Movie Monday: Featuring My Most Anticipated Movies of 2013

Movie Monday

It probably seems a bit odd to many of you that eight months into the year, I’m just now making a list of my most anticipated movies of 2013.
As a self-admitted movie elitist, the truth is that the first three-fourths of the year is made for blockbusters and popcorn flicks, but generally has very few noteworthy films. Think of it like the playoffs: you watch most of the games throughout the season; some of the games are exciting, some are dull, but really you’re just waiting to get to the playoffs – Oscar season! The release of Fruitvale Station signals the beginning of the Movie Playoffs. Of course, not everything on my watchlist is an probable Academy Award candidate…
But okay, yeah. They mostly are.

Here are My Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2013:

Don Jon – 9.27.13
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Synopsis: Jon Martello is a modern day Don Juan who objectifies everything in his life, especially women. His friends call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. But his addiction to porn has made him dissatisfied with life and he sets out on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life.

I’ve long been a Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan – all the way back to the 3rd Rock from the Sun days. Since then I have followed his career and am seldom disappointed in his role choices. (Premium Rush… Why, Jo? WHY?!) This September, JG-L takes on possibly his biggest project yet – directing, writing and starring in a film called Don Jon. Like any 30-something male would, Joseph cast Scarlett Johansson as his leading lady. He also chose Tony Danza as his dad. If that’s not enough to convince you this is a must-see, you’re dead to me. (You know, movie opinion-wise.) While I’m unsure if Don Jon would be the movie I’m most looking forward to, it is the only one that I was sure to make plans this far in advance to see with a friend. That’s saying something.

The Counselor – 10.25.13
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Synopsis: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

Surprise, surprise. Rachael wants to see a movie about a guy who ruins his life by getting involved with drug trafficking. Is anyone shocked by this? I’m guessing no. Other than the morally ambiguous plot description which I adore so much, the movie stars Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem. It’s also written by the guy same guy who wrote No Country for Old Men and is directed by Ridley Scott. With the talent behind it, The Counselor is already receiving some hefty Oscar buzz.

12 Years a Slave – 10.31.13
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Synopsis: In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Another potential Best Picture nominee with Pitt and Fassbender (no surprise with Steve McQueen directing) in the top billed cast, my main draw to this movie is actually Michael Kenneth Williams, known to most as Omar Little on The Wire or maybe Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire. For some reason, I feel that 12 Years a Slave will go mostly unnoticed, but Williams may deliver the most impressive performance of the bunch.

The Wolf of Wall Street – 11.15.13
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Synopsis: Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

Leo. Scorsese. BOOM.

Her – 11.20.13
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Synopsis: Set in Los Angeles, slightly in the future, the movie Her, follows Theodore Twombly, a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha,” a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.

When I originally made this list, Her snuck right by me. In true Spike Jonze style, this film looks really freaking weird. Seeing as Joaquin Phoenix is really freaking weird, I think he’s the perfect choice. Generally something described as a sci-fi romance movie wouldn’t remotely pique my interest, but this one appears to have heart.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – 11.29.13 (limited)
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Synopsis: A chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela is one of those figures that I know I should be more knowledgeable about, but I just haven’t taken the time to research. Lucky for me, my preferred method of learning of film education. So far Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is only set for a limited release. With a unproven director and no big names, I can see the hesitancy. However, writer William Nicholson’s credits also include Gladiator and Les Misérables. Not to mention the fact that Mandela will be portrayed by Idris Elba, one of the most underrated actors working today. It appears Mandela’s story is in good hands.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues – 12.20.13
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Synopsis: After the 1970s brought prosperity to the Channel 4 news team, the group disbands and hits rock bottom until a 24-hour news channel is being put together and the group is recruited to join the channel. The story is moved from San Diego to New York, at the onset of the cable news era in the 1980s.

“One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…”
I’ll be honest, I don’t think this movie is going to be good. None of the previews have impressed me and I kind of hate that they’ve moved the storyline to the 80s, but it’s still Anchorman 2. And it still has Paul Rudd. And I still want to marry Paul Rudd.

Inside Llewyn Davis – 12.20.13
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Synopsis: Follow a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles – some of them of his own making.

First of all, it’s written and directed by the Cohen brothers. That’s really all I should have to say, but I’ll continue… It’s set in the 60s. It’s about folk music. It stars John Goodman. I know I was debating it earlier, but this is definitely my #1 most anticipated movie of 2013. No question.

Saving Mr. Banks – 12.20.13
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Synopsis: The film centers on the life of Travers, shifting between 1907 with her childhood in Queensland, Australia, the negotiations with Walt Disney and the making of Mary Poppins in 1961. While in California for filming, Travers thinks back to her difficult childhood in Australia, most especially to her father, the inspiration for the role of the story’s patriarch, Mr. Banks.

Saving Mr. Banks is one of those movies that will be a perfect storm. It combines a big budget movie studio, major star power courtesy of Tom Hanks and Oscar caliber subject matter that will be appealing to a broad audience. With two unknown TV writers in charge of the screenplay, there’s a strong possibility that the script will not be comparable to the other movies in the Best Picture category, but that won’t matter. It will feel like an Academy Award contender and will be be nominated based on that alone. Think The Blindside (which, ironically, was written and directed by John Lee Hancock… the same director chosen for Saving Mr. Banks).

American Hustle – 12.25.13
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Synopsis: The story of a con artist and his partner in crime, who were forced to work with a federal agent to turn the tables on other cons, mobsters, and politicians – namely, the volatile mayor of impoverished Camden, New Jersey.

Another movie with some significant Oscar buzz, American Hustle seems to me like it could easily tip from awesome to meh. The actors are meh, the director is meh, the writer has barely done anything at all – I can go either way here. In the movie playoffs, I’m naming American Hustle the wild card. Still, it has my attention.

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