to be nervous about, like Bane's mfflnhgh ghggbbtz, but if Nolan sticks the landing, he can write his own ticket with Warner Bros. for eternity, and if I'd bet on anyone this year, I'd bet on him. - Drew McWeeny, HitFix
We’re loving pretty much everything we’ve seen and heard about his third Batman movie: the infusion of Inception cast members, the casting of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (insert “meow” or “purr-fect” joke here), that intense prologue ahead of Mission: Impossible (bonus points for the appearance of Aidan Gillen, aka The Wire’s Mayor Tommy Carcetti), and most of all, the insistence of everyone involved that this film marks the end of Nolan’s Batman cycle. Nothing like getting out while you’re ahead. - Jason Bailey, Flavorpill
Without a doubt, THE most anticipated movie of 2012. Every punk and his dog want to see the Dark Knight rise, the geeks want to see Bane break Batman’s back, the horny ones want to see Anne Hathaway stretch in leather, studio execs want Bane to speak a bit more clearly. But what I really want is to watch this movie before anyone else, on the biggest screen possible. - Mihir Fadnavis, These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty
This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. With Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan ushered in the era of “gritty” superhero movies. No such imitators have come close to the earnestness that the director displayed with The Dark Knight, and Rises brings the epic saga to an end. Will Bane beat the living hell out of Batman? Can Catwoman really fit into Nolan’s reality-grounded universe? All will (hopefully) be answered come next July, and I’m already anxiously counting down the days. - Adam Chitwood, Collider, from an unranked list
Was it ever going to be anything else? Christopher Nolan is finishing his Batman trilogy, and I’m considering leaving the country to see it in an Imax cinema, as intended. I am not actually kidding. - Darren, the m0vie blog
What can I say? I think the most important thing to realize is that it's directed by a director who, after directing seven films, has not failed us yet. Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors of our time. The Dark Knight was my favorite film of 2008 and I'm sure the final installment to the trilogy will be great. You can almost be certain of it. - Cam, Cam-Fu.com
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
This is it, my most anticipated film of 2012. I know this story backwards and forwards. One of my favorite books, and one of my favorite filmmakers returning to the world that he built so perfectly. I think the trailer strikes a lighter tone than LORD OF THE RINGS, and it's supposed to, considering these Dwarves aren't fighting to save the world, but to get their treasure and their kingoom back. It looks cast perfectly, and I love Martin Freeman as Bilbo. We see old friends, and I can't wait to see the Riddle Game between Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. I wonder if that will be the climax of the first film. I don't know. What I do know is that Peter Jackson has returned to Middle-Earth, and that's cause for rejoicing. - Nordling, Ain't It Cool News
Few films, let alone entire film series, are as magical as the Lord of the Rings, and it was a gift from the universe that Peter Jackson ended up coming on board as director for the two installments of The Hobbit. Perhaps the film on this list that will have the widest appeal, considering the box-office and home-video success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the newfound mainstream embracing of fantasy, it’s difficult to argue that any film on this list is being anticipated more across the board. Yes, it’s been a while since the Lord of the Rings films took the globe by storm, but I’m fairly confident that the fervor is still there and will only grow over the next year. Sure, The Dark Knight Rises is the hot ticket right now, but The Hobbit trailer played three times at BNAT earlier this month, causing an explosion of positive buzz on Twitter — and the real promotion for it hasn’t even begun. Stay tuned, folks. This one’s gonna be huge. - Loquacious Muse, Film.com
The recently released trailer promises a film just as sprawling and beautiful and detailed as its predecessors, and the story is a simpler, but just as thrilling tale as that of Frodo and the Fellowship. Getting to see Ian McKellen in grey attire and the return of Andy Serkis's Gollum are reason enough to be excited, but those are only two elements of what is sure to be one of the best and most successful films (critically, commercially, and on the awards circuit) of the coming year. The best part? The film is (perhaps unnecessarily, but I'm not complaining) in two, meaning we have even more to look forward to in 2013. - Clayton W., Such Moving Pictures
This, my friends, is THE movie of 2012 as far as I'm concerned. Batman? Small potatoes. Avengers? Slightly-prettier small potatoes. Spider-Man? Don't even start. - MovieBob
It hasn’t, but it feels like decades have passed since we last saw an honest-to-goodness, classic sci-fi movie. The genre helped many of us begin to love film itself and the man behind Blade Runner and Alien is partially responsible for that. Well Ridley Scott returns to sci-fi with this sort-of Alien prequel which looks like it could potentially be a film that brings smart, big budget sci-fi back. We’re talking game changer. Damon Lindelof co-wrote it. Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron co-star. Footage looks incredible. More than any of the amazing movies above, this is the one I’m waiting for. - Germain Lussier, /Film
