Hi, I'm Jio. Here are my thoughts for the day.
Spamming your dashboards with anything related to film and television and music and theater and books and magazines and fun and humor and hilarity that I love.
Last year I made a list of the Top 10 Films I was most excited to see coming into the fall season of 2011. Few of those went on to become part of my Top 25 of the year, 3 even cracking into the Top 10. So I thought I’d make a list for this year as well - and we’ll see if any of these manage to make it into 2012’s end-of-the-year list.
I actually have a pretty solid Top 5 of 2012 already, but any of these films can break into the Top 20 for sure, maybe even the Top 10. So let’s get started, shall we?
Just missed the list: Paranorman, Looper, Life of Pi, This is 40, Rise of the Guardians, The Impossible, Holy Motors, Wreck-It Ralph, Rust & Bone, Much Ado About Nothing, Imogene, Mud, Frances Ha, Frankenweenie, Reality (That’s quite a list. Lots of these are doing festival rounds, so I’m hoping some of these are knocked out when NYFF comes around).
See the list (and my current Top 10!) after the cut:
Note: Release date listed does not indicate plays at festivals - they are US release dates.
10. The Sessions (fka: The Surrogate)
One of the buzzier titles coming out of Sundance was The Surrogate. It stars Academy Award Winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets) and Oscar nominee John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone). Early Oscar pundits are already predicting it will be tough to beat come awards season, especially its two leads. The trailer has a very light, breezy, funny tone in spite of its controversial subject matter (a man with polio hires a sex surrogate to help him lose his virginity). Positive feedback (100% on Rotten Tomatoes over 9 reviews) and a great trailer puts this an inch above the “Just Missed” titles. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9iK1RB9_ao. Opens: October 26.
9. The Man With the Iron Fists
Okay, hear me out. I didn’t know of this film until about 3 weeks ago. Saw its trailer in the theater. And I was just blown away. It’s right up my street. It might be completely shitty but it’s got so much potential to be an awesome B-movie, and I have a lot of faith in it. Martial arts wuxia plus R&B and Hip Hop directed by RZA, starring Lucy Liu, Russel Crowe, Pam Grier, Batsita, written by Eli Roth, and produced by Quentin Tarantino? I am there. This will be like my Machete of the year. And let’s face it, how can you say ‘No,’ to a movie whose tagline is “They put the F-U in Kung Fu!” Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x76Cbp0Iz_s. Opens: November 2.
8. Anna Karenina
Admittedly, I am late on the Joe Wright train. I saw his entire oeuvre (sans The Soloist) this past year, and though I wasn’t head over heels with Hanna, I did love Pride & Prejudice, which probably has my favorite Keira Knightley performance in anything, and Atonement, which is amazing. So Anna Karenina, the next Wright-Knightley film, seems to fall more in that wheelhouse. The lavish and grandiose setting just seems to accentuate the strengths of Wright, and I am very excited to see what he does with this story. Plus it’s got a great British cast - Knightley, Jude Law, recent Emmy nominee Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, Luther’s Ruth Wilson, Harry Potter’s Domhnall Gleeson, Dollhouse’s Olivia Williams, Boardwalk Empire’s (and Harry Potter’s) Kelly Macdonald, and Pride & Prejudice’s Matthew Macfadyen. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPGLRO3fZnQ. Opens: November 16.
7. Great Expectations
Just look at how amazing Helena Bonham Carter looks in this still. If you don’t know the story of Charles Dickens’ classic novel, it’s about an orphan named Pip, who as a child is chosen by the mysterious Miss Havisham to play with her adopted daughter Estella, and then Pip grows up to be a “gentleman” in London, funded by an unknown benefactor. Miss Havisham is such a fantastic character, and HBC was born to play her. This new adaptation also stars Jeremy Irvine, who we last saw in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, as Pip, along with British acting royalty Ralph Fiennes, Sally Hawkins, and Robbie Coltrane, and comedian David Walliams. Potter reunion you might say? Well, this is directed by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’s (and Four Weddings and a Funeral’s) Mike Newell, so yeah. Jessie Cave (Lavender Brown) and Helena Barlow (Rose Weasley) are also in this, though Newell never directed them. Trailer: None. Opens: November 30 (or at least that’s what is on Wikipedia. Might be a UK release date.)
6. Zero Dark Thirty
The so-called greatest manhunt in history, Kathryn Bigelow brings us right in the center of the action in Zero Dark Thirty, her follow-up the the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. Bigelow, first female director to win an Oscar, alongside her Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal, are back in this military-themed film. All we know is that it’s about the special forces unit that were tasked to hunt Osama Bin Laden. During filming, Bin Laden was killed, giving the film a higher profile, and a meatier story and perfect third act. Whether the film focuses more on the hunt itself, or the people involved (like Locker was) is still a question mark, but I’m feeling good about this. The trailer doesn’t show much but it still gives me chills. It also stars a very diverse cast, including 2011’s It Girl Jessica Chastain, Warrior’s Joel Edgerton, Game of Thrones’ Stephen Dillane, Lost’s Harold Perrineau, Carlos’ Edgar Ramirez, writer/actor/director Mark Duplass, Friday Night Lights’ Kyle Chandler, Parks and Rec’s Chris Pratt, and recurring villain Mark Strong. With a team like that and a story like this, how can you go wrong? Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcBjOVKKxh0. Opens: December 19.
