Before we get too deep into 2013, I wanted to provide a preview on the year to come. As it is the case at the beginning of every new year, there are many, many reasons to be optimistic. Obviously, not every film will live up to expectations (think: Nine, J. Edgar, etc.) and I’m sure a few of these films will get pushed to 2014, but it is still fun to get our hopes up now, while everything is set in front of us. I had planned to run down as many films as I could find, but it became a bit of an overwhelming task, so instead I have compiled a list of the 25 films I am most excited for this year. While we are all knee deep in the end of year awards season for 2012, let’s have some fun looking ahead at the year to come.
Here are some honorable mentions that just fell short of my top 25. I encourage you to do some research with this group, as there are several that probably deserve a spot in the top 25 (all dates in this post are subject to change): Gangster Squad (Out now!); Stoker (January 20th at Sundance); Beautiful Creatures (February 14th); Oz: The Great and Powerful (March 8th); Mud (April 17th); Iron Man 3 (May 3rd); The Great Gatsby (May 10th); Nymphomaniac (May 30th); Kick-Ass 2 (June 28th); Pacific Rim (July 12th); The Wolverine (July 26th); Diana (August 29th); Prisoners (September 20th); Captain Phillips (October 11th); The World’s End (October 25th); Ender’s Game (November 1st); Trance (November 18th); Jack Ryan (December 25th); Blue Jasmine (TBD); Calvary (TBD); Nina (TBD); Foxcatcher (TBD); Lowlife (TBD); Snowpiercer (TBD); Out of the Furnace (TBD); Serena (TBD); Before Midnight (TBD); and Dallas Buyer’s Club (TBD).
I also asked the rest of the staff to chime in with a few of their choices, so look for that at the end of my rankings, which are such:
25. Nebraska (TBD)
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, and Bob Odenkirk
Synopsis: An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes prize.
Thoughts: As you will see with a lot of the films on this list, the director is key for me. It is hard not to get excited about an Alexander Payne film (Sideways; The Descendants), but I’m holding back a little due to I’m not sure what to expect from that cast.
24. Grand Budapest Hotel (TBD)
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, and F. Murray Abraham
Synopsis: The troubles and tribulations of Mr. Gustave, who serves as the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge.
Thoughts: I fell in love with Wes Anderson after Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. I have to admit to liking, not loving, anything he has done since (including the critically acclaimed Moonrise Kingdom). But I’m always going to be excited about what he’s doing next.
23. To the Wonder (April 12th)
Director: Terrence Malick
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, Olga Kurylenko
Synopsis: After visiting Mont Saint-Michel, Marina and Neil come to Oklahoma, where problems arise. Marina meets a priest and fellow exile, who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews his ties with a childhood friend, Jane.
Thoughts: Again, it’s about the director here. While most were divided with their feelings towards The Tree of Life, I was absolutely enthralled by it, naming it the #2 film of 2011. I expect even more divisiveness from Wonder, and hope to be on the positive side again.
22. Saving Mr. Banks (December 20th)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Stars: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, and Jason Schwartzman
Synopsis: Author P.L. Travers travels from London to Hollywood as Walt Disney Pictures adapts her novel Mary Poppins for the big screen.
Thoughts: Tom Hanks is playing Walt Disney, so let’s hope this turns out better than a certain film from 2012 about another iconic director. The fact that Disney is distributing the film – and that the director of The Blind Side is at the helm – leaves me to assume that this will be a rainbows and sunshine version of the man behind the mouse.
21. World War Z (June 21st)
Director: Marc Forster
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox, James Badge Dale, and Eric West
Synopsis: A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.
Thoughts: I really wanted to put this higher on my list, but with all of the production troubles that stalled the film from being a 2012 release, it’s hard to imagine this film will be all that is hoped for. There is also a lot of talk about the trailer looking nothing like the source material.
20. Oldboy (October 11th)
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharlto Copley
Synopsis: An everyday man has only five days and limited resources to discover why he was imprisoned in a nondescript room for 15 years without any explanation.
Thoughts: Spike Lee has long been a director I have failed to embrace. While I am a fan of Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, I haven’t enjoyed his work much otherwise. If he can produce well, this American remake of the hit Korean film is sure to be violent, controversial, and a lot of fun.
