We’ve hit the mid-point of 2012, and so far I would say that it has been a pretty good year for movies. The Hunger Games was the first real hit, breaking all types of box-office records. And then The Avengers came out about a month later and smashed all of those records and more. Brave didn’t make as much money as some people had hoped, but it was still very strong and a quality movie. Awards wise, Moonrise Kingdom is a fascinating film that is a favorite to earn a Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, and is probably the only legitimate Best Picture contender so far. There are some films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel out there that might contend for a acting nomination or two, but the ceiling remains limited.
And the second half of the year promises to be even better. I went through the entire release schedule and made a ranked list of what movies I was looking forward to. I tried my best to keep my list restricted to 50, but I ended up with 68 instead. But, 50 is a nice, round number that’s easy to work with and not as intimidating to both me and the readers. So what I’ve done is included 17 films in a honorable mention section, as these movies began in the top 50, but then dropped out to make room for others. As for the movies that made this list, I tried to include a wide variety of films, but at the end of the day this ended up being more of a list of films that I personally am looking forward to, which is why a movie like Expendables 2 is in the honorable mention section. Most other people would have it in their most anticipated list, and it started out in the 30-40 range for me, but eventually dropped all the way to 61. These lists are always better when they are more personal, so that’s what I went with.
Hope Springs, Alex Cross, The Campaign, Trishna, Fun Size, The Paperboy, Premium Rush, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Gambit, Flight, The Expendables 2, Silver Linings Playbook, Jack Reacher, Ruby Sparks, Trouble with the Curve, The Words, and The Possession
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
I have absolutely no interest in watching this movie. However, I thought about including this in my top 50 but couldn’t bring myself to do it, mainly because there were too many deserving films that ended up in my honorable mention list. “But Red, why would include it in your top 50 if you had no interest in watching it?” you may find yourself asking. And the answer is simple: The is the last film of a horrible franchise, and the sooner that the franchise runs its course, the sooner we don’t have to hear about it ever again.
50. Stoker, dir. Chan-wook Park
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till
Chan-wook Park is best known for his violent Vengeance Trilogy, with centerpiece Oldboy being one of the most disturbing films you will come across. Mia Wasikowska plays a young girl who is grieving over the death of her father when an uncle shows up and throws the family for a loop. Nicole Kidman working with a director like Park alone would make this a highly anticipated film.
49. The Door, dir. István Szabó
Starring: Helen Mirren, Martina Gedeck
Whenever Helen Mirren makes a movie, you take notice. I don’t make the rules, I simply follow them. And she’s working with a veteran director here in Szabó, who won an Oscar all the way back in 1981, and has been in contention for awards at Cannes when he wants to debut his films there.
48. Just the Wind, dir. Benedek Fligauf
Starring: Katalin Toldi, Gyongyi Lendvai
While I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of any of the actors or even the director here, this was the runner-up at the Berlin Film Festival, and was received high praise from the critics there. Based on true events, this story follows four families that have been affected by racially inspired murders. A strong possibility that this receives an Oscar nomination for Foreign Language Film.
47. Pitch Perfect, dir. Jason Moore
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson
Release: October 5
If you’ve already watched the trailer, I know what you’re probably thinking. And you’re right. The odds that this film is flat out horrible, you’re probably right. And while the Glee thing has came and left for me already, I can’t help but think that this thing could be enjoyable. At minimum, we’ll hear a bunch of awesomely delivered lines by Rebel Wilson. If they haven’t ruined all of her lines in the trailer, that is.
46. End of Watch, dir. David Ayer
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera
Release: September 28
David Ayer is well known for writing and directing violent and gritty films that deal with cops and criminals. He’s done mostly writing so far, but movies like The Fast and the Furious, Training Day, Harsh Times, and S.W.A.T. show he has a lot of experience in this genre. This movie follows Gyllenhaal and Peña as they try to evade a drug cartel after hitting up one of their caches. Catch the trailer here.
45. Paradise, dir. Ulrich Seidl
Starring Margarete Tiesel, Peter Kazungu, Inge Maux
Another festival darling, except this time this one played at Cannes, where it was a major contender for the top prize. A narrative of female sex tourism, most of the critics who had the chance to watch this raved about Margarete Tiesel’s lead performance, and should be something to keep an eye out for during the awards race.
44. Won’t Back Down, dir. Daniel Barnz
Starring: Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter, Oscar Isaac
Release: September 28
While the trailer for this movie makes it look like it could be extremely cheesy, I’m sticking to my guns and calling this the Blind Side/The Help of this year. While The Help was actually a good movie, both of these were family movies that hit a soft spot for Oscar voters, and strong female performances pushed them over the top. With the expansion of Best Picture nominees still in effect (for now), you have to think that kind of streak will continue. If done right, it will make lots of money and receive plenty of awards. If not, you’re probably looking at another Great Debaters scenario.