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Old 04-14-2012, 08:54 PM
20. THE BLING RING | Sofia Coppola
Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the Internet to track celebrities' whereabouts in order to rob their homes.
Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Gavin Rossdale, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Alys Julien, Carlos Miranda

As above, I love true life stories. But a true life story that's perfectly paired with Coppola's style and obsessions? That vaults this higher than the norm. It would be even higher on this list if it weren't for the fact that it's not certain this will come out in 2012. But considering the script is 80 pages long, they're shooting right now and there's probably not a lot of post-production work to be done, I feel like this will come out this year.

The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.
Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen

WKW taking on a martial arts epic is an instant list maker. As with Coppola's movie, the only reason this isn't higher is because it could easily stretch into next year considering WKW's love of constant reshooting and editing over years of post.

18. LAND OF HOPE | Sion Sono
A man living with his wife and parents in the countryside wrestles with a decision to leave after an earthquake (best I can come up with).
Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Otani, Jun Murakami, Megumi Kagurazaka, DenDen

I love most of Sion Sono's work - Love Exposure in particular being a work of genius. His last film, which I saw at TIFF11, also dealt with the state of things in post-tsunami Japan and while it has some significant flaws, the last stretch is very moving. This seems like an attempt to refine some of his thoughts and I'm hopeful for a knockout.

17. UPSTREAM COLOR | Shane Carruth

This is a super-indie from the director of the incredible Primer. Which is enough for me to want to see it badly.

Faced with her father's fading health and environmental changes that release an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy leaves her Delta-community home in search of her mother.
Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The premise and stills all look and sound amazing. I'm a sucker for magical realism.

15. GRAVITY | Alfonso Cuaron
The lone survivor of a space mission to repair the Hubble telescope desperately tries to return to Earth and reunite with her daughter.
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

This would be higher if there were a more charismatic actress in the lead. Cuaron doing long unbroken shots in space is as perfect a match for 3D as anything could possibly be.

14. COSMOPOLIS | David Cronenberg
Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into a odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
Robert Pattinson, Jay Baruchel, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Kevin Durand, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric

The 30-second teaser said all. Cronenberg's crazy, dark, weird side is back with a vengeance.

13. LAWLESS | John Hillcoat
Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.
Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Shia LaBeouf, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, Noah Taylor, Jason Clarke

Yet another movie with a name change that I'm not enthusiastic about. Though this isn't a bad title, I really liked the more unique flavour of The Wettest Country. But still, this looks fantastic and Hillcoat is due to create a masterpiece soon, right?

12. 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.
Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard, Toby Kebbell, Patricia Clarkson, Julia Ormond, Brit Marling, Shiloh Fernandez, Aldis Hodge

Technically, I'm also looking forward to The Sound of My Voice (same director and writers) but it sounds like this is a bigger budget retooling of that film based on premise anyway. So I went with just the one. But yeah, stories about cultish kind of groups always have huge appeal for me.

11. ONLY GOD FORGIVES | Nicolas Winding Refn
A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match.
Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Yayaying, Vithaya Pansringam, Oak Keerati, Gordon Brown

Refn. Gosling. Thailand. Boxing. I haven't seen Pusher yet but Refn has a perfect score with his last 3 movies for me. I also think he's the most major emerging directorial talent around today. But only time will tell if he can find the substance to match his crazy and chameleon-like sense of style, perfectly tailored for each piece of material he's tackled so far.

10. DJANGO UNCHAINED | Quentin Tarantino
With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Kurt Russell, Christoph Waltz, Walton Goggins, James Remar, Don Johnson, RZA, Gerald McRaney, Anthony LaPaglia, James Russo, M.C. Gainey, Tom Savini

I'll be the first to admit that I'm probably one of the people who is least enthusiastic about Tarantino on this board (I dig several of his movies but I find little substance to them) with Inglourious Basterds recently feeling like a chore on second watch. But for some reason, the premise for this, the cast, everything I've read and heard about it so far sound up my alley in a big way.

09. UNDER THE SKIN | Jonathan Glazer
An alien in human form is on a journey through Scotland.
Scarlett Johansson, Krystof Hadek, Robert J. Goodwin, Paul Brannigan, Michael Moreland, Scott Dymond, Jeremy McWilliams

This material seems tailor-made for Glazer's glossily dark sensibilities from the bits I can gleam. I love the guy's style, Sexy Beast is a solid character piece with an awesome intro and Birth is highly underrated imo. And Johansson's comments a few months back about this being abstract, physically and emotionally challenging, like nothing she's ever done or anything she's ever seen make me even more hopeful that what we're going to get is an engaging piece of cinema.

