So let’s just pick up from where we left off last time…
15. AMOUR – Dir. Michel Haneke – UK RELEASE DATE: 16th November 2012
THE REASONING: Some filmmakers are incapable of making a bad film. Michael Haneke is one of them.
Of course his chilly aesthetic, primarily focused on exposing darker human truths through persistent and uncomfortable surveillance, isn’t always everyone’s idea of entertainment. But with Amour, there may be a greater chance of a crossover appeal as long as audiences are willing to stomach a stark portrayal of something a little closer to home.
Winning Haneke his second Palme D’Or in as many films, Amour tells the story of Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) who’s romantic bond is tested when the latter starts to deteriorate. Primarily confined to one house and told with Haneke’s traditional exactitude, Amour promises to be a draining but emotionally rewarding experience.
SEE THIS ONE IF: If it’s been a long time since you last knew happiness. You’re already there.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “There’s nothing funny about this game. Except old people. They’re hilarious.”
14. END OF WATCH – Dir. David Ayer – UK RELEASE DATE: 23rd November 2012
THE REASONING: To the disapproving scorn of Wire fans everywhere, I believe The Shield to be one of, if not the, finest television show ever made. Now End of Watch has very little to do with The Shield other than both being about LA Cops, but that’s enough for me. Every time David Ayer promises to deliver an experience similar to the visceral thrills of that show on the big screen, I’m usually met with something like Street Kings.
But what can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment. The eminently watchable Jake Gyllenhaal is supported by Anna Kendrick, David Harbour and the constantly underrated Michael Pena in what will most likely be a standard cop procedural, but the promise of Ayer using diagetic footage (similar in approach to the finale of February’s Chronicle) lends hope that this could be something above average.
SEE THIS ONE IF: Everytime you see a bald head you get Chiklis-envy… and a little bit hard.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy”
13. THE MASTER – Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson – UK RELEASE DATE: 9th November 2012
THE REASONING: While initially purported to be a scathing satire of the origins of Scientology (and by proxy, a renactment of Tom Cruise’s ‘birth’ from the elevated scent of a Landax-III’s booming green ecto-nether), The Master was actually revealed at this year’s Venice film festival to be an autobiographical account of writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s attempt to make an autobiographical film about Paul Thomas Anderson attempting to make an autobiographical film about Paul Thomas Anderson and so on and on.
It’s just like one of those infuriating magazine covers you see where the person on the front cover of said magazine is holding an issue of that magazine, the very same one you’re looking at so that in the cover-within-the-cover the person is also holding the magazine and so forth while you attempt to work out just how far back the image goes until you resign yourself to the fact that this time Smash Hits! Magazine has finally outsmarted you with science.
Fuck you Smash Hits! Magazine.
SEE THIS ONE IF: The idea of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix both playing the on-screen representation of Paul Thomas Anderson in tandem gets your juices flowing. Stay for Amy Adams take on Maya Rudolph as she contains the two headed Anderson Jr in her cryo-womb.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “I’m smarter than you” – Paul Thomas Anderson
12. NOT FADE AWAY – Dir. David Chase – UK RELEASE DATE: TBC
THE REASONING: The Sopranos ended a long time ago. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair that David Chase has taken this long to deliver a follow up. Seeing as his seminal show started us on a path where intelligent people are arguing whether television is delivering better entertainment than cinema, it’s particularly ironic that the silver screen is where he’s returning to us.
And returning with a project that hits ALL of my buttons. Coming of Age Story? Check. Period Rock N’Roll (in this case 1960s America)? Check. New Jersey and James Gandolfini? Check. Of course the promise of musical numbers helps!
At this point, there’s not so much as a poster or a trailer but as it’s been chosen to premiere at the NYFF in a few short weeks, this could rocket up (or fall off) this list very, very quickly.
SEE THIS ONE IF: Cameron Crowe’s fall from grace has been as hard on you, as it’s been on me.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Woke Up This Morning, Formed Myself a Band…”
11. RISE OF THE GUARDIANS – Dir. – UK RELEASE DATE: 30th November 2012
THE REASONING: It’s the literary pedigree, man.
