25 Films to See in the Second Half of 2012

This years list, much like last years, is not made for movie goers who only watch summer blockbusters and Judd Apatow comedies. While it does have some of those films, it also has an equal amount that may never be coming to a theater near you. With veteran directors such as Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick, and Quentin Tarantino releasing films, as well as some bright up and comers like Andrew Dominik, Derek Cianfrance, Martin McDonagh, and Jeff Nichols it looks like 2012 will be an amazing year for film.

Before we start:

Ryan Gosling is posed for another monster year with three films on the list.

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity was third on the list but was delayed to 2013.

World War Z, The Hobbit, The Bourne Legacy, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 were all left of this list on purpose, I did not forget them.

I have been as thorough as possible while compiling this list, but some films might have slipped through the cracks. Feel free to comment below to share your opinion or news about other movies.

25. The Impossible

Release Date: 2012

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor

Synopsis: An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.

Why you should see it: Bayona’s The Orphanage, although not my favorite movie, had some brilliant moments. After seeing the trailer for The Impossible I’m incredibly curious to see what it has in store for us. Although I don’t know much about The Impossible it looks interesting and that’s more than you can say about most movies.

The Impossible Trailer

24. The Silver Linings Playbook

Release Date: November 21, 2012

Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter, I Heart Huckabees)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper

Synopsis: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Why you should see it:  David O. Russell makes really funny movies. Sure The Fighter was good but I Heart Huckabees is possibly the best abstract comedy ever made. I just wish Mark Wahlberg was in this. UPDATE: After seeing the trailer I now think it might really suck. I’m keeping my fingers crossed though.

The Silver Linings Playbook Trailer

23. Gangster Squad

Release Date: September 7, 2012

Director: Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland)

Starring: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

Synopsis: A chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.

Why you should see it:  I don’t trust Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, at least not with a film that looks like it’s trying to be a serious gangster film. I’ll see it for the cast, but I’m still not convinced.

Gangster Squad Trailer

22. Room 237

Release Date: 2012

Director: Rodney Ascher

Starring: Buffy Visick

Synopsis: A subjective documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining…

Why you should see it: Stanley Kubrick is one of the best directors who has ever lived. If you like his films, especially The Shining, this is a film you need to see.

21. Sleepwalk with Me

Release Date: August 24, 2012

Director: Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish

Starring: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Kevin Barnett

Synopsis: A burgeoning stand-up comedian struggles with the stress of a stalled career, a stale relationship, and the wild spurts of severe sleepwalking he is desperate to ignore.

Why you should see it: This film looks like a unique comedy, which in a time dominated by Judd Apatow films is a rarity.

Sleepwalk With Me Trailer

20. This Must Be The Place

Release Date: 2012

Director: Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo)

Starring: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand,  Judd Hirsch

Synopsis: A bored, retired rock star sets out to find the man responsible for his father’s humiliation, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the U.S.

Why you should see it: This might be really bad, but Sean Penn looking like Cher on a bad hair day is something I’m not going to miss. This one won’t be for everyone but I feel like it could be an unusual gem.

This Must Be the Place Trailer

19. John Dies at the End

Release Date: 2012

Director: Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep)

Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti

Synopsis: It’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce…

Why you should see it: I’ve heard a lot of good things about this from crowds at the SFIFF. When you hear good things about a film directed by a classic genre director you don’t ignore it. Also, I want to know if  John really dies at the end.

John Dies at the End Trailer

18. Skyfall

Release Date: October 22, 2012

Director: Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Helen McCrory, Javier Bardem

Synopsis: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Why you should see it: My bold prediction: This will be the best Bond film ever made.

Skyfall Trailer

17. Cosmopolis

Release Date: May 25, 2012

Director: David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, Dead Ringers)

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon

Synopsis: Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager’s day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.

Why you should see it: As much as I don’t want to say I’m looking forward to seeing a Robert Pattinson movie, this one has me intrigued. The trailer looks bizarre and Cronenberg is a director I trust. Just watch out for the rats.

Cosmopolis Trailer

16. The Dark Knight Rises

Release Date: July 20, 2012

Director: Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight)

Starring: Batman

Synopsis: Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

Why you should see it: It might be a huge disappointment but who doesn’t want to see this movie. I’m not as stoked for it as some people are but I’m hoping for The Dark Knight with a tightened plot.

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

15. Killer Joe

Release Date: July 27, 2012

Director: William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch,  Juno Temple

Synopsis: When a debt puts a young man’s life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.

Why you should see it: If you said the director of The Exorcist was making an NC-17 movie I would already be sold. If you said that movie starred Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple as characters plotting to kill their mother with the help from some guy named “Joe” (Matthew McConaughey) I would be ecstatic. I am.

Killer Joe Trailer

14. On the Road

Release Date: 2012

Director: Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries)

Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart

Synopsis: Dean and Sal are the portrait of the Beat Generation. Their search for “It” results in a fast paced, energetic roller coaster ride with highs and lows throughout the U.S.

Why you should see it: Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road is getting a big screen adaption from a director who is no stranger to road movies; Walter Salles. The Motorcycle Diaries is the only film of Salles’ that I have liked and I hope he can continue his success in the road movie genre.

