As of my writing this, there are still eleven movies from last year’s top twenty list that I have yet to see. This is quite annoying, but I can say in my own defense that of those eleven, five have not yet been shown in this country, and will not be in the remaining days of the year. Of those five, four have been pushed back to 2013 altogether (Great Expectations premiered at this year’s Toronto Film Festival and has been shown other places as well, just not in the U.S.). Of those four, three appear on the top ten list below, which should give you an indication of my level of excitement for the year compared to 2012. There aren’t nearly as many movies that I’m excited for this time around, but there are a lot of question marks that I look forward to learning more about.
The duplicates also shine a light on a problem with lists like this. I want to be consistent, and my rule is that a movie gets attached to the date of its premiere, whether that’s at a film festival or a wide release (and even if it premieres in another hemisphere). So, Richard Linklater’s Bernie is a 2011 film, even though I would have had to bend over backwards to see it then; most people who have seen it saw it this year. Likewise, were I to make a list right now of the movies I’m most excited to see in December and January, Zero Dark Thirty would be near the top. But it doesn’t make the following list because it’s technically a 2012 movie, and it didn’t make last year’s list because I wasn’t quite as excited for it then as I am right now. This is an irksome technicality, but I address it in a subtle change to the title of this post. Last year it was “most anticipated movies of 2012,” and this year it’s “most anticipated 2013 movies.” After all, there are plenty of older movies that I will get a chance to see for the first time in 2013, but they shouldn’t have a place on this list. At least, that’s the way I’m going to do it.
Again, I don’t see 2013 as being an “event” like 2012 was, but I’m definitely planning on seeing all ten of these. Starting with #6, my enthusiasm is unalloyed by trepidation. There is always a chance that any or all of these movies will not meet expectations, but consider this my statement of hope for the future.
10. Pacific Rim
- Release: July 12
- With Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr., Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky
- Director: Guillermo del Toro
Del Toro’s name is enough. My hope for this film is, to borrow an appropriate phrase, that it will be more than initially meets the eye. “Monsters vs. Robots” is the kind of movie a child could dream up, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Del Toro has the chance to make a spectacular tribute to anime and the Godzilla films. But I have to confess that if Michael Bay were the director, this movie wouldn’t come close to my list. I may learn a lesson about prejudice in July, but I’d be surprised if this movie turns out bad.
- Release: November 22
- With Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Director: Francis Lawrence
I still haven’t read the books, but the first movie was — not great, but good. The way it ended made me want to see where the story goes from there. For a proposed four-movie series, that’s a very good thing. The change in directors might also be good, but it’s hard to say just yet. The new cast members, however, are definitely interesting, and this movie has a pair of talented screenwriters, Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt. I’m hoping to see a little more dystopian satire and a little less forced romance this time around. We’ll see.
- Release: May 17
- With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve
- Director: J.J. Abrams
That’s right, the “trek” of the title now appears to be a verb. This was intriguing to me at first, but it’s already starting to get on my nerves. Who knows how I’ll be feeling in May? Beyond the title, the buzz for this film is about the mystery of Cumberbatch’s villainous role. That mystery doesn’t excite me, though. To be honest, I really don’t want this to turn into a remake of Wrath of Khan. So I’m actually a little more worried about how this turns out than I am for Catching Fire, but Star Trek gets ranked higher because I liked the first Abrams film much better than Hunger Games.
- Release: January 11
- With Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick
- Director: Ruben Fleischer
This movie was ranked #16 for the much more exciting year of 2012. What does #7 mean this time around? I’d say my level of excitement is about the same: it hasn’t plummeted like my excitement for The Great Gatsby, and it hasn’t risen like my excitement for a couple movies you’ll find below. The delay was certainly understandable in this case, resulting from an unfortunate coincidence tied to the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. But this still looks like an exciting gangster movie. Great cast, great costumes, and (based on the trailers) some good dialogue.
- Release: January 8 (China) U.S. release not set
- With Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Chang, Cung Le, Hye-kyo Song, Siu-lung Leung, Julian Cheung, Benshan Zhao
- Director: Wong Kar Wai
This one has been several years in the making, but luckily for Wong, the delay has only whetted my appetite. And this time it’s really happening: see the gorgeous trailer for proof. The movie will open the Berlin Film Festival in February, and since this is Wong Kar Wai, I have no doubt someone will distribute it here before too long. A kung fu film choregraphed by Yuen-woo Ping (The Matrix; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Kill Bill) and Wong’s first movie in six years: this movie will be an event. I look forward, especially, to English subtitles, so I can take in the story along with the physical beauty.
- Release: Not set
- With Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, Stark Sands, Adam Driver, Max Casella
- Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen
There isn’t a whole lot of information about this one yet, but that doesn’t affect its placement on the list. It’s the next Coen brothers movie; it’s about the Greenwich Village music scene in the ’60s; it has a strong cast, as is typical with the Coens. This should be Oscar Isaac’s breakout role, which is great because I’ve liked him in just about every movie I’ve seen him in (Sucker Punch, Drive, The Bourne Legacy — Robin Hood, not so much, but I’m hard-pressed to think of anything in that movie I liked). The music will be amazing: these guys made O Brother, Where Art Thou? of course.
- Release: October 18
- With Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
This is the third and final movie I had previously been expecting in 2012 to make this list. Now the time between Cuarón’s Children of Men and its follow-up will have been seven years. That’s a long wait, but I’m expecting the movie to more than justify it. This movie promises quiet, elemental sci-fi told in extremely long takes. The latest word indicates that it will be essentially a one-woman show, which does make me nervous. I like Bullock well enough, but can she handle this material? With no footage for me to see yet, placing the movie this high on the list is an act of faith. I can’t wait.
3. Man of Steel
- Release: June 14
- With Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue
- Director: Zack Snyder
This one’s a no-brainer: a new Superman movie. There was a point in 2011 when I was expecting this movie to arrive the same year as The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man. In retrospect, that probably would have ended up being too much of a good thing. Now Superman will get his own summer. Produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Zack Snyder — that’s an interesting combination. The best-case scenario is that the movie will have the intelligence and seriousness of a Nolan film and the visual style of a Snyder film. The trailers promise seriousness in spades, at least.
- Release: Not set
- With Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan, David Thewlis
- Director: Duke Johnson
You might think it strange for a 40-minute film to be my second most highly anticipated of the year. And in a way, you’d be right. This movie’s writer, Charlie Kaufman, has already done Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York, and he has one or two other projects in the works, each certainly bigger than this one. So he’ll continue showing up on future lists, to be sure. But this movie’s already famous for raising over $400,000 on Kickstarter, making it probably the biggest crowdfunding success of any movie to date. Anyway, the following is all I need to know: Charlie Kaufman. Dan Harmon. Stop motion.
- Release: Not set (Will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival)
- With Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Ariane Labed, Athina Rachel Tsangari
- Director: Richard Linklater
I’m more excited for this movie than the other nine combined. It would have easily made the top three of last year’s list, possibly even beating The Dark Knight Rises. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are two of my favorite movies, period. The prospect of seeing a third movie after another nine-year delay is just about perfect. If this movie is great, and if it offers a sense of completion (making a trilogy), it will make my year. Linklater, a director with one of the most diverse filmographies of anyone working today, has also been filming a story for the last ten years about a boy growing up. This trilogy is a similar experiment: we get to see Hawke and Delpy’s characters in three different decades. I can’t wait to see them walking around Greece, discussing life some more. That idea excites me more than any superhero movie; I feel I’ve arrived as an adult.