Monday, February 4, 2013

Most Anticipated Films of 2013 – Part 2: Prestige and Fun Films

Prestige Films:

Title: The Counselor
Release: November 15
Genre: Crime Drama
Plot: When a lawyer gets himself involved in drug trafficking, he finds that he is in way over his head.
Director: Ridley Scott
Why It’s Anticipated: Simple. The Counselor features a great director in Ridley Scott who has made good thrillers with Body of Lies and Black Hawk Down recently. And, it has an even better cast with Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, and Penelope Cruz. Plus, it is written by Cormac McCarthy, the author responsible for No Country for Old Men and The Road (this is his first feature screenplay). This has definite potential to be a critical and commercial hit.
Editor’s Thoughts: The only blemish on this film is that it also stars Cameron Diaz in addition to the wonderful principal group. She is fine, but cannot play dramatically intense scenes and is noticeably suspect when acting against talented people (see Gangs of New York). Ridley Scott is also a little hit or miss with his films, but this seems to be right in his wheel-house and should have a good script (which is important for the quality of his work). I think it is very likely that it turns out to be among the best films of the year.
Trailer (if available): Here

Title: Trance
Release: Fall
Genre: Crime Drama, Thriller
Plot: Simon, an art auctioneer, helps a group of criminals steal a painting, but is hit on the head during the heist and cannot remember where he stashed it. The criminals bring in a hypnotherapist to find the memory.
Director: Danny Boyle
Why It’s Anticipated: Danny Boyle has been making awards friendly films lately with 127 Hours and Slum Dog Millionaire, but his fans know him better for his great and gritty thrillers (28 Days Later… and Shallow Grave) and of course his breakthrough hit Trainspotting (dealing with heroin addicts in Edinburgh). I also really like his sci-fi film Sunshine (mixing a thriller with sort of a classic style cerebral sci-fi film). Trance feels much more like the old Danny Boyle style films – which is great.
Editor’s Thoughts: Trance looks like a manic crime thriller, that also feels like a much more raw version of Inception (Anthony Dod Mantle’s digital photography being partially the reason). Boyle is also working again with one of his great early collaborators: writer John Hodge (who wrote Boyle’s first four films), which is why it probably feels so much more like his early work (based on the trailer). We should all be excited for Boyle’s return to the crime thriller.
Trailer (if available): Here

Release: Fall
Genre: Drama
Plot: Solomon Northup lives in New York in the mid-1800s. And then, one day he is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South.
Director: Steve McQueen
Why It’s Anticipated: Writer-director Steve McQueen has only made two films (Hunger and Shame) but he can already be called an auteur. He is one of the great new talents in independent cinema. He alone is a good reason to be very excited for this film, but he has also put together a phenomenal cast. It includes Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender (this is his third collaboration with McQueen), Chiwetel Ejiofor (who stars as Solomon; he is one of the most underrated actors right now), Benedict Cumberbatch (who is about to have a massive 2013), Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams (from Broadwalk Empire and The Wire), Garret Dillahunt (a fantastic character actor), Scoot McNairy (one of the great breakthrough actors of 2012 with Argo and Killing Them Softly), and Dwight Henry and Quvenzhane Wallis (who both starred in Beasts of the Southern Wild). I am not sure that there is a better cast in 2013 (well, unless Terrence Malick’s two upcoming films not named To the Wonder do come out, then they are also in the conversation for best cast).
Editor’s Thoughts: While Django Unchained offered a potentially exaggerated view of slavery in the Deep South to make a point, McQueen will likely create a very realistic portrayal of life, which will probably be more intense and affecting than the theatrics of Quentin Tarantino’s film. McQueen has yet to have a crossover film into the mainstream. No one saw Hunger or knew about it when it came out. Its merit eventually brought viewers to it (and the Criterion Collection released a wonderful Blu-ray version of the film as well). Shame had a lot of Oscar potential for both the film and especially stars Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, but its focus (being sex addiction) was too graphic, dark or intense for mainstream audiences. Twelve Years a Slave could be his first big hit with larger audiences due to its name stars, and the subject material seemingly would appeal more to Oscar voters. I think it has a lot of potential to be the best film of 2013.
Trailer (if available): Here

