As the final few films of 2012 finish their awards season roll out, it’s time to look to the future – the near future. Overall, I think 2013 has a lot of potential, but maybe not as much potential as 2012 had (and failed to live up to). You can find lists like this on almost every big movie site, but as always, I will claim that mine might be a little more interesting and provide a lot more insight into the year ahead than the short lists the other blogs throw together. Yes, most of my choices are big budget mainstream entertainments. I feel no shame in that. That’s where my tastes run. These are the kind of movies that made me fall in love with the movies. Those are the movies I want to make. I’d rather a slick, well-funded studio film be great than a tiny budget independent film. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s get into this.
Note: In case you’re YouTube illiterate, click on the links at the top of any of these trailers to watch the trailer full-size and in HD on YouTube. I know this is complicated, but you can dooo eeeet!
10. TIE: THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (3/29) & ONLY GOD FORGIVES (TBD)
This is how much I now respect Ryan Gosling. After an unbearable full calendar year without him gracing our movie screens (and our hearts), The Gosling returns guns blazing in 2013 with no fewer than 4 new films; these two, a currently untitled Terrence Malick movie (that I’m sure will have plenty of fascinating introspective narration!) and of course Gangster Squad, which was delayed from its original 2012 release after the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings. But it’s Pines and Forgives I’m most interested in, if only because they reunite The Gosling with the directors of Blue Valentine (one of the most truthful relationship movies I’ve ever seen) and Drive (the best film of 2011), respectively. Those directors would be Derek Cianfrance and Nicolas Winding Refn. It helps that both these projects also have very interesting plots, which I just assume to be true if The Gosling has blessed a film with his presence. But seriously, no actor is making better choices than this man right now, and I look for that streak to continue throughout 2013 with these new projects. [Place Beyond the Pines IMDb] [Only God Forgives IMDb]
9. GRAVITY (10/18)
Has it really been 7 years since Alfonso Cuaron‘s otherworldly great Children of Men? And has he really directed no feature films since then? Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is a shocking yes. Well, the drought finally ends this fall. Cuaron is bringing us another very cool story, as Gravity depicts two stranded astronauts trying to survive and return to Earth after their shuttle is incapacitated. What’s most interesting is that reportedly George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are the only two people we will see in the film, which will feature several really long single-take shots and other camera tricks a la Children of Men. WINNING. One thing’s for sure…Gravity is going to be different, and thank the lord for that. [IMDb]
8. WORLD WAR Z (6/21)
Yes, the recently released first trailer was pretty much a complete disaster, and I admit it singlehandedly turned my outlook of the film from ‘genuine excitement’ to ‘morbid curiosity’. However, when was the last time Brad Pitt made a really bad movie? It doesn’t happen. I have to believe that despite all the issues and delays this project has faced, something decent will come of it. I still don’t understand why Marc Forster was chosen to direct the film, and it remains obvious his forte isn’t blockbusters, but whatever. That’s why you hire brilliant second unit directors like Simon Crane…to manage the big action sequences. I remain fascinated by this story (even though the structure of it had to be severely altered from the book), and most of all I like the idea of seeing a zombie apocalypse on a global scale. We’re used to zombie flicks being intimate, contained stories, and now we get to see the disaster movie version. This will be the Independence Day of zombie movies, which is undeniably appealing, is it not? I think it’ll work or be an epic misfire, with little room for a middle ground. Either way, if it’s a giant turd, it will surely be a hugely entertaining one. Bring on the CGI zombie pileups!!! [IMDb]
7. ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (12/20)
I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a comedy. Maybe not since Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me way back in 1999 (that’s the second one, in case you’ve forgotten after all these years). It took waaayyy too long for this movie to finally come together (the first one came out in 2004, if you can believe it), but in this instance, better late than never. The entire original cast is back, as is director Adam McKay, who again co-wrote the script with Will Ferrell. All signs point to this being fantabulous, so what else is there to say? This movie is going to be kind of a big deal. [IMDb]