On the Road Trailer

13. Mud

Release Date: 2012

Director: Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon

Synopsis: Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trailer and to reunite him with his true love.

Why you should see it: Jeff Nichols has got to be one of the most exciting young directors out there. With Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter under his belt he’s now working an A-list cast in Mud.

Mud Clip

12. Berberian Sound Studio

Release Date: 2012

Director: Peter Strickland

Starring: Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Cosimo Fusco

Synopsis: A sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art.

Why you should see it: If you ever seen a Dario Argento film pre-1993 and thought “That sound design is brilliant!” then this is the movie for you. The only reason this film isn’t higher on the list is that I’m slightly nervous it might just be a novelty flick. Let’s hope it isn’t.

Berberian Sound Studio Trailer

11. Rust and Bone

Release Date: November 16, 2012

Director: Jacques Audiard (A Prophet)

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts

Synopsis: Put in charge of his young son, Ali leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Ali’s bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.

Why you should see it: A Prophet was gritty, intense, and just plain awesome. Jacques Audiard’s followup switches genres but looks to be just as good.

Rust and Bone Trailer

10. Only God Forgives

Release Date: 2012

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas

Synopsis: A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match.

Why you should see it: Nicolas Winding Refn + Ryan Gosling = Awesome movies. At least that was the case for last years Drive. Any reason to think it wouldn’t work twice?

9. Seven Psychopaths

Release Date: November 2, 2012

Director: Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken

Synopsis: A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

Why you should see it: Anyone who’s seen Martin McDonagh’s whimsically hilarious crime flick, In Bruges, has to be excited for its follow up. Expect excessive profanity, drug use, and moments so funny you lose control of your bowels.

8. To The Wonder

Release Date: 2012

Director: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, Badlands)

Starring: Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Rachel Weisz

Synopsis: A romantic drama centered on a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.

Why you should see it: While Malick’s films can split audiences there is no denying that he is one of the most unique filmmakers working today. Many movie fans can’t tolerate the slow pacing and poetic feel of Malick’s work but those can should be in for a real treat.

7. Lawless

Release Date: August 29, 2012

Director: John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce

Synopsis: Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.

Why you should see it:  To butcher a famous movie quote “John Hillcoat? They say your  films have true grit.” They do, and I love some gritty film action. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how much I wish Shia LaBeouf was not in this movie. Aside from him the cast is outstanding with Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska. (Has anyone else noticed that Jessica Chastain has quietly put together an extremely strong filmography over the past two years?)

Lawless Trailer

6. The Place Beyond the Pines

Release Date: 2012

Director: Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Rose Byrne

Synopsis: A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.

Why you should see it: Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine was criminally overlooked by film goers in 2010. It is one of the most original and genuine love stories put on film. Ryan Gosling, who is on FIRE right now, will again team up with Cianfrance in a film where the plot sounds almost exactly like last years Drive. Lets hope it’s just as good.

5. Killing Them Softly

Release Date: September 21, 2012

Director: Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Chopper)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and Richard Jenkins

Synopsis: Jackie Cogan is a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game.

Why you should see it:  Most people wont be familiar with the work of Andrew Dominik. If you’ve seen his films you know that he has delivered two great original crime films in The Assassination of Jesse James and Chopper. He’s teaming up with Brad Pitt for a second time in what is sure to be another solid effort in the crime genre with Killing Them Softly.

Killing Them Softly Clip

4. Django Unchained

Release Date: December 25, 2012

Director: Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Don Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio

Synopsis: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Why you should see it: Tarantino directing an absolutely brilliant cast; Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christoph Waltz, Kurt Russell, Jamie Foxx and Don Johnson. This film is going to be insane. The name also highly hints towards some possible spaghetti-western action which would make me the happiest man on earth.

Django Unchained Trailer

3. Stoker

Release Date: 2012 UPDATE:March 1, 2013

Director: Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney and Mia Wasikowska

Synopsis: A teenage girl mourning the death of her father deals with an uncle who mysteriously shows up to meet the family.

Why you should see it: I’m a huge Chan-wook Park fan and I’m interested to see what he can do in the American movie system. He is teaming up with some talented actresses in a film that is being categorized as a horror/drama. I do worry that it’s the first film written by TV actor Wentworth Miller but I have my fingers crossed that he’s a better writer than actor. Worst case scenario; Chan-wook Park makes a descent “Hollywood” film and disappoints his true fans.

2. Lincoln

Release Date: December 2012

Director: Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Jurassic Park, etc.)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones

Synopsis: The sixteenth President of the United States guides the North to victory during the Civil War.

Why you should see it: If you need more proof that Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis are the best at what they do here it is. Daniel Day-Lewis will play Abraham Lincoln (Oscar in the bag) in the film which is based of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s non-fiction book Team Of Rivals.

1. The Master

Release Date: October 12, 2012

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights)

Starring: Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Dern

Synopsis: A 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “the Master” whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man.

Why you should see it: How could Paul Thomas Anderson’s followup to There Will Be Blood not be my most anticipated film of 2012? He’s directed some of the best films of the past 15 years and I have no reason to believe that his new project, The Master, will be anything but phenomenal. This has the potential to be a once-in-a-decade type film.

The Master Trailer

Did you like the list? Any interesting films I left off? Let us know with a comment!


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