Prequels, sequels, reboots and remakes. On the surface, 2012 will be an exhausting re-run of the last decade; a victory lap for noughties cinema and no doubt another hoorah for Peter Jackson as he finally gives us part one of The Hobbit with the help of Martin Freeman as the pensively staring Bilbo Baggins. Joining them in the battle of the box office will be Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spiderman, the latter of which appears to have Jackson-a-like, all-star cast, Tom Hardy’s Bane surely too gravely-voiced for most and Rhys Ifans’ The Lizard too… well, let’s wait and see.

Pick your way through the blockbuster rubble and a few gems do shine through, though. Jason Reitman has been nothing but unpredictable since starting out in the director’s chair and Young Adult looks to be as whip-smart as his previous efforts, Thank You For Smoking, Juno and Up In The Air. Once again, he teams up with Juno writer Diablo Cody to produce an upside down tale of a high school prized pupil returning to her old haunts, Charlize Theron in the lead.

The Great Gatsby, meanwhile, must have been tempting for many a director through the years, but it’s Baz Luhrmann who’s finally picked up the mantle, his skewed vision a potentially perfect tone for Fitzgerald’s salacious story, and with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan on board next Christmas can’t come quick enough.

Perhaps one of the most striking films of recent years, Dogtooth dazzled with its audacious dark humour and startling plot, so it’s exciting to see Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos poised for his return, this time with a ghost story of sorts as Alps explores notions of mortality and loss in ways only he knows how. Quentin Tarantino is back too, with his first feature since 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. Hardly a wallflower, this year will see the auteur run headlong at slavery with Amistad. Starring Jamie Foxx as an escaped slave and DiCaprio (he’s everywhere this year) as the hate figure (a plantation boss with no scruples), we expect this number to be no holds barred, which goes for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master too – a film that’s rumoured to be his viewpoint on Scientology, starring old muse Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but definitely not old Magnolia pal Tom Cruise.

And while all of this going on, 2012 could also shape up to be the year of the odd couple. Always a pleasure if not always a success, an unexpected partnership can work wonders, like, say, Devito and Schwarzenegger in Twins. Perhap Terrence Malick and Ben Affleck will be equally as effective together – they’re currently working on a yet untitled project and Malick’s first since the brilliant The Tree of Life. As for the in-post-production Cosmopolis, that combines the killer David Cronenberg with, erm, Robert Pattinson. And, hey, it could work – Pattinson playing Eric Packer, a multimillionaire on a 24-hour odyssey across Manhattan, will surely come easier than playing a vampire.

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 34 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. January 2012.