It’s bad enough you have a long list of potential (and probable) blockbuster flops to snooze through before the clock strikes 2013, but you also have to consider the underdog flicks left in 2012 — the ones that inevitably catch you off guard, warm your heart and maybe, just maybe, jerk a tear down your pale, wintry cheeks.
Well, break out the tissues and grab a tub of overpriced popcorn because we have a long list of 10 underdog films that might beat any big budget bomb on your 2012 movie wish list.
Flight (In theaters)
We’re not exactly sure how he does it, but we’ve seen this enough with Denzel Washington to know not to question it. Once again, the silky-smooth actor is back with a thriller that’ll keep our eyes fixated for 139 minutes of paramount, live-action drama.
Nobody knows exactly how, but Washington’s character, pilot Whip Whitaker, manages to maneuver an impossible plane dive while struggling with the hardships of family troubles and a little substance abuse. John Goodman and Don Cheadle will also make their way onto the screen as we get down to the bottom of the Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Cast Away") film. Expect to find all the makings of a Denzel classic: government investigations, booze, internal conflict, family dysfunction and an unlikely ending.
Wreck-It Ralph (In theaters)
It's hard to call any Disney movie an underdog, but this one has all the makings of an animated favorite for years to come without as much of the normal hype. And no year would be complete without an off-the-wall cartoon flick of cleverly drawn-up characters that has the ability to make us sob like schoolgirls and cheer like sidelined jocks like the Walt Disney original, "Wreck-It Ralph."
Director Rich Moore of "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" fame, along with a handful of Hollywood’s sexiest voices (John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer and Sarah Silverman) bring you the story of the true lives of fictional villains from our most beloved arcade games, like Streetfighter and Super Mario Bros. With the overabundance of fancy action films and character pieces this holiday season, you have to remember to squeeze in a good Disney cartoon, too. Expect to find a heart of gold in the darkest of animated characters while crying and laughing simultaneously until snot bubbles appear. It'll be good for you.
This Must Be the Place (November 2, limited release)
If you’re not a fan of the typical Sean Penn, this might be a more desired detour for you as the Academy Award winner goes old-school punker mixed with what seems like just an old woman.
Penn plays an aged, retired rocker still in rare form that travels to New York to confront the man, a former Nazi, responsible for the death of his father in World War II. Penn is met along the way by the likes of Frances McDormand and Judd Hirsch — an impressive cast indeed.
The film also features the music of David Byrne, so aside from a grown man’s running eye makeup and awkward emo mannerisms, expect great music with the even greater cast.
Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)
It’s about as likely that Bradley Cooper could get that hunky mug past our crack squad as it is likely you’ll wait in line during a snowstorm to see Matthew Fox as a chiseled anorexic (and Tyler Perry as "Alex Cross") this winter. So here’s Bradley Cooper!
The leading man stands alongside Robert DeNiro for the second time in less than two years as an irritable lost soul who loses his wife and job and is trying to get it all back, finding solace in a nut job mystery girl who wants to help, played by Jennifer Lawrence. What they end up finding might be something they hadn’t planned on. Imagine that.
David O. Russell brings a little family drama to meet with some inner turmoil in this rom-com for the wackadoos of the world. Expect to find a silver lining somewhere.
Red Dawn (November 21)
How flawed would 2012 be without an absolutely unnecessary remake of a semi-noteworthy film, especially if its hunky leading man is Chris Hemsworth? Playing a marine visiting his hometown while it’s being invaded by North Korea, Hemsworth becomes acting captain (literally) to a group of local youngsters looking to prevent another world war from breaking out in the suburbs.
The movie is filled with big "Pearl Harbor"-esque explosions and, of course, some romance among the youths that they really don’t have time for while saving their country.
Expect Patrick Swayze to do fist pumps in his grave and Michael Bay to be jealous that a modern spectacle can have a decent story line.
Hitchcock (November 23)
With "The Great Gatsby" pushed until 2013, it’s time we look to other potential classics with a nod to Alfred Hitchcock.
Led by the great and powerful Anthony Hopkins, along with a little extra weight, heavy makeup and prosthetics, the film explores the life of the rounded, late director during the making of horror thriller "Psycho" in the late ‘50s.
Costar Scarlett Johansson says the actor really came into this character, noting Hopkins as being both extraordinarily clever and frightening. Catch Hopkins as Hitchcock on its Thanksgiving weekend opening and expect to see him on his top game. Hopefully, there will be some some milky white, supple breasts, as well — but not belonging to Hopkins (we hope).
Hyde Park on Hudson (December 7)
Most any moviegoer can appreciate a rare and promising appearance by the great Bill Murray, no matter how stunted or real-to-life the character. While "Ghostbusters 3" hangs in movie studio purgatory, Murray backsteps in time to deliver a quaint story about love, war and quasi-incestuous relations, with plenty of smoking and binge drinking.
In this snapshot of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life, Murray portrays the late president in the 1930s when he has a torrid love affair with a distant cousin, played by Laura Linney, while the King and Queen of England are visiting him at his quiet home in upstate New York.
The film is a focus feature meant as a strange love story for the ages about one of our nation’s most beloved leaders. Expect witty word exchanges, ‘30s swimwear and lots of Bill Murray tending to his vices. We smell a Golden Globe!
Deadfall (December 7)
If "Ocean’s Eleven" had a cinematic baby with "The Grey," you’d come up with something close to December’s "Deadfall," an action crime thriller starring Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde as sibling cohorts trying to make their escape with a newfound fortune after a botched casino robbery.
"Sons of Anarchy" star Charlie Hunnam will likely steal the show as he takes Olivia Wilde under his belt when her brother leaves her stranded. We don’t know how it’ll end, but we all know Jax Teller won’t go down easy. Expect Eric Bana to go nuts but not as the Hulk, Olivia Wilde to seduce one, if not every, actor on set and Charlie Hunnam to bust a cap, as per usual.
Guilt Trip (December 19)
It’s "Dumb & Dumber" meets "Due Date" — only, one of the dudes is Barbara Streisand. But the premise looks promising for holiday movie watching. If you’re planning on spending some time back home, why not watch an awkward family drama with your awkward family?
Seth Rogen stars as an entrepreneur about to hit the road who sympathetically asks his rut-stricken mother to join him as he attempts to hook her up with an old flame. Along the way, there are plenty of road trip antics and clever mother-son situations dealing with puberty and hitchhikers that’ll give you a half-wincing giggle.
Expect Streisand to carry the weight, Rogen to speak awkwardly in monotone and the occasional cheek pinch, but we won’t spoil it and say which cheek.
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Promised Land (December 28)
Gus Van Sant (Oscars for "Milk" and "Good Will Hunting") returns to the director’s chair with a powerful small town versus big corporation battle film. Matt Damon stars as the swindling salesman of a multi-billion-dollar gas company looking to exploit a small town on its back.
John Krasinski plays the opposing role as a local farmer trying to stand up for his people, and probably also trying to get in some clever one-liners. Luckily, Pam will not appear in this one.
Frances McDormand and Rosemarie DeWitt also star in the film, based on a novel by Dave Eggers. Expect small-town jokes, small-town bars and probably a cover band to go with the powerful drama.