19. The Butler (TBD)
Director: Lee Daniels
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Alex Pettyfer, James Marsden, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Liev Schreiber, Minka Kelly, David Oyelowo, Vanessa Redgrave, Terrence Howard, Oprah Winfrey, Melissa Leo, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, and Jane Fonda
Synopsis: A White House butler served eight American Presidents over the course of three decades.
Thoughts: In the wake of Daniels’ The Paperboy being one of the most critically panned films of 2012, it is hard to hope for too much here, but I like the synopsis as well as the cast, so I remain optimistic.
18. Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17th)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Peter Weller, and Alice Eve
Synopsis: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
Thoughts: Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) is one of the better reboots I’ve seen, and the teaser trailer for the sequel played things just right. The casting of Cumberbatch as the villain (is he Kahn?!?) is an inspired choice.
17. Her (TBD)
Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Olivia Wilde, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, and Samantha Morton
Synopsis: A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly-purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.
Thoughts: Jonze’s last full length feature film was Where the Wild Things Are (2009), a film that remains one of my favorite for that year. The synopsis makes Her sound like one of the more original films we will see this year, and is loaded with talented young actresses, as well as one of the best actors working today.
16. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (October 4th)
Director: Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Jamie Chung, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, and Dennis Haybert
Synopsis: The town’s most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants
Thoughts: I ranked Sin City as the fourth best film of 2005. I probably don’t need to say much more than that. I’m hoping Clive Owen returns to play Dwight, but the recent casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt sealed the deal for me on this long awaited sequel.
15. The Place Beyond the Pines (March 20th)
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Rose Byrne, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Dane DeHaan, and Bruce Greenwood
Synopsis: A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.
Thoughts: Cianfrance and Gosling re-team after working so well together on Blue Valentine. But it is Bradley Cooper who has me the most excited for this film. Following his excellent performance in Silver Linings Playbook, Cooper looks like he is set to impress once again.
14. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13th)
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, and Christopher Lee
Synopsis: The Dwarfs, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the misty mountains, but Bilbo has gained the one ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back off the Dragon, Smaug.
Thoughts: This list is all about being hopeful, right? Unlike most, I think the first segment in The Hobbit trilogy (I guess that’s what we’re calling it?) did a serviceable job setting the table for the more exciting segment that is to come. The Desolation of Smaug is what is to come. My love for Middle-earth remains intact (though if An Unexpected Journey had lived up to expectations, you probably would have found this film #1 on my list).
13. A Most Wanted Man (November 28th)
Director: Anton Corbijn
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, and Willem Dafoe
Synopsis: A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught up in the international war on terror.
Thoughts: Corbijn’s vastly underrated film, The American, was one of my most favorite films of 2010. That director with the above cast working off of source material based on John Le Carré’s book? Sold.
12. Labor Day (TBD)
Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguire, Jacki Weaver, and James Van Der Beek
Synopsis: Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.
Thoughts: The synopsis sounds much darker than any previous Reitman film, which might breathe fresh air into the young director’s career. Kate Winslet is always a must-see, and this will be her first true lead role since her Oscar winning year in 2008 (The Reader and Revolutionary Road).
11. Untitled David O. Russell/Abscam Project (TBD)
Director: David O. Russell
Stars: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Louis CK, and Amy Adams
Synopsis: An FBI sting operation in the 1970s called Abscam leads to the conviction of United States Congressmen.
Thoughts: This is one I know very little about, but just one look at the cast and director makes me excited for whatever is in store. Who doesn’t enjoy a good”sting” film?
10. Only God Forgives (May 23rd)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas
Synopsis: A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match.
Thoughts: If you liked Drive (2011), then you are probably pretty excited to see Gosling and Refn re-team this soon for Only God Forgives. What gets me really excited is the idea of Kristin Scott Thomas as a vicious mob mom.
9. Elysium (August 9th)
Director: Neil Blomkamp
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner, and Diego Luna
Synopsis: Set in the year 2159, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.
Thoughts: I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi flick, and Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) was one of the most innovative films I’ve seen in years. I’m all in on this being incredibly good.
