2012 year-end movie picks

Quentin Tarantino's new film, "Django Unchained" will be released on December 25, 2012.  (Photo courtesy of BeyondHollywood.com).
Quentin Tarantino's new film, "Django Unchained" will be released on December 25, 2012. (Photo courtesy of BeyondHollywood.com).

After a largely lackluster summer season, October, November and December look to hold some of the best movies of 2012. With Oscar nominations just around the corner, here are Connect2Mason's television and film reporter Alex Dodson's picks of likely contenders that you should catch before January brings in a new batch of films.

10. Flight
Release Date: November 2
Director: Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future trilogy)
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Don Cheadle and Melissa Leo

Why I’m Excited: While not officially based on the “Hudson River Miracle,” when a pilot safely landed an airplane in to New York’s river, it is not hard to see where the relevance of this film comes in. Denzel Washington plays a pilot who masterfully lands a crashing plane only to be put on trial when alcohol was found in his blood before his flight. With plenty of room for interpersonal, legal and airborne thrills, "Flight" is a movie to keep an eye on. Washington looks to have another potential Oscar nomination on his hands and is sure to bring his large fan base to theatres for the movie's release in the beginning of November.

9. Les Miserables
Release Date: December 25
Director: Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfreid

Why I’m Excited:  Fans of the Broadway musical “Les Miserables” are sure to be looking forward to a new adaptation; however, when I saw the stage production at the Kennedy Center, I wasn’t too impressed. I’m mostly interested in filmmaker Tom Hooper’s decision to live record the songs in front of the rolling cameras as opposed to the traditional recording studio dub. While the cast looks fantastic, with male leads Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe squaring off, I am skeptical of Anne Hathaway’s portrayal. I have never really been a fan of Hathaway as an actress, and her role as Fantine will be under the most scrutiny by fans and critics alike. Let's see if she can deliver.



8. Life of Pi
Release Date: November 21
Director: Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Gerard Depardieu, Irrfan Khan and Tabu

Why I’m Excited: Some critics have hailed it as this year’s ”Hugo” with its esteemed director and stunning visual effects; however, I found “Hugo” dreadfully boring due to its weak plot. “Life of Pi,” on the other hand, derives from a unique concept. Ang Lee’s film tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who survives onboard a lifeboat, stranded and alone, with a Bengal tiger for 227 days. Based off the widely popular book, many thought the thought-provoking spiritual journey could not be adapted to film. A cast filled with virtual no-names, this film is filled with exploratory and gorgeously visual experiences. “Life of Pi” will either amaze you or bore you to tears. Quite frankly that makes me even more excited to see it.

7. Seven Psychopaths
Relsease Date: October 12
Director: Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)
Cast: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits

Why I’m Excited: Largely a mystery before it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, this film shocked and amazed audiences when it won the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award. A dark comedy with a screwball plot, "Seven Psychopaths" follows a struggling writer and his friends as they dognap a local gangster’s prized pooch. Primarily known for his dramatic roles, Colin Farrell shows his comedic side again, after his performance in “Horrible Bosses.” Ferrell is in good company alongside comedic goldmines Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson. In this list of dramatic films, I’m excited to laugh and not feel bad about it.

6. Hitchcock
Release Date: November 23
Director: Sacha Gervasi (writer of The Terminal)
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel

Why I’m Excited: Film buffs love movies about movies and so does the Academy of Motion Pictures. Seemingly a dark horse in the latter part of the year, this film, starring the captivating Anthony Hopkins, is the only film to not have a trailer debut nor has it been screened for critics. This biography chronicles Alfred Hitchcock’s longtime collaboration with his wife in the film industry while working on his 1960 film “Psycho,” considered by many to be his masterpiece. Supported by two fabulous actresses in Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson, this film looks to be a surprise hit.

5. Wreck-It Ralph
Release Date: November 2
Director: Rich Moore (17 episodes—"The Simpsons" and 71 episodes—"Futurama")
(Voice) Cast: John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman and Jack Brayer

Why I’m Excited: While I’m not someone who is into video games, this film’s upbeat and electrifying trailer makes me want to go see it opening day. Besides its eye-popping visuals, the involvement of popular dubstep DJ, Skrillex, who had a hand in producing music for the film, intrigues me. Apart from the technical aspects, I couldn’t imagine a better voice than John C. Reilly for a big, lovable oaf who just wants to be the good guy in a video game for once. This will probably win the box office for the month of November as it promises fun animation for kids, as well as video game-related nostalgia for an older audience.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Release Date: December 14
Director: Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong)
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellin, Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis

Why I’m Excited: Probably the most self-explanatory pick on the list, the real question is how could I not be excited for this? Unless you were hiding underneath a rock for the past decade, Peter Jackson’s "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was kind of a big deal. Critically acclaimed and beloved by fans, Jackson looks to bring back the magic with the first part of Tolkein’s prequel ”The Hobbit,” based off of the book.  What’s even better this time around is that the brilliant Martin Freeman leads the narrative instead of the somewhat iffy Elijah Wood. I can’t wait for the nine-hour marathons of the original trilogy leading up to this film. Take me back to the Shire, Mr. Jackson!



3. Argo
Release Date: October 12
Director: Ben Affleck (The Town)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman

Why I’m Excited: As a huge fan of Ben Affleck’s ”The Town,” I have been eagerly awaiting his next directorial feature. The film, based on the true story, centers on six Americans who posed as a film crew during the Iranian Revolution and how they were smuggled out of hostage. After seeing the trailer, I was immediately interested. There is some great supporting talent involved with Bryan Cranston and John Goodman, while Alan Arkin is already getting some award buzz. Much has also been said about Affleck’s growth as a director, apparently evident in the film. As a bonus, the use of Aerosmith’s ”Dream On” in the trailer has only amplified my excitement.

2. Zero Dark Thirty
Release Date: December 19
Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Harold Perrineau and Jessica Chastain

Why I’m Excited: At first based upon a failed mission on Osama Bin Laden’s life, this film has now changed to the telling of the real story of Bin Laden’s successful assassination. Filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow has already proven her chops with her 2010 Academy Award winning film "The Hurt Locker." She returns to the war genre with this controversial film where she received confidential intelligence regarding the exact operation of Bin Laden’s assassination for the film’s historical accuracy. If this film proves to be half as good as "The Hurt Locker," audiences are in for a topical, gripping military thriller.

1. Django Unchained
Release Date: December 25
Director: Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction)
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio

Why I’m Excited: Has there even been a bad Quentin Tarantino movie? I say no, and it doesn’t look like "Django Unchained" will be his first either. As usual, Tarantino looks to combine multiple genres, predominantly the  western and comedy, with a healthy dose of beautiful shots and plenty of controversy. His last film “Inglorious Basterds” took on Nazi Germany, and this time Tarantino attempts to master the slave-driven Deep South. Juxtaposing a freed slave and a bounty hunter, Tarantino provides some very meaty roles for Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, who is already being heralded as the front-runner for a supporting actor victory. This film will bring audiences in droves with promises of a bloody Christmas in typical Tarantino fashion. 



I know that there are movies not on the list that many of you are looking forward to. Their omission from my Top 10 list doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t going to be as good as the films listed above. These films just haven’t haven’t sparked the same level of interest in me than they may have for you.

So as a sign of good faith to the readers, here are my 5 Obvious Omissions:

 5. 007: Skyfall - November 9th
4. Lincoln - November 9th
3. The Silver Lining Playbook - November 21st
2. This is 40 - December 21st
1. Killing Them Softly - November 30th

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