25 Highly Anticipated Films for 2013


Image from Spike Jonze’s Her

Let’s just get this out of the way right now, movies such as The Hangover part 3, The Fast & The Furious part 6, Scary Movie 5, the next Hunger Games movie or the next Hobbit movie will not be on this list.

What will be on this list are films being released by today’s auetuers, and potential classics in the making – I hope.

I listed the films in alphabetical order, because choosing my favorite was just too damn tough.  Click the jump to see what 2013 has to offer

The Bling Ring

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Emma Watson, Leslie Mann and Taissa Farmiga

Storyline: Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the Internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.

Why it’s on the list:  At first glance this might look like a movie aimed solely for teens, but I know better than to judge a book movie by its cover, especially after seeing the excellent Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), in which Ms. Watson plays a significant role.  Most of all, lest not forget who’s behind the camera here.  Sofia Coppola has an extraordinary gift for capturing beauty and profoundness within even the most minimalist of plots, e.g. Lost in Translation (2003), Somewhere (2010).  She also directed The Virgin Suicides (1999), which judging on cast and plot alone could also be seen as a movie aimed at the pre-20 demographic.  It will be quite interesting to see what she brings to a story that, based on description alone, appears to be anything but minimal.  Also, landing a part in a Coppola production (in this case, Sofia) will more than likely further validate Emma Watson‘s acting chops and help her shed the image of Harry Potter’s girlfriend.

The Bridge

Director: Gerardo Naranjo

Starring: Diane Kruger and Ted Levine

Storyline: Two detectives, from the USA and Mexico, must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the American-Mexican border.

Why it’s on the list: In order for this movie to be successful Gerardo Naranjo‘s first production starring American actors has to, at the very least, contain half the grit and stylistic flourishes as his last feature, Miss Bala (2011).   Out of everything I saw last year (over 300 movies) Miss Bala ended up at the top of my Best Of list, which, if you were one of those theatre-goers who blinked last year, chances are you missed it.  After screening at Cannes, the film came to California to play once at Mill Valley Film Festival and then to San Francisco for all of 1 week.  The Bridge could have even less of a chance of being seen, being that it’s a made-for Mexican television movie.  Still, I’m sure it will be well worth hunting down.


calvaryDirector: John McDonagh

Starring: Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Gillen, Brendan Gleeson, Isaach De Bankolé and Kelly Reilly

Storyline: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.

Why it is on the list: With The Guard (2011) under his belt, John McDonagh, brother of Martin McDonagh (In Bruges (2008), Seven Psychopaths (2012), showed us that he too can make an original and worthwhile comedy.  The question is, can he do it again?  I have no reason to doubt him.  If this film is as good as his previous one than this could turn out to be the best comedy of the year.

The Grandmasters

Director: Kar Wai Wong

Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Ziyi Zhang and Chen Chang

Storyline: The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.

Why it’s on the list: Who said Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception (2010) and Sam Mendes (Skyfall (2012) can be the only top-tier directors to make Hollywood catering action films?  Having spent much of his career directing highly praised romances (Chungking Express (1994), In the Mood for Love (2000), 2046 (2004) people (or at least myself) tend to forget that Kar Wai Wong is no stranger to more action oriented stories as well.  Ashes of Time (1994), anybody?  This time out Wong won’t be working with his usual go-to DP, Christopher Doyle, so it will be interesting to see if he’ll maintain the same look he’s been known to have. CLICK HERE FOR TRAILER


Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Basher Savage

Storyline: Astronauts attempt to return to earth after debris crashes into their space shuttle, leaving them drifting alone in space.

Why it’s on the list: In many circles director, Alfonso Cuarón is the best thing since sliced bread.  No doubt, his sci-fi dystopian vision of the future exhibited in Children of Men (2008) is impressive, especially the one-take battle scene, but hardly the “masterpiece” so many critics and fans claim it to be.  Still, an above average director shooting what could be a throwback of sorts to the great atmospheric sci-fi films of old (Solaris (1972), Alien (1979) is something to look forward to. CLICK HERE FOR TRAILER


Director: Spike Jonze

Starring: Olivia Wilde, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix

Storyline: A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly-purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

Why it’s on the list: Take a look at Jonze’s feature-length fictional directing filmography and the one thing that stands out is that none of them are original scripts penned by Jonze himself.  Of the three big films that Jonze has under his belt (Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation. (2002) and Where The Wild Things Are (2009), two of them were penned by Charlie Kaufman, with WTWTA being an adaptation by Jonze.  The fact that this is Spike Jonze’s first original screenplay is enough to make it on my list.  Throw atop that the acting talents involved and what we have here is a potentially strong entry for a new quirky cult classic in the making.

