Oh my God it's 2013. I feel so goddamn old. I'm surprised I can even get out bed in the morning without shattering into a hundred thousand pieces. With so much ugliness, aguish and horror in the world it is a miracle I don't just stick my head in the oven.
There are a few things that keep me from doing that, of course. There's the way the air feels different on your skin at the change of the season and there's the marital pact of non-reciprocal birthday blow jobs. There are, also, if you hunt them down, really good movies. 2012 was a great year and, if we don't all destroy ourselves, we may live to see some more in 2013.
Since I hit quite a few film festivals in 2012 I've already seen a number fantastic movies that have distribution deals set up for 2013. Hell, I can name eleven great movies you can look forward to next year right now. They are: The Act of Killing, The Attack, Frances Ha, The Gatekeepers. Kon-Tiki, No, Room 237, Sightseers, Spring Breakers, Welcome to Pine Hil and You're Next.
I'm really curious to see if anything is going to top Frances Ha, which I love out all proportion and think is a natural successor to Woody Allen's Manhattan. If I were a betting man, it would be one of the following, my ten most anticipated films of 2013.
10) Pacific Rim
I stand in defiance of the rest of the online critics community. I merely like Guillermo Del Toro. Everything the man has done, even Pan's Labyrinth has left me wondering what everyone else is connecting to that isn't reaching me. I get what he's going for and I recognize his exuberance and his eye, but I can't tell a lie – it always falls just a little bit short of brilliant.
But here's hoping that changes! I've seen the sizzle reel for Pacific Rim with the volume cranked to eleven on two separate occasions and it has left me breathless. As long as there is blood in my veins I'll want to see giant robots defending our citizenry from monsters. And just on principle I support a big budget summer movie that ins't based on a pre-existing property. Even with the dramatic vacuum that is Charlie Hunnam in the cast, I'm excited for this one.
9) Goltzius and the Pelican Company
In the late 1980s a new film from Peter Greenaway was a major arthouse event. He was discussed and analyzed in the same hushed tones as David Lynch. The kids today don't know from Greenaway and that's a shame. His only work this millennium was the disappointing Nightwatching and the complex multimedia Tulse Luper Suitcases project that, frankly, seems way too complicated to approach. This new one, alas, is part of a similar cycle on Flemish painters as Nightwatching, but it at least promises to have lots of sex. It always strikes me how little of an impression Greenaway has made with younger American cinephiles – and I direct anyone who is unfamiliar with his work to check out 1980's The Falls immediately. It is a deadpan and dense blend of science fiction and comedy and the closest we'll ever get to having the Thomas Pynchon vibe put to film. (And with that the gauntlet is thrown in Paul Thomas Anderson's face!)
8) Side Effects
Stephen Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns, teaming once more to make you feel sick!
The teaser to Side Effects implies a straight-up tale of hubris and Jekyll and Hyde, but Soderbergh has been about the bait and switch in his trailers for quite some time. It could go one of two ways. If this is a simple B-movie we get the raw energy of Haywire. If it's got more artful aspirations we get The Girlfriend Experience in the world of pharmaceuticals. Either way we win.
7) Thor: The Dark World
A funny thing happened on the way to The Avengers. I fell in love with Thor. He's my favorite of Earth's Mightiest Heroes because he's the goofiest. And the dreamiest. His relationship with Jane Foster is the only one in the Marvelverse that has any real fire to it (possibly due to Natalie Portman simply reacting as a human being to Thor's luscious gold locks and meaty pectoral muscles and oh, excuse me, I do believe I'm gettin' the vapors.)
The first Thor was marred by shoehorning S.H.I.E.L.D. in there as well as the usual origin stuff. Here's hoping this one can be all batshit battles and fish-out-of-water comedy. And more Sif! She's a doll!
This year's Comic-Con sizzle reel of Elysium was one of the best things we saw – and that includes oogling three friends dressed as Power Girl, Poison Ivy and Zatanna – the Neopolitan ice cream dish of nerdboy fantasies!
I'd really like District 9 not to be a fluke, wouldn't you? I think Neill Blomkamp has what it takes to be a striking action director with a social conscience. I don't think Matt Damon would align himself with a less-than action project at this stage of his career. While the footage I saw flew by at light speed, the floating “ringworld” had a striking look to it and the fighting sequences has some real pop.
5) The East
Much like Blomkamp, I want the partnership of Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling to be more than a one-hit wonder. I have a hunch they won't be. Sound of My Voice was my third favorite movie of 2012, even though I saw it in January 2011. It merely grew in estimation with time. I also had the good fortune to interview Ms. Marling and I can tell you it's no bullshit. She really is some kind of charismatic genius from the future.
I don't know too much about what this new one is about. I'm deliberately keeping myself in the dark. From a sizzle-reel I saw (but didn't hear) at a Fox Searchlight party I'm pretty sure it uses a mix of video and film stock. Luckily it will have its debut at Sundance so I only have to wait a few weeks before I can not-stop-talking about it.
Alfonso Cuaron already has two masterpieces under his belt: Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men. He also made the best of the Harry Potter films, though in my unpopular opinion that isn't too large of an achievement. Nevertheless the word is that this outer space adventure opens with a twenty-minute sequence with no cuts. At least that's what I heard about a year ago – or maybe even two. Again, keeping myself in the dark as best as possible – and also withholding judgement on casting. Sandra Bullock as comedienne, sure. As astronaut? We'll see.
3) Only Lovers Left Alive
There's still nobody cooler than Jim Jarmusch. Discovering his sardonic, slightly-booze saturated and understated films at the right age really helped me develop my taste in cinema. (That and Mel Brooks – yeah, I'm a man of many contradictions, what can I say?) If anyone else in the world were preparing a film about vampires I'd tell them to take a walk, but the fact that Jarmusch is taking a stab now that the topic is so, so done is just perfect. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in Cologne, Tangiers and Detroit sounds just about right to me. I pray it is in black and white and has a very specific sampling of music selections. Oh, I can't wait for this one to baffle the belligerent mainstream.
2) Star Trek Into Darkness
I'm much calmer than I was the last time. I literally lost sleep over the 2009 Star Trek. That is so humiliating to admit, but you can ask my wife. I'd be sighing and tossing and turning and she'd ask what was wrong and I'd confess, “what if they mess up Star Trek?” That she didn't immediately call Jacoby & Meyers is a testament to her fortitude.
Truth is, even with quibbles, Star Trek (2009) was great. I mean, think about just how bad it could have been. Look at The Thing and Total Recall. So if this new one sucks. . .it's okay. It can be explained away as just a bad movie, not death to the franchise. (I mean, let's be fair, even to an extreme Star Trek fanatic like myself, I have to admit there are plenty of dreadful episodes and films on the franchise's resume.) The Bad Robot way of doing things can be frustrating for fans, so all we can do for now is wait and try not to freak out.
1) Inside Llewyn Davis
My favorite living filmmakers are Joel and Ethan Coen and one of the topics I've been most fascinated with my whole life is the folk revivalist scene in Greenwich Village during the 1960s. Inside Llewyn Davis is a Joel and Ethan Coen film about the folk revivalist scene in Greenwich Village during the 1960s. Seems like a slam dunk.
It is said to be based on Dave Van Ronk's autobiography – a man I had the good fortune to see a number of time when I was a youngster stomping around lower Manhattan in my 20s. I almost feel like this project is being made just for me.
Notable Omission: The lack of Man of Steel is no mistake. I'm a longtime DC fanboy, but you are currently reading the words of a man with a serious case of NSF: Nolan-Snyder Fatigue. You've got til June 14th to turn that around, Warner Bros. Time to go to work!