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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.