Thursday, January 31, 2013

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Top 25 Most Anticipated of 2013

All right, folks. Amateur hour is over. February is upon us. That means Casting Coup Month begins tomorrow, with a re-imagining of the 1975 classic Jaws, followed by more modern actors cast in roles made famous 30-60 years ago by the likes of Charlton Heston, Meryl Streep and Ava Gardner. And the, of course, we have the Hollmann Awards honoring the films of 2012.

But before we look back, I want to take this last moment to look ahead. To the upcoming year, I mean. Yes, it's time for another Top 25 Most Anticipated Films!

25. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Ben Stiller's long-gestating pet project about a daydreamer who stumbles into an actual adventure could be another Night at the Museum (that would be fun!), but with Stiller himself directing I imagine it will be a lot more genius than that. This is a project that attracted Spielberg and Ron Howard, too. Now, I don't know anything, obviously, but I'm getting a bizarre Benjamin Button vibe from it all. It could be that I just have a mistaken impression of what this film is; certainly the cast, while all bang-on, is not known for prestige flair -- Patton Oswalt, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn. Yet I can't help but feel that there's more to this than meets the eye.

24. 42
Biopic of Jackie Robinson. Looks awesome.

23. Lords of Salem
Oh my God, why is this even on this list? Of Rob Zombie's previous films, I thought The Devil's Rejects was OK but way too long, while Halloween was a dull slog. Perhaps I'll love House of 1000 Corpses and Halloween 2 -- who knows? So, being a Zombie agnostic, it's a puzzle as to why this film, of all films, would make it to my Most Anticipated of the Year. I don't know why, either. Maybe it's that I always want to like his films, and am eager to give him a chance? Maybe I just love the idea of an ancient curse bringing back undead witches? Maybe I've gone mad. All I know is that I must see this film.

22. Gravity
Director Alfonso Cuaron finally follows up his 2006 masterpiece Children of Men with a sci-fi thriller in which Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are thrown from their spaceship and left to float about. That's all I know, and that's all I need to know.

21. Parkland
An ensemble film surrounding the many individuals at the Texas hospital where JFK was taken after being struck by an assassin's bullet (or bullets or multiple assassins, you know, whatever). The pitch kind of reminds me of Bobby, the under-appreciated ensemble drama about the Ambassador Hotel on the day of RFK's assassination. This is investigative journalist's Peter Landesman's directorial debut, but as is always the case with an ensemble piece, the selling point for me is the, well, ensemble: Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Bob Thornton, Ron Livingston, and many, many more!

20. Fellini Black and White
One of them fictional "what-ifs" that follows Federico Fellini in his first trip to America to accept an Academy Award, only to get lost for a couple of days. Hollywood is ripe for Fellini-esque visions; hopefully director Henry Bromell will be more successful in a Fellini Feeling than Rob Marshall's Nine.

19. Stoker
Hey, I read the script! So, yeah, I'm pretty excited to see how it turned out, particularly since I don't know if I'm entirely sold on Nicole Kidman taking the role of the mother (Catherine Zeta-Jones, wake up your agent!). Still, I love Kidman, and I'm interested in seeing what noted Korean auteur Park Chan-wook will do with his first English language feature. Ok, and yes, I kind of have a thing for Mia Wasikowska, who after the disappointing Alice in Wonderland proceeded to impress in The Kids Are All Right, Albert Nobbs and Lawless. (OH MY GOD she should do a movie with Taissa Farmiga!)

18. Twelve Years a Slave
I still haven't seen Hunger! I'll correct that, I promise, but after Shame, I think I can still safely call myself a fan of director Steve McQueen, who's giving us a look at a freeman kidnapped and enslaved in the pre-Civil War South. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars, along with frequent McQueen collaborator Michael Fassbender, Academy Award Nominee Quvenzhane Wallis, and Florida-born Sarah Paulson.

17. Evil Dead
This movie looks fucked up. If there's one thing I appreciate from a horror flick, it's being fucked up. Hollmann Award Winner Diablo Cody (Young Adult) contributed to the screenplay, which is always exciting.

16. Anchorman: The Legend Continues
The Other Guys was fun enough, but Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have an every-other-movie rule for me: Anchorman was transcendent, Talladega Nights pretty funny, Step Brothers a goddam masterpiece, The Other Guys funny. Please note, by the way, that they've never made a bad movie. So, going by that rule, plus the fact that the entire Channel 4 Evening News Team is back, plus the promise of musical numbers? Anchorman: The Legend Continues is going to be a goddam transcendent masterpiece.

15. Nymphomaniac
Von Trier reunites with Charlotte Gainsbourg to bring us the story of a nymphomaniac and her erotic experiences from youth onward. Shades of Frank Harris and Just Jaeckin? We can only hope...

14. Foxcatcher
Nonfiction murder? Scandals among the elite class? Dominick Dunne is dead, so I guess it's up to director Bennett Miller and writer Dan Futterman, the men behind Oscar-winner and personal favorite Capote, to present us with the lurid secrets of the other half. Paranoid schizophrenic millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell!) establishes a wrestling facility on his family's Foxcatcher Farms property, where he becomes obsessed with freestyle wrestler David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). I've been waiting for the Capote team to assemble once more, and this seems just the right kind of juicy for their skills. Plus, Channing Tatum and Vanessa Redgrave. No word yet on if Adele is recording a theme song.

