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1/01/2012

100 films that might pique the Academy's interest in 2012

  1. Anna Karenina (Joe Wright)
      Third time the charm for the remarkably succesful Joe Wright-Keira Knightley duo ? The Tom Stoppard-screenplay and the stunning ensemble cast definitely helps.
  2. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)
      Spielberg directing Daniel Day-Lewis...it would be considered serious Oscar-bait, even if he played a sofa, let alone the iconic Lincoln.
  3. The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan)
      If the film turns out to be as great as its predecessor, it could end up as the frontrunner...although considering the infamous Inception-snub in the Best Director category, I am definitely not getting my hopes up.
  4. The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson)
      He has his own big shoes to fill, but even if he pulls that off – anything less than The Fellowship of the Ring will be considered a disappointment – he will be probably „only” a nominee for the first part. The Academy rarely embrace „first chapters”.
  5. Les Miserables (Tom Hooper)
      Well, on paper it looks good, even excellent Oscar-wise BUT so did other recent musicals at first (The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, The Producers) and in the end, all disappointed. The good news ? Tom Hooper has never delivered a film (small OR big screen) that wasn't critically acclaimed.
  6. Great Expectations (Mike Newell)
      Since it is one of my favourite books, I am very excited about this one, but I also firmly believe it will all come down to the script, and the screenwriter's lack of experience, previous work (One Day, which he adapted from his own book) and certain statements that it will be a „thriller-version”, makes me slightly frustrated. Hopefully David Nicholls will defy the odds and deliver an excellent script.
  7. The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann)
      The cast is remarkable, Luhrmann is brilliant, I just don't get the 3-D – thing...I mean it IS 'The Great Gatsby'. He has been hit-and-miss lately...hopefully it will be a hit.
  8. Nero Fiddled (Woody Allen)
      He is back to his glory days thanks to 'Midnight in Paris', the question is whether the French-based comedy was an anomaly or Woody really is back to delivering GREAT instead of good to MEH.
  9. Untitled Terrence Malick Project (Terrence Malick)
      Terrence Malick directing a romance based on his own original screenplay ? This should be definitely interesting and maybe conventional enough to finally convince the Academy to fully embrace this wonderful auteur.
  10. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
      After the great critical acclaim his latest films received (Capote, Moneyball), Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher is now automatically in consideration. It could be also a great acting showcase : Steve Carrell could prove that he can act in dramatic features, too and Channing Tatum could prove that he can...well...act ?
  11. Dark Shadows (Tim Burton)
      It seems to be classic Tim Burton, unfortunately that's something the critics and the audience often gets, but the Academy never does. Could this break the trend ? The early release date doesn't help.
  12. Argo (Ben Affleck)
      After two critically acclaimed directing achievements, Ben Affleck is officially considered a young director to watch. The story here definitely sounds 'Oscary'.
  13. Gangster Squad (Ruben Fleischer)
      The cast makes it look very promising, but what will it be ? A new 'L.A. Confidential' or a 'Black Dahlia' ?
  14. The Wettest County (John Hillcoat)
      On paper everything about this sounds great, but even if it will be a great film, that April release date will probably hurt its Oscar-chances big time.
  15. Brave (Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman)
      Ignoring this year's 'CARSwreck', Pixar has been always very strong, so if their newest is a masterpiece like most of their previous films, it might just get the best picture nomination just like 'Up' and 'Toy Story III' did...although the new voting system might be a problem in the end.
  16. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
      This kind of one-man-show is either a brilliant masterpiece or an epic fail. So for now, I can only throw my hands in the air. For what it's worth, I consider Cuarón's last sci-fi (Children of Men) one of the best in the genre.
  17. Untitled Kathryn Bigelow (Kathryn Bigelow)
      It should be probably higher on the list, it isn't, because I still don't know whether the whole project won't be considered too soon. Although if done right, it probably shouldn't be an issue (United 93).
  18. Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
      Ang Lee's own 'Hugo' ?
  19. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
      Well, the Weinsteins did wonders to his last film's Oscar-campaign (Inglourious Basterds), so considering the distributor, the December release date and the talent involved, I would say it is looking damn good...for now.
  20. Rush (Ron Howard)
      Ron Howard directing a biopic...rest my case.
  21. A Star Is Born (Clint Eastwood
      Yes, I know...on paper it has no shot at a 2012-release date...but then I remember that it is directed by Clint Eastwood who once delivered a best picture winner that was shot during the summer of the release year. So, although unlikely, I still think it might end up with a 2012 December-release date.
  22. The Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
      It has the potential to be brilliant...I am just simply not THAT impressed with the director. From far away, it looks more like an acting showcase for Bradley Cooper, Robert de Niro and Julia Stiles, than a Best Picture-worthy masterpiece. But that's more of a hunch, really.
