Now that we’ve finally finished compiling our Best of 2012 lists, it’s time to dive headfirst into 2013. Remember, folks — silent introspection leads only to guilt and shame, so it’s better to begin immediately diverting yourself with the next entertainment coming down the pike.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street
The last two names should be all you need, but here are a few other scraps to arouse your interest in Scorsese’s take on Wall Street/corruption (again, do you really need more?): Jonah Hill is in it; Ethan Suplee (aka Frankie from Boy Meets World) is in it; by my estimation, the worst Scorsese/DiCaprio collaboration yet is the still-very-enjoyable Shutter Island.
2. Only God Forgives
Loved Drive? Of course you did. The film was a stylistic and aesthetic masterpiece — a blinking neon sign, electric and cool; a hauntingly melodic synth note, brutal and beautiful. All signs point to an equally gorgeous and powerful result from director Nicolas Winding Refn’s second pairing with star Ryan Gosling, the ominously titled Only God Forgives. IMDB’s admittedly odd plot synopsis is “A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match,” but any doubts should be quelled by this short, grainy teaser, which somehow still makes the movie look fantastic.
I somehow just got around to seeing Children of Men like two months ago, so, needless to say, I feel like a huge asshole and I’m really, really jazzed for director Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity (which supposedly opens with a freaking 17-minute long continuous shot). I’m a huge sucker for space movies (let me emphasize the space aspect — the loneliness, vastness, etc. — because aliens are kind of hit or miss for me), and I’m hoping that this film will scratch that itch the way the incredibly underrated Moon did in 2009. Starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, Gravity‘s got star power (is this thing on?) in spades, so hopefully Cuaron has a critically and commercially successful hit on his hands.
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
I’m not particularly interested in the 60s NYC folk music scene, subject matter of Inside Llewyn Davis, but I will sign up for literally anything involving the Coen brothers, writers and directors of this here film. Seriously, anything: A filmed colonoscopy of John Goodman? Hold on, let me call up Fandango. Mall Cop 2: Paul Blart Rises? You’ve got my $12. A 9-hour documentary on live births? Weird, but I’m there.
This one’s also got Justin Timberlake in a supporting role, if you’re in to that sort of thing.
5. Man of Steel
Look, I’m only human, okay. I admit that I’m cautiously excited for this Superman reboot (or sequel or prequel or re-imagination or whatever the hell they’re calling it, just don’t yell at me), which caught my eye by enlisting top-notch visual director Zack Snyder (who’s inconsistent, but at least has a distinct style) and a cast including the likes of Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, and Laurence Fishburne. I still haven’t seen last summer’s Spiderman thing or The Avengers, and I’m not sure when America decided that wish-fulfillment superhero blockbusters were the only means for exploring our subconscious insecurities and desperate longings, but I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt. The trailer looks epic enough without seeming to reveal too much beyond the first act of the movie.
6. Captain Phillips
Personally, I respect the hell out of director Paul Greengrass. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the Bourne movies, and I can certainly understand why people reaching for the Dramamine would complain about his incessant camera movement (based on my childhood home videos, Greengrass and my father have at least one thing in common: an inability to hold the goddamn camera steady), but I loved Bloody Sunday and I thought United 93 was an incredibly worthy and cathartic experience (although I could certainly understand why others didn’t). Basically, the guy’s not going to put his name on shit work. After leaving the Bourne franchise (he wasn’t responsible for the recent installment The Bourne Legacy), Greengrass now has the freedom to pursue projects like this true-story thriller about a US cargo ship (helmed by Captain Richard Phillips, played by Tom Hanks) hijacked by Somali pirates. Greengrass’s films are always extremely immersive and convincing, and I expect this one to be no different.
7. The Monuments Men
Honestly, I freaking love George Clooney and everything about his classy, patriarchal movie star/left-leaning, liberal arts professor vibe. I just think he’s really the bee’s knees, so to speak. This includes his directorial work — Good Night, and Good Luck; The Ides of March; Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (okay, see even I didn’t see Leatherheads). According to Deadline.com, in The Monuments Men, directed and starring Clooney, “a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art that were stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.” It also has a cast of Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Bob Balaban. Damn, homie.
8. Anchorman: The Legend Continues
The original Anchorman was a little ahead of its time. While people now recognize it as having one of the highest laugh quotients of any film in the past decade, it was released to so-so reviews (66% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), solid but unspectacular box office numbers ($85 million — compare that to the $128 million brought in by Talladega Nights or the $118 by Blades of Glory), and somewhat hesitant word of mouth. A lot of people I knew who spent the next five years quoting it were disappointed or just befuddled after their first time seeing it, dismissing its irreverence as idiotic or just plain bizarre. Like many other films that have found success on DVD and among college-aged audiences, Anchorman’s impact and legacy have grown steadily since its release. Can the sequel possibly live up to the expectations that have accumulated since 2004? Will it commit the cardinal sin of being behind the times? I certainly hope not, and I’m eager to find out, especially with Kristen Wiig rumored to be joining the cast.
Unfortunately, full-length directorial efforts from Spike Jonze are few and far between — he’s a guy with his hand in a lot of pies. For that reason alone, I’d be excited for anything he was bringing our way, but Her sounds particularly tantalizing: IMDB describes the plot as, “A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly-purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.” It’s an obviously apt opportunity for Jonze to comment on society’s technological dependency/fetishization, as evidenced by everyone’s addiction to their iPhone and my continued relationship with the Sega Genesis I got for Christmas in 1993. Cast includes Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, and Samantha Morton.
10. The Place Beyond The Pines
Including The Place Beyond The Pines involves less prognostication than most of my other choices — it has already screened in some festivals, has a trailer, and opens this coming March. The film first came to my attention when I read an interview with Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, and a million other projects) where he mentioned he was working on the score. Further inquiries raised my boner of attention from mild interest to raging excitement. The cast is stellar (Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta), the buzz is great (“A brilliant, towering picture” — The Playlist), and the trailer is crazy good.
Bonus: 11. Pain & Gain
Without adding to the internet’s astronomical word total (which I’ve already contributed to, anyway) on the absurdity that is Michael Bay, let’s just say I’ve never looked forward to one of his movies. But I couldn’t help but be suckered in by the fluorescent, shaky cam trailer for Pain & Gain, which features plenty of bro-ish humor and Mark (“I believe in fitness”) Wahlberg and The Rock getting their Zubaz-pants-wearing pump on to Sleigh Bell’s “Crown on the Ground.” Most of all, I like the idea of Bay applying his visual talent to a (comparatively) intimate, character-driven action film instead of another indecipherable, whirring robot orgy. I couldn’t quite put it in the top 10, but, against my better judgment, I legitimately think this movie is going to be a lot of fun.