2012 fall movie preview

Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

Summer blockbusters have played out, movies are getting more serious, and Oscar races are heating up. It must be Hollywood's fall season. Two significant milestones are coming: This is the 50th anniversary of the "official" James Bond franchise that began with Sean Connery's sexy swagger in Dr. No in 1962. After a four-year hiatus, Daniel Craig is back as 007 in Skyfall. If that is a new beginning, this is the end of The Twilight Saga. Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 completes the five-movie franchise in a four-year span.

Based on public interest, here is the Top 10 for fall of 2012 (all release dates are subject to change):

SKYFALL (Nov. 9)

British director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) takes over the Bond franchise. The plot spins around 007's complicated relationship with spy boss M (Judi Dench) as his loyalty to her is tested. Daniel Craig's co-stars include Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem and Helen McCrory.

LINCOLN (Nov. 9 in Toronto/Nov. 16 wide)

Steven Spielberg, America's leading populist filmmaker, tackles the life-and-times of Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States. The film focuses on the last four months of Lincoln's life. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 15, 1865, just three weeks before the end of the American Civil War. In a recent press statement, Spielberg said: "Our movie is really about a working leader who must make tough decisions and get things done in the face of overwhelming opposition." London-born Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis plays Honest Abe while rising American star Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays his son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Sally Field, fresh from conjuring Aunt May in The Amazing Spider-Man, is Mrs. Lincoln.

ARGO (Oct. 12)

As Hollywood re-creates the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, it remains to be seen how much reality makes it into the movie. Ben Affleck, both director and star, plays a CIA operative who specializes in extractions. He concocts a plan to rescue six Americans who found refuge with the heroic Canadian ambassador, Ken Taylor. Victor Garber appears as Taylor. In real life, Taylor earned the Congressional Gold Medal from Washington. In the movie ... well, we will see if this is just a token shout-out. But the film is still a major player.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN -- PART 2 (Nov. 16)

While Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's personal relationship issues are public gossip, their love-torn relationship on the big screen comes to a merciful end, too. Critics will probably hate this movie, as they did the others. But Twihards will most certainly rally support and celebrate their beloved series.

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (Nov. 2)

The poster says: "Quentin Tarantino Presents ..." Misleading! He is not in the credits. But his sidekicks Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds) and Wu-Tang Clan co-founder RZA (Kill Bill composer) work in Tarantino's wheelhouse. The martial arts story is set in feudal China with an heroic loner fighting for justice. RZA directed and co-stars opposite an East-West cast led by Jamie Chung, Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu.

FLIGHT (Nov. 2)

With the engines on fire, Denzel Washington's pilot safely lands a crippled passenger plane. First hailed as a hero for miraculously saving lives, he finds himself seriously compromised and threatened during the post-crash investigation.

CLOUD ATLAS (Oct. 26)

As a collaboration between German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and American siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix), this project is already heightened. Then you read the IMDb synopsis: "An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution." It could be fascinating or ...

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (Nov. 21)

With the author's collaboration, director Peter Ramsey delves into William Joyce's novel about Immortal Guardians who dedicate themselves to preserving the innocence of children who are threatened by an evil spirit. Footnote: Joyce is one of the madmen you saw rejoicing when The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won an Oscar as best animated short this year.

FRANKENWEENIE (Oct. 5)

Tim Burton returns to both his childhood and early animation career with this exciting new stop-action animation. The movie faithfully recreates Burton's version of growing up in suburban Burbank (now his worst nightmare). It also expands his brilliant 1984 short into a feature-length film. The story? Weird, of course. Young anti-hero Victor re-animates his late dog Sparky with unintended results. I was on-set during production and saw the meticulous work and dazzling concept.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (Sept. 28)

Armed with accolades for his TV work, Genndy Tartakovsky debuts with an animated comedy featuring Dracula as the proprietor of a creepy hotel for monsters. Things go awry when a boy discovers the place and falls in love with Drac's teen daughter. Adam Sandler voices Dracula opposite Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Andy Samberg and Kevin James as Frankenstein.

Lincoln could be heading back to Oscars

In spirit if not in body, Abraham Lincoln has been to the Academy Awards already. Canadian actor Raymond Massey was nominated for playing him in the 1940 biopic, Abraham Lincoln in Illinois. Expect a return engagement. Daniel Day-Lewis is being hyped as a slam-dunk candidate as best actor for playing the 16th U.S. president in Steven Spielberg's new film, Lincoln.

Spielberg's opus is not to be confused with either one of the year's two presidential horror movies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies. Day-Lewis does it up all sombre instead.

You may have to wait until later to see some of the competition Lincoln will face. Promising titles such as Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Hyde Park on Hudson and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are end-of-year releases. But there are coming-attractions for fall which could contend in major categories, including for best picture and in the four actor races. Besides Lincoln, The Life of Pi, Anna Karenina and perhaps P.T. Anderson's much-anticipated The Master will be in the mix. Argo, Ben Affleck's latest as director and star, will figure in somehow. Clint Eastwood could be honoured for Trouble with the Curve and Brad Pitt has been getting great notices for Killing Them Softly.

 A brief history of James Bond

The "official" James Bond movie franchise marks its 50th anniversary this year with the debut of Skyfall. A brief history of 007:

1953: British author Ian Fleming conjures James Bond, naming his British spy after an ornithologist.

1953: Bond makes his TV debut on CBS with American Barry Nelson as the clunky lead.

1962: The franchise gets deadly serious with Sean Connery as the first official Bond in Dr. No.

1967: The silly spoof Casino Royale has a bunch of Bonds, including David Niven.

1969: George Lazenby replaces Connery in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

1971: Connery returns in Diamonds are Forever (and later appears in a rogue Bond movie).

1973: Roger Moore takes over for seven straight Bonds.

1987: Timothy Dalton debuts, lasting only two dour instalments.

1995: Pierce Brosnan revitalizes the series with GoldenEye, the first of four appearances.

2006: Daniel Craig toughens up the role, Connery-style, with "real" version of Casino Royale.

2012: Skyfall makes it 23 official Bonds.

2014: Another Craig 007 is rumoured for release.

 


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