Synopsis: The picture centers on two brothers living in the economically-depressed Rust Belt. One is jailed, and the other is lured into one of the most violent crime rings in the Northeast, which comes with irreversible consequences.
What You Need To Know: Director/writer Scott Cooper demonstrated he could handle gritty with the music drama "Crazy Heart," but “Out Of The Furnace” should prove to be something tonally much darker and more raw, with a story about cruel fate, circumstance, justice and redemption. Christian Bale and Casey Affleck star as the two brothers, and the cast also stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe and Forest Whitaker.
Release Date: No concrete date yet, but Relativity Media are eyeing an awards-season-friendly fall 2013 release, having briefly flirted with the idea of putting it out in 2012.
Synopsis: A motorcycle rider commits a crime to support his child. A policeman targets him because of the incident and the two men become locked on a tense collision course which will have a devastating impact on both of their families in the years following.
What You Need To Know: Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to “Blue Valentine” is equally searing and bruising, but an entirely different film experience to its predecessor this time, exploring the consequences of action, fate and the legacies that our fathers pass down to us. Ryan Gosling stars as the criminal, Bradley Cooper as the cop, but the picture is also a tryptich that spans time, and features commanding performances by Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen as well. A stellar supporting cast revolves around these characters, including Ray Liotta, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Bruce Greenwood and Ben Mendelsohn. This is another film that many of us have already seen (read our glowing review), but it’s too good to not include here.
Release Date: March, 29 2013 (limited)
Synopsis: A Boston man kidnaps the person he suspects is behind the disappearance of his young daughter and her best friend.
What You Need To Know: “Prisoners” placed highly on the Black List in 2009, and a feeding frenzy of talent circled the picture for months, including Bryan Singer, Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Antoine Fuqua, Leonardo DiCaprio and Hugh Jackman. The project’s heat cooled and everyone moved on, but then the movie slowly crawled back to life thanks to the persistence of the producers who knew they had a great script at hand. “Incendies” director Denis Villeneuve signed on to helm, Jackman returned to the fold, and the cast now also includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis. Jackman plays the father, and Gyllenhaal plays the detective on the case. We read the script ages ago and won’t spoil the rest, but suffice to say it’s taut, lean and mean, and there’s a reason all these talented players were interested at one time or another.
Release Date: September 20, 2013, which likely means a premiere in Toronto first.
Synopsis: A businessman who owns an offshore gambling operation finds his relationship with his protégé reaching a boiling point.
What You Need To Know: Director Brad Furman wasn’t really a name that many of us knew, but thanks to “The Lincoln Lawyer,” a pretty enjoyable, sleazy potboiler, his name landed on the map pretty fast. Perhaps more importantly, there’s a great script by Brian Koppelman and David Levien (the writers behind “Ocean’s Thirteen,” “Rounders” and “The Girlfriend Experience”). These three names were enough to net a terrific little cast that includes Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie.
Release Date: September 27, 2013. It doesn’t suggest much Oscar weight, but it's likely a good, taut thriller that has a good chance at landing at TIFF first.
Synopsis: A successful New York couple’s world unravels when a new drug prescribed by a shady psychiatrist -- intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects.
What You Need To Know: Originally meant to be screenwriter Scott Z. Burns’ directorial debut, instead he gave it to his longtime collaborator director Steven Soderbergh when his next intended picture, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” fell through. Almost overnight, the project was up and running with a terrific cast starring Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum as the aforementioned couple, Jude Law as the psychiatrist, and supporting help by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vinessa Shaw. Burns initially described the picture as provocative thriller about the pharmaceutical industry and “the war on sadness.” Soderbergh has referred to it as “Fatal Attraction”-esque, and it will be his last theatrically released movie before his retirement. His final feature, “Behind The Candelabra,” should debut on HBO in the summer.
Release Date: February 8, 2013
Synopsis: At the end of the world, a train transports survivors of a nuclear ice age.
