March 14, 2013

Twenty-Five Films I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

Filed under: Movies — DB @ 12:00 pm
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Now that the Oscars have officially closed the book on 2012 in movies, it’s time to look ahead to what we can expect this year. There are plenty of promising films on the horizon, enough that I bumped my usual 20 up to 25, and am still leaving out projects from directors like Terry Gilliam, Guillermo del Toro, Spike Lee, Ron Howard, Ben Stiller, Baz Luhrman, Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls), Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93), Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money), David Gordon Green (Snow Angels, Pineapple Express) and Anton Corbijn (The American).

Although I’m publishing this list now, I pretty much locked it in at the beginning of the year and decided not to revise it based on all the great things I heard about during January’s Sundance Film Festival. So the list doesn’t reflect movies that were acquired in Park City for release sometime this year (presumably), though I can say I’m greatly looking forward to such titles as The Spectacular Now, Fruitvale, A.C.O.D. and most of all, the reunion of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight. As usual, the list is also short on big franchise movies, though I’m plenty excited to see things like Iron Man 3, Monster’s University, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Kick-Ass 2, The Wolverine, Man of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness. There are certainly some sequels and expected blockbusters on the list, but in most cases it’s more about directors and casts that have me excited.

One change I did make was removing a film called The Place Beyond the Pines, writer/director Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to his superb 2010 drama Blue Valentine. His new film, which stars Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, comes out in just a couple of weeks, but I had a chance to see it already, so it no longer needs looking forward to. (For the record, I liked it, but had some issues with the third act.)

As always, I don’t know how any of these will turn out, but I have high hopes for all of them. One thing I am sure of: with roles in three films on this list, plus Star Trek Into Darkness and The Fifth Estate (in which he’ll play WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange), it’s going to be a big year for Benedict Cumberbatch. Which is fine with me, cause I love writing and saying “Benedict Cumberbatch.” It’s a name so supremely, singularly, sensationally British that if it didn’t already exist, J.K. Rowling surely would have created it for some minor bureaucrat deep within the Ministry of Magic.

Now then…


Terrence Malick
Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams
Release Date:
April 12

A brief two years after The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick returns with a film that is said to be even more interior and abstract than that one, which I’m not convinced is cinematically possible. I count myself a Malick admirer, so I’m eager to see where he goes this time with the story of man and his relationship with two women – one a European beauty, the other a girl-next-door type from his hometown. That’s the surface story anyway, but Malick is probably exploring deeper themes and ideas. Will I understand any of them? Maybe. Will it matter to me if I don’t? If the movie is half as beautiful as The Tree of Life, then probably not. According to this short behind the scenes featurette, there was barely a script for the movie, and as always, Malick took his time in the editing room to shape the end result. In the process, he eliminated entire performances by Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet and Michael Sheen.


Director/Writer: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford
Release Date: TBA

Writer/director J.C. Chandor made an impressive debut (and earned a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination) for directing a shining ensemble of actors to uniformly excellent performances in the 2011 financial sector drama Margin Call. Now he’s dialing things back with a story featuring only one character. From what I’ve gathered, Robert Redford plays a man on a boat who encounters a storm and finds himself lost at sea. The movie depicts his struggles for survival against the elements, and apparently Redford, when asked about the movie during an unrelated press conference at Sundance this year, said the film has no dialogue. Margin Call was marked by its terrific, wordy script and its excellent cast. Chandor couldn’t have gone much further in the opposite direction for his follow-up, which makes it all the more exciting to see how he fares.


Director/Writer: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Leslie Mann, Gavin Rossdale
Release Date: June 14

I love Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, but neither of the two films she’s made since have grabbed me. The most recent, Somewhere, was particularly disappointing…in that it went absolutely nowhere. Still, I keep hoping that each new project will mark a return to form, and so I await The Bling Ring, based on a Vanity Fair article about a group of privileged Los Angeles teenagers who engaged in a year-long robbery spree, targeting the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. It seems like fitting material for Coppola, who is personally immersed in the world of fashion and society where this story unfolds. Given the presence of Emma Watson, I’m anticipating a third act twist in which the motivation for stealing jewelry turns out to be the pursuit of horcruxes and the ultimate defeat of Voldemort.

