Well we are already 3 whole months into 2013 and for those of us up here in Canada the world is finally starting to wake up and shake off the winter. Even though we’re a whole quarter of the way through the year things have been pretty quiet (for me, at least) on the movie front. I see an obscene amount of movies in the theaters every year but so far I’ve only seen a handful and (almost) none of them have been all that great. This is pretty normal as most studios use the first few months of the year to dump the crappier movies that won’t survive the competitive summer or awards seasons. (see “GI JOE”, “OZ”, “Identity Thief” etc) There have been a few surprising gems, like Pablo Lorain’s “NO” and Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” but for the most part things on the movie front have been pretty bleak.
Last year (as I mentioned before) was “The Year of the Keddys” – this year is full of much more unknown. Ali and I are finally approaching the end of our Bachelor of Education degrees at Brock University and by the middle of the summer we will be moving to… wherever we end up going to teach. I have my usual list of anticipated movies on the horizon but I have no idea where I will be when I’m watching them. Maybe I’ll be where you are and we can watch them together… I don’t know. If you pray you can pray for us.
In the meantime I’ll keep my eyes on something a little less serious and a little less scary – here’s a look ahead to my 5 most anticipated movies of 2013.
5: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Peter Jackson
Well I have to admit that Peter Jackson really let me down last year with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The movie was well cast (especially Martin Freeman who was terrific as expected) and had some pretty beautiful moments but it was way too long and boring as hell. It’s a bad sign when you’re as big a Tolkien fan as I am and you’re bored the FIRST time watching it. The movie was overwritten and too stuffed with material that would have been better suited to an extended edition. Most of these faults can be chalked up to splitting Tolkien’s slender children’s book into three 2.5 hr movies, and of all those movies the first one is going to suffer the most. Fans excited to see AUJ had to spend literally an HOUR in Bag End meeting the dwarves and discussing the quest. There will be none of that in the next two films and most of the plot, action and cool stuff is still to come. Most of all – these next two films will feature the dragon Smaug, hopefully one of the most breathtaking examples of CGI ever and voiced by the always amazing Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ll be the first in line – which should surprise no one.
4: Man of Steel – Zach Snyder
Why can’t they get Superman right? That’s the question that’s been on every fan and studio executive’s mind since the early 1980’s when Christopher Reeve starred in the last really successful and satisfying Superman motion picture. I recently rewatched ALL the Superman movies right up until the totally brutal misfire “Superman Returns” and I’ll argue that no one’s EVER gotten it exactly right. Even Reeve’s Superman was cheesy and poorly written – his best two movies (the first two) have unbelievably bad endings and are terrifically dated. The trailers for “Man of Steel” as well as the cast and creative team involved has me cautiously optimistic about this new story being exactly what a Superman movie should be. At the very least I’ve heard it has a ton of Superman being Superman which is where “Superman Returns” came up so short. If there’s anyone reading this who, like me, has been desperately craving some awesome Superman action and can’t wait for Zach Snyder’s new rendition, I recommend checking out the animated version of Frank Miller’s classic “The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2” – in it Superman finally kicks some serious ass.
3: Only God Forgives – Nicolas Winding Refn
When I first saw “Drive” in 2011 I was completely floored. I had it chalked up as my favorite movie of the year before I had even finished watching the opening scene. There was just something so special, so combustible, so devastating about the combination of Refn and Gosling that made the movie a real treat to sit and watch. It put Refn on my radar and it elevated Gosling to a whole other status of credibility – and so when Refn’s very next feature happens to once again star Gosling you can say the movie has me at hello. Add to all this that the movie is supposedly a super violent movie set in the Thailand underworld of bare knuckle boxing and you have my full attention. I know that “Drive” wasn’t for everyone – but for those of us who fell in love at first stare, this movie can’t arrive soon enough.
2: 12 Years A Slave – Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen (no, not THAT Steve McQueen) is one of the most exciting directors working today. He introduced the world to Michael Fassbender in the beautiful, haunting, true story “Hunger” and stunned audiences (at least Ali and I) with the raw, unflinching, unforgettable “Shame”. Now he’s back with the true story of a free black man (Solomon Northup) who was kidnapped and forced into slavery in the mid 1800’s. The movie has an unbelievable cast (including, of course, Michael Fassbender) and all the potential in the world. Fox Searchlight has set a late December release so expect the movie to play a big part in next year’s Academy Awards. I love history and I love movies and this one has all the right people involved to make it something special. If McQueen is not yet on your radar get on your Netflix and put him on.
1: Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron
Alfonso Cuaron is my favorite director. He has been ever since I watched the one-two-punch of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in the same summer. Seeing “Children of Men” two years later sealed the deal and I subsequently tracked down and watched his entire filmography. Cuaron’s voice and style are extremely distinct and yet his movies range over a hugely diverse spectrum of genres and budgets. He seems just as much at home at the helm of a multimillion dollar Hollywood budget as he does shooting a handheld Spanish-language drama. The plot of “Gravity”, his first movie since “Children of Men” hit theaters SEVEN years ago, has been kept pretty quiet. All I know is that it’s about two stranded astronauts trying to get back to earth after an explosion on their space station, it stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and it has an uninterrupted 17 minute long opening shot. Sounds good to me… I can’t wait to sit down in a dark theater and watch this movie. Alfonso Cuaron only has 5 full length feature films so he’s an easy director to explore – consider this a great opportunity to do so – “Gravity” hits theaters in November of 2013.