Hollywood on the Hill: The Most Anticipated Films of 2012

While 2011 certainly had some shining moments like the Cannes film festival’s darling The Artist, it was overall a disappointing year for Hollywood and film lovers. However, 2012 looks to be one of the greatest years in film his­tory, as a slew of blockbusters, art house pictures and raunchy comedies are coming to the screen. This year marks the return of franchises like American Pie, James Bond, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, The Avengers, Men in Black, The Twilight Saga and Bourne. It also will introduce new franchises like the two-part Hobbit series, The Hunger Games and a Snow White trilogy. Auteur filmmakers like Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, Baz Luhrman and Kathryn Bigelow all return with new films with big-time budgets. With so many cinematic events on the horizon, here are the ten films to keep the closest eye on.

10. Skyfall (November 9) – Daniel Craig is back as everyone’s favorite blond Bond. Under the helm of American Beauty director Sam Mendes, the film’s producers are promising a Bond that is reminiscent of Goldfinger and other 60s Bond classics. With incredible actors like Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), expect the next Bond to be filled with classic characters, beautiful women and even more beautiful Aston Martin DB5s.

9. The Dictator (May 11) – Sacha Baron Cohen stars in his newest raunchy comedy about a dictator that will do everything in his power to keep democracy from ever coming to his country. Based on the autobiography of Saddam Hussein, the film also stars funny girl Anna Faris (Scary Movie franchise) and the voluptuous Megan Fox.

8. Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1) – Starring teenage sensation Kristen Stewart (Twilight franchise) in the title role, this adapta­tion of the classic children’s tale promises to be anything but a kid’s movie. The film also fea­tures Charlize Theron (Young Adult) as the evil Queen Ravenna and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as the Huntsman and leader of the dwarves. The film’s CGI is supposed to be fantastic and the action is supposed to be heavy. This adaptation looks like it will beat out the more kid-friendly adaptation Mirror, Mirror that stars Julia Rob­erts, Armie Hammer and Lilly Collins. The film is the first in a trilogy of action-fantasy starring Stewart and Hemsworth.

7. The Avengers (May 4) – Who would you rather see save the world than Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)? The answer: no one. This sure-to-be blockbuster is every fanboy’s dream and every critic’s nightmare.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14) –The first part of J.R.R. Tolk­ien’s classic fantasy tale comes out this winter. Directed by Lord of the Rings auteur Peter Jack­son, expect this prequel to the Rings trilogy to be a journey filled with hobbits, sorcerers, elves, dwarves, dragons and the infamous Gollum. Jackson won Best Picture and Best Director for his last Tolkien film, and all signs point to The Hobbit being his return to Oscar gold.

5. World War Z (December 21) – After a year of dramatic and critically acclaimed roles (The Tree of Life and Moneyball), Brad Pitt stars in this dramatic zombie film as a future UN representative who travels the globe interview­ing human survivors of World War Z against zombies. Directed by Marc Forester (Monsters Ball) and co-starring Mathew Foxx from Lost, Paramount acquired the screen rights to Max Brooks’s novel in one of the highest studio bid­ding wars ever. Expect the film to be a serious contender come award season.

4. Prometheus (June 8) – It has been al­most thirty years since the godfather of science fiction, Ridley Scott, released his last science fiction masterpiece Blade Runner. However, before Blade Runner, Scott’s Alien was a land­mark in cinema. 32 years later, Scott is back in the genre he defined with Prometheus. De­clared as a prequel of sorts to Alien, the narra­tive revolves around a team of space explorers who discover a clue to the origin of mankind and set out on a journey to the scariest corners of the universe. Prometheus stars the previously mentioned Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace (Lisabeth Salander in the Swedish release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Guy Pearce (Memento) and Idris Elba (The Wire).

3. Django Unchained (December 25) – After his masterpiece Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino cemented himself as one of the great auteurs in film history. Given an almost unlimited budget by Sony, Taranti­no’s next film has all the making of a classic. The film is about a slave-turned-freed-assas­sin who teams up with a German bounty hunter and sets out to rescue his wife from the brutal Calvin Candie, a Mississippi plan­tation owner. Playing the title role is Jamie Foxx and the German bounty hunter will be Christophe Waltz, who won an Oscar last time he teamed up with Tarantino. I would go see any film with these two in the leads, but the cast only gets better. Playing the evil slave plantation owner is none other than the best actor in Hollywood, Leonardo Di­caprio. The rest of the cast is filled with such stars as Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon- Levitt, RZA, Kurt Russell and Kerry Wash­ington. Coming out Christmas Day next year, the film is my early prediction for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Dicaprio) at the 2012 Oscars.

2. The Great Gatsby (December 25) – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved American novel is coming back to the big screen this Christmas under the helm of Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrman. Luhrman is an excellent choice for the film’s director as he has the incredible abil­ity to romanticize and beautify all of his film’s settings and characters. In his first big mo­tion picture, Luhrman successfully adapted the most popular tragic love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet, which starred then teenage-heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio. Fifteen years later, Luhrman is tackling the most famous American romance tragedy, with DiCaprio, who is now the premier actor in the entire in­dustry, again starring as his title character Jay Gatsby. Luhrman is also shooting the film in 3D. The star-studded cast includes Leo’s best friend Tobey Maguire (Spiderman) as Nick Carraway, Joel Edgerton (Warrior) as Tom Bu­chanan, Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) as Myr­tle Wilson and Carey Mulligan (An Education) as Daisy Buchanan. Mulligan beat out almost every popular young actress (Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams, Eva Green, Anne Hatha­way, Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansson) for the female lead, and she is my prediction for Best Actress at the 2012 Oscars.

1. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20) – The final film in Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy cannot come out soon enough for moviegoers. The Dark Knight Rises is such a motion picture event that its trailer had 12.5 million downloads in its first twenty-four hours. Reprising their roles in the final Dark Knight story are Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Gary Old­man as Police Chief Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Wayne Enterprises head Lucius Fox, Michael Caine as the trusty butler Alfred, Liam Neeson as Ra’s Al Ghul and Nestor Carbonell as Mayor Anthony Gar­cia. As if this cast was not terrific enough, Nolan has recruited Tom Hardy (Incep­tion and Warrior) as Bane, Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs) as Catwoman, Jo­seph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) as police­man John Blake, Marion Cotillard (Incep­tion) as Wayne’s new love interest, Miranda Tate, and Mathew Modine (Full Metal Jacket) as the slimy politician Nixon. The film takes place eight years after Harvey Dent’s death and starts in a Gotham that is safe and no longer needs Batman, who had to take the fall for Dent’s crimes. How­ever, peace cannot last in Gotham forever, as the evil terrorist leader Bane forces Bat­man to resurface and attempt to save Go­tham. Warner Brothers rightfully believes that The Dark Night Rises will break all do­mestic box-office records. Thus, they gave Nolan a $250 million dollar budget, and studio executives who have seen early foot­age claim Nolan’s latest will be the greatest action film of all time. Just as Peter Jack­son swept the Oscars with his final film in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, there is a high chance that Nolan can take away a handful of statues. Either way, it will be the film event of the year and continue to change America’s perspective of how we envision the epic blockbuster.