Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Most Anticipated Films of the Fall 2013

     It is that great time of the year when films and film watching get really exciting for me. It is not so much the Oscar prognosticating, although I do follow and like doing that, but what it really boils down to is watching great, meaningful films. Films that say something about culture, society and our social being. Films that challenge what has been previously made and take chances on new ways of storytelling and filmmaking. There have been some great films released so far this year, and this spring and summer has been a really good year for smaller, independent films. The films I have seen that are easily, in my opinion, amongst the best of the year are Drinking Buddies, The Place Beyond the Pines, Mud, Fruitvale Station, Upstream Color and Blue Jasmine, as well as larger films I have enjoyed, such as Pacific Rim, The Conjuring and The World's End.

     I still have a bunch of films I am dying to see, such as The Bling Ring, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Prince Avalanche (saw it initially at SXSW), In A World..., The Act of Killing, Short Term 12Much Ado About Nothing, Computer Chess, The Hunt and Before Midnight. I still have a lot film viewing to do, but it is exciting to know I have all these films and many more to see. It is a never ending passion and I love it. I am thankful for these films and extremely glad that the summer, Hollywood blockbuster season is almost over. So glad. I'm tired of these CGI, poorly written summer films that are just nothing more than explosions and fanboy sensationalism. I am not saying I do not like good, summer escapist cinema, but make something good. I feel like the only ones making anything that has an expansive budget are Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan and, to some extent, Joss Whedon. James Cameron and J.J. Abrams are alright also, but I am not the biggest fans of their films as a whole. There are good filmmakers making these expensive blockbusters, but the studios have too much control over the final product. And that is it, it is a product instead of a piece of art and entertainment. A means for financial gain instead of artistic and cinematic growth and exploration. But, the effects driven film that will be the one that has deep meaning, not just in the advancement of technology but in storytelling as well, will be Cuaron's Gravity.
     Anyways, the season is upon us. This past weekend launched the 40th Telluride Film Festival and the 70th Venice Film Festival, and next week the 38th Toronto International Film Festival begins on September 5th and runs until the 15th. Also, the 51st New York Film Festival is from September 27th to October 13th, the 57th London Film Festival is from October 9th to the 20th, the 20th Austin Film Festival is from October 24th to the 31st and the AFI Film Festival is from November 7th to the 14th. Great time! I love following the film festivals and finding out what films, from talented filmmakers, are good, bad or a mixed bag. It does not determine whether I want to see or not see a film, but the excitement of hearing and reading about new films, coming from directors, such as, the Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze and Errol Morris, is exciting to hear about.
     In saying so much, here is the time to list my most anticipated films for the rest of 2013. I have narrowed down my top ten and also wrote down some films I am looking forward to seeing, but did not make my top ten most anticipated. These films are ones I have read about and, somewhat, followed there production since these titles were announced. Before I go into these films, I have to say that the positive assessments and reactions to Cuaron's Gravity and the Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis, two, well three, of my favorite directors, have my expectations for these two films at an extreme high, if they were not already. Hopefully, my expectations are not too high, but I am very excited to see these films.
     Ok. First off, there are two films that do not have release dates, that I am really intrigued by, but will most likely be released in 2014. First, is Jim Jarmusch's vampire tale Only Lovers Left Alive, that got positive reactions, at its screening, at this years Cannes Film Festival. The film stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as two vampires that have been in love for centuries. It is Jarmusch, so I am always wanting to see anything he makes. The film also stars John Hurt, Jeffrey Wright and Mia Wasikowska. Second, is Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man, based on a John LeCarre novel and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright and Willem Dafoe. Film looks to be very stylistic and excited to see this thriller when it is released.
     So, my first list is of the films that did not make my top ten, but I am highly excited to see. Many dramas, a few absurd comedies and one blockbuster, that I hope will be better than its first installment. Also, there might be more films that eventually get release dates for 2013 and some of the films I have mentioned might get moved to 2014, so this list is subject to change. And, I would have put Jospeh Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut, Don Jon, on the list, but I have already seen it. Here are the films and the first five were very close to making the top ten:

