AFI Fest Preview: 12 Films We're Looking Forward to Seeing

The annual AFI Fest takes over Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood beginning today, with world premieres, galas and special screenings for some of the most anticipated films to wrap up 2012. Here are 12 films that we're looking forward to checking out.

Tickets are free to special and regular screenings and you can find out more info here.

Hitchcock

Anthony Hopkins embodies the iconic director as he struggles to put together one of his seminal movies, Psycho. Helen Mirren stars as his wife, Alma, and Scarlett Johansson appears in the film portraying Janet Leigh. And yes, the shower scene is included. The film makes its world premiere tonight at 7:30pm.

Life of Pi 3D

Ang Lee directs this adaptation of the best-selling Yann Martel novel about a young man who is shipwrecked with a 650-pound Bengal tiger in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Buzz is strong with this film and we've seen some stunning footage leading up to its screening on November 2 at 7:30p.

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg's film about the final four months of the nation's 16th president is sure to be an awards season staple. Daniel Day-Lewis plays the title character and has garnered solid reviews and Oscar buzz for his performance. The film will close out the festival on Nov. 8 at 7pm.

On the Road

Walter Salles takes on Jack Kerouac's coming of age classic with this screen adaptation starring Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley, Amy Adams and Kirsten Dunst.  Set against the backdrop of a jazzy '50s, the film focuses on the post-war Beat Generation's disillusionment. The screening takes place on Nov. 3 at 8pm.

Rise of the Guardians 3D

There's plenty of curiosity as to how DreamWorks Animations latest feature will do. Essentially a re-imagining of classic children's icons, the film finds Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost taking on a Boogeyman-esque character called Pitch Black as he tries to spread fear throughout the world. The film will be presented in 3D on Nov. 4 at 4pm.

Rust and Bone

Marion Cotillard is understandably garnering awards buzz for her performance in this romantic drama about a street brawler (Bullhead's Matthias Schoenaerts) and a killer whale trainer (Cotillard). Following a tragic accident, the two set off on a rocky relationship. The film screens on Nov. 5 at 7:30pm.

Silver Linings Playbook

While the previous six listings are Gala events, the following are Special Screenings that you can get free tickets to. Leading off the pack is David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. An adaptation of Matthew Quick's novel, the film focuses on the moving and funny road to recovery for a man who has gone through a personal and professional meltdown. The film screens on Nov. 2 at 8pm, and Nov. 8 at 3:45pm.

Holy Motors

You may not have heard of this trippy French movie, but it's definitely worth checking out. Starring Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue and Denis Lavant, the film follows a man named Mr. Oscar who has nine "assignments" to complete which require him to inhabit various characters. Lavant transforms himself into an assassin, a tramp and an old woman, among other characters. And there's talking cars. The film screens at the Egyptian Theater on Nov. 3 at 7pm, and at Grauman's on Nov. 6 at 1:30pm.

The Impossible

While it might not be on that many people's radar right now, the latest from Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona finds Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as a married couple who take their three young sons on Christmas vacation in Thailand when a massive tsunami hits the shore. Watts and McGregor are potential awards season dark horses in this terrifying and emotional drama. The film screens at Grauman's on Nov. 4 at 8:30pm, and Nov. 8 at 4pm.

The Central Park Five

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns joins his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon to tell the story of five young black and Latino teenagers who were charged and convicted of  the rape and murder of a young white woman in 1989 New York City. The five men fight to prove their innocence in this moving film about a miscarriage of the justice system that remains as relevant today as it was in 1989. The film screens at the Egyptian Theater on Nov. 3 at 3:30pm, and at Grauman's on Nov. 5 at 1:15pm.

A Royal Affair

Taking on a Danish period film may be somewhat intimidating to mainstream audiences, but the superbly acted and directed Affair is definitely a film worth catching. The official Oscar entry from Denmark, the film includes another commanding performance from Mads Mikkelsen (best known as the villain in Casino Royale) and a breakthrough performance from newcomer Alicia Vikander, who will also appear alongside Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina. We'll have more on this one when it opens in theaters on Nov. 9, but you can check it out at the Egyptian Theater on Nov. 5 at 4pm.

Amour

Speaking of foreign films, this Palme d'Or award-winning drama from Michael Haneke is currently one of the favorites to take home the Best Foreign Film Oscar early next year. A film filled with compassion, tenderness and wonderful acting from its two leads, Amour gives us permission to believe that unconditional love will endure after death. The film screens on two afternoons, Nov. 3 at 4:30pm, and Nov. 6 at 4:45pm.

There are plenty of other films, both feature and shorts, that will also screen at the AFI Fest and you can browse through all the titles and get screening locations and times.

We'll have continuing coverage throughout the week in our Indie Film Guide and you can also follow along on Twitter @Fandango @DerrickDeane and @ElisaOsegueda.

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