6. THE COUNSELOR (11/15)
Much hullabaloo was made in the industry last year over how fast this project came together, primarily because it seemed to materialize out of nowhere. This marks novelist Cormac McCarthy‘s first story written directly for the screen. McCarthy is the Pulitzer Prize winner best known for writing No Country for Old Men and The Road, which were both turned into damned fine movies. We don’t know too much about the story other than the simple logline, “A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.” Somehow, Ridley Scott got his hands on the script first and is directing, with a cast that would make just about any of his peers jealous, featuring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. Not bloody bad. That’s how good this script allegedly is. The screenplay was turned in last January and filming started in May. That kind of turnaround is virtually unheard of. According to one Deadline.com story, “Fassbender plays the title role of a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe into the drug business without getting sucked down, which proves to be a life-threatening decision.” In case it wasn’t obvious, The Counselor is going to be a hard-R, intense drama/thriller. I can’t wait to see a trailer for this baby (don’t expect that until at least April or May). As an aside, I’ll also be looking to see what kind of tribute Ridley Scott includes in the credits for his brother Tony, who committed suicide last August in the middle of filming on this film. This will be Ridley’s first film released since his brother’s death, and I have this romantic notion that cast & crew were inspired to work a little harder and a little better to help their director through such an unspeakable tragedy. [IMDb]
5. PACIFIC RIM (7/12)
In a year full of geekiness, Guillermo del Toro‘s newest creation may be the geekiest, coolest idea of them all. It’s been long time since we’ve had a really good giant monster movie (or the Japanese kaiju as the geeks prefer to call them). Shit, it’s been a long time since a giant monster movie has even been attempted (in America at least). I guess the last one was Cloverfield, so maybe it hasn’t been as long as I thought, because I do love that flick. The trailer explains the plot well enough; giant alien monsters escape a portal in the depths of the Pacific, and in an attempt to stave off extinction, humans create giant robots (called Jaegers) to fight the creatures. Nerdgasm! It’s got a pretty good cast, highlighted by my boy Idris Elba, who should really be in every movie. I’m also excited about Ramin Djawadi (red hot right now because of his A++ work on Game of Thrones) doing the score. The visual effects, being handled primarily by ILM, look incredible already, with a lot of work still to be done. This is the definition of “high concept”, and as such I have high hopes. [IMDb]
I’ll be damned if I didn’t revert back into a 12-year old boy watching this trailer:
4. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (5/17)
I must confess I was not blown away by this much-hyped first trailer, but my faith is not shaken. I loved the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek too much to abandon hope now, and I believe Abrams is one of the few filmmakers left who makes damn sure all the best parts of his movies aren’t spoiled in the advertising. But still…why won’t they just tell us straight up what villain Benedict Cumberbatch is playing? All I know is it had better not be fucking Khan. What would be the point of retreading that character? And if it isn’t Khan, just come out and say it so I can stop reading this endless speculation. For the love of Almighty God, let’s try something fresh instead. Also, I thought we were gonna see Klingons this time around. What happened to that? Also, it seems as though a lot of this movie takes place on Earth, which is not very Star Trek-ky. Okay, calm down. Again, I will keep the faith that all is not as it seems. But it does seem as though the Cumberbatch character plays the whole “get caught on purpose so he can trigger his convoluted master plan and escape on his own terms whilst simultaneously causing mass chaos” card, which has been done to fucking death recently (umm, hello Dark Knight, The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall). Shutup! Keep calm and Trek on. What’s that? Damon “Prometheus Plot Hole” Lindelof is one of the writers? Oh, shit. Phasers set to “blow my own head off”. [IMDb]
3. IRON MAN 3 (5/3)
