Monday, January 7, 2013

My 25 (or so) Most Anticipated Films of 2013

My best of 2012 list is up and running, so that means it is time to stop looking back, and begin looking forward to the most anticipated of 2013.  Most of the following films will hit US cinemas sometime in this calendar year.  Some of them will end up being held until 2014 (or even later) and therefore will pass onto my most anticipated list for next year (as in turn some of the films here have done after not arriving last year - one film is making its third annual visit to this list).  All of these films are (obviously) ones I am excited about for one reason or another.  Some of them will inevitably not live up to my expectations - hopefully not too many - but judging from last year's list, where five of the films made my eventual top ten list, and several others were in close proximity, it should be a pretty good year - at least as far as these twenty-five or so films go.  So, without further ado, I give you my 25 most anticipated films of 2013.

1.  Nymphomaniac - An unsurprisingly (look at the source), and probably appropriately, considering the prudish world we live in, controversial, and very likely pornographic, Lars von Trier film, that will supposedly have a hardcore (rumours claim actual penetration) and a softcore version released for more of a choice for cinema owners, that stars the dangerously provocative Charlotte Gainsbourg as the titular sex addict, and also features Stellan Skarsgård, Uma Thurman, Willem Defoe, Christian Slater, Udo Kier, and even, in an attempt to change his image, Shia LeBeouf?  How can this not be the number one film on anyone's list this year? 

2. The Grandmaster - Making this list is getting to be a regular gig for this long-awaited Wong Kar-wai film.  In it's third annual appearance on my list, it may finally be making its screen debut later this year.  No, really, I mean it this time.  The film opens in its native China this very week and will make its international debut at Berlin in February, followed by an international rollout throughout the Spring.  It could actually get here by the Fall.  Seriously.  I know I have promised this before, but I really believe it this time.

3. To the Wonder - This Terrence Malick project was on last year's list, but this year we really mean it.  Just two years since the director's last film - a quick turnaround that is soooo not a Malick trait - and a few months after making a splash in Venice, this film will see a US release in April.  Obviously, I am rather excited about the whole thing.  Of course, as with The Tree of Life, and every other film Malick has made, there are sure to be a lot of moviegoers scratching their heads.  Ah well, screw them.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street - Martin Scorsese once again teams up with Leo DiCaprio, in this look at mob infiltration on Wall Street.  Shot digitally instead of on film, as Scorsese has always done (Hugo was shot digitally, but that is because it was done in 3D), it is the start of a new era for the director that has championed film until its last dying breath.  Long time editor Thelma Schoonmaker expressed her disappointment with the decision, saying, "It would appear that we've lost the battle. I think Marty just feels it's unfortunately over, and there's been no bigger champion of film than him." Still though, whether we like it or not, we are in the digital age, so we might as well embrace it, and see what masters like Scorsese will do with the new medium.

5. The World's End - The third in Edgar Wright's "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy," and (of course) starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this is a film that starts out as a group of old pals recreating a pub crawl from their youth, and eventually turns into an end-of-the-world disaster film.  Considering the crew involved, it should be quite fun indeed.

6. Star Trek Into Darkness - The true Trek purists probably did not like me call J.J. Abrams 2009 reboot, the best Star Trek film ever made, but who the hell cares.  It was dammit.  Whether the director can recreate that greatness - that boldly going - in this follow-up is still to be determined, but since I think of Abrams as the bast mainstream director working today, my hopes are rather high.

7. Only God Forgives - This is another one of those films that had erroneously been included in last year's list - but this time it looks like we will have ourselves an actual release date.  From Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling, the director and star of 2011's brilliantly subversive psychological actioner, Drive, comes what looks to be another balls-out action/thriller, mindfuck of a movie.  Every damn thing about this film excites me.

8. I'm So Excited - Spanish auteur Pedro Almadóvar has described his nineteenth film as a very light comedy, so we may not get the depth of things like Talk to Her or The Skin I Live In, but it is still Almadóvar, so it should be muy hermosa.  See what I did there.  I threw in some Spanish, so I would appear international and sophisticated.  I'm cool like dat.  Seriously though, the film should be quite fun indeed.

9. Before Midnight - Shot in secret, this follow-up to Before Sunset, picks up the story of Jesse and Celine nine years after we last saw them in the aforementioned film, which in turned was a look at our intrepid wouldbe couple nine years after Before Sunrise.  Once again directed by Richard Linklater, and starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (all three also once again share screenwriting credit) the film will debut at Sundance before an eventual US release later in the year.

