Looking Ahead to 2012 – Quarter I (January – March)

With our lists of favorites of the past year done, it is now time to look ahead to what is to come this year.  [Takes a gander] Holy F there is a lot!  Did you read year?  No, I said year through March.  Silly you.  Here is the list from your favorite writers at HST for what we are most excited for and hoping will end up on our “Favorite of 2012” lists come year’s end.

Movies

Zac: My first quarter of 2012 will be spent digesting as much of 2011 as possible as I race to the end of my 2011 movie calendar year, The Oscars, but there are some titles I am looking forward to in the coming months.

Lauren: And though I may look forward to many of the same films, I know better than to give Zac free range without checking into what he is excited for, especially because he is very anti-trailer.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jan. 20)

Heather’s #1 Movie Pick:  I am so excited to see this movie, based on the book by Jonathon Safron Foer (Everything is Illuminated).  The book is about a boy who is searching for a lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, a victim of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.  It was quite a tear jerker, and I am expecting much the same from the movie.

Lauren:  Tear jerker with the knowledge that humor helps get through the tough times.  I’d go with that.

Haywire (Jan. 20)

Zac’s #1 Movie Pick:  Steven Soderbergh does a straight up action movie with newcomer Gina Carano, and surrounds her with Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, and Michael Angarano.  Yes please.  And I have heard for a long time now that this movie is great.

Heather:  I have to say, this looks like an action movie I could get into.  Girls kicking man booty is right up my ally!

Red Tails (Jan. 20)

Zac:  This is the closest we are going to get to a new George Lucas film as he was right in the thick of things developing and producing this film for years now.  The dog fighting looks awesome and the premise, surrounding the Tuskegee Airmen, could be great material and I look forward to seeing if they pull this off.

Lauren:  You mean Star Wars Episode I isn’t the closest we will get to a new George Lucas film?  I am sure he has changed it yet again.  (Just giving Zac more fodder for his name calling later)

Underworld Awakening (Jan. 20)

Zac: Kate Beckinsale back in leather, I am in.  That’s right, I said it!

Lauren: I can agree with this one completely. Well, not the leather bits, but the choice in movie.  I was a little indifferent towards the third film in the series, but the first two (starring Kate Beckinsale) remain some of my favorite vampire/werewolf films.  I’m just hesitant to get too excited about it because it is 3D, and we all saw what shooting in 3D did to the last Resident Evil film.

The Grey (Jan. 27)

Zac: Another January release I have heard nothing but great things about and I can’t wait to see this.  Joe Carnahan and Liam Neeson’s last team up of the A-Team was a lot of fun, but I am intrigued to see how this one plays out.  Very excited.

Lauren: Haven’t heard much, but the teaser trailer for this one has me more than intrigued as Neeson runs around in the snow with wolves at his heels.

Heather:  I don’t know… looks kind of lame to me.  I think it would have been better if he were fighting off a gang of ferocious Chihuahuas!  Now that I would see.

Lauren:  I think that movie was filmed already, Heather, in Beverly Hills.

The Woman in Black (Feb. 3)

Zac: I am very intrigued to see Daniel Radcliffe’s first post Potter film and the Victorian horror setting could be a lot of fun for him.  I think Radcliffe will have a successful post Potter career, let’s hope it starts here.

Lauren: I know you will be disappointed with me Zac, but I finally had to give in and watch the trailer.  I don’t really feel like it gives anything away, though I will say that it does have me worried that during this film I will feel like I am watching Harry Potter doing things and not Daniel Radcliffe (didn’t help that for a second I thought I saw Ginny).  With that said, I am always up for a horror film, and something about the look of this one reminds me of Sleepy Hollow, so count me in.

Heather:  I don’t know if I think this looks too great.  Based on the trailer I didn’t really feel like I was watching Harry Potter like Lauren feared.  However, it seems like the same ole same ole “trapped in a scary house” horror movie… nothing too novel about that.  I do like that they set this in a cool time period rather than the present day.  That takes it up a notch in my book!  I liked the trailer music too.

Safe House (Feb. 10)

Zac: I am not a “got to be there” Denzel guy, but this one looks kind of good.  Ryan Reynolds is a big plus for me and there are a lot of great friendly faces in the supporting cast as well.  Denzel looks like he is going to be playing against type a little bit here, still a badass though, and it will be fun to see if I can love a Denzel movie again.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D (Feb. 10)

Zac: Oh baby! Seriously excited, and please go see this so we get the rest of the saga over the next six years.

Lauren:  Yeah… I am not going to pay that much to go see these movies again…  Especially because I still own this movie on VHS only.  That is how excited I am to watch Episode I-III again.