08. ON THE ROAD | Walter Salles
Dean and Sal are the portrait of the Beat Generation. Their search for "It" results in a fast paced, energetic roller coaster ride with highs and lows throughout the U.S.
Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Sturridge, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Alice Braga, Steven Buscemi, Danny MOrgan, Giovanna Zacarias, Elisabeth Moss, Terrence Howard

Motorcycle Diaries is one of my favourite movies ever so with the entire team behind that doing another road movie, a classic book and a trailer with a good monologue, I'm totally there.

07. SKYFALL | Sam Mendes
Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Helen McRory, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Tonio Sotiropoulou, Bérénice Marlohe, Naomi Harris, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw

A Bond with a first-class talent in the directorial chair bringing along first-class collaborators (John Logan as writer, Roger Deakins as cinematographer, Fiennes and Bardem). And one with the perfect smooth sophistication in style that is so key to the Bond brand. I'm just happy we're going to see a big-budget Mendes blockbuster.

06. THE MASTER | P.T. Anderson
A 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as "the Master" whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons, Laura Dern

As I said above, I love movies about cults. And P.T. Anderson is one of the best directors working today.

05. SAVAGES | Oliver Stone
Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.
Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Benicio del Toro, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch, Uma Thurman, Trevor Donovan, Joel David Moore, Gillian Zinser, Mia Maestro, Demian Bichir

A crazy thriller about pot dealers and drug cartels that looks to have all the energy and fun of Stone's earlier days. I can't stress how much I love the thriller genre and how little we get quality ones with storylines that haven't already been hashed out a million times. I really can't wait for this.

04. STOKER | Park Chan-wook
A teenage girl mourning the death of her father deals with an uncle who mysteriously shows up to meet the family.
Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Lucas Till

Okay how could my interest not be piqued by the fact that this script was written by Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller and somehow made the Black List (best unproduced screenplays as voted by industry) and attracted the attention of the awesome Park Chan-wook (OldBoy) for his English-language debut, as well as Nicole Kidman. Thirst may have been a misstep in my opinion, but Park is a helluva talent and I hear this script has its weird elements nicely aligned with Park's sensibilities.

03. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES | Christopher Nolan
Eight years after Batman took the fall for Two Face's crimes, a new terrorist leader, Bane overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that brands him an enemy.
Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Liam Neeson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple, Michael Caine, Joey King, Matthew Mondine, Nester Carbonell, Josh Pence, Aidan Gillen


02. PROMETHEUS | Ridley Scott
A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe.
Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie, Patrick Wilson, Lucy Hutchinson

I'm not normally a fan of sequels or prequels (with rare exceptions like the Dark Knight) as mentioned before, but this is exactly how I think most sequels/prequels should be done (at least from what I've seen). Tell another story in the same universe, but make it original, and don't make it overly reliant on tropes and "signature scenes" from the other films. That way, the film can actually stand on its own. The other way, sequels tend to get bogged down being self-referential and trying to mimick the arcs of the first film which, imo, will almost always lead to a pale facsimile of what made the original film so great and also take away the element of freshness and surprise. The trailers for this have been better than any trailers I've seen in the past few years.

01. CLOUD ATLAS | Tom Tykwer & the Wachowskis
Six stories set in a different time and place become intricately related to each other.
Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Keith David, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, James D'ARcy, Zhu Zhu, David Gyasi, Zhou Xun, Bae Doona

I've been meaning to read this book for years and never got past the first chapter. But I did very much like what I read and I liked Mitchell's first book. And the premises of each of the six different stories are just awesome sounding with timelines from the 1850s all the way through to a post-apocalyptic future. The concept art looks crazy ambitious and the Wachowskis working together with Tykwer is strange but seems like it could be an awesome mix. At least with Tykwer (who is my favourite working director) involved, I can be assured that the quality level of the story and scripting should remain high (The International had its dialogue problems but everything else about the script was excellent imo). And the vision of all three directors pooled together should really result in something astounding. I was shocked to see this movie come together considering the unusual premise for a big-budget film - but of course, the film is German-financed (like Perfume) which is probably why they're able to put together something so boldly different from the Hollywood template. I'm crossing my fingers.
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