Based on a novel by William Joyce (who, lest it not be forgotten won the Oscar for Best Animated Short last year) and adapted for the screen by David Lindsay-Abaire, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer of 2010′s Rabbit Hole. Now, of course Abaire doesn’t have the best track record with family films including Inkheart and Robots, but pairing a writer of his usual calibre with Joyce’s source material and we could have something special.
It sounds like a family film for the ages, with young Jack Frost teaming up with the Mystical Guardians (Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Sandman) to protect the children of the world from Pitch, the Nightmare King. With a voice cast including Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher and Hugh Jackman (as The Easter Bunny!!!), something tells me this could be a perennial favourite.
The hope is that this film from Dreamworks Animation is more How to Train Your Dragon or Kung Fu Panda than Shrek with mythical characters and luckily, to go by recent form, their hits outweigh the misses.
SEE THIS ONE IF: Everytime you see a great Christmas Film you’re reminded of a childhood you never had but the movies promised you.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Let the Guardians Rise in Theaters this Christmas… AND NOTHING ELSE! Seriously, you’ll get arrested…”
10. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – Dir. David O. Russell – UK RELEASE DATE: 21st November 2012
THE REASONING: David O. Russell is one of the greatest directors of the last twenty years, and possibly the most underrated to come out of the mid-90s indie scene. Spanking the Monkey was an attention grabbing debut, and it was thrilling to see his sensibilities stay sharp through Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees. When it was announced he would be taking over The Fighter for Aronofsky, fears were that he’d dull the edges and pitch an ‘Academy Movie’.
Somehow he managed to make an ‘Academy Movie’ but it was anything but a soft lob down the middle. It was easy to see the movie The Fighter could have been, but Russell’s deft touch kept it just this side of mainstream.
Silver Linings Playbook sees him return to surburbia to tell a story of a mentally challenged teacher who, upon being released into the care of his parents from an institution, befriends (and falls in love with) an equally damaged widow and how they both appear to be exactly what the other needs. And there’s a dance competition in there somewhere so I’m sold.
Russell hasn’t given a single reason to doubt him, and surrounding himself with what’s said to be a resurgent De Niro, a career-best Bradley Cooper and the so-hot-right-now (in more ways that one) Jennifer Lawrence, something tells me this could be massive.
SEE THIS ONE IF: You like your romantic comedies to have a side plate of mental illness. Genuine mental illness. Not like He’s Just Not That Into You or anything cunty like that.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Bradley Cooper Silver Lines Jennifer Lawrence’s Playbook. IN PANT-THROBBING 3D!”
9. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS – Dir. Martin McDonagh – UK RELEASE DATE: TBC November 2012
THE REASONING: Six Shooter was fuckin’ awesome. In Bruges was fuckin’ awesome. A Behanding in Spokane was (allegedly) fuckin’ awesome.
Martin McDonagh is fuckin’ awesome. Especially as he looks like the illegitimate love child of Stephen Daldry and the older son from Malcolm in the Middle.
Christopher Walken is fuckin’ awesome. Colin Farrell is fuckin’ awesome. Sam Rockwell is fuckin’ awesome. Woody Harrelson is fuckin’ awesome. Olga Kurylenko looks fuckin’ awesome. Abbie Cornish is… ah well. Can’t win ‘em all.
SEE THIS ONE IF: The Thick of It isn’t fulfilling your swearing needs.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Seven Stars! – Empire”
8. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD – Dir. Benh Zeitlin - UK RELEASE DATE: 19th October 2012
THE REASONING: I watched the trailer for this film with a DoP I’ve worked with recently. We’re talking Oscar-Winning DoP here. We were watching it on a laptop in the middle of a disused runway and while I was completely blown away by the whole feel of Benh Zeitlin’s debut film, this guy well… he was completely transfixed. He asked to watch it again, after discussing how it was shot on 16mm and he said he was going to point out all the beautiful shots in the trailer.
So I pressed play, and there was an echo in my ear and a pain in my arm. The echo was “Beautiful shot, beautiful shot, beautiful shot, beautiful shot, beautiful shot… “. The pain in my arm was him jabbing me every time he said it. There was one he didn’t find beautiful, but why split hairs.