Raise your hand if you’re not excited to find out what happens next in the Marvel movie universe after the orgasmic awesomeness that was The Avengers. That’s what I thought. The so-called “Phase 2” (aka the buildup of new Marvel movies leading into Avengers 2 in 2015) begins here, with Tony Stark strugg-a-ling after the events of Avengers. For pure movie geeks, the biggest appeal here is seeing Robert Downey Jr. again paired with writer/director Shane Black. Black is one of the all-time great writers of action movies and action movie dialogue, and Downey starred in Black’s 2005 directorial debut, the underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which really was the start of Downey’s huge career comeback). The new villain is The Mandarin, as played by Ben Kingsley (using a voice that seems to be a cross between The Joker and Bane). I know next to nothing about this character, but apparently he’s one of the better Iron Man baddies. We’ve got Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle returning, with Guy Pearce and the beautiful Rebecca Hall also joining the fray. Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige claims there will be no cameos by other Avengers teammates or from S.H.I.E.L.D., and I have to say I’m not really a fan of that. I understand that this needs to be Iron Man’s movie, but given the shit that’s going down in this trailer, would they really leave him on his own? What are superhero friends for if not situations like this? I said in my Avengers review that we should at least get a Mark Ruffalo/Bruce Banner cameo here, given how friendly the two were in Avengers. Maybe Feige was just throwing us off the scent and there are still some surprises in store. [IMDb]
2. MAN OF STEEL (6/14)
ERMAGERD how awesome does this movie look? “Incredibly awesome” is the only acceptable answer. I absolutely love the look and feel being conveyed in the first couple of trailers. I love how Henry Cavill looks as Superman, and on the whole it looks as though Zack Snyder may just recover from the debacle that was Sucker Punch. Of course, a huge deal is being made of the fact that Christopher Nolan is producing the film and supervised the story, along with his Dark Knight trilogy co-writer David S. Goyer. Rightly so, but after Dark Knight Rises, I have to pray that Man of Steel features around 99% fewer plot holes than Nolan’s Batman finale. I can’t wait to see what Michael Shannon has done as General Zod, and hopefully he continues the tradition of excellent Nolan villains. The rest of the cast is Grade A as well (Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner & Diane Lane as Superman’s earthly parents, along with Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni, Richard Schiff, and Harry “I Really Need to Play President Obama in a Movie” Lennix), lending credence to the fact that the script must’ve been pretty solid. Most importantly, from the two trailers we’ve now seen, it appears (keyword: appears) that Snyder has at long last been cured of his Slow Motion Syndrome. At the very least, it’s in remission. Let’s hope that holds throughout this film and moving forward in his career. Finally, it’s definitely worth noting that Hans Zimmer is doing the score, and is thus taking on the monolithic task of creating a new Superman theme (he claims he won’t use John Williams‘ legendary cues, which I believe is the better and more creatively challenging choice), and that new theme is probably my single most anticipated piece of music for the coming year. [IMDb]
1. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (12/13)
There are far too many people getting butthurt over The Unexpected Journey, from how long it is to how much they expanded the book narratively. Quitchabitchin, I say! Clearly, I had none of those problems, since I’ve seen it in theaters 3 times now and loved it each time. I LOVE being back in Peter Jackson‘s Middle Earth. I love seeing the returning Lord of the Rings cast slip back into their roles as if no time had passed (Seriously, has Elijah Wood aged a day in 10 years?). I think Martin Freeman is flawless as Bilbo. I’m enjoying the dwarves, even if it’s still difficult to differentiate between all 13 of them. Sure, the first film has a few things you can nitpick, and it’s not as good as any of the Lord of the Rings movies, but I didn’t expect it to be. Honestly, I don’t expect any of the 3 Hobbit films to be as good as LOTR. Inherently, it’s just not as strong a story. And that’s fine. Does that mean The Hobbit should’ve been turned into a trilogy instead of the original plan of making two movies out of it? We can’t know that for certain until the third film, There and Back Again, comes out in 2014. I will choose to have faith in Jackson and his team that there are some amazing things ahead. I think the last few minutes of the first film are friggin perfect, and I’m left salivating for more. I’m itching to find out what happens next, yet I have to wait another 11 months, unless I read the book. That’s a fine option, but I feel in this case, once I’ve started watching the movie version first, reading the book might interfere with my potential enjoyment of the final two Hobbit movies. I obviously don’t want that, so it’ll be early 2015 at least before I pick up J.R.R. Tolkien‘s classic.
