Nine Films to Anticipate in 2012

We know — you're excited about The Dark Knight Rises. And The Avengers. And The Hunger Games. So are we. We're also excited about a lot of other movies whose marketing campaigns have not inundated us with white noise (yet). Allow us to suggest a few more films to put on your 2012 watch list.

Red Tails: Remember in 2005, when George Lucas was making the press rounds to promote Revenge of the Sith, and he was all, "Now I can finally make those experimental movies I've been talking about making for 30 years but for whatever reason have never actually made"? Instead of following through with that promise/threat, he financed Red Tails, an action period piece about the Tuskegee Airmen starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. In development since the '80s, in production since 2009 under director Anthony Hemingway (Lucas reportedly directed reshoots himself due to Hemingway's Treme commitments), and set for release January 20, Red Tails will either benefit from or be overshadowed by Lucasfilm's other 2012 project, the 3-D re-releases of the Star Wars films, beginning with The Phantom Menace on February 10.

Soderbergh x 2: If Steven Soderbergh is still seriously considering a "sabbatical" from filmmaking, as he keeps threatening, it doesn't seem like it's going to start any time soon. As of right now, he has two directorial efforts due for release in 2012: Haywire (opening January 20), a tricky, kinetic action-mystery built around super-fox mixed martial artist Gina Carano, and Magic Mike (June 29), based on star Channing Tatum's pre-fame gig as a male stripper.

Spike Lee x several: Although Red Hook Summer, an independently produced drama set in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood, directed by and co-starring Spike Lee, was originally rumored to be a sequel to Do the Right Thing, reports have since surfaced that this is not technically the case — even if Lee does reprise his role as Mookie from his 1989 film. Either way, Summer's Sundance première in January will kick off a busy 2012 for Lee, who hasn't released a feature film since Miracle at St. Anna in 2008. He'll also start shooting a Josh Brolin-starring remake of Chan-wook Park's Oldboy in March.

Damsels in Distress: Whit Stillman, whose last directorial effort, The Last Days of Disco, was released in 1998. After more than a decade of aborted follow-ups and false starts, the Oscar-nominated writer-director (Metropolitan) is back with this quasi-musical about a group of girlfriends (including Greta Gerwig and Crazy, Stupid, Love co-star Analeigh Tipton) and their "distressing" boyfriends (including nouveau nighttime soap hunks Adam Brody of The O.C. and Hugo Becker of Gossip Girl).

The Dictator: Three years after the disappointing Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a fresh character in another Larry Charles-directed comedy. At least, we think it's a comedy — in typical Baron Cohen fashion, details on The Dictator have been kept under wraps. In what would suggest some kind of a break from the prankish faux-documentary-style of Borat and Brüno, Dictator features stars such as Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley playing characters other than themselves. All will be revealed, we guess, on May 11.

Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson's first live-action film since The Darjeeling Limited and his first period piece, Moonrise Kingdom stars newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away together. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Frances McDormand play some of the adults flummoxed by the young pair's disappearance.

The Master: Paul Thomas Anderson's follow-up to There Will Be Blood stars PTA regular Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, a spiritual guru said to be inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as a Dodd follower, in his first post-I'm Still Here role. When the original financiers backed out of this long-percolating movie in 2010, the film was saved by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison's daughter Megan Ellison, who has become a new Hollywood player, also investing in True Grit, Bridesmaids, and upcoming films from Wong Kar-wai and Kathryn Bigelow.

Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Osama bin Laden project: The Hurt Locker was not just the first film directed by a woman to win Best Picture, but one of the lowest-grossing movies in history to do so — making it perhaps the only true underdog victor of the Hollywood popularity contest in decades. There's a cloud of secrecy around Bigelow's follow-up; its IMDb cast list is qualified as "rumored," and even its temporary working title is in dispute. What we do know is that the movie, apparently at one point entitled Kill bin Laden, has something to do with the hunt to find and kill the al-Qaeda leader; that it's Bigelow's second collaboration with Hurt Locker writer/producer Mark Boal; and that the release date has already been bumped from October 12, allegedly due to the filmmakers not wanting to be perceived as trying to influence the presidential elections.

This Is Forty: Judd Apatow's fourth directorial effort focuses on the marriage of Pete and Debbie, the characters played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in Knocked Up. The film also features a few high-profile newcomers to Apatovia, including Melissa McCarthy, Megan Fox, and Albert Brooks playing the part of Rudd's dad. Originally scheduled for a summer 2012 release, Universal pushed Forty to December 21 so that the studio's Snow White and the Huntsman can beat that other Snow White movie, the Tarsem-directed Mirror, Mirror, to market by a month.

 
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