Release: Fall
Genre: Crime Drama
Plot: Jordan Belfort is a successful stockbroker on Wall Street. However, things become difficult for him when he is asked to cooperate on a large case involving securities fraud and mob infiltration in the corporate banking world.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Why It’s Anticipated: Martin Scorsese is working again with two of his best recent collaborators: writer Terence Winter and star Leonardo DiCaprio. Winter and Scorsese worked together on the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire (which Winter created/wrote and Scorsese directed and executively produced). DiCaprio and Scorsese have worked together four times prior to this film, garnering Scorsese his only Oscar (for The Departed). The supporting cast is also very good. Matthew McConaughey is continuing his resurgence after a strong 2012, and this is Jean Dujardin’s first big project since The Artist made him a star in America.
Editor’s Thoughts: While Hugo was okay, I am happy to see Scorsese return to serious drama. This project seems like a great fit for him, and it will be interesting if he can make the first great feature film involving the ‘villainy’ of Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis. So far, there have been a few good movies (Too Big to Fail, Arbitrage, and Margin Call have their moments), but nothing great (the best piece on the subject is the documentary Inside Job).
Trailer (if available): Here

Title: Terrence Malick’s 2013 projects: Knight of Cups and a film still untitled
Release: Fall or 2014 (or beyond?)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Music
Plot: Knight of Cups is about a man, temptations, celebrity, and excess, while the untitled film is about two intersecting love triangles involving obsession and betrayal set against the music scene of Austin, Texas.
Director: Terrence Malick
Why It’s Anticipated: Terrence Malick is one of the great American auteurs. Typically, it is years between films, and yet he might have three films coming out in 2013 (following The Tree of Life which came out in 2011). Malick is again working with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and production designer Jack Fisk. Their collaboration has yielded some of the most beautiful photography in recent memory (The New World and The Tree of Life are both visually tremendous). The cast across both films is brilliant as well, filled with wonderful actors: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Teresa Palmer, Cate Blanchett, Antonio Banderas, Wes Bentley, Joel Kinnaman, Imogen Poots, Holly Hunter, Isabel Lucas, Shea Whigham, Thomas Lennon, Ryan O’Neal, Freida Pinto, Jamie Harris, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Val Kilmer, Berenice Marlohe, Boyd Holbrook, Haley Bennett, and Florence Welch (now, the question is who will actually make it into the final cut of the films – Malick is known for shooting way more material than he needs, for example the first cut of The Thin Red Line was five hours).
Editor’s Thoughts: I have a theory that Knight of Cups and the as of now untitled film are really companion pieces. No one else is saying this, so this is pure speculation, but it just strikes me as curious that these two films were essentially shot at the same time and both star Bale, Portman, and Blanchett. I love all of Malick’s work, so these films are among the things I am most excited to see. And yes, even though it got a mixed response last year during its festival screenings, I do want to see To the Wonder too (his third film scheduled for 2013 – and the only one that is for sure actually coming out this year).
Trailer (if available): Here

Fun Films:

Release: Summer
Genre: Crime Drama
Plot: Based on actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers led by Nicki decides to rob celebrities’ homes.
Director: Sofia Coppola
Why It’s Anticipated: Sofia Coppola is still considered one of the great indie filmmakers right now because of Lost in Translation (her masterpiece), but her other films also have a fantastic style and aesthetic to them (I do like Marie Antoinette and Somewhere). However, the bigger draw might be star Emma Watson taking on her first leading role since Harry Potter. She is currently atop her age group with Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart, and Emma Stone, but the behavior of moviegoers seems to be changing. Before, star power would bring in viewers (and this is still true to some degree), but today it is the genre, story, and marketing that seem to really drive ticket sales. Thus, small films like this that star emerging talents who are already big stars due to their work in huge franchises, like Watson, give an indication if star power really does play as big a role as it once did.
Editor’s Thoughts: The Bling Ring is the last film Harris Savides shot before his untimely death last October. He worked with Coppola previously on Somewhere. He was one of the true talents in indie cinema and will be very much missed. Watson has done a very good job in picking projects since finishing Harry Potter. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a wonderful teen drama (and it is too bad that not more people saw it in theatres), and her upcoming projects all sound good, including This Is the End and a supporting role in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (which will be one of the big films of 2014). Nicki in The Bling Ring is a character unlike any she has played before, so it will be interesting to see if she can transform herself to fit the character. If the film is a critical success with Watson showing performance range, it will set her up to be among Hollywood’s most sought-after young actresses (even more so than she already is). And, Coppola has collaborated very well with young actresses in the past: Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johannson, and Elle Fanning.
Trailer (if available): Here

