The 30 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012

Movies Lists

First, a clarification: When we say “most anticipated,” we mean by us. So no teenage vampire sequels here, though you will find a zombie love story along with new films from the Dardenne brothers, the Duplass brothers and the Coen brothers. Plus Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Cronenberg, Ridley Scott, Joss Whedon, Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson and Alfonso Cuarón.

Here are the 30 movies we’re most looking forward to in 2012.

1. The Kid with a Bike
Release Date: March 16
Director: Jean-Pierra Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Starring: Thomas Doret, Cécile De France, Jérémie Renier
Why we can’t wait: The Dardenne brothers aren’t exactly household names in the States, but we listed them at #12 on the list of the Best Living Filmmakers and called their 2005 film The Child one of the 50 Best Films of the Decade.

2. Jeff Who Lives at Home
Release Date: March 16
Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Starring: Jason Segal, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon, Ed Helms, Katie Aselton
Why we can’t wait: The Duplass brothers got their start in the mumblecore scene with The Puffy Chair and Baghead before the uncomfortably funny Cyrus garnered a wider audience.

3. The Hunger Games
Release Date: March 23
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson
Why we can’t wait: A gripping book that begged for a film adaptation. T Bone Burnett and Danny Elfman did the score. And my teenager daughter and I already have a date planned for March 23.

4. Blue Like Jazz
Release Date: April 13
Director: Steve Taylor
Starring: Marshall Allman, Claire Holt, Jason Marsden, Tania Raymonde
Why we can’t wait: Another book we loved, Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz was a funny, warm autobiographical account of a guy trying to come to terms with the worst aspects of his faith and to live a life outside of its safe boundaries.

5. The Avengers
Release Date: May 4
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth
Why we can’t wait: Remember that awful Joss Whedon project? Us neither. (The first few episodes of Dollhouse don’t count. It got really good by the end.)

6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Release Date: May 4
Director: John Madden
Starring: Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson
Why we can’t wait: The director of Shakespeare in Love and Proof has a clever concept—an elderly couple “outsourcing” their retirement to India—and a solid cast.

7. Moonrise Kingdom
Release Date: May 16
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel
Why we can’t wait: Because it’s a new Wes Anderson movie, and this is the trailer.

8. The Dictator
Release Date: May 11
Director: Larry Charles
Starring: Sascha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Megan Fox, Ben Kingsley, John C. Reilly
Why we can’t wait: The team that gave us Borat returns with “The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.”

9. Prometheus
Release Date: June 8
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce
Why we can’t wait: The director of Alien and Blade Runner returns to his sci-fi beginnings. Plus, Stringer Bell.

10. Brave
Release Date: June 22
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd
Why we can’t wait: Pixar doesn’t make bad movies, and it rarely makes merely good ones.

11. The Dark Knight Rises
Release Date: July 20
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Liam Neeson, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy
Why we can’t wait: The follow-up to the greatest super-hero movie of all time features more Oscar-winning talent than your average Scorsese film.

12. The Bourne Legacy
Release Date: Aug. 3
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn
Why we can’t wait: The first trilogy of Bourne movies was stellar, and though we lose Matt Damon, the screenwriter for those films (and director of Michael Clayton) Tony Gilroy steps up to direct.

13. Dog Fight
Release Date: Aug. 10
Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, Jason Sudeikis
Why we can’t wait: Just in time for election season (just kidding, that started six months ago), Ferrell and Galifianakis star as rival congressional candidates in South Carolina.

14. Warm Bodies
Release Date: Aug. 10
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, John Malkovich
Why we can’t wait: The book was the best zombie love story I’ve ever read. My review here.

15. Wettest County
Release Date: Aug. 31
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman, Shia LeBeouf, Guy Pearce
Why we can’t wait: We were fans of Hillcoat’s outlaw film The Proposition set in 1880s Australia. After The Road, we’re looking forward to seeing his take on 1930s bootlegging in Virginia. Plus Jessica Chastain is on a roll.

16. Cosmopolis
Release Date: Fall
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton
Why we can’t wait: Cronenberg has adapted this 2003 Don DeLillo novel about a day in the life of a young billionaire.

17. The Master
Release Date: Fall
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Laura Dern, Amy Adams
Why we can’t wait: Loosely mirroring the life of L. Ron Hubbard and the founding of Scientology, PTA returns five years after There Will Be Blood and Phoenix is back after the strange performance art/nervous breakdown/rap project I’m Still Here. And Johnny Greenwood scores.


18. Looper
Release Date: Sept. 28
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo
Why we can’t wait: Rian Johnson’s last film The Brothers Bloom was a box-office flop, but we loved Brick, and here he’s reunited with its star Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this sci-fi thriller about a hitman with a contract on his future self.


19. Frankenweenie
Release Date: Oct. 5
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Charlie Tahan, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short
Why we can’t wait: We’re suckers for Tim Burton animation, and the creepy premise of Frankenweenie—a kid bringing his dog back to life—sounds fun. Burton also has a live-action film due May 11, a big-screen version of the 1960s series Dark Shadows.


20. Skyfall
Release Date: Nov. 9
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench
Why we can’t wait: We’re just thankful that we look forward to Bond movies again. Before the reboot, we just dreaded them.


21. Gravity
Release Date: Nov. 21
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
Why we can’t wait: Since Y Tu Mamá También, Caurón has proven he can handle a budget with the third Harry Potter film and Children of Men without losing the humanity of the story.

22. Lincoln
Release Date: December
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones
Why we can’t wait: The combination of those three-name actors. We doubt we’ll ever think of Honest Abe the same way again.


23. Les Misérables
Release Date: Dec. 7
Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter, Russell Crowe, Sacha Baron Cohen
Why we can’t wait: Rather than return to the source material, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Damn United) and writer William Nicholson base this new version on the terrific stage musical based on Victor Hugo’s tale of 19th-century France.


24. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Release Date: Dec. 14
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Ian McKellen, Evangeline Lilly, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Richard Armitage
Why we can’t wait: This is the first novel I read on my own. I’m currently reading it aloud to my son. Jackson did a phenomenal job with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Freeman (The Office, Sherlock) seems like a great choice.

25. Life of Pi
Release Date: Dec. 21
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Adil Hussain, Suraj Sharma, Tobey Maguire, Gérard Depardieu, Tabu, Irrfan Khan
Why we can’t wait: Along with Danny Boyle, Ang Lee has proven himself to be one of the most versatile directors working, and the source material for this was a thoroughly enjoyable book.


26. World War Z
Release Date: Dec. 21
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Eric West, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos
Why we can’t wait: Max Brooks’ novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War begged for a film adaptation. Despite fans’ fears that the film will ignore the aftermath of the apocalyptic war, we’re holding out hope that Forster and Pitt know what they’re doing.

27. The Great Gatsby
Release Date: Dec. 25
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Tobey Maguire
Why we can’t wait: The Australian director of Moulin Rouge seems like a good pick for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book.


28. Django Unchained
Release Date: Dec. 25
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson
Why we can’t wait: Every Christmas should bring a Taratino film about a freed slave in the South on a mission to rescue his wife with the help of a German bounty hunter. After Inglorious Basterds, we’ll watch any pairing of Tarantino and Waltz.


29. Inside Llewyn Davis
Release Date: TBD
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund
Why we can’t wait: The Coen brothers’ upcoming (hopefully 2012) film takes place in 1960s Greenwhich Village, based on musician Dave van Ronk’s memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street.

30. Take This Waltz
Release Date: TBD
Director: Sarah Polley
Starring: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silveman
Why we can’t wait: We’re still thinking about Polley’s directorial debut Away From Her nearly five years later.

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