By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist January 2, 2013 at 11:58AM
So here we are in 2013. We survived the Mayan apocalypse, and we've made it to the year in which both Kevin Costner's disaster epic "The Postman" and sub-standard John Carpenter sequel "Escape To L.A." were set. And after a strong 2012, which contained some of the most anticipated movies in recent memory, from blockbusters like "Prometheus," "The Avengers," and "The Dark Knight Rises" to new films from Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Kathryn Bigelow, among many others, you might imagine that 2013 would be something of a step down.
But one look at the release calendar for the coming twelve months will reveal that that's far from the case, which is why we've gone to the almost exorbitant number of 100 picks (no really, there's a lot of good stuff coming down the pike). Sure, there's also all kinds of dreck on the way, but the cinematic landscape for 2013 looks enormously exciting, from $200 million blockbusters to tiny indie pictures. For the rest of this week and next, we're going to round some of them up, starting today with the 50 films we're most looking forward to out of everything (many with more of a dramatic bent) followed with another 50 tomorrow (with more of a genre/escapist leaning). If you don't see a personal favorite, don't fret just yet, as it's entirely possible that it'll crop up in the next few days (here's our Most Anticipated Films Of 2013 Part 2, if you're just landing on this feature today). BTW, here's all our Most Anticipated 2013 coverage with several features closely looking at several types of movies coming out this year. Let us know what you're anticipating in the comments section. Here they are in alphabetical order.
“A Most Wanted Man”
Synopsis: Adapted from the book by John Le Carré (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”), this espionage thriller centers on an uneducated and destitute ex-prisoner who illegally arrives in Hamburg and gets caught up in the international war on terror.
What You Need To Know: Photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn has only made two features and he’s already been threatening to retire, but thankfully, he has at least one more picture to add to his CV. The moody anti-thriller “The American" was overlooked in 2010, but it was grippingly taut and striking, so a tense espionage thriller could also be an incredible exercise in tone. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright and “Inglourious Basterds" actor Daniel Brühl, it’s actually relatively unknown Russian actor Grigoriy Dobrygin who plays the lead role of Issa Karpov, but the movie as a whole should be a complex ensemble piece.
Release Date: TBD, but the 2013 fall film festival circuit feels like a likely place to find distribution (rumors that Focus Features have acquired it are false).
Synopsis: An eccentric, troubled Oklahoma family have to confront their past after their patriarch goes missing.
What You Need To Know: It might seem like Oscar bait on the surface, with The Weinstein Company and George Clooney backing an award-winning literary piece of material, and with Meryl Streep heading up a starry, much-lauded cast including Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard and Margo Martindale. But don't mistake this for "The Iron Lady" -- this is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by "Killer Joe" author Tracy Letts, a pretty spectacular piece of work, closer to an epic blend of Arthur Miller and Greek tragedy than some simple, easy awards bait. As such, it should be great to see that cast (which also includes Juliette Lewis and Dermot Mulroney) deal with some of the best material they've ever had, although it could end up being a bruising sit, as the play ran around three hours. The question mark here is director John Wells, a TV veteran (who ran "E.R." and "The West Wing," among others) who made his film debut a few years back with "The Company Men," a decent, but hardly transcendent piece of work. Hopefully he can raise his cinematic game this time around.
Release Date: TBD, but certainly in the fall, probably with a November or December limited release widening once it gets closer to the Oscars.
Synopsis: Now in their forties, Celine and Jesse meet nine years after their last rendezvous in France, this time in Greece.
What You Need To Know: Almost two decades have passed since their first encounter on a train bound for Vienna, but Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are clearly enamored with the romantic duo of Celine and Jesse, first introduced in “Before Sunrise” in 1995. The trio earn the best misdirection award of 2012 -- earlier in the year, all three of them in separate interviews gave the, “who knows?” answer (though Hawke kind of gave up the ghost) when quizzed about a third picture in this would-be trilogy, but by September they had shot the entire thing in secret. While it’s been called a type of conclusion to this will-they or won’t-they romance, Linklater himself has suggested that the picture doesn’t end on so much of a definitive note that they couldn’t do another one if they wanted.
Release Date: TBD, but the picture will premiere at Sundance in January.
Synopsis: Based on an autobiographical novel of the same name, the picture is a behind-the-scenes look at the tempestuous relationship between legendary entertainer Liberace and Scott Thorson, his younger lover.
What You Need To Know: While it will premiere on HBO, “Behind The Candelabra” will be officially Steven Soderbergh’s final feature-length effort before he exiles himself into a retirement/sabbatical or whatever you want to call it, so as such, it seemed more than worthy of inclusion here. In the works for several years, the picture stars Michael Douglas as the famed singer, Matt Damon as his young lover Scott Thorson, and co-stars Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula and Paul Reiser. ‘Candelabra’ was also written by Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King,” “The Ref”), and in another piece of finality, features the last written score by the late composer Marvin Hamlisch.
Release Date: Summer 2013 on HBO with a likely Cannes Film Festival premiere beforehand in May.
Synopsis: A group of teenagers obsessed with fashion and fame burglarize the homes of celebrities in Los Angeles.
