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The 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2013 - Part 1

by The Playlist Staff
January 2, 2013 11:58 AM
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"Devil's Knot"
Synopsis: After the brutal murder of three young children, a trio of teenagers are put on trial for the crime. But are they really guilty?
What You Need To Know: We don't know about you, but between the "Paradise Lost" trilogy and 2012's "West Of Memphis," we start to question about how much more there is to be said about the shocking West Memphis Three murder trial and subsequent fight for justice that's been ongoing for the past twenty years. But "Devil's Knot," the first dramatic feature film to take on the issue, has a few things securing our attention. Firstly, Canadian helmer Atom Egoyan is directing. Egoyan's been off his game a bit of late, but this seems right in his "Sweet Hereafter" wheelhouse, which can only be good news. Secondly, Egoyan's put together a superb cast, with Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Dane DeHaan, Bruce Greenwood, Stephen Moyer, Kevin Durand, Mireille Enos, Elias Koteas, Alessandro Nivola, Amy Ryan and Collette Wolfe among those involved. Even if the facts might be well known to documentary buffs, we're keeping our fingers crossed that Egoyan can deliver a "Zodiac"-style true-crime classic here.
Release Date: TBD, but a TIFF debut seems likely given Egoyan's track record.

“The Double”
Synopsis: A government employee in contemporary America has to cope with a mysterious doppelganger.
What You Need To Know: Skilled comedic performer Richard Ayoade steps behind the camera for the second time following 2011’s well-received “Submarine.” No offense to Joe Dunthorne, who provided the autobiographical novel which “Submarine” is based, but Ayoade is upgrading a tad by working from material courtesy of one Fyodor Dostoevsky. From a script by Ayoade and Avi Korine, Jesse Eisenberg stars as the embattled employee, with Mia Wasikowska and “Submarine”’s Noah Taylor also featuring in the cast. This could just be a forgettable tchotchke like the forgotten Crispin Glover-starring “Bartleby,” but we’re willing to believe Ayoade takes this material in a few colorful directions.
Release Date: TBD

Synopsis: In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. One desperate man threatens the system with his need to get on board Elysium and access its state-of-the-art medical care.
What You Need To Know: South African director Neill Blomkamp tackled class, poverty, race (humanoid or otherwise), and social segregation in the sci-fi package known as “District 9” in 2009. The picture was an unexpected surprise hit, but instead of tackling big-budget franchises for an encore, Blomkamp decided to create a big-budget sci-fi film once again tackling many of the same social issues, this time hovering around healthcare and immigration. With his life hanging in the balance, Matt Damon plays the man who reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but the lives of millions of people on Earth as well. “Elysium” also stars Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna and William Fichtner. Intelligent blockbuster? We’re all for it.
Release Date: August 9, 2013

Synopsis: The true story John du Pont, a multimillionaire and paranoid schizophrenic who built a wrestling training facility, Team Foxcatcher, on his 800-acre Pennsylvania estate and in 1996, shockingly murdered Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler David Schultz.
What You Need To Know: Based on a incredible true story, this psychological drama is a passion project that director Bennett Miller has been trying to get off the ground since “Capote,” and his success in 2011 with “Moneyball” finally pushed it over the line. Channing Tatum plays the younger wrestler, Mark Ruffalo his brother, and in what should be a disconcerting, chilling turn, Steve Carell plays the wealthiest American ever to be charged and convicted with murder. It’s a desperate true-story obsession for greatness that ends in tragedy, and Sony Pictures were so impressed that they picked up the Annapurna Pictures-produced film for a 2013 awards season release. "Foxcatcher" also co-star Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave and Anthony Michael Hall.
Release Date: Fall 2013 TBD

