Saturday, 7 January 2012

TOP FILMS FOR 2012: 40-21

Dear film lovers,

You will not see the following films listed in this preview, due to a condition I have which makes me want to go "eh" on repeat for several hours the moment they are mentioned. Instead, what you will get on this 2012 film preview are the films that make culturemouse sit up and look intently at you as I nibble cheese - you know that bit where Charlie Cox is turned into a mouse on Stardust and Claire Danes is telling him how much she loves him. That kind of attention. So sorry fans of Prometheus, The Muppets, The Avengers, John Carter, Men in Black 3, War Horse, The Bourne Legancy, Skyfall and anything involving Will Ferrell, Jason Segel, Judd Apatow and Katherine Heigl. Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Go and read some other previews. These are the top 40 films I'm championing for the coming year ahead. Pay muchos attention as you might find something you like. 

40. Tar (TBA)
Dir: Various
Stars: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Zack Braff, Jessica Chastain, Bruce Campbell, Henry Hopper
This films sounds extraordinary and you will only see one other film in my top 40 list with a better cast than this. The project to adapt 12 poems from the C.K Williams collection Tar came about through a directing class James Franco was teaching (I'm amazed by how much that man gets up to) at the Tisch School of Arts in New York. An impressive cast was found for the student directors and their individual films together make up Tar, which will be released some time later this year. One of the directors, Shrutti Ganguly, has written an insightful post on the film which you can read here and comparisons to Paris Je T'aime only further my interest. Plus - Zack Braff!

39. House of Tolerance (January)
Dir: Bertrand Bonello
Stars: Hafsia Herzi, Celine Sallette, Jasmine Trinca, Adele Haenel
A film from Cannes last year which has had pretty dreadful reviews all round, House of Tolerance still has me intrigued. How could such a lush film full of debauchery be so bad? 'Twil be on limited release so I'll be lucky to catch it, but I think it's worth a watch (you can set a trap for me if I'm wrong). Watch the trailer below.

38. Life of Pi (December)
Dir: Ang Lee
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tobey Maguire
Yann Martel's novel has been long lusted after by big name directors wanting to bring the difficult book to the big screen (M Night Shyamalan Alfonso Cuaron, and Jean Pierre Jeunet, who lost 4 years trying to make the film). Now it's finally going ahead with Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee and a cast and screenplay confirmed. The fantastical story is of a young boy, Pi, who finds himself on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a hyena, zebra, orangutan and a tiger. It will be shot in 3D and out in time for Christmas.

37. Cloud Atlas (TBA)
Dir: Tom Tykwer, the Wachowskis
Stars: Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Ben Wishaw, Susan Sarandon
It's the book that could never be filmed! Well, one of them anyway. David Mitchell's complex and ambitious novel is finally coming to cinemas in 2012 after many years in development and expectations are (cautiously) high. Concept art only has leaked for the film (above) which will be released at the end of the year. There are 6 separate story lines to follow, ranging from the 1600s to a post apocalyptic future. I must confess I tried to read the book after Natalie was once attached to the film (having worked with all three directors) but I just couldn't get into it at all and gave up. I'm intrigued to see the trailer for this when it comes out to see if it whets my fancy.

36. Ted (August)
Dir: Seth MacFarlane
Stars: Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, Joel McHale, Jessica Stroup, Seth MacFarlane
This is Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane's first meddling with a feature film, and he's gone for a storyline not too dissimilar to Supernatural's "Wishful Thinking" eppy, about a childhood wish making a teddy bear come to life. Let's hope it doesn't have the same disastrous effects (or actually, in the hands of MacFarlane, a depressed teddy bear drinking and reading porn is right up his alley). MacFarlane has secured the services of FG actress Mila Kunis to star alongside Mark Wahlberg while he will voice Ted himself. This is going to be tonnes of fun, and you know it.

35. Michael (March)
Dir: Markus Schleinzer
Stars: Michael Fuith, David Rauchenberger
Eerily reminiscent of Michel Haneke, it comes as no surprise Michael director Markus Schleinzer worked on the films The White Ribbon and The Piano Teacher before making his first feature, which caused quite a stir when it premiered at Cannes last year for its taboo subject matter, disturbing content and uncomfortable viewing. It centres on a paedophile, Wolfgang, who imprisons a ten year old boy, Michael, in his basement. It's been praised for its stark film making and non sensationalised approach to the story, and even though "looking forward to it" is probably the wrong sentiment, I'll be watching this Spring. There's a clip below.

34. The Descendants (January)
Dir: Alexander Payne
Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Patricia Hastie, Nick Krause
This would be higher up my list if there wasn't something a little annoying about the trailer, and the fact it's by the guy who did Sideways which I thought was very overrated. But then he also directed Election - gah! There's a whiff of The Kids Are Alright about it which again I thought was way over hyped, so not sure how I'm going to feel about this one. It is universally loved though, and will be a contender this awards season. Watch the trailer below (is it just me with the foreboding sense of 'eh'? I think its the chirpy guitar which turns me off.. or is that a ukulele?):

33. The Woman In The Fifth (February)
Dir: Pawel Pawlikowski
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Kristen Scott Thomas, Joanna Kulig
This is director Pawel Pawlikoswki's first film since 2004's My Summer of Love which is quite a feat in itself! Ethan Hawke (who I have a soft spot for) is a novelist who leaves New York for Paris after a scandal and becomes involved with a mysterious woman (Scott Thomas) who may or may not be involved in a series of murders across the city - but is he so innocent himself? Based on the novel by Douglas Kennedy, this hasn't seen the most positive of reviews since the Toronto Film Festival but looks to be a decent thriller. Trailer:

