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The summer movie season starts with The Avengers on May 4th. In anticipation, we’re counting down the movies we’re most looking forward to. We’re doing top 12s. Because it is 2012. That’s why we get paid the big bucks.


8. The Dictator

Considering that its only 75 minutes long, and the studio has already released the first scene — I’m pretty sure this film is going to be terrible. But. That scene in the trailer of The Dictator shooting all of his competitors in the foot race cracks me up every single time. I probably could be persuaded to spend $11 just to watch that again on the big screen even though I can watch it on YouTube for free.

7. Dark Shadows

Tim Burton’s at his best when he’s letting his freak flag fly and Dark Shadows sure looks like a return to that. Eva Green is downright sexy in the trailer, joining Michele Pfeiffer and Chloe Moretz and Johnny Depp of course. The time-traveler goes to the 70s thing could get stale quick, but the camp factor is too strong to dissuade me.

6. The Campaign

Yeah, its Will Ferrell, I know. But since he once did a passable George Bush impersonation I’m going to take it at face value and look positively upon his politically-themed comedy with Zach Galifianakis. By early August I’m going to be starving for some relief from the presidential race and this could be just whats needed.

5. Bourne Legacy

I’m fully in the tank for the Bourne series, but that was the one with Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass. The reboot features Jeremy Renner with Tony Gilroy at the helm — and the return of bit players Joan Allen, David Straitharn, Scott Glenn among others. That actually may be the strongest selling point for me — I really loved the CIA bureaucratic infighting that took a back page to shaky-cam fight scenes. Bring those actors back and you add my nonsexual mancrush Ed Norton and Rachel Weisz? Score!


8. Safety Not Guaranteed – A quirky comedy that played well at Sundance.  If you haven’t read about it, the film is based on the true story of a guy who placed a craigslist ad asking for a time-traveling companion.  Mark Duplass plays that guy and Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson play two reporters who investigate.  Maybe it is just this high because I can’t stop thinking about all the patented Aubrey Plaza eyerolls that will happen.  What’s the line, 15?

7. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – I know these history/horror mashups are multiplying at an ever-increasing rate, but since grad school doesn’t leave me much time to read, this will be my first exposure.  And the concept alone is ridiculous enough to get me super excited.  Plus director Timur Bekmambetov’s films (Night WatchWanted) are always slickly creative action flicks.  Not super familiar with lead Benjamin Walker, but excited by a supporting cast that includes Anthony Mackie, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Alan Tudyk (as Stephen Douglas!).

6. The Amazing Spider-Man – Is it just me, or is this movie generating absolutely no buzz?  I feel like I’m the only one excited for it.  To be fair, the old Spiderman series had more than run its course, no one was asking for a new one, and Spiderman himself is a pretty lame character.  But I have a ton of faith in director Marc Webb (and the producers for choosing a guy named “Webb” to direct the film).  Andrew Garfield is super talented, and I think Rhys Ifans is going to make a great bad guy.  And I think my feelings on Emma Stone are well-established at this point.

5. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – I don’t know about you, but to me, a romantic dramedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley on a road trip as the apocalypse nears sounds like a pretty fantastic premise.  Everyone knows that road trip movies also depend on the wacky characters encountered along the way, and the supporting cast here is top notch, with the like of Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton, and TJ Miller filling out the ranks, among others.  Also, the movie is written and directed by Lorene Scarfaria, who wrote the screenplay to another kind of road trip dramedy that was my fifth-favorite movie of 2008: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

The summer movie season starts with The Avengers on May 4th.  In anticipation, we’re counting down the movies we’re most looking forward to.   We’re doing top 12s.  Because it is 2012.  That’s why we get paid the big bucks.


12. Magic Mike

21 Jump Street sold me on Channing Tatum as being anything other than cheap eye candy. He can do funny, and I imagine that the amount of dramatic acting he’ll have to do in this he’ll succeed with since it’s practically biographical. The trailer drew me in a lot more than I thought it would. Looks like it could be good fun.

11. Prometheus

One of the biggest holes on my “movies to watch” is the Alien series. I also haven’t watched any of the
trailers for Prometheus — so this is an odd one to land on my list. But the accumulated anticipation from geeks I respect convinced me to put it in my top 12. I plan on seeing it — but going in totally in the dark. This one’s for you, Dagneau.

10. Hysteria

Quirky sex comedy about Victorian England? Sure, why not! Plus a pretty decent cast with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jonathan Pryce (one of my favorite Bond villains of the modern Bond era).

