The 20 Most Ancipated Films of 2013

puyallup-movie-theaterEach year, I try to put together a list of films that I am anxious to see.  Some are big-budget blockbusters that will make hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars, while others are films so tiny in scale that they’re easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.  As always, this list is mine and mine alone, which means it may not represent your tastes.  But take a look through it and see if you can’t find at least few treats that won’t get you in your car and on your way to the local multiplex.  ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Top 20 Films I am Most Excited to See in 2013

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before-midnight-movie-poster-1Before Midnight – (24 May 2013)  Of all the movies on this list, this is the film that you are most likely to hear almost nothing about.  And yet, as we enter into the heart of the 2013 movie-going season, there is no film that I am more excited to see.  For if it is anything like its two predecessors, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, this film will be one of the most honest explorations of what it means to be human, with hopes, regrets and loves that can never be fully realized.

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Elysium-posterElysium – (9 August 2013)  In 2009, Neil Blomkamp gave us District 9, an intelligent and yet highly entertaining film that explored the concept of the political refugee.  Destined to be overlooked in a summer that gave us Avatar, I maintain that District 9 was the most unique science fiction film to emerge since The Matrix.  Now, four years later, we get the opportunity to see if Blomkamp can recapture the lightning in a bottle as he once again brings us a distopian vision of the future.

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the_counselor_movie_poster_by_caeciliandita-d5tx38aThe Counselor – (15 November 2013)  It’s quite rare for me to get excited for a film by a first-time screenwriter.  But then again, most first-timers aren’t well-established winners of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, like Cormac McCarthy.  Most first-timers haven’t brought us such works as The Road, No Country For Old Men, and Blood Meridian.  What’s more, most first-timers aren’t working with Oscar-winning directors like Sir Ridley Scott.

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GravityGravity – (4 October 2013)  Is it wise to anticipate a film solely on the grounds that you enjoyed exactly one other film by its director?  Well, if that film was Children of Men and the director is Alfonso Cauron, I would suggest that your faith might not be misplaced.  So here’s hoping that the story of a marooned astronaut slowly being sucked back into the earth’s atmosphere is as haunting as Children of Men suggests it might be.

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Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_36929Star Trek Into Darkness – (10 May 2013)  There are Star Trek purists who maintain that the J.J. Abrams reboot of the classic series is an abomination of the highest order.  I am not one of them.  While I concede that Abrams brought a Star Wars mentality into the Trek universe, I think he did an fantastic job revitalizing a franchise that was hopelessly lost in the aftermath of the entirely underwhelming Next Generation movies.

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tumblr_lwkm2tHPqM1qej5ulo1_500The Zero Theorem – (unknown release date)  It’s been almost 20 years since Terry Gilliam brought us 12 Monkeys and almost 30 years since he gave us Brazil.  But Gilliam is a man possessed with a singular imagination; and when he is at the top of his game, he’s in a similar league with Terrence Malick. So what will he do when given the chance to work with Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)?  It’s anyone’s guess.

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wolf_of_wall_street_movie_poster_1The Wolf of Wall Street – (15 November 2013)  Based upon a true story, The Wolf of Wall Street once again re-teams acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese with his late-era muse, Leonardo DiCaprio. If Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island tell us anything, it is this: these two men understand one another and bring out the best in each other’s work.  And for that reason alone, The Wolf of Wall Street easily cracks my top-10.

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TranceTrance – (5 April 2013)  Odds are, unless you closely follow the movie industry, most of you are probably unaware of writer/director Danny Boyle.  But if I I gave you a list of his most notable films, you would recognize many of them as excellent.  Shall we give it a go?  Trainspotting.  The Beach.  Millions.  28 Days Later.  Sunshine.  Slumdog Millionaire. 127 Hours.   Still not convinced?  Of all the films I just listed, only one – The Beach – received less than an 74% agragate score on rottentomatoes.com.  Put simply, this guy makes great movies.