32. The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (March)
Dir: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Stars: Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Piven, Brian Blessed, Selma Hayek, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton
This is Aardman's first authentic animation since Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit and what a load of fun it looks as well! Peter Lord was at Movie Con last Summer when he presented some clips of the film to the audience as well as introducing us to all the characters, impressing each moment with the actor voicing each one. Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) sets out to win the Pirate of the Year competition, only to become embroiled in a quest with Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and the evil Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) who HATES pirates! Giggle along below:

31. Tiny Furniture (March)
Dir: Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Jemima Kirke, David Call
This quirky little indie (my favourite words) has been performing well on the festival circuit, and even helped director and star Lena Dunham get her own Sex and the City esque dramedy on HBO (Girls starts this Spring and has already been picked by culturemouse). Tiny Furniture follows not-so-cool Aura (Dunham) after she graduates from college and returns home to figure out what she's going to do with her life. Expect witticisms, squirms and off-kilter comedy.


30. Butter (TBA)
Dir: Jim Field Smith
Jennifer Garner, Yara Shahidi, Ty Burrell, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Silverstone, Kristen Schaal
If you thought the last film looked quirky, get a load of this one which proved quite a talking point at Toronto last year! Butter is set in Middle America and is about a young girl (Shahidi) who discovers she has a talent for butter carving, and enters the annual butter sculpture competition where she's pitted against ruthless competitor Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner). High calorific comedy ensues! I just think this looks so oddball I have to watch it. And from the clip below, Jennifer Garner is definitely bringing it.

29. Argo (October)
Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin
Ordinarily a film about a CIA agent trying to free Americans in Iran would have me turning the page, but this one is directed by Ben Affleck, and Mr Affleck has done no wrong so far with previous hits Gone Baby Gone and The Town, so this is going down on my list. Plus any film with Bryan Cranston in it has got to be worth a look (except maybe Total Recall. Blurgh!).

28. The Dark Knight Rises (July)
Dir: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman
Well, basically most of the cast of Inception (cough) which is what I thought during the trailer that absolutely everybody adores and I, well, think looks a bit 'eh' to be honest. Yes, Batman 3 is only at No.28 on my list and looks nowhere near as entertaining as last stint out the box The Dark Knight. An American football field being blown up? Puhleeze. Do I have to go and watch it? Probably...

27. Frankenweenie (October)
Dir: Tim Burton
Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Charlie Tahan (NO Johnny Depp!)
Tim Burton has two films out this year and they're both on my list (natch) - the first one is Frankenweenie, a feature film version of his 1984 short about a boy who tries to bring his dead dog back to life. His first animation since The Corpse Bride and his first film without Johnny Depp for donkey's years (I bet he secretly does the voice of one of the neighbours or something - shhh). This will be out in time for the kids - and me - at Halloween.

26. Anna Karenina (September)
Dir: Joe Wright
Stars: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Emily Watson
There are no images so far from Joe Wright's 2012 take on Leo Tolstoy's classic novel about a woman desperate to find love outside of her empty marriage, but it's one of the most anticipated films of the year. Anna Karenina is of course iconic on the screen as Vivien Leigh in the 1948 version, but Joe Wright knows what he's doing (teaming up with Knightley again after Atonement) and the screenplay is by Tom Stoppard no less. Perhaps it's time for a new take. But does it really have to include Jude Law?

25. Into The Abyss (March)
Dir: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Jason Burkett, Michael Perry
I'm a lot more excited about Herzog's next documentary than I was about his last, Cave of Forgotten Dreams (zzzz). This one sounds infinitely more interesting as the eccentric director quizzes inmates on Death Row about their lives and their committed - or not committed - crimes. As ever, I'm sure Werner will also give us his unique take on his experience.

24. Carnage (February)
Dir: Roman Polanski
Stars: John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster
Playground politics we all understand as we've been there, but what about when it's the parents throwing the tantrums and having the fights, not the kids? Roman Polanski's latest is just that: two couples getting together to 'civally' talk through their children's altercation, but end up lashing out - hilariously - against each other instead. Based on the Broadway play, it's had rave reviews and I'm looking forward to this one a lot. There's a certain vomiting scene which is supposed to steal the show...

23. ParaNorman (September)
Dir: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Casey Affleck
No wait, this isn't the other Tim Burton film! It's the new spooky stop-motion from the makers of Coraline and that's aye okay with me - I loved their take on Neil Gaiman's book. ParaNorman is an original story this time, about a peculiar little boy who finds he can speak to the dead, and goes on an adventure to stop evil ghouls and zombies from taking over his town. The trailer is very interesting - no dialogue at all, which is strange when you think it's aimed at kids. One for the big kids, then! Looks awesome.

22. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (TBA)
Dir: Stephen Chbosky
Stars: Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Logan Lerman, Mae Whitman, Ezra Miller
A high school movie, but an interesting one. This is an adaptation of the novel, written by Stephen Chbosky who now also writes the screenplay and directs the film. Whatever we get here, it's going to be all from the mind of one person at least! It's about a shy, unpopular boy who is a high school freshman (I think that's Year 10 to you and me) and his experiences being "the wallflower". Hey, I'm up for anything that sounds remotely like Prep. Great cast as well - some of the best young starlets of our generation. No release date as yet.

21. A Dangerous Method (February)
Dir: David Cronenberg
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Vincent Cassel
David Cronenberg's new one about Freud, Jung and their mentally unstable patient Sabina would have been a lot higher up my list if I hadn't been so affected by the surprising amount of apathetic reviews that the film has had since showing in Venice last year. The cast is excellent, the story (and trailer) provocative and it's David Cronenberg for God's sake! Are expectations too high? I shall try and reserve judgement for this one next month. Check out the trailer below:

20-1 comes tomorrow...

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