The year ahead promises an embarrassment of cinematic riches. Here’s a list of the ten new films I am counting the days down to.
#1 Lincoln – directed by Steven Spielberg
Three words and a hyphen: Daniel Day-Lewis.
#2 The Master – directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
One of my favourite writer-directors reunites with one of my favourite actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman, in a film about ‘The Cause’, a fictional charismatic religion that is drawing comparisons to Scientology. The Master also sees the return, finally, of Joaquin Phoenix, after the hoax retirement he documented in I’m Still Here (2010), as Hoffman’s right hand man. Early call for best film of 2012.
#3 The Great Gatsby – directed by Baz Luhrmann
Perfect casting. Exquisite source material. Most likely, rapturous direction. This could be extraordinary. Don’t let me down Baz!
#4 The Dark Knight Rises – directed by Christopher Nolan
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Probably nothing. So I won’t.
#5 Moonrise Kingdom – directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola the trailer reveals the incomparable Anderson style. No one directs children or family themes quite like Wes. Another sublime soundtrack. And an ensemble cast of living wonders: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman and Tilda Swinton. Scheduled as the opening night film at Cannes.
Tarantino does a Western revenge tale set in the Old South with a narrative so twisted that if you didn’t know who was holding the reins here you’d laugh. But it’s Tarantino, with a cast that includes Jamie Foxx, Leonardo Di Caprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and the comeback of Don Johnson, so you know it’s going to be another exhilarating ride. Giddyup!
A return to Hong Kong action for Kar-wai starring Tony Leung (sigh) this is a film about Wing Chun master, Yip Man (he trained Bruce Lee). Expect sensory overload, moments of real beauty and something quite magnificent with Kar-wai at the helm.
#8 Lawless (formerly The Wettest County) – directed by John Hillcoat
Directed by Aussie John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road) the release of this film has been delayed considerably by the Weinstein Company and has undergone a recent title change (it was originally slated as Lawless but changed because of a clash with a forthcoming, now untitled Terrence Malick project). Scripted by Nick Cave and based on the book The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, this Depression-era tale of bootlegging brothers has a cast that makes its delays worth the wait: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Noah Taylor and Mia Wasikowska.
#9 Only God Forgives – directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Another Western with a twist – a thriller set in Bangkok with a modern cowboy hero – this film reunites Refn with his Drive star Ryan Gosling. It’s new territory again for Refn and Gosling has said that the script was the ‘strangest’ he has ever read. With a resolution that includes a Thai boxing match you know things are going to get bloody. And if it’s anything like Drive, it’s going to be spectacular.
#10 On the Road – directed by Walter Salles
It looked like Kerouac’s On the Road would never appear on the screen, but it took the lyrical Brazilian filmmaker, Walter Salles, with backing from Francis Ford Coppola (who had himself tried for years to get a production moving), to get it done. No stranger to the road movie (Salles directed 2004’s The Motorcycle Diaries), I anticipate his On the Road will strip out the clichés that plague Kerouac’s masterwork in the public imagination and remind us of the freedom and sense of discovery that lie at the heart of this tale. It might even “burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” Sam Riley will play Kerouac’s alter-ego, Sal Paradise, to Garrett Hedlund’s Dean Moriarty.