Oldboy -- directed by Spike Lee.     release date: November 27.
     starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson and Sharlto Copley.
Foxcatcher -- directed by Bennett Miller.     release date: December 20.
     starring: Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller and Vanessa Redgrave.
The Counselor -- directed by Ridley Scott.     release date: October 25.
     starring: Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem.
Captain Phillips -- directed by Paul Greengrass.     release date: October 11.
     starring: Tom Hanks and Catherine Keener.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty -- directed by Ben Stiller.     release date: December 25.
     starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt and Sean Penn.
Dallas Buyers Club -- directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.     release date: November 1.
     starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn and Denis O'Hare.
August: Osage County -- directed by John Wells.     release date: December 25.
     starring: Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney,                  
                  Abigail Breslin, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepherd and Juliette Lewis.
Labor Day -- directed by Jason Reitman.     release date: December 25.
     starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguire and Clark Gregg.
Out of the Furnace -- directed by Scott Cooper.     release date: December 6.
     starring: Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker,      
                   Willem Dafoe and Sam Shepherd.
The Past -- directed by Asghar Farhadi.     release date: December 20.
     starring: Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim.
The Fifth Estate -- directed by Bill Condon.     release date: October 11.
     starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, Carice van Houten,
                   Stanley Tucci and David Thewlis.
Parkland -- directed by Peter Landesman.     release date: October 4.
     starring: Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Welling, Marcia Gay Harden,
                   Ron Livingston, James Badge Dale, Colin Hanks and Jackie Earle Haley.
Rush -- directed by Ron Howard.     release date: September 27.
     starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde and Natalie Dormer.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom -- directed by Justin Chadwick.     release date: November 29.
     starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris and Terry Pheto.
Prisoners -- directed by Denis Villeneuve.     release date: September 20.
     starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo
                   and Maria Bello.
Nymphomaniac -- directed by Lars von Trier.     release date: Fall 2013.
     starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Christian Slater,
                   Willem Dafoe and Udo Kier.
The Zero Theorem -- directed by Terry Gilliam.     release date: Fall 2013.
     starring: Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon, Melanie Thierry, David Thewlis and Tilda Swinton.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug -- directed by Peter Jackson.     release date: December 13.
     starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch,
                   Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace and Christopher Lee.
Machete Kills -- directed by Robert Rodriguez.     release date: October 11.
     starring: Danny Trejo, Sofia Vergara, Alexa Vega, Jessica Alba, Vanessa Hudgens, Lady Gaga,
                   Michelle Rodriguez, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Edward James Olmos,
                   Amber Heard, Carlos Estevez (Charlie Sheen) and Mel Gibson.
Anchorman: The Legend Continues -- directed by Adam McKay.     release date: December 20.
     starring: Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig,
                   Harrison Ford, Vince Vaughn and plenty of cameos.


10. The Monuments Men

directed by George Clooney.     release date: December 18.

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Clooney directs, co-writes and stars, and also has brought together an impressive cast, with a film that revolves around a crew of art historians and museum curators, who try to save stolen art that Hitler and the Nazi's took and were going to destroy during World War II. It has Bill Murray and John Goodman in it so, that is a huge plus. Clooney can be hit or miss when directing so, we will see.

starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin and Hugh Bonneville.

9. Blue Is the Warmest Color

directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.     release date: October 25.

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The critics darling and 2013 Palme d'Or winner at this years Cannes Film Festival. The film is about the beginning, middle and the end of two young girls passionate love and relationship. The film is 3 hours long and contains a ten minute, uninterrupted sex scene, but will be much more than just eroticism. I cannot wait to see this film. The buzz is heavy from Cannes and the reactions out of Telluride are very positive as well. Also, the acting is supposedly phenomenal. 

starring: Lea Seydoux, Adele Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche and Jeremie Laheurte.

8. 12 Years a Slave

directed by Steve McQueen.     release date: October 18.

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The story of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), who goes from a free black man in New York, to being abducted and enslaved in pre-Civil War United States. McQueen, who directed the amazing Hunger and challenging Shame, has gathered a cast of unimaginable talent and reunited with his main actor Michael Fassbender, who plays an evil slave owner. This may be the most important film released this year, along with Blue Is the Warmest Color.

starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Quevenzhane Wallis, Paul Giamatti, Garret Dillahunt, Dwight Henry, Taran Killam, Alfre Woodard and Scoot McNairy.