Zac: Hater…

Lauren:  Blind faith fanboy.

The Vow (Feb. 10)

Lauren’s #2 Pick:  For those who have been waiting for something to deserve shelf space right next to The Notebook, the day might have finally come.  And it includes Rachel McAdams as well, so that similarity can’t hurt.  And Channing Tatum [gazes off in thought].  All I know is that there is no way I am not going to make it through this movie without some serious work at masking my sniffling.  (Note to self: start dropping hints that you have a cold throughout the week.)

Heather’s #3 Pick:  You had me at The Notebook. Equal parts sadness and romance = perfection.

Wanderlust (Feb. 24)

Zac: Paul Rudd and David Wain are teaming up again and I will follow these two everywhere.  Wain was the creative force/director of Wet Hot American Summer, and the duo last worked together on Role Models.  A top notch cast and guaranteed hilarity are why you should have this one marked on your calendar.

Heather:  Looks pretty good.  I just hope Jennifer Aniston doesn’t ruin it.  She is the kiss of death as far as movies go.

Lauren:  Boo take that back!  Just because she seems to often pin herself to films that don’t do well doesn’t mean it is her fault.  Matter of fact, she gets a lot of praise, sometimes more than everyone else, as a part of the cast of Horrible Bosses.  And you love The Switch!  So I will go see this to support Aniston enough for the both of us (even if I am really going for Rudd).

Jeff Who Lives at Home (March 2)

Zac’s #2 Movie Pick: The Duplass’ brothers latest has been getting raves on the festival circuit and I am super pumped to see their next film.  Mark Duplass you might recognize from The League, but the cast also stars Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, and Susan Sarandon.  Let’s see if the makers of Cyrus can top that stellar film.

(Sorry guys, no official trailer out for this one yet)

Friends with Kids (March 9th)

Zac: Look at the cast for this movie, Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt (also wrote & directed), Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Megan Fox, and Edward Burns.  This is going to be a sneaky good comedy playing below the radar this March and I think it is going to be one not to miss.  And if you dismiss this film because of Megan Fox, well, you are a sad, sad little person.

Lauren:  We all know what happened last time Maya Rudolph (you forgot her, doofus), Kristen Wiig, John Hamm, and Chris O’Dowd were all in a film together.  Historical magic, that’s what.  So unless we get a sequel to Bridesmaids involving soon-to-be parental awkwardness then I will gladly accept this as an alternative.

(Sorry kids, no trailer available)

John Carter (March 9)

Zac’s #3 Movie Pick: Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo and Wall-e) makes his live action debut, and I think he is going to be about as good as Brad Bird. This film is an epic fantasy whose source material influenced most fantasy we know today, but I still hope it manages to be fresh.  The film cost a ton of money and Taylor Kitsch has a lot riding on his shoulders, I am really hoping this one is a winner.

The Raven

Zac: V for Vendetta is amazing, Ninja Assassin is terrible; which James McTeigue will we get?  The premise of making Edgar Allan Poe an action star is intriguing and casting John Cusack in the role even more so.  The trailer which I have actually seen looks pretty good, here’s hoping.

Alan’s #1 Movie Pick: I am so ready for this movie! I’m a big Edgar Allan Poe fan, and seeing his works getting translated into a murder mystery sounds like a great concept, hoping that it translates into a great film.

Lauren:  It’s like the pilot episode of Castle, but most likely far less hilariously awesome and sexually tense.  Maybe they’ll make the writer BA like as done to our upgraded detective in Sherlock Holmes as well.  Color me intrigued.

Heather:  Maybe it will be less hilarious than Castle (I should hope so) but Edgar Allen Poe is the master of all things twisted and creepy.  I scoff at you even comparing Poe’s genius to Castle.  In case you can’t tell, I LOOOOVE me some Poe.  If this movie gets the feel of his stories right, it will be nothing short of wonderfully horrific (in a good way!).

Lauren: I was just talking premise, and it’s not like Poe wrote this screenplay, which is definitely comparable.  So I scoff at your scoff.  Also, come borrow my seasons of Castle already.  Based on this conversation you would appreciate the Halloween episode of Season 2.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (March 9)

Zac: Have heard lots of good things again, Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt are big pluses for this, but I really have no idea what this one is about.  Can’t wait to see it.

Alan: To me, this one just looks like a typical romance/drama, except that it’s about salmon in Yemen. It personally doesn’t look like anything to be thrilled about, but I guess if you need a feel good movie, this might be it. I do not see anything in the previews that would make me want to sit through this movie.