I’m So Excited


Director: Pedro Almodovar

Starring: Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Paz Vega

Storyline: Haven’t the slightest idea.  All I know is that it will be a comedy.

Why it’s on the list: How excited am I to see I’m So Excited?  Very, and I don’t even know what the hell this movie is about.  But that doesn’t matter.  The fact is, this is another Almodovar film, which means at the very least it will be highly entertaining.  My least favorite Almodovar film is still a 3 out of 5 star movie, which is not at all a bad thing.  Interesting to note that for as many times the director has worked with both Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, that this movie will mark the first time they are together in the same Almodovar production. CLICK HERE FOR TEASER TRAILER

Inside Llewyn Davis

022812_coenDirectors: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and Garrett Hedlund

Storyline: A singer-songwriter navigates New York’s folk music scene during the 1960s.

Why it’s on the list: I can’t emphasize this enough; this movie is on the list because it is written and directed by the most talented filmmakers working today.  It’s also an original script, which the Coens have always done better than when they worked on remakes (Ladykillers (2004), True Grit (2010).  This will be the only movie all year that I will be going out of my way to see on opening night.  Super pumped for this one, if for no other reason then to see yet another brilliant performance by John Goodman, who will no doubt bring his A game to this one, as he does in every Coen Brothers movie he’s been in.


nicolas-cage-to-star-in-southern-gritty-drama-joe-david-gordon-green-to-directDirector: David Gordon Green

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ronnie Gene Blevins and Sue Rock

Storyline: An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin.

Why it’s on the list: There’s a good reason why David Gordon Green and Nicolas Cage are all smiles.  That’s because it is this humble writer’s opinion that 2013 will be the year in which these two talented individuals regain the admiration and accolades to which they garnered at the starts of their careers.  And it’s all going to begin with this movie, Joe.

David Gordon Green, after establishing himself as somewhat of an auteur at the onset of his career with George Washington (2000), All The Real Girls (2003), Undertow (2004), and Snow Angels (2007), then strayed to the Hollywood dark side with more mainstream fare such as Pineapple Express (2008), Your Highness (2011), and The Sitter (2011), and in doing so seemed to have lost all of his auteurisitc flare.  I believe this movie will not only mark a return to form for DGG, but for Nicolas Cage as well.

For all those who love to poke fun at the Cageman, lest not forget what an incredible talent he can be when under the right direction; Wild at Heart (1990) (David Lynch), Raising Arizona (1987) (Coen Brothers), Adaptation (2002) (Spike Jonze), Bad Lieutenant (2009) (Werner Herzog), and Leaving Las Vegas (1995) (Mike Figgis).  If he’s going to have another breakout performance, my bets are that this will be the movie in which he does it.

Kaze tachinu


Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Animated characters and voice talents of… as I write this no actors have been confirmed.

Storyline: A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II.

Why it’s on the list: Anytime the most famous animator releases a movie it’s going to be big news.  Already, without anyone having even seen the film, controversy has begun within the blogosphere and various other internet sites over Miyazaki’s latest subject matter.  It seems animated fans are torn over whether or not they should support seeing a movie about the man who designed airplanes that would eventually attack Pearl Harbor.  I say, get a grip!  Is there really any doubt that Miyazaki isn’t going to handle the subject matter with the utmost respect?  How could this film not make the list, especially after I finally became familiar with the anime genre while attending this year’s Studio Ghibli Film Festival.  Now that I know what all the anime hype is about, I’m primed and ready for some new Miyazaki.

Maps to the Stars

robert-pattinson-viggo-mortensen-may-appear-in-map-to-the-starsDirector: David Cronenberg

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Robert Pattinson and Viggo Mortensen

Storyline: Complex look at Hollywood and what it reveals about Western culture.

Why it is on the list: Just when I thought the films of team Cronenberg-Mortensen (A History of Violence (2005), Eastern Promises (2007) and A Dangerous Method (2011) was the best thing since sliced challah, along comes team Cronenberg-Pattinson with Cosmopolis (2012) and utterly blows me away, as that film ended up not only being one of the best films I’ve seen all year, but convincing me that Pattinson can actually act.  So what can possibly beat the chemistry of either of these teams – how about team Cronenber-Pattinson-Mortensen?  Throughout his career Cronenberg has always seamlessly blended the cerebral with the visual to memorable effects.  I have no reason to believe that this film will be any different.

A Most Wanted Man

Robin-wright-joins-Anton-Corbijn-A-Wanted-ManDirector: Anton Corbijn

Starring: Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Storyline: A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught up in the international war on terror.

Why it is on the list: An incredible cast in a terrorist thriller, which just so happens to be my favorite sub-genre within the thriller category.  Just as I wouldn’t enter a Jim Jarmusch vampire movie expecting horror and/or action, I’m not expecting anything near the typical Hollywood action tropes usually associated with the genre.  For those of you who have seen Corbijn’s last film, The American (2010), I think you’ll know what I mean.  Hate it or love it, I know that at least the film will be interesting and original – much like The American.