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490356fb89aa4f974a97e374f28d0595Pacific Rim – (12 July 2013)  The premise is simple: giant aliens have invaded the Earth and humanity fights back with giant robots.  I’m not going to pretend that there’s anything more to this flick.  But the kid in me that once loved Transformers is still waiting to see a great movie with robots slugging it out; and this appears to the best candidate for such a film in a long, long time.

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iron-man-3-poster-2013-movie-promo-flyer-carousel-a-concert-posterIron Man 3 – (3 May 2013)  I want Iron Man 3 to succeed.  I really do.  My son loves the series; and I want him to see a great Iron Man movie on the big screen before the superhero genre fully plays itself out.  But I am worried about this movie.  As opposed to many others who found The Avengers to be a great movie, I was admittedly underwhelmed.  What’s more, Iron Man 2 was a letdown after the first film, which is still the high-water mark for the Marvel films.  So can Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. reignite the franchise?  Here’s hoping.

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THE-GREAT-GATSBY-Poster2The Great Gatsby – (10 May 2013)  I can’t really fully explain why I am looking forward to this film.  While I appreciate director Baz Luhrmann’s visual flair, I’ve never been overly taken with any of his more notable movies such as Romeo + Juliet or Moulin Rouge.  And yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel is going to ring true as a critique of the pursuit of the American Dream.  We shall see.

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496dbd3578d251f8d808f4c4e1cddd80The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – (13 December 2013)  Two year ago, if you had asked me if I expected The Hobbit to fall outside of my top-10 films of the year, I would have dismissed the suggestion as nonsense.  But Peter Jackson’s decision to split the film into three parts confirmed what many already feared.  Jackson is rapidly losing his ability to move a story forward as he drowns the viewer in wealth of detail that bogs his story down.  Still, it is The Hobbit and it’s another chance to visit the wonders of Middle Earth.

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SideEffects-exclusive-lgSide Effects – (8 February 2013)  Billed as Steven Soderbergh’s final directorial effort before entering into a self-imposed retirement, Side Effects is a dark thriller that follows the unexpected journey of a young woman whose life is turned upside down by her psychotropic medication.  While Soderbergh’s recent output has been a bit unsteady, early reviews of this film suggest that this is a return to form.

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the_worlds_end_posterThe World’s End – (20 August 2013)  From the creators of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Hot Fuzz comes a new comedy about an epic pub-crawl and the end of the world.  Want more?  How about this coming from the same team (Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, et all) that brought us Shaun of the Dad, the finest zombie-comedy to ever grace the screen.

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much-ado-about-nothing_612x907Much Ado About Nothing – (21 June 2013)  Having just wrapped Marvel’s The Avengers, Joss Whedon quickly gathered a group of friends and retreated to his home, where he shot this film in just 12 days.  It will be interesting to see if Whedon, a writer/director known for his love of verbal wit, can translate the comedy of Shakespeare for a contemporary audiance.

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oblivion-posterOblivion – (19 April 2013)  Arguably the seventh film on this list that deals with issues of an impending apocalypse of sorts, Oblivion is the latest work from Joseph Kosinski, director of TRON: Legacy.  So visually, I expect the film to work.  But as was the case with TRON: Legacy, I’m a little worried that the story may not have all that much to say.

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enders-game-poster-official-battle-room-star-trek-trailer__oPtEnder’s Game – (1 November 2013)  Like Iron Man 3, I want this film to succeed.  But early reports suggest that the filmmakers have made radical departures from Orson Scott Card’s classic novel.  What’s more, I suspect that the popularity of The Hunger Games trilogy may be the driving force behind this production; and if that is the case, I suspect this will be geared for a similar target audience.  Nevertheless, this is based on a great piece of science fiction; and I’m hoping for the best.

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ild-poster-600x941Inside Llewyn Davis – (unknown release date)  In most years, a new work by Joel and Ethan Coen would rank much higher on my list of anticipated films.  After all, these are the guys that have given us: Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit.  But as you can see from these titles, the Coens are known for their quirky takes on crime, not for films about folks singers in the 1960s.  Still, it’s Joel and Ethan Coen.

