With the avalanche of 2012 Top Ten lists petering out and the Sundance Film Festival a mere two weeks away from introducing what could be this year's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" or "Sleepwalk With Me," it's time to stop reflecting on the past year's cinema and start getting excited about this one's. Because if the 50 films most anticipated by Indiewire's editors listed below are any indication, it looks like a very promising year ahead.
From the work of Steve McQueen, Lars Von Trier and Sofia Coppola to the inspirations of Julian Assange, Linda Lovelace and David Sedaris (not to mention double doses of on-screen magic from Tilda Swinton and Ryan Gosling), here are 50 films likely to be released in 2013 that Indiewire's staff are most excited to see:
"12 Years a Slave"
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano
Distributor: None yet
Release Date: None yet, but it will likely surface at Cannes
Why It Might Be a Must-See: British director Steve McQueen first gained serious critical acclaim in 2007 for his tense prison drama "Hunger," which he followed up with the 2011 drama "Shame," an unnerving portrait of sex addiction. Here, he adapts Solomon Northup's remarkable account of being kidnapped and sold into slavery for a dozen years in the middle of the 19th century. The material is inherently suspenseful and harrowing, since Northup provides a detailed account of slavery's brutal nature in the Deep South. But it's Fassbender's penchant for creating disquieting atmosphere that's well positioned to make this spectacular survival tale come to life and possibly provide one of the more accurate recreations of slavery life in America. (Take that, "Django Unchained.") It also could provide a bigger showcase for Ejiofor, a great underrated character actor. [Eric Kohn]
Director: Paul Weitz
Cast: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: March 8
Why It Might Be a Must-See: All eyes will be on "Admission" to see if the film solidifies Tina Fey as a bona fide movie star that can succeed in projects where other people are calling the shots. "American Pie" director Paul Weitz has the reins on this one, and it is the first major film in which Fey will not play to her comfort zones ("Mean Girls," of course, was written by Fey; "Baby Mama" saw her with pal and Golden Globe co-host Amy Poehler; and "Date Night" played the comedy broad and straight). As "30 Rock" ends, we want all the Fey we can get! [Bryce J. Renninger]
Directors: Martha Shane & Lana Wilson
Distributor: None yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month's Sundance Film Festival
Why It Might Be a Must-See: One of the most divisive issues in contemporary American life -- abortion -- has gotten the documentary treatment before. Recently, there was Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's Sundance doc "12th & Delaware," which was tense enough. Here, Shane and Wilson are dealing with a topic even more intense than an abortion clinic across the street from a Christian clinic that tries to convince women to have their babies; "After Tiller" investigates the four American doctors still performing third-trimester abortions in the aftermath of George Tiller's 2009 murder. With unprecedented access, Shane and Wilson may have made one of the most provocative documentaries of the year. [Bryce J. Renninger]
"August: Osage County"
Director: John Wells
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: TBA, but surely in a prime awards season slot late in the year
Why Might It Be a Must See: The Weinstein Company is surely aiming for Oscar with this adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning 2007 play (Letts also adapted his plays "Bug" and "Killer Joe" for the big screen). With a remarkable cast that includes Streep and Roberts (as mother and daughter!), the film -- written by Letts and directed by "The Company Men" helmer Wells -- is a darkly comic family saga set in Oklahoma. Cinematic adaptations of award-winning plays don't always work (see "Carnage," "Proof," "The History Boys"), but with this high-caliber cast it's difficult not to be optimistic. [Peter Knegt]