  23. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden)
      It seems like 'the feel-good film' of the year and seeing that absolutely fantastic British ensemble, it might be a player in the end. But to survive the early release date, it has to make REAL money, like the ones this kind of British-crowdpleasers usually do (100M+ worldwide).
  24. Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho' (Sasha Gervasi)
      Anthony Hopkins playing Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren playing his wife ? Good enough for me...
  25. Being Flynn (Paul Weitz)
      'Being Flynn' seems to be all about the central performances.
  26. Effie (Richard Laxton)
      The Emma Thompson-screenplay put this on the map, also, could it be Dakota Fanning's first Oscar nomination ?
  27. The Paperboy (Lee Daniels)
      After 'Precious', the expectations are definitely high for this one. Reading about their roles, I think the supporting actors (Nicole Kidman and John Cusack) might just steal the show
  28. Trance (Danny Boyle)
      He seems to be on a winning streak lately (first Slumdog Millionaire, then 127 hours), so on paper this should be definitely considered seriously. Also, it would be great to see James McAvoy receiving similar acclaim as James Franco did for Boyle's previous film. He should have gotten that crucial first nomination years ago.
  29. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
      The anticipiation is definitely high considering it is the follow-up to his masterpiece, 'There will be blood'. Could it be Oscar No2 for Philip Seymour Hoffman ? His role could be an acting dream. If the film resonates with critics, Amy Adams should be also back in the game.
  30. Flight (Robert Zemeckis)
      Denzel Washington's Oscar-comeback ?
  31. Rock of Ages (Adam Shankman)
      Summer musicals have been very succesful at the Box Office lately, but the Academy never took notice, even though Hairspray was loved by critics, as well. Could 'Rock of Ages' break the trend ?
  32. Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan)
      Egoyan's take on the 'West Memphis Three' story could go either way...but considering it's January (!), that could be emphasized with EVERY film on this list. So that's my way of saying, I have no idea what to expect here.
  33. The Company You Keep (Robert Redford)
      It has been a while since Robert Redford directed a GREAT film....hmm...no, that's it.
  34. Butter (Jim Field Smith)
      The story sounds like a mixture of 'To Die For' and 'Election'...and since I consider those two films underrated masterpieces, 'Butter' definitely piqued my interest. Early word (Toronto) is decent, but the early release date doesn't bode well for its Awards-prospects...although it IS backed by the Weinsteins and they should be NEVER underestimated when it comes to the Oscars.
  35. Stoker (Chan-wook Park)
      Even if it will be brilliant, the horror/thriller combo is not really the Academy's cup of tea. Having said that, I'm looking forward to the three central performances (Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman).
  36. The Impossible (Juan Antonio Bayona)
      The story is definitely right up the Academy's alley, but if it is really good/great, why didn't they release it in 2011 ?
  37. Gotti : In the Shadow of My Father (Barry Levinson)
      Although I've considered it a 'Godfather-wannabe' for a while, I have to admit that the Academy Award-winning director (Rain Man) and Al Pacino definitely provide some prestige, and who knows, it might just be John Travolta's artistic comeback.
  38. My Wild Life (Philip Noyce)
      The story does seem very Academy-friendly and Nicole Kidman will definitely knock this out of the park. The question is, whether Noyce could live up to the source material.
  39. World War Z (Marc Forster)
      A zombie film in the Oscar-race ? Now THAT would be interesting. The problem is, Forster has been more miss than hit lately.
  40. Savages (Oliver Stone)
      It sounds like a generic thriller to me, Oliver Stone is the only reason it is on the list, but he hasn't made a great film in ages.
  41. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
      His films rarely resonate with the Academy, but that doesn't mean he isn't making excellent films. So who knows, this might just be his year.
  42. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
      Ditto.
  43. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Lasse Hallström)
      Who knows how well it could have done in the 2011 Oscar Race with all that great buzz coming from Toronto ? It probably won't stand a chance next year, not with THAT release date and distributor.
  44. Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski)
      Six stories set in a different time and place become intricately related to each other. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw.
  45. Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley)
      She is a great actress and an excellent director, but quiet, little indie dramas are rarely getting the recognition they deserve.
  46. Hyde Park on the Hudson (Roger Michell)
      Considering the acting talent involved, it will be worth watching for the performances alone.
  47. Darling Companion (Lawrence Kasdan)
      Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Wiest, Richard Jenkins directed by 4-time Academy Award-nominee Lawrence Kasdan ? Well, it is definitely consideration-worthy...
  48. On the Road (Walter Salles)
      It certainly has the makings of a great film (Kerouak-book, the director of The Motorcycle Diaries, promising young cast), I'm just not sure it will be also an 'Oscar-film).
