Coming to a cinema near you: movie cheat sheet for 2012

Leonardo Dicaprio in J Edgar

Batman, hobbits and Sacha Baron Cohen... A sneak preview of next year's eagerly awaited films

LAST UPDATED AT 05:00 ON Fri 30 Dec 2011

CINEMA fans have a bumper year in store with fantasy epics by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, animal sagas and historical biopics by Steven Spielberg and sci-fi meditations from Ridley Scott. There are also a number of quiet gems on their way, including a new Terence Malick and the Oscars dark horse Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Here's our 2012 cheat sheet for movie enthusiasts.
 
War Horse
Steven Spielberg's big studio adaptation of Michael Morpugo's popular novel and West End hit. This shamelessly gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, Oscar-courting version follows the gruelling journey of a horse, separated from the boy who loves him, and forced to serve in the battlefields of WWI. Opens 13 January.
 
J Edgar
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as J Edgar Hoover (pictured above), the controversial and enigmatic man behind the creation of the FBI. Clint Eastwood's film explores Hoover's public and private life, delving into the secrets he kept behind closed doors. The Guardian calls it "sombre" and "morally questionable". Opens 20 January.
 
The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep is already winning awards for her portrayal of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But while Streep's performance has been almost universally lauded, some critics are concerned about the lack of political content in a film about one of Britain's most controversial political figures. Opens January.

Carnage
Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster star in Roman Polanski's movie adaptation of Yasmina Reza's celebrated play, God of Carnage. Two sets of parents meet to discuss a school fight between their sons, but their polite gathering soon descends into chaos. Opens 3 February.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Reader), adapts Jonathan Safran Foer's critically acclaimed novel about a boy on a quest to find out about his father, who died in the World Trade Center attacks, while resenting his mother (Sandra Bullock) for living. Tipped as the dark horse of the Oscar race. Opens 3 February.

A Dangerous Method
Director David Cronenberg revisits his favourite theme of body horror in an analysis of the complex relationship between psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Vigo Mortensen as Freud struggles with his disciple Jung (Michael Fassbender) over the fate of Jung's disturbed patient and lover played by Keira Knightly. Opens February.

The Woman in Black
Daniel Radcliffe takes on a grown-up, post-Harry Potter cinema role in a creepy Gothic tale of a young lawyer who travels to a remote village, terrorised by the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman. Based on Susan Hill's 1983 novel, which has already been turned into a hugely successful play and a TV movie. Opens 10 February.

John Carter
A US Civil War soldier wakes up on Mars, has to escape evil aliens and rescue a princess in this swashbuckling sci-fi action tale based on a novel by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs. Friday Night Lights star Taylor Kitsch plays Carter, with support roles from Willem Dafoe and Dominic West. Opens March.

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