There is a wealth of high-prestige pictures set for release this year and a potentially classic end-of-year awards season featuring new movies by Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, the Coen brothers, Terrence Malick, Quentin Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann, Paul Thomas Anderson, David O Russell, Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow. Mike Goodridge and Leon Forde profile the movies being readied for the awards podium in 2013, both with US distribution in place and without.

Anna Karenina

Directed by Joe Wright; Focus Features, 2012 TBC

Tom Stoppard wrote the adaptation and Wright is directing this glittering new Working Title production. Keira Knightley is Anna, Jude Law plays Alexei and Aaron Johnson is Count Vronsky, with a strong European supporting cast including Emily Watson, Olivia Williams, Ruth Wilson, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Bill Skarsgard, Alicia Vikander and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery.


Directed by Ben Affleck; Warner Bros, Sept 14

After the success of Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Affleck makes his third film as a director. Argo is the true story of how the CIA created a phony movie production to rescue six Americans hiding out in the Canadian embassy in Tehran in 1979. Affleck also leads the cast which includes Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman. George Clooney and Grant Heslov are among the producers.

Cloud Atlas

Directed by Andy & Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer; Warner Bros, 2012 TBC

This $128m (€100m) adaptation of David Mitchell’s ambitious novel — which charts the progress of a soul across six separate existences — has shot in Scotland, Spain and Germany, with two full units working simultaneously. Directed by the Wachowskis and Tykwer, Cloud Atlas boasts a huge international cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw and Hugh Grant. Focus Features International is handling international sales, with Warner Bros distributing in the US and aiming for a 2012 release.

Cogan’s Trade

Directed by Andrew Dominik; The Weinstein Company (TWC), TBC

Dominik, the Australian auteur behind Chopper and The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, returns with an adaptation of the 1970s crime novel by George V Higgins. Brad Pitt plays Cogan, an enforcer for the mob investigating a heist on a high-stakes card game. Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy and James Gandolfini co-star. Inferno financed and is handling sales.

Django Unchained

Directed by Quentin Tarantino; TWC, Dec 25

Tarantino’s slavery epic — somewhere between Mandingo and A Fistful Of Dollars — stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a brutal southern plantation owner and opens on Christmas Day against DiCaprio’s other holiday blockbuster The Great Gatsby. In this film, Jamie Foxx stars as Django and Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter who frees Django to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from the evil clutches of DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie. Sony Pictures has international rights on the movie which features a tasty cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Don Johnson and Anthony LaPaglia.

The Great Gatsby

Directed by Baz Luhrmann; Warner Bros, Dec 25

The inimitable Luhrmann is set to apply his own distinct — and controversial — style to this latest adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s romantic classic which finished shooting in 3D in Australia at the end of last year. A glittering cast is headed by Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan.

Great Hope Springs

Directed by David Frankel; Sony Pictures, Dec 14

A middle-aged couple played by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones attend a counselling weekend after 30 years of marriage in this film of an original script by Vanessa Taylor. Steve Carell plays their counsellor in this independently financed comedy drama which sees Streep re-united with her The Devil Wears Prada director Frankel. Lionsgate sold the film internationally, with Sony’s Columbia handling the end-of-year domestic release.

Hyde Park On Hudson

Directed by Roger Michell; Focus Features, TBD

Scripted by Richard Nelson from his own radio play, Hyde Park On Hudson tells the story of a weekend visit in June 1939 to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s upstate New York home by King George VI and his wife Elizabeth. The momentous visit is seen through the eyes of FDR’s neighbour and confidante Daisy. Bill Murray and Olivia Williams play the Roosevelts, Laura Linney is Daisy and Samuel West and Olivia Colman co-star as the royals in Michell’s high-pedigree pre-war drama.

Les Miserables

Directed by Tom Hooper; Universal Pictures, Dec 7

A lavish star-packed film based on a stage-musical legend, Hooper’s ambitious follow-up to The King’s Speech could go the way of Nine or the way of Chicago. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Working Title Films, with a cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Eddie Redmayne.

Life Of Pi

Directed by Ang Lee; 20th Century Fox, Dec 21

After a long development process which saw both Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Alfonso Cuaron attached to direct, Yann Martel’s bestseller Life Of Pi reaches the screen with Lee at the helm. Unknown 17-year-old Suraj Sharma plays Pi Patel, the son of a zoo-keeper shipwrecked with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger. Tobey Maguire, Irrfan Khan and Gerard Depardieu co-star but the film will stand or fall based on Sharma and the animals. Fox will release in 3D and Imax 3D.