10. Side Effects - Director Steven Soderbergh has announced he will retire after this year, so this could very well be the versatile auteur's final theatrical release (he has an HBO movie out later this year, which will be discussed later).  Looking to be in the same vein as 2010's Contagion, a film I was only lukewarm about, this ensemble film still looks to be an intriguing work - and if it truly is the director's last (which I honestly doubt), then it is most definitely a must see.

11. Night Moves - The new film from Kelly Reichardt, one of the best indie filmmakers out there today (and the director of Wendy and Lucy, one of my favourite films of the last decade), features former moppet star Dakota Fanning, in what amounts to her first real adult role, and Jesse Eisenberg, still looking for his first adult role (oh, I kid, Jesse, I kid), as radical environmentalists, determined to blow up a dam.  Should be fun stuff indeed.

12. The Great Gatsby - This long-germinating Baz Luhrmann adaptation (in 3D and probable "Baz" style) was supposed to come out this past Christmas Day, but was postponed until May of this year.  Some say, this says something about what the studio thinks of the final product, but I am still looking forward to it anyway.  Hey, it has Carey Mulligan as Daisy, so why wouldn't I be excited.

13. Her - This is the story of a lonely writer who falls in love with a computer operating system that he purchases, and which promises to fulfill all his desires.  Sounds good so far, right?  Right.  Well, add to that writing and directing by Spike Jonze and a central performance from Joaquin Phoenix, and you have yourself one hell of a possible good time.  In fact, toss out that possible part - this is almost assured to be a blast.

14. Pacific Rim - Sure, from the shots we've seen so far, the film could easily pass for Transformers IV, but considering that Guillermo del Tor is at the helm, such a terrible thing is unlikely to happen.  It is the story of the military, encased in giant robots, doing battle against giant monsters from beneath the ocean waves.  Del Toro has described his film as "a beautiful poem to giant monsters."  I know, I can't wait.

15. Elysium - Directed by Neill "District 9" Blomkamp, and starring Jodie Foster as a megalomaniacal government official who will do anything to keep the peasants of a destroyed future Earth from tainting the super-rich space station upon which live the elite of the species, and Matt Damon as an ex-con, determined to take her down and save not only his own wretched life, but his fellow Earth bound rabble as well, should be a fun time had by all.

16. Oldboy - Originally a pretty killer 2003 Korean film from Park Chan-wook, this American remake, now helmed by Spike Lee, of all people, has been percolating for quite some time now.  I don't know if this new version will be any good or not (it has a strong cast in Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson), but I am fascinated to see what Lee does make of the whole thing.

17. Machete Kills - He's back baby!  Following up the surprisingly entertaining 2010 Robert Rodriguez Mexploitation film, simply title Machete (in turn, an elongated version of one of the fake trailers from Grindhouse), Danny Trejo is back as the ex-Federali-turned-vigilante.  Also coming back are Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan, now being joined by Antonio Banderas, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson and Lady Gaga in her film debut.  How can this not be the most fun?

18. Twelve Years a Slave - The new film from director Steve McQueen (no, not that one, the other one) and his macho muse, Michael Fassbender (still kinda my current man crush), set between 1841 and 1853, is the story of a New York man, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana.  This time, the director is aided by big fan, and producer Brad Pitt, who also has a role in the film.  Shades of Django?  Probably not really.  Should be a quite different kind of film.

19. The Place Beyond the Pines - Another holdover from last year's list, this film reunites director Derek Cianfrance with his Blue Valentine star, Ryan Gosling.  The movie, taking its name apparently, from the descriptive Mohawk name of Schenectady, NY, is about a motorcycle stunt driver, who turns to a life of crime in order to provide for his newborn son.  The film also stars Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes.  Should have some fun humph to it.

20. Inside Llewyn Davis - Originally set for a late, Oscar qualifying 2012 release (and, yes, this did appear on my most anticipated films list last year at this time), the seventeenth film from the brothers' Coen, will finally take a bow in February.  The film takes place in and around the New York City folk music scene of the 1960's, and stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham and Justin Timberlake. 

