10 Most Anticipated Movies Of (the Rest Of) 2012

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If the world actually comes to an end this December, big-wigs in Hollywood might be too distracted with their endless piles of cash to acknowledge the chaos unfolding outside their windows.  With a little over the first half of 2012 in the can, this year has already witnessed colossal box-office returns in The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games, as well as The Avengers, which has already become the third highest-grossing film of all time.  Although it's difficult to imagine director Joss Whedon's nearly-perfect comic book ensemble losing its kung-fu grip as the number one earner by year's end, the second chunk of 2012 still has plenty left in store for moviegoers of all sorts.

Honorable Mentions:
The Perks Of Being a Wallflower, Resident Evil: Retribution, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
10. Frankenweenie
Release Date: October 5
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriter: John August
Starring: Charlie Tahan, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder, Martin Landau and Christopher Lee
Following the lukewarm response garnered by May's Dark Shadows, Tim Burton steps up to the plate again next month with Disney's Frankenweenie.  Instead of borrowing from a horror-themed soap opera from the late 60s, this time, the quirky director steals from his own reserve, remaking his film that originated as a 1984 live-action short.  This black-and-white stop-motion animated movie centers around a young, analytical Victor Frankenstine (voice of Charlie Tahan, 2007's I Am Legend), who harnesses the power of lightning and resurrects his recently-expired bull terrier Sparky.  It will be interesting to see how a matured Burton will pay homage to his own source material (which was shelved after its production due to being too scary for those pansy-ass kiddies).

9. House At the End Of the Street
Release Date: September 21
Director: Mark Tonderai
Screenwriter: David Loucka
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, Nolan Gerard Funk and Elisabeth Shue

A single mother and her budding teenage daughter move to a new town.  Unfortunately, something terrible once happened in the house next door, and whatever was responsible for the ruthless carnage left behind is coming back for seconds.  It may sound like an unoriginal premise for a horror flick in the hands of relatively-unknown director Mark Tonderai, but with Jennifer Lawrence leading the cast, that is more than enough to catch this writer's attention.  The Louisville, Kentucky native is currently on a roll with her string of excellent performances in Winter's Bone, X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games, and the momentum that Ms. Lawrence has gathered could push this low budget scream-fest into becoming a surprise hit.


8. End Of Watch
Release Date: September 21
Director: David Ayer
Screenwriter: David Ayer
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera and Frank Gillo

Writer-director David Ayer, best known for penning the Academy Award-winning cop drama Training Day, returns to familiar ground with End Of Watch, a story involving two Los Angeles policemen who inadvertently become targets of some of the Mexican drug cartel's roughest and toughest hoodlums.  Stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña endured five trying months of intense training alongside actual L.A.P.D. officers in order to capture an authenticity that few other films of the genre have accomplished.  Coupled with the fact that the majority of the movie was shot on hand-held HD cameras, End Of Watch promises to deliver a gritty, no-holds-barred view into the lives of two men who have dedicated their lives to keeping their city's citizens safe, no matter the cost.


7. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Release Date: December 14
Director: Peter Jackson
Screenwriters: Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit was such a lush, rich novel that director Peter Jackson decided that it needed to be split into three parts for its transition to the screen.  The first installment, An Unexpected Journey, hits theaters just in time for the holiday season and promises to give us a glimpse into the life of a young Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) as he and his group of merry-dwarves begin their epic trek to destroy Smaug, a sadistic dragon who has overthrown the once-enchanting kingdom of Erebor.  Along the way, Bilbo encounters a variety of vicious monsters hell-bent on ending his quest before it can even begin.  Part two, There And Back Again, will be released on December 13, 2013.  Hopefully the die-hard LOTR nerds will be able to contain themselves.


6. This Is 40
Release Date: December 21
Director: Judd Apatow
Screenwriter: Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, John Lithgow and Albert Brooks

This "sort-of sequel to Knocked Up" stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, reprising their roles as Pete and Debbie from the break-out 2007 smash.  Having been married for over a decade and suffering from the growing numbness of monotonous every-day suburban life, director Judd Apatow looks to focus on the not-so-pleasant aspects of turning 40.  If there's anyone who can make a mid-life crisis hilarious, it has to be Apatow, whose gift of crafting witty dialog and likable characters in past films The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Funny People looks to be this movie's strongest selling point.  The addition of veteran actors John Lithgow and Albert Brooks will surely help make this peak back into Pete and Debbie's life well worth the trip.