Lauren: Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt… Why do you do this to me!? Or maybe the person who cut this trailer together is to blame.  Unfortunately I fall closer to Alan’s opinion on this one, but I will give it a chance for these lead actors.  Then again, maybe I did just see the whole movie in that trailer, like i did with Leap Year.

Silent House (March 9)

Lauren’s #3 Movie Pick:  Ok Heather, if the creeped out house of The Woman In Black doesn’t do it for you, maybe this one will.  No matter what you thought about Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene, I am more than willing to follow Elizabeth Olsen around once more.  Yes, even if the story is told minute by minute.  That girl can act.  And horror is always an added bonus for me.

21 Jump Street (March 16)

Lauren:  This could end up being horrible, but I am going to go with the opposite of my nature and align with optimism towards what looks to be a blend of The Other Guys and Never Been Kissed (just for the older people “passing” for high schoolers angle).  Then again, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum sure look to be having a whole heap of fun together, so let’s hope it’s contagious.

Mirror Mirror (March 16)

Zac: Tarsem Singh’s films are must see material no matter how successful they are.  Luckily, I really enjoyed Immortals late last year and am looking forward to this crazy, kiddie, retelling of Snow White.  It is at the least going to look gorgeous.

Lauren: There’s a dance number, so excuse me for being skeptical.  But what I have seen of Julia Roberts performance makes this something I will be willing to see even though a lot else is working against it.  But as the argument goes above, this may tread the Red Riding Hood path, and I will dedicate my time to remaining hopeful for Snow White and the Huntsman instead (which is released in June).

Heather:  I think this looks absolutely awful, and would only make me hate Julia Roberts.  I guess we’ll see how well it’s received.

The Hunger Games (March 23)

Lauren’s #1 Movie Pick: Not that I needed any convincing to see this after storming through the book trilogy in 3-4 days, but the trailer for this film has exponentially increased my anticipation, and it doesn’t even show any of the actual Hunger Games yet.  This is how trailers are supposed to be made.

Heather’s #2 Movie Pick: I too, am majorly pumped about the first Hunger Games movie.  Although I was initially concerned about some of the choices for casting, after pictures of the actors in costume were revealed much of my fears were assuaged.  I am an avid fan of the books, and am really interested to see how the graphic nature of some of the scenes will be translated to the silver screen.  I love a movie that can give me both action and a warm fuzzy feeling.  If the movie is a proper representation of the book, it is sure to do both.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (March 30)

Zac: Aardman is all I should have to say to get you lining up to this one and it is going to be great to see them back in the stop motion animation game.  The film looks like silly fun from everything I have seen and I hope these guys continue to find success so they can continue to pump out movies for us to enjoy.

Lauren:  Who’s Aardman?  No, but seriously, I think you are giving some of us too much credit on that name drop, cuz I had to imdb it.  Claymation creeps me out…

Wrath of the Titans (March 30)

Lauren: Ok, I know what you are thinking, but I have what you call selective hearing.  Aka all those naysayers who had nothing but venom to spit at the remake will not convince me that I didn’t have a great time watching it.  Sure, a lot of the mythology was what I would consider “incredibly loose” (which they look to be correcting in Wrath in concern to the Perseus/Andromeda front), but I still left the theater with a smile on my face and the desire to get a sword tattooed down the length of my arm. [starts swinging arm around menacingly]  And best of all, just look at those Titans.

Music

Alan: Just like the end of 2011, the beginning of 2012 in music will start rather slow. However, there are three albums in the coming months that I know that I will be listening to – probably for the majority of the year.

Heather: I also have three albums that I am gearing up for in the first few months of 2012.  I am only really excited about one of them (yay Ingrid Michaelson!), but I will probably buy all three regardless.

Snow Patrol’s Fallen Empires (January 10t)

Heather: Snow Patrol makes the type of music I really have to be in the mood for to fully enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are a great band – but they can be kind of depressing, which isn’t necessarily the kind of music I want to listen to while driving (I prefer something with a little more pep to it in the car). They are however, perfect for mellow days at home of even for falling asleep, and I am definitely looking forward to their next album, albeit significantly less so than Ingrid Michaelson’s.

Lauren’s #1 Music Pick: I can agree with my sister on this one.  Ever since I first heard Final Straw I have always kept a closer eye on Snow Patrol than some other bands because this album and Eyes Open form a massive stockpile of great songs that I always go back to.  A Hundred Million Suns has far fewer listens to its name in my itunes (granted the fact that my favorite song on this album is over 16 minutes long could have something to do with this), but I still remain excited for what comes next for this band.