What You Need To Know: Based on a true story about teenagers that robbed the likes of Paris Hilton and more to the total tune of about $3 million in cash and belongings, what starts out as youthful fun spins out of control, and if the script is anything to go by, reveals a sobering view of our modern culture of celebrity, luxury-brand obsession and entitlement. Another disaffected youth story, writer/director Sofia Coppola at least seems to have adapted one with a more concrete beginning, middle and end than usual. The picture stars Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julian, and Georgia Rock, and it will be interesting to see what kind of tone the film takes given that Coppola’s last effort, “Somewhere,” was her most opaque to date. Also notable as the final film of great, late director of photography Harris Savides.
Release Date: TBD. "Marie Antoinette" premiered at Cannes, and "Somewhere" premiered at Venice, so either fest could be feasible points of entry for "Bling Ring."
Synopsis: Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
What You Need To Know: The French are obsessed with director James Gray, so naturally, writer/director/actor Guillaume Canet (“Little White Lies”) tapped Gray to help him write the screenplay of what sounds very much like a James Gray film (one could argue it sounds like the premise of “We Own The Night”). He’s downplayed his involvement, but regardless, Canet has an intriguing-sounding story and a stellar cast, which includes Clive Owen, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard, James Caan, Billy Crudup, Matthias Schoenaerts, Lili Taylor and more to boot. What’s not to look forward to? Canet is mostly known in the U.S. as an actor or Marion Cotillard’s baby daddy, but anyone who saw the overlooked and taut 2006 thriller “Tell No One” knows he’s akin to the Gallic version of Ben Affleck -- an actor who has bloomed into a terrific director (maybe not so coincidentally, Affleck's been trying to remake Canet's film).
Release Date: TBD. But the French love their own so a Cannes 2013 bow is very possible.
Synopsis: A happily married New York City music teacher is drawn to a young British foreign exchange student.
What You Need To Know: Between 2010's "Douchebag" and 2011's breakout "Like Crazy," youthful director Drake Doremus has virtually become part of the furniture at Sundance in recent years. And he's back in 2013 with "Breathe In," a drama the prolific filmmaker had already completed photography on before "Like Crazy" was even in theaters. Reuniting him with the ludicrously talented star of the latter, Felicity Jones, it also sees the always-welcome Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan getting involved too, in a film that uses the same semi-improvised process that Doremus has made good use of in the past. But it's not just business as usual; word is that Doremus is using a more classical, handheld-free aesthetic, which should be interesting to see. "Like Crazy," for all its beautiful flaws, certainly made us keen to see more from the director, so this is certainly high on our list for Park City and beyond.
Release Date: First screens at Sundance on January 19th, a release date will surely follow from there.
Synopsis: The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years.
What You Need To Know: True-life stories are the bread and butter of director Paul Greengrass (the second and third ‘Bourne’ films) and screenwriter Billy Ray (“State Of Play,” “Shattered Glass”). So perhaps this will be a kind of dramatically rendered cinema verite? Tom Hanks stars as the titular Captain, and the film also features Catherine Keener and “Not Fade Away” star John Magaro, but other than that, the film is heavy on character actors and light on names. We presume it’s mostly a one-hander for Hanks, and it’ll be interesting to see how his everyman, likable style works with Greengrass’ handheld-y, naturalistic method. We're also keen to see whether Greengrass has dared to switch-up that aesthetic gleaned from his years as a documentary filmmaker.
Release Date: October 11, 2013
Synopsis: A former couple, both lawyers, end up on the same side of a controversial terrorist trial.
What You Need To Know: Once tipped to be a major A-lister, Eric Bana is in need of a bit of a bounce these days, as films like "Funny People" and "Deadfall" haven't quite cemented him as the star he once showed promise to become. But if he has a good chance at a comeback, this might be it, as it's a promising-sounding thriller for grown-ups in which the Australian actor stars alongside the always-worth-the-price-of-admission Rebecca Hall. The script comes from Steven Knight, who between "Dirty Pretty Things" and "Eastern Promises" has become a reliable name in adult thrillers. John Crowley (the undervalued "Boy A") directs, while Jim Broadbent, Ciaran Hinds, and the excellent Riz Ahmed, as the terrorist on trial, are all among the supporting cast. The premise, while still mostly under wraps, suggests it could be a button-pushing, of-the-moment kind of picture. But with Focus Features setting an August release date, is it the next "Constant Gardener"? Or the next "The Debt"?
Release Date: August 28, 2013, presumably limited at first before rolling out wider.
Synopsis: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.
What You Need To Know: "The Counselor" has an impressive talent call sheet around it, but it starts out with celebrated author Cormac McCarthy (“The Road,” “Blood Meridian”) who penned his first original screenplay with this story. Ridley Scott quickly snatched it up and dropped it into production with a cast that stars Michael Fassbender as the lawyer and a supporting cast that includes Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Rosie Perez and John Leguizamo. Diaz is said to have a crucial antagonist role, and at the very least we might be seeing her in a very new light. Pitt plays the heavy, but evidently his role is a small one. Scott's been nominated three times for a Best Director Oscar and never won. And while “The Counselor” isn’t quite Oscar bait, if he pulls it off, it might be the closest he’s come to a nomination since “Gladiator.”
Release Date: TBD, but likely the fall.