5. Looper
Release Date: September 28
Director: Rian Johnson
Screenwriter: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo and Jeff Daniels

Who knew that the goofy long-haired kid from the late-90s TV sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun would one day become a box-office juggernaut?  Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been on a roll so far this year with hits like The Dark Knight Rises and Premium Rush, and he looks to keep that momentum going with Looper.  Gordon-Levitt, playing futuristic hitman Joseph Simmons, spent hours in the make-up chair to have facial prosthetics applied in order to resemble a younger Bruce Willis.  Willis, one of the all-time greatest stars of the action genre, runs for his life with his former self hot on his tracks.  Blending elements from 1940s gangster movies into a time-travel action tale could result in one of this fall's most explosive releases.

4. V/H/S
Release Date: October 5
Directors: David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West & Adam Wingard
Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Nicholas Tecosky, Chad Villella & Ti West
Starring: Joe Swanberg, Adam Wingard, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil and Lane Hughes

While some claim that the "found footage" category made popular by 1999's The Blair Witch Project (but originated by 1980's Cannibal Holocaust) has overstayed its welcome, V/H/S attempts to pump more life out the genre by combining it with a less-exploited cinematic tool -- the horror anthology.  A hit with audience at this year's Sundance Film Festival, V/H/S opens with a band of low-level criminals hired to uncover an obscure videotape from an abandoned house, only to slowly descend into madness after discovering a cache of tapes featuring other grizzly acts of violence.  From the looks of the trailer (which features a fair amount of blood, naughty language and a flash of nudity), each segment promises to top the previous one when it comes to raw, unhinged terror.

Red Band Trailer:

3. Cloud Atlas
Release Date: October 26
Directors: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
Screenwriters: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant
Based on the 2004 David Mitchell novel of the same name, Cloud Atlas promises to sweep its viewers into an epic journey spanning generations as Tom Hanks portrays several different characters spread throughout time.  The recurring theme of the film suggests that every event affects the ones ahead of it.  Hanks begins his trek in 1850 and ends up in a post-apocalyptic not-so-distant future, living the lives of six different characters in six different stories that all coexist in one timeline.  Andy and Lana Wachowski, the twin siblings who brought us the Matrix trilogy, have conquered the challenges of directing a big-budget action flick in the past.  Cloud Atlas looks to amaze, not only with its vivid set pieces, but with its lessons on bravery, love and salvation.
Extended Trailer:

2. Wreck-It Ralph
Release Date: November 2
Director: Rich Moore
Screenwriters: Phil Johnston & Jennifer Lee
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, Brandon T. Jackson and Jane Lynch

Rich Moore, director of several episodes of television's Futurama and The Simpsons, presents a videogamer's wet dream with Wreck-It Ralph.  The titular character (voiced by John C. Reilly, perhaps Hollywood's most versitile actor), bored with 30 years of constantly having his ass handed to him as the villain of a game called Fix-It Felix Jr. (which seems to be a hybrid of real-life arcade classics Donkey Kong and Rampage), busts free from his cabinet and infiltrates various other games in an attempt to show his shake his bad guy image and become the hero for once.  The preview will instantly snag the attention of gamers -- just the sight of Bowser, Dr. Eggman, Kano and various other baddies attending a support group warrants the price of admission alone.


1. Django Unchained
Release Date: December 25
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Samuel L. Jackson

Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to etching characters trapped in desperate struggles for redemption.  Jamie Foxx's portrayal of recently-freed slave Django will undoubtedly go down in history alongside Pulp Fiction's take-no-shit boxer Butch Coolidge, Kill Bill's blood-spattered Bride and Inglourious Basterds' Nazi basher Aldo Raine as some of the most salvation-hungry characters in the Tarantino universe.  Django teams with bounty hunter King Schultz (Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz) to track down devious tycoon Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, in his first role ever as the villain) and Django's estranged wife.  This controversial title has already garnered tons of buzz from a screening of the opening minutes at this year's Comic-Con, cementing its place as this particular film fanatic's most anticipated movie of the year.


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