The World's End (Oct. 25th)
The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy finally comes to an end, as director Edgar Wright, and writers/actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost follow up Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with this tale of a group of old friends, now middle-aged, reuniting to recreate a pub-crawl from their youth, and finding themselves to be the only hope that mankind has for survival. What exactly this means, we do not yet know, but it doesn't really matter. Shaun and Hot Fuzz are two of the best comedies of the last ten years, so expect the release of The World's End to place the three films on the top of many peoples "best trilogies of all time" list. The presence of Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine is a good sign, and maybe this time around, given the nostalgia-infused plot and its place as the end of a series, we'll get a somewhat more emotional tone infused with the comedy. And even if we don't, it's sure to not just be the best comedy of the year, but something that many movie fans hold onto for the rest of their lives.
Upstream Color (April 5th)
Primer, the first film by director Shane Carruth, is the greatest time travel movie ever made. I'm sure there's some great piece that I have yet to see, but it would have to provide me with a window to the heavens to surpass the greatness of Primer. That film took an incredibly realistic look at time travel, to whatever degree that is possible. Then, it flurried so many plot-lines together, with scenes that didn't seem to make sense, and an encroaching atmosphere of dread. It may sound like a mess, but if you discuss it with a group afterwards, for a good two hours, you'll find that every single piece makes perfect sense with the pieces around it. Upstream Color is Carruth's second film, and considering that Primer came out in 2004, anticipation has been building for nearly a decade. The plot description (from IMDb: "A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.") doesn't make a lick of sense, but in a way that looks to add overwhelming sadness to the mental challenges of his last effort. Prepare to see this movie not once, but many, many times, to work out exactly what it will be saying. Even if it takes a while to parse out, I'm guessing its message will be among the greatest of the year. Maybe that window to the heavens is closer than I thought.
Derek Cianfrance's follow-up to Blue Valentine (one of my favorite films of all time) reportedly trades a harsh view of marriage for a look at fatherhood. This movie looks far more plot driven than Blue Valentine, though that doesn't have to be a bad thing. And word from the festivals is fairly good, if a little more mixed than I would like it to be. But, at the end of the day, this is Ryan Gosling reuniting with the director who brought out one of his best performances. Gosling will be playing a motorcycle stunt driver who considers a crime in order to support his child. Bradley Cooper, coming off an excellent performance in Silver Linings Playbook, plays the opposition, a police officer. Given Blue Valentine's unwillingness to grant either character forgiveness or entirety of blame, these roles will most likely be messed with to a certain degree. Throw Rose Byrne, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta and Bruce Greenwood in the mix, and watch that stunning trailer a couple more times, and be assured that at least to some degree, this movie will live up to wild expectations.
Anchorman: The Legend Continues (Dec. 20th)
While many remain hesitant at the thought of this movie (and given the track record of comedy sequels, that's understandable), there are many reasons to believe it may be just as good, or even better than the original. While it seems easy to blame director Adam McKay for Will Ferrell's uneven track record, McKay is only responsible for the good films (the original Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and The Other Guys). Coming off of The Other Guys, McKay has shown that he can infuse surface-level (though interesting and welcome) social commentary with his comedy. Considering that Anchorman: The Legend Continues' plot revolves around the birth of 24-hour news networks, expect this sequel to take the goofy, frat-boy comedy of the original and add more satire to the mix.
Kick-Ass 2 (June 28th)
This is the movie on the list that I have the least faith in, though am still very excited to see, even if (especially if?) it's a train-wreck. The first Kick-Ass was a great deal of fun, playing with superhero conventions, but mostly delivering in thrills and mania in a way few Dark Knight-era efforts dare to. However, two vital pieces of the original will be missing this time around. We lose Matthew Vaughn (who recently brought us the exciting X-Men: First Class), and gain Jeff Wadlow, who, in addition to having a tragically sad last name, only has two feature lengths under his belt: Cry_Wolf and Never Back Down (you are more than forgiven for not remembering either of these films). Also, Nicholas Cage will most likely not be returning (though perhaps a ridiculous twist, or flashbacks, will provide a cameo). However, he'll be replaced (in spirit, not in a specific role) by Jim Carrey, which seems a pretty fair trade if utilized in the same fashion. Also promising: the return of Chloe Moretz, who has (somehow) only become better since the first film.