13. Man of Steel
I have some fond memories of Superman Returns -- some of which are even related to the movie itself! This is that rare time, though, where it's not really the story that grabs me, nor is it the cast -- though Heaven knows I love me some Amy Adams and Michael Shannon. Honestly, I'm the guy who never turned against Zack Snyder. Actually, I think he gets better and better, so that while most of America just clings to the shouty theatrics of 300, I'm watching my increasingly-rewarding Sucker Punch and wondering if he can possibly top it. It's his masterpiece, after all.

12. White House Down
Roland Emmerich has never disappointed me, something that's possible due to the fact that I never saw 10,000 B.C. Like the Gerard Butler-starrer Olympus Has Fallen, this one depicts a Secret Service agent who must rescue the President of the United States when the White House is invaded by hostile forces. Let's face it: Richard Jenkins and Morgan Freeman may be equals (Speaker of the House), Aaron Eckhart and Jamie Foxx may be equals (President), but Channing Tatum is by far the superior option against Gerard Butler. Besides, James Vanderbilt wrote the screenplay, and Zodiac gives him a lifetime pass in my book.

11. Spring Breakers
My experience with Harmony Korine is limited to trash humpers, a bizarre film shot on video that was by turns captivating and irritating. Obviously, I kind of like it. But I'm not here for Korine, or even for James Franco with cornrows. I'm here because I was promised Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez running about with guns and wearing bikinis. I'm just a man.

10. I'm So Excited
Look at that trailer. I'm so excited.

9. Inside Llewyn Davis
Oh, I am into that trailer. But then, this movie was always going to make my Most Anticipated: Oscar Isaac. 1960s. Folk music (yeah, I like it). New York. The Coen Brothers. And that's not too mention F. Murray Abraham gracing my screen once more. God, how I love F. Murray Abraham.

8. Carrie
A remake I've long-anticipated, with a dream cast of my own and everything. I seem to be among that small group of bloggers who actually, you know, likes Chloe Grace Moretz, and I'm relieved that they went age-appropriate for the casting. Julianne Moore taking the reigns from Piper Laurie and Patricia Clarkson seems about right, too.

7. Blue Jasmine
I'm always hopeful for the latest Woody Allen, but this time, things really look promising. Allen's back on US soil, splitting time between New York and San Francisco, with Cate Blanchett as the lead. You heard that, right? Allen is back to writing for a woman, and it's Cate Fucking Blanchett. Co-starring Louis CK and Andrew Dice Clay, and with a hell of a title.

6. Saving Mr. Banks
Y'all know I love Mary Poppins, so I was already more or less sold on the premise of this film, a behind-the-scenes look at Walt Disney's sometimes frustrating relationship with Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers as he attempts to make his classic film. Casting beloved American icon Tom Hanks as Disney is stunt-casting at its most logical, and gave him that fabulous mustache. Emma Thompson co-stars as Travers, with John Lee Hancock (The Alamo, The Blind Side) directing. And God it would be so funny if Hancock, of all people, was constantly leading actors to Oscar wins.

5. No
Shades of Z, the Costa-Gavras political drama from 1969 that I adore. I'm not terribly current when it comes to politics or things of importance, but I love movies that depict such milieus. The illusion of awareness? Anyway, this one centers on a Chilean ad exec (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his campaign to oust US-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet during the 1988 referendum. I don't know what that is, but dammit, I'm willing to learn!

4. Devil's Knot
I missed all the West Memphis Three documentaries, but I did read the book that this film is based on, a detailed account of the police investigation and witchhunt-y trials that led to the conviction of three apparent innocents for the brutal triple-murder of local boys. Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon play a private investigator and mother of one of the victims, respectively, but I'm more interested in the perfectly-cast Bruce Greenwood as the Judge and Rex Linn as Inspector Gary Gitchell.

3. The Butler
Shadowboxer is deliciously terrible. Precious is incredible. The Paperboy is a Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Picture. Lee Daniels has slowly found his way on my list of the Greatest Living Directors, with his go-for-broke directing style and ability to assemble a sprawling cast of surprising performers. Alan Rickman as Reagan? John Cusack as Nixon? OPRAH WINFREY??? Although I wish this starred Denzel Washington instead of the uneven Forest Whitaker, I'm sure Daniels knows what he's doing.

2. The Great Gatsby
My Number One from this list last year, it gets bumped down just one notch. But my Top Two this year have been my Most Anticipated for years now. Gatsby is a classic novel, of course, but I've always wanted a director who would understand that the novel succeeds with words, therefore the film must succeed with visuals. Jack Clayton's was too enamored of Fitzgerald. Luhrmann, on the other hand, seems a perfect match.

1. August: Osage County
Count me among the fans of the Tony Award-winning show, which I've never seen but have read a number of times. While I had my own dream cast in mind, I'm intrigued by what Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts can do with this material. And Margo Martindale!

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