Anthony Green’s Beautiful Things (January 17th)

Alan: Known more for his works with his Philly based rock outfit Circa Survive, Anthony Green strips it down in his second solo album, Beautiful Things. From what I’ve heard so far through his website, the album is a love letter to his newly born son (he and his wife had two miscarriages before finally giving birth), and the joy and happiness that followed. The songs still have a little bit of the folk element that was on his first album, Avalon, but its upbeat nature and overall good vibes is a nice way to start the year.

Ingrid Michaelson’s Human Again (January 24th)

Heather’s #1 Music Pic: Ingrid Michaelson has such a cheerful and comforting quality to her singing that I can’t help getting a silly smile on my face just listening to it. She has a way of making me feel like everything is going to Be O.K. (which incidentally was the name of her 2008 album). Her last album, Everybody, which I think was more substantial than it’s predecessor, spent the majority of 2009 in my car on repeat. Thus, I have high hopes for Human Again.

The Fray’s Scars and Stories (February 7th)

Heather: For the band’s third album, the members of The Fray attempt to translate stories from their individual lives into music. While admittedly playing it safe their first album, then coming out of their shell but still showing restraint on their second, the group claims to have completely dropped their guard and let go of all inhibitions when writing Scars and Stories.

fun.’s Some Nights (February 21st)

Alan: Funny how one single and a cover on a certain television show can catapult a band into the mainstream. Well, that’s what happened when Glee decided to cover fun.’s first single off of their sophomore album Some Nights, entitled “We Are Young.” The cover (not the original) flew straight to number one on iTunes, and has definitely created some massive buzz about the band. Regardless of the Glee push that they received, fun.’s second outing should be nothing short of awesome. To any new listeners of theirs, go check out Aim & Ignite before listening to their next effort; you will not be disappointed. By the way, I’m calling that “We Are Young” will be one of the top songs of the year.

Lauren: I have had this song stuck in my head for weeks now (Alan and I stipulating that it will inspire our actions in the coming apocalypse doesn’t help), so I’m more than excited to see what they have next for me.

Say Anything’s Anarchy, My Dear (March)

Alan: After their last effort, the self-titled release a couple of years ago, we haven’t heard much from Max Bemis and Co. in what seems to be an incredibly long time. Well, with a minor line-up change, Say Anything is back, and if their new single “Burn A Miracle” is any indication, they are better than ever. If they ditch their pop sound that filled most of their last album and bring it back to …Is A Real Boy status, then we might have a serious contender for album of the next year on our hands. Time will tell…

TV

Zac: Portlandia and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret just started last Friday on IFC, also recommended.

Sherlock Series 2 (Jan. 1)

Zac: Sherlock is currently airing on BBC and can be had if you so desire.  I recommend doing so as the season premiere was fantastic.

Lauren:  I really wanna give this show a chance because I’ve heard good things, granted I could say the same about Portlandia, and three episodes in and I still don’t really get it.  Other than some cameos by Audrey Plaza and Sarah McLachlan, at least.

30 Rock (Jan.12)

Lauren:  With Community hitting the shelf, I need another 30 minute comedy to fill its spot.  Sure I could be bitter that 30 Rock comes into the Thursday night line-up at the same time that Community was taken out, but I love this show way too much to find it at fault for anything.  Plus it isn’t actually to blame anyway, so added bonus.  I just need me some more Liz Lemon (who I was compared to by a friend. Yes, taken as a compliment), and to find out what is going to happen to Avery now that some current events have added a new spin to the story.

The Finder (Jan. 12)

Lauren: This show was introduced to us during last year’s season of Bones, and this might be the most excited I have been for a spin-off since Angel (granted the only other spin-off I can think of is Private Practice).  This character is so unique in how he solves the mysteries, and just personality, which is exactly what the genre needs to make any new show worth watching.  I don’t care about the detective work if the characters don’t give me reasons to come back for more, and I am back.

Alcatraz (Jan. 16)

Lauren:  A few years back my family and I visited Alcatraz, and I don’t remember any of this from the tour.  Granted, one of the only things I do remember was them showing us a hall where a shootout took place and that there was no way I was letting them close a door on me in the solitary confinement cell.  My luck it would get locked and a ghost would cut me into tiny pieces and wash me down the drain.  See how my mind works?  Which is why I am completely interested in a show involving this prison and conspiracies after all of the inmates disappeared, only to reappear on today’s streets having not aged a bit.

The Walking Dead (Feb 12)

Zac: The Walking Dead will return next month with the final 5-6 episodes of the solid second season.  I do hope the story shows some narrative progress though in it’s second half.