I don’t know what to expect from the second Hobbit movie, except that we should be getting some hot dragon action, with Smaug being “played” by Benedict Cumberbatch. Does this mean Smaug talks? How? I think a talking dragon might look pretty stupid. Hopefully it’s one of those deals where he speaks through telepathy instead of moving his lips. That would be tolerable. Or can he turn into human form like dragons from D&D? (#nerdalert) I have other questions, too. Have we seen the last of Gollum in these movies? Which of the dwarves might die? What other links will be made from this film to the events of Lord of the Rings? I have no clue, and that’s exciting. I will be doing my best to avoid spoilers throughout the year. As for when we’ll get a first trailer, you can likely expect it either in front of Star Trek or definitely in front of Man of Steel. One more reason to be excited about each of those films.
So there you have it. All told, if I could wave a magic wand and view any 2013 movie tonight, it would be The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. And to be honest, it’s not even close. [IMDb]
TEN HONORABLE MENTIONS (in a-b-c order)
ELYSIUM (8/9) – It’s the second film from director Neill Blomkamp, he of the amazing District 9. What else do you need to know? Fine, go check out the IMDb page for the description. Looks and sounds awesome, but we’re still waiting for a trailer. Until then, enjoy this image of buzzcut badass Matt Damon with a massive gun:
FAST SIX (5/24) – They haven’t announced the official title, but I’ll run with Fast Six for now. I shouldn’t be excited for this, but Fast Five was so damned fun (in my eyes it’s tied with the original Fast and the Furious for best in the series) that I actually want more. I guess this franchise just won’t die while Vin Diesel and Paul Walker draw breath. They haven’t released any details about the plot yet, but we know it takes place mostly in Europe (as set up at the end of Five). All I needed to know was that Justin Lin is back again directing and that Dwayne Johnson will return as Hobbs, but of course they get to explain to us how Michelle Rodriguez is still alive. Making their Fast/Furious debuts are Gina Carano and Scottish actor Luke Evans as the main villain. Other than that, we don’t know jack, but there should be a trailer very soon.
Here’s some footage of the crew shooting a big stunt sequence, so now we know there’ll be a tank involved in a chase on a highway. I’m fine with that:
THE HANGOVER: PART III (5/24) – Part II was an unmitigated disaster creatively (see my review for the breakdown), but Todd Phillips PROMISES this one doesn’t follow the same structure. No weddings, no bachelor parties, and no one gets lost after a night of hard partying. This one allegedly takes place back in Vegas and in Mexico as the guys go on a road trip. I’m on record that I never thought The Hangover needed a sequel, but studios need profits, and if this one really is different, then I’m down. I want this to be what Part II should’ve been.
KICK-ASS 2 (6/28) – I was a big fan of the first movie, even if Matthew Vaughn‘s direction was underwhelming. Thankfully, he stepped aside this go-around (probably because he thinks he’s too big a deal now for it after X-Men: First Class), and the sequel is directed by Jeff Wadlow, who hasn’t really done anything of note yet, but we’ll give him a chance to prove himself. Somehow, they got Jim Carrey in a role here (as the villain I believe), but personally, I’d pay $10 just to watch Chloë Moretz as Hit-Girl again for 2 hours. She’s probably one of my favorite movie characters in the last 10 years.