Release: Summer or Fall
Genre: Dramedy, Music
Plot: A music business executive who is fed up and disheartened with the business, finds new life after forming a bond with a young struggling singer-songwriter new to Manhattan.
Director: John Carney
Why It’s Anticipated: While Once was little seen during its theatrical run, it has gained a bigger following on DVD since. It is maybe the best musical of the last decade and a beautiful love story. Therefore, its director John Carney doing another music-centric drama should make a lot of Once’s fans very excited. However, this time Carney is working with bigger name actors like Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley who star, as well as executive producer Judd Apatow (who seems like an odd collaborator at first, but his work does feature well-done characters and heart much like Carney’s own). This film will being Carney’s genius to a much larger audience (I just hope he can capture the same magic as Once).
Editor’s Thoughts: In addition to the strong group of actors starring in the film, it also features Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), CeeLo Green, and Yasiin Bey (formally known as Mos Def) as well, all of which bring great musical talent to the film (and Bey is a good actor too). I am also quite looking forward to seeing Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. She was brilliant in The Coen BrothersTrue Grit, but I have not seen her in anything since. 2013 will likely be a huge breakthrough year for her, as she also stars in Romeo and Juliet, Three Days to Kill, and Ender’s Game (which, while not making my most anticipated list, is on many people’s 2013 lists).
Trailer (if available): Here

Title: Her
Release: Summer or Fall
Genre: Comedy
Plot: Theodore is a lonely writer who develops a strange relationship with a newly-purchased operating system that is designed to fulfill his every need.
Director: Spike Jonze
Why It’s Anticipated: Spike Jonze is a wonderfully imaginative and unique directing talent. And, he is working with a fabulous group of actors. Her (which is the working title and could be changed) sounds like another weird concept, much like Jonze’s brilliant collaborations with Charlie Kaufman: Being John Malkovich and Adaptation., though Jonze wrote this film (as he did his last film Where the Wild Things Are) and is not working with Kaufman.
Editor’s Thoughts: I am most interested in seeing Jonze’s work with Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Rooney Mara as he seems to bring out amazing performances from his actors, like: Nicholas Cage and Chris Cooper in Adaptation. while John Malkovich is hysterical in Being John Malkovich and John Cusack gives maybe the best performance of his career in the film. Additionally, I am excited to see the collaboration between cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (one of the best working right now, having shot The Fighter, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Let the Right One In) and Jonze.
Trailer (if available): Here

Release: Fall
Genre: Drama, Music
Plot: Llewyn Davis is a folk singer-songwriter trying to make it in the 1960s’ New York Greenwich Village scene.
Director: Ethan and Joel Coen
Why It’s Anticipated: Every new Coen Brothers film is a big deal for cinema fans, as they are among America’s great auteurs. Plus, they have been on a streak of great films since No Country for Old Men. The cast featuring Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund (who was the best part of Country Strong), and newcomer (and likely future star) Oscar Isaac also seem to be a great fit for the music scenes – and the last time the Coens did a music centric film we were treated to O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Editor’s Thoughts: I am interested to see how the collaboration between French cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel and the Coen Brothers works out. They have worked with Roger Deakins on eleven of their last twelve films since Barton Fink (Emmanuel Lubezki shot Burn After Reading for them). Delbonnel is one of the finest D.P.s working right now (and one of my favorite). He is known for his stylized color palettes and well-defined grain structure of his film stock. Often, he saturates his primary colors with desaturated muted secondary colors. This look is definitely apparent in the trailer, giving the film sort of a somber feel. The film should play as a love letter to the folk music scene of 1960s Greenwich Village (which birthed Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Mimi and Richard Farina – plus, this is loosely based off Dave Van Ronk’s memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street). I just wonder how much Delbonnel’s distinctive visual style will affect the Coens’ own style.
Trailer (if available): Here

Title: Mood Indigo
Release: Fall
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Plot: Colin meets Chloe; they fall in love and get married. But, on their honeymoon Chloe falls ill with an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.
Director: Michel Gondry
Why It’s Anticipated: Michel Gondry is one of the most inventive visual directors working in cinema right now. Films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep exhibit a unique, children’s fantasy quality to them, but still have strong narratives and wonderfully full characters. Mood Indigo very much looks like The Science of Sleep, stylistically (which is great).
Editor’s Thoughts: As a fan of Gondry’s work, I am looking forward to this, as he has a very distinctive feel and look to his work (usually – though his Hollywood film The Green Hornet was visually fairly generic). However, I may be even more enthusiastic for this film’s cast (or at least their coupling with Gondry). Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh (who is hilarious in Priceless and The Valet, and has a funny cameo in Midnight in Paris), and Omar Sy are among France’s great talents. Plus, Duris and Tautou have great chemistry from their work with Cedric Klapisch (and his trilogy beginning with L’Auberge Espagnole). All four actors feel like perfect choices to work with Gondry (I cannot wait to see this).
Trailer (if available): Here

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