We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.
The Summer Movie season is nearly over, which means that the multiplex is about to get deeper and more diverse in the final months of 2013. The Fall movie season is usually the time when the big Oscar contenders get released, and there are definitely a lot of them coming out in the next few months, but this particular Fall offers a lot more variety than in most other years, with releases that are sure to please any filmgoing demographic. Here are the upcoming releases that I am particularly anxious to see.
Gravity, opening October 4th
2013 has been a relatively strong year for science fiction, and the newest film from Mexican auteur Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien) has the makings of one of the most thrilling films of that genre. Gravity looks like a fairly simple story of two astronauts played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock getting lost in space when their shuttle malfunctions, but given Cuaron’s track record, it’s sure to provide some genuine suspense and make the two characters endearing and memorable to the audience. The teaser trailer that was released a few months ago hooked me immediately, and the advance footage from Comic-Con last month generated a lot of positive buzz, so chances are good that Gravity will be a surprise hit, even with its two superstar leads.
Carrie, opening October 18th
2013 has also been a fairly strong year for remakes, speared by Fede Alvarez’s awesome Evil Dead. October brings us yet another updated version of a horror classic with Carrie, directed by Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry) and starring Chloe Grace Moretz as the title teen outcast and Julianne Moore as her insanely abusive mother. Much like Evil Dead, I had low expectations at first for this updated version of Stephen King’s bestselling horror novel and Brian De Palma’s 1976 movie adaptation, but the impressive teaser and the amount of talent involved has piqued my interest enough to make me curious to see how this new version stands up to its predecessor and to see if it erases the laughable 1999 sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 from our collective memory.
Thor: The Dark World, opening November 8th
Marvel Studios makes its Fall debut with the sequel to its fun 2011 superhero flick Thor. Judging from the newly-released trailer, this new Thor film is going to spend more time on Asgard than on Earth and will feature a reluctant team-up between the heroic God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) and his estranged brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) against Malekith the Accursed (played by former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston). There is also massive speculation online that Thor’s lady love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is going to meet an unfortunate end sometime in the course of the film. Regardless of what happens in the movie and whether it contains any explicit ties to The Avengers or the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Thor: The Dark World should carry on the tradition of massive box office hits coming out of Marvel’s cinematic wing.
The Wolf of Wall Street, opening November 15th
On the more prestigious end of the Fall Movie Season, November brings us the latest from one of the world’s greatest living directors, Martin Scorsese. The Wolf of Wall Street reteams the master auteur with frequent collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio for this account of the rise-and-fall of a real life New York City stockbroker. Scorsese is famous for showing the seamier side of the Big Apple, and the initial trailer for Wolf makes it look like a white-collar Goodfellas, only with way more dwarf-tossing and Kanye West tunes. DiCaprio is joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler, and Jon “ShaneHouse” Bernthal. Scorsese’s name alone is reason enough to get me excited about a film, and The Wolf of Wall Street looks like another must-see film from him.
Oldboy, opening November 27th
Going back to remakes I never thought I’d want to see, November brings us the U.S. remake of the 2003 South Korean masterpiece Oldboy, directed by none other than indie film pioneer, number one Knicks fan, and Kickstarter enthusiast Spike Lee. When this film was announced a little over a year ago, many doubted the divisive Lee’s ability to faithfully adapt the much-loved Park Chan-Wook thriller for American audiences, but based on the red-band trailer that was released a few weeks ago, it appears that Lee has nailed that original film’s gritty and oppressive atmosphere. The cast, headed up by Josh Brolin and featuring Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, and District 9 ‘s Sharlto Copley, is also quite impressive. Lee has said that this version of Oldboy is going to follow the original manga more closely than the Korean film and will be even more disturbing, which is quite a bold statement considering how violent and unsettling the first film was. That statement, coupled with the images I’ve seen so far, has made the new Oldboy one of the top films I can’t wait to see this Fall.
