"Map to the Stars"
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Rachel Weisz, Robert Pattinson
Distributor: None as of yet.
Release Date: Very likely to premiere in Cannes or Venice or Toronto, with a deal and release date to follow.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Whatever you think of Robert Pattison becoming David Cronenberg's newfound muse, their second collaboration in as many years looks mighty appealing. The long-delayed "Map to The Stars" also brings Cronenberg's other righthand man Viggo Mortensen along for the ride (as well as Rachel Weisz), and is said to be a complex Hollywood satire... It's also the first film the Canadian director has actually shot in America. [Peter Knegt]
Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Michael Shannon
Release date: Nothing set, but Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions picked the movie up for distribution at Cannes last May and plan to release it this year.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Nichols' follow-up to the phenomenal, dreamlike blue collar drama "Take Shelter" premiered at the very end of Cannes, which many people anticipated as a bad sign only to be pleasantly surprised. The story follows the titular fugitive on the lam from police and bounty hunters while attempting to reunited with his wife. Nichols' ability to blend poetic landscapes and tense, high stakes mystery, