Collider’s Most Anticipated 2012 Movies: January to March

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The first three months of the year are often known as the dumping ground that follows the loaded awards season, but we here at Collider found plenty to look forward to in the releases from January to March.  As part of our Most Anticipated series, Matt, Adam, Brendan, and Dave each picked their top 5 and included a brief explanation of why these movies are noteworthy, and what has us excited.  All in all, we selected ten films that represent a variety of genres including drama, comedy, action, horror, sci-fi, and animation.  Hit the jump for our picks, along with information on the cast and plot for each film.

Matt’s Picks

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THE GREY

Director: Joe Carnahan

Cast: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, James Badge Dale, and Nonso Anozie

Release Date: January 27

Why I’m Excited: Liam Neeson has already proven he can play a badass, and what’s more badass than using broken-glass-bottle-knuckles to fight off wolves?  But beyond the grand potential of that scene, you’ve also got Joe Carnahan at the helm and he hasn’t let me down yet.  He doesn’t make grand cinema, but he makes damn entertaining movies, and we haven’t had a good wilderness survival flick in years.  Plus I’ve heard from three trusted sources that the movie is a lot of fun.  Wolf-boxing would have been enough, but The Grey looks like it will offer much more.

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WANDERLUST

Director: David Wain

Cast: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Ray Liotta, Lauren Ambrose, Kathryn Hahn, and Alan Alda.

Release Date: February 24

Why I’m Excited: David Wain‘s Wet Hot American Summer is one of the best comedies of the 2000s and his previous film, Role Models, is a great little gem that keeps offering new jokes on repeat viewings.  It’s clear he gives his actors a lot of freedom and the result can be painfully funny.  He’s lined up a fantastic cast for Wanderlust and the trailer has some great moments.  If any movie can breathe new life into making fun of hippies, it will be this one.

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21 JUMP STREET

DirectorsPhil Lord and Chris Miller

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Nick Offerman, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Ellie Kemper, Dave Franco, and Rob Riggle.

Release Date: March 16

Why I’m Excited: If the rest of the movie is as funny as the red-band trailer, 21 Jump Street will be one of my favorite movies of the year.  But trailers can be misleading so what else does this flick have in its favor?  It’s got a script from Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Jonah Hill, and the directors are Phil Lord and Chris Miller.  Their last film was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was another movie people thought would be terrible because of the source material.  Instead, that movie is one I share with everyone who hasn’t seen it.  If they can turn an ice-cream snowball fight into something darkly comic, they can probably work wonders with an R-rated comedy.

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THE HUNGER GAMES

Director: Gary Ross

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, and Donald Sutherland.

Release Date: March 23

Why I’m Excited: Last summer, I had to see what all the fuss was about regarding the adaptation of The Hunger Games.  People I trusted liked the book (Peers: I listen to you!) and I had a 14-hour plane ride ahead of me.  I ended up tearing through it and it’s easy to see the potential for a strong adaptation. I’m still wondering how Gary Ross (Pleasantville) plans to capture the book’s brutality in a PG-13 movie, but he’s certainly gone all-in when it comes to depicting the ridiculous fashion of The Capitol’s citizens.  Of my Top 5 most-anticipated, this one is the biggest toss-up as to whether or not I think it will succeed, but I’m hoping Ross has pulled it off.

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THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS

Directors: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt

Cast: Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brendan Gleeson, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, and Martin Freeman.

Release Date: March 30

Why I’m Excited: Here’s something Aardman Animation doesn’t know how to do: Let me down.  Their forays into computer animation have been packed with charm, but they always come up with something truly special when it comes to their claymation.  The Pirates! Band of Misfits looks like it has the British sensibilities and unique comic timing Aardman has become known for.  It’s willing to have its lead character trying to plunder leper ships, and dress up fish in pirate hats.  It looks like a delightfully silly spin on pirate movies and even if it weren’t claymated, the humor is undeniably Aardman, which is the biggest compliment I can pay it.

 

Adam’s Picks

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HAYWIRE

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, Michael Angarano

Release Date: January 20

Why I’m Excited: I’ll admit I’m not too familiar with the film’s star Gina Carano, but judging by the trailers this MMA fighter kicks some serious ass. I’m always up for anything Steven Soderbergh puts together, and the idea of the auteur director helming a full-blown mainstream action movie is almost too good to be true. The fights look absolutely brutal, and the incredible supporting cast is the cherry on top. Add in the fact that this is (possibly) one of Soderbergh’s last films, and Haywire is a must-see.

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WANDERLUST

Director: David Wain

Cast: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Ray Liotta, Lauren Ambrose, Kathryn Hahn, Alan Alda

Release Date: February 24

Why I’m Excited: I’ve been a ginormous fan of director David Wain since I first caught Wet Hot American Summer on DVD (I was late to The State). Wet Hot is honestly one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and Wain brought his trademark oddball humor to the masses with 2008’s fantastically done Role Models. He’s back—with Paul Rudd in tow—in this story of a Manhattan couple who find themselves living at a commune. The trailer looks great, and the supporting cast boasts a number of Wain regulars. Jennifer Aniston can be wildly funny when given the right material, and she looks to be in fine form here. I’ve seen nothing from Wanderlust that hints at disappointment, and my fingers are crossed that Wain delivers yet another comedy gem.

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THE LORAX

Directors: Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda

Voice Cast: Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Betty White

Release Date: March 2

Why I’m Excited: The Lorax is a film for which I’m equally excited and nervous. It’s one of Dr. Seuss’ most important works, and a Hollywood version could easily sideline its important social message in favor of more kiddie jokes. The trailers for The Lorax suggest that no such sidelining has been done, so I’m cautiously optimistic. The visuals for the adaptation are outstanding, with Arcade Fire striking a perfect tone in the film’s teaser trailers. I was a fan of Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me, but I’m hoping they allow for a bit more seriousness this time around. Danny DeVito is an inspired choice to voice the Lorax, and I’m intrigued to hear the creature’s sage wisdom come in the form of DeVito’s unmistakable tone. Hopefully the film delivers the laughs and message once it hits theaters this March.

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21 JUMP STREET

Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Nick Offerman, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle

Release Date: March 16

Why I’m Excited: If you asked me a year ago what films would be on my 2012 most anticipated list, 21 Jump Street wouldn’t have even been on my radar. Sure, I was intrigued by the notion of the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors making their live-action debut, but I figured Jump Street would turn out to be another lame Hollywood rehash. That all changed when the first trailer was released. Lord and Miller’s goofy humor was on full display, with some seriously funny work not only by Jonah Hill, but also Channing Tatum. It seems to be a comedy that isn’t relegated to cheap gags or predictable storylines, but hinges on the performances of its lead actors. Essentially, 21 Jump Street looks like a really, really good time at the movies.

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THE HUNGER GAMES

Director: Gary Ross

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman, Amandla Stenberg, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Release Date: March 23

Why I’m Excited: When I first read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, I immediately thought it would translate excellently to the big screen. The trilogy takes place over a giant, future-set canvas, and the Games themselves make for some harrowing action sequences. While the story sounds a bit strange at first glance—a young woman must survive a televised fight to the death between her and teenagers from the other districts of Panem—the characters are well drawn and there are enough twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes. I love the casting of Lawrence and Harrelson especially, and I’m excited to see how Ross handles some of the more gruesome/dark scenes from the book.

 

Brendan’s Picks

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HAYWIRE

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, Michael Angarano

Release Date: January 20

Why I’m Excited: I have been in the tank for Steven Soderbergh for years now.  But the appeal of his experimental approach to filmmaking is high-risk, high-reward.  For every Contagion, there’s a Girlfriend Experience.  Though a novice in the lead suggests the latter, it is MMA fighter Gina Carano, a stunning ringer in the action genre if she has any screen presence at all. The stellar supporting cast should make up for any shortcomings in that regard anyway, so Haywire is poised to become one of Soderbergh’s finest mainstream efforts.

