Claymation, Chimpanzee, Coriolanus, Close (Glenn), comedy (lots), and classics (happy 200th birthday, Mr. Dickens)—looks like a cool collection. Several of the season’s movies are based on nonfiction works: Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin (Tina Fey was busy?), Meryl (Streep) as Margaret (Thatcher), space exploration for kids, stranded sharks (they made it), Navy SEALS (the real deal), and more. As usual, leading ladies proliferate: Vanessa Redgrave, Tilda Swinton, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Janet McTeer (twice, and she’s worth it), and some great dames (cf., The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Spring fare for the younger set can be highlighted in three words: The Hunger Games (fourth word: blockbuster).
Starring Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Kiko Mizuhara, Rinko Kikuchi
Directed by Anh Hung Tran
Release date January (Red Flag Releasing/Soda Pictures)
Tie-in from Vintage Books: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
When Norwegian Wood was first published in Japan in 1987, it sold more than four million copies and transformed Murakami into a pop culture icon. It’s not surprising that his status has grown steadily; his 1Q84 marks its sixth week on today’s Fiction list. For his direction of Norwegian Wood, Anh Hung Tran won the 2011 Istanbul International Film Festival’s Fipresci Prize.
THE IRON LADY
Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Iain Glen
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Release date January 13 (the Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from Penguin: The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer’s Daughter to Prime Minister by John Campbell
Although Lloyd directed Streep in the film version of Mamma Mia, it seems unlikely Maggie Thatcher will burst into onscreen song. What is likely is that Streep will pick up another Oscar nomination to add to her astonishing 16 noms—and two wins (Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice).
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave
Directed by Ralph Fiennes
Release date January 20 (the Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from HarperCollins/Newmarket Press for It Books: Coriolanus:
The Shooting Script
Making his directorial debut, Fiennes brings to the big screen one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, about a banished hero of Rome who allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city, setting it in current times “with a gritty blood-spattered fierceness” (USA Today).
A SMILE AS BIG AS THE MOON
Starring John Corbett, Jessy Schram, Cynthia Watros
Directed by James Sadwith
Release date January 22 or 29 (ABC, Hallmark Hall of Fame)
Tie-in from St. Martin’s
Griffin: A Smile as Big as the Moon by Mike Kersjes
According to PW’s review of Kersjes’s book—subtitled A Special Education Teacher, His Class, and Their Inspiring Journey Through U.S. Space Camp, “[This] refreshing, heart-warming account proves that faith and vision can yield great things.” Kersjes is president of Space Is Special Inc., a not-for-profit organization that helps special ed students improve their science and math skills using space as a motivational theme.
Starring Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Janet McTeer
Directed by Rodrigo Garcia
Release date January 27 (Roadside Attractions)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: Albert Nobbs by George Moore
Based on a short story by 19th-century Irish writer George Moore, “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs,” this incarnation of the tale has its origins in a spare stage piece first seen in France and then in London in 1978 with Susannah York. Close starred in a 1982 New York production and has ever since tried to mount a screen version; she came close about a decade ago with Istvan Szabo, which accounts for the Hungarian director’s story credit on the present film.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
Starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Release date January 27 (Oscilloscope)
Tie-in from Harper Perennial: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Scottish director/writer/cinematographer Ramsay’s first two full-length films—1999’s Ratcatcher and 2002’s Morvern Callar—attracted the attention of the art house crowd and garnered several prestigious awards. At the 2000 BAFTAs, Ratcatcher won for Most Promising Newcomer and was nominated for Best British Film. Her next film? Moby Dick in Space.
