(Updated January 26, 2013)
One of my favorite activities every January is to start anticipating the movies I want to see in the new year. It’s always tough to narrow it down to just 10, but I took the 25 or so that have been on my mind here and there as I’ve heard about them, and narrowed it down to these. I’m sure this list will change slightly as movies get pushed to 2014, or trailers come out that disappoint. Or simply new films come on to my radar that I missed or didn’t know about. But regardless, as of the first day of 2013, here are the 10 movies I can’t wait to see this year.
10. The Place Beyond the Pines
After repeated viewings and continually increasing appreciation for Blue Valentine (2010), I’ve been highly anticipating writer/director Derek Cianfrance’s next feature film. With Ryan Gosling starring again and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt bringing his extraordinary eye to the visuals of this film, The Place Beyond the Pines has all the right ingredients to be a small independent masterpiece of cinema.
9. At Any Price
The story and actors Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid are what have me anxiously awaiting this small indie that premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year. It’s gotten mixed reviews form the festival circuit, but I’m still hopeful and very interested.
Mud was on my list for Most Anticipated Movies of Fall 2012, but it didn’t get released, so here it is on this year’s list. It now has an official release date scheduled for April. While I didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with Take Shelter (2011), I did like it and I really appreciate the filmmaking and style of writer/director Jeff Nichols. Combined with Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan from The Tree of Life (2011) and an intriguing story, this one looks like it could be the right fit for me.
7. All Is Lost
After writer/director J.C. Chandor’s perfect feature film debut with Margin Call (2011), my #1 movie of 2011, whatever project he created next was going to be highly anticipated by me. With Robert Redford starring in this interesting story idea, it’s definitely on this list for 2013. I just hope the film gets released this year and I don’t have to wait until 2014!
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
I just mentioned how I loved Margin Call (2011), so it should be no surprise that this financial thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Matthew McConaughey, is high on my list for this new year.
5. Twelve Years a Slave
This is just an amazing combination of artistic and creative filmmaking forces combined with an intriguing and potentially controversial subject matter. Just like Shame (2011), writer/director Steve McQueen’s incredible and fantastic dark look at the modern male sex psyche. Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender…what an incredible pairing of actors. Throw in Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Paul Dano for what could be a fantasy five of acting talent. And once again, cinematographer Sean Bobbitt and McQueen are working together to create what I’m sure will be stunning visuals. I simply can’t wait to see what comes out of this collaboration.
4. To The Wonder
I have a love-hate relationship with writer/director Terrence Malick…probably like most cinephiles. I always HIGHLY anticipate with GINORMOUS expectations every single project his name gets attached to from the very moment of conception. Then I see the film and it’s not exactly what I expected. I’m kind of disappointed. Then I ponder it for awhile. I try to figure out its pandora’s box like puzzle of a narrative and its deeper meaning. I struggle with the fact that he doesn’t use as much dialog as I wanted. I Admire it’s incredible visuals, music, editing, production design, and craftsmanlike details. And I gradually fall more and more in love with it until I can’t wait for his next creation. I predict the same for To The Wonder, starring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem. The first peak at the trailer didn’t inspire me enough…and yet now it does. The mixed reviews from the Cannes Film Festival disappointed me…but I’m ignoring them. The news that there’s even less dialog and structure than The Tree of Life (2011) scared me…and yet I remember how much I now love that film and its focus on feelings. So here I am again, despite all of the negativity, highly anticipating the release of another Malick Masterpiece. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. And yet I write that with a smile on my face!
3. The Counselor
All I need is “A Ridley Scott Film” and I’m in. Simply one of my Top 10 directors of all time. And just like director Steve McQueen, Scott has chosen to pair Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in this curious Cormac McCarthy scripted story. And with Javier Bardem attached as well, I just can’t wait to see what happens.
2. The Monuments Men
George Clooney writing and directing with this tagline: “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.” Starring Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Bill Murray, and John Goodman. Unless Clooney takes this in a very comedic direction like Ocean’s Eleven (2001), this has the potential of being an absolutely incredible WWII drama. It’s kind of like Saving Private Ryan (1998) meets Raider of the Lost Ark (1981). With 007 thrown in. Who wouldn’t be HIGHLY anticipating this film?
1. Man of Steel
When I first heard that director Zach Snyder was going to reboot the Superman franchise after the miserable failure that was Superman Returns (2006), I sighed a big groan of “Uggghhhh!”. I was not ready for another butchering of the beloved man of steel series so soon. While I loved his graphic novel approach to ancient history in 300 (2006), I did not want another fanboy comic-book style version of a super hero story brought to the screen. I wanted a realistic and serious dramatic look at Clark Kent via Christopher Nolan’s style for the recent Dark Knight Trilogy, mixed with a bit of what Alfred Gough and Miles Millar brought to the table via Tom Welling and John Schneider in the Smallville TV series (at least in its early seasons). While I adore the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman, they do feel awfully campy and light 30 years later, even though they have a serious & dark dramatic edge as well.
But news of the casting of British actor Henry Cavill gave me my first ray of hope that this reboot effort could work out under Snyder’s vision. Cavill just seemed like the perfect pick for Superman to me. Combined with a story written by David S. Goyer, the casting of Diane Lane as Clark’s earthly mother Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Clark’s earthly father Jonathan Kent, and Russell Crowe as Clark’s Kryptonian father Jor-El, and things were magically coming together the way I wanted them to. And to top it all off, the story was bringing back my favorite Superman enemy, General Zod, played by the fantastic Michael Shannon.
But even with all of these positives on paper, we’ve seen this kind of scenario fail so many times. The first teaser trailer really got me believing though. And now the first full trailer has me completely believing that Man of Steel could be what I’m looking for. Both trailers focus on the emotional character and development of Clark Kent into Superman, much to the chagrin it seems of today’s young fanboys. But for me, as a middle-aged fanboy, this is what I want paired with what will surely be incredible action and fight scenes. I want to get into the conflicted feelings of Clark that are most certainly a part of how he becomes the alien super hero that we call out for in times of need. Director Richard Donner touched on this in his original Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) especially.
Man of Steel is still nearly 6 months away and my expectations are now sky high, so we’ll see what happens. But the 12-year old boy within the 39-year old adult me is really hoping that Man of Steel puts Superman back on top, which will be hard to do considering The Dark Knight Trilogy put Batman there very solidly. After completely loving Christopher Nolan’s close to his Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises (2012), that film is now my #1 super hero movie of all time, beating out Superman and Superman II which reigned supreme for over 30 years.
Other Movies I Considered for this Top 10:
2013 looks to be a pretty spectacular year for film. The potential is there as you can see in the 10 movies above. In addition to these 10 that made my list, there were another 15 or so that were very close contenders:
The Green Blade Rises
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Great Gatsby
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Company You Keep
The Zero Thereom
Kill Your Darlings
And there are ALWAYS the big and small movies that completely take us all by surprise. Personally, I can’t wait to dig in to 2013 at the cinema.