Fall 2012 Movie Guide/Power Rankings

The summer is over, along with its splurge of graphics, Michael Bay-esque induced cinematic adventures.  All that concerns the 0.93 viewers of The 500 Section now is the lineup of upcoming movies that appeal to that said 0.93 sized audience.  As always, after a strict, comprehensive, and highly analytic review of the 2012 fall movie schedule, the 500 Section Committee on Feature Films has come out with the seasonal power rankings of which movies you’d be most interested in taking part in at your local cinema house.  To help you out, we’ve included our highly scientific Movies Above TNT-Classic aka MATC (pronounced MATT-SEE) metric as a reference point.

1. Gangster Squad

Release Date: January 11, 2013

Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone

We’re cheating here because this was originally slotted for a fall release but pushed back until after the New Year.  Gangster Squad is you classic cop-mob movie set in the noir mood era of 1940s/50s Los Angeles along the lines of L.A. Confidential and Public Enemies.  Corrupt and above the law LAPD officers, Mickey Cohen and his mob friends, and countless fedoras paired with submachine guns are exactly what you need to start off the new year.  Even Emma Stone, the 2013 Ms. 500 sleeper pick, is on board!  That and Ryan Gosling to the recently released Lawless’s Shia LeBouf is like comparing MJ to anyone that ever played UMW intramural basketball.


2. Skyfall

Release Date: November 9

Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Judi Dench

Let’s agree that Quantum of Solace never happened.  Ok? Ok.  Now, in the second installment of Daniel Craig’s rendition of Mr. Bond, James Bond, our British hero once again finds himself questioning morals as well as loyalty to Queen and Country.  Our villain this time is Spanish actor Javier Bardem who is most known for his murder spree as “Chigurh” in No Country for Old Men (a movie of similarity to Solace wherein we can all agree that the last 30 minutes of Old Country never happened.  Ok? Ok.).  These two going head to head along with our first English-French Bond Girl duo going head to head (hello!) and all the usual Bond-ian things (the casino, the car, the suits, the car) guarantee Skyfall will be some of the best 2-3 hours you’ll spend in a large dark room all season.


3. The Master

Release Date: September 14

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams

WARNING: This movie is not for everyone.  Again, some Barry Bonds cheating here as this movie is already out, although only to a limited release until October 12.  Either way, its already the heavyweight favorite to sweep the Oscars.  PT Anderson (of There Will Be Blood fame) puts together a cinematic masterpiece with the support of Oscar worthy performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The story, a former Navy sailor (Phoenix) returning home to post-WW2 America to pursue the American dream only to be caught up in the mystifying and charismatic leader of a cult-type organization (Hoffman).  Again, this isn’t exactly your blue-collar football watching man’s movie (people living south of the Potomac River, remember to bring a seat belt to the movie theater, it might get bumpy).  That being said, the cinematic technical presentation, the A+ performances, and PT Anderson’s ability to turn character relationships into dynamic, “I’m going to kill you with a bowling pin” exposes of our fragile coexistence means this movie wins the 500 Section’s “Not Andy Reid in the 4th Quarter” Thinking Man’s Movie Award for 2012.


4. Taken 2

Release Date: October 5

Starring: Liam Neeson, Liam Neeson, Liam Neeson, his wife and daughter (ok fine, Maggie “I still haven’t learned who to run on camera” Grace and Famke Janssen) and Liam Neeson

He’s back.  Slight plot change, this time mommy and daddy are taken by the Albanian (Good Luck!) mobsters from the original during a va-cay in Istanbul (aka Disneyland on the Bosporus) forcing the daughter to take up dad’s tactics, otherwise known as the same plot as #1.  But really, who was against the plot from #1?  Albanians will be shot.  Cars will be driven through small streets.  More Albanians will be shot.  Only minus points are the time it will take in between the end of this one and having to get home to re-watch the first one for the 82,252,002 time.


5. Lincoln

Release Date: November 9

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Tommy Lee Jones

We know, we know, 3 hours of watching the life of Abraham Lincoln sounds more like those post-test classes of AP US History.  But this is Spielberg and it might be his last shot at being Spielberg (his last 5 directorial efforts were War Horse, The Adventures of Tintin, Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Munich, War of the Worlds, and The Terminal, good movies but not exactly Saving Private Ryan/Jaws territory).  And this is Daniel Day-Lewis, the overshadowed Tom Glavine of our acting generation, who has the ability to even outdo his There Will Be Blood performance.  Even if you fall asleep, just remember, Lincoln was the greatest Republican since Mitt Romney.  That counts for something.