ONE FOR THE MONEY
Starring Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata
Directed by Julie Anne Robinson
Release date January 27 (Columbia TriStar)
Tie-in from St. Martin’s Griffin and mass market: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
One is the book that started the Plum craze (that’s New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum) and introduced readers to the “burg.” Interestingly, the film’s leads, though they’ve got movie cred, come from strong TV backgrounds. Heigl, who’s starred in a few less-than-stellar rom-coms of late, is best known as Izzie in 100+ episodes of Grey’s Anatomy; Sunjata (one of People’s Most Beautiful People in 2003) has also had a Grey’s arc; and O’Mara’s credits feature such series as Terra Nova, Your Bad Self, Life on Mars, etc.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer
Directed by James Watkins
Release date February 3 (CBS Films)
Tie-in from Vintage Books: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
As theater aficionados—and Harry Potter followers—know, Radcliffe scored critical kudos for his leading-man gig in Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Woman marks his first post-Potter film role and first adult screen stint. A play based on Hill’s book has been running in London’s West End since June 1989, becoming the West End’s second-longest-running play ever, after Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
Starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Release date February 3 (Universal)
Tie-in from St. Martin’s Griffin: Big Miracle by Tom Rose
Big Miracle recounts an event that mesmerized the world for weeks in cold war–era 1988: the dramatic rescue of three gray whales trapped under the ice in Alaska. Rose, who was covering the event for a Japanese TV station, describes how oil company executives, environmental activists, Inupiat people, and the U.S. military worked to free the whales. The rescue was followed by millions of people around the world as Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev joined the forces of their two nations to help free the whales.
Starring Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Jessica Lange
Directed by Michael Sucsy
Release date February 10 (Spyglass Entertainment)
Tie-in from B&H Books: The Vow: The True Events That Inspired the Movie by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter with Dana Wilkerson
This is director Sucsy’s second time working with Lange; the first was Grey Gardens, for which he won a 2009 Emmy and Golden Globe for best made-for-TV movie. And Lange’s no slouch in the awards department: she’s a two-time Oscar winner as well as a four-time nominee.
ACT OF VALOR
Starring Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano
Directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh
Release date February 17 (Relativity Media)
Tie-in from Berkley mass market: Tom Clancy’s Act of Valor by Dick Couch and George Galdorisi
An unusual mix of fact and fiction, Act of Valor began as a recruitment video for the Navy SEALS before being developed as a feature film. Several SEALS consulted on the film, which is a fictionalized composite of real-life missions. It took four months for the filmmakers to persuade the eight actual SEALS to star in the film; none of their names will be in the credits.
DR. SEUSS’S THE LORAX
Voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift
Directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda
Release date March 2
Tie-ins from Random House: five tie-ins, including The Lorax Pop-up! and a pair of activity titles, go on sale in January
Preceded by adaptations of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat, and Horton Hears a Who! this is the fourth feature-film version of a Dr. Seuss book. The computer-animated film introduces the character of 12-year-old Ted (Efron), who is drawn into the world of the Lorax. Illumination Entertainment is the company behind the well-received 2010 film Despicable Me.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith
Directed by John Madden
Release date March 9 (Fox Searchlight)
Tie-in from Random House Trade Paperbacks: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
Leave it to the Brits—or, There Is Nothing Like a Dame. (In this case, deux dames.) No matter the rest of the film, Judi and Maggie, two of the funniest females of a certain age, will absolutely be worth la prix d’admission.
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Release date March 9
(Walt Disney Pictures)
Tie-ins from Disney Editions: three collections of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars stories, a novelization, and The Art of John Carter all pub February 7
Based on Burroughs’s 1912 serial and 1917 book The Princess of Mars, which began his Barsoom series, this live-action film stars Kitsch as John Carter, a Confederate Civil War vet who is transported to Mars, called Barsoom by its residents. Director Stanton (Wall-E; Finding Nemo) wrote the screenplay, which got some additional revisions from Michael Chabon.
THINK LIKE A MAN
Starring Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy
Directed by Tim Story
Release date March 9 (Sony Pictures Screen Gems)
Tie-in from Amistad: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
Think, based on Steve Harvey’s bestseller, centers on a relationship expert who can’t quite corral his own love life. Director and screenwriter come to the table with excellent credits: Story directed Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, while Keith Merryman most recently was the screenwriter for last summer’s hot rom-com Friends with Benefits.
Starring Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Ed Harris
Directed by Jay Roach
Release date March 10 (HBO)
Tie-in from Harper Perennial: Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Given the book’s subtitle—Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime—this one is sure to pull out all the stops. Amazon’s review excerpts make for terrific reading; e.g., Tina Brown’s Daily Beast comment, “the real revelation [is that] campaigns turn our politicians into lunatics.”
Starring Julia Roberts, Sean Bean, Lily Collins
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Release date March 16
Tie-ins from Scholastic: a novelization and storybook arrive in February
Mirror, Mirror is the first of two Snow White adaptations hitting the big screen this year, arriving months ahead of Snow White and the Huntsman. Although drawn from the same fairy tale, the two films are plenty different in tone; Mirror appears to have more of a sense of humor, and in previews Roberts can be seen camping it up as the Evil Queen.
