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A dozen films worth seeing in theaters in 2012

Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 5:01 PM Central
Last updated Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 9:24 AM Central

by John Couture

Well, we all know that 2012 is poised to be an epic year. First, there's that whole Mayan "end of the world" thing to think about towards the end of the year. But, more importantly, between now and then Hollywood may just yet redeem itself at the box office.

I'm not sure if Hollywood was hedging its bets just in case there's any truth to these Mayan Apocalypse rumors or not, but they certainly stacked 2012 with a ton of great movies. In case there really is no tomorrow, at least we will go out with a bang, both literally and in theaters.

But, I'm an optimist and I have my own set of indicators that 2013 will be along right on time. I mean we all know that Tomorrow Never Dies and yes, there is a new Bond movie Skyfall set to debut in theaters on November 9, 2012.

But sadly, Skyfall didn't make my list (with a name like Skyfall can you really blame me?). So, exactly what is this list of mine? I'm so glad that you asked.

Unlike traditional top box office lists (don't worry we'll get to that in due time) or sleeper lists (likewise forthcoming), this is a breakdown of one movie from each month that you absolutely must see in the theater. Of course, Hollywood couldn't just evenly space out their calendar, now could they?

Of course not, Hollywood likes to compact all the good movies during the Summer and towards the end of the year. But considering that I just welcomed my first child into this world, my wife and I realize that we won't be able to go to the theater five times in June or July to see all the movies that we want to see.

Sadly, we will most likely only be able to fit in one movie per month. So, you better believe that I'm going to choose the absolute best possible movie to see under these circumstances. This list is a month-by-month guide to the one movie that month that best merits a viewing on the big screen.

A dozen movies to see in 2012. Maybe next year, I'll up that to a baker's dozen. That is, if there is going to be a next year.

The only requirement for consideration is that films had to have a "firm" release date by today. Of course, Hollywood is always moving films for prime release real estate, so I'm sure that these release dates might move or TBD movies will swoop into a particular month.

In other words, I really doubt that we will actually see Leo on Leo action next Christmas, but you never can tell with Hollywood. For now, here are the dozen movies that I will be seeing this year in theaters. Feel free to agree or disagree.


Red Tails (1/20/12) - As easy as it would be to rail against any George Lucas film after the disappointment with the second trilogy of Star Wars films, there just isn't much competition in January. Obviously, the first month of the year is light in new movies as most of the heavy stuff from December tends to spill over in the new year, but this film has the scope of a film that must be seen in theaters.

This is a passion project for Lucas and the cast is top notch and you know that the special effects will be out of this world. And I have it on good authority that there will be no Jar Jar Binks sightings in this movie.


Safe House (2/10/12) - My distaste for Ryan Reynolds is matched only by my admiration for Denzel Washington, but something has to give in this film, right? February is a tough month as well because most of the films released are romantic comedies to coincide with Valentine's Day.

I'm all for the Rom Coms, but I can enjoy them just the same on my couch and save myself the exorbitant cost of the tickets and popcorn. Besides, while yes this does look like a cheap Salt knock-off, I can't help but think there's something more here. Either way, I'm sure it will be entertaining and enough explosions to make the theater shake a little.


The Hunger Games (3/23/12) - Now, the decisions get tougher, but only because there's so many good films to choose from. That being said, in March, there's only one must-see film and this one is it.

The books were phenomenal and my only concern about this trilogy (nay, quartet) is that they might lose a bit of their edge in order to gain the requisite PG-13 to hit their target demographic. The violence and the sheer brutality of the dystopian future was in stark contrast to Katniss' virtue despite being thrust into a battle to the death competition with 23 other teenagers.

But they do have the power of Taylor Swift on their side, who recently released this single that will appear on The Hunger Games soundtrack. I have a pretty good idea when this song will play too and as much as I'm indifferent towards fellow Nashvillian Taylor, I think her song will bring down the house.

Of course the brutality and viciousness grow over the course of the story, so perhaps the later films will retain the tone of the books. Either way, I'm really excited to see this film.


The Five-Year Engagement (4/27/12) - This one was a really tough decision for me. I will have to choose between this film and American Reunion and they both look like home runs.