8. The Counselor (November 15th)
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, John Leguizamo, and Rosie Perez
Synopsis: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.
Thoughts: The Counselor will be acclaimed author Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay, and involves an outstanding cast of perennial favorites of mine. Ridley Scott has directed a few of my most beloved movies ever (Alien, Blade Runner), but he hasn’t done anything that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed since Black Hawk Down, so I’m hoping this is a return to form for the legendary director.
7. Man of Steel (June 14th)
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne
Synopsis: An alien infant is raised on Earth, and grows up with superhuman abilities. He sets out to use these abilities to guard his adopted world.
Thoughts: I named my first born son after Superman. That should tell you how excited I have been ever since learning of this film being made. The choice of Zack Snyder to direct has me super cautious, but I’m crossing all of my fingers that he can do for Superman what Christopher Nolan did for Batman.
6. Gravity (October 18th)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Stars: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
Synopsis: Astronauts attempt to return to earth after debris crashes into their space shuttle, leaving them drifting alone in space.
Thoughts: I’m a nut for sci-fi, and as a big fan of Cuarón’s Children of Men, it seems like he would be the perfect fit for this ambitious, futuristic space-disaster film. The sky is the limit for how mindblowing this film could be, as it has been compared to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and is already being praised by Guillermo del Toro.
5. Inside Llewyn Davis (February 8th)
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Oscar Isaac, and F. Murray Abraham
Synopsis: A singer-songwriter navigates New York’s folk music scene during the 1960s.
Thoughts: It’s the Coen Brothers. Please and thank you.
4. August: Osage County (TBD)
Director: John Wells
Stars: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, Margo Martindale, and Chris Cooper
Synopsis: The Weston family overcomes certain differences when their alcoholic patriarch goes missing.
Thoughts: August: Osage County is backed by The Weinsteins, is based on a Pulitzer prize-winning play, and has one of the best casts of the year. On the surface, it seems like this will all come down to what John Wells is able to do behind the camera. With only one feature film to his credit (The Company Men; 2010), he definitely sticks out as the biggest question mark with this film.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street (TBD)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, and Jon Bernthal
Synopsis: A New York stockbroker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, corporate banking world and mob infiltration.
Thoughts: Leo and Marty are making a new film about the mob, power, and corruption. What’s not to like? The pair is working on their fifth collaboration together. Terence Winter – who created the popular HBO series Boardwalk Empire – wrote the screenplay based on the book by Jordan Belfort.
2. Twelve Years a Slave (TBD)
Director: Steve McQueen
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti, Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Scoot McNairy, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Alfre Woodard
Synopsis: A man living in New York during the mid-1800s is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep south.
Thoughts: Speaking of directors and their muse, Slave will be the third joint effort between McQueen and Fassbender (Hunger (2008); Shame (2011). I think we can expect this film to be the bolder, grittier brother of Django Unchained, and it might have the best cast assembled for 2013.
1. The Monuments Men (December 18th)
Director: George Clooney
Stars: George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban
Synopsis: In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.
Thoughts: Intriguing drama based on a true story with an A-list cast directed by one of my favorite actor/directors ever and produced by the studio that brought us The Ides of March and Argo. You bring all that and you get my #1 spot. I’ll give you a little preview for my 2013 Oscar predictions as well: I expect The Monuments Men (with its late December release date to boot) to be a major player during awards season, and it is my SUPER early pick to be the favorite for the 2013 Best Picture prize (too soon, I know).
Here is the rest of the staff’s five most anticipated films for 2013:
- The Place Beyond the Pines
- Before Midnight
- Man of Steel
- Labor Day
- The Great Gatsby
- Man of Steel
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
- Twelve Years a Slave
- Ender’s Game
- The Wolverine
- Insidious 2
- To the Wonder
- Twelves Years a Slave
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- The Great Gatsby
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- Twelve Years a Slave
- A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
- Iron Man 3
- The Monument’s Men
- Pacific Rim
- Captain Phillips
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- The Monument’s Men
- Twelve Years a Slave
- Before Midnight
What are you most looking forward to this year?