Welcome to Screen International 2012, a year that could see a silent French film win the best picture Oscar and Angelina Jolie win the Golden Globe for best foreign-language film.

Wonders never cease in the film business, which continues to surprise even when Hollywood is ever more focused on its ‘four quadrant’ tentpoles.

In this first issue of the new year, we open a two-part feature previewing the movies to come in 2012. This week we explore the major studio line-ups, pinpointing 30 tentpoles being positioned for maximum world domination. And we take a look at the best of what the UK has to offer, following a vintage year for British cinema in 2011.

While, at first glance, the studio line-ups don’t look like many risks are being taken — sequels, reboots and re-issues are all the rage — there are plenty of exciting film-makers adding a fresh spin to existing properties. I, for one, can’t wait to see what Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov, Alfonso Cuaron and Bryan Singer will come up with in their monster-budget blockbusters-in-waiting.

Having seen how Spielberg and Jackson with Tintin and Scorsese with Hugo took the reins from James Cameron in terms of developing the cinematic experience last year, there should be some more groundbreaking treats in store this year.

Next week we will preview the best in independent and world cinema to come for 2012 and a classic awards season that will feature new movies from Ang Lee, Paul Thomas Anderson, David O Russell, Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann and the Coen brothers.

That’s not to mention new non-English-language films from the likes of Michael Haneke, Olivier Assayas, Jan Troell, Susanne Bier, Jacques Audiard, Abbas Kiarostami and, if he ever finishes his latest film to his liking, Wong Kar Wai. And Lars von Trier will start production of his first hardcore drama, Nymphomaniac, with the fearless Charlotte Gainsbourg in the title role. That should be ready for Cannes 2013 if, of course, he ever wants to return to the Croisette.

A cause for optimism

Though the US box office had a few wobbles in 2011, the theatrical window is still robust and international numbers are through the roof on the Hollywood tentpoles as well as on certain local titles (runaway French hit Untouchable is still packing them in). The crisis in ancillary markets will continue to resolve itself in 2012 as streaming and VoD platforms step into the void fast being left by DVD.

In the UK, in particular, the picture looks unusually rosy for 2012. Once the Olympics are over, the BFI Film Fund will receive a major boost in new funds, while the change in EIS legislation should herald a sizeable influx of private finance into independent production come April.

Meanwhile the competition bet­ween LoveFilm and Netflix is not only bringing new spending power to independent distributors but also breaking Sky’s decade-long stranglehold on pay-TV rights.

Yes, there are dark shadows. Quite how severely the much heralded depression will affect film finance and public spending on entertainment is as yet unknown, but in general, and this being the start of a new year and a time of optimism, I would say the prognosis for the globe’s film business is a healthy one.

Screen of course will be here to cover all these issues and offer insight and intelligence — rare commodities in this age of bite-size ‘instanews’ — online and in print. On behalf of everyone at Screen International, I wish you a happy new year.