By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist January 2, 2013 at 11:58AM
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.