2012 film preview

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

Spike Lee times several. Although Red Hook Summer, an independently produced drama set in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood directed by and costarring 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 premiere 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 begin shooting a Josh Brolin-starring remake of Chan-wook Park's Oldboy in March, and after that, will reportedly direct a biopic of former D.C. mayor Marion Barry for HBO starring Eddie Murphy, collaborating with Lee for the first time.

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. Although no U.S. premiere date has yet been set (Focus Features is releasing), the film is scheduled to open in mid-May in France, so a Cannes slot seems like a good possibility.

The Master. Paul Thomas Anderson's followup 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 costars 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. No specific release date has been set for Master, but a Weinstein Company spokesperson told us we can expect to see it in the fall. And speaking of Ellison and 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 followup; 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 titled Kill bin Laden, has something to do with the hunt to find and eliminate 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. As of press time, the film is scheduled for release December 19, 2012. Maybe.

 
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