5. Taken 2
You can have your James Bonds and your Expendables this summer, but I’ll take Liam Neeson kicking so much ass any day. A sequel to the 2008 surprise hit Taken, which landed in my Top 10 of that year, Taken 2 switches the story from the first film. The people that Neeson killed are back to hunt him for all the bloodshed, and his wife is taken hostage. With the help of his daughter (Maggie Grace), Neeson is back to do what he does best, both as an actor, and as his character in the film. Can’t wait to see more expert brutality. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpaT8NzkLgE. Opens: October 5.
Ben Affleck has two films under his belt, both of which are great, impressive feats. He’s got a very cool, sleek style, and brings out stellar performances from his actors - Jeremy Renner in The Town, Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone (both of which were #14 in my lists for their respective years). This is Affleck’s first film that isn’t set or shot in Boston, so it’s out of his comfort zone. It’s also arguably his most high profile Oscar player (after his first two each got 1 nomination only, very under-recognized). It’s based on the true story of the North American government making a fake movie to save hostages in Iran. It looks fun, intense, with a cool story. I think he’s got a great future in directing and I expect more good work from him. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW3WfSFgrVY. Opens: October 12.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I started my Tumblr right after I had finished reading Stephen Chbosky’s novel. I even had a Wallflower theme going on at the start, so I was both excited and very anxious when they announced Perks would be a film. It’s a lovely novel, with some fantastic characters and awesome pop culture references. It’s a tricky book to adapt, so why not go to the source. Chbosky has both written the screenplay and directed the film (though I’m little wary of the latter job). The trailer seems to promise cute and sweet, but true to the novel’s slightly darker situations. I just don’t want it to go to cheap teen sex rom-com territory. It also brings together, I think, three of the best young actors today - Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. So there’s a lot going for it, and I’m hoping it does very well and that I will love the movie as much as I loved the book. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5rh7O4IDc0. Opens: September 14.
2. Les Misérables
Over 30 years after Claude-Michel Schönberg’s stage show based on Victor Hugo’s 1860s novel first debuted on the Paris stage, the film version of the musical is finally coming on screen. There have been numerous films based on just the novel, but this is the first one based on the epic musical. People have been saying it’s unfilmable because of its sung-through style. Phantom of the Opera had to settle for dialogue than sung-through. It’s unclear whether this Les Miz does the same. All we know is that the actors sang at every take live, and the songs were recorded live, which gives the film a rawer feel. At the direction of Oscar winner (hurts me to even think it!) Tom Hooper - I’ll be honest, The King’s Speech, I never looked at as a director’s piece but an actor’s piece. With a cast like this though - Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway (having a banner year), Russel Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, among others - Hooper’s got a lot of help. Extravagant set pieces, beautiful songs, and what looks to be fantastic cinematography (that barrier scene!) could make for amazing, or another Nine (but I liked Nine so meh). Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbNt1FXAuBI. Opens: December 14.
1. Django Unchained
If you know me, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director, with Kill Bill as my all-time favorite film. His style, his characters, his detail, his dialogue - they are outstanding to me. Now, with Django, QT throws two things I’m not exactly a fan of at me: westerns, and Jamie Foxx. But I trust that this will be a western done in the Tarantino way, and maybe Foxx won’t annoy me, especially with the amazing Christoph Waltz and Leonoardo DiCaprio alongside him. The trailer feels very Tarantino, and early word is that it’s much of the same, which is fine by me. I just recently re-watched Inglourious Basterds, and it was more phenomenal than I remembered it. QT regulars Zoe Bell and Samuel L. Jackson are back, alongside Justified’s Walton Goggins, Scandal’s Kerry Washington, and Jonah Hill, just some of the few names joining this “southern” tale about slavery and QT’s MO of revenge and death. I don’t think it’ll be his best, but I’m still incredibly excited to have another Tarantino film on screen so soon. It took him almost 6 years to get Kill Bill on after Jackie Brown, and then another 6 years after the Kill Bill films to get Basterds done (let’s say Death Proof isn’t a full film haha). So to have Django come out just 3 years after his last film, it’s pretty awesome. I cannot wait. It’s going to be amazing, I know. Maybe I’m biased, but hey, who cares, it’s my list. Now bring on Kill Bill 3 and I’ll be a very happy boy. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUdM9vrCbow. Opens: December 25.
Unlike last year’s where 3 of the 10 didn’t even have trailers yet, only 1 film has no trailer (Great Expectations) so things are pretty set for me. I have a pretty set Top 5 like I mentioned earlier, but the rest of my Top 10 (and Top 20) are still on shaky ground when it comes to the year end list. But who knows, maybe these films will destroy my current list. Last year, only 3 of the 10 I listed in August ended up in the Top 10 at the end of the year, with one getting knocked out of the Top 25 completely. But here’s my current Top 10 films of 2012 in alphabetical order for your amusement and my on-the-record-ness.
As always, it’s a pretty varied list - 2 Joss Whedon-labeled films, 2 superhero films, 1 documentary, 2 French-language films, 3 films I saw at Tribeca Film Festival, and 2 that star Mark Duplass. Lots of films chomping at the bit. Will be a wonderful (and expensive!) Fall & Winter of film watching! ‘Til next time!