With the most recent trailer, I've become more pumped for the new movie from Ridley Scott than I have for any other movies this year. I loved Alien with a passion--it's probably in my Top 10 movies of all time--and I've generally either liked or loved everything he's done in the last few years. I may be an admitted Ridley Scott apologist but to think he's returning to familiar territory and doing so with such a great cast (Noomi Rapace! Michael Fassbender! Charlize!) makes me more excited about this movie than anything else this year. - Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net
“Alien” prequel. Ridley Scott. Fassbender. Don’t tease me! You’re still months away! - Clint, Moviehole
After Inglorious Basterds managed to exceed its expectations, people were able to put Grindhouse out of mind and realize that there’s just no filmmaker with more innate style than Quentin Tarantino. No director can put his stamp on films in the same way, and consequently, no director has garnered more of a mainstream following for his (eclectic) work. [...] I’m comfortable saying that this is the most anticipated film of the next year. - Penn Collins, Screen Junkies
Inglorious Basterds proved that Tarantino is not just the hipster gimmick filmmaker too many small-minded cinema haters claim he is, and I think Django Unchained will further prove it. As a critic I'm also intrigued to see how Tarantino does in this new era of filmmaking - he lost his longtime collaborator and editor Sally Menke this year, and Django will be his first film without her. - Devin Faraci, Badass Digest
We’re excited for this gigantic ensemble flick for a couple of reasons: all those people in one movie, perhaps a better movie with Thor in it, and man, Joss Whedon has been working really hard this year. On everything. At the same time. But mostly, there is just so much movie involved in this — and a lot of secrecy — so the curiosity is killing us. - The Mary Sue, from an unranked list
Far and away my most anticipated of 2012. - Jordan Raup, The Film Stage, commenting at /Film
This one is an easy pick. I’ve watched Rian Johnson’s first film, Brick, more times than I can count, and I quite like his follow-up, The Brothers Bloom. He’s a smart guy with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor and a real talent for working with actors. Put him in charge of a film in which time travel is used as an assassination tool, leading to a situation where a young man has to kill his older self, and I’m sold. [...] And not to diminish Johnson, but the fact that he roped in Primer director Shane Carruth to work on the film in some capacity is a major draw for me as well. - Russ Fischer, /Film
Three years after the disappointing Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a fresh character in another Larry Charles-directed comedy. At least, we think it's a comedy -- in typical Baron Cohen fashion, details on The Dictator have been kept under wraps. In what would suggest some kind of a break from the prankish faux-documentary style of Borat and Bruno, Dictator features stars such as Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley playing characters other than themselves. The film is rumored to be based on Zabibah and the King, a romance novel set in the 8th century in Iraq believed to have been secretly written by Saddam Hussein, but it also apparently takes place, at least partially, in modern-day New York. - Karina Longworth, LA Weekly, from an unranked list
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Abe is played by Benjamin Walker, who was so great at the Public Theater and then on Broadway as another president, in the stage musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” [...] If you’re skewing American history, perhaps it’s best that the person running the show have an outsider’s view, and that is certainly the case here: the film’s director is Timur Bekmambetov, who was born in Kazakhstan and works out of Moscow. But there’s an American influence behind the scenes: one of the producers is Tim Burton. - Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times
The Conversation Poll: What is your most anticipated film of 2012?
@mousterpiece: Dark Knight Rises, followed by Brave
@JonSullivan_: The Dark Knight Rises. Also...Dredd. Yes really.
@Jim_Napier: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and Prometheus
@Casey_Carroll: The Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Avengers
@MuscleSF: "The Dark Knight Rises" gets my biggest attention!
@gmanreviews: Django Unchained #TarantinoAutoPick
@BigDumbMale: Quentin Tarantino's DJANGO UNCHAINED
@DrewTailored: "Brave," maybe.
@fellwitness: can't wait for Paradise Lost 3
@hammertonail: BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
@davidehrlich: Kiarostami's THE END and pta's THE MASTER.
@MikeSmith89: Mine is Paul Thomas Anderson's THE MASTER.
@jacobdivine: Weirdly, I think it's Gravity.
@jessecarp: moonrise kingdom.
@DanSchindel: THE MASTER, THE HOBBIT, DJANGO, PROMETHEUS, GRAVITY, MOONRISE KINGDOM, LOOPER, LES MIS, and ARGO
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.