Now normally just because a trailer is artfully cut, displaying a goosebump-inducing synergy of pictures and music, it doesn’t mean the film will be as good. Except reviews out of Sundance and Cannes (and the subsequent US release) for this southern-gothic/magical realist fairytale of six-year old Hushpuppy and the ‘Bathtub’ she lives in are outstanding.
SEE THIS ONE IF: It gives you hope to know people can knock it out of the park first time.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Where the Wild Things Really Are…”
7. DJANGO UNCHAINED – Dir. Quentin Tarantino – UK RELEASE DATE: 18th January 2012
THE REASONING: Oh come on, do I really need to spell it out to you? The only thing keeping this from being higher up is my inherent dislike of Jamie Foxx.
But DiCaprio as a white supremacist slave owner? Fuck yeah.
SEE THIS ONE IF: You haven’t bothered to ruin it for yourself by reading the script.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Unchain your Loins!”
6. FLIGHT – Dir. Robert Zemeckis – UK RELEASE DATE: 1st February 2013
THE REASONING: Because there aren’t enough mid-level budgeted films, made for adults nowadays. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of violent films, sexual films, films with thematic and visual content that get them adult ratings. Dredd may be a No.1 film but let’s face it, it’s made for 12 year olds to watch when they’re not downloading porn.
Flight is a return to the solid, adult dramas but on an almost blockbuster scale for that kind of film. And it’s taken a blockbuster director to do it, with Robert Zemeckis finally returning to live action filmmaking after a decade fucking around with Mo-Cap only for James Cameron to come and royally piss on his thunder.
Denzel Washington plays a Jumbo Jet pilot who saves hundred of people by landing a crashing plane. When it’s discovered he has alcohol in his system at the time, he’s brought in front of the law and the media to save his ass from prison. Supported by Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Don Cheadle and the gorgeous Kelly Reilly, Flight will hopefully close the fuck out of the New York Film Festival and start paving the way for more films of its ilk.
SEE THIS ONE IF: It’s not just sex and violence that gets you hard…
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “All Real Actors or You’re Money Back, Guaranteed!”
5. LES MISERABLES – Dir. Tom Hooper – UK RELEASE DATE: 11th January 2013
THE REASONING: Tom Hooper was on the receiving end of a lot of scorn when he won Best Director for The King’s Speech (which subsequently won best picture). Most of this was indirectly aimed at him because of which film’s didn’t win as opposed to an inherent dislike of his film. So Les Miserables is his attempt to prove the naysayers wrong.
This isn’t to say his direction of the King’s Speech was the best that year (it wasn’t) but it deserved to be amongst that company. He managed to make a film of interiors cinematic, something that many try and fail to do. I for one am keen to see what he does when given a larger canvas to paint on. He may be a bit of a prick, but the man is undeniably talented. Anyone who can make me give a shit about football knows what he’s doing.
Les Miserables is one of, if not the, most beloved musicals of all time and a film adaptation of Cameron Mackintosh’s play hasn’t been attempted before. Hooper’s assembled an all star cast, including Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and an Oscar-sighted Anne Hathaway and convinced them all to sing live. As such a lover of musicals, this is something I always want to see attempted more often, faults be damned and it’s exciting to see it being attempted on such a large scale. My hope is that the film can escape it’s stage limitations where so many have failed.
I’m giving Hooper (the filmmaker) the benefit of the doubt. Are you?
SEE THIS ONE IF: You’ll do anything to erase Susan Boyle from your memory.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “It’s not in French, you’re safe”
4. GAMBIT – Dir. Michael Hoffman – UK RELEASE DATE: 21st November 2012
THE REASONING: The 1966 film Gambit is one of my favourite of all time; a light-hearted, whip-smart con caper starring Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine that not nearly enough people have seen.
Normally a remake would infuriate me, but working from a script by the Coen brothers, Michael Hoffman’s 2012 Gambit comes tinged with promise. While Cameron Diaz is normally a poison dart to the gonads, here she’s playing to her strengths as an annoying harpy while you can never have too much Alan Rickman. Ever.