Lauren:  Yeah, now that we can leave Sophia behind I am really interested to see where the group goes from here.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to leave this farm, and watch Shane die…  Cuz he is a jerk face…

Mad Men (March 25)

Zac: When Mad Men returns March 25th, it will compete with Breaking Bad, in my mind, for the best show on television.  Last season ended on a shocking relationship decision by Don and I can’t wait to see where the show picks up with them, as well as everyone else at Sterling Cooper Draper Price.

Video Games

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Feb. 7)

Lauren:  I know that I just need to get over my standoffishness towards RPGs so I can see what all the fuss is about with Skyrim, but before then I might just hold out and treat myself with this as a birthday present.  After all, if I have learned anything from Mass Effect it is that the RPG inspired games I love also have a healthy dose of the action/adventure genre blended in, which is where Reckoning fits in.  Not only that, but the story of the world and lore was written by R.A. Salvatore.  No, I have not read his novels, but he is a best seller with an awesome name, so that means he has to be awesome!  Plus the graphics and design remind me a lot of the Fable worlds, and I need something to clean the bad taste of Fable 3 from my mouth.

SSX (Feb. 28)

Lauren:  I haven’t really had any draw to play sports games since my Nintendo 64, and most of those fond memories come from racing down the trails of 1080°, completing tricks that I had no idea how I was doing to the bitter resentment of my older cousin.  It has been years since then, but I will never forget the fun I had playing this game and cannot wait to try out the SSX series.

Alan:  Once SSX Tricky came out for the Gamecube, I have been hooked to the series. SSX 3 was the first game that I played that I could sit and DOMINATE at. And then they decided to add skiers…and the franchise went down from there. The new game looks incredible though; all of the gaming mechanics make it look a lot more polished, but the fact that I can still whip my snowboard around my neck and land a huge move is more than enough to bring me back down to that universe. Way too excited to play it…just please stop delaying it.

Mass Effect 3 (March 6)

Lauren’s #1 Game Pick – Now is the moment we have all been waiting for.  Every decision ever made (yes, ever!) has brought us here, and it is time to see how it will affect our battle against the Reaper invasion.  I’m looking at you, Rachni Queen!  I didn’t save you in game 1 for nothin!

Zac’s #1 Game Pick: What Lauren said.  This is the single most anticipated thing of the year.

Max Payne 3 (March 6)

Lauren: The only experience I’ve had with Max Payne was the movie, and I am going to pretend that never happened.  So I am coming in to this with virgin eyes, full of hope thanks to the graphics and slow motion action.  I enjoyed Wet, but this looks better because the slow-mo doesn’t look mandatory to rack up the kills (assuming a point system isn’t incorporated).  Granted I will probably put this one off for a little while because I will be too busy playing my other 3rd person action/shooter, Mass Effect 3.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (March 6 *DELAYED*)

Lauren: Like sports games, it takes something special to get me to play a FPS with a military angle.  Battlefield 3?  Someday when it’s cheaper. Modern Warfare?  Heck to the no.  With that said, there were only so many games close the launch of the Xbox 360, with Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter being that game, and luckily for me it had a different camera angle.  This may not be much, but the change in gameplay from those other shooters keeps me interested in this series, and not only that, but now thanks to the co-op campaign I can play it with my boyfriend (who will probably try to give me tactical orders while I run around like an idiot).

Sadly, Future Soldier has been pushed back until May. Until then, we can sit back and enjoy how pretty this game looks.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (March 20)

Lauren: I have never been able to play a Resident Evil game.  Why?  Because I am too terrified.  How on earth am I supposed to feel safe when I can’t even strafe while aiming!?  No thank you.  But now, not only can I do that, but I can play with someone else who can protect me just in case a zombie scrambles into my room while I am focused on the TV set.  Plus, this game comes from the perspective of the bad guys who are behind the outbreak, and not a hero dealing with it.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare (Q1) (Xbox LIVE Arcade)

Lauren: Easily one of my favorite examples of creating the perfect environment to build a look and feel for a game, Alan Wake was one of the first horror games I was convinced enough by articles and previews to actually give it a chance.  And yes, I did it sans diapers, though I did make sure not to have a full bladder while playing.  So any title, even just a downloadable game, is definitely something I will be looking forward to.

Alan:  The first game gave me the creeps, but not the way you would expect. Because this game also shares my name, it gets pretty creepy when my fictional wife is yelling at me to save her, or when small little whispers come through my surround sound saying my name. Besides the personal creepiness, I loved the first game; the story, which has it’s cheesy moments, was excellent. That, plus the great graphics and gameplay makes this XBLA title a must.

 

The End:  That’s all we wrote! We hope you enjoyed our lists, and might take a look at to what our next year will bring us. Have a great new year everybody!

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