6. Zero Dark Thirty

Release Date: December 19

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton, and Mark Strong

This is Kathryn Bigelow’s first production since her Hurt Locker breakthrough as she tackles the story behind the intelligence and special operations manhunt for Osama Bin Laden.  Yes, that’s never too soon.  We’re guessing its the Bourne Identity except for real this time and one car chase scene replaced by the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  USA! USA! USA!  Then again, intel gathering is 90% sitting around so who knows, could be boring.


7. The Hobbit

Release Date: December 14

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, and Benedict Cumberbatch

Yes, Peter Jackson needs another $1b for his bank account so he’s splitting this one book up into three.  500 Section Movie Committee Chair, the Half-Asian Sports Guy, has only read this book of all the JRR Tolkien novels, so he’s a little more on board this effort than the marathon Lord of the Rings features.  Still, try not to spend too much time in the forest ladies and gentlemen.


8. Argo

Release Date: October 12

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman

A political thriller based on a covert CIA operation during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, Ben Affleck and company are disguised as movie producers attempting to rescue 6 US diplomats from the Canadian embassy.  Affleck is on a bit of a comeback since The Town and the strong supporting cast along should make this one fun to watch and a good viewer prep for the uber serious and aforementioned Zero Dark Thirty.


9. Cloud Atlas

Release Date: October 26

Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Kieth David, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant

This is either going to be an epic journey or epic mess, much like the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.  Based off the British novel of the same title, the Matrix guys (the Wachowski brothers) try to span 6 plots across 6 time periods into the “impossible to make into a movie” movie of human interconnectedness.  If you have 5 minutes to spare, the longest trailer ever made is a worth watch and if its any indication of the length of the movie then we might be in for our first theater trip longer than a flight to London.


10. The Impossible

Release Date: December 21

Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland

Although officially a Spanish produced movie, its in English so semi-ignore the poster image.  Although we here at The 500 are all about our grit and gridiron, we do have a heart (unless you are in any way associated with Paul Ryan, then no, we don’t have a heart) and sometimes aren’t shy to show it.  The Impossible tells the story of a British family on vacation in Thailand when the 3004 Indian Ocean tsunami hits the resort as well as the lives of thousands of victims in one of the decade’s worst environmental disasters.  The movie progresses to show the clinging to hope struggle the family members go through in their attempt to reunite with a family that might not still be alive.  This one is going to be a tear jerking, so be sure to get the significant others on board when you need to use your “it’s her turn to pick a movie” card.


11. Looper

Release Date: September 28

Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt

Our Sci-Fi Thriller du jour and required Bruce Willis sighting of the year.  Time control, the mafia, and the normal “I can change the future!” do we or don’t we have free will stuff of time travel movies are all present and should be fun to watch.  Only worry is if this has the legs to get through 2 hours.  Either way, its been a great year for Mr. Gordon-Levitt, but he’ll always still be the guy from 10 Things I Hate About You in our book.


12. Seven Psychopaths

Release Date: October 12

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walkin

Imagine In Brugges (same director) set in the US with a faster pace and we have this fall’s witty, dark comedy of choice.


13. Django Unchained

Release Date: December 25

Starring: Jaime Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson

Now, this particular committee does not hold Mr. Tarantino in the esteem that many of his flock do and his flicks are, for the most part, hit or miss.  We’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt, weighing heavily on the great acting ensemble put together for the effort.  Jaime Foxx is a freed slave paired up with liberator/bounty hunter Christoph Waltz as they terrorize the Deep South’s slave owning community, otherwise known as the Republican Party.

PREDICTED MATC: 200/500 (this low only because of the Tarantino hedge)

14. Flight

Release Date: December 25

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, John Goodman

We’re including this one just because of the Denzel factor, although the Committee’s recent viewing of Unstoppable made the viewers want to do to the movie the complete opposite of its title.  Anyways, above an above the fray and alcoholic pilot (Denzel) saves his commercial jet from crashing.  Hero or criminal?  That’s the plot.  Is this supposed to be fun? thrilling? though provoking?  Don’t know and since its going to fall short of the body counts from Training Day and Man on Fire, we’re not going to put it in the Denzel pantheon.


15. Jack Reacher

Release Date: December 21

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, and Richard Jenkins

Based on the novel series starring the same character, Reacher is about a former Army MP that takes it upon himself to dole out some justice in society.  Lines of moral ambiguity are crossed and sucked up more than the lines of coke in Scarface, so there’s great potential for not only a fun take no prisoners ride on the bad side vs. bad-der side, but also a mega-million movie series.  But the casting of Mr. Cruise might pose a challenge here since Tom Cruise and former Army dude just don’t belong in the same sentence at his age.


Teaser Special: Gravity

Release Date: January 1

Starring: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock

The trailer for this flick gives away absolutely nothing.  All we, the public, know is that its about astronauts stranded in space and directed by Alfonso Cuaron of Children of Men and Y tu mama tambien fame.  But there’s that Clooney fellow involved, so we have to give this one a chance.



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