"Pixar has been on a cold streak" is an easy thing to say, but a difficult thing to mean. After delivering classic upon classic, the production company brought us only two lesser efforts in Cars 2 and Brave, but have by no means soured their good name. Yet another sequel isn't the ideal next move for the company, but at least this one is revisiting a beloved tale, rather than attempting to give Larry the Cable Guy some cash. Monsters Inc. is one of Pixar's best (in the way that most of their movies are one of their best), and even with the probable absence of Boo, this prequel will hopefully deliver the same heart, humor, and chemistry between its leads. Director Dan Scanlon may not have the resume that Pixar mainstays do (this will be his first directorial effort for the company, having worked on Brave and Cars), but that shouldn't matter too much with the team that is surely behind him. If nothing else, we should get a song as a great as "Put That Thing Back Where It Came From". Or so help me.
This Is the End (June 14th)
This is the End is one of the many, many apocalyptic tales coming to cinemas in 2013. Updating and expanding a 2007 short film, Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse, this movie stars a large number of funny famous people as themselves. They attend a party at James Franco's house, the world ends, and mayhem ensues. Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are responsible for the great Superbad and Pineapple Express, and the not so great Green Hornet and The Watch, so it's a toss-up in that sense, but this is their first time teaming up as directors, which adds something new to the mix. Now that I've got that all out of the way, let me list off the cast for this movie, as I think it's all the convincing you will need: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Michael Cera, Martin Starr, David Krumholtz, Danny McBride, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Craig Robinson, Rihanna and Emma Watson.
The trailer for Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim simultaneously boosted and waned anticipation. It doesn't look like much more than a beat-em-up, robots vs. monsters, over-the-top action film. That being said, it looks like the best possible version of that type of thing. It's been a while since del Toro has sat in the director's chair (his last project was 2008's Hellboy II: The Golden Army), which could unfortunately cause people to forgot just how good he is at making a movie. He's slapped his name on a number of lesser works (though he also stuck his name on the tremendous The Orphanage), but his directorial efforts are pretty much great across the board. The Hellboys and the incredible Blade 2 show that he knows his way around an action scene, but this is his largest budget to date, and the worry is that it swallowed him up, creatively. Also, he wrote 2011's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. All that being said, this is the man who made Pan's Labyrinth, and that alone is worth mention on this list. It doesn't hurt that the cast includes Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Undeclared), Ron Perlman and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's Charlie Day. Oh, and Idris Elba saying "Today we are canceling the apocalypse".
Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 20th)
This movie, telling the story of Walt Disney attempting to obtain the rights to, and then make, Mary Poppins, is recommended solely because of casting decisions. The fact that Walt Disney Pictures is distributing the film, along with director John Lee Hancock's earlier efforts (The Blind Side, The Rookie) and the release date, means this could easily be an Oscar-baiting schlock-fest. However, Tom Hanks is playing Disney, and Emma Thompson will tackle the role of P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. That alone is intriguing, but the supporting cast may be the best of a very good year. Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford and B.J. Novak are all in this film, which means the casting directors at least, were doing something right. This is another hesitant pick, for the reason given above, but there should be at least one or two performances in Saving Mr. Banks that make the entirety of it worth watching.
Benedict Cumberbatch's Slow Takeover of Hollywood (All Year. Next Year. Forever.)
If you don't know Benedict Cumberbatch's name by now (and you should, given his talent, and him having the most perfect name in human history), you will be the year's end. In addition to two prestige projects, Twelve Years a Slave and August: Osage County, he'll be given his share of mainstream screentime. In Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17th), he plays the main villain, alongside a lot of things blowing up. Really that’s all you need in a film. But with the success of J.J. Abrams’ surprisingly well made Star Trek film in 2009, this sequel is bound to be even more ambitious, if not better than its predecessor. Then, he'll end the year with The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, as the titular dragon. That film will also feature a bunch of dwarves and Martin Freeman fighting orcs and goblins and other weird characters. Sounds like a great time at the movies. Hopefully it will be much less flawed than An Unexpected Journey.
Iron Man 3/Thor: The Dark World (May 3rd/Nov. 8th)
Following The Avengers is going to be a tough act. It set itself apart not only as a financial success, but also as a new standard for how a high budget summer blockbuster could be handled under the right person. It was a culmination of everything seven-year-old me wanted in a movie, and managed to balance the fine line between appealing to the general audience as well as the fans. But now Marvel has to move things forward. Will they proceed with the same method they have already established at the risk of another disappointing sequel like Iron Man 2? The first trailer for Iron Man 3 suggests otherwise, bringing Downey Jr. back together with writer/director Shane Black (who crafted the glorious Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), suggesting a new direction for the post-Avengers Marvel universe, and while little has been released about Thor: The Dark World aside from a short synopsis, I have high hopes it will follow the same example and set forth the path toward The Avengers 2 and other new entries into the Marvel universe.