“The Grandmaster”
Synopsis: The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.
What You Need To Know: A notoriously slow and deliberate filmmaker and editor, who tends to write his films as he is shooting them (must be nice), Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai is one of the most world-renowned international directors, but this will be his first film since his poorly received 2007 English-language debut, “My Blueberry Nights.” In fact, it's been in production and post-production for so long it's beginning to sound like a Terrence Malick film of yesteryear. Starring longtime collaborator Tony Leung (“In The Mood For Love”), Song Hye-kyo, Chang Chen and Chinese star Zhang Ziyi ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), the picture will also be the filmmaker’s first action-oriented movie since 1994’s “Ashes of Time” (which Leung also co-starred in). Celebrating its (count 'em) fifth year on our most-anticipated list, the film is finally becoming a reality. No really. It hits theaters in China and Hong Kong next week, and will get its European premiere at Berlin next month. The question is, can it meet everyone's expectations?
Release Date: It premieres in Berlin in February. Presuming it's well received at the film festival, a U.S. distributor likely won't be far behind.

Synopsis: Astronauts attempt to return to earth after debris crashes into their space shuttle, leaving them drifting and alone in space.
What You Need To Know: Director Alfonso Cuarón hasn’t made a feature-length film since 2006’s “Children Of Men,” and part of the reason is that he’s been trying for several years to mount and then make his most ambitious project, “Gravity.” Touted as a thriller by way of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Cuarón had a bitch of a time financing this 3D-shot, effects-driven film until he finally landed with the A-list cast of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. But even then, the picture, shot entirely on green screen, has taken months and months to complete. It was scheduled for a November 2012 release until Warner Bros. got cold feet and yanked it in favor of a 2013 bow (it’s also possible that the film, with its thousands of effects shots, just wasn’t ready). The problem with “Gravity” for WB is that it’s an art film made on a studio budget (reportedly around $100 million), or at least, while it features harrowing tentpole-like sequences, it’s far artier and riskier than WB is used to. That's fine for us, but the lack of a firm date suggests that the studio doesn't know how it'll be selling it yet.
Release Date: Rumored for a fall 2013 release, which means the studio will likely debut it in Toronto or Venice to try and drum up critical noise for its theatrical release.

“The Great Gatsby”
Synopsis: Nick Carraway learns that old friend Jay Gatsby has built an empire of wealth and avarice, and has eyes only for his former flame Daisy Buchanan.
What You Need To Know: Baz Luhrmann’s epic fantasia was originally scheduled for a late-2012 release amidst the annual Oscar bait, until a late-game change switched up the studio’s plans. Now, the $120 million adaptation has been reformatted as a potential summer blockbuster, with childhood buddies Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire together onscreen for the first time since the unreleased “Don’s Plum.” The loaded supporting cast includes Carey Mulligan as Gatsby’s lady love, with Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke and Adelaide Clemens filling out the supporting cast. And if the rumors are true, 'Gatsby' will at least be exciting to the ear, as Clemens earlier this year suggested that the picture would be revamped with added songs by some seriously heavy hitters including Jay-Z and Lady Gaga.
Release Date: May 10th, 2013

Synopsis: In the not-so-distant future, a lonely writer purchases a newly developed operating system designed to meet the user's every need, and to his surprise, a romantic relationship begins to develop with it.
What You Need To Know: Touted as an unconventional love story that blends science fiction and romance “in a sweet tale that explores the nature of love and the ways that technology isolates and connects us all,” director Spike Jonze is seemingly making a romance picture for the iGeneration. Joaquin Phoenix stars as the writer, and while it's unclear who plays the female voice of the operating system, the movie also stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Samantha Morton and Olivia Wilde. Jonze already demonstrated a knowing hand at blending sci-fi, melancholy heartbreak and comedy with the excellent short "I'm Here," so we’re hoping “Her” lands with a similar tone. Olivia Wilde recently described it as "incredibly romantic and funny and surreal," and we wouldn’t expect any less.
Release Date: TBD, but it's an Annapurna Pictures film and has been completed, so here’s hoping for a fall film festival debut.

