10 Most-Anticipated Movies of the First Half of 2013 (Jan – June)

Ok, Day 3 of 2013 hasn’t left yet where I live, but I’m already anticipating a slew of movies coming out later this year. To make the list more manageable though, I’m breaking it down to two parts. Here’s 10 that’s scheduled to be released (except for one that’s TBD) between January to June.

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January

Zero Dark Thirty (Jan 13)

A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong


Granted I wasn’t in love with The Hurt Locker like a lot of people did, but one thing I do appreciate is Kathryn Bigelow’s skills as a filmmaker. She’s one of the best directors out there that can direct dynamic action sequences and she’s got the cojones to tackle a controversial topic. This film reunites her with The Hurt Locker‘s screenwriter Mark Boal and boasts a great cast! I’m a fan of Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton, so yeah, I’m super curious to see this. Granted we likely won’t get a balanced viewpoint on this ripped-from-the-headlines story, but should be an intriguing piece nonetheless.


March

Dead Man Down (March 8)

In New York City, a crime lord’s right-hand man is seduced by one of his boss’s victims, a woman seeking retribution.

Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert

Oplev is the director of the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now, even though that film is not my cup of tea, I’m quite intrigued by this story. The trailer looks pretty intense, albeit a bit too revelatory. We’ll see how violent it is though, I might just rent it if it’s too much for my nerves. I do like the cast, Rapace was impressive in Prometheus and Farrell and Cooper are two of the coolest Brit and Irish exports working today.

Oz: The Great and Powerful (March 8)

A stage magician is hurled into a fantasy world, and must use his wits to stay ahead of three enchantresses who have plans for him.

Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Bruce Campbell


You’re probably surprised I put this here since I actually have not seen The Wizard of Oz (yep, that’s true). But I like Sam Raimi and the female cast looks pretty darn good. The trailer promises a visual spectacle, and the story reminds me a bit of Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, though probably less surreal than the Terry Gilliam’s movie. Anyway, it would’ve been awesome to see Robert Downey Jr. or Johnny Depp who were at one time linked to this project though. But Raimi and Franco did work together before in the Spider-Man movies.


April

Oblivion (April 26)

One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth, its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands.

Director: Joseph Kosinki
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau


Another Tom Cruise movie in which he’s playing another character named Jack?? That’s what I thought when I saw the trailer but when it’s over, I actually found it intriguing. Visually it has an epic feel to it and everything with Morgan Freeman should be good, no? :) It’s interesting to note that this was based on Radical Comics graphic novel that the TRON: Legacy director Kosinski himself wrote with Arvid Nelson. MTV had an interview with Kosinski on how the story came about for the graphic novel:

“I started writing this small character-driven science fiction story that was in the vein of those science fiction films of the 1970s that involved this lone survivor among the ruins of civilization, like ‘Mega Man’ or ‘Silent Running’ — it was kind of in that vein. I thought if it was going to be my first movie it would have to be something very small and contained in order to even get a chance at pulling it off. So it’s the story of a drill repair man, Jack Harper, who is one of the last human beings left on earth after a massive war, which was the result of an alien invasion. Even though humankind won the war, Earth was left in such a state that we had to look for another place to settle, and Jack is left behind to monitor and secure the resource gathering operation that’s happening where we’re gathering the last bit of energy out of the earth’s seawater in order to move onto the next step.”

Well, let’s hope it won’t disappoint like TRON: Legacy did!


May

The Great Gatsby (May 10)

Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carrey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton


I’ve covered this one extensively exactly year ago, but the release was delayed significantly. I never got around to reading the book but I’m still excited for this. It’s been a while since I’m excited for a Leo DiCaprio movie, but he looks pretty good as the mad billionaire Jay Gatsby. He seems to have a believable chemistry with the lovely Carey Mulligan, and Tobey seems perfectly cast as the Midwesterner Nick Caraway who’s inexplicably drawn into the world of glitz, glamor and madness! I’m optimistic this would be more like Moulin Rouge! than Australia.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)

After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

Director: JJ Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana


It’s Sherlock terrorizing a whole star fleet, perhaps he can actually outwit Mr. Spock? ;) Kidding aside, I think this looks awesome! Well I love the original and the charismatic cast is set to be on board again, yay! I know all the lads are all pining for the pretty blue-eyed Capt. Kirk but for me it’s all about Dr. McCoy (the gorgeous Karl Urban, natch!).

,,,


June

Much Ado About Nothing (June 7)

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.

Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz

No trailer available that I could find (which is odd since the film has premiered at TIFF), but here’s a Toronto interview of Whedon with two of the major cast Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg:


From a band of superheroes to Shakespeare? That Josh is one versatile dude! Apparently the movie adaptation took place at Joss Whedon’s residence, in Santa Monica, and was filmed entirely in black-and-white over 12 days. It currently has a pretty high Rotten Tomatoes rating so far. Curious to hear what fellow Marvel director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) thinks of this? ;)


Man of Steel (June 14)

An alien infant is raised on Earth, and grows up with superhuman abilities. He sets out to use these abilities to guard his adopted world.

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne


If there is ONLY one movie I could see in 2013, let it be this one! When I saw this full trailer during my vacation I literally went berserk! My undying love for the Kryptonian hero dated all the way back to when I was only 3 years old. I even had the Superman suit and everything. Yes, Superman Returns was rather disappointing, but that was a different era. It’s now Superman Begins, ehm, a collaboration between the DC-savior Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder. Of course I’ve got to mention one of my Brit crushes Henry Cavill, a man so gorgeous it’s out of this world ;) I’m glad Snyder doesn’t make him look like some pretty boy though, he sure looks pretty darn rugged in and out of that bad ass new suit.

Nolan had a lot of positive things to say about Snyder. As quoted by THR, ““Zack was the perfect man to take this on,” Nolan says. “He is unbelievably skilled at creating a coherent, cohesive world — whether it’s a very stylized world, like 300, or something that’s more challenging, more varied, like he did with Watchmen.” He also praised how Snyder handled Man of Steel itself:

“In my honest appraisal, taking on Superman and creating that world is far more difficult than creating the world of the Dark Knight. He has a lot of finishing to do on the movie — it has a very long post-production schedule because, unlike Batman, Superman flies… I try to be as supportive as I can, and I’m just amazed by what he is doing. It’s not something I would know how to do.”

Of course Mr. Nolan is being modest. I think he very well could tackle Superman but hey, having him as the consultant on the project is a very good thing. I can hardly wait for this!!


Monsters University (June 21)

A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi


Mike Wazowski is one of my all time favorite Pixar characters so surely I’m excited for this! The latest promo clip is such a hoot, man I’d go to MU for sure if I could hang out with Mike and Sully! :) Normally I’m not fond of sequels but I love the first movie so much and I trust that Pixar would come up with a pretty clever and fun story this time around.


Ok, this one hopefully would come out in the first half of the year, though kinda unlikely given how Terrence Malick likes to tinker with editing his movies :D Before I get to Knight of Cups, the one Malick movie that would sure hit theaters in April 12 in To The Wonder, starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko (who turns out to be the real lead). It premiered at TIFF and Ryan at The Matinee has the review here.

I might check that one out but I REALLY want to see this one:

Knight of Cups (TBD)

A story of a man, temptations, celebrity, and excess.

Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Imogen Poots, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas

The first time I heard about this one in 2011 when I posted about it along with another Malick’s project in the works. I read several reports recently and it sounds like this film is set against the backdrop of the movie business. I’m guessing Bale plays some sort of celebrity surrounded by beautiful women as his life spins out of control?? Of course that’s a wild guess without a real synopsis, trailer, nor even a poster! There are a boat load of on-set pics on Google though.

Check out some behind-the-scenes pics I found of Bale with a bunch of his female co-stars:

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Man, that cast is just awesome isn’t it? I’m most excited to see Bale co-starring with Blanchett. It’s been far too long since I saw her on screen besides her brief appearance in The Hobbit. The plethora of actors sounds like a Woody Allen ensemble-cast movie, the movie also stars Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Teresa Palmer, Ryan O’Neal, Jason Clarke, Joel Kinnaman and Shea Whigham. I hope this one gets a release date real soon, come on Mr. Malick, get crackin’ :D

Honorable Mentions:

  • Welcome to The Punch
  • Gangster Squad
  • Broken City
  • Stoker
  • Olympus Has Fallen
  • Trance
  • Iron Man 3


Well, that’s just what I’m looking forward to in the next six months. Which one(s) are you most excited about?

