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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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“Labor Day”
Synopsis: On Labor Day weekend, a divorced, depressed single mother encounters a large man bleeding profusely while shopping with her 13-year-old son. They give him a ride and later learn that the police are looking for an escaped convict.
What You Need to Know:Labor Day” will be Jason Reitman’s fifth film, and for the first time, seems to signal a move away from the comedy genre, calling for a more sincere tone than "Up in the Air" or "Young Adult." Based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard, the story sounds like a suburban drama akin to something like “Little Children.” Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin star along with Gattlin Griffith, best known for portraying Angelina Jolie's missing son in "Changeling," who plays the teenage boy. The cast also features Clark Gregg, Tom Lipinski, James Van Der Beek and Tobey Maguire, who has a small cameo playing the teenage boy as an adult. It’s definitely going to be a showcase for Winslet as this will be her first truly leading role in a feature film since she pulled double-duty on “Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader” in 2008, and we're intrigued to see how she works with Brolin.
Release Date: TBD, and again, we presume fall 2013 with a TIFF premiere in the works as the Canadians love their own.

Synopsis: In search of a new start and the American dream, a Polish immigrant is manipulated into a life of prostitution by a charming but wicked man on the mean streets of Manhattan, until a dazzling magician tries to save her.
What You Need To Know: While “We Own The Night” was set in the 1980s, the 1920s-set “Lowlife” is director James Gray’s first true period piece. Starring Marion Cotillard as the Polish immigrant, Joaquin Phoenix as the canny pimp and Jeremy Renner as the mysterious magician, this is a powerhouse trio to lead Gray’s drama; only his fifth feature-length film in almost 20 years. While he works at a deliberate pace, Gray is an American auteur who should be considered among the contemporary greats but has failed to be completely recognized among the PTAs and Finchers of the world thus far, but “Lowlife,” formerly titled, “The Nightingale,” could change all that. We got a tiny taste of the picture at Telluride, and it seems as moody, brooding and operatic as anything the filmmaker has made thus far.
Release Date:  Fall 2013, though a Cannes premiere seems likely and one the filmmaker is aiming for.

“Monuments Men”
Synopsis: In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renowned works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.
What You Need To Know: George Clooney and Grant Heslov's Smoke House Productions has made two films in the last two years ("Argo" and "The Ides Of March"), and both have been major awards-season players. “Monuments Men” looks no different. Sounding like a cross between Burt Lancaster’s “The Train” and “Inglourious Basterds,” “Monuments Men” was written by Heslov and Clooney and is based on Robert M. Edsel’s non-fiction novel of the same name. Clooney stars and directs, and his excellent cast includes Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey") and "The Artist" star Jean Dujardin. Sony is dropping this one in December, so expect it to be a major awards contender.
Release Date: December 20, 2012

“Mood Indigo”
Synopsis: Based on French author Boris Vian’s fanciful novel, this follows a woman who suffers from an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.
What You Need To Know: Michel Gondry's films are generally regarded as surrealist and wacky, but this discounts the realism and community concerns found in documentaries and docu-dramas like “The Thorn In The Heart,” “The We And The I,” and even the second half of “Be Kind Rewind.” That said, “Mood Indigo” reads like the reductive description of a Michel Gondry movie, and it looks as capricious and fantastic as you might expect. Starring Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris (“Heartbreaker”), and “The Intouchables” star Omar Sy, “Mood Indigo” is also a French-language picture, perhaps meant as a palate cleanser to a failure like “The Green Hornet” (which Gondry himself admitted wasn’t his favorite film and fans didn't respond to it). It also stars French talents like Gad Elmaleh (“Midnight In Paris”) and Alain Chabat (“The Science Of Sleep”).
Release Date: TBD, but it’s already scheduled for release in France ahead of Cannes so it may not be something we see until the Toronto International Film Festival.

Synopsis: An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Publisher's Clearing House sweeptakes prize.
What You Need To Know: A passion project that director Alexander Payne's had on his desk since 2003, the filmmaker shelved it for a while because he wanted to take a break from road trip movies. But with that genre not tackled since “Sideways,” Payne took a fresh look at it, and started filming this year. The casting is inspired too. While names like Gene Hackman and other elder statesmen were bandied about, Payne landed on the unlikely father/son pair of Bruce Dern and comedian, ex-SNL star Will Forte. Also starring Stacy Keach and Bob Odenkirk, “Nebraska” was once envisioned as black-and-white drama, but Payne seemingly dropped the black-and-white approach and has been recently calling the film an old-fashioned comedy. Be that as it may, Paramount is already eyeing a fall release date, so it might be a bigger contender than Payne is giving it credit for.
Release Date: Likely Fall 2013.