  49. Byzantium (Neil Jordan)
      My first thought is „Another vampire film YAWN', my second is 'WOW, Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton DIRECTED BY Neil Jordan'. Ok, this might the kind of vampire film I could watch without getting drunk first.
  50. He loves me (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris)
      The Little Miss Sunshine duo's follow-up is about a young novelist struggling with writer's block finds a love interest in a most unusual way. Starring Antonio Banderas, Paul Dano, Annette Bening.
  51. Mud (Jeff Nichols)
      I am a big fan of 'Take Shelter' and considering now he is working with movie stars, the film might just get the kind of exposure 'Take Shelter' never did.
  52. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Peter Hedges)
      Probably a LONGLONGLONG shot, I thought it deserves a mention because of the director. I loved his previous film (Dan in Real Life) and I think he is also a great screenwriter (About a Boy, Pieces of April, Gilbert Grape which he adapted from his own novel).
  53. Now is good (Ol Parker)
      Although the story seems very baity (another Oscary lead turn from Dakota Fanning ?), the very recent and rather similar 'Restless' didn't do well, so I'm trying to be careful with this one.
  54. The Raven (James McTeigue)
      When I first heard, John Cusack is playing Edgar Allen Poe in an upcoming feature, my first thought was, 'great, finally some Oscar-recognition', but now I'm starting to think the film will be more like a blockbuster-wannabe than an artsy biopic.
  55. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Lorene Scafaria)
      An apocalyptic comedy with an April release date ? Probably not a viable contender, especially because the leads have other, more Oscary films next year (Anna Karenina, Foxcatcher). Fun fact : I checked out the director's IMDB page and she is surprisingly beautiful, she looks like the love child of Kathryn Bigelow and Keira Knightley...oh, wait...
  56. Prometheus (Ridley Scott)
      This very Alienesque, star-studded sci-fi has the potential to be a great iconic film, but unfortunately the Academy still seems to suffer from a severe case of scifilitis.
  57. Peace, Love and Misunderstanding (Bruce Beresford)
      The 'Driving Miss Daisy' director's film was well-received at the Toronto Film Festival, but unfortunately it is bound to lose steam by the end of 2012.
  58. Lay the Favourite (Stephen Frears)
      Frears has been also hit-and-miss lately, although when he is a hit, he is a big one. Having said that, romantic comedies rarely make the cut.
  59. Of Men and Mavericks (Curtis Hanson)
      This sports drama starring Gerard Butler, might be something special, but might be something completely generic and syroupy like 'Soul Surfer'.
  60. Frankenweenie (Tim Burton)
      It is a very strong contender in the Best Animated Feature category, but Best Picture will be probably impossible to crack, especially because it would fight for votes with Burton's OTHER movie this year, a high-profile live action film.
  61. Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold)
      I consider her a brilliant director, I LOVE the source material, so on paper, it should be excellent. The problem is the little early buzz it had from Venice/Toronto, will probably die down by the end of next year.
  62. Snow White and the Huntsman (Rupert Sanders)
      The pre-buzz is decent, but the fantasy genre rarely registers with the Academy.
  63. The Woman in Black (James Watkins)
      It is based on a remarkably succesful play (which is based on a book of the same name), so on paper, it should be good...or at least, the source material IS.
  64. The Avengers (Joss Whedon)
      The whole project sounds like every fanboy's wet dream, the question is... are there enough 'fanboys' in the Academy ? Probably not.
  65. The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb)
      Even if it will be amazing, the Academy probably wouldn't go for it.
  66. The Hunger Games (Gary Ross)
      Ditto.
  67. The Door (Istvan Szabó)
      The source material is wonderful...so is Helen Mirren...so is István Szabó.
  68. Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)
      His Traffic-fame still qualifies his films for consideration, but quite frankly even Soderbergh won't sell a film about male strippers to the Academy. It will be probably more like a male version of 'Showgirls', then another 'Full Monty'.
  69. The Big Wedding (Justin Zackham)
      It feels like 'The Family Stone : The Sequel', but if done right, the stunning cast might be able to convince the voters.
  70. Learning to Fly (Daniel Barnz)
      Although I have limited knowledge about this, from far away, it seems like an acting showcase for Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal...no more, no less.
  71. This must be the place (Paolo Sorrentino)
      Early word isn't exactly glowing, although Sean Penn's performance has been praised.
  72. Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
      Bond-film in Oscar-consideration ? Bold...or just dellusional. Although the Academy Award- winning director is definitely a nice touch...so is the Academy Award-winning villain (Javier Bardem).
