With the summer movie season surging to a close with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and The Expendables II (check out my review of Rises here), the fall and winter movie season is upon us, and that means it’s time to make way at the cinemas for the films searching for awards and accolades. With that it’s time to take a step forward in time and check out some of the releases I’m excited (or not-so-excited) to see this fall and winter, and a look ahead to one or two films in store for 2013.
Release Date: Sept 14th
Director Paul Thomas Anderson last hit an epic home run with 2007’s There Will Be Blood, which saw Daniel-Day Lewis take on one of modern cinema’s most engrossing and engaging performances, but as a film it was somewhat slow and overlong. His follow-up, The Master (check out the feature trailer here) promises more great performances from a spectacular-looking cast of Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. If the trailer is any indication, expect Phoenix and Hoffman to be looking for nominations come awards season (especially Phoenix, who looks incredible). While I’ve read that it is in some way related to the founding of the church of Scientology, read the IMDB description and tell me you don’t think of the classic Simpsons episode featuring the Movementarians. Expect a limited release that will likely go wider as The Weinstein Company pushes it for awards later in the year.
Resident Evil: Retribution
Release Date: Sept 14th
Inclusion of this film in this list is to watch just how much farther from the lauded video game series this can get. Seriously, watch the trailer for Resident Evil 6 (the game, due out this October) and the feature trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution, set to land in theaters a month before it and tell me which looks better. While starting off promising, the Resident Evil film franchise has descended into little more than quasi-futuristic fight scenes strung together by plots that are Resident Evil only in so much as they have characters with the same names and share some similarities. Even without the franchise tie-in, they’re still mindless action. Milla Jovovich returns in the fifth installment as Alice, as well as a slew of dead characters brought back to life (but not as zombies?). The series also adds fan favorite characters from the game such as Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong (Johann Urb and Bingbing Li), but if the trailer and the past films are any indication, it will just be another shameful entry in a series that stopped being Resident Evil a long time ago.
Release Date: Sept 21st
The 1995 schlockfest Judge Dredd is among the lowest points in comic-to-film adaptations, film in general, and for Sylvester Stallone and all those involved, a low point in their careers (except maybe Armand Assante). So there isn’t a great deal of fanfare going into the reboot Dredd 3D, which hits theaters later this month. However, the trailer promises a far more serious Dredd in Karl Urban, who purportedly never takes off his helmet, one of the biggest criticisms of Stallone’s judge (and also woefully devastating to the character’s impact). Despite the absurd number of one-liners in the trailer, it looks to be promising, but I hold out hope that there is more to the plot than Dredd re-taking a highrise in ridiculously slow slow-mo that would make Zach Snyder cringe. That, and a runtime of only 95 minutes? While it’s still longer than the 1995 version (if that can be believed), we need a sprawling two hours plus to really explore all that Mega City One has to offer.
Release Date: Sept 28th
With the extraordinary trailer promising a mind-bending tale of Christopher Nolan-like proportions (Joseph Gordon-Levitt grows up to be Bruce Willis?!), it also makes Looper seem like it may be just a touch overindulgent. With a thriller like Inception showing that the world loves a smart action film, it has to tread water carefully and not get so involved in itself that it never lets the audience in. That’s the fear I really have for Looper, despite its intriguing premise and great cast (Jeff Daniels and Emily Blunt are also along for the ride). My biggest question after seeing various trailers and promotional materials… what on Earth is up with JG-L’s face?! Did writer/director Rian Johnson CG him to make him more Willis-y? Or is this a part of the plot?
Won’t Back Down
Release Date: Sept 28th
While I’m not so much a fan of the tone of feel-goodery in the trailer (and the music doesn’t help), the film promises to deliver knockout dramatic performances from Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. The question is, will this be a memorable drama, or more forgettable PG popcorn fare? The trailer seems to tilt more of the powerhouse scenes toward the former, but my focus is on Davis, who was absolutely breathtaking in 2011’s The Help, a role I still wish she’d won an Oscar for (not to take anything away from Meryl Streep, who is amazing, but Davis clearly had the better performance). The role doesn’t seem like something that would win her an Oscar, but regardless, every performance she gives is completely riveting. Expecting to see Maggie walk away with a nomination if the Best Actress category isn’t a knockout, but again, stranger things have happened.
Trouble with the Curve
Release Date: Sept 28th
Boasting an impressive cast led by none other than the legendary Clint Eastwood, I’m most interested in the relationship here between Eastwood and co-star Amy Adams, as well as the relationship between Adams and Justin Timberlake, who continues to impress me every time I see him (he was excellent in The Social Network, even if his role didn’t have much range). The trailer focuses a great deal on these two relationships, and while the plot of the film (hinted at with Eastwood being pushed out of the game of baseball scouting) is a little meh, I expect the character relationships to turn it into an impressive film. Adams especially seems poised for an excellent performance.
Release Date: Oct 12th
Ben Affleck’s growth as a director has been astounding, and if Gone Baby Gone and The Town are any indication, Argo is set to be a fantastic thriller (it’s just too bad that Affleck has turned down the opportunity to direct the Justice League film that is moving into production, because he’d be an amazing fit). The trailer boasts an impressive cast and a great retro-70s feeling which could easily put Affleck on the short list for Best Director if things go right. Rounded out with an even better cast including Bryan Cranston and John Goodman, not to mention Alan Arkin, expect to see something out of this film come awards season.
