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.

BRIAN

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!

JARED

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.

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