“I’m So Excited”
Synopsis: In the face of a life-threatening situation, a disparate and defenseless group of passengers on board a flight to Mexico City are provoked to deliver colorful confessionals that become the best way to escape from the idea of death. 
What You Need To Know: Don’t get too excited. While Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, and Paz Vega all make small cameos, this is an ensemble picture that’s seemingly dedicated to the excellent Spanish character actors that have appeared in Pedro Almodóvar’s films over the years, perhaps the three most memorable being Javier Cámara from “Talk To Her,” Lola Dueñas from “Volver” and Cecilia Roth from “All About My Mother.” The cast also features Carlos Areces, Raul Arevalo, Carmen Machi, Laya Martí, Hugo Silva, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, and Blanca Suárez, and Almodóvar has described it as a light, frothy little comedy. From the looks of a recent teaser trailer, he’s not kidding either, as this appears pretty silly compared to his more recent, darker work. A change of pace as it were.
Release Date: Spring 2013

"Inside Llewyn Davis"
Synopsis: Set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early ‘60s that birthed Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and loosely based on Dylan's songwriting buddy Dave Van Ronk, this is the story of Llewyn Davis, a folk singer who, despite his talents, can't seem to make ends meet.
What You Need To Know: Coming off a streak that has seen them produce a Best Picture winner ("No Country For Old Men") and the biggest box office hit of their careers ("True Grit"), the Coen Brothers have probably been afforded the opportunity to make whatever they want. In this case that's an original screenplay set in the early ‘60s folk scene, starring "Drive" and "Sucker Punch" secret weapon Oscar Isaac as the titular folk singer who isn't able to get his career off the ground. He'll be leading a cast of more familiar faces, including John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan as Timberlake's wife. Now entering the fourth decade of their careers, the Coens have consistently marched to the beat of their own drummer, tackling existential thrillers and slapstick comedies and everything in between. And with the exception of a few brief stumbles in the mid aughts, their instincts have rarely led them astray.
Release Date: The picture’s in the can, and there’ve been rumors that it could land in Cannes 2013, but otherwise it hasn’t been dated yet and still has no distributor.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • Tom | January 29, 2013 10:51 AMReply

    Surely Denzel will go for the hattrick and make a film about a boat that can't slow down?

    This mock on the Irish porn industry's the best thing I've seen so far this year;

  • Marko | January 17, 2013 3:10 PMReply

    Great list. My 50+ picks:

  • Vanessa | January 10, 2013 10:29 AMReply

    No love for The Falling a.k.a Serena starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, it should be impressive, it is also directed by Susanne Biers. It has oscars written all over it!

  • The Playlist | January 10, 2013 11:16 AM

    Serena can be found here:

    2o films from 2013 we've already seen are here:

  • RoyalTenenbaum | January 8, 2013 12:55 PMReply

    "True-life stories are the bread and butter of director Paul Greengrass (the second and third ‘Bourne’ films)" - These aren't examples of true-life stories he's directed.

  • Sketch | January 7, 2013 4:08 PMReply

    If 3 of these movies are - finally - worth seeing, I'll be surprised. And grateful.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | January 7, 2013 4:38 PM

    What a joyless life you lead.

  • Demme | January 7, 2013 2:55 PMReply

    I disagree "The Life Aquatic" was much better than "The Darjeeling Limited" TDL was very slow at times, as TLA with Bill Murray I couldn't take my eyes off of it, one of my favs.

  • Matt | January 5, 2013 5:24 AMReply

    Reading that the writer of this article thinks that "Moonrise Kingdom" was Wes Anderson's best since "Rushmore" made me about spit my soda all over my laptop. Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson's best since "Fantastic Mr. Fox," as far as I'm concerned, which was the best since "Darjeeling Limited." Frankly, the only film of Anderson's career that "Moonrise Kingdom" is actually better than is "The Life Aquatic."

  • wes | January 4, 2013 1:27 PMReply

    Post Tenenbras Lux by Carlos Reygadas?