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1806156Oldboy – (11 October 2013)  The ever controversial Spike Lee returns to offer his take on the Korean, cult-phenomon Oldboy.  From everything I have seen, many regard the original as a Tarantino-esque film complete with a shocking twist at the end.  Can Lee recapture the magic for American audiences?  We’ll know by October.

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BlueKustomeditedSound City – (18 January 2013)  Directed by Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, Sound City explores the rich history of the legendary recording studio in Van Nuys, California.  Including interviews with Paul McCartney, Rick Rubin, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood, John Fogerty and Trent Reznor, Sound City promises to be a treat for those that love the history of rock music.

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Films Expected to Do Well, But … I’m Not Really All That Sure

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300-rise-of-an-empire-poster300: Rise of an Empire – (2 August 2013)  When Zach Snyder first released 300 in 2006, he was hailed as a new visionary director.  But his less-than-inspired take on Watchmen and his critically abhorred Sucker Punch have left many wondering whether Snyder is a one-trick pony.  Now, he returns to the fertile ground that made him a star in the hopes of recapturing his early verve.

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catching-fire-movie-posterHunger Games: Catching Fire – (22 November 2013)  I am already on record as being someone who really enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  But as much as I enjoyed the books, I found the first movie to be lacking in both spirit and artistic direction.  Sometimes, a film can be too faithful to the source material, leaving the audience to feel as if the filmmakers were confined by a straightjacket.

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man-of-steel-poster2Man of Steel – (13 June 2013)  With a quarter-billion dollar budget at his disposal, Zach Snyder was tasked with rebooting the Superman franchise just seven years after Bryan Singer tried to do the same thing with Superman Returns.  Maybe its just me, but it seems as if a man who is virtually indestructible makes for a poor fictional protagonist as there is nothing that can ever truly challenge him.

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tumblr_mbwidiDVtv1rsbyhko1_500Thor: The Dark World – (8 November 2013)  The second film in Marvel’s so-called “Phase Two” finds the Norse god of thunder battling a race of dark elves who threaten to destroy the universe.  Yeah, I felt stupid even typing that.  Call me crazy, but I think Marvel Studios is going to have a much tougher run this time around.

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the-wolverine-teaser-posterThe Wolverine – (26 July 2013)  At one time, Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Black Swan, etc…) was attached to this film; and I was mildly intrigued to see what he would do with such an iconic character.  But then he left the picture and James Mangold was brought on board.  Now I see very little to get excited about as Bryan Singer and Hugh Jackman have completely mishandled this character.

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Films Whose Very Existence Boggles the Mind

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Jack-Ryan-PosterJack Ryan – (25 December 2013)  If ever there was a need to explore Hollywood’s mishandling of an intellectual property, surely their efforts to adapt Tom Clancey’s novels stands as a case study.  From the repeated miscasting and re-casting of the central character to this latest effort to reboot the series without using any of Clancey’s original source material, this franchise seems doomed to never reach the heights of its literary potential.

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03~15The Lone Ranger – (3 July 2013)  This is a film that I simply cannot fathom.  What’s more?  I can’t wait to see how the media responds to Johnny Depp being allowed to play a Native American.  Can someone please tell me how this is functionally different than a white man being asked to play a role in “black-face?”  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?

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world-war-z-poster-600x938World War Z – (31 June 2013)  Based upon Mox Brooks’ 2006 post-apocalyptic horror novel, World War Z  is looking at a tough uphill climb.  In addition to facing the unenviable task of trying to turn a series of disconnected first person accounts into a cogent narrative, it also faces a little problem called The Walking Dead.  Why any studio would think to release a zombie-themed film that will almost certainly suffer by comparison to AMC’s televised masterpiece is beyond me.  Just  another case of poor source material being ushered into the wrong season.