The Iceman (May 3rd)
Michael Shannon is one of the most gifted actors out there. With his successes in films like Revolutionary Road and Take Shelter, and his compelling performance as Nelson Van Alden on Boardwalk Empire, it’s always a treat when he’s present on-screen. With The Iceman, Shannon plays real life killer Richard Kuklinski, and he looks menacing in the trailer. I’m all for gangster films, and this one looks top-notch. It's also based on a true story, which makes it all the more interesting. It’s got an all-star cast, with Winona Ryder, Chris Evans (sporting a mustache for some reason), Ray Liotta, and James Franco. But it’s Shannon I’m most excited about. He’s sure to bring a powerful performance, and really dig deep into Kuklinski’s cold, icy persona.
The Great Gatsby (May 10th)
Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel was supposed to come out in December of 2012. Then for some reason, it got pushed back this May. While I’m mad that I have to wait that long, I suppose it will be worth it. The trailer looks bizarre as hell, and yet somehow captures the essence of the book perfectly. It’s wild, crazy, and extravagant. Leonardo DiCaprio seems like a perfect pick for Gatsby, even if he might appear a little older than I imagined. The rest of the cast is appropriate, even Toby Maguire, who looks like he can pull off the role of Nick Carraway with a burning intensity. The only thing that worries me is Jay-Z scoring the entire film, but hopefully it won’t be all out of place rap songs. Here’s hoping for an adaptation worthy of Fitzgerald’s words.
Elysium (Aug. 9th)
After his debut film, District 9, redefined what a science fiction film could do, Neill Blomkamp is back with his next ambitious project. There’s little information concerning the film's plot, besides that it takes place in 2159, and the rich live in a space station, while the poor live in an overpopulated, dilapidated Earth. But it boasts a great cast (including the underappreciated Sharlto Copely), and is sure to be as mind blowing as District 9.
Side Effects (Feb. 8th)
From the trailer, this definitely looks like a Soderbergh film: dark, suspenseful, well acted. It really just feels like Contagion, but with drugs, someone dying, and Channing Tatum yelling at people while Jude Law does some bad things. Also Rooney Mara is in it, having become quite the prolific actress since her Academy Award nominated performance in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It definitely looks intriguing, even if the trailer doesn't make things entirely clear. (Ed. Note: Soderbergh has said this will be his final theatrical release, with the upcoming summer TV movie Behind the Candelabra, serving as his last work as a director)
TBD by Nine Inch Nails (TBD)
I am an unabashed Trent Reznor fanatic. The Downward Spiral (1994) and The Fragile (1999) are two of my favorite albums of all time, and while his output in the late 2000s wasn’t as engaging musically, it was accompanied by amazing innovations in viral marketing, digital release formats and fan interaction. After taking a break from NIN, he composed two mind boggling electronic film scores and two subdued, subtle EP’s with How To Destroy Angels. Even if this upcoming NIN album doesn’t live up to the classic material, it’s sure to be an interesting, groundbreaking experience.
Doris by Earl Sweatshirt (TBD)
I’m not necessarily excited for this record as much as I’m optimistic. From the get go, Earl has exhibited more presence and dexterity on the mic than the rest of Odd Future, and since his return he’s shown the most dramatic growth in terms of his outlook on fame and making music. If “Chum”, his most recent single, is anything to go by, it’s looking like this mature attitude has started to seep into his music, and that, combined with his increased lyrical skill, could potentially lead to something very different than anything OF has released thus far.
The first Ziltoid album that Devin Townsend released back in 2007 was the start of his creative rebirth following the dissolution of Strapping Young Lad. Six years and five albums later, he’s returning to the character, and no one is safe. Considering that Ziltoid The Omniscient was a full narrative about a 5th dimensional alien conquering the galaxy while searching for the ultimate cup of coffee, I have no idea where Townsend will take things in the sequel, but it’s bound to be hilarious, mind bending, and expertly crafted.
New Books from Warren Ellis and Neil Gaiman (Released; June 18th)
Legendarily vitriolic king of the internet Warren Ellis releases his second novel, Gun Machine, in January. It concerns an NYPD detective who stumbles upon an apartment filled with guns (as in wallpapered with them), each one linked to an unsolved homicide in New York’s history. Then in June, literary rock star Neil Gaiman is set to release The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a dark fantasy about a young boy who must confront dark creatures with the help of three strange old ladies from down the road.
Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds and Other Comics (TBD)
Floating somewhere in the nebulous, formless idea of “2013” without an exact release date just yet comes Bryan Lee O’Malley’s new graphic novel, Seconds. O’Malley created the brilliant anything-goes stew that was Scott Pilgrim, but has said his follow-up will be much more low-key and set in and around a restaurant. He’s remained quiet on any further details, except that he sees it as his “art film” or “difficult solo album.” I can also look forward to another year of great comics, especially Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, John Layman’s Chew, and Matt Fraction’s sensational take on Hawkeye. The thing I’m looking forward to more than anything else I’ve mentioned, though, is finding something new to excite and incite fresh obsession in me. Always happens a couple of times a year, and I’m always grateful for it.
Star Wars 1313 (TBD)
2012 was quite a year for Star Wars, to put things simply. 2013 will start things off with a new expansion into the MMO front, as well as a completely new video game IP. You are a bounty hunter in the underground chunks of Coruscant, utilizing a new combat system focusing on guns and tech over the old Jedi ways. Did I mention that development includes help from Skywalker Sound, LucasFilm Animation, and Industrial Light & Magic? You are guaranteed an assault on your eyes and ears, at the very least.
Naughty Dog has a fantastic track record: Crash Bandicoot. Jax and Daxter. Uncharted. Naturally a new a new game from these developers is bound to get people excited, and with the news that it will be a survival horror game focusing on the emotional impact a post-apocalyptic world would have on a person… this is a game that demands attention.
How do you follow up a little sandbox project known as Minecraft? With a science fiction sandbox game that includes a functioning virtual computer, economy, and a multiplayer ‘multiverse’. Information about the project is mostly guarded, aside from a few game play videos floating around the net, but the game will release in alpha stage in March. Sandbox is a term that gets thrown around pretty frequently in modern games, but Notch’s unique approach to the format allowed Minecraft to succeed on many levels, including a gigantic community that continues to create original content for the universe. The potential for new features for the game will reach an unprecedented level with the inclusion of a working computer, which at the hand of the skilled community could bring forth a new and endless line of unique content that will lend unheard of replayability. Also, it’s pronounced ‘ten to the see’.
Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two prolific members in the studies of sex in what is sure to be an explicit program, but also a rather intriguing one. It’s original, provocative, and features two wonderful leads, as well as supporting performances from Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale. Hopefully Showtime will deliver another piece of fine programming.
(Ed. Note: Spoilers abound from here on out)
Breaking Bad's final season (Summer)
Walt has no soul at this point. He has a lot of money, but that’s it. The final season will present us with Walt, alone and desperate, and Hank dealing with his recent discovery that his brother-in-law is a meth dealer. On top of this, Jesse has no idea that Walt let Jane die (or poisoned Brock) so we’ll hopefully get to see this come into play.
The Walking Dead, season 3 part 2 (Feb. 10th)
Darryl’s been captured by The Governor, and Rick’s gang looks as hopeless as ever. What will happen this February? How many more main characters are going to die? And what is to become of the new group that has stumbled upon Rick’s prison? Hopefully all of these questions will be answered, Darryl will be saved, Merle will die, and a lot of zombie slaying will ensue.
Girls, season 2 (Jan. 13th)
Hannah’s rooming with her ex, Jessa’s married, Shoshanna’s going to be in a relationship with Ray, and Marnie is pissed that Charlie’s over her. So here’s ensuring that this season of Girls will be full of drama. Also, apparently Hannah’s going to be in a relationship with Donald Glover, so there’s that. And in the trailer there’s a lot of things getting hit with a baseball bat and thrown around. But if it’s good as the first season, then season two is bound to be enjoyable as hell.
Mad Men, season 6 (TBD)
Well, Lane’s dead and Peggy has left the company. What will become of SCDP now? From where the season finale left off, the company was doing pretty well, even if Lane’s dead. It will be interesting where relationships will pick up after all the shit that happened last season. It’s sure to be full of brilliant writing, and compelling performances. And here’s hoping that lovable Ginsberg returns for another season.
Homeland, season 3 (TBD)
After Langley was blown to smithereens, and leaving us with Brody on the run and Saul looking simultaneously pissed and relieved to see Carrie alive, there is no doubt I’m excited to see what season 3 has to hold. Saul might finally become Deputy Director of the CIA, but what will become of Carrie? And will we ever see Brody again? Showrunner Alex Gansa hints at none of these things, but does say that the third season will follow more closely to an espionage plotline, much like the works of John Le Carre. Hopefully more episodes as brilliant as "Q&A" are in store.