30. Lowlife (James Gray; TBD – Potential Cannes Premiere)
Synopsis: An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: Easily one of the most underappreciated directors in Hollywood, James Gray often plays with cliches, yet always leaves an astounding mark thanks to his grand visual style and knack for achieving strong performances from his actors. For his fifth feature, the director teams once again with Joaquin Phoenix, this time bringing along Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard, for a period drama that should hopefully debut at the Cannes Film Festival. – Jordan R.
29. Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper; TBD)
Synopsis: Two brothers live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, when a cruel twist of fate lands one in prison. His brother is then lured into one of the most violent crime rings in the Northeast.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: While Scott Cooper’s debut, the country music drama Crazy Heart, delivered fine performances from Jeff Bridges (who grabbed an Oscar) and Maggie Gyllenhaal, there left a bit to be desired from the complete package. Thankfully, for his follow-up, he seems to be expanding his scope and bringing along one of 2013’s finest ensembles to boot. Aiming to be a major force in year-end race, Out of the Furnace brings together Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard and Boyd Holbrook, giving us reason enough to be excited. – Jordan R.
28. Trance (Danny Boyle; Spring TBD)
Synopsis: A fine art auctioneer mixed up with a gang joins forces with a hypnotherapist to recover a lost painting.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: After Danny Boyle delivered a difficult watch in 127 Hours, his follow-up puts the helmer back into fun mode, with an art heist project that’s finally set to debut after shooting before his Olympics commitment, way back in fall of 2011. With a trio of talented leads (James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel), Boyle’s style seems to be a perfect fit for this material and after an energetic trailer, we’re greatly looking forward to this one. – Jordan R.
27. Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh; Feb. 8th)
Synopsis: A woman turns to prescription medication as a way of handling her anxiety concerning her husband’s upcoming release from prison.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: With a style seemingly not far removed from Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s subject matter here switches from viruses to drugs, antidepressants to be specific, and some sort of murder conspiracy surrounding its manufacturing. Part of what made Contagion work so effectively was the manner in which real world fears played into the on screen horror. Featuring an all star ensemble cast Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Soderbergh is primed to deliver yet another intelligent thriller before supposedly taking his long rumored break from filmmaking. – Raffi A.
26. The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann; May 10th)
Synopsis: Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: Christmas didn’t feel right without The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann‘s adaptation seemed perfect for the Holiday season, but Warner Bros. thought differently, as they moved the drama to a May release. Anyone who has read the book knows it’s not exactly summer movie material. Then again, maybe Luhrmann brought enough of his Luhrmanness to make it a possible box-office hit and there’s still plenty of hope to be had here. With Luhrmann, a fantastic cast, and a terrific book in hand, The Great Gatsby should make for a better adaptation than the 1974 film. – Jack G.
25. Monuments Men (George Clooney; Dec. 20th)
Synopsis: In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: Excepting Leatherheads, George Clooney has made himself one of America’s foremost craftsmen of entertaining multiplex drama. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck, and The Ides of March have a lighter touch than much of their fall brethren; they’re not going to rack up the sort of awards attention as some other material put out around the time, but it’s usually more worthy of your time. The unknown-segment-of-history angle and knockout selection of loveable stars is an early, strong sign that The Monuments Men will follow this mold to a T. From the actor-cum-filmmaker, I wouldn’t hope for anything else. – Nick N.
24. The Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola; TBD – Potential Cannes Premiere)
Synopsis: Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the Internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: You’re either with Sofia Coppola or you’re not. All her films have garnered the titles of “pretentiously boring” or “quietly immersive,” and I have always sided with the latter group. Coppola’s voice, no matter how irritating you may find it, is her own. Despite some potentially thrilling subject matter, it’s fair to guess The Bling Ring won’t be much different in style than her previous work, and if that’s the case, we couldn’t be happier — although I’d personally love to see the director take a crack at an action movie. – Jack G.
23. The Rover (David Michod; TBD)
Synopsis: A dirty and dangerous near-future western set in the Australian desert.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: The last time Guy Pearce starred in a Australian western we got John Hillcoat‘s fantastic The Proposition. This time around, we’ve got Animal Kingdom director David Michod, Robert Pattinson (proving his talent in David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis), the underappreciated Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly, Argo, Monsters) and a near-future setting — it’s safe to say we’re quite excited. With a shoot gearing up in a few months, we hope this one will make it to theaters before the year’s end. – Jordan R.
22. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller; Late 2013)
Synopsis: The story of John du Pont, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and killed Olympic wrestler David Schultz.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: Bennett Miller follows the success of his baseball drama Moneyball with another sports story based on real events— only this time, it’s a bit more scandalous. Besides the attention-grabbing true crime premise, Foxcatcher boasts a stellar cast led by Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum and Steve Carell, who dons old age makeup as the mentally ill du Pont. Though the comic actor cut his dramatic teeth in previous films, playing the heir to the Dupont fortune is easily Carrell’s most challenging role yet. His physical and emotional transformation should be the biggest draw to a film already ripe with mystery. – Amanda W.
21. Nebraska (Alexander Payne; Late 2013)
Synopsis: An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes prize.
Why We’re Looking Forward To It: After taking a seven year break between Sideways and The Descendants, thankfully the wait for Alexander Payne‘s next film is miniscule in comparison. With his George Clooney-led drama taking in over $175 million globally, financing seemingly came easy for Payne’s follow-up, which takes a black-and-white approach with some of the best casting of the year, including Bruce Dern and Will Forte in lead roles, along with Home Alone baddie Devin Ratray supporting. – Jordan R.
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