Killing Them Softly
Release Date: Oct 19th
Brad Pitt slicks back his hair and shows us all he’s still a bad, bad dude, but something about the trailer smacks of a plot that won’t really be that engaging, and the runtime of 97 minutes is making me cringe. A decent cast including Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini, it almost begs to hearken back to the mobster movies of old, so it’ll be interesting to see if it can entice audiences.
Release Date: Oct 26th
Seriously, watch the nearly six-minute trailer, and you tell me what’s going on. It’s good to see Tom Hanks back in leading man mode, but what I like the most about the trailer is how much it reminds me of Darren Aronofsky’s brilliant The Fountain (seriously, brilliant), which also wove together a narrative about past, present, and future with love, life, and death. The trailer for Cloud Atlas has such an amazing, epic feel all its own, so let’s hope that the Wachowski brothers are up to the task and can deliver an amazing action epic that is packed with dense symbolism and great performances. The supporting cast looks pretty amazing as well (Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and the list goes on!)… easily at the top of my most-anticipated films of the year.
Release Date: Nov 9th
With the release of the film just about two months away and not even a trailer to be seen, we’ll have to make due with the poster of the 16th president inst… wait, that’s Daniel Day-Lewis?! The makeup team has completely transformed DD-L, but seriously Spielberg, where’s the trailer already? It has been a long time since we’ve seen a really great Spielberg historical pic, so I expect that attention to detail will be key here, but this film will scream controversy once it hits theaters, depending on which Lincoln we get: do we get the historic statesman who preserved the Union, or do we get the constitution-trouncing villain that fought an illegal war? The Civil War is still a hotly-debated topic, and it’ll be impossible for this film to avoid politics, especially since it lands in theaters less than a week after this year’s presidential contest. I’d personally like to see a film that explores all aspects of the man, and seriously how amazing is the cast Spielberg has assembled here?
EDIT: A woefully short teaser trailer has hit the web, and the full trailer is apparently going to land Sept 13th. I think I appreciate Speilberg’s tone here, but I’m waiting for a full trailer. Also, DD-L is reading the Gettysburg Address, but not giving it as a speech. Maybe writing it on the train? My interest has only grown!
Hyde Park on Hudson
Release Date: Dec 7th
Following on DD-L’s heels in December (on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, no less), Bill Murray will take a swing at a major awards-grabbing role when he plays FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson. If the trailer is any indication, Murray is a shoe-in for a lot of major awards nominations, but will he be able to topple Day-Lewis? I see a much-publicized “battle of the presidents” for a Best Actor statue this year. One thing is for sure: the tone of this film seems far lighter than Lincoln is sure to be, and Murray sure seems to be having a great time in the role. With Murray tackling roles like this, is there any wonder why he won’t return for a third Ghostbusters film?
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Release Date: Dec 14th
As much as I love Guillermo del Toro and his work, seeing the trailer has made me smile, with Peter Jackson obviously keeping the tone of The Hobbit aligned with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Unlike many others, I am not grumbling about the expansion into a trilogy; rather, I welcome the opportunity to explore wonderful new parts of Middle-Earth and to see some old favorites return. With a lot of old faces returning (Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, and others) and some interesting-looking newcomers (Martin Freeman as Bilbo just seems brilliant to me), it begs the question: can Middle-Earth strike more Oscar gold? More, can it give me what I want to see most of all- an actor in one of Jackson’s epics winning an Oscar? Time will tell, but I’m thankful we’ll only have to wait two and a half years to see the entire trilogy.
Release Date: Dec 14th
Seriously, just look at this cast. Tom Hooper is fresh off directing the incredible The King’s Speech that won Colin Firth an Oscar, and if the trailer is any indication, they might be handing a statue to Anne Hathaway in 2013. With Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe also on board and with some of the greatest songs this side of any musical ever, this is either going to be all kinds of epic or a drastic, dramatic failure.
Release Date: Christmas Day
Only Quentin Tarantino would release what is sure to be a bloody opus in the vein of the western (or the southern?) about slavery on Christmas Day. From the look of the trailer, it looks to be a brutal tale of revenge, something Tarantino has done well at lately: but seriously Quentin, give us something new. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz both look amazing as bounty hunters on the hunt for Django’s missing wife, but my favorite casting choice is Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s good to see Leo out having more fun in a role, especially when the Academy has ignored him at the Oscars time and again. Mercifully it looks as if Tarantino isn’t shying away from the racial component of the film, but instead is embracing it in the way only he can. If he can deliver another film of the caliber of Inglourious Basterds this Christmas, he may finally win that Best Director statue.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
Release Date: Oct 26th
This gets stuck at the bottom because I really didn’t want to include it. The original Silent Hill games are amazing and beautifully atmospheric, standing above so many other games that just don’t make the cut. Yet when it was adapted for the screen, the original Silent Hill film forgot what made the original Silent Hill game such a great success: the atmosphere, and the fact that you couldn’t escape it. The film took too many side trips cutting away to beautiful, sunny skies, which completely missed the entire point. Let’s hope that the sequel has learned from that mistake, but judging from the trailer, they still haven’t got the creepy claustrophobic feeling down right. I’ll wait for fan reaction before I waste money on the ticket.
That about wraps it up for the 2012 stock, but there are certain to be a lot more films that I’ll see or that I just didn’t include here for one reason or another. From here we look ahead to 2013, which is already looking to be absolutely epic and interesting, though the summer ahead is sure to land a few duds.
By Nicholas Haskins