With the films of 2011 consigned to the ages (at least until the Oscars), here are five films being released this year that I'm particularly excited about.

American writer/director Whit Stillman has only made three movies, and the most recent one, The Last Days of Disco, was released in 1998.

The three films form an informal trilogy focusing on groups of urbane, witty young adults and their various romantic travails.

After years of false starts, Stillman has finally gotten around to mounting a fourth film, Damsels In Distress, due for release here in late April.


I'm very interested to see how this new film fits into Stillman's traditional style - it's set at university and apparently there are musical elements.

The lead actress is Greta Gerwig, a rising indie star who so greatly impressed in last year's Ben Stiller dramedy Greenberg. She seems perfect for Stillman's milieu.

There's something wonderfully re-assuring about the fact that in today's technology and brand-driven cinema marketplace, so many people can get excited about a silent movie.

The Artist - which is set in 1927 Hollywood and will screen with a full musical score - has had tongues wagging since it debut at Cannes in May last year, and is being released in New Zealand on February 9th to capitalise on expected Oscar attention.

There's something so infectiously joyful about the trailer, and clearly the film possesses the confident stylisation so present in the French director Michel Hazanavicius' previous films, the OSS 117 spy spoofs.

While everyone involved still refuses to formally confirm it, Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller Prometheus is clearly some sort of prequel to the Alien series. And it looks freaking amazing.

Scott keeps hinting that film features epic revelations about humanity's origins, and he's assembled the best cast since Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Charlize Theron; Guy Pearce; Michael Fassbender (as a robot!); The Wire's Idris Elba and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace.

Plus how cool do those blue space suits look? Prometheus comes out in New Zealand on June 7.


Ever since it debuted at the Sundance festival last year, the psychological thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene has piqued my interest. Telling the tale of a young woman's experiences with a cult and her attempts to get her life together after she leaves it, the film features what is by all accounts a star-making lead performance from Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of former child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley).

I'm particularly excited to see character actor John Hawkes as the cult leader. One of an increasingly rare breed of average-looking American actors who can forcefully project on screen, Hawkes began to break out of supporting roles with 2005's Me and you and Everyone We Know and garnered attention for his work in last year's Winter's Bone.

I can't think of anyone I'd rather see as a cult leader. Martha Marcy May Marlene is scheduled for New Zealand in March.

The trailer for Chronicle - a "found footage" sci-fi thriller that features no name actors - seemed to appear out of nowhere late last year, but it very much grabbed my attention.

Focusing on three high school friends who acquire telekinetic powers, it seems like it could be the first film to deliver on the genre potential promised by District 9.

If nothing else, that film showed that classic tropes can take on much greater power when delivered via grounded, non-traditional means.

Chronicle was written by rising screenwriter Max Landis, son of legendery writer/director John Landis (The Blues Brothers; An American Werewolf In London) and is set for release here in February.

Other noteworthy 2012 films I really want to see include The Amazing Spider-Man; The Dark Knight Rises; The Avengers; John Carter and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And Piranha 3DD.

What 2012 films are you most excited to see?