PAIN & GAIN (4/26) – A Michael Bay movie that isn’t Transformers! Hallelujah! Bay has wanted to make this project (based on a crazy true story) for years, and the script is supposedly really good. They made the film for under $30 million, so there won’t be any major visual effects, but there will be have to be at least one explosion or it isn’t a Michael Bay movie. It’ll be his first R-rated movie since Bad Boys II (which came out 10 years ago this year…Jesus). A lot of people are hoping this brings Bay back to the style of the first Bad Boys, which emphasized its characters as much as the action. Even if that’s the case, I’m sure we’ll still get some Bay clichés (racial and ethnic stereotypes, the entire movie taking place at sunset, seizure-inducing editing), but good for him for finally doing something different, and for accepting the challenge of doing it on a small budget. If Bay and Dwayne Johnson aren’t a match made in heaven, then Cupid should just hang up the bow & arrow. I really, really dig this trailer:
THOR: THE DARK WORLD (11/8) – First, let me state for the record how much I hate that fucking title. Despise it. How many goddamn movies in one year do we need with the word “Dark” in the title? I don’t care if it is relevant to the plot; this is the kind of title a third grader might come up with. Aye vai. Anywho, the second chapter of Marvel’s Phase 2 is the Thor followup. The reason I believe the sequel will be superior than the original in this instance is that it’s being directed by Alan Taylor, who has directed 6 Game of Thrones episodes, including the epic season 2 finale, “Valar Morghulis”. This pairing makes all the sense in the [dark] world to me. I thought Kenneth Branagh did a competent job with the original Thor, but it was also obvious that big effects sequences, fantasy worlds and action aren’t necessarily his area of expertise. All the primary cast from the first Thor returns (yes, we’ll get even more fuckin Loki), with Christopher Eccleston coming on board as the villain Malekith. This dude is the leader of a race of evil elves, and aside from that, I can’t tell you a thing about him. Either way, it can’t be any cheesier than Frost Giants, can it? Of all the new Marvel movies prior to the Avengers sequel, this one has the most potential to setup the key plot devices of that film, since Thor‘s universe can introduce all of the intergalactic/interdimensional superpowers. With that in mind, I predict we’ll get a good look at Thanos here before he becomes the main villain in Avengers 2, and that’s what I like to call…cool.
TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE (TBD) – This is a project still flying under the radar, but with the people involved and the story being told, I took notice immediately. Michael F. Assbender reunites with his Shame director Steve McQueen (that’s the black British guy, not the dead white American movie star) in a movie about a man living in New York in the 1800’s who is kidnapped and sold as a slave in the South. Between the two main black actors in the film (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Kenneth Williams), I’m not sure which of them is playing the man in question, but the film also stars Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano and Alfre Woodard. Wow. This is going to be one interesting movie. And really, if you haven’t yet seen Shame and Fassbender’s brilliant performance in it, your priorities in life are all wrong.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (TBD) – Martin Scorsese reteams with Leonardo DiCaprio for the 5th time in this 80’s set drama/thriller based on the best-selling autobiographical book by Jordan Belfort. DiCaprio plays Belfort in a story that was a big inspiration for the 2000 cult hit Boiler Room. Belfort’s exploits included securities fraud and money laundering, and he wrote the book after serving almost 2 years in prison in the late 90’s. The film version was adapted into a screenplay by none other than Boardwalk Empire czar Terence Winter. The cast around DiCaprio is nothing to scoff at, either: Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, The Artist star Jean Dujardin, Jon Bernthal (from The Walking Dead), Kyle Chandler, Shea Whigham, Rob Reiner and even Spike Jonze of all people. If this doesn’t have “end of year awards contender” written all over it, I don’t know what does.
THE WOLVERINE (7/26) – Hugh Jackman‘s second attempt at a stand-alone Wolvie movie should produce much better results, as this one is based on a Frank Miller-written, Japan-based story that is supposed to be one of the best Wolverine comic storylines ever. I like the sound of that. I also like that it’s directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma). I’m hoping this will be more dramatic and darker in tone. Mangold says that in the X-Men movie timeline, this film takes place after The Last Stand, which makes a lot of sense. I understand Wolverine’s feelings. After how shitty that movie was, I wanted to leave the country, too.
THE WORLD’S END (10/25) – Directed by Edgar Wright, written by & starring Simon Pegg & Nick Frost. That would be the 3 guys who brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Really, need I say more? Well, here’s the plot: “Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.” Yeah, I’m in. So are you.
LISTED AS BEING RELEASED IN 2013, BUT I’LL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT:
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (October) – They’ve been trying to make a sequel to Sin City (released in ’05) for ages, and it’s finally happening. I know Robert Rodriguez works fast, but they’re still casting while it’s being shot, so I’m not totally convinced that October date will hold. Regardless, I adore the first Sin City, and I’m just thrilled this is a reality at long last.
There you have it, folks. Sorry, fangirls, for the lack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Perhaps if the first movie hadn’t been so bland, I’d be more interested in the sequel. My first 2013 movie will likely be Gangster Squad this weekend, followed by Broken City next week. Should make for a solid start. Have a happy new year at the movies!