Summer 2012 produced an entertaining season for movie fans.
“The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” were both critically and commercially successful — an essentially unheard-of feat these days. “Prometheus” was a relentlessly highbrow science-fiction film that turned out to be surprisingly good. “The Campaign” brought Will Ferrell and Zach Galifanakis, two of the funniest actors in comedy, together for the requisite election-year political comedy. Most importantly, though, we got to see Channing Tatum strip in “Magic Mike.”
But summer is blockbuster time, and I am looking forward expectantly to the fall and winter movie seasons. We will get a few franchise movies that are bound to be huge, but it is also the season where smaller films get released in hopes of taking advantage of the post-blockbuster doldrums. With the painful acceptance of cold weather, we also get Oscar season, full of the movies you will probably never see or about which you will never hear until they come away with all of the awards next year.
Here are my top five anticipated movies scheduled to be released for this semester:
1. The Hobbit (December 14)
The prequel to “Lord of the Rings” has been eagerly awaited since 1995, when Peter Jackson first discussed the possibility of turning J. R. R. Tolkien’s beloved book into a movie. Since then, we’ve seen the genius of his work with Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which has only amped up excitement for this film. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is set to be the first of three movies, with the second scheduled for release in December, 2013. Three relative unknowns (in America, at least), are set to play lead roles: Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and Benedict Cumberbatch as the dragon, Smaug. With Peter Jackson returning to direct and produce, the expectations for this series are unbelievably high.
2. Skyfall (November 9)
MGM’s financial troubles have plagued its movie development schedule, so it’s been four years since we last saw James Bond on the big screen. Daniel Craig was terrific in the last two Bond films and we’ll finally get to see more of Judi Dench’s ‘M’ (part of the plot will reportedly deal with M’s backstory, which should be fascinating given the extreme secrecy of the character). The Bond Girls of “Skyfall” will feature Berenice Marlohe as "Severine" and Naomie Harris as "Eve." It has been rumored that Harris’ role is actually the long-running character ‘"Miss Moneypenny," but Harris and the studio are denying it. Javier Bardem is also sure to be great as the villain "Raoul Silva," who apparently is deeply connected to both Bond and M in a way that will cause Bond to question his loyalty to M. This is one blockbuster that you can count on to bring the high-powered action, without forfeiting a comprehensive storyline.
3. Django Unchained (December 25)
Quentin Tarantino movies are easily identified by several things: copious amounts of graphic violence, more profanity than any rap song, drawn-out dialogue, and most importantly, the ability to come together as an insanely good film. Tarantino’s latest film is the story of a slave named Django who is freed by Dr. King Shultz, a bounty hunter. Shultz needs Django to help him track down and kill a gang called the Brittle Brothers; at the same time though, Schultz promises to help Django find his wife Broomhilda, who was separated from him by his former masters. Any story that revolves around the issue of slavery has the potential to be offensive, and under Tarantino’s direction, “Django Unchained” promises to be. But with a superb cast (Jamie Foxx as the titular Django, Christoph Waltz as Shultz, and Leonardo DiCaprio as the man holding Kerry Washington’s "Broomhilda") and an absurd plot that could only come from the man who gave us “Pulp Fiction” and “Inglourious Basterds,” “Django Unchained” is undoubtedly going to be one of the most entertaining movies of this year.