By my count, I've seen 58 movies so far this year that have been or are slated to be released in the year 2012. And despite what you may think, Channing Tatum only starred in about two dozen of them. Two-thirds of the year is in the books already. Trust me, 58 films is nothing compared to folks that make their livelihoods as critics. But I'm ready to play catch-up, for fall is upon us, and that means the awesomeness ratio is about to shoot way up.
There's a lot of reasons to be hopeful — so much so that my top five reasons for excitement couldn't even include the latest from Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee and Robert Zemeckis. I'll get into those at a later date, but for now, my top five reasons to look forward to the end of the year:
P.T. Anderson Is Our Greatest Living Filmmaker
I know that sounds like hyperbole, but as I recline on my couch with "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas" on my TV — I'm finding time to catch up on some important 2011 releases still — I can't think of a writer/director who can hold their own against the genius behind "Hard Eight," "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," "Punch Drunk Love," and "There Will Be Blood." "The Master" (opening October 14) has a tough act to follow as TWBB is about the greatest character study this side of "Citizen Kane" but the early buzz for "The Master" (led by no less than Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams) is good and it was shot in 70 frickin' millimeter. In other words, it will be gorgeous and big and well worth the five-year gap since Anderson's last effort.
Daniel Day-Lewis Is Our Greatest Living Actor
Remember my gushing a second ago about TWBB? This is the dude who drank all our milkshakes. And sure, I like to laugh about his devotion to going all method for his roles, but it's working for him, and I've admired and been in awe of just about everything he's done. On November 9, we'll see the notoriously choosy actor bring Abraham Lincoln to life in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." So wait a second, I'm going to hear a soaring John Williams score while Daniel Day-Lewis delivers the Gettysburg Address in a Steven Spielberg film? I'm there.
James Bond Is Back From the Dead
Sure, it's usually pretty easy to cut together an awesome-looking James Bond trailer (a few stunts, a hot girl, a fun quip and shake it — do not stir!), but I'm sensing something special from "Skyfall" (opening November 9) or at least something closer to the muscular but elegant re-boot "Casino Royale" than the messy disappointment that was "Quantum of Solace." The stakes look to be high from the latest intel — Bond seemingly killed, a betrayal by M, plus Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem! — and filmmaker Sam Mendes ("American Beauty," "Road to Perdition") could be an inspired choice.
I Don't Know What It Is But I [Hope I] Like It!
In a season usually filled with cookie-cutter Oscar bait, I'm a sucker for the hard-to-pin-down, WTF-out-on-a-limb Hail Mary. I don't know a ton about "Looper" (opening September 28) — only that it's sci-fi from a very promising young filmmaker named Rian Johnson (go see "Brick." Right now.). Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the same character from different times. Emily Blunt has a shotgun in it for some reason, and apparently, there's a big section of the movie that's not been revealed in the marketing thus far. Cool.
No Seriously, What the F--- Is It?
My favorite six minutes of celluloid thus far this year are probably the final frames of "The Dark Knight Rises," but coming in a close second might be the jaw-dropping trailer/tone-poem/journey through Tom Hanks' oddest hairstyles that is the first footage released of "Cloud Atlas" (opening October 26). Lana and Andy Wachowski have teamed up with Tom Tykwer for something that looks to be audacious and challenging in what I hope is the best possible way. I confess I've never read the book, which, from what I gather, many deemed unfilmable. Well, they filmed something, and it looks pretty awesome to me.