THE HUNGER GAMES
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Directed by Gary Ross
Release date March 23 (Lionsgate)
Tie-ins from Scholastic: three tie-ins—an illustrated movie companion, a tie-in edition of the novel, and The Hunger Games Tribute Guide pubs on February 7; The World of the Hunger Games releases simultaneously with the film
It’s not hyperbole to say that this is probably the most anticipated film of the spring. Based on the first book in Suzanne Collins’s bestselling dystopian YA trilogy, the film’s screenplay was co-written by Collins and director Ross. Buzz continues to build, and filming is already underway on the sequel, Catching Fire, which is slated for a November 2013 release.
BAND OF MISFITS
Voices of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
Directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt
Release date March 30 (Columbia Pictures)
Tie-in from Vintage Books: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon DeFoe
Claymation strikes again, from the director who brought us Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit. In addition to the above trio, other notable actors lending their voices include Imelda Staunton, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Blessed, and Lenny Henry. Author DeFoe—not to be confused with Daniel—wrote the screenplay.
Starring Robert DeNiro, Julianne Moore, Paul Dano
Directed by Paul Weitz
Release date spring (Focus Features)
Tie-in from Norton: Being Flynn by Nick Flynn
Flynn’s “stunningly beautiful memoir” (San Francisco Chronicle), which was originally published in 2004 as Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, won the PEN Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. It’d be hard to go wrong with a cast like this; Weitz was Oscar nominated for his direction of 2002’s About a Boy.
HEMINGWAY AND GELLHORN
Starring Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen, Robert Duvall
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Release date spring (HBO)
Tie-in from Norton: Hemingway: The 1930s Through the Final Years by Michael Reynolds
Kaufman’s first directorial hit was Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978, a remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 SF classic, and he was Oscar-nominated for Best Screenplay on Material from Another Medium in 1988 for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. His steamy Henry & June (1990) was the first film released by a major studio to be rated NC-17, which created considerable controversy.
Starring Gillian Anderson, Douglas Booth, Ray Winstone
Directed by Brian Kirk
Release date April 1 (part 1), April 8 (part 2) (BBC Masterpiece Theater, PBS in the U.S.)
Tie-in from Penguin Classics: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Masterpiece Theater airs this new adaptation to observe the author’s 200th birthday.
TITANIC (3-D Release)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Directed by James Cameron
Release date April 6 (Paramount Pictures)
Tie-ins from Titan Books: The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski; The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Titanic Tragedy by William Sell
Kowalski’s alternate history recounts the world’s greatest maritime tragedy, which occurred exactly 100 years before his book’s pub date. Sell’s mystery sets Holmes and Watson aboard the ship on its ill-fated voyage.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
Starring Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth
Directed by Drew Goddard
Release date April 13
Tie-in from Titan Books:
The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Movie Novelization
by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
From Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Goddard, writer of the truly creepy 2008 monster flick, Cloverfield, comes a don’t-go-down-in-the-basement shocker. The details of the plot are a closely guarded secret, though Whedon cautions, “It is not just a slasher in the woods. It’s a little more complicated than that.”
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Starring Matthew Rhys, Tamzin Merchant, Freddie Fox
Directed by Diarmuid Hughes
Release date April 15
(BBC Masterpiece Theater)
Tie-in from Penguin Classics: The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
Back in 1987, a British music man, Rupert Holmes, wrote a Dickens of a musical named The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Many theater buffs scoffed, but were soon laughing—and humming—out of the other side of their faces: Drood won Broadway’s Tony Award for best score (music and lyrics), best book of a musical, and best musical of the year. Now if this gifted gentleman could do that a quarter-century ago, certainly Hughes, Rhys, Fox, Merchant, and company can create a filmic Drood for 2012.
Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
Release date April 22
Tie-ins from Disney:
Chimpanzee: The Making of the Film and a storybook arrive on March 13
Fothergill and Linfield, the team behind Disneynature’s first film, Earth (2009), reunite for a documentary about an orphaned baby chimp named Oscar. Disneynature’s documentaries have been well received critically and modestly successful; 2011’s African Cats (which also released on Earth Day) grossed more than $15 million domestically.