Most Anticipated Films of 2013: A Supplement

All around the Internet, most movie bloggers are taking it easy this week. And by “taking it easy,” I mean “rampantly and recklessly predicting next year’s Oscars sight-unseen.” We’ve barely finished with one of the most contentious, entertaining seasons in recent memory; barely crowned “Argo” champion; barely stopped griping about the ceremony itself (on second thought, we’re nowhere near done griping about that yet). But hey – what’s going to be contending for an Oscar NEXT year??

At this point, I don’t really want to talk about what has a shot at getting an Oscar next year. That’s really just pointless. But as evidenced by my large Most Anticipated Films of 2013 list, I do like looking ahead at interesting projects on the horizon. And to that end, all these year-out contender articles have alerted me to some films that I missed when I was putting together that list a few weeks ago. My first part was pretty heavy on Sundance titles – here’s a few more prestige projects to keep an eye on.

August: Osage County

Directed by John Wells, written by Tracy Letts, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard

Release date: 2013, The Weinstein Company

Watch out, everyone: Streep is back in the house. Letts’ adaptation of his own Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play, itself a rework of Alexandre Dumas, fils’ “The Lady of the Camellias” (aka “Camille”), should be a fantastic vehicle for its terrific ensemble cast to shine. Wells hasn’t really established himself on film yet (pretty much just the little-seen Ben Affleck drama “The Company Men”) but his TV work on “ER,” “The West Wing,” “Southland” and “Shameless” suggests he could do at least a solid job with this family/addiction drama.

The Counselor

Directed by Ridley Scott, written by Cormac McCarthy, starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz

Release date: Nov. 15, Fox

The plot here is standard potboiler fare – Fassbender plays a lawyer who gets caught up in drug trafficking – but “The Counselor” is sure to grab a lot of attention for being acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay. The star power attached is also attractive, but Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” and “Body of Lies” also looked great from this far out (not so much up close). Can McCarthy make the difference?

Foxcatcher

Directed by Bennett Miller, written by E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, starring Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave

Release date: 2013, Sony

Miller really hasn’t missed yet, with his two major features before this, “Capote” and “Moneyball,” both scoring best picture Oscar nods. “Foxcatcher” might be more notable though, for Steve Carell following in the long tradition of comedians taking on a dramatic role to be taken “seriously” – the film follows the true life story of John du Pont, millionaire wrestling enthusiast and paranoid schizophrenic convicted of murdering his friend Dave Schultz (Ruffalo). Can Carell be more of a Bill Murray than an Adam Sandler?

Grace of Monaco

Directed by Olivier Dahan, written by Arash Amel, starring Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Parker Posey

Release date: 2013, The Weinstein Company

Another biopic, but a far more pleasant topic this time around – the transformation of actress Grace Kelly, unofficial princess of Hollywood, into the real-life Princess of Monaco. Kidman is an intriguing choice to fill Kelly’s legendary shoes; but will the film amount to much more than royalty porn?

Labor Day

Directed and written by Jason Reitman, starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguire

Release date: 2013, Paramount

Reitman has made himself at home with black comedy (“Thank You For Smoking,” “Young Adult”) and dramedy (“Juno,” “Up in the Air”), but “Labor Day” seems to be taking a more serious turn: Winslet stars as a single mother whose young adolescent son convinces her to bring home a mysterious man (Brolin) who turns out to be an escaped convict. This one could suffer from misplaced expectations – hopefully the studio will know how to sell the tone right, considering how much Reitman often walks the line.

A Most Wanted Man

Directed by Anton Corbijn, written by Andrew Bovell, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Brühl, Willem Dafoe, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright

Release date: no distribution

I was a big fan of Corbijn’s understated, moody spy thriller “The American” a couple years ago – which makes me all the more ecstatic that someone had the brilliant idea to pair him up with a John le Carré novel. It’s one of le Carré’s contemporary-set, not-as-critically-acclaimed works, but still – post 9/11 paranoia and the spycraft of the war on terror should be great material for Corbijn’s meticulous visual sensibility.

Nebraska

Directed by Alexander Payne, written by Bob Nelson, starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, Stacey Keach

Release date: 2013, Paramount

A father and son (Dern and Forte) travel from Montana to Nebraska to claim prize money, visiting the father’s various creditors along the way. Though there aren’t any big acting names on board, the last time Alexander Payne did a road trip movie, we got the brilliant “Sideways;” and taking “Election,” “About Schmidt” and “The Descendants” into account, the man really hasn’t ever stepped wrong.

Oldboy

Directed by Spike Lee, written by Mark Protosevich, starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley

Release date: Oct. 11, FilmDistrict

This film had been stuck in limbo for so long I didn’t even notice it was finally getting made. I don’t know if it’s fitting, but it’s certainly eerie that in the year that South Korean iconoclast Park Chan-wook makes his American debut (“Stoker”), the Hollywood recycling machine has finally caught up to his signature film. Will Lee hold on to the original revenge thriller’s grisly, intentionally provocative genre elements? And even if he does, what will he bring to the story to justify a redo?

Out of the Furnace

Directed by Scott Cooper, written by Cooper and Matt Ingelsby, starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard

Release date: 2013, Relativity Media

The time has really flown by, but it’s already been over three years since Cooper’s debut film “Crazy Heart” picked up a couple Oscars. Based on a reworked Blacklist screenplay, “Out of the Furnace” follows two brothers (Bale and Affleck) who get involved with a crime syndicate in a Rust Belt mill town. Sounds solid enough to me – but can I just mention how excited I am that Sam Shepard keeps popping up in so many of these ensemble films? We can never have too much Sam Shepard.

Serena

Directed by Susanne Bier, written by Christopher Kyle, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans

Release date: no distribution

Bier has built herself a great career in her native Denmark (“Brothers,” “After the Wedding,” the Oscar-winning “In a Better World”) but her first Hollywood attempt (2007’s “Things We Lost in the Fire”) didn’t go so hot. Maybe things will go better this time – certainly it’s not the worst idea to reunite one of 2012’s most successful on-screen couples. Lawrence and Cooper star as newlyweds in Depression-era North Carolina, as Cooper’s timber empire starts to collapse.

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