Movies much anticipated in 2012

A long time coming and worth the wait: Damsels in Distress
A long time coming and worth the wait: Damsels in Distress
Sony Pictures Classics

We know—you're excited about The Dark Knight Rises. And The Avengers. And The Hunger Games. So are we. We're also excited about a lot of other movies whose marketing campaigns have not inundated us with white noise (yet). Allow us to suggest a few more films to put on your 2012 watch list.

Red Tails

Remember back in 2005, when George Lucas was making the press rounds to promote Revenge of the Sith, and he was all, "Now I can finally make those experimental movies I've been talking about for 30 years but never actually made"? Instead of following through with that promise/threat, he financed Red Tails, an action period piece about the Tuskegee Airmen starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. Directed by Anthony Hemingway, it's set for release January 20.

Soderbergh x 2

If Steven Soderbergh is still seriously considering a "sabbatical" from filmmaking, as he keeps threatening, it's not going to start any time soon. He has two directorial efforts due for release in 2012: Haywire (opening January 20), a tricky, kinetic action-mystery built around super-fox mixed martial artist Gina Carano, and Magic Mike (June 29), based on star Channing Tatum's pre-fame gig as a male stripper.

Spike Lee x Several

Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer, an independently produced drama set in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood, is apparently not a sequel to Do the Right Thing—even if Lee does reprise his role as Mookie from his 1989 film. Either way, Summer's Sundance premiere in January will kick off a busy 2012 for Lee. He'll start shooting a remake of Chan-wook Park's Oldboy in March, and after that will reportedly direct a biopic of former D.C. mayor Marion Barry for HBO starring Eddie Murphy.

Damsels in Distress

Spike Lee's three-year hiatus between films is nothing compared to Whit Stillman, whose last directorial effort, The Last Days of Disco, was released in 1998. Now the Oscar-nominated writer-director (Metropolitan) is back with this quasi-musical about a group of girlfriends (including Greta Gerwig and Crazy, Stupid, Love co-star Analeigh Tipton) and their "distressing" boyfriends (including nighttime soap hunks Adam Brody of The O.C. and Hugo Becker of Gossip Girl). Infused with a gleeful lunacy heretofore unknown in his films, Damsels is worth the wait.

The Dictator

Three years after the disappointing Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a fresh character in another Larry Charles–directed comedy. At least, we think it's a comedy—in typical Baron Cohen fashion, details on The Dictator have been kept under wraps. It stars Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley and it's rumored to be based on Zabibah and the King, a romance novel set in eighth-century Iraq believed to have been secretly written by Saddam Hussein. All will be revealed, we guess, on May 11.

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom stars newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away together. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Frances McDormand play some of the adults flummoxed by the young pair's disappearance. The film is set to open in May in France, so a Cannes slot seems like a good possibility.

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson's follow-up to There Will Be Blood stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, a spiritual guru said to be inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as a Dodd follower, in his first post–I'm Still Here role. When the original financiers backed out of this long-percolating movie in 2010, the film was saved by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison's daughter Megan Ellison, who has become a new Hollywood player. No release date has been set.

Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Osama bin Laden project

There's a cloud of secrecy around Bigelow's follow-up to The Hurt Locker, which was the first film directed by a woman to win Best Picture. We do know it has something to do with the hunt to find and kill the Al Qaeda leader and that the release date has already been bumped from October 12 to December 19, allegedly so it wouldn't be seen as trying to influence the presidential election.

This Is Forty

Judd Apatow's fourth directorial effort focuses on the marriage of Pete and Debbie, the characters played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in Knocked Up. While a few actors from Apatow's 2007 hit are returning—including Charlyne Yi and Jason Segel—the film also features high-profile names such as Melissa McCarthy, Megan Fox, and Albert Brooks. Release is set for December 21.

Computer Chess

American indie film's most stalwart advocate for celluloid (he cut his previous features on an outdated flatbed machine), Andrew Bujalski is pulling a 180 with his next film. Computer Chess, set in 1980, was shot on modified video cameras from that era. Bujalski has been editing Chess this fall (yes, on a computer) with an eye toward a festival premiere in 2012.

Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator
Paramount Pictures

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