Also: I’m So Excited (June 28), The Wolverine(July 26), The Lone Ranger (July 3),The Hangover Part III(May 24),Blue Jasmine(July 26),World War Z(June 21).
Ten Films I’ve Already Seen (And Highly Recommend):Ain’t Them Bodies Saints(August 16), The Kings Of Summer(May 31), Twenty Feet From Stardom (June 14), Crystal Fairy (July 12), The Spectacular Now(August 2), Before Midnight(May 24), Frances Ha(May 17), The East(May 31), Stories We Tell (May 17), Drinking Buddies(August 23).
It’s funny to me now that just a few short weeks ago I had been thinking that 2013 was not a very stacked year compared to some of the heavy hitters of 2012. Looking over this list now (and the many films that were not included) that has proven to be anything but the truth. As I noticed while drafting my Top 10 for 2012, only 3 of the 20 films I was looking forward to last year around this time ended up making the cut, which means for better and worse, that there were a whole lot of surprises. I expect this year will be no different. It’s going to be a good one. Here are the films I’m most looking forward to in 2013.
1. Her(Spike Jonze) It’s a sad state of affairs that we’ve only gotten one Jonze film in the last decade but thankfully Annapurna Pictures have once again come to the rescue of one of this generation’s greatest auteurs. In his first effort as screenwriter, Jonze casts surrogate Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who falls in love with his new operating system voiced by Amy Adams. If his robot love story “I’m Here” was any indication of where he’s headed, this is going to be weird and it’s going to be great. (Late 2013)
2. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron) Seven years ago Cuaron’s dizzying dystopian “Children of Men” put him in the upper echelon of filmmakers by fusing smart sci-fi and seamless effects. His latest stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as stranded astronauts attempting to return to Earth and will reportedly be almost entirely CGI, 3D and feature a 20 minute opening shot. From any other filmmaker I’d be terrified, but from Cuaron I’m just excited. (Oct. 18)
3. Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn) Director and star of the Best Film of 2011Refn and Ryan Gosling reteam for this gonzo thriller about a gangster who must seek revenge on a Thai police lieutenant. While I haven’t loved any of Refn’s earlier work, I’m hoping that the corner he and Gosling turned with “Drive” means there will be no turning back. The teaser is full of dark violence which everybody knows is “the best kind." (Unknown)
5. Anchorman: The Legend Continues (Adam McKay) “Anchorman” is arguably the greatest comedy of the last decade (and there are probably few who would argue). The number of comedy sequels that have been anything but less successful rehashes of their forebearers can probably be counted on one hand. And yet, HBO’s endless airing of the original recently has me stupidly anticipating it nonetheless. [Insert “Anchorman” quote here.] (Dec. 20)
6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Bros.)Now in the fourth decade of their careers, the brothers Coen are still going strong and though for me their recent films have been hit-and-miss, that doesn’t make me any less interested in their latest. Set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 60’s, the film stars Oscar Isaac as the titular folk singer who can’t seem to get his shit together. He’s supported by his “Drive” co-star Carey Mulligan alongside longtime Coen MVP John Goodman and (for the ladies) Justin Timberlake. (Unknown)
7. The Counselor(Ridley Scott) Despite being disappointed in “Prometheus,” the stunning visuals alone reminded me that few filmmakers can make a film look as good as Scott can. His latest is an adaptation from “No Country For Old Men” author Cormac McCarthy that stars Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who gets in over his head when he gets involved with drug trafficking. His co-stars (Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz) aren’t too shabby either. (Nov. 15)
8. The Wolf Of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese) Even if I was underwhelmed by "Hugo" there is not much Scorsese could do to make me not interested in what he’s up to next. Based on a memoir of a New York stock broker (Leonardo DiCaprio) who refused to cooperate in a large securities fraud case which exposed the corruption on Wall Street, this seems to be much more in the filmmaker’s wheelhouse and mine. (Late 2013)
9. American Bullshit (David O. Russell) I was a big O. Russell fan when he was working on the fringes but I’m probably an even bigger fan now that he’s bringing his idiosyncratic voice into more mainstream subjects. His latest features an all-star cast of players pulled from his last 2 films (Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams) along with new blood (Jeremy Renner) in the story of an FBI sting operation in the 1970s that leads to the conviction of United States Congressmen. (Late 2013)
10. The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrman) Those who have seen the sensory overload trailers for Lurhman’s latest fall mostly into two camps: “it’s so crazy it just might work” or “wow, what a disaster.” I’m opting for the former. Luhrman’s films have always been divisive, even among his fans - I loved his “Romeo + Juliet” & “Moulin Rouge” but couldn’t make it through “Australia” - so while I would not be at all surprised if this is a mess, I’d be much happier if it wasn’t. After the Luhrman-lite of “Anna Karenina,” I’m ready for the real thing. (May 10)
If 2011 was any indication, I am going to watch a lot of movies in 2012. And from the looks of it, this year has a potential to be an absolutely incredible year for cinema. It seems like nearly every one of my favorite directors has a film coming out in the next 12 months plus, like every year, there will be the surprises that come out of nowhere and become your new favorites. It’s always fun to look back a year later and wonder what the hell you were thinking putting “Cowboys & Aliens” and “Sucker Punch” on there? (In my defense I did have “Drive” at #11, before most people had ever heard of it, based on the cast alone, and that didn’t turn out too badly.) For now, each of the following films is an A+ until reality proves otherwise. It’s going to be a good year. Here are the films I’m most looking forward to in 2012.
1. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project (a.k.a. The Master) dir: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Boogie Nights) It’s been a nearly unendurable wait for my favorite filmmaker to produce a follow-up to his 2007 magnum opus “There Will Be Blood” (a.k.a. The Best Film Of The Decade) and the wait is almost over. Set just after WWII the film will reunite PTA once again with Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a Scientology-type religion who takes in a drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) to be his right-hand man. It will also probably be the best movie of the year/decade/ever. Four years down, one to go. (Late 2012)
2. The Dark Knight Rises dir: Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins) After blowing minds with “Inception,” Nolan is back for the third and final film in his Bat-trilogy bringing along newcomers Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Marion Cotillard. I left the theatre after “The Dark Knight” saying, “That’s probably the best Batman film I’ll see during my lifetime,” thinking that not even Nolan would be able to top it. But nearly four years and one masterwork later, I’m starting to think he might just be able to pull it off. Watch the trailer.(July 20)
3. Django Unchained dir: Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction) Tarantino is back with his 5th consecutive revenge film(!), this time bringing retribution to the slavery-era South. Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a freed slave who teams up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to track down his wife (Kerry Washington) and liberate her from a sadistic plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). They’ll be joined by Kurt Russell, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Sacha Baron Cohen, RZA, Don Johnson, James Remar, cool music, violence and presumably countless references to other films. (Dec 25)
4. Moonrise Kingdom dir: Wes Anderson (The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore) Set in the 1960’s, Anderson’s first live action film in nearly five years centers on two pre-teens who fall in love and run away, turning their New England town upside down in the process. Starry cast includes newcomers Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel and Tilda Swinton along with Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. As much as I’ve been disappointed by his last few features, I’m still holding out hope for this one. (May 25)
5. This Is Forty dir: Judd Apatow (Funny People, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin) Though he’s only directed three features, he’s produced dozens and influenced countless more, making Apatow the king of modern comedy. His last film “Funny People” saw the filmmaker headed into darker, more dramatic territory while his latest is a spinoff of sorts, focusing on Paul Rudd and Lesley Mann’s married couple from “Knocked Up,” presumably dealing with a midlife crisis. They’ll be accompanied by Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, Albert Brooks and Megan Fox and hopefully the perfect mix of comedy/drama. (Dec 21)
6. Gravity dir: Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También, Great Expectations) Ever since Kubrick went into the beyond with “2001: A Space Odyssey,” he influenced a generation of directors do the same. The latest helmer to reach for the stars is Alfonso Cuaron, whose dizzying dystopian “Children of Men” six years ago put him in the upper echelon of filmmakers by fusing smart sci-fi and seamless effects. His latest stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as stranded astronauts attempting to return to Earth and will reportedly be almost entirely CGI, 3D and feature a 20 minute opening shot. From any other filmmaker I’d be terrified, but from Cuaron I’m just excited. (Nov 21)
7. Prometheus dir: Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator) My second most anticipated sci-fi film next year is one that would’ve been unthinkable even just a few years ago. Scott - who has not done a science fiction film since “Blade Runner” 30 years ago - returns to the genre he helped shape with “Alien” for this quasi-prequel (which may or may not even involve aliens). Regardless, the film concerns a group of explorers - including Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba - who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth and possibly it’s end. Though the director has had a patchy decade, just try not to be excited when you watch the trailer.(June 8)
8. Frank or Francis dir: Charlie Kaufman (Synechdoche New York, writer Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) Kaufman may be one of the most distinctive screenwriters of the past decade but has been very quiet since stepping into the directors chair in 2008. That film may have stretched the limits of how weird it could get from the idiosyncratic scribe but things may be about to get even weirder. Steve Carell, Jack Black and Nicolas Cage star in some configuration as vain filmmaker, failed comedian and frustrated film critic in this musical (yes, you read that right), comedy. Kaufman’s audacious scripts walk a fine line between brilliant and bewildering but I’m hoping this ends up as the former. (Late 2012)
9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey dir: Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, The Frighteners) After having a rough go of it with “The Lovely Bones,” Jackson returns to Middle Earth to adapt the J.R.R. Tolkien book that started it all. After the ‘LOTR’ trilogy took in nearly 3 billion dollars at the box office and countless awards, you would think adapting the early adventures of Bilbo Baggins would have been a no brainer but it took quite a bit of wrangling both legal and creative on it’s way to the screen. Expectations are sky high for this film (eyerollingly split into twoinstallments) but honestly I was a lot more excited about it before I watched the trailer.(Dec 14)
10. Inside Llewyn Davis dir: The Coen Bros. (No Country For Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Fargo) Now in the fourth decade of their careers, the brothers Coen are still going strong and though for me their recent films have been hit-and-miss, that doesn’t make me any less interested in their next project. Set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 60’s, the film stars Oscar Isaac as the titular character, a folk singer who can’t seem to get it together. He’s supported by “Drive” co-star Carey Mulligan, F. Murray Abraham longtime Coen MVP John Goodman and (for the ladies) Justin Timberlake. (Late 2012)