On a more serious note, The Bling Ring is the last film to be completed by acclaimed cinematographer Harris Savides, who died too young last October at the age of 55. His credits included David Fincher’s Zodiac, Gus Van Sant’s Milk (and five other collaborations), and Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, as well as such music videos as “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails and “Criminal” by Fiona Apple.


Director/Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Emerson, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg
Release Date: July 26

Woody Allen is hit or miss these days, so if you’re a fan of his work, each new film – one a year, like clockwork – brings with it the curiosity of where in his canon it will fall. While Woody’s movies are like comfort food, rarely would I describe them as highly anticipated. But two things about his latest pique my curiosity enough to earn a place on the list. First, the film is partially set in my adopted home of San Francisco, marking the first time Woody has filmed in America’s most beautiful city. Second is the cast the director has wrangled. Woody’s movies always feature excellent line-ups, but this one really grabs me. I love Peter Sarsgaard, and I’m thrilled by the presence of Michael Emerson (aka Lost‘s Benjamin Linus)….but a movie that stars Cate Blanchett, Andrew Dice Clay and Louis C.K.?!? I think that pretty much says it all.

Scott Cooper
Scott Cooper, Brad Ingelsby
Casey Affleck, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Forest Whitaker
Release Date:

Scott Cooper pulled together an intense and impressive cast for the follow-up to his feature directorial debut, Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges an Oscar. The crime thriller casts Bale and Affleck as brothers from a depressed mill town, one of whom gets involved in a crime spree after the other winds up in jail. I don’t know which actor plays which brother; in fact, I don’t know much of anything about the movie at this point. But I know this: that roster of actors is all I need to know.

Director: Steve McQueen
Writers: Steve McQueen, John Ridley
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garrett Dillahunt, Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Dwight Henry, Taran Killam, Scoot McNairy, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Quvenzhané Wallis, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alfre Woodard
Release Date: TBA

Director Steve McQueen’s first film, the acclaimed drama Hunger, earned him respect from critics and brought Michael Fassbender to the attention of casting directors and filmmakers. I couldn’t get through the film, not just because I was too disturbed by the graphic depiction of the main character’s hunger strike and the toll it takes on his body, but also because I found it tediously boring. But his next film, Shame, was one of my favorites of 2011. Now comes his third, and with it new challenges: a period setting, a large cast of name actors, and because that cast includes someone like Brad Pitt, increased commercial expectations. But the film’s lead role belongs to the wonderful Chiwetel Ejiofer, who audiences will recognize from such movies as Amistad, Love Actually, Kinky Boots, Children of Men and American Gangster. This will be his highest profile lead role to date, and he has more than earned a chance to show off his stuff. Hopefully this movie, envisioned by an uncompromising artist like McQueen, will give it to him.

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: John Hodge, Joe Ahearne
Cast: Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, James McAvoy
Release Date: April 5

With the opening ceremony for the London Olympics now behind him, Danny Boyle turns his attention back to film with this story of an art auctioneer who participates in a heist, then must work with a hypnotherapist to recall the location of the stolen painting after a knock to the head causes him to forget where it’s stashed. From what I’ve heard, this is a noirish tale with lots of twists and turns. Sounds like Boyle is revisiting the territory he explored so effectively in his 1995 debut film, Shallow Grave. That can’t be a bad thing.


Director/Writer: Jason Reitman
Cast: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Clark Gregg, Tobey Maguire, Brooke Smith, James Van Der Beek, Jacki Weaver
Release Date: TBA

Based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day is the story of a 13 year-old boy and his agoraphobic mother, who come across a stranger in need of help and agree to take him in. The man turns out to be an escaped convict, and over the course of a few late summer days…well, I’m sure lessons will be learned and lives will be changed. Honestly, it sounds like a maudlin set-up. But a movie that brings together the talents of Jason Reitman, Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin has my attention, whatever the plot description. Reitman, the director behind Up in the Air, Juno, Young Adult and Thank You For Smoking, has demonstrated excellent taste in material and a talent for drawing out strong work from his actors. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and tell myself that the story must be worthwhile to attract not only him, but Winslet and Brolin – a pairing which I have a feeling will yield superb chemistry.