This could be the perfect antidote to the plockbuster/prestige cocktail of the winter schedule.
SEE THIS ONE IF: No-one spoils it for you. Apparently people get annoyed over that? Weird.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “You’re lucky this isn’t an X-Men Spin-Off!”
3. CLOUD ATLAS: – Dir. Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer – UK RELEASE DATE: 22nd March 2013
THE REASONING: An R-Rated, philosophical, sci-fi epic from the duo that brought you The Matrix? Adapting an ‘unfilmable’ novel alongside the guy who brought you Perfume: Story of a Murderer, also adapted from an ‘unfilmable’ novel? With Hugh Grant as a cross-dressing cannibal on a mountain?
I haven’t read David Mitchell’s novel, but that epic six-minute trailer did a fantastic job selling me on its cross-narrative tale of the human spirit, spread over six (mildly) interlocking stories taking place over centuries..
It looks exactly like the kind of thing cinema was invented for, to push both narrative and visual boundaries in a way that challenges audiences while asking them to embrace it as blockbuster entertainment.
Even if this is the next Southland Tales, at least they tried. Think about that when you go to see another faithful adaptation of Great Expectations. (If you were waiting for Mike Newell’s latest to make the list, this is it. You can go now.)
SEE THIS ONE IF: Despite all the ways they could go horrible wrong, you applaud audacious cinematic endeavours that try something new, especially when playing with a larger budget.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Fucknuts”
2. ARGO – Dir. Ben Affleck – UK RELEASE DATE: 9th November 2012
THE REASONING: When Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won the Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1998, the common consensus was that Matt Damon had done all the work and Affleck sat there farting (thanks, Kevin Smith). In the years since, Damon often referred to not knowing where his Oscar was, with the kind of blase attitude of someone who felt they never deserved it. Damon has yet to write another film. Affleck as written two of similarly excellent quality and directed them to boot.
While Gone Baby Gone may be the more thematically rich film experience, The Town proved that Affleck could play with the big boys and make the big bucks. Argo is his attempt to solidify himself as this generation’s Sidney/Sydney (Lumet or Pollack… either/or).
Telling the true (and until recently unknown) story of the CIA’s attempts to extract hostages from Iran under the guise of a film crew in the 1970s, from all accounts Argo attempts to blend Hollywood Satire with the most nail-biting tension this side of Breaking Bad. An epically grizzled cast including Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Scoot McNairy, Victor Garber, Alan Arkin and Phillip Baker Hall round out one of the most appealing cinematic experiences of the year.
I’ll take bets now, but this is winning Best Picture, if only because Hollywood saves the day.
SEE THIS ONE IF: 1970s set films give you hair envy.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “Argo and see this… hardy hah”
1. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER – Dir. Stephen Chobsky – UK RELEASE DATE – 3rd October 2012
THE REASONING: Because I grew up on the films of John Hughes. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my favourite film of all time, and the rest of his catalogue genuinely helped to inspire my love of film and the older I got the more I was able to realise how he’d managed to capture genuine teenage truths in an escapist way only truly talented writers can. The only thing that’s even come close in the years since are Judd Apatow’s television masterpiece Freaks & Geeks and Stephen Chobsky’s novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
My anticipation for this film is biased completely by my love of the book and if Chobsky himself weren’t adapting it I wouldn’t be so confident. The trailer instilled a great deal of confidence, with Ezra Miller effectively balancing out the dangerous Manic Pixie Dream Girl line that Emma Watson has to tread carefully upon. Early Reviews have not only dampened by fears but driven anticipation levels to such extent that people think I’m masturbating from the mouth when I see a poster and word on Logan Lerman’s performance is outstanding, which frankly it needed to be.
This could be the generation defining film for those who weren’t raised on John Hughes, and what self-respecting film fan would deny that to a teenager who hasn’t yet found their place in the world? My gut feeling is that this is that film, and it’ll be someone else’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
SEE THIS ONE IF: You agree with anything I’ve just said.
The ESLF Alternate Tagline: “It’s not as girly as it sounds!”
So that’s it from me. Do feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below. I’ll pay £5 to anyone who can convince me The Hobbit is a good idea.