“Night Moves”
Synopsis: A drama centered on three environmental terrorists who plot to blow up a dam.
What You Need To Know: Not to be confused with the 1975 Arthur Penn film of the same name; Kelly Reichardt's moody minimalist works (“Wendy and Lucy," "Meek's Cutoff”) have made her one of the most interesting American filmmakers working today. So could be fascinating to see Reichardt, known for more character-based films like “Old Joy,” take on a picture that, at least on the surface, seems more plot driven. Details beyond the logline are somewhat sparse, but Peter Sarsgaard plays a bomb-maker, Jesse Eisenberg is the group's leader, and Dakota Fanning plays a wealthy young woman who funds the group. There’s also an implied sexual twist in store as well. While a lawsuit threatened to halt production earlier this year, the film began shooting in the fall of 2012.
Release Date: TBD. If we’re lucky it’ll land in the fall film festival circuit much like “Meek’s Cutoff” did in 2011.

“The Nymphomaniac”
Synopsis: A Lars von Trier porn film. A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.
What You Need To Know:  He had us at Lars von Trier porn film. And it’s of course only part one of a planned two-part film. What will be interesting to see is what the term “pornography” means to von Trier as we assume all the talk of titillating “soft core movie” is probably something close to raw eroticism. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Connie Nielsen, Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier and Uma Thurman, LeBeouf said in an interview that the script specified right off the bat that actors would not just be simulating sexual acts, but engaging in the real thing. We’ll see if that actually comes to pass, but either way, it sounds like (or smells like?) von Trier is up to his old provocative tricks again, and a challenging picture from the Danish imp is something that cinema always needs on a bi-yearly basis at least.
Release Date: TBD, though there’s been talk of a Cannes premiere despite the director being banned from the festival.

Synopsis: An innocent man is kidnapped and held captive for fifteen years. Once released, he must find out who has imprisoned him, and why they have let him go.
What You Need To Know: A remake of the Korean hit from 2003, “Oldboy” has long been in the works from a host of filmmaking talents – for a while, the dream team pairing was Will Smith and director Steven Spielberg. Eventually, the task fell to director Spike Lee as he struggled to get a sequel to “Inside Man” off the ground, with Josh Brolin stepping into the shoes of the lead role. The question is, how much of the original film’s notorious twist will this version retain? While the initial claim was that the remake would be adapting the manga on which “Oldboy” is based (which does not feature said twist), Lee has been candid in claiming this film is even more twisted. Challenge accepted, Mr. Lee. Sharlto Copley, Elizabeth Olsen, James Ransome and Samuel L. Jackson co-star.
Release Date: October 11, 2013

“Only God Forgives”
Synopsis: An English gangster in Thailand sets out to avenge his murdered brother in a brutal story of rage, betrayal and the possibility of redemption.
What You Need To Know: “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling are collaborating yet again. That’s all you likely need to know. The stylish and thrilling “Drive” was one of 2011’s best pictures, so the idea of this duo teaming up again is a near salivating cinematic prospect. Gosling plays a gangster exiled in Thailand who manages a Thai boxing club as a front for a drug operation. When his brother is killed by a retired Thai cop known as the Angel of Vengeance, his ruthless gangster mob mother (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) demands retribution. Instead of a plain old murder though, Gosling challenges the former cop to a boxing match, and mayhem ensues from there. Said to be one of Refn’s bloodiest and craziest scripts, one assumes he’ll be pulling out all the stops again. And don’t expect any name actors in it other than Gosling and Scott Thomas, which is a bold move in and of itself.
Release Date:  Rumored for a spring premiere internationally, which means a Cannes Film Festival premiere is likely given the date and the fact that Refn was awarded the Best Director prize on the Croisette in 2011.

"Only Lovers Left Alive"
Synopsis: Adam and Eve, a reclusive vampire couple who've been together for centuries, have their peaceful lives interrupted by her younger sister, Ava.
What You Need To Know: The last thing we needed is more vampires, right? In most circumstances, we'd certainly agree, but when the man behind the vampire movie is the great Jim Jarmusch, we'd be inclined to give the film some more attention. The director's first film since 2009's oblique and surrealist "The Limits Of Control," Jarmusch has put a mouthwatering cast together, with both veterans of his work (Tilda Swinton, John Hurt) and hotly tipped newcomers (Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin and Tom Hiddleston, who replaced an otherwise-engaged Michael Fassbender). Almost nothing's known about the film, but if anyone can bring a fresh spin to the undead, it's the director of "Down By Law," "Mystery Train" and "Dead Man."
Release Date: TBD, but Cannes or Venice could be good bets.

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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