There are only 14 weeks left in 2012. With the awards season upon us, most weekends from now through Christmas will be crammed with must-see and award-worthy films. Here are 16 films, broken down by categories, which will have people talking. (Please note: release dates are subject to change.)
Zero Dark Thirty (December 19)
Months before its release, groups claimed that the film — about the hunt for Osama — was being released in October (its initial release date) to help Obama’s reelection. And that the administration released classified information to the filmmakers. But — regardless of politics or conspiracy theories — it should be as tense and taut as Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker.
Taken 2 (October 5)
What Liam Neeson has are a very particular set of skills; skills that he’s acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a nightmare for kidnappers (and wolves).
Skyfall (In Theaters: November 9)
Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and star Daniel Craig try to make us forget the last Bond film, Quantum of Solace.
This is 40 (December 21)
Written and directed by Judd Apatow, the picture — tagged “The Sort-of Sequel to Knocked Up” — focuses on Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters. Like Apatow’s previous films, 40 was supposed to have been released during the summer, but was bumped for Snow White and the Huntsman. We’ll see if a December release affects its box office.
Seven Psychopaths (October 2)
Golden Globe-winning Best Actor Colin Farrell reunites with his In Bruges writer/director for this sure-to-be dark, dark comedy about Hollywood and the kidnapping of a gangster’s Shih Tzu. Also starring Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (November 16)
Wait. It’s not a comedy?
Life of Pi (November 21)
Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) finally brings the 2001 bestseller to the screen. And if the trailer is any indication, this will be one gorgeous movie.
The Hobbit (December 21)
Jackson, at long last, returns to Middle Earth, but with a story that is far less dramatic than Lord of the Rings. But with far more dwarves.
Les Miserables (December 25)
Director Tom Hooper (Oscar-winner for The King’s Speech) assembles an A-list case — Hugh Jackman, Russell Crow, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Amanda Seyfried — for the cinematic adaptation of the 25-year-old mega-musical.
Lincoln (November 9)
People have been thrown by Day-Lewis’ (historically accurate) higher speaking voice in the trailer. But helmed by Steven Spielberg and in the hands of Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones, expect to see it in many Oscar nomination categories.
Argo (October 12)
The two films that Ben Affleck has directed, The Town and Gone Baby Gone, garnered supporting actor/actress nominations and were each on several Top 10 lists. Expect the same, and probably more nominations, for his take on the unbelievable true story of the rescuing of 6 Americans from 1979 Iran.
Flight (November 2)
Despite an underwhelming trailer, Zemeckis’ first live action since 2000′s Cast Away, featuring Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, and Melissa Leo, will be on every Oscar prognosticator’s watch list.
Django Unchained (December 25)
Between writer/director Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and Samuel L. Jackson, they have 3 Oscars and 11 nominations.
Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)
After recently winning the People’s Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival, David O. Russell’s (The Fighter) newest has gotten a lot of Oscar buzz for best picture, director, and also for leads Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. Oh, and the characters are huge Eagles’ fans.
The Master (In Theaters)
Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman are already getting raves for their performances in Paul Thomas Anderson’s confusing but riveting feature.
Hyde Park on the Hudson (December 7)
It stars Bill Murray (as FDR). Need I say more?