We're almost exactly a third of the way through the year, and thanks to the announcement of the Cannes Film Festival line-up a couple weeks ago, we're now a little clearer on the timetable of some of the most anticipated films of the year. We know that "Cosmopolis," "Killing Them Softly," "On The Road," "Mud," "Rust And Bone," "Amour" and "The Paperboy," among others are done, and will be screening in only a few short weeks for critics, and U.S. releases, if not set already, can't be far behind. And the release schedule for the rest of the year is firming up fast, with films like "The Master" and "Seven Psychopaths" getting added to the calendar.
But what of the question marks that still remain? Of the major movies tentatively set for completion this year, but without firm release dates as yet, which will we actually see in theaters before the end of 2012? Which look likely to make it to the festival circuit, and which are creeping towards 2013? Below, we've investigated 15 key movies that we may or may be seeing in the next eight months. Anything else you're hoping might sneak into 2012? Let us know in the comments section.
What Is It? The much-anticipated, genre-blending adaptation of David Mitchell's tremendous novel, which spans stories from an 18th century scientific expeditation to a savage post-apocalyptic land. Directed by both the Wachowskis and Tom Twyker, it's got an all star cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent and Susan Sarandon, each of whom will play multiple roles.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Could go either way, we think. The film wrapped late last year, and it was tentatively set for an October 2012 release, according to author David Mitchell. But it still doesn't have an official place on the release calendar, and given the nature of the structure, and that the script came in at well over 200 pages long, we can't imagine this was this is the easiest post-production job. IMDB lists the film as getting a release in October and November in Europe, and while those dates aren't reliable, given the international financing on the picture, it's conceivable it could rollout overseas first (Warner Bros. has the domestic rights). Also, with the Wachowskis already planning to start lensing on their next effort "Jupiter Ascending" before the year is out, we presume that means "Cloud Atlas" will be done before they start work.
"The Company You Keep"
What Is It? Robert Redford's first on-camera role in five years, this sees him direct himself as a former radical forced on the run when a journalist exposes his past. Shia LaBoeuf co-stars along with an ace cast including Julie Christie, Brendan Gleeson, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Brit Marling, Anna Kendrick, Richard Jenkins, Terrence Howard, Sam Elliott, Susan Sarandon and Stephen Root.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Pretty fair, we'd say. Redford shot the film last year, he's an old pro at this , and rumors have pegged it to a premiere at TIFF in September. But does that mean it'll be seen by wider audiences this year? If it turns out to be awards fare, we're sure someone will pick it up for a November/December release. If it's more commercial or if it's as dull as "The Conspirator," it's easy to see it moving into 2013.
What Is It? The latest indie-minded genre-thriller from Brit Marling and "Sound of My Voice" director Zal Batmanglij, the story follows a security agent (Marling) who infiltrates an eco-terrorism group, whose members include Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Toby Kebbell, with Patricia Clarkson also in the cast.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Bearing in mind that "Sound Of My Voice" only made its way to theaters this past weekend, 16 months after it premiered at Sundance in 2011, not likely. A lot will depend on how that film does: if it outperforms the disappointing "Another Earth," than it may become more of a priority. The film is currently in the editing bay, but given the plethora of prestige fare this fall, it's a safe bet Fox Searchlight will put this on their 2013 calendar. However, a return to Sundance or a TIFF bow for the pic isn't out of the question.
"A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III"
What Is It? Two comebacks in one, with bad-boy Charlie Sheen leading the first film in a decade from Roman Coppola ("CQ"), a character study of a 1970s graphic designer. Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzmann, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza and Katheryn Winnick co-star.
What Are The odds Of Seeing It This Year? We'd pegged this one for a possible Cannes premiere, given that that's where "CQ" started, but the film was nowhere to be found in the line-up. Given that the film doesn't have a distributor, we'd put good money on this turning up at TIFF (although Venice is also a distinct possibility), but the question is whether this takes its time to go into general release, or whether the heat from Sheen's comeback FX series "Anger Management" makes this an appetizing pick-up and priority for an eager distributor.