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Natalie Dormer, John Leguizamo, Dean Norris, Rosie Perez, Brad Pitt, Goran Visnjic
Release Date: November 15

Although this thriller is written by Cormac McCarthy, it’s not adapted from one of his books. Rather, it marks the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s first foray into screenwriting. It’s the story of a lawyer who gets involved in drug trafficking, an endeavor which doesn’t go so well. Sounds like there are echoes of the Coen Brothers’ McCarthy adaptation No Country for Old Men, which will only be emphasized by the presence of Javier Bardem. I have no problem with that. The movie reunites director Scott with Fassbender after last year’s Prometheus, and more interestingly, reunites him with Pitt 22 years after giving the actor what would be his breakthrough role in Thelma & Louise.


Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: Dan Futterman, E. Max Frye
Cast: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Channing Tatum, Anthony Michael Hall, Vanessa Redgrave
Release Date: TBA

With two narrative features under his belt – Capote and Moneyball – director Bennett Miller has shown an extraordinary capacity for telling dramatic stories with clarity and an effective understatement that brings out the humor and allows actors to shine. I am hopeful he’ll do it again with this true-life story of John du Pont, a wealthy corporate heir who supported the careers of numerous professional swimmers, pentathletes and wrestlers, only to succumb to paranoid schizophrenia and murder his close friend, Olympic gold medal wrestler Dave Schultz. Although du Pont was nearly 60 at the time of the murder, he’ll be played – in an exciting piece of against-the-grain casting – by Steve Carell. Even before he left The Office, Carell was showing his range in films like Dan in Real Life (a sweet, underrated movie) and Little Miss Sunshine. But Foxcatcher promises his furthest swing as an actor yet, and with a director like Miller to guide his performance, he could be on the verge of hitting a new high.

Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Bob Nelson
Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, Bob Odenkirk
Release Date: TBA

As his follow-up to The Descendants, Alexander Payne is going even smaller scale, with a black-and-white road trip movie about an adult son escorting his father from Missouri to Nebraska because the old man thinks he’s won a million dollar sweepstakes. Payne initially courted Gene Hackman for the role of the father, but the retired actor declined to get back in the game. Instead, Bruce Dern takes on the role, and while I’m sad Hackman passed (come back to us, Gene!), I have little doubt that a colorful veteran like Dern will be superb in the part. Continuing his penchant for unexpected casting choices, Payne recruited Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte to play the son. Like most of the world, I’ve only seen Forte in his goofy comedic roles like MacGruber, 30 Rock‘s cross-dressing Jenna look-alike Paul, and his gallery of SNL characters. It will be a treat to see what he does for a filmmaker of Payne’s caliber.

Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels, Danny Strong
Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Nelsan Ellis, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Minka Kelly, Lenny Kravitz, Melissa Leo, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schrieber, Clarence Williams III, Robin Williams
Release Date:

Lee Daniels’ most recent film, last year’s wild, sweaty thriller The Paperboy, divided critics, as well as the audiences who actually showed up to see it. Although it received a 16 minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, those who were there report that when attendees took to their feet, some were doing so to boo, not to cheer. (For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the film quite a bit, and thought it featured some terrific performances.) On paper, Daniels’ latest seems more likely to earn him the kind of universal praise that greeted his 2009 directing debut (and my favorite movie of that year), Precious. The Butler is based on the life of Eugene Allen, who served in the White House under eight presidents before retiring in 1986. Whitaker will play the title role (named Cecil Gaines in the film), with Winfrey as his wife. Many other members of the starry cast will likely turn up in small roles or even just extended cameos as the shuffling residents of the White House (including Rickman and Fonda as the Reagans, Marsden and Kelly as the Kennedys, and Williams and Leo as the Eisenhowers). It’s always nice to see Whitaker front and center, and Winfrey – who many forget is an Oscar nominated actress – hasn’t starred in a feature since 1998’s Beloved. The promise of strong roles for these two, plus the impressive ensemble and a great story hook, make this one of the most eagerly awaited dramas of the year. However it turns out, it will stand as a final testament to the successful career of Laura Ziskin, the Hollywood producer of such movies as Pretty Woman, To Die For and the Spider-Man trilogy, who fought to get this movie made right up until she passed away from breast cancer in 2011.


