Now that I've looked back at 2011's films, it's time to look forward to 2012's films, though truth be told, I'm not looking forward to ALL of them.
What I'll do here is look at all of this Friday's releases and then pick out highlights and maybe a few lowlights from the 2012 schedule. As ever, release dates are subject to change, so don't come cryin' to me if a movie comes out when I say it does.
The Artist: This doesn't open in Dayton this weekend, but it does open in Columbus. I want to see this silent homage to yesteryear yesterday, so I'm going Saturday.
Beauty and the Beast: My absolute favorite film of the Disney renaissance, but I'm on the fence about whether to see it. I just don't think 2D animation renders well in 3D.
Contraband: I like Mark Wahlberg, but low-rent actioners like this one are really beneath him. Looks like a direct-to-video release that escaped into theaters.
The Iron Lady: What I keep hearing is, "Sure, Meryl's great. The film? Not so much."
Joyful Noise: Nice to see Dolly Parton on the big screen again, but like Contraband, this also looks like a low-grade movie that escaped to theaters. Only this one would be on Hallmark instead of Spike.
JANUARY HIGHLIGHTS (Yep, just one)
Haywire: How do you make a deadly female mixed martial arts flick and make it look classy and kick-ass? Hire Steven Soderbergh to direct.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Nicolas Cage jokes that he has "personal problems" in this movie. I think it's more a matter of personal FINANCE problems, since the man seemingly never turns down any script, no matter how trashy.
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace: I'm on the record as saying this movie isn't nearly as bad as most people say it is. However, because many people think it's bad, I foresee this reissue falling flat, even if it is in 3D. In fact, for some, that may be a deterrrent.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Dr. Seuss books have a very mixed track record at the box office, but this one actually holds some promise because it builds a story around the core of the book. Plus it's by the folks who made the vcry entertaining Despicable Me.
John Carter: This sci-fi action take on the Edgar Rice Burroughs' character baffles me. On the one hand, I'd like to see Pixar director Andrew Stanton succeed in live action features, just like his colleague Brad Bird did with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. But the more I see the trailer, the more it feels like a bloated mess. And can we PLEASE have a moratorium on Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" in movie trailers?
Mirror Mirror: The Snow White movie of 2012 I have no interest in seeing, since Julia Roberts' queen is looks to be a truly poisoned apple. Ptooey.
The Hunger Games: Haven't read a word of the books, but I even I can tell this is going to be the monster hit of the spring - partly because I'm a big fan of both Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Banks. I'm also curious to see how Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) handles a big action spectacle.
The Three Stooges: I like the Stooges. I like the Farrelly brothers. But ye gods, this looks awful. And stick a finger in its eye for casting Snooki.
The Avengers: One would think that I would be all over this one, since I'm generally a fan of superhero movies, but here's the thing: Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America were all good movies, not great movies. And a big reason those movies aren't as good as they ought to be, is because they spent WAY too much time setting up The Avengers and not enough concentrating on their own stories. I smell overkill, but I hope I'm wrong.
Battleship: Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Hancock) is a talented director. So why is he serving up what looks like Michael Bay's sloppy seconds?
MIB 3: No one was too enthused about Men in Black 2, but introducing time travel looks like fun - and introudcing Josh Brolin as a young Tommy Lee Jones looks like even more fun.
Rock of Ages: I really enjoyed Hairspray by the same director, but I'm wary of the heavy dose of 80s nostalgia. I'm not as enamored of the music of that decade as most of my generation, and this movie gets instant demerits for trying to use "We Built This City" as one of the numbers. That song's terrible in any decade.
Snow White and the Huntsman: Just as Julia Roberts is the downfall of Mirror, Mirror, Charlize Theron looks to be the best thing about this more action-oriented Snow White movie.
Prometheus: Ridley Scott's output of late has been extremely uneven, but I have a good feeling about this one. The trailer for this Alien prequel is drool-worthy.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: I've only read a little bit of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by the same author. If this is half as entertaining, it's going to be fun.
Brave: Pixar, so it's automatic, even if the trailer has more of a comedic bent than I hoped. PS - Please stop giving the studio a hard time for Cars 2. Not every movie the studio makes has to be transcendent.
GI Joe: Retaliation - Wait - don't you make a sequel only if people LIKED the first movie?
The Amazing Spider-Man: The decision to reboot this franchise still puzzles me. And yet the casting is solid from Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker to Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy.
The Dark Knight Rises: Duh.
The Bourne Legacy: A Bourne movie without Matt Damon may seem like sacrilege, but Jeremy Renner's no slouch, and neither is director Tony Gilroy, who had a had in writing all three movies.
Paranorman: From the folks who made the wonderful Coraline. The trailer looks delightfully trippy.
OCTOBER (Skipped September on purpose, since it looks dull for now)
Frankenweenie: Tim Burton is also making Dark Shadows this year, but honestly, I think he and Johnny Depp have grown stale. I'm much more interested in this animated take on his early film.
Wreck it Ralph: Disney makes a forary into 8-bit video game style animation. Now there's 80s nostalgia I can buy.
Skyfall: A Bond movie directed by an Oscar winner (Sam Mendes), shot by Roger Deakins and scored by Thomas Newman. How can it NOT be better than Quantum of Solace?
Les Miserables: Yay for the casting of Anne Hathaway, meh on the casting of Taylor Swift. Still, I'm curious to see how Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) fares with a big, splashy musical.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: I remain suspicious of the need to split this story into two films, but one can only trust Peter Jackson.
The Great Gatsby: Shooting this story in 3D may seem like a fool's errand, but if anyone can make a fool's errand work, it's Baz Luhrmann.
Lincoln: If only we could see Spielberg's biopic as a double bill with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.