While we’re still in the midst of awards season, which is honoring last year’s films, it’s time to start looking ahead at what films 2013 has in store. There’s the superhero and other franchise blockbusters, as well as the latest from Terrence Malick and the director of Bridesmaids. Here's a look at some of the year's highlights.
“Admission”- Tina Fey stars in this romantic comedy about a Princeton admissions officer who is told by one of her former classmates, played by Paul Rudd, that one of his high school students may be the child she gave up for adoption years before. Fey and Rudd are gifted and likable comedic performers, so this has the potential to be solidly enjoyable.
“A Good Day to Die Hard”- The fifth installment in the iconic “Die Hard” franchise finds John McClane fighting terrorists in Russia with his CIA operative son Jack (Jai Courtney). One can only hope this franchise still has enough life in it to produce something exciting and well crafted.
“Before Midnight”- Director Richard Linklater reteams with actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for the third installment in the swooningly romantic series that has been chronicling the relationship between Celine (Delpy) and Jesse (Hawke) for nearly twenty years. The first film, “Before Sunrise,” taking place in Vienna, came out in 1995 and its sequel “Before Sunset” caught up to the couple nine years later in Paris in 2004. This film takes place another nine years after the last film, this in Greece. The exotic locations have only added to the romantic mood of the films and Delpy’s and Hawke’s performances make these characters and their relationship so real to the audience. The film already had its premiere at Sundance and it received raves. This is great news for lovers of this minimalist and lovely series.
“Evil Dead”- In 1981, director Sam Raimi released the film that would make him a horror icon and launched his career, “The Evil Dead.” Now, more than thirty years later and with the original film already having spawned two sequels, “The Evil Dead” has gotten the inevitable remake treatment. Raimi and the star of the original trilogy, Bruce Campbell, are serving as producers on this film, giving it their blessing so this film could turn out okay. It’ll also be interesting to see Jane Levy, best known for her comedic work on the lighthearted sitcom “Suburgatory,” in the role of a demon-possessed girl who’s just out of rehab. The red-band trailers showcase how hard core the film will be in terms of its gore and director Fede Alvarez has said he wanted to do the effects practically, likely making this film all the more terrifying.
“Gravity”- It’s been nearly seven years since Alfonso Cuaron’s last film, the sci-fi film “Children of Men.” Cuaron returns to the sci-fi genre for his latest film, about two astronauts, (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock), who become stranded in outer space. The film is told almost entirely in real time and is shot in 3-D, Cuaron’s first time working with the format. With a real master behind the camera, like Martin Scorsese or Ang Lee, 3-D can transcend its own gimmicky trappings and become another tool with which an artist can work wonders. Cuaron talents suggest he is the type of director who’ll know how to make 3-D an immersive experience.
“The Great Gatsby”- Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel was set for a Christmas day 2012 release but was pushed back to May 2013. The trailers showcase Luhrmann’s extravagant visual style. Luhrmann infused his hyperactive style in to classic piece of literature, “Romeo and Juliet,” resulting in “Romeo + Juliet,” starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio reteamed with Luhrmann to play Jay Gatsby, another doomed lover like Romeo. Carey Mulligan plays the object of Gatsby’s affection, Daisy and Tobey Maguire is Nick, the narrator of the novel and eventual friend of Gatsby.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”- The film is nearly a year away and no footage has been released, but it’s still one of this year’s major tentpoles. The second film in Peter Jackson’s expansion of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” the film will give audiences a better look at the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) as hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) helps his dwarf companions retrieve their treasure from Smaug’s cave.
“The Heat”- For the most part, the buddy cop genre, in film and TV, has been dominated by men. Not so much in “The Heat,” directed by Paul Feig, who helmed the female centric “Bridesmaids.” Sandra Bullock and “Bridesmaids’” Melissa McCarthy play an FBI agent and an undercover cop, respectively, who are forced to team up. If the film is half as funny as Feig’s previous film, “The Heat” could be the sleeper hit of the spring.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”- Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen in the sequel to last years’ “The Hunger Games.” Based on the second novel in Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy, the film follows the aftermath of Katniss and Peeta’s victory at the Hunger Games, in which only one person was to survive. Their act of rebellion will spark a revolution and threaten their lives.
