Movies: Ten To Watch In 2013

Published on January 14th, 2013 in: Listicles, Movies, Top Ten Lists |

By Less Lee Moore


I still haven’t seen all the 2012 films that I wanted to and I’m already thinking about what 2013 has in store. Those who complain that there aren’t any good movies anymore are just not paying enough attention. It was tough to pick from the three Ryan Gosling films scheduled for this year and I guess I cheated a little by including two Noomi Rapace flicks on this list, but I will not apologize. I also didn’t include the requisite blockbusters like Star Trek: Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3 because that’s just too easy (plus, I’ll likely see them all anyway). If Terence Malick’s Knight of Cups comes out this year, go ahead and pencil that in at #11.

Here are ten films that I do not want to miss in a theatrical setting this year.

1. Dead Man Down (March 8, US)
Noomi Rapace teams up with Colin Farrell and his real Irish accent. Farrell is New York hitman Victor who has been blackmailed by his new neighbor Beatrice (Rapace) into killing his crime lord boss, played by Terrence Howard, the man who brutalized her and left permanent scars on her face. Dominic Cooper and Isabelle Huppert also star. As much as Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was visually superior to Oplev’s, consider those films were made for TV and at a fraction of the budget for the big screen adaptation. They’re still excellent movies, anyway, and with a cast like this, I can’t be anything but excited. (trailer)

2. Trance (March 27, UK)
I will admit with no small amount of shame that I still haven’t seen Slumdog Millionaire or 127 Hours. But I also admit with no shame that I love Danny Boyle’s movies, even the loathed A Life Less Ordinary and the misunderstood Sunshine. Trance’s plot—an art thief must be hypnotized to recall where he stashed a stolen painting—might sound odd, but one look at the cast (James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson) and the trailer, and it wasn’t hard to sway me. With Boyle at the helm, a script by John Hodge (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting), and cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle (28 Days Later, Dredd), I’m sure Trance‘s pleasures will be many. (trailer)

3. Only God Forgives (March 28, Denmark)
Drive was nothing short of a revelation for me in many ways and it wasn’t until I’d watched it a couple of times that I started to notice parallels with another favorite film, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. Ryan Gosling is one of my top five favorite working actors right now, so his reunion with Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn means my interest in seeing this is solidified. Gosling portrays Julian, who’s been hiding out in Bangkok after killing a cop. He’s managing a Thai boxing club—a front for his family’s dope-smuggling business. When his brother murders a hooker, things get ugly pretty quickly. The score has been crafted by Cliff Martinez, who scored Drive so beautifully. (20-second preview)

4. The Heat (April 5, US)
Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy, female buddy cop movie. I don’t know that I need any more reasons to see this film. Bridesmaids was one of the most delightful surprises of the last few years, due in no small part to Feig’s direction and McCarthy’s brilliance. The script was penned by Katie Dippold, who has written several episodes of Parks and Recreation (“Bowling for Votes,” for example), so I have much faith in her comedic chops. By the way, has there ever been a female buddy cop movie before (White Chicks doesn’t count)? That alone should be reason enough to see this movie. The other buddy cop is played by Sandra Bullock and though I’m not a fan, I’m sure she’s up to the task of holding her own against McCarthy. (trailer)

5. The Great Gatsby (May 10, US)
I like Baz Luhrmann’s films because their juxtaposition of retro and modern imagery and themes dazzles me and make me uncomfortable. Who better to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heartbreaking tale from the ’20s to sparkling, three-dimensional reality than the guy who directed Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet? I am a convert to films shot in 3D when handled by someone who understands visual spectacle (Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sealed the deal) and Gatsby‘s cast—Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire—is the icing on what will be quite a decadent cake. (trailer)

6. The Conjuring (July 19, US)
As much as I am looking forward to James Wan’s sequel to Insidious this August, The Conjuring is a brand-new story, so it takes precedence. It’s based on House Of Darkness, House Of Light, a novel by Andrea Perron, which details the Perron family’s alleged encounters with supernatural entities. Even if the Perrons’ tales are less than verifiable, haunted house films are a favorite genre of mine. And if The Conjuring is half as scary as Insidious, it will be fantastic. Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Vera Farmiga, and Ron Livingston star. And it’s set in the 1970s, which is a bonus for me. (No trailer is available yet.)

7. Elysium (August 9, US)
I’ve been eagerly awaiting news of Neill Blomkamp’s next project for a long time, like five minutes after the end credits rolled on his first feature, District 9. It is not a secret that I am a sucker for science fiction films when they tackle sociopolitical issues and do it with such panache. At 2012’s San Diego ComicCon, Blomkamp presented some footage from the upcoming film and said that the film’s genesis was “the idea of a space station that had taken the wealth of Earth and left this impoverished planet behind. The theme is about wealth discrepancy between rich and poor, but in a science fiction setting. That subtext is important and pretty apparent, but layered on top of that is a lot of explosions” (Wired). That, plus Sharlto Copley, Matt Damon, and Jodie Foster, sounds like a hell of a movie. (Promo campaign trailer)

8. Twelve Years a Slave (TBA)
My introduction to both director Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender was in Hunger, McQueen’s riveting portrait of the 1981 hunger strike by IRA prisoners in Northern Ireland. Twelve Years A Slave is also based on real life events, the memoir of Solomon Northrup, a black man born free in New York but kidnapped in 1841, sold into slavery, and transported to Louisiana, where he remained a slave for twelve years. Such a harrowing tale demands to be told and I have faith that McQueen is the man to do so. The movie was filmed in New Orleans and the cast is mind-bogglingly impressive: Fassbender, Alfre Woodard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ruth Negga, Michael Kenneth Williams, and last, but certainly not least, Chiwetel Ejiofor (that’s pronounced CHEW-i-tel EJ-i-oh-for; get used to saying it) as Northrup. (No trailer is available yet.)

9. Gravity (TBA)
Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men was one of the most subtly affecting movies I can recall in the last few years. Its vision of a post-apocalyptic world was harrowing, but the scenes of violence were no less heart wrenching in comparison. Shot in 3D, Gravity “takes place almost entirely within the confines of a crippled spaceship—piloted by the lone survivor of a destructive asteroid collision (Sandra Bullock).” The other member of the principal cast is George Clooney, along with two actors who only appear in voiceover form. I’m thinking of Duncan Jones’s Moon and I’m swooning. (This is also the only time I’ve ever looked forward to TWO Sandra Bullock movies.) This ScreenRant article detailing the practical effects and long takes pushes all my film nerd buttons, too. (Teaser trailer)

10. Passion (TBA)
Despite my misgivings about Brian De Palma’s mishandling of The Black Dahlia (and the atrocious Mission To Mars), he’s got enough great work on his resume to entice me into seeing an erotic thriller starring Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams. Passion didn’t exactly set fires at last year’s TIFF, but I still want to see it. It’s a remake of a 2010 French film called Love Crime that sounds like a twisted version of Working Girl. The stills from the movie are gorgeous and did I mention how much I adore Noomi Rapace? And Rachel McAdams is certainly a draw. In this interview from Indiewire, De Palma talks about filming on 35mm, discusses all the improv that the lead actresses brought to the film, and provides this great quote: ” Noomi’s very dangerous, and you don’t know what’s going on in her head. She also can be incredibly empathetic, but she can be scary. Believe me, I’ve been scared by Noomi.” (trailer)

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