What Is It? Wong Kar-Wai's long in the works biopic of martial arts legend Ip Man. Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi star.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Depends where you live. The film was recently slated with a December 18th release date in China, so if you're out that way, or are prepared to spring for a plane ticket, you likely won't be seeing this in 2013. A final round of shooting is schedule for May, and given how long Wong Kar-Wai was been working on this, we doubt he'll rush to meet any fall festival dates. Our best guess, is that like his films before, Cannes will be ready to roll out the red carpet next May, even if it's already opened in China (they do tend to bend the rules for favored directors).
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
What Is It? The latest from the Coen Brothers, set among the folk scene of the 1960s, with a cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund and John Goodman.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Pretty good, all told. Filming might not have begun until early this year, but it's in the can as of a few weeks ago, and the Coens work fast — their last film, "True Grit" didn't start shooting til March of 2010, but was still in theaters by that December. It might not yet have a U.S. distributor (StudioCanal are funding), but we're sure they'll be lining up, even if this seems more "A Serious Man" than "No Country For Old Men." That being said, given the tight timetable, don't be surprised if it skips the fall the festival circuit.
What Is It: The return of James Gray ("We Own The Night," "Two Lovers"), venturing into serious period territory for the first time, for the story of a Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) torn between a pimp (Joaquin Phoenix) and a magician (Jeremy Renner).
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Strong. While the film didn't get before cameras until this January, the shoot, which Gray calls "my best work" went well, and he told us a month ago that film should be ready in time for either Venice or TIFF. Even then, there's no distributor in place, and with Phoenix starring in another highly-anticipated period piece this fall, in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," and Gray never having been an awards favorite, putting it out before the end of 2012 may not be a priority for whoever picks it up unless it picks up some very serious heat.
"Only God Forgives"
What Is It? The reunion of the director and star of "Drive," Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling, for an even more violent piece, this time about an exiled British gangster in Bangkok out to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of the police. Kristin Scott-Thomas co-stars.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? With Gosling so busy, this didn't get underway in Thailand until early this year, a slight delay from the original plan, but even so, this is looking relatively good to surface before January with
Refn tweeting last month "we're pushing hard toward our goal: be ready for last week of August." That is, of course, just ahead of the Venice/Telluride/TIFF trifecta of key fall festivals. The Weinsteins' new shingle Radius picked the film up earlier this year, and we feel like they'll probably roll it out before the end of 2012, although that could arguably get pushed and much will depend on what happens with "Gangster Squad" and "The Place Beyond The Pines," but they could conceivably follow the "Drive" pattern and bring it out as soon as September.
"The Place Beyond The Pines"
What Is It? In Gosling's reunion with "Blue Valentine" director Derek Cianfrance he plays a motorcycle stunt rider whose criminal ways bring him into conflict with a cop-turned politician (Bradley Cooper) that spans across generations. Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne and Dane DeHann co-star.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Very good. The film was seemingly screened for the Cannes selection committee and editing has been underway for a while. The big factor in this picture arriving in 2012, will be landing a U.S. distributor which it doesn't yet have. However, given the progress on the film a Venice or Telluride premiere seems extremely likely. But as we've already said, with both "Only God Forgives" and "Gangster Squad" both in the mix for 2012 release (and more crucially, with distributors already lined up), we could see 'Pines' being pushed to 2013 to give everyone a bit more breathing room to let the movies shine.
What Is It? Penned by "Prison Break" actor Wentworth Miller, this is a pitch-black, oddball family drama marking the English language debut of Park Chan-Wook ("Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance," "Oldboy") about a girl (Mia Wasikowska) grieving the death of her father, just as her sinister uncle (Matthew Goode) arrives back in town. Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney and Alden Ehrenreich also star.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Given his success at the festival in the past, many had pegged Park Chan-Wook's latest as a possibility for a Cannes premiere, but the film's actually still in post-production and was never screened for the selection committee. Even so, it has a distributor, and is seemingly complete (it's been given an R-rating by the MPAA already) , so Venice is a possibility, and TIFF almost a certainty. When Fox Searchlight chooses to roll it out is a bigger question. Unless Wasikowska, Goode or Kidman get awards heat (and it's not an Oscar-baity film, although the roles are good ones), they may not find a 2012 release a priority. That said, it could be a nice antidote to heavier fare like "Shame" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" the studio offered last fall.