Ultimately, the tie-breaker was the wife. She's just now getting around to seeing the American Pie movies (which she enjoys), while she's been a huge Jason Segel fan for years. And given that this is basically the team behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall meeting up with the team behind Bridesmaids, what could go wrong?

Exactly, nothing. So, while I wait for the Summer to heat up with the action flicks, I'll polish my funny bone on this promising film.


The Avengers (5/4/12) - This month really kicks off the Summer season and there are plenty of films that could have snagged this spot. But honestly, how do you not select The Avengers after seeing five previous films theatrically over the last decade all setting up this movie?

If the movie itself wasn't enough of a spectacle to pull us in, Joss Whedon's involvement would be the little piece to push over the brink. Let's face it, The Avengers is still a comic book movie, but it has some of the most talented people in Hollywood behind it.

If that doesn't make you want to see this movie, I don't know what will.


Prometheus (6/8/12) - There was a time when this movie was simply just another blip on the radar. Sure, Ridley Scott's involvement and subsequent allusions to an Alien prequel were interesting, but there was just something missing from the puzzle to raw me in.

For me, the part that really juiced my interest in Prometheus was the hiring of Damon Lindelof to be on the writing team. His involvement in Lost and Star Trek speaks for itself and his innate ability to generate interest in a project captured my imagination.

The trailer below either intentionally, or through misdirection, really evokes an Alien vibe and I'm excited to see where this ride takes me, familiar places or otherwise.


The Dark Knight Rise (7/20/12) - If I were a betting man, I would wager that this film will end 2012 with the biggest box office haul of any film. Of course, just because it earns the most money doesn't mean that it's the best, but I will get into that argument another day.

While it's a foregone conclusion that I will The Dark Knight Rise in theaters, if I were forced to make a last film you can ever see choice for July, I might opt to see Ted instead. Again, that's a story for another day, but I know that given the parameters of my list this is the film that I will choose this month.

There's a bit of bad luck concerning the last films in trilogies and it seems that sequels get worse as they get farther and farther away from the original film, but if there's one guy who can break the curse, it's Christopher Nolan


Dog Fight (8/10/12) - AKA Southern Rivals. AKA Rivals. Whatever you want to call it, this movie is guaranteed to be hilarious.

Not much is known about the film and we haven't seen a single image from it, let alone a trailer, but it stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as competing southern politicians in the midst of a scandal. The cast is top notch and director Jay Roach has quite the winning resume.

Given that we are projecting 8 months out, I'm betting this will be the movie that I will want to see in August.


Looper (9/28/12) - This film has been in our database since 2008 and until recently, it was stuck in purgatory with a 2010 release. Not to worry, we've updated all of the information and you can see why this one is our movie to see in September.

I'm a huge Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan and this one has all the makings of another classic performance. Between this and The Dark Knight Rise, JGL is poised to explode even bigger than he already is.

The story reminds me a bit of this year's breakout hit Source Code which was one of my favorite films that I saw in theaters in 2011. So, if Looper even comes close, it won't disappoint.


Frankenweenie (10/5/12) - It's getting to the part of the year when I start to think about animation. Sure, Pixar's Brave comes out in June, but how could I possibly justify seeing that over Prometheus?

October doesn't really excite me with a lot of great movies this far out, but I certainly won't pass up Tim Burton's animated take on his first movie. This has classic written all over it and I want to take it in on the big screen.


Rise of the Guardians (11/21/12) - Keeping on the animation bandwagon, here's the requisite holiday animated offering from Dreamworks Animation. The story sounds promising, Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy et al. team up to battle the Bogey Man.

And if that wasn't enough to convince you to see this movie, perhaps these badass tattoos will do the trick.


Django Unchained (12/25/12) - What movie could possibly trump The Hobbit, World War Z and The Great Gatsby? Only the latest from the man himself Quentin Tarantino.

This film is still coming together to say the least, so the Christmas 2012 release is ambitious at best and as I alluded to earlier, I highly doubt that they will release two Leonardo DiCaprio films on the same day, but you never know.

Mark my words though, I will see this film whenever it comes out and you should too.