Both last month and this month are shaping up to prove that this time of the year doesn’t only serve as a dumping ground for Mark Wahlberg action movies and another indistinguishable Katherine Heigl horror movie. So far we’re off to a great start for 2012, and I sure hope it continues that way. With another Heigl rom-com nowhere in sight, I believe we’re all clear for now.

Honorable Mentions: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (got terrible buzz out of Butt-numb-a-thon, but it’s still got Ciarán Hinds, one of the best actors around, playing the devil) and Chronicle (apparently it’s better than it looks).

Wanderlust

Opens February 24th.

The trailer for Wanderlust was decent enough to not totally damper my excitement for another Paul Rudd and David Wain collaboration. Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models are two of the better comedies of the past decade, and as long as Wanderlust is half as funny those two pictures, it’ll still remain worthwhile.

The Woman in Black

Opens February 3rd.

The teaser trailer for The Woman in Black was impressive enough to make our top trailers of 2011 list, and I’ve been excited for it ever since seeing that atmospheric-driven preview on the big screen. From the director of the little-seen but tense Eden Lake and writer Jane Goldman, the scribe behind plenty of excellent comic adaptations, it’s a strong and promising team up for a horror movie.

Undefeated

Opens February 17th.

I hadn’t heard anything about Undefeated before seeing it at SXSW, and I’m glad I experienced it that way. I wasn’t braced for the tears or the moving experience that it indeed is, and this Oscar-nominated documentary really has that effect. Just ask head honcho Neil Miller, a man so cold and monstrous, and even he couldn’t hide the faint hints of tear drops slipping down his bearded face.

Kill List

Opens February 3rd. Now on VOD.

Here’s another film I adored at SXSW. When writing about Kill List, one feels like solely saying, “Just go see it.” Even writing “don’t read anything” is approaches spoiler territory, making you expect something big to happen. Obviously, it’s not an easy film to write about. What I can say is there’s a big chance of Ben Wheatley‘s film cracking my top 10 list for 2012. It’s a bleak, funny, and a suitably unpleasant portrayal of vicious but human killers.

Return

Opens February 10th.

Return is a restrained, modest, and intimate film which avoids the usual”coming back home from war” tropes. As I wrote when the film’s trailer hit the net, Linda Cardellini is an actress who has never gotten the best of feature film roles to match the chops she showed on Freaks and Geeks. Obviously, Lindsay Weir and her character here are much different, but one similar connection: Cardellini can make you crack a smile one minute, and then quietly wrench your heart a little the next, without ever going too far to make that happen. It’s an exceptional performance in a memorable film.

Perfect Sense

Opens February 10th. On VOD February 3rd.

I generally don’t agree with Rob Hunter. He’s wrong, at the very least, 100% of the time. But if he’s right about one thing, it’s about Perfect Sense. Don’t let the unsubtle title fool you, David Mackenzie‘s film works as both a love story and a smart piece of low-key sci-fi. Perfect Sense explores both how humans and a relationship would adapt during a pandemic. It’s a beautiful film which also boasts two of Eva Green and Ewan McGregor‘s strongest performances to date.


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