Having wrapped up 2012 in film, it’s time to look ahead. There’s a great deal for movie-lovers to anticipate in 2013, but before we get to our most-anticipated films in the next twelve months, we wanted to highlight some must-watch festival debuts from the past year (and beyond) that will finally see US theatrical releases this year. From festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, New York and more, we’ve got 20 recommendations to kickstart the year with guaranteed quality. Check out the rundown below and let us know your festival favorites from the last year that are finally landing in theaters.
20. Byzantium (Neil Jordan; TBD)
Synopsis: A mother and daughter vampire duo form a deadly pact.
Why You Should See It: It seems as though Neil Jordan‘s next feature may sadly go as overlooked as his last one, the effective mermaid tale Ondine. Although we were in the positive camp at TIFF (review), there seemed to be a lack of buzz for this Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan-led vampire tale, which we called “epic, bloody, and very enjoyable.” Although a release date isn’t set, be sure to keep it on your radar.
19. Passion (Brian De Palma; TBD)
Synopsis: A young businesswoman plots a murderous revenge after her boss and mentor steals her idea.
Why You Should See It: Despite the critical reaction for his latest erotic thriller (which, admittedly, wasn’t strong), any cinephile should know that Brian De Palma films are at least worth a view. Whether you buy into his hyper-sexualized melodrama is another story, but I’m greatly looking forward to seeing Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace under his direction.
18. At Any Price (Ramin Bahrani; April 26th)
Synopsis: A farming family’s business is threatened by an unexpected crisis, further testing the relationship between a father and his rebellious son.
Why You Should See It: Although Zac Efron‘s last foray into the independent film world with The Paperboy left much to be desired, this spring will see him in a more substantial role under a director with a greater range of talent than Lee Daniels. Although we were mixed on At Any Price during its fall festival debut, I’m still anticipating Ramin Bahrani‘s drama, having admired the rest of his filmography.
17. Mud (Jeff Nichols; April 26th)
Synopsis: Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his true love.
Why You Should See It: If you’ve seen Jeff Nichols last two features, Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories, that’s reason enough to anticipate this Southern drama. Featuring another strong Matthew McConaughey performance in step with his recent resurgence, we were fans of it at Cannes, saying, “imperfect as it may be, this marks a step forward for Nichols as a filmmaker capable of making big entertainment that retains some intelligence and a palpable message as well.”
16. No (Pablo Larraín; Feb. 15th)
Synopsis: An ad executive comes up with a campaign to defeat Augusto Pinochet in Chile’s 1988 referendum.
Why You Should See It: Following up his acclaimed drama The Loneliest Planet, the talented Gael Garcia Bernal is back in arthouses this spring with No, a film we praised at Cannes Film Festival last year. Calling it a “compelling examination of an important historical event,” we said “the most striking element is its bold visual aesthetic that is designed to look like a TV program from the ’80s. Colors are washed out, the aspect ratio is square and there is a shallow depth of field to every image, which may sound jarring to watch, but becomes surprisingly hypnotic.”
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