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monsters-university-posterMonster’s University – (21 June 2013)  Unfortunately, for those of us who still appreciate fine animation, it would appear that Pixar’s “golden age” is now firmly behind us.  As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney, Pixar now seems resigned to producing little more than sequels and cash-grabs such as 2013’s Monster’s University and Planes as well as the upcoming Finding Dory and Toy Story 4.  What a shame.

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Movie Calendar 2013 copy

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4 Responses to The 20 Most Ancipated Films of 2013

  1. Doug Hutchcraft says:

    Thanks Scott! Loving reading your takes on films. Several personal thoughts: 1) I saw “Oblivion” and was both greatly impressed with the look of the movie but left feeling disappointed in the script. You could see about 10 different other (better) sci-fi movies blatantly, shall we say, “referenced”. 2) I am terrified “Monsters University” will be to “Monsters inc.” what “Cars 2” was to “Cars”: shenanigans instead of story and heart. 3) I went into “The Hobbit” thinking I’d dislike it precisely because of the reasons you mentioned (bogged down in details) but actually that ended up being precisely why it ended up being one of my favorite films of 2012. I loved the more deliberate pace and striking visual and storytelling details.

    Love these movie themed blog posts. Keep ’em coming!

    • I’m off to see Oblivion later today. As for Monsters University, I’m really afraid that they are going to take one of my all-time favorite Pixar films, and just run it needlessly into the ground. There was absolutely no need for a sequel, let alone a prequel. I mean, really, was anyone dying to know how Mike and Sully met?

  2. Josh The Younger says:

    Couple of comments:

    The Hobbit – Maybe I’m just a Tolkien fanboy… ok, I know I’m a Tolkien fanboy, but I really liked the first installment of the Hobbit, especially the slower beginning part before the quest even really began. People who think of the source material as simplistic children’s lit are selling the story short. There’s a lot of characters and events in it, and for Jackson to make his movie audience care about 15 main questers in the same way that Tolkien did for his book audience is no small feat. Is it lotr? No. Still, It is the movie I am personally looking forward to the most this year by a long shot.

    Oblivion/TRON – Now I’m curious to hear what you thought of Oblivion, as I really liked TRON. As you said, not a fantastic plot, but there was enough there that I was easily able to sit through what was one of the most aesthetically beautiful films I’ve ever seen (everything to the stark color-scheme and lighting effects to the AMAZING soundtrack were just brilliant).

    Gatsby – Having read the book, I am almost sure that I will dislike this movie if I ever watch it. I would list my reasons, but this comment would probably double in length, and it’s already too long. 😉 If the film-makers manage to do a good job with the source material, they will deserve an oscar, imo.

    Hunger Games – I guess we have to agree to disagree on this one as well. This is #2 on my most-anticipated list right behind the Hobbit. I thought the first film was well-acted, highly entertaining, suspenseful and both incredibly poignant at times and tasteful in its PG-13-ness.

    Man of Steel – Totally agree on this one. I’m thinking that Man of Steel will either be one of my favorite films of the year, or highly disappointing. Superman has never been a favorite character of mine… and yet I confess myself oddly attracted to the movie… I guess we shall have to see.

    P.S. I know Josh is an awesome name, but I do believe it’s Joss Whedon. 🙂

    • Josh …

      As one Tolkien fanboy to another, I still think Jackson has something to prove. To be clear, I loved the opening sequences of The Hobbit. That’s not where it was dragging for me. It was as the film progressed and dragged into endless talk in Rivendale that I started to feel the pacing issues. All I remember is that when the dwarves left without the rest of the company, I wanted to go with them. Instead, I watched Gandalf, et al sit around and chat.

      As for The Hunger Games, I am really surprised to hear that you liked the film. Even as someone who enjoyed the books, I still couldn’t get into it. It just lacked any sense of real tension and you never felt the loss of human life as the various tributes died.

      P.S. Thanks for the Whedon catch. I just made the edit.

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