  • Roger | January 4, 2013 12:41 PMReply

    Wow, you were truly fast with that (fixed). Thanks

  • Roger | January 4, 2013 12:33 PMReply

    You provided a link for part 2, but it redirects to part 1. Where is the second part?

  • Drian | January 4, 2013 11:56 AMReply

    Tim Burton is said to release the sequel of Beetlejuice (1988) in 2013, according to Wikipedia. To me, easily one of the most anticipated films this year.

  • Nick | January 3, 2013 3:07 PMReply

    Where is Zal Batmanglij's "The East"? Didn't you guys give "Sound of My Voice" an "A"?

  • Kris | January 3, 2013 11:03 PM

    I was wondering the same thing? Where is East?

  • Connor | January 3, 2013 1:39 PMReply

    So glad this is finally out as I have been anticipating this feature for a while now. Thanks Playlist.

  • t-rex | January 3, 2013 12:09 PMReply

    wolf of wall street , foxcatcher, nebraska should all be oscar contenders but i bet that o'rusell's abscam project will be the showstoper

  • Nadir Ahmed | January 3, 2013 11:15 AMReply

    Im also looking forward to Louis Letteriers "Now You See Me" about a group of magicians who rob banks during there show. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffulo, Michael Caine and Woody Harrelson. Great Cast, Great Premise, looking forward to it

  • james | January 3, 2013 8:03 AMReply

    Great article. It always seems that there's going to be far too many exciting and brilliant films to see... never quite works out that way. Excellent overview though.

  • Cruella | January 3, 2013 7:09 AMReply

    many films sound great on paper. But whether they turnout good on film is a whole different matter. All the stars need to align.

  • Aix | January 3, 2013 6:14 AMReply

    To be fair to Condon, no-one can save that Twilight sh*t!

  • concerned citizen kane | January 2, 2013 10:52 PMReply

    what about They Came Together? David Wain's spoof of a rom-com with Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd. Spiritual sequel to Wet Hot American Summer?

  • JOHN | January 2, 2013 10:30 PMReply

    I dig the under-the-radar stuff (you know, the films that should actually be playing in "independent" film festivals and reviewed by "indie"wire) and this micro-indie feature called "There Are No Goodbyes" looks ambitious and beautiful:

  • Harris | January 2, 2013 7:44 PMReply

    How about Frances Ha and jOBS?

  • The Playlist | January 3, 2013 2:54 AM

    There's even an indie section coming. You'll have to look for it soon.

  • BD | January 2, 2013 6:23 PMReply

    The closest Ridley Scott might come to an Oscar nod since Gladiator?

    He was nominated the following year for Black Hawk Down!

  • Genadijus | January 2, 2013 4:22 PMReply

    My TOP10 of the most anticipated movies:
    1. Lowlife
    2. Inside Llewyn Davis
    3. Only Lovers Left Alive
    4. The Place Beyond the Pines
    5. Only God Forgives
    6. Twelve Years a Slave
    7. Gravity
    8. The Grandmasters
    9. The Wolf of Wall Street
    10. Oldboy

  • Darvy Joe | January 2, 2013 4:15 PMReply

    "With "Moonrise Kingdom" proving to be the director's best since "Rushmore," expectations couldn't be much higher for this one." Huh? Cuz it's not like The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic weren't better than Rushmore, or that Moonrise Kingdom wasn't as good as either...

  • Will John | January 3, 2013 5:48 PM

    Life Aquatic is my favorite of his movies.......

  • oh hell no | January 3, 2013 2:53 AM

    Life Aquatic better than Rushmore? Laughable.