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Spotlight on three new favorite actors: Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston & Benedict Cumberbatch

It’s been a while since I highlight a particular actor here, and since we’re on the first week of the new year, why not highlight some new-ish actors who’ve made the mark the past year. Ok, the term ‘new’ is relative of course, as all of these actors have had stage, TV and even film experience in the past, but until fairly recently, we haven’t heard much about them. I pick these three because in the past year or so, I’ve seen at least three of their films, whether in lead or supporting roles, and I REALLY like what I see. I didn’t want to include anyone that I’ve already included on this list nor this one, which includes the likes of Michael Fassbender, Andrew Garfield, Tom Hardy, etc. Though I might do what Iba from I Luv Cinema suggested, that is doing a follow-up post of where are they now. What a splendid idea!

So anyway, here are my three new favorite actors that I hope will have a lasting cinematic career (All bio info from IMDb):

Jessica Chastain

Films seen: The Debt, Tree of Life, The Help

Why she’s awesome: The first time I saw Jessica was in The Debt and I liked her straight away. There is something so intriguing yet likable about her, and an effortlessness in her acting. She is beautiful but not drop dead gorgeous, or worse, plastic-looking like a lot of Hollywood starlets are. 2011 was truly her banner year with no less than SIX films under her belt, which is quite impressive considering a year ago even arden cinephiles had not even heard of her. When I saw her performance in The Help, I was floored at her versatility. What a complete departure from both her roles in The Debt and even Tree of Life. She had to gain weight for her role which proves that she’s dedicated to her craft, but it’s her performance that was truly outstanding.

The 30-year-old California native began performing in Shakespearean productions in the Bay area at age 13, and graduated from The Juilliard School of Drama in New York.

What’s next for Jessica: She has five films to be released this year and 2013, including the yet Untitled Terrence Malick project with Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. Updated 5/6 – Jessica will also make her Broadway debut this Fall in the adaptation of The Heiress (per LA Times). I’m sure she’ll be splendid.

Tom Hiddleston

Films seen: Thor, Midnight in Paris, War Horse

Why he’s awesome: I guess I have a thing for bad boys, but I wasn’t immediately drawn to his character Loki when I first saw Thor. But one thing that caught my eye was the way he delivered his lines which seemed to have a theatrical style to it. Sure enough, director Kenneth Branagh apparently had worked with Hiddleston on stage before he cast him in this film. There are so many variety of British accents, but Tom’s is just so pleasing to the ear. Plus he’s got this big, spontaneous smile that lights up his face. He’s attractive without being too perfect-looking which gets tiresome after about two minutes.  The 30-year-old Londoner’s pedigree is quite impressive, too. He’s a grad of Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and attended Eton College (popular with the British Royal Family) and studied for his Classics degree at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.

Hiddleston proved his range in memorable supporting roles in Midnight in Paris and War Horse, playing sympathetic characters in both, perhaps a calculated strategy to balance out being the arch nemesis in this Summer’s The Avengers.

What’s next for Tom: The Avengers of course. Even amongst such an all-star-cast, Tom is the one I look forward to the most in that superhero flick! He’s also doing a BBC TV-movie adaptation of Henry IV  and V with Jeremy Irons, directed by Sir Richard Eyre.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Films seen: Amazing Grace, Atonement, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Why he’s awesome: I guess I’ve always liked Benedict since I first saw him as William Pitt in Amazing Grace (a great but underrated movie btw, do check it out). He’s got such a classic British look, even his name sounds very English to me. Benedict is one of those actors that blends seamlessly into his character that one often forgets he’s in the movie until after. I realized later on that he was in Atonement and was really impressed with his performance.
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My friend Novia likes Benedict a lot, almost as much as she likes Cillian Murphy (I think), because of his role in BBC’s Sherlock, she even puts him in one of the five actors she’d watch in anything. His latest role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is what makes me include him in this shortlist. He’s definitely got the chops to act alongside of British veterans such as Gary Oldman and John Hurt, in fact, besides Oldman’s and Tom Hardy’s, his performance stood out the most for me in that film.

Just like Hiddleston, Benedict is London-bred and has a degree in drama from University of Manchester, followed by a study at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

What’s next for Benedict: The Hobbit… I’m thrilled to see Benedict amongst such a great ensemble cast. He’s also got a TV movie with Tom Stoppard, hopefully there’ll be more film roles lined up for him soon Update on 1/5: Max @ ImpassionedCinema just reported that Benedict will be joining JJ Abram’s Star Trek sequel! Not sure yet what role he’ll be playing but my hunch says he’ll be the villain.
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On a related note, THR just announced the top five breakout stars of 2012 list. Look for another actors-spotlight post in the next few months highlighting a couple of ‘em on that list once I see more of their work.


Any thoughts on any of these actors? Let’s hear it in the comments.