What You Need To Know: Based on the graphic novel “Le Transperceneige,” “Snowpiercer” is set to be the ambitious English-language debut of Bong Joon-ho. The film boasts a superb cast that includes Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Allison Pill, Ed Harris and Ewen Bremner. Bong is known for directing monster movie “The Host” but he also essayed the wildly fascinating true-life mystery “Memories Of Murder,” and setting himself up for an ambitious science-fiction narrative is a major step up to the big leagues.
Release Date: Summer 2013
Synopsis: An strange and creepy uncle moves in with a teenage girl and her emotionally unstable mother after her father dies. Although the girl, India, has suspicions about his motives, she finds herself drawn to him.
What You Need To Know: Pitched somewhere in between horror, family drama and psychological thriller, “Stoker” is the English-language directorial debut of Park Chan-wook, the heralded South Korean film director behind "The Vengeance Trilogy" (which includes “Oldboy"), "Thirst" and "Joint Security Area." Written by actor Wentworth Miller under a pseudonym, the picture stars Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode. It will be interesting to see how the Southern-Gothic flavor of the screenplay translates in the hands of a foreigner, but we assume this might be the beginning of a new career in America for the director if all goes well.
Release Date: March 1, 2013, but we’ll get to see it almost two months earlier when it debuts at the Sundance Film Festival in late January.
Synopsis: The relationship between an American man and European woman falls apart.
What You Need To Know: Terrence Malick’s upcoming film “To The Wonder” is a rare exception on our Most Anticipated list because many of us at the Playlist already saw it during its fall 2012 festival bow (read our review here). But for those that haven’t seen it (which still includes at least half the Playlist contributors), “To The Wonder” is still somewhat opaque. And from many accounts, including our own review, it’s Malick’s most abstract film. Ben Affleck stars, but barely utters a word. Rachel McAdams was touted as one of the leads, but she’s apparently in it for less than 10 minutes. Olga Kurylenko turns out to be the real lead (at least the lead shaped in the editing room once Malick was done) and Javier Bardem, as a priest, is one of the major characters as well. But that’s about it. Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain, Michael Sheen, Amanda Peet and Barry Pepper all had supporting roles, but they were cut in the final edit. Our review is positive, but it appears that “To The Wonder” is certainly Malick’s most divisive film to date. Even the latest promotional glimpses make the film look like one long two-hour trailer with thousands of fleeting, romantic, ephemeral moments stitched together. Hopefully, it’s something more, but one thing we do know is it won’t be an Oscar contender like "The Tree of Life" was.
Release Date: April 12, 2013
Synopsis: A fine art auctioneer mixed up with a gang joins forces with a hypnotherapist to recover a lost painting.
What You Need To Know: A heist movie with more than one twist, “Trance” sounds like Danny Boyle’s most pulpy, down-and-dirty film since his debut “Shallow Grave,” which makes sense given that it was written by the same man, John Hodge (his first collaboration with Boyle since "The Beach"). James McAvoy plays a double-crossing art auctioneer, Vincent Cassel a shady gangster, and Rosario Dawson has the role of a hypnotherapist trying to help them both recover an expensive masterpiece by Goya. But there’s almost an “Inception”-like twist when hypnotherapy sessions start to blur the lines of reality and move the enigmatic picture beyond a simple heist film.
Release Date: March 27, 2013 in the U.K, meaning a U.S. release date can’t be far behind.
Synopsis: A man living in New York during the mid-1800s is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep South.
What You Need To Know: Having directed “Hunger” and “Shame,” U.K. helmer Steve McQueen has quickly become one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. For “Twelve Years A Slave,” he reunites with his creative partner Michael Fassbender. But the two arrive this time with a cheerleader, producer and co-star in tow by the way of Brad Pitt and his Plan B production shingle. Pitt, an avowed Fassbender/McQueen fan (much like us), only has a small role, but was instrumental in getting the movie its funding. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead, the movie features one of the best casts we've seen in a long while, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Kenneth Williams, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard, Scoot McNairy, Sarah Paulson and “Beasts Of The Southern Wild” stars Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis. Clearly this picture is teeming with talent.
Release Date: TBD, but Cannes feels like a serious option.