00mud-first-lookDirector: Jeff Nichols

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Michael Shannon and Sarah Paulson

Storyline: Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trailer and to reunite him with his true love.

Why it’s on the list: Does anybody know why a film, which premiered at Cannes to overwhelming positive reviews, has big name stars, a big name director and a script which potentially has Oscars written all over it has not yet gotten a wide release?  My only theory is that it’s star, McConaughey, after thoroughly making the year 2012 his bitch, thought it would be wise to not completely over saturate the year with his newly found acting feet.  2012 has arguably been the best of his career, starring in Magic MikeThe Paperboy, Killer Joe, and Bernie, and killing it in each role.  I’m hoping Nichols’ Mud is as good as his sadly overlooked last film, Take Shelter (2011). CLICK HERE FOR FILM CLIP


hero_LarsVonTrierDirector: Lars von Trier

Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård and Shia LaBeouf

Storyline: A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.

Why it is on the list:  Never one to shy from controversy, in fact, he seems to seek it out, Von Trier is at it once again.  Go on Lars, try to shock me if you dare, but after seeing A Serbian Film (2010) I don’t think it’s possible.  As Von Trier exhibited in Antichrist (2009) during a brutal self-mutilation scene, the one thing he has proven time and time again is that even the most hideous of acts can be somehow made to appear breathtakingly beautiful.  I can’t wait to see what he does here.

Supposedly this film will have two versions, an X rated one and an R rated one.  Frankly, I’m down for seeing whichever one shows less of LaBeouf’s buff and more of Gainsbourgh’s stuff.

Only God Forgives

only-1Director: Nicholas Winding Refn

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas and Tom Burke

Storyline: A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match.

Why it is on the list: For those of you who saw Refn and Gosling’s last collaborative effort, Drive (2011), then you should know damn well why this film made the list.  Here’s what I’m expecting; lots of brilliant long takes, some bursts of visceral violence, and overall, that general mood of awesomeness Refn brings to all his films, even the ones I didn’t care for. CLICK HERE FOR LOCATION SCOUTING WITH DIRECTOR

Only Lovers Left Alive

tilda-swinton-will-make-vampire-romance-film-with-jim-jarmusch_hDirector: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton and Mia Wasikowska

Storyline: A story centered on two vampires who have been in love for centuries.

Why it is on the list: Every Jarmusch film I have seen (which is all of them) have all had one thing in common – the rewatchability factor is ridiculously high.  Having seen all his films at least 5 times I still find it fascinating that I’m always picking up on something new every time I watch one of them.  For that reason alone I have him on my top 3 living directors list.  Can’t wait to see what he does to the vampire genre.  One thing is for certain, Twilight, this will not be.

The Place Beyond the Pines

"The Place Beyond the Pines"Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes

Storyline: A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.

Why it is on the list: So it’s essentially Drive, only with a motorbike instead of a car?  I am so cool with that.  Once again, another great cast for Cianfrance to work with.  His first feature-length, Blue Valentine (2010) earned Michelle Williams an Oscar nomination and showed that he has what it takes to direct.  On the off-chance this movie completely tanks, which I don’t think will happen, at least we’ll be left with the visual pleasures of Gosling, Cooper and Mendes to ogle at for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Queen of the Desert

Naomi-WattsDirector: Werner Herzog

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Naomi Watts and Jude Law

Storyline: A chronicle of Gertrude Bell’s life, a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century.

Why it is on the list: Duh, because it’s a Werner Herzog film and I can’t wait to transcend into the visual medium of film and engulf myself within Herzog’s ecstatic truths.  Truths that will no doubt shower upon my cinematic cortex via dramatic costume period piece and the lavish loveliness that is Naomi Watts.  Hip hip Herzog!  Hip hip Herzog!

The Rover

19223833.jpg-r_760_x-f_jpg-q_x-20100112_033824Director: David Michôd

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Guy Pearce and Scoot McNairy

Storyline: A dirty and dangerous near-future Western set in the Australian desert.

Why it is on the list: Aside from maybe South Korea and Canada, I’d say the Aussies have the novel concept of writing scripts that are original and fresh on lock right now.  Helping keep Australia on the map are the directing and writing talents of Michôd.  The director, after writing Spider (2007) (A short film that can be seen here), Animal Kingdom (2010) (which he also directed) and Hesher (2010), just to name a few, now turns is sights to a gritty apocalyptic future where Guy Pearce is once again in the lead actor’s seat.  Forget about George Miller‘s Mad Max (2013) starring Tom Hardy, which is slated to also come out in 2013.  My bet for next year’s grimiest film is on the young director who has yet to show signs of being washed up – David Michôd.


