My oh my — as far as cinema is concerned, it seems safe to say 2013 has been a banner year at both the theater and in the living room, with loads of films making noise at the box office and via Video On Demand (VOD) services. My Letterboxd profile tells me that, as of today, I’ve got about 20 films competing for a spot on my year-end “Top 10” list, a stunning observation given we still have two months and change left in the year, and those next 11-odd weeks are what those in the industry tend to call “prestige season.” Studios generally like to hold off on releasing their respective awards contenders until year-end, leaving them at the very front of critics’ and voters’ minds come ballot-punching time.
There are more than a dozen films left to be released that I’m still anxious to see, which spells happiness for my movie-loving heart, but likely trouble for my decision-making abilities as I pare down my list of the year’s best films to ten titles. Oh well; any time I have trouble putting together one of these lists because there were too many great films, I see that as a blessing, not a problem.
All that said, here are the five 2013 films — trailers included for your viewing pleasure — yet to be released that I am most excited to finally lay my eyes on, as well as a smattering of other not-yet-released movies I’m looking forward to (note: all release dates are for wide releases).
5. The Wolf of Wall Street || Release Date: December 25
Word has just leaked that we will, in fact, see this one before the year is out, and on Christmas Day no less! Director Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker have been paring down the film from a reported three-hour long, potentially NC-17 rated cut — which I would kill to see, but we likely never will. Regardless, whatever the final product ends up being, I’m excited. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street tells the true story of Jordan Belfort, a wealthy stockbroker in his twenties who turned to a life of crime and corruption. The trailer below gives off a very dark-comedy vibe, which makes me all the more excited to see what this film has to offer.
4. All Is Lost || Release Date: October 25
J.C. Chandor’s followup to the critically acclaimed Margin Call is a one-man tale of survival, a film whose cast begins and ends with septuagenarian actor Robert Redford. The ambition is most certainly there, and if the buzz out of a number of film festivals is to be believed, this could well be one of the year’s best films. I’m certainly counting on it to be; at the very least, it’ll be a battle between Gravity (review), Captain Phillips (review), and All Is Lost for the title of “year’s best survival film.”
3. Inside Llewyn Davis || Release Date: December 20
The only justification I even need for this one sitting near the top of my list is to say that it’s a new feature directed by the brothers Coen. This one comes with a great cast, good music, and a story that looks great to boot. Add to that the adoration for it out of Cannes — Inside Llewyn Davis finished behind only Blue is the Warmest Color, taking home the Grand Prix award as the fest’s second best film — and it seems this is yet another potentially fantastic Coen film.
2. Her || Release Date: January 10 (2014)
It won’t be released wide until early January, but hopefully Spike Jonze’s Her finds its way to Phoenix when it is released in limited theaters in December. This film wasn’t even on my radar until a couple of months ago, but after seeing the trailer below, it shot right up near the top. I like dark films, but 2013 seems almost excessively dour — see Prisoners, Gravity, and Captain Phillips, among others — so Her looks like solid, light-hearted counter-programming. And also, Rooney Mara plays a role in the film, so it’s got that going for it as well.
1. American Hustle || Release Date: December 25
Ah, David O. Russell. You made my favorite movie of 2012 — Silver Linings Playbook, in case anyone was wondering — and you turn right around and make a film that looks to be one of the funnest, most well-cast period crime dramas this side of GoodFellas. Buzz around the movie blogosphere — without, of course, considering there are more than two months left of films to see — is that the Oscar Best Picture race is between 12 Years A Slave and Gravity. But I’ve had American Hustle tabbed as my frontrunner since before the golden statue was handed to Argo last year, and I’m sticking with it until I have reason to believe otherwise.
The Rest (a.k.a. Honorable Mentions)
The Counselor || Release Date: October 25
12 Years A Slave || Release Date: November 1
Dallas Buyers Club || Release Date: November 1
Blue is the Warmest Color || Release Date: November 8
Frozen || Release Date: November 27
Philomena || Release Date: November 27
Out of the Furnace || Release Date: December 6
Anchorman: The Legend Continues || Release Date: December 20
The Monuments Men || Release Date: December 20
Saving Mr. Banks || Release Date: December 20
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty || Release Date: December 25