“Inside Llewyn Davis”- Whenever the Coen Brothers make a film, it’s a reason to get intrigued, so individual is their style and their cinematic world is always fully realized. Their new film chronicles the life of a 1960s folk singer named Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). A trailer debuted last week and it set the mood wonderfully for the film. The film also stars Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman.
“Iron Man 3”- While “Iron Man 2” didn’t feel as fresh as the original film, this second sequel could be the best of the trilogy. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is not the same man after the events of “The Avengers” and his world is about to be brought down around him by the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), the most famous of Iron Man’s rogue gallery. This looks like it’s going to be the darkest and most emotional of the Iron Man films to date and one of the better third installments in recent memory.
“Man of Steel”- After Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” was met with a mixed reaction from audiences and underwhelming box office, a sequel to the film never got flying. Now we have another reboot coming this year from Zack Snyder, director of “300” and “Watchmen,” and executive producer Christopher Nolan, who’s been godfathering the production. While this film looks like it’s going for a melancholic tone similar to that of “Superman Returns,” with someone like Snyder at the helm, it’s sure to have its own signature style that will separate it from Singer’s film, as well as Richard Donner’s landmark 1978 film, which inspired Singer in making his Superman film. David S. Goyer, who was a writer on Nolan’s Batman trilogy, also wrote the screenplay for this film, and has said the film will lean towards the real world atmosphere found in Nolan’s Batman films. If the film lives up to its potential, it could be the superhero film of the year.
“Now You See Me”- This film, about a group of illusionists, led by Jesse Eisenberg, who rob banks during their performances, seems, from the trailer at least, like a modern day version of Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige.” It even features Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, both who are no strangers to Nolan’s work. The film reunites Eisenberg and his “Zombieland” co-star Woody Harrelson, so it’ll be fun to see them together again. Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Mark Ruffalo also star.
“Oldboy”- While most decry the surge of remakes being made in Hollywood, the idea of Spike Lee remaking Chan-Wook Park’s Korean thriller “Oldboy” is an intriguing proposition. Similar to the original, the film tells the story of an ordinary man (Josh Brolin) who is imprisoned in a room without reason and is released after 20 years, leading him to seek vengeance against his captor. Elizabeth Olsen also stars.
“Oz the Great and Powerful”- Director Sam Raimi returns with his first film since 2009’s “Drag Me to Hell” and reteams with actor James Franco, who starred as Harry Osborn in Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a Kansas circus magician who will eventually become the man behind the curtain when he gets swept off to the Land of Oz. He has to convince its inhabitants he is the great wizard they have been waitng for and help them defeat an evil witch. The film also stars Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz. If Raimi doesn’t let the film get too bogged down with special effects and brings his own directorial personality to the film, it could be funny and exciting in the same way his Spider-Man films were.
“Star Trek Into Darkness”- It was announced this past week that J.J. Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars film. But before that film comes out, the sequel to Abrams’ other sci-fi franchise is being released. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the sequel to Abrams’ critically and commercially successful reboot of the Star Trek franchise. The production has been shrouded in mystery, particularly in regards to the character Benedict Cumberbatch is playing, with some speculating he’s some kind of version of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan. While the Star Wars news has overshadowed this film, it’ll be exciting to see where this franchise goes before Abrams heads off to that galaxy far, far away.
“To The Wonder”- The release film marks the shortest gap between Terrence Malick’s films, only around two years, and even less when you consider that “To The Wonder” premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. While still not very prolific, Malick is one of the great American filmmakers of the last forty years and his work is always visually and spiritually gorgeous. The film stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, and Olga Kurylenko.
“Warm Bodies”- In this zombie comedy, a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) falls in love with a still-alive young woman named Julie (Teresa Palmer), and begins to regain his humanity. The film looks charming and quite funny, adding another film to the subgenre that also features “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland.” Jonathan Levine (“50/50”) directs.