"The To-Do List"
What Is It? One of our most anticipated comedies of the year, this is the writing-directing debut of comic Maggie Carey, the wife of 'SNL' star Bill Hader. Aubrey Plaza stars as a high-school grad trying to work her way through a sexual check-list before college, with a mighty supporting cast including Hader, Andy Samberg, Clark Gregg, Donald Glover, Johnny Simmons, Alia Shawkat, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Connie Britton.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? The movie shot last summer, so it's likely finished, or close to it, but there's been no word on the project. We're almost certain we'll see this at TIFF, but the only question is when it'll hit theaters, and imagine it's not going to be before the end of 2012. The film is set over a long hot summer, so November/December would be an odd fit. Plus they'd want Plaza available for press duties whenever it comes out, and she'll be busy shooting the next season of "Parks & Recreation" until the spring.
"Under The Skin"
What Is It? The return of director Jonathan Glazer ("Sexy Beast," "Birth"), this sees the filmmaker adapt Michel Faber's novel about a murderous, man-eating alien (Scarlett Johansson) tracking the Scottish Highlands for prey.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? Firmly under the radar so far, with only a couple of stills to confirm its existence, this shot last year, but word's been very quiet. That being said, there's no reason it shouldn't make the festival circuit. "Birth" premiered in Venice, so that would seem to be a good bet, or possibly even London in October. That being said, the film, like last year's U.K. production "Wuthering Heights," isn't the easiest sell, and if it gets a smaller pick-up (anyone bar Focus/Fox Searchlight/Weinsteins) may well end up hitting the U.S. well into 2013. Indeed, we think that's probably going to be the case.
"Untitled Ramin Bahrani Project"
What Is It? Acclaimed American-Iranian director Ramin Bahrani moves into the starrier world, with his tale of a farmer (Dennis Quaid) who comes into conflict with his race car driver son (Zac Efron). Heather Graham, Clancy Brown and Kim Dickens also star.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? The unlikely team-up of arthouse favorite Bahrani ("Goodbye Solo") and the star of "High School Musical," this was another film pegged for Cannes by many that didn't make it. It shot last year, so it's likely complete, or close to it, but we suspect it was promised elsewhere. Bahrani's previous efforts "Man Push Cart," "Goodbye Solo" and "Plastic Bag" premiered at Venice, and that would appear to be an excellent bet for where to see the director's latest, with Telluride and/or Toronto following. A full release is more in question, but our gut says this'll be in limited release before December is done.
"Untitled Terrence Malick Project"
What Is It? The latest from the reclusive auteur, a lower-key relationship drama starring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Javier Bardem, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen and more.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? With Terrence Malick? Lord knows. Two films in two years would be unheard of productivity the filmmaker, but the film did wrap well over a year ago. Many had their fingers crossed for Cannes, which didn't happen, but U.K. distributors StudioCanal are expecting the film before the end of the year. And while Malick is already beginning work on his next two features "Lawless" and "Knight of Cups" this year, who knows if he'll continue tinkering with this one. It should also be noted the film is still without a U.S. distributor despite selling in many worldwide territories already with Malick reportedly turning down early offers (footage has screened for buyers, however). While a fall festival appearance is a possibility, again, who knows with Malick. But if it does unspool this fall, and becomes an awards contender, a limited release before the end of the year isn't entirely out of the question.
"Welcome To The Punch"
What Is It? A British crime/conspiracy thriller from director Eran Creevy with James McAvoy as a cop, and Mark Strong as his criminal adversary. Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan, David Morrissey, Daniel Mays, Daniel Kaluuya and Johnny Harris are all in support.
What Are The Odds Of Seeing It This Year? In the U.K.? Very good. The movie shot last summer, and Momentum Pictures, the British distributor, had tentatively penciled it in for a September 7th release there, before taking it off the calendar, likely to put some distance between it and fellow London-set cop actioner "The Sweeney," which hits on September 12th. It's still likely it'll land before the end of the year, and we'd wager it'll wind up at Toronto in September, but a full U.S. release may be further off. British product can take a while to cross the channel, and with McAvoy tied up on the "X-Men First Class" sequel shoot from January, it may be the summer of 2013 until he's available for promotional duties.