  • John | January 2, 2013 4:11 PMReply

    "...note how [You Are Here's topic] seems fairly similar to another debut film from a famous television impresario who revealed himself to be COMPLETELY TONE DEAF to cinematic storytelling. That was “Not Fade Away” from David Chase, and Chase’s “The Sopranos” was a FAR BETTER show than “Mad Men,” leading one to imagine just exactly how this story could get away from Weiner." Fixed your typography

  • 4567 | January 2, 2013 3:53 PMReply

    "[James Grey] should be considered among the contemporary greats, but has failed to be completely recognized among the PTAs and Finchers" I have a bone to pick with that. There's a reason he isn't considered among the contemporary greats: his films aren't as good. I have immense respect for him, he's clearly talented and sharp, but I don't know by what measure he can be called a great filmmaker. Little Odessa was a decent debut, but far from Reservoir Dogs or Hard Eight as far as masterful debuts go. The Yards was fine, but when compared -- as a sophomore feature -- to Boogie Nights or Pulp Fiction or Seven, it doesn't mark an increase in ambition and skill in the same way. Especially after 5 years, it left something to be desired. We Own the Night was ambitious and well intentioned, but ultimately failed to achieve the Godfather-like epic tone and scale it strove for. Compare to Magnolia or Zodiac or Inglourious Basterds (I'm using PTA, Fincher, and Tarantino as roughly contemporaneous exemplary peers) as a historical/criminal panorama, and can you honestly say it doesn't fall far short? Two Lovers is his most thoroughly successful, but it's a minor film, small scale. It feels like a great, gorgeous debut from a youngish filmmaker, or a great entry in a film-a-year style filmography like Woody Allen's, or a victory lap (like Punch-Drunk Love) after nailing it back to back a few times. I'm honestly curious how The Playlist staff feels that Grey, after having had 15+ years to prove himself, and only emerging with four interesting but non-masterpiece pictures, deserves the same status as PTA, who's never made anything close to middling movie, has made from two to four masterpieces, depending on your perspective, and, at 27, made one of the best movies of the 90s? Even if, reasonably, you think Two Lovers was one of the best movies of the 2000s, better than There Will Be Blood (insane, but surely some think so), by what measure, considering his entire filmography, does he even come close to approaching his peers (PTA, Fincher, Tarantino, etc) in accomplishment? You'd have to contend that The Yards is as good as Pulp Fiction and Boogie Nights and Seven and The Game (it may be as good as the latter two, just not as impressive), that Little Odessa is great, on par or better than Hard Eight and Reservoir Dogs and other great 90s debuts, and that We Own the Night is as exceptional as Magnolia or Zodiac. And, really, you're really stretching it if you're making those contentions. And don't give me "You can't compare" because you can and you have to if you're going to contend that he's as good as these guys

  • Joey C | January 3, 2013 5:47 PM

    Wasn't We Own the Night Coppola/Mann lite, and The Yards and Little Odessa just 'eh' early-Scorsese? Two Lovers is pretty 'original,' if we're seriously going to pretend that means something or matters, and I'm looking forward to Nightingale, but honestly? You think LO, TY, and WOTN are better than Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia? Little Odessa? Really? I can understand liking the 'idea' of the man better than PTA (if you just aren't into PTA, sure, that's fair), but do you really think those first two movies are anything but 'pretty good'? It's all subjective, but to say LO and TY aren't just barely above average moody crime pics (ie neither original or self-consciously unoriginal) while PTA's heavy referentiality equates to a 'bad' unoriginality is beyond me. At least be honest and just say you don't like PTA. Because original isn't really a superlative that makes sense when talking about Grey's work

  • Rodrigo | January 3, 2013 2:56 AM

    It's all subjective isn't it cause he's better than those guys in my mind. Certainly more original than the first half of PTA's career that's for sure.

  • cory everett | January 2, 2013 5:16 PM

    I'm looking forward to "Lowlife" but this is true.

  • bohmer | January 2, 2013 3:32 PMReply

    "Chase’s "The Sopranos" was a far better show than "Mad Men"; that's like your opinion man. (edit)

  • bohmer | January 2, 2013 3:31 PMReply

    "Chase’s “The Sopranos” was a far better show than “Mad Men”; that's like your opinion man.