Directed by Steven Spielberg; Disney/DreamWorks, Dec 2012

Not content with two movies in December 2011, Spielberg is already underway on his next one for December 2012. Daniel Day-Lewis plays the fabled president leading his country to victory during the Civil War. Based on the book Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius Of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the epic also stars Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Strathairn, Jackie Earle Haley and Jared Harris.

The Master

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson; TWC, 2012 TBC

A fictional account of the creation of a new religion in the US in the 1950s, Anderson’s newest feature — financed by Annapurna Pictures — stars Anderson regular Philip Seymour Hoffman as the man who comes back from the Second World War to set up the faith, rather like
L Ron Hubbard did with Scientology. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern and Lena Endre co-star.

Moonrise Kingdom

Directed by Wes Anderson; Focus Features, May 25

Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, Anderson’s new film follows a young boy and girl who fall in love and run away together, galvanising the town into action to pursue them. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play the lovers, with a rich ensemble as the townspeople including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman.

Nero Fiddled

Directed by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics, summer

After scoring his biggest ever hit worldwide with Midnight In Paris, Allen heads to Rome to shoot Nero Fiddled. Previously titled The Bop Decameron, the film consists of four vignettes involving two US characters and two Italian characters. A starry cast includes Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page and Allen himself. Focus Features International handles sales. “More laughs in this one than you can imagine,” is how SPC described the film on acquisition.


Directed by Lee Daniels; Millennium Entertainment, TBD 2012

Pete Dexter’s novel was once set up as Pedro Almodovar’s US movie debut but finally reaches the screen as the follow-up to the Oscar-winning Precious for director Lee Daniels. Matthew McConaughey plays a reporter investigating the apparently unjust imprisonment of alligator hunter John Cusack, the lover of femme fatale Nicole Kidman. Zac Efron rounds out the cast as McConaughey’s younger brother, who develops quite the crush on Kidman.


Directed by Ron Howard; Universal, TBD 2012

Its complex production and post-production schedule allowing, Howard’s first independent movie is scheduled for a late 2012 release through Universal in North America. Rush is an adrenaline-fuelled drama about the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The screenplay is by Peter Morgan, who previously worked with Howard on Frost/Nixon. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl the film is backed by Cross Creek and Exclusive, with the latter handling international sales.


Directed by Oliver Stone; Universal Pictures, Sept 28

Stone delivers a hard-hitting thriller, adapted from the Don Winslow crime novel, in which two southern Californian dudes (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) with a small marijuana business run foul of the Mexican drug cartels, as represented by Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro. John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Emile Hirsch round out the star-studded ensemble.

The Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by David O Russell; TWC, TBD

After his triumph with Oscar winner The Fighter, David O Russell returns with a film of Matthew Quick’s bestseller about a former high-school teacher, named Pat Peoples, trying to win back his estranged wife after a nervous breakdown, who becomes involved with a neighbour who has her own emotional troubles. Bradley Cooper plays Peoples, Robert De Niro his dad, Jennifer Lawrence the neighbour and Julia Stiles the wife.


Directed by Park Chan-wook; Fox Searchlight, TBD

Oldboy director Park makes his English-language debut with this psychological thriller about a young woman infatuated with the mysterious uncle who comes to live with her and her mother after her father dies. Scott Free and Indian Paintbrush are producers on the film which stars Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman and Jacki Weaver.

This Is 40

Directed by Judd Apatow; Universal Pictures, Dec 21

Apatow returns to the characters of Jason (Jason Segel), Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) from Knocked Up and tracks them five years later in This Is 40, which co-stars Megan Fox, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, John Lithgow and Albert Brooks.

Untitled David Chase film

Directed by David Chase; Paramount Vantage, Oct 19

Sopranos creator David Chase makes his feature debut with this 1960s coming-of-age story featuring John Magaro as a suburban teen who starts a rock band, much to his parents’ chagrin. Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini, plays the boy’s father with Molly Price as his mother and Bella Heathcote as his girlfriend.

