Disclaimer: I am not clairvoyant, and this list is by no means comprehensive. Based on what little information I have gleaned at this time (made up mostly of press releases, rumors, and IMDB entries), these ten movies are the ones that I am currently aware of which, in my mind, hold the most hope of being worth watching. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of future great movies that I am currently unaware of; many of these movies are independent, small-budget, and have not been marketed enough to appear on my radar. So here is my Christmas wishlist: Santa, please make these movies not suck.
Zero Dark Thirty – January 11 (Wide Release)
Going in, I am fully expecting this movie to be The Hurt Locker 2, and following the rule of sequels, I expect that it will not be as good as the original. I acknowledge that Zero Dark Thirty is not actually a sequel, although it retains the same screenwriter (Mark Boal) and director (Kathryn Bigelow) and looks to follow a similar U.S.-troops-fighting-a-modern-unconventional-war trope. That said, going into a theatre with moderate expectations has paid off for me before (I’m looking at you, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).
Sound City – February (Sundance)
Usually when these types of “most anticipated” lists are made, they are dominated by big-budget blockbusters. While this list will have its share of those (see below), special effects and explosions can only get you so far. I love a good documentary (some recent ones: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Restrepo, and Exit Through the Gift Shop), and Sound City is the one I am most looking forward to. Ever wanted to know where some of the greatest music of all time came from? Then you might want to check it out.
42 – April 12
So, this is my sports movie that isn’t really about sports. If you don’t know already the “42” refers to the number worn by Jackie Robinson, the first player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier. So think more “social history of racism” than “watch people play sports”. Race in sports is a topic which has been tackled before (Remember the Titans, Glory Road, The Great White Hope), but it is about time that Jackie Robinson got the big-screen treatment.
Iron Man 3 – May 3
I think we can all pretty much agree: Iron Man – great, Iron Man 2 – not as great. Not that the second film was bad, it just had a lot to live up to, and a lot of jammed-in Avengers preparatory elements that muddled the story a bit. With all the Avengers build-up out of the way, Iron Man 3 will have a better chance of standing of existing to itself and standing on its own merit. Ben Kingsley as the villain probably won’t hurt either.
Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17
J.J. Abrams successfully breathed new life into the Star Trek franchise with his successful 2009 reboot. The question, as with all sequels, is whether the next film can live up to the expectations from the first. Abrams originally cast Benicio Del Toro as the villain; after Del Toro dropped out, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock himself, was brought in. It will be interesting to see how Cumberbatch performs as an antagonist, and what kind of screen chemistry he has with Kirk/Spock etc.
Man of Steel – June 14
DC’s hopes for a Justice League movie and all the assorted film properties (Wonder Woman, Flash, more Green Lantern?) hinge on this film’s success. Man of Steel doesn’t necessarily have to perform on the level of Dark Knight, but a Batman Begins-type reception would be a step in the right direction. What it truly needs to do is wash the bad taste from filmgoers’ mouths that was left by Superman Returns and Green Lantern.
This is the End – June 14
A.K.A. The Apatow Crowd. So, Seth Rogen is hanging out with pretty much everyone who he ever worked with. And then the world ends. It sounds like somewhat of a self-indulgent meta film-making model, but I’m hoping that the comedic talent (Paul Rudd, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari) will win out.
Pacific Rim – July 12
Guillermo Del Toro? Check. Ron Perlman? Check. Robots and monsters? Check. Another Hellboy movie? Nope, not this time. Throw in Perlman’s “Sons of Anarchy” co-star Charlie Hunham, Prometheus/Thor/“Luther” star Idris Elba, and “It’s Always Sunny” scene-stealer Charlie Day, and make those robots and monsters GIGANTIC, and you’ve got yourself a movie worth seeing.
Elysium – August 9
Elysium is Neill Blomkamp’s second feature film, as well as the much-anticipated follow-up to 2009’s District 9, one of the best sci-fi movies of the past decade. District 9 was a huge step in the right direction for modern sci-fi, as films like it and Moon sought to balance out the terrible, bloated, story-and-heart-less spectacles produced by Michael Bay & Co. Elysium boasts the talents of Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Diego Luna, and District-veteran Sharlto Copley.
The World’s End – October 25
Not to be confused with the aforementioned This is the End. This film is the final chapter of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg “The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy”, begun in Shaun of the Dead and continued in Hot Fuzz. The film brings back mainstay Nick Frost, along with Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Rosamund Pike. If this film is anything like the previous Wright/Pegg endeavors, then you may as well buy a 2013 calendar, flip to October, grab a Sharpie, and mark the 25th as BUSY.