  73. Lovelace (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
      It is always tricky to sell porn to the Academy (damn, how stupid does that sound ?) BUT the two-time Academy Award-winner Epstein might be more succesful at it than a lot of others before him and his directing partner. It will come down to Seyfried...it will be definitely a career-defining role for her, the question is whether in a good way (Monster's Ball) or a bad way (Striptease).
  74. Bel Ami (Declan Donellan, Nick Ormerod)
      The novel is brilliant and the lead character is VERY strong. If Pattinson can live up to the challenge, the film will be half-way there already. So...'Dorian Gray' or 'Reversal of Fortune' ?
  75. Red Lights (Rodrigo Cortes)
      Psychologist Margaret Matheson and her assistant study paranormal activity, which leads them to investigate a world-renowned psychic. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Robert de Niro, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen.
  76. Theresa Raquin (Charlie Stratton)
      Well, it has been in development-hell for a long time, could they finally make it now that Elizabeth Olsen and Glenn Close are on board ?
  77. All you need is love (Susanne Bier)
      After 'After the Wedding' and 'In a Better World', she is automatically in consideration. Hopefully it won't be another 'One Day'.
  78. Warm Bodies (Jonathan Levine)
      I loved 50/50... that's it.
  79. Cogan's Trade (Andrew Dominik)
      Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game.
  80. The East (Zal Batmanglij)
      A story centered on contract worker who is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group, only to find herself falling for its leader. Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Shiloh Fernandez.
  81. Untitled James Gray Project (James Gray)
      Seems like a winner...on paper.
  82. Keep coming back (William H. Macy)
      Could William H. Macy's film be 'the little quirky indie that could' ?
  83. Come Back to Sorrento (Michael Worth)
      Wow, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman will REALLY want to 'come-back' next year.
  84. Better Living Through Chemistry (Geoff Moore, Davis Posamentier)
      Could Sam Rockwell finally get in ?
  85. Imogene (Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)
      Kristen Wiig's passion project that might just feature a stunning, ridiculously baity supporting performance from Annette Bening.
  86. Sunlight Jr. (Laurie Collyer)
      From the director of 'Sherrybaby', comes a film about a Florida couple deals with an unexpected pregnancy while holding minimum wage jobs. Starring the always wonderful
      Naomi Watts.
  87. The Grandmothers (Anne Fontaine)
      The Christopher Hampton-script and the talented female leads (Naomi Watts, Robin Wright) put this on the map.
  88. The English Teacher (Craig Zisk)
      An English teacher's life is disrupted when a former student returns to her small town after failing as a playwright in New York...well, it certainly has a great cast.
  89. Blackbird (Stefan Ruzowitzky)
      The film is about two desperate sibling fugitives (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) on the run who subsequently collide with the holiday homecoming of a troubled ex-boxer (Hunnam). From the director of the Academy Award-winning 'The Counterfeiters'.
  90. Thanks for Sharing (Stuart Blumberg)
      The story is about three people undergo a 12-step treatment for sex addiction. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo, Joely Richardson, Tim Robbins, Patrick Fugit. It is the directing debut of Stuart Blumberg who received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay of 'The Kids are all right'.
  91. The Surrogate (Ben Lewin)
      The life of a poet and journalist, Mark O'Brien. Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.
  92. Decoding Annie Parker (Steven Bernstein)
      Love, science, sex, infidelity, disease and comedy, the wild, mostly true story of the irrepressible Annie Parker and the almost discovery of a cure for cancer. Samantha Morton plays the title role.
  93. Relative Insanity (Larry Moss)
      A contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov's classic play The Seagull set in present-day New York City and The Hamptons. Starring Maggie Grace, Helen Hunt and David Duchovny.
  94. Serpent Girl (Matthew Carnahan)
      Ok, I don't know anything about this one...but it has a good cast (Helen Hunt, Armie Hammer, Kate Bosworth, Malin Akerman)
  95. Dans la maison (Francois Ozon)
      Kristin Scott Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner directed by Ozon ? Count me in!
  96. Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding-Refn)
      A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match. Gosling and Winding-Refn together again...well, it didn't take long.
  97. The Stare (Jay Anania)
      A playwright who begins to mentally unravel cannot decide if she is at the center of a manipulative plot or simply losing her grip on reality. Could it be Winona Ryder's big Oscar-comeback ?
  98. Gambit (Michael Hoffman)
      An art curator enlists the services of a Texas steer roper to con a wealthy collector into buying a phony Monet painting. Starring Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman AND the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay.
  99. Arthur Newman, Golf Pro (Dante Ariola)
      Two people trying to escape their past move into an abandoned house together. Starring Emily Blunt, Anne Heche and Colin Firth in the title role
  100. The Railway Man (Jonathan Teplitzky)
      A victim from World War II's "Death Railway" sets out to find those responsible for his torture. A true story. Starring Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Irvine.

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