G_175_1Director: Joon-ho Bong

Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Kang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Ed Harris

Storyline: AD 2031, the passengers in the train are the only survivors on Earth.

Why it is on the list: This film did not make my list because it is an adapted version of a popular science fiction graphic novel that I have not read.  It’s on the list because A: the director’s all 4 stars filmography speaks for itself (Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006) and Mother (2009) B: It’s his first time directing primarily english-speaking actors and C: I haven’t seen Kang-ho Song on the silver screen since his role as preacher turned vampire in Chan-wook Park‘s Thirst, and that’s one actor who, like Joon-ho Bong, has a perfect record.


Stoker-Chan-wook-ParkDirector: Chan-wook Park

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode

Storyline: After India’s father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Why it is on the list: Of all the critically acclaimed and established South Korean auteurs this year who are reaching out to the mainstream western audiences my guess is that Chan-wook Park, director of The Vengence Trilogy and Thirst (2009), will be the one who most likely sticks to his guns, at least in terms of no holds barred storytelling is concerned.  Even after reading the film’s storyline I know if there’s one thing I can rely on from Mr. Park it’s that there will be an ample amount of twists and at least one joyfully wince inducing scene.  An early prediction – Oscar for Best Actress at the 2014 Academy Awards goes to Nicole Kidman for Stoker.  You heard it here first, folks. (CLICK HERE FOR TRAILER)

Twelve Years a Slave

Picture-22-620x418Director: Steve McQueen

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, and Michael Fassbender

Storyline: A man living in New York during the mid-1800s is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep south.

Why it is on the list:  Forget about the fantastically talented cast for a moment and take a look at writer/director Steve McQueen‘s flawless filmography thus far.  If you have not yet seen either Hunger (2008) or Shame (2011), stop reading this post right now and go watch them.  Now that you’ve watched them, I humbly ask you, how is this film not on everybody’s Must See lists for next year?

White Bird in a Blizzard

20322617Director: Gregg Araki

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni and Angela Bassett

Storyline: A young woman’s life is thrown into chaos when her mother disappears.

Why it is on the list: My first encounter with a Gregg Araki film came in 2010 when I saw Kaboom.  Since then, rather than start skimming through the man’s much loved filmography, which seems to have a cult following of its own, I decided to re-watch Kaboom – 7 times.  So yeah, I’m excited to see another film of his.

The Young and Prodigious Spivet

JeunetSpivetFLPhotosBTSFullImage2Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Robert Maillet and Judy Davis

Storyline: A 12-year-old cartographer secretly leaves his family’s ranch in Montana where he lives with his cowboy father and scientist mother and travels across the country on board a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute.

Why it is on the list: Forget Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, when it comes to providing fantastical worlds of whimsy I look no further than the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet.  As it is with all of this Frenchmen’s films, I’m watching them for one reason only; the visual playfulness within his always inspiring set designs.  Great plotting and acting are always a bonus, as was the case with Amelie (2001), City of Lost Children (1995), Delicatessen  (1991) and A Very Long Engagement (2004).  Even at his worse, which is arguably Alien Resurrection (1997) (the only one he didn’t write) and Micmacs (2009) there’s still plenty of interesting and eye-catching visuals to make this filmgoer a happy one.

The Zero Theorem

christoph-waltz-zero-theorem-1Director: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw and Tilda Swinton

Storyline: A computer hacker’s goal to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management; this time, they send a teenager and lusty love interest to distract him.

Why it is on the list: IMDB has this categorized as a drama.  No matter, I’m still hoping, as I do with every film released from any member of Monty Python, that it will be as funny as The Holy Grail (1975).

Top 10 Honorable Mention:

After Earth (Dir. M. Night Shyamalan)

Captain Phillips (Dir. Paul Greengrass)

Freezing People is Easy (Dir. Errol Morris)

Kick-Ass 2 (Dir. Jeff Wadlow)

The Last Stand (Dir. Jee-woon Kim)

Monsters University (Dir. Dan Scanlon)

Moon Indigo (Dir. Michel Gondry)

Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt)

Side Effects (Dir. Steven Soderbergh)

The Smell of Us (Dir. Larry Clark)


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Categories: Features

6 Comments on “25 Highly Anticipated Films for 2013”

  1. December 26, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I’ve been meaning to read this blog for days, and now that I have…I am a VERY happy woman!! 2013 = cinematic WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. April 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Hi there, You’ve done an excellent job. I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this website.


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    […] / James Gray loquaciouskumquatadventure blog Bell #23 of 156 most anticipated films filmbalaya No ranking (“What will be on this list are films being released by today’s auetuers, […]

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