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CHRONICLE

Director: Joshua Trank

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Michael Kelly

Release Date: February 3

Why I’m Excited: I have no particular investment in the found footage genre, but I like the device when it feels essential to the storytelling.  Chronicle came out with that terrific trailer, and I immediately understood why the filmmakers went that way.  The idea of teenagers filming themselves being idiots comes about naturally, and adds a shaggy quality that differentiates Chronicle among a group of similar stories.   But the basic plot—“three Portland teens… develop powers from exposure to a mysterious substance”—hooks me in before any flashy framing device.  I am rooting for Chronicle to become a surprise winter hit.

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JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME

Directors: Jay and Mark Duplass

Cast: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon, Evan Ross

Release Date: March 2

Why I’m Excited: I am fascinated by Jason Segel’s career at this transitional stage.  Who is the last actor to become a superstar based on the public persona of Amiable Nice Guy?  Tom Hanks, right?  That means something to me.  The Duplass brand of comedy differs enough from the Apatow school that Jeff Who Lives at Home should serve as another test to see whether Segel has Hanks’ range.  Based on positive reviews out of TIFF, Segel passed.  Add versatile secret weapon Judy Greer to the mix, and I’m in.

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THE HUNGER GAMES

Director: Gary Ross

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman, Amandla Stenberg, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Release Date: March 23

Why I’m Excited: This list is organized by release date, but if I were counting down to the most anticipated, The Hunger Games tops the list.  I really like the books, and the cinematic potential is massive.  The battle scenes are spectacularly inventive, and there is a strong dramatic throughline.  While I would have liked to see an actual teenager cast in the lead role, I trust in Jennifer Lawrence to carry the emotional weight of her character.  I don’t know that director Gary Ross can pull it off, but I am dying to see him try.

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THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS

Directors: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt

Voice Cast: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, Ashley Jensen

Release Date: March 30

Why I’m Excited: The trailers are absolutely charming.  If the movie merely spread those trailer laughs across a feature runtime of eye-catching stop motion animation, that might be enough.  But this is Aardman Animations, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and last year’s likeable Arthur Christmas, so it is safe to set our expectations higher.  Of all the movies on this list, I believe Pirates will leave the biggest smile on my face walking out of the theater.

 

Dave’s Picks

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THE GREY

Director: Joe Carnahan

Cast: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo

Release Date: January 27

Why I’m Excited: “Man vs Nature” stories have always thrilled some primal part of me. Whether it’s tales of individual survival (Castaway, 127 Hours), stories about the awesome power of nature (The Perfect Storm) or exploring man’s nature in dire circumstances (Alive), these films always resonate with me. In The Grey, the plot strands Neeson, his particular set of skills and a team of oil rig roughnecks in the Alaskan wild to survive not only the weather, but a pack of wolves bent on protecting their territory. That’s about as macho as it gets. Carnahan knows a thing or two about action movies and I’m anxious to see how he handles the raw power of the Alaskan wild. My only concern is how the wolves are portrayed as I’d hate for this movie to be another reason for mavericks to continue shooting them from helicopters.

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CHRONICLE

Director: Joshua Trank

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Michael Kelly

Release Date: February 3

Why I’m Excited: I’m probably one of the few people on Earth that doesn’t initiate a dramatic eye roll when I hear about another “found footage” film. I think, if done properly, the technique can be applied in unique and interesting ways. Chronicle walks the line between innovation and gimmick as a group of teenagers document their new found powers via a hand held camera. (This is taken to another level when the camera is controlled through telekinesis.) But what really sets this apart from other found footage flicks or even superhero fare is the focus on the responsibility of these powers and through them, the dark side of human nature. I hope that Chronicle really plays up this angle as it’s probably as close as we’ll get to a movie version of the video game “Infamous.”

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THE WOMAN IN BLACK

Director: James Watkins

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciaran Hinds

Release Date: February 3

Why I’m Excited: I love horror movies and I’m a particular fan of anything with a gothic tinge to it, but neither of those facts have anything to do with why I’ll go to see The Woman in Black. My whole reason for seeing this movie will be to witness how Radcliffe handles a role that is drastically different from The Boy Who Lived. This will be his first feature since the Harry Potter series wrapped and I’m curious to see if he’s more than a one trick pony. It’s been amazing to be able to watch Radcliffe grow as a person and an actor through his other movies and I have my fingers crossed that his career will be a long and prosperous one.

