Gangster Squad It’s been a long time since we got a good gangster movie, and while I don’t think director Rueben Fleischer is going to deliver a classic along the lines of The Godfather or Goodfellas, I’ll gladly accept something along the lines of De Palma’s The Untouchables. Fleischer is the wild card here (his last film was 30 Minutes or Less, and that crashed and burned though I quite liked Zombieland) but the cast is fantastic. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick, and Sean Penn? Fugghedaboudit. Gangster Squad opens January 11.
Carrie A lot of people are down on remakes as a general rule, and I agree with that sentiment at times. Remaking everything does seem to suggest a creative bankruptcy on the part of the major studios. But, some films were flawed to begin with and provide a solid concept that can be improved upon. And, some films may be more relevant now than when they were originally made. The remake of Stepehen King’s Carrie (the original film version was directed by Brian DePalma in 1976) is a story of a telekinetic girl who’s horribly bullied in school and really taps into the modern zeitgeist as bullying is such a hot button issue today. The director is Kimberly Pierce, who did the excellent Boys Don’t Cry. Chloe Grace Moretz (you may know her as Hit Girl) stars as Carrie White, and Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s wackjob, fundamentalist mother. There’s a lot of talent attached to this one. Carrie opens March 15.
To the Wonder I’m a huge mark for anything Terrence Malick does, so his latest film, To the Wonder, makes my must-see list by default. For me, The Tree of Life was easily the best film of 2012, and I’m a sucker for Malick’s elliptical, impressionistic style. Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem star in this meditation on romantic love. To the Wonder screened to wildly mixed reactions this fall at the Toronto and Berlin film festivals, with many critics saying it plays like a Malick parody. No matter. The dude is a major film artist and I’m there opening day. To the Wonder opens April 12.
Pain and Gain God help me. Bashing Michael Bay is getting pretty tiresome, but I’m as big a detractor of his films as anybody. Yes, the guy does create some great imagery. But, he gets genuinely terrible work from his casts, has no concept of how to stage humor, is more than mildly sexist, and thought it would be a good idea to put racist robots in a Transformers movie. His crimes against cinema are legion. But, when I heard he had a low-budget passion story he’d been wanting to tell for years, I have to admit I was intrigued in some way. I had read before that Bay was a big fan of the Coen brothers (more on them in a bit) which was why so many of their actors turned up in his films. Pain and Gain tells the true story of idiot bodybuilders who turn to kidnapping as a means of making some fast cash. Sound like Fargo, right? And then, they released a pretty spectacular trailer last week, and it looked a lot like a Michael Bay film. But, at the same time, he seems to have reigned in some of his worst tendencies. The cast is very good (Mark Wahlberg, The Rock, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub, Rebel Wilson) and I’m intrigued to see what a Bay-i-fied Coen brothers movie might look like. Pain and Gain opens April 26.
Man of Steel I caught part of Sucker Punch on HBO a few weeks ago and, yeah, it is pretty bad. But, I still think Zack Snyder is more than capable of giving us a great Superman movie. For starters, he’s not writing it. It appears that producer Christopher Nolan has passed his “Batman in the real world” philosophy over to Superman. The teaser trailer looked like it had been shot by Terrence Malick, and the full trailer that was attached to The Hobbit was simply breathtaking. I love that we’re finally (finally!) moving on from the Donner Superman in tone and visuals. And, like Nolan’s Batman films, this one has a cast so good it’s just stupid: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Richard Schiff, Tahmoh Penikett. This is probably my most anticipated film of next year, and I’m glad the Mayans were wrong so I get to see it. Man of Steel open on June 14.
Elysium Even though I thought District 9 was good but a little overrated in the geek community, there was no questioning the talent of its director, Neil Blomkamp. Elysium is his follow-up and it stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Diego Luna, the great William Fitchner, and Distict 9’s breakout star, Shalto Copley. Again, a great cast and I’m intrigued to see what Blomkamp does for an encore. Elysium opens on August 9.
The World’s End Here’s another one of the old favorites of mine. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg co-wrote and Wright directed this third entry in their so-called “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy that also include Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Considine are along for the ride. The World’s End opens in the U.S. on October 25.
Nebraska Here’s another of my beloved auteurs on the list, this time is writer/director Alexander Payne. I was watching The Descendants on HBO the other night, and I had forgotten how great that one was. Payne also made the greatest high school movie of all time, Election. Like Malick, Scorsese, and the Coens, I’ll see anything he makes. This fall Payne will be delivering a black and white shot film that stars Will Forte as a man on a road trip with his estranged, alcoholic father, driving from Montana to Nebraska to claim a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes prize. Sounds awesome. Nebraska opens December 10.
The Monuments Men I love this premise: George Clooney directs the story of a crew of art historians and museum curators who must, in the waning days of World War II, race against time to recover stolen works of art from the Nazis before Hitler can destroy them. Once again, a ridiculous cast: Clooney, James Bond himself Daniel Craig, Lord Grantham himself Hugh Bonneville, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bob Baliban. It sounds like Oceans 11 crossed with a spy movie. The Monuments Men opens on December 20.
Inside Llewyn Davis Two names are all I need to be sold on this one: Joel and Ethan Coen. Allegedly, the movie centers on the folk music scene of the 1960s. Even lesser Coen films like The Ladykillers or Burn After Reading are hugely re-watchable. I’m all in. Inside Llewyn Davis currently does not have a release date.
The Wolf of Wall Street Marty’s back. Like the Coens, any new film from a legend like Martin Scorsese is a must-see in any year. This time Marty reunites with Leonardo DiCaprio for the fifth time to tell the story of a New York stockbroker convicted of securities fraud. Again (and this is a common thread of the anticipated movies), the cast is an embarrassment of riches: DiCaprio, the newly reborn Matthew McConaughy, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau, last year’s Best Actor Jean Dujardin, Spike Jonze, and Rob Reiner. Jonah Hill, my movie going Kryptonite, is in this and I’m still stoked about it. The Wolf of Wall Street currently has no release date but will likely be a fourth quarter release.
August: Osage County Usually a stage play being brought to the screen can be a dicey proposition, especially when it’s being guided by a veteran TV director like John Wells. But, this is no ordinary play; it’s Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning barnburner. Another great cast is on hand and includes Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Mags Bennett herself Margo Martindale, not Kahn Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Juliette Lewis, and Abigail Breslin. That’s quite a few Brits for a story set in Oklahoma. Letts is writing his own screenplay, so let’s hope he figures out how to open the play up into a movie. It’s awesome source material. August: Osage County currently has no release date.
How about you? What are you most interested to see in 2013?