2013 Fall Movie Preview


Want to know how good a movie season I think fall 2013 will be? Check out my list of honorable mentions: Blue Is the Warmest Color, Dallas Buyers Club, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Oldboy, Parkland, The Past, Prisoners, Rush. That’s a strong-ass crop of films if I ever saw one, yet none could even crack my top 15. This year, while not without its highlights, has been awfully underwhelming so far, but I’m counting on 2013 being crazy backloaded. So with that, I give you my annual fall movie preview—the top 15 most-anticipated titles for the rest of 2013.

15.) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I got major Benjamin Button vibes from the killer trailer for Ben Stiller’s latest directorial effort, and if you know anything about me, you know that’s quite an enticing prospect. It wasn’t too high on my radar before that trailer hit; I like the short story it’s based on, but that was about it. Now, I think it could end up a serious Oscar contender and a flat-out brilliant movie.

14.) Nebraska

Two years ago, I wrote in this very column that if an Alexander Payne movie was coming out in any given year, there was a good chance it was topping my most-anticipated list. That year, it was The Descendants, and it absolutely did top my Fall Movie Preview. Nebraska, improbably, barely cracks this list. Is it because the film didn’t receive all rave reviews at Cannes? Is it because The Descendants didn’t exactly live up to my expectations? Something else entirely? Yeah, I think it’s because the fall of 2013 is straight-up loaded.

13.) 12 Years a Slave

Like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, this one wasn’t much on my radar until I caught a glimpse at its incredible trailer. I’ve written extensively on how off-putting I’ve found Steve McQueen’s films to date, but he seems to be swinging for something more emotionally involving here, which is great news to me.

12.) The Fifth Estate

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Julian Assange. That was all I needed to hear before buying into this based-on-a-true-story dramatic thriller from director Bill Condon, who has finally been released from the shackles of The Twilight Saga. Another film with a great trailer, The Fifth Estate fits right into my cinematic sweet spot.

11.) Her

No, this isn’t the Ann Veal-focused Arrested Development spin-off we’ve all been waiting for. Instead, it’s Spike Jonze’s return to the director’s chair. I’ll let you decide which prospect sounds more enticing, but with Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, and Where the Wild Things Are to Jonze’s name, I’ll go with the latter.

10.) The Counselor

The buzz for Ridley Scott’s latest is a little quiet—maybe because it seems like it’s bypassing all the major fall festivals. Whatever the reason, I’m nonetheless expecting greatness out of the first film to come from a Cormac McCarthy-penned original screenplay.

9.) Labor Day

Jason Reitman directs, Kate Winslet stars, and I don’t see how this movie misses.

8.) All Is Lost

I just recently rewatched J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call, and my goodness, what a deceptively good film that is. With All Is Lost, he apparently avoids a sophomore slump and coaxes an all-time great Robert Redford performance—and a nearly silent one at that—out of the beloved veteran actor.

7.) Foxcatcher

An 11th hour addition to his list, Foxcatcher only nabbed an official release date—December 20—a couple weeks ago. It’s been on my radar all year long, so it’s nice to see Sony Pictures Classics has some faith in director Bennett Miller and his picture. I certainly have faith in Miller; his Moneyball is a modern masterpiece. And the cast is certainly interesting with Steve Carell playing against type as a murderous millionaire. So curious, so excited.

6.) The Monuments Men

Whether it’s an “Oscar movie” or not, I’ve had The Monuments Men circled on my 2013 film lineup since January 1. George Clooney is my favorite actor, and his directorial efforts are pretty damn good, too. The rest of the cast is super strong—Damon, Blanchett, Goodman, Dujardin, Murray, Balaban. I dig the film’s trailer and subject matter. Like some others on here, I don’t see how it misses.

5.) Inside Llewyn Davis

It’s always nice to know a highly anticipated film is actually really good. I’d be excited for the Coen Brothers’ latest even if no one had seen it and raved about it (like most of the other titles on this list). But when the film is a Grand Prix winner and arguably the best-reviewed title in Competition at Cannes 2013, it makes it easy to be really excited for it.

4.) American Hustle

My predicted 2014 Best Picture winner comes from on-fire writer-director David O. Russell, whose Silver Linings Playbook was one of the best films 2012 had to offer. This one looks a little flashier. The cast is bigger (and filled with now Russell regulars like Cooper, Lawrence, Adams, and Bale), and the breezy tone set by the awesome trailer is right in lockstep with Silver Linings.

3.) The Wolf of Wall Street

Scorsese and DiCaprio. They’ve gone us right four times before, and two of those turned out to be all-time great Scorsese pictures. Like so many on this list (as well as the two above it), The Wolf of Wall Street has a terrific trailer. I’m also excited to see what Matthew McConaughey brings to the table. In the hands of great directors, he’s given some special performances.

2.) Captain Phillips

Paul Greengrass helmed what I think is the best film of the entire millennium so far—United 93. That movie gives him a lifetime pass, as far as I’m concerned, to make dogshit films and still have my respect. But he hasn’t made any dogshit films. On the contrary, The Bourne Ultimatum and Green Zone are quite excellent, so here’s looking at you, Captain Phillips, to carry the mantle of greatness.

1.) Gravity

In the end, the competition for this spot was almost nonexistent. Alfonso Cuaron hasn’t been behind the camera since 2006’s Children of Men, which only places a couple slots behind United 93 when it comes to the new millennium’s movies. Gravity, meanwhile, looks bonkers. It’s the kind of ambitious project I can’t help but admire from afar, and typically love when I finally get close to it…which we are…just one more month.

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