21. Stoker - Above we saw a Spike Lee remake of a Park Chan-wook film.  Now we have the English-language debut of Park himself.  Again, a leftover from last year's list, this is the story of a stepfather from hell, in a battle with a stepdaughter from hell.  Oh yeah, and we also get Nicole Kidman.  Anyway, the trailer makes it look rather a fun Hitchcockian like film, but I am sure Park will bring his own warped sensibilities to the endeavor.

22. Gravity - Yet another holdover from lat year's list, this Alfonso Cuarón film about a pair of stranded astronauts in a broken-down space station, played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, has been in some sort of production stage for nearly three years now.  Pretty much every actor in Hollywood has been attached to one of the leads at one point or another, and the film was originally set to be released last November.  Whether it gets a release in 2013 is still kind of up in the air, but here's hopin'.

23. Mood Indigo - This new film from French madman Michel Gondry, is the story of a woman who has a flower growing inside her lung.  Yup, that's right.  Starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris, and named after, I gather, the Duke Ellington song, the film should be a rather madcappy kind of creature, much like the auteur's Science of Sleep.  Sounds good to this guy.

24. A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III - A movie about a vain, womanizing asshole in the 1970's, played by - and here is the kicker - one Mr. Charlie Sheen.  Fantastic.  Directed by Roman Coppola (Sofia's brother, Francis' son) and also starring Coppola's cuz, Jason Schwarztman, and Bill Murray.   The film was originally due out last year (we seem to be saying that a lot on this list) but will finally make an appearance this February.  Cannot wait baby.  Cannot wait.

25. Carrie - Remaking one of my all-time favourite horror flicks, by one of my all-time favourite directors, could end up being a disaster once it is all said and done, but the idea of doing just that, intrigues me enough to include the film here.  Also, the casting of Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore, in the roles originally played by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, is equally intriguing.  Let's hope it holds up - though I have a feeling it will not.

There ya have it folks.  To add a few other films into the fold, let's go with Ruben Fleischer's Gangster Squad; Jarmusch's Only Lover's Left Alive; Alex Payne's Nebraska; Ridley Scott's The Counselor; Bennet Miller's Foxcatcher; Johnathan Glazer's Under the Skin; James Gray's Lowlife; Sally Potter's Ginger and Rosa; Marc Forster's World War Z; as well as the annual comicbook adaptations, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, The Wolverine and Man of Steel; and both Mad Max: Fury Road and Oz: The Great and Powerful.  I am also looking forward to seeing Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, again.  I saw this film, written by and starring Baumbach's significant other, the lovely and talented Greta Gerwig, at the NYFF last year, and it is always a pretty sure bet for my eventual Best of 2013.  It will be released sometime in early Spring.  Oh yeah, and there are also two final films I would like to mention before I shuffle off.

After Earth - With each successive film, M. Night Shamalamadingdong falls deeper and deeper into the abyss that is godawful cinema.  From The Village to The Lady in the Water to The Happening to The Last Airbender, his films just keep getting worse and worse and worse.  With each one, it seems near impossible that he could do worse, but then he makes another movie and bazinga!  I must admit that I would be very upset if the Shamalammeister made a good film again.  Very upset.  Statistically speaking, they can't all get worse, so one day he will break this streak, and I will be very unhappy.  Here's to hopin' the ole bastard has at least one more cellar dweller in him.

Behind the Candelabra - Technically, this Steven Soderbergh film was made for HBO, but I still wanted to include it.  Michael Douglas as Liberace?  How could I not?  And, it could be the last thing the old dog ever makes.  Okay, the director's supposed early retirement is probably going to end up more a sabbatical, but still, this film needs to be included here.


Dan Heaton said...

Kevyn, I still have mixed feelings on Lars von Trier, but I'm also excited about a lot of these picks. The Grandmaster is at the top of my list and I'm also thrilled about Star Trek Into Darkness. I think this is set to be another great year.

Kevyn Knox said...

Personally I think 2012 was an overall lesser year than 2011. Yes, we had three films I would dare call masterpiece, but when you count in the whole brunt, it just wasn't as groovy. 2011 gave me a tough time when trying to narrow down to a top twenty. In 2012, I had a hard time coming up with twenty. Anyway, what I am getting at (FINALLY) is that 2013 should, in theory, surpass 2012, and at least reach the heights of 2011. So there ya go.

Kevyn Knox said...

Well, I have seen the first of these now - Charles Swan - and let me say that we are not off to a good start kids.