"Side Effects" (February 8) and "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" (2013)
Rooney Mara proved her dedicated, spikey acting chops in David Fincher's underrated "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" in 2011, and I've been avid to see more of what she can do. Luckily for me, Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects" and David Lowery's debut feature "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" hit the screen this year; the former a thriller focused on a young woman's deleterious breakdown following her husband's release from prison, the latter an outlaw Western co-starring Casey Affleck and Ben Foster.
"To the Wonder" (April 12)
Divided, even scathing reviews out of Venice and Toronto can't quell my excitement for Terrence Malick's latest -- especially after the American and French trailer debuts of the film, which offered a sense of Malick's tried-and-true visual lyricism, and his move toward ever more avant-garde forms of storytelling.
"Before Midnight" (2013)
Richard Linklater's first two "Before" installments capture the beauty of two souls connecting, while offering a realistic look at the difficulties of relationships and life's inevitable disappointments. I have high hopes for this new third film, which finds a middle-aged Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) in Greece.
"Side Effects" (February 8)
Though I prefer the original name ("The Bitter Pill") to its current moniker, I'm looking forward to seeing Rooney Mara in Soderbergh's upcoming thriller, written by screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. His work with Soderbergh on 2011's "Contagion" was amazing and haunting -- and I've got similar expectations for this one.
"Lowlife"/"The Nightingale" (2013)
James Gray ("Two Lovers," "We Own The Night") returns with go-to leading man Joaquin Phoenix and--as if that wasn't enough to get me excited--Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner are also on board. Set in 1920s New York City, Cotillard stars as an immigrant who is tricked into working in the world of burlesque until a magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being kept on Ellis island. ThePlaylist saw some early footage at Telluride.
"The Place Beyond the Pines" (March 29, 2013)
Derek Cianfrance arrived with the heartbreaking "Blue Valentine" in 2010, and he also returns with his leading man Ryan Gosling for "The Place Beyond the Pines." After debuting at Toronto, the film received excellent reviews and the new trailer has me even more excited. Gosling is joined by Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne in what looks to be and is touted as a deeper investigation of masculinity and other themes brushed upon in "Blue Valentine." There's also an air of mystery and word of a major plot twist, which certainly doesn't temper our impatience to see it.
"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His" and "Hers" (2013)
Ned Benson directs Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy in a "His" and "Hers" pair of films about the crumbling relationship of a married couple in New York. Chastain has been everywhere since her breakout year in 2011 and this season's controversial Oscar hopeful "Zero Dark Thirty," but McAvoy's face has been more of a rarity on the screen. Last year he only starred in "X-Men: First Class," though he also voiced the titular characters in "Gnomeo & Juliet" and "Arthur Christmas."