7. All Is Lost

directed by J.C. Chandor.     release date: October 18.

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When this film premiered at Cannes, the Internet was run amok with over-the-top, positive reviews for Chandor's newest film. The film stars Robert Redford, in an almost dialogue free film of a yacht captain, out by himself in the Indian Ocean. After colliding into a floating sea container, he must find the strength and resolve to survive. Awesome to see Redford still performing at a high level. I am sure there will deep metaphors to the financial crisis and baby boomer generation as well.

starring: Robert Redford.

6. Nebraska

directed by Alexander Payne.     release date: November 22.

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Black and white. A road trip movie directed by the extremely intelligent Alexander Payne. Bruce Dern, much like Redford, still doing great work. The film is about a heavily drunken Dern, who makes a trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son, played by Will Forte, to collect a million dollar sweepstakes prize. No one does middle America and everyday life of the everyday American like Payne does. 

starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacy Keach and Bob Odenkirk.

5. American Hustle

directed by David O. Russell.     release date: December 25.

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Can David O. Russell make it three for three? In my opinion, he has not made a bad film. I Heart Huckabees is great and completely misunderstood, but with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, he has become one of the best directors working today. His new film fictionally revolves around con artists, thieves and highly influential scandals of very wealthy and political people. ABSCAM-ish? He is back working with many of the actors from his previous two films and this one appears to be a good one.

starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Robert DeNiro, Louis C.K. and Michael Pena.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

directed by Martin Scorsese.     release date: November 15.

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Martin Scorsese. Leonardo DiCaprio. Deceitful wall street brokers. How could you not be in! All Scorsese is good. The story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, based off his autobiography, about his extensive rise and ultimate fall from grace. It is Scorsese so it is an automatic view.

starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie, Jon Favreau,
Jon Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, Spike Jonze, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, P.J. Byrneand Shea Whigham.

3. Her

directed by Spike Jonze.     release date: December 18.

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I was not sure what to think of this film when I first heard about it. I knew I would be interested based off of Jonze's track record, but once I saw the trailer, it shot right up to being one of my most anticipated films. Phoenix plays a man that falls in love with the female voice of his new operating system. If it was not for the Coen's and Cuaron, this would easily be my number one.

starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara.

2. Inside Llewyn Davis

directed by Joel & Ethan Coen.     release date: December 20.

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The best filmmakers of the last twenty years. Every film, for me, is like an event. Oscar Isaac stars in this film that revolves around the 60s folk music scene in Greenwich Village. Dry, witty, unsentimental, obscure and real. The Coen's know how to start and end a film like no others, and everything in between is perfect as well. They know how to do period films and not make them feel like a Hollywood period film. Reuniting with John Goodman is fantastic also.

starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham and Adam Driver.

1. Gravity

directed by Alfonso Cuaron.     release date: October 4.

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Almost five years in the making and creating new technology to film the extensive long takes, Cuaron has not released a film in seven years, since the absolutely brilliant Children of Men in 2006. The story of two astronauts that, during a routine space walk, become unattached and drift away from each other into the depths of space. I stopped watching new trailers for the film after the first two so I would not ruin the excitement. I have seen two of these trailers in theatres since and I have to tell you, I do not think I blinked and felt like I could not move form the intensity of what I was seeing. Long takes, suspenseful music and sheer brilliance in crafting a story. Cuaron is a fine director/writer and this is, without a doubt, my most highly anticipated film of 2013.

starring: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

     And that is it. A year with Cuaron, Coen's, Jonze, Scorsese, Russell and Payne is an unbelievable year for film. I am looking forward to watching all of these films as soon as they are released here in Austin. Best time of the year for films. Reminder, some of these release dates are subject to change and most of the films will have limited releases, especially the smaller ones, and then go wide weeks after there initial opening. Happy movie watching and check out all of these films if you can. Any feedback or suggestions will also be greatly appreciated. Enjoy!!!

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