Untitled Kathryn Bigelow film

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow; Sony Pictures, Dec 21

Bigelow and Hurt Locker writer-producer Mark Boal reteam for a drama about the hunt to kill Osama Bin Laden by the US Navy’s Seal Team 6. Boal rewrote the script to accommodate the killing of Bin Laden last May and the film has incited the wrath of the Republican Party, which believes the Obama administration to have leaked inside information to Boal and Bigelow. Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt star. Sony has domestic rights to the film which is financed by Annapurna Pictures.

Wettest County

Directed by John Hillcoat; TWC, Aug 31

Matt Bondurant’s novel The Wettest County In The World comes to the big screen courtesy of The Proposition team of director Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave. The drama about bootlegging brothers in Depression-era rural Virginia stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke as the brothers, backed by a cast including Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce.

2012 films with no US distribution yet in place


Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky; TBD 2012

The first English-language feature from Stefan Ruzowitzky, the director of the Oscar-winning The Counterfeiters, Blackbird is a fugitive thriller starring Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde as siblings on the run after a robbery. Charlie Hunnam, Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson also star in the film, which is in post. Blackbird was backed by 2929 Entertainment and StudioCanal and produced by Mutual Film Co.


Directed by David Cronenberg; TBD 2012

Cronenberg takes on Don DeLillo’s novel following a young billionaire on an odyssey through Manhattan in the course of one day. Robert Pattinson heads up an attractive cast that includes Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton and Mathieu Amalric. Paulo Branco produced the film with Cronenberg; Kinology handled sales.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen; TBD 2012

Being made without a US distributor in place, the Coen brothers’ latest movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, stars Oscar Isaac as a folk singer in Greenwich Village in the 1960s loosely based on Dave Van Ronk. Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and F Murray Abraham round out the cast of the film, which is being co-financed by StudioCanal. Scott Rudin produces.


Directed by PJ Hogan; TBD 2012

Muriel’s Wedding director Hogan re-unites with that film’s star, Toni Collette, on Mental, a comedy about a free-spirited hitchhiker who is hired to look after the five misfit daughters of a mother who is committed to a mental hospital. Producer Todd Fellman has said that Mental taps into the same sensibility as Muriel’s Wedding, but is not a sequel. Universal already has Australian and UK rights to the Australia-shot film, which is being sold by Arclight.

Mr Morgan’s Last Love

Directed by Sandra Nettelbeck; TBD 2012

The story of a US widower who has a life-changing encounter with a free-spirited young French woman, Sandra Nettelbeck’s Paris-shot Mr Morgan’s Last Love stars Michael Caine alongside Clémence Poésy, Justin Kirk, Jane Alexander, Anne Alvaro and Gillian Anderson. Adapted from Francoise Dorner’s novel La Douceur Assassine, the film is sold by Global Screen, the company stemming from the merger of Bavaria Film and Telepool. Sidney Kimmel Entertainment is handling US rights.


Directed by Jeff Nichols; TBD 2012

After Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, Nichols is the newest US auteur of note and he has attracted a top-notch cast for his third feature led by Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. Mud is the story of two teenage boys who befriend a fugitive hiding out on a Mississippi island. Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon and Sarah Paulson co-star. FilmNation is handling sales.

On The Road

Directed by Walter Salles; TBD 2012

Walter Salles’ long-awaited take on Jack Kerouac’s beat novel stars Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty and Sam Riley as Sal Paradise with Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen in support. MK2 is selling, with presales including Latin America (Playarte), Italy (Medusa) and Germany and Austria (Tele München). Icon will release in the UK through Lionsgate.

The Place Beyond The Pines

Directed by Derek Cianfrance; TBD 2012

Blue Valentine director Cianfrance reteams with his star Ryan Gosling for this dramatic thriller about the violent confrontation between a bank robber (Gosling) and a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper). Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne and Ben Mendelsohn co-star. Sierra Affinity is handling sales.

Untitled Terrence Malick film

Directed by Terrence Malick; TBD 2012

Though it is long wrapped and Malick has two more projects in preparation, there is no guarantee his untitled romantic drama will be ready for audiences in 2012. Still, chances are that the movie — in which Ben Affleck plays a man who rekindles a love affair with a woman from his hometown (Rachel McAdams) after his marriage falls apart — will be ready this year. Rachel Weisz, Javier Bardem and Michael Sheen co-star. FilmNation handled international sales, with territories including the UK and Germany (StudioCanal), France (Metropolitan), Australia (Roadshow) and Italy (Rai) sold.