Inside Llewyn Davis, opening December 6th
Speaking of iconic filmmakers, 2013 also brings us the newest film from multiple Oscar-winners Joel and Ethan Coen. Inside Llewyn Davis details a week in the life of a struggling folk singer in early 1960’s New York and features an interesting cast including Oscar Isaacs, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and Coen regular John Goodman. The subject is quite a departure from the Coens and looks to be a quieter, more subtle film than their most popular works, but fans of the talented twosome know that they can work wonders with any genre or subject, and I have all the faith in the world that Inside Llewyn Davis will no doubt carry the trademark Coen wit and superb filmmaking found in all their other films.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, opening December 13th
The final month of 2013 takes us back to Middle-Earth for the second film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. While many have criticized Jackson and Warner Brothers for splitting the story of a single novel into three movies (myself included), the first Hobbit film did feature glimpses of the magic he brought to his award-winning Lord of the Rings films. The Desolation of Smaug is sure to contain more tension and drama than the uneven first Hobbit film, mostly because it will center on the confrontation between Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins and the monstrous dragon Smaug, voiced by Freeman’s Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch, fresh from his role as (name redacted) in Star Trek: Into Darkness. The verbal sparring between the timid Hobbit and his fire-breathing foe will be enough for me to want to see this, though Jackson still has a way to go in order to convince me that he needs three movies to tell this story.
Anchorman: The Legend Continues, opening December 20th
Will Ferrell is an acquired taste to many filmgoers, but few can deny that his breakout 2004 film Anchorman is one of the funniest and most quotable comedies of the past decade. This December, we will be treated to more adventures of the egocentric newsman Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his dim-witted entourage (Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, and David Koechner) with Anchorman: The Legend Continues. The cast includes some familiar faces from the first movie (Vince Vaughn, Christina Applegate, Luke Wilson) as well as newcomers to the Anchorman franchise such as John C. Reilly, Sascha Baron Cohen, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, and Harrison Ford. The plot revolves around Ron’s resurgence as an anchor for a 24-hour news channel, but odds are the actual story will take a back seat to the absurd, non sequitur humor that made the first Anchorman such a cult hit. Hopefully the laughs will be just as big the second time around, and I frankly can’t wait to find out.
Saving Mr. Banks, opening December 20th
Just in time for Oscar season, Disney unveils a movie detailing the difficult professional relationship between the legendary Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and the writer P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) during the production of Mary Poppins in the early sixties. While the involvement of director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and the co-writer of the upcoming Fifty Shades of Gray adaptation don’t bode well for this Hollywood docudrama, the talented leads and the stellar supporting cast that includes Colin Ferrell, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Griffiths, Jason Schwartzman, and Bradley Whitford will hopefully make up for what will surely be an overly schmaltzy endeavor. The always-charming Hanks will no doubt be an Oscar frontrunner for playing one of the most beloved figures in movie history, as will the always-charming Thompson, but time will tell whether the movie itself will be worthy of what will surely be two extremely entertaining performances.
Her, opening December 20th
If the previous film is a little too conventional for your tastes, we also have the latest film from quirkmaster Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). Her stars the enigmatic Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who cultivates a quasi-relationship with a Jarvis-esque artificial intelligence voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The involvement of the always-interesting Jonze and the impressive cast (which includes Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde) promises that Her will be more than just an updated remake of the Eighties sci-fi comedy Electric Dreams and may actually make some profound statements about our current relationship with technology. Perhaps this film may also finally land Phoenix that Oscar he no longer cares about receiving.
American Hustle, opening December 25th
Christmas Day brings us the newest film from two-time Oscar nominee David O. Russell with a cast comprised of nearly everyone who has worked with him before who is still on speaking terms with him. Set during the swinging seventies, American Hustle tells the story of a pair of New Jersey con artists (Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale) who are forced to cooperate with the feds and entrap other criminals. While the plot itself isn’t that original, the period milieu and impressive cast (including such diverse talents as Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro, Jeremy Renner, and Louis C.K.) should make for another entertaining Fall hit for the versatile director, who scored big with 2010’s The Fighter and last year’s Silver Linings Playbook. Based on the success of those previous movies, American Hustle might be one of the big Oscar contenders for 2013.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, opening December 25th
Also opening on Christmas Day is director / star Ben Stiller’s eagerly-awaited adaptation of the beloved James Thurber short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Stiller plays the title character, a bored office drone who continually daydreams of more exciting and adventurous activities. While this will more than likely not be a straight adaptation of the original story or the 1947 Danny Kaye film, we can hope that the humor and whimsy of the original tale will stay at the heart of Stiller’s updated version. Early audience reaction to the trailers have been enthusiastically positive, and the cast includes a number of appealing comedic actors such as Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Patton Oswalt, and Kathryn Hahn, as well as screen veterans Sean Penn and Shirley MacLaine. Odds are that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty will reestablish Ben Stiller as a major comedic force after nearly a decade of bland Meet The Parents sequels.