Director: George Clooney
Writers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Cast: Bob Balaban, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bill Murray
Release Date: December 18

George Clooney is back behind the camera, and has once again convinced an amazing roster of actors to join him in front of it. His latest project tells the true story of a group of British and American art historians and museum curators who were tasked with searching throughout Europe for great works of art that had been stolen by the Nazis to be either destroyed by Hitler, or added to his private collection. Sounds kinda like an Indiana Jones movie…though probably with less face melting.


Directors/Writers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Cast: Aziz Ansari, Jay Baruchel, Michael Cera, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen
Release Date: June 14

In 2007, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and a couple of their friends made a short film called Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse, in which the two friends were trapped in an apartment together after the world outside had been somehow destroyed. (The film was never available publicly, but there is a very NSFW trailer.) Now Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg have expanded the idea to a feature length film, and recruited a few more of their friends from the Apatow universe to join them. This runs the risk of being the kind of sloppy vanity project that results when a bunch of friends get together, armed with a sizable budget, and do whatever they want, unchecked, concerned with nothing more than making each other laugh (see Ocean’s Twelve). Of course, given the comic prowess these guys have displayed, what makes them laugh is pretty well proven to work, meaning that even if the movie is a mess, it will probably be a hilarious mess.


Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Release Date: October 25

Following the same general theme as Rogen and company’s movie, some of the funniest guys from the other side of the pond are also preparing for the apocalypse. Wright, Pegg and Frost – the director and co-stars of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz – team up again for this story of five childhood friends who reunite 20 years after an epic pub crawl and attempt to recreate it, only to find that this night of drinking may be their last. If this team’s past collaborations are any indication, we can expect another rock solid comedy with a non-sugary emotional undercurrent that goes down smooth.

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Oscar Isaac, F. Murray Abraham, Adam Driver, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Alex Karpovsky, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake
Release Date:

Oscar Issac came to my attention just a couple of years ago, but has built up an impressive array of supporting performances that I’ve really enjoyed in films like Robin Hood, Drive and The Bourne Legacy. Now he gets his biggest exposure yet, courtesy of the Coen Brothers, playing a 1960’s folk singer struggling to achieve success in both his personal and professional life. The movie marks a reunion between the Coens and music supervisor extraordinaire T-Bone Burnett, who oversaw the massively successful soundtrack for their 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. He’ll serve as Executive Music Producer here as well, with Mumford & Sons frontman (and Mr. Carey Mulligan) Marcus Mumford as Associate Music Producer. I don’t know what those titles mean exactly, other than the fact that the Coens are probably about to drop another kick-ass soundtrack. The movie looks pretty damn good too.


Director/Writer: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner, Diego Luna
Release Date: August 9

It’s been a long five years since Neill Blomkamp broke through with District 9. High hopes abound for his sophomore feature, another sci-fi tale with contemporary political relevance. In the year 2159, a space station called Elysium is home to the wealthiest members of society, while everyone else remains on a dying Earth that suffers from overpopulation. Foster plays a government bureaucrat tasked with maintaining the integrity of Elysium and keeping undesirables out, while Damon is a desperate man from the surface attempting to shatter the status quo. District 9 was a smart and topical debut, and I can’t wait to see what Blomkamp has come up with for his second time at bat.


Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
Cast: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Harrison Ford, Kristen Wiig, Dylan Baker, Meagan Good, James Marsden
Release Date: December 20

San Diego’s preeminent newscaster and jazz flutist is finally back. Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team, not to mention Ron’s delicious paramour and co-anchor Veronica Corningstone, will make their long awaited return this year. Few details have been made available to suggest what the gang will be up to, but the addition of Harrison Ford as a venerable, Brokaw-esque news anchor, and Kristin Wiig possibly playing a love interest for Carell’s IQ-challenged weatherman Brick Tamland, both bode well. I’m also hoping we’ll see Vince Vaughn’s Wes Mantooth once again, but there’s been no word on that yet. In the meantime, here’s a clip of Burgundy on Conan last year, announcing the project.


Director: John Wells
Writer: Tracy Letts
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, Misty Upham
Release Date: November 8

Actor and playwright Tracy Letts won a 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his darkly comedic play, which debuted at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre before moving to Broadway and London. Now it moves to the movies, adapted by Letts and directed by John Wells, the veteran TV producer of such shows as ER and The West Wing, who earned praise for his 2010 film directing debut, The Company Men. This story concerns the gathering of an Oklahoma family after the patriarch, Beverly Weston – an alcoholic and a once famous poet – goes missing and is presumed dead. The Broadway production earned five Tony  awards, including Best Play and Best Actress in a Play, for Deanna Dunagan. Her role – Beverly’s wife Violet Weston – goes to Streep in the movie, and those familiar with the play expect the legendary actress to be an Oscar frontrunner yet again. With this mighty cast, she might not be the only one.


Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Writers: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, William Monahan
Cast: Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Stacy Keach, Jaime King, Ray Liotta, Michael Madsen, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Mickey Rourke, Juno Temple, Bruce Willis
Release Date: October 4

I’m a huge fan of Sin City, the 2006 collaboration between filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and graphic novelist Frank Miller, based on Miller’s book series set in the rotting, crime-ridden metropolis of Basin City. I loved the cast, the pulpy, rock-hard-boiled stories and the visual design drawn directly from the comics – monochrome, with limited splashes of color. In the ensuing years, there has been constant talk of a follow-up based on other books in the series, and after many vaguely explained delays (ongoing rumors persisted that Rodriguez was trying to hold out for Angelina Jolie to become available), it’s finally happening. Like its predecessor, the new film – at least part of which actually takes place before the events of the first – will be comprised of multiple stories: the previously published A Dame to Kill For and Just Another Saturday Night, as well as two original tales from Miller, including one called The Long Bad Night. Returning cast members include Rourke, Willis, Dawson and Alba. Dennis Haysbert inherits the role previously played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan, while Josh Brolin steps into the shoes of pre-plastic surgery Dwight, played by Clive Owen in the original. As for the dame to kill for herself, the role for which Rodriguez was supposedly targeting Jolie? She’ll be played by Eva Green, who I’m sure will make an entirely alluring femme fatale.


Director/Writer: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Samantha Morton, Olivia Wilde
Release Date: TBA

Not a lot is known about this movie, so there’s not a lot I can say. The story is set in the near future and concerns a lonely man who falls in love with the female-voiced operating system he purchases to help run his life – essentially a version of the iPhone’s Siri. With such a delightfully gonzo premise, you might expect that this marks another collaboration between Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, but in fact this will be the first time he has pulled solo screenwriting duty. I consider Jonze one of the best directors around, and one who works far too infrequently; this will be only his fourth film since 1999, following Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are. That too-small filmography is a lot to live up to, but I have little doubt Jonze will deliver something worthy of joining it.


Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writers: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonas Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Release Date: October 4

Alfonso Cuarón’s highly anticipated follow-up to Children of Men casts Bullock and Clooney as a scientist and astronaut, respectively, tethered to each other and adrift in the cosmos after an accident leaves their space station damaged. The film was on my list last year, originally intended for a November release, but the visual effects required substantially more time to complete. Word is that we can expect a powerful movie combining a gripping and emotional story with astounding visuals. Should be worth the wait.


Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Terence Winter
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Christine Ebersole, Jon Favreau, Jonah Hill, Jake Hoffman, Spike Jonze, Joanna Lumley, Matthew McConaughey, Rob Reiner, Ethan Suplee, Shea Whigam
Release Date: November 15

In his fifth collaboration with Martin Scorsese (one more and he’ll tie De Niro; two more and he wins Harvey Keitel), DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who – surprise, surprise – engaged in criminal activity during the Wall Street heyday of the 1980’s. He lived large, partied hard and was worshipped by legions of young brokers. When his illegal activity was swept into a larger securities fraud investigation by the Federal government, it all came crashing down. Terence Winter, a Sopranos writer and creator of the Scorsese-produced HBO series Boardwalk Empire, adapts the true-life tale from Belfort’s memoir. DiCaprio has been trying to get this made for a long time (I’m almost certain that Michael Mann was attached to direct it at one point, though a brief search of the internets could not confirm that), and while doing promotion recently for Django Unchained, indicated that he has high hopes for the movie. He’s not alone.


Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Billy Connolly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Evangeline Lilly, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott
Release Date: December 13

Is three movies one movie too many to adequately adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s slender novel The Hobbit? Many would say yes. And they may be right. Personally, I’ll wait until the trilogy is complete to decide if a trilogy was overkill or not. I’m still intrigued by the decision to encompass additional Middle Earth lore from Tolkien’s other writings in order to deepen and enrich the story, so I remain firmly on board with Peter Jackson’s grand adventure. In the next chapter, Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield’s dozen-strong company of dwarves continue their march to reclaim their home city and stolen treasure from the dragon Smaug. Cumberbatch will play the mighty beast using the same motion capture technology that transformed Andy Serkis into Gollum. It should prove another showcase for the visual effects team at Jackson’s WETA Digital, and for Tolkien fans, it should prove a monumental onscreen match-up between a courageous halfling and arguably the most famous fire-breather in all of literature.


Director: David O. Russell
Writer: Eric Warren Singer
Cast: Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Alesandro Nivola
Release Date: December 13

Coming off Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell couldn’t be any hotter right now, and his next project – currently without a title, but at one time called American Bullshit – is based on the real-life Abscam operation, an FBI sting in the late 70’s and early 80’s that targeted corruption in Congress. Russell was once notorious for his on-set outbursts and screaming fits directed at cast and crew (he and George Clooney came to blows while making Three Kings), and even then he still lined-up impressive ensembles. Now that he seems to have mellowed out considerably, and with his last two movies yielding an astonishing seven Oscar-nominated performances combined (three of which took the gold), actors would probably slit throats to work with him. Unfortunately for all those blade-wielding thespians, he’s so fond of repeat collaborations that it’s hard to break in. The movie re-teams him with his Fighter stars Bale and Adams, as well as Silver Linings duo Lawrence and Cooper. Renner managed to score the remaining lead role. More cast members might yet be announced, as the movie is just now going into production. I wasn’t sure it would be released this year, but a December date was announced this week, meaning we won’t have as long to wait for Russell to demonstrate yet again why he’s one of the best in the business right now.


  1. Not get too nitpicky, but Woody Allen actually filmed both Take the Money and Run and Play it Again Sam in San Francisco. Nevertheless, that still makes it Woody’s first movie by the Bay in 41 years. No excitement from you for the Great Gatsby? Baz Luhrmann is certainly puts out some frenetically edited movies, but there’s always a chance of something fascinating too. At the very least the cast makes this film intriguing.

    Comment by dazizmor — March 14, 2013 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

    • By all means, nitpick away. I wasn’t aware Woody had filmed here before, so thanks for setting me straight.

      I am indeed looking forward to The Great Gatsby. If nothing else, the sets and costumes look amazing, based on the trailers. But at this point I’m more curious than excited.

      Comment by DB — March 14, 2013 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  2. The diceman returns!

    Comment by ggears — March 16, 2013 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

    • Maybe this will prime the way for The Further Adventures of Ford Fairlane!

      Comment by DB — March 16, 2013 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

      • Hey Gears…shouldn’t that be “The Diceman Cometh”?

        Comment by dazizmor — March 16, 2013 @ 8:32 pm | Reply

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