  • Alex | January 2, 2013 3:27 PMReply

    Great list but you forgot Untitled Terrence Malick Project, The Two Faces of January and Upstream Color!

  • The Playlist | January 2, 2013 4:32 PM

    It's doubtful that both Malick films will arrive this year. Upstream Color... look for it in another anticipated list.

  • bohmer | January 2, 2013 3:35 PM

    I agree for Upstream Color.

  • bohmer | January 2, 2013 3:34 PM

    I agree for Upstream Color.

  • S | January 2, 2013 2:47 PMReply

    Empire State is starring Liam Hemsworth and not his brother Chris...

  • cirkusfolk | January 2, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    Seeing as Mary Poppins is in my top five fav films of all time I am looking forward to Saving Mr. Banks starring Tom Hanks (Dec. 20). Not on list.

  • cirkusfolk | January 2, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    So you have a couple films on the list by foreign directors making their first English language films (Snowpiercer, Stoker) my question is, how many English debuts by respected foreigners have been let downs? I know there's a bunch but can't think of them all.

    Mimic - Guillermo Del Toro
    Alien Resurrection - Jean-Pierre Jeunet
    Once Around - Lasse Hallstrom
    Hard Target - John Woo

    Then of course The Last Stand by Jee-woon Kim is about to be released and looks horrible.

  • Liz | January 2, 2013 3:56 PM

    It has its defenders, but Wong Kar-Wai's "My Blueberry Nights" wasn't exactly a critical favorite upon release.

  • Lucas | January 2, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    No Farhadi's The Past? Or are you doing a separate entry for foreign films?

  • emma | January 2, 2013 1:58 PMReply

    I can't wait to see Low Life, The Place behond the pines, Only God Forgives

  • TB | January 2, 2013 1:58 PMReply

    Quick fact-fixes: 'Wolf of Wall Street' isn't Scorsese's first time shooting digital (Hugo was digital 3D), and Wes Anderson had 4 movies in 00s (you forgot The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001). Incredible write-up. These are my favorite features

  • Michelle | January 2, 2013 1:58 PMReply

    Kill your Darlings is my most anticipated film of 2013, but that does not appear to be on the list. I also want to see stoker, Place beyond the pines, Gravity, the great Gastby and a few others..

  • Glass | January 2, 2013 1:26 PMReply

    Nebraska gets +1000 Tumblr points for also starring Devin Ratray - Buzz from Home Alone

  • Candid | January 2, 2013 1:22 PMReply

    Super excited for The Double, Her, I'm So Excited, Inside Llewyn Davis, Labor Day, Only God Forgives, The Place Beyond The Pines, Side Effects, and Stoker... But thought Like Crazy was one of the most overrated, self-indulgent dull films I have ever seen and understand why his next feature is on this list (since playlist was one of the raters) but disappointed it is! Also would have been nice to see Caught In Flight or Filth actually included instead of just mentioned.

  • DG | January 2, 2013 12:49 PMReply

    Goog god that's a lot of good movies. I don't even know where to start but only God Forgives, Her, Place Beyond the Pines, Only Lovers Left Alive, Under the Skin, Gravity, Lowlife, all have caught my eye. Honestly almost every one on this list looks good tho

  • Ade | January 2, 2013 12:39 PMReply

    Nice overview, I'm particulary excited about Trance, Under the Skin, Only God Forgives, The Counselor, To the Wonder, Her.

  • Piotr | January 2, 2013 12:28 PMReply

    The graphic novel has been described as efejreosrekore. WTF does that mean?

  • The Playlist | January 2, 2013 1:11 PM

    Writer drunk. Editors still hung over. We're launching a full-blown investigation, but knowing [redacted writer's name] it has something to do with cocaine (fixed. seriously, not sure what he was going for there other than TK).

  • Seanna | January 2, 2013 12:17 PMReply

    Killer. Definitive as usual. I can't wait to sink my teeth into this. Nice work as always, Playlist.

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