Coming attractions

catching_fireThrough the first seven months of 2013, I’ve seen only 11 movies (they’re listed over on the right). That’s pretty sad by my standards, even given the fact that my in-theater movie consumption has decreased in recent years.

I can name about ten more that I wish I’d seen (and will catch up with on DVD, I hope), but none that I’m truly kicking myself over.

However, the back half of the year promises to deliver a bunch of films with real potential. I have identified 16 upcoming movies I’m eager to see and listed them below in order of least to most anticipation.

For the record, the final episodes of Breaking Bad take the crown as the work I’m most dying to experience, but these big-screen efforts are next in line.

16. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – Lee Daniels

This film could be amazing or intolerable. The trailer and the cast argue for amazing, but sometimes it’s the seemingly sure things that fail the most miserably. I’ll wait for the reviews before committing to what looks to be a long film, but I’m definitely intrigued.

15. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Ben Stiller

It looks like Ben Stiller has been borrowing some shots from his former director Wes Anderson for his take on the classic short story. This Walter Mitty has visual flair to spare but the question is whether the script will match it. I hope so.

14. Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen

Woody Allen earns a spot on this list no matter what he does, and this one is getting great reviews. Probably worth seeing for Cate Blanchett’s performance alone. I have it this low only because it looks like one of Allen’s darker dramas and that’s when he has the hardest time winning me over.

13. Lone Survivor – Peter Berg

Battleship aside, Peter Berg has assembled a pretty strong directorial résumé, and this true tale of Navy SEAL heroism looks like a nod back to his work on The Kingdom. Bonus points for a strong cast of young actors.

12. Oldboy – Spike Lee

I’m happy to see Spike Lee behind the camera rather than courtside at a Heat-Knicks game. The original Korean film Oldboy is one of the most twisted movies I’ve seen and it looks like Lee has crafted a very faithful adaptation. I’m not a fan of the practice of remaking foreign films in general, but this one has the potential to be more The Departed than Point of No Return.

11. I’m So Excited – Pedro Almodovar

Anything Almodovar does is worth seeing… he’s one of the finest auteurs working in cinema today. This looks lightweight as hell — a relief after the creepy The Skin I Live In — and perhaps a throwback to Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

10. The Spectacular Now – James Ponsoldt

I read a review recently that called this high school dramedy the best film about young love since Say Anything…. That’s high praise — probably too high — but it’s the kind of thing that will get me to the theater.

9. August: Osage County – John Wells

This cast bringing a Pulitzer Prize-winning play to the screen… hard not to get excited. I wish the Academy had given the Oscar to Viola Davis a couple of years back and waited until this year to honor Meryl Streep.

8. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Francis Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence, fresh off her Oscar win, takes another turn as Katniss Everdeen in the second installment of the stirring and thought-provoking Hunger Games trilogy. This may not be great cinema, but I’ll be there on opening day.

7. Elysium – Neill Blomkamp

District 9 was such a well-crafted sci-fi flick, and Elysium promises more of the same on a larger scale. Matt Damon seems to always make interesting choices.

6. All Is Lost – J.C. Chandor

I’d heard nothing about this man-at-sea character study until rapturous reviews started showing up just a few days ago. If the write-ups are to be believed, this thing is breathtaking, life-changing, spellbinding and a dozen other -ing words. Redford might be on his way to an Oscar at 76. I’m extremely curious.

5. 12 Years a Slave – Steve McQueen

This is kind of the flip side of The Butler, and another film that could go either way, quality-wise. But Steve McQueen strikes me as a director who will handle this material well, and what an incredible story it is. I’m also excited to see Chiwetel Ejiofor in a starring role.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese

I hope this movie is half as good as its trailer.

3. American Hustle – David O. Russell

Russell has assembled the casts of his last two Oscar-winning films (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence) for a film that looks like his take on Scorsese.

2. Inside Llewyn Davis – The Coen Brothers

The best in the business. Doesn’t matter what they do, I’m there.

1. Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron

Cuaron’s first film since 2006’s astounding Children of Men promises to be just as gripping and ground-breaking.

5 thoughts on “Coming attractions

  1. pegclifton says:

    I just read all your choices and have to go back and review the trailers of the ones (which are most of them) that I haven’t seen. I know that August Osage County is right up there because we saw the play and LOVED it, and it won the tony for best play AND the pulitzer that year. I’m still hanging back on “I’m so excited” because the reviews were iffy. I have no interest in the sci fi stuff even though I’m a big fan of Damon’s. I agree about The Butler, it could be the greatest or not, but we’re definitely going to be there. I was surprised that Captain Philips wasn’t on your list (Tom Hanks for god’s sake!) but it’s on ours. I’m looking forward to reviewing the trailers later on. Thanks!

  2. Amy says:

    1) I agree with most of your choices and your rationale behind them.
    2) Why haven’t you seen I’m so Excited yet? It has been out in the theaters for a few weeks already.
    3) Eager to have a reason to pronounce Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name again.
    4) The one I’ve heard most about is 12 Years a Slave, as Daniel and Maddie have been discussing it for months due to the presence of Faasbende and Cumberbatch. Very amusing to see their fascination with the X-Men and Shelock lead them to this decidedly more serious fare.
    5) Never heard of All is Lost until this blog post!!
    6) just saw the trailer for the new Coen brothers film the other day. CAN’T WAIT!!!
    7) why can’t/ shouldn’t Meryl win yet again if she’s deserving?,
    8) Gravity may just be way too disturbing/sad for me…though I will likely see it.
    9) I would add Rush. That one looks great!
    10) I think Catching Fire can qualify as great cinema despite the fact that it is also a popular franchise. Twilight it ain’t.

  3. Amy says:

    Good call, Mom! Yes, Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks (Emma Thompson, for crying out loud!) are also at the top of our family list.

  4. Amy says:

    Just watched All is Lost trailer. Wow! Though Daniel wonders how its different from Life of Pi without the tiger ;).

  5. Clay says:

    Ah yes, I forgot about Captain Phillips. I’d add that in the 10-12 range. Less convinced about Saving Mr. Banks… that feels like a rental.

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