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CASA DE MI PADRE

Director: Matt Piedmont

Cast: Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Nick Offerman, Genesis Rodriguez

Release Date: March 16

Why I’m Excited: Honestly, it’s Will Ferrell, what else do you need? I’m anxious to see how his humor translates…literally, because the entire movie will be in Spanish. I’m also hoping that his Spanish is passable, not so much as a means of portraying a convincing character but just so that it doesn’t become a distraction. At the end of the day, I just hope that Casa de mi Padre doesn’t turn into Ferrell’s version of Nacho Libre.

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THE HUNGER GAMES

Director: Gary Ross

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman, Amandla Stenberg, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Release Date: March 23

Why I’m Excited: A successful film franchise doesn’t necessarily need good source material (Twilight) and a popular book doesn’t guarantee a quality film (Eragon) or a big box office (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Lionsgate already has a solid story to adapt from in The Hunger Games, but will need the books’ fanbase to show their support with their wallets if they are to have any chance at becoming the next great young adult franchise. This could very well be a make or break for the studio and I’m hoping that they’re bet will pay off.




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  • droopy

    “you’ve also got Joe Carnahan at the helm and he hasn’t let me down yet”

    you have major problems with the narrative of a david fincher movie, but the director of smokin aces and the a team hasnt let you down yet? incomprehensible and amazingly inconsistent

    • Dannyboy3030

      Holy Shit! Thank you. I just thought it was another one of Matt’s lame attempts at sarcasm.

  • yeah buddy

    I can’t believe 21 Jump Street made 2 people’s list. I’m sorry it is one of the worst trailers I have seen so far for a 2012 movie.

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  • Megafarce

    21 Jumpstreet…Hunger Games…really? What are guys like, 12?

  • PG13

    Where’s Frosty’s picks??

  • Marc

    Am I the only person who read the Hunger Games and was not impressed? It was incredibly bland and predictable in my opinion.

    • Enigmatic

      Yes, yes you are.

    • Justin

      Someone has a distaste for entertaining literature

    • Em

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, although in this case you are very very wrong. The Hunger Games is an amazing book and it will be an amazing movie as well. you should give it a second chance and read “Catching Fire” the second novel in the series. You may find that you change your mind! May the odds be ever in your favour Marc, hopefully you will come to realize that HG is EPIC!

  • Traffick

    >>we haven’t had a good wilderness survival flick in years.

    127 Hours?

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  • Ash Talon

    I think the fact that 21 Jumpstreet is anticipated by 2 of this site’s personnel is very telling. I don’t leap all over this site’s reviews like others do, however 21JS looks like complete ass. How anyone can look forward to it is beyond me.

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  • Larry

    To the two comments questioning 21 Jump Street on this list: these reporters know what they’re talking about. The movie’s preview screenings were the highest rated by any studio in years. The directors, Lord & Miller, not only directed Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (which the article pointed out), but also created the best cult show of the 90s, Clone High. They’ve only made awesome things so far… so THAT’s why their next movie is high anticipated.

  • Larry

    To the two commentators questioning the inclusion of 21 Jump Street on this list: these reporters know what they’re talking about. The film’s preview screenings had the highest audience scores of any comedy in YEARS. The directors, Lord & Miller, not only wrote and directed the amazing Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (which the article pointed out) but also created the best cult show of the 90s, Clone High. And they wrote wrote on How I Met Your Mother. In short, they’ve yet to make anything other than pure awesome… which is why people are anticipating 21 Jump Street, despite the fact that it’s based on an old show.

  • Terry

    Is nobody excited to see Disneys John Carter of Mars!?

  • Liam

    “Megafarce” is it? Well, I’d just like to say that the only thing that surpasses the idiocy and grammatical mess of your comment and name selection is your inability to recognize a decent piece of film. (I speak of The Hunger Games, not 21 Jump Street).

  • Carla

    yes, everyone is excited for The Hunger Games… anyone who isn’t is a loser…

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