9. God Bless America

I’ll most definitely be waiting for DVD on this one, but the concept itself is rather enjoyable. There’s a little bit of Kick-Ass in the trailer, and if Bobcat Golthwait go as over the top as I imagine he will, then this should be a good cult classic. But only if they stick the landing.


12. Total Recall – The original is one of my favorite movies ever.  I don’t think it demanded a remake, necessarily, but it sounds like they are going in a different direction, and Philip K. Dick stories are super-adaptable.  Plus Colin Farrell facing off against Bryan Cranston should be a lot of fun.

11. Lawless – By law, if you have a movie blog, you are terribly excited for this John Hillcoat movie about bootleggers in 1930s Virginia.  The cast is pretty much entirely made up of Oscar-watchers favorite actors: Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and also Shia LaBeouf.  Honestly, it almost sounds like the perfect movie, my only concerns are that I didn’t love The Road and a release date that’s shifted around a few times.

10. Brave – To paraphrase a movie from someone coming up later on this list: “It’s cut!  It’s cut!  Pixar is cut and it’s a bad cut.”  We all knew Pixar had to be mortal, even if no one wanted to believe it.  They still get the benefit of the doubt, of course, and I’m super excited  for the movie.  Great to see Kevin McKidd get a plum role too.

9. The Expendables 2 – I’m curious if there’s anyone on the fence about seeing this movie.  Because it sorta seems like you know exactly what you are getting.  Obviously you all know where I stand.  And it only helps that the film is directed by Simon West, who did Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

The summer movie season starts with The Avengers on May 4th.  In anticipation, we’re counting down the movies we’re most looking forward to.  We agreed to do top 12s, but I got a little overexcited.  Actually, turns out, a lot overexcited.  Here’s the second part of the preliminary movies.

19. Magic Mike – Channing Tatum stars in this film loosely based on his life as a stripper.  Plus Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, and Matt Bomer, so I think the film has cornered the market on actors typecast as bland pretty boys.  You gotta admire director Steven Soderbergh’s stubborn refusal to stick to any one genre.

18. Battleship – Sometimes you just want a big dumb popcorn movie, you know?  Plus, it was written by the guys who did the script to Red and is directed by Peter Berg, who was kind enough to feature two Friday Night Lights alums.  And, you know, Liam Neeson.

17. Sparkle – The film is about a (fictional) Motown girl group.  I love Motown girl groups.  A lot.  And Jordin Sparks can certainly sing well.  The movie, of course, has taken on a different hue after co-star Whitney Houston’s untimely passing, featuring her in a role that some had been calling a comeback for the singer/actress.

16. Dark Shadows – You may want to sit down for this revelation: this Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration looks bizarre.  The cast is appropriately Burtonian (Chloe Grace Moretz’s career made this team up inevitable, for example), and Pfeiffer and Eva Green are inspired choices.  Sure, the movie may be based on a mostly-forgotten TV show, but boasts a story from John August and a script from Seth Grahame-Smith, the creator of The Hard Times of RJ Berger (a fact that only interests me), and writer of a film still to come on my list.

15. Premium Rush – I don’t exactly know what a bike messenger action movie is, but if Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon are in it, then I’m coming along from the ride.  Also, I won’t bother to list them all out, but director/co-writer David Koepp has written at least a half-dozen action movies that you’ve seen.

14. Take This Waltz – A decade ago, Michelle Williams was on Dawson’s Creek, Seth Rogen was on Undeclared, and Sarah Polley was in a bit of wilderness after The Sweet Hereafter.  Things have changed a little.  With Away From Her, Polley showed a deft touch and surprising ability to craft a compelling movie about relationships.  Which is relevant to this film about a happily married women drawn to another man.

13. Ted – One of those movies where even knowing a bunch about it, I essentially have no clue what I’ll think of it.  The movie is Seth MacFarlane’s baby, and he voices the titular foul-mouthed teddy bear who is apparently alive or something and living with Mark Wahlberg.  The trailer has some funny bits and may well be a live-action Family Guy.  Mila Kunis also co-stars.

The summer movie season starts with The Avengers on May 4th.  In anticipation, we’re counting down the movies we’re most looking forward to.  We agreed to do top 12s, but I got a little overexcited.  Actually, turns out, a lot overexcited.  Here’s part I of the preliminary movies.

25. Hope Springs – Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play a married couple seeking professional counseling from Steve Carell in this dramedy from the director of The Devil Wears Prada and the writer of the last filmed episode of Cupid (the first go-round).  Anyone who isn’t a little excited about Streep and Jones going head to head is probably reading the wrong blog.

24. Savages – So every preview of this film begins with Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson playing drug dealers who have to go rescue their common girlfriend, Blake Lively, after she gets kidnapped, and that the movie is directed by Oliver Stone.  If you stop reading there, you’ll miss a Tarantinoesque supporting cast that somehow includes: John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Demian Bichir, Emile Hirsch, Uma Thurman, and Benicio del Toro.  And that the movie looks absolutely friggin’ insane.

23. Your Sister’s Sister – I’m not the world’s biggest Lynn Shelton or Mark Duplass fan, but count me in for any love triangle involving Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt.

22. God Bless America – Sure, odds are the film ends up like Bobcat Goldthwait’s previous effort: World’s Greatest Dad – great idea, middling execution.  But when that idea is a middle-aged guy going on a shooting spree to rid the world of obnoxious people, well, you get a little leeway.

21. Ruby Sparks – You might remember directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s last movie: Little Miss Sunshine.  Which came out a half-decade ago.  That’s a mighty long vacation.  For their “comeback”, they chose a film written by Zoe Kazan, who co-stars as a fictional character dreamed up by writer Paul Dano that comes to life.  The movie boasts a rather fun supporting cast, including: Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Alia Shawkat, Antonio Banderas, Deborah Ann Woll, and Steve Coogan.  The crazy talented Kazan, by the way, is due for a mainstream breakout any day now.

20. Sleepless Night – All descriptions of this French action/thriller I’ve found make it sound like a generic genre piece involving cops and drugs and having one night to get some drugs to Mr. MacGuffin’s or wherever.  But the early slate of reviews I’ve seen suggest the film is a taut, frenetic, thrill ride that revitalizes the genre.

October 6, 2008: I review Gymkata

April 9, 2012: AV Club reviews Gymkata as a Film That Time Forgot


April 11, 2009: I review On the Line

March 28, 2012: AV Club reviews On the Line as a film in My World of Flops


Obviously, the only logical conclusion is that Nathan Rabin has been searching the history of this here blog for ideas.

Just realized this has been sitting in drafts for about a month, but it is OK because I don’t think anyone actually cares about The Comedy Awards.  Nominations are here.


  • The Artist
  • Bridesmaids
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Horrible Bosses
  • Midnight in Paris

So this lineup is actually better than what was nominated for best picture at the Oscars.  Though it is a complete outrage that The Muppets was snubbed here.  Especially so Horrible Bosses could get in.  That’s just silly.  I also would have slotted 50/50  and Paul ahead of both Bridesmaids and Midnight in Paris, though I can’t really get too worked up over that, I suppose.


  • Jason Bateman – Horrible Bosses
  • Steve Carell – Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Jean Dujardin – The Artist
  • Zach Galifianakis – The Hangover Part II
  • Owen Wilson – Midnight in Paris

I haven’t seen The Hangover Part II, so I can’t speak to that.  Jason Bateman is fine, but I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50 would have been a better choice.  Patton Oswalt in Young Adult too.  Other contenders: Alan Tudyk – Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, Justin Timberlake – Friends with Benefits, and Paul Rudd – Our Idiot Brother.


  • Jennifer Aniston – Horrible Bosses
  • Cameron Diaz – Bad Teacher
  • Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
  • Emma Stone – Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Kristen Wiig – Bridesmaids

Well, it is pretty difficult to argue with any category that includes Emma Stone.  Diaz and McCarthy are also locks.  I think the Wiig is the weak link here, and I’d be willing to hear arguments against Aniston (who was surprisingly refreshing in the role).  Charlize Theron is an interesting counterpoint to Cameron Diaz and absolutely should have been included over Wiig.  If we are going for supporting actresses in a fun role, then Helen Mirren from Arthur should have been here.  A little surprised Berenice Bejo didn’t make the cut.  I think My Week with Marilyn should qualify and so Michelle Williams should be here, but I understand why it wasn’t included.  Carla Gugino in Elektra Luxx, maybe?  I’d have taken Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman from their romantic comedies over Wiig.  If Something Borrowed counts, then both Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson.  And my way out there pick, Mandy Moore from the truly terrible Love, Wedding, Marriage.  Point is, it was actually a pretty decent year for actresses in comedy, and Wiig probably isn’t in my top 20.


  • Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
  • James Bobin – The Muppets
  • Paul Feig – Bridesmaids
  • Glenn Ficarra and John Requa – Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist

You know what?  I think this is exactly right.  And sure, Hazanavicius should win, but you might be surprised to learn that Ficarra and Requa should be a close second.


  • 50/50
  • Bridesmaids
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Horrible Bosses
  • Midnight in Paris

So Horrible Bosses took a decent idea and left out the humor, it clearly doesn’t belong here.  Let’s put The Muppets in and call it a night.

April 2012