Now that we’ve made it through the first two weeks of January relatively unscathed, it is time to kick off our countdown of our most-anticipated films of the year, timed with the first weekend that includes a film on the list below. While our comprehensive countdown includes a range of selections from Christopher Nolan to Michael Haneke – each with a specific reasoning on why they belong — much of the excitement that goes with being a cinephile lies in the surprises each year. So while we conducted extensive research to bring titles you may not have heard of, stayed tuned to The Film Stage all year long for thorough film festival coverage. Without further adieu, check them all out below counting down to our #1 most-anticipated of the year.
145. ATM (David Brooks, April 6th)
Synopsis: On a late night visit to an ATM, three coworkers end up in a desperate fight for their lives when they become trapped by an unknown man.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Coming from the writer of Buried, this one-room (er, ATM vestibule) film will likely be full of plotholes and the cause of screaming “why on earth would you do that?” at the screen. But I have no doubt ATM will be some old-fashioned fun, a goofy addition to IFC Midnight’s slate of VOD releases. So withdraw some money, curl up and check out this gimmicky horror one late night this spring. – Jordan Raup
144. Get the Gringo (Adrian Grunberg; TBA)
Synopsis: A career criminal nabbed by Mexican authorities is placed in a tough prison where he learns to survive with the help of a 9-year-old boy.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Shelved since Mel Gibson‘s outbursts, the actor opted for a more dramatic new impression with The Beaver and with that utterly failing, this action film is the only thing left in the backlog. With only a still and a poster released thus far the film previously known as How I Spent My Summer Vacation has yet to pick up US distribution. Are studios rightfully scared of Gibson’s kiss of death or is it just a flat-out bad film? It would be nice if this was a fun throwback action flick and hopefully we’ll find out later this year. – Jordan R.
143. Welcome to People (Alex Kurtzman; TBA)
Synposis: A man is tasked with delivering $150,000 of his deceased father’s fortune to the sister he has never met.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Oddly missing from the Sundance line-up is the directorial debut from Alex Kurtzman, screenwriter behind the summer’s biggest films like Star Trek and the Transformers trilogy. With cast including Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chris Pine, Jon Favreau and Mark Duplass, here is hoping Kurtzman can deliver some unfounded talent behind the camera. – Jordan R.
142. Untitled Taken Sequel (Olivier Megaton; October 5th)
Synopsis: In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Taken took everyone by surprise when it was released in 2008, turning Liam Neeson into an unlikely action star and becoming a hit both critically and commercially. You can argue the merits of making a sequel to a story that seemed so self-contained but that’s also part of the fun: how does Taken 2 measure up to the first one? We’ll see in October. Meanwhile get prepared to tally up how many times Neeson will throat chop the bad guys in his way; my money is on 450. – Jonathan Sullivan
141. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Timur Bekmambetov; June 22nd)
Synopsis: President Lincoln’s mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Timur Bekmambetov, who helmed the chilling and inventive vampire tales Night Watch and Day Watch, brings his keen eye and dark wit to this thrilling adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith‘s cheeky cult-adored novel. Adding some sex appeal to Honest Abe’s stake-wielding adventure is a cast that includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World), Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist) and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker). – Kristy Puchko
140. Bullet to the Head (Walter Hill; April 13th)
Synopsis: After watching their respective partners die, a cop and a hitman form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: He may be a right-wing madman, but Walter Hill is responsible for some of the most memorable action films of our time, from the cultishly weird (The Warriors) to the funny and genre-defining (48 Hours). After a ten-year break, he returns with Sylvester Stallone to hopefully bring a little more skill to the standard action film. – Anthony Vieira.
139. Titanic 3D (James Cameron; April 6th)
Synopsis: A boy and a girl from differing social backgrounds meet during the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Yes, I know we’ve already seen it. But when it comes to most 3D releases being post-converted messes, the technology’s pioneer James Cameron is one of few that can do it right. From the brief glimpses I’ve seen in the 3D theatrical trailer it looks to be an epic worthy of the upgrade. Or it is just that damn Celine Dion song that pervades right into my heart. - Jordan R.
138. The Babymakers (Jay Chandrasekhar; TBA)
Synopsis: After failing to get his wife pregnant, a guy recruits his pals to steal the deposit he left at a sperm bank years ago.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: After their flop The Slammin’ Salmon, the comedy troupe Broken Lizard (also behind Super Troopers and Beerfest) are back with a new film. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Schneider is getting a much deserved lead comedy role in what hopefully is a return to form for the group. – Jordan R.
137. Ted (Seth MacFarlane; July 13th)
Synopsis: A story centered on a man and his teddy bear, who comes to life as the result of a childhood wish.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Being so completely out of touch with Family Guy and Seth MacFarlane‘s other animated ventures, I come with mixed feelings to his live-action debut. First off, the concept of a teddy bear coming to life is so crazy it just make work, especially if done with a comedic tone unlike last year’s dry drama The Beaver. Then there is Mark Wahlberg, who has been more impressive in funnyman roles than in his many recent action films or dramas. Coupled with Mila Kunis, here is hoping MacFarlane can do more than flashbacks and parodies. – Jordan R.
136. Great Hope Springs (David Frankel; December 14th)
Synopsis: After thirty years of marriage, a middle-aged couple attends an intense counseling weekend to decide the fate of their marriage.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: After last year’s mega-bomb The Big Year, The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel is hoping to return with this dramedy. With Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones getting counseling from Steve Carell, it could be a perfect trio to deliver laughs. - Jordan R.
135. Rock of Ages (Adam Shankman; June 1st)
Synopsis: Set in 1987 Los Angeles, Drew and Sherrie are two young people chasing their dreams in the big city. When they meet, it’s love at first sight, though their romance will face a series of challenges.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Adam Shankman has made some terrible films. From Bedtime Stories to The Pacifier, he usually reserves a spot on most critics’ year end worst lists. But Shankman also showed many years ago, with his 2007 version of Hairspray, that he is capable of far more. Rock of Ages, another musical, looks to be in the vein of his John Waters adaptation, which was one of the most pleasant surprises in recent years. – Jack Giroux
134. Donny’s Boy (Sean Anders, John Morris; June 15th)
Synopsis: A father moves in with his son right before his wedding and soon begins sparring with his daughter-in-law.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: After helming the crude and funny Hot Tub Time Machine back in 2010, Sean Anders and John Morris have made names for themselves in the comedy world. With Adam Sandler hopefully showing he can do more than just bad Dennis Dugan films, he is joined by Andy Samberg, Susan Sarandon and James Caan for this new family feud. – Megan Elsen
133. The Bay (Barry Levinson; TBA)
Synopsis: Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: His best film in years (and years) was the recent HBO mini-series You Don’t Know Jack, suggesting that the old dog may have learned some new tricks. Add to that Levinson’s return to Maryland roots meshed an eco-disaster conflict he’s never attempted anything like, and it feels like the best of both worlds. – Dan Mecca
132. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky; TBA)
Synopsis: An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: The book upon which this film is based became something of a modern classic among the high school literati. The story, about a loner freshman getting ushered into an adult world he may not be ready for, has a lot of dramatic punch. Passages of the story strike painfully close to home for anyone who has been through that awkward stage of trying to figure out who you are or where you belong. Harry Potter fans should get a kick out of seeing Emma Watson in a new dramatic role, and fans of the book will be happy to know that the writing and directing of the screen version will be handled by none other than the book’s author, Stephen Chbosky. – Brian Roan
131. Neighborhood Watch (Akiva Schaffer; July 27th)
Synopsis: Suburban dads form a neighborhood watch group to get time away from their families, only to discover a plot to destroy Earth.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: The concept induces a couple of groans on my own part, but the eclectic lineup – how many American studio films cast Richard Ayoade in a lead role? – and writing credits from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are hard to scoff at. If those two elements can converge upon the high-concept premise, a good time should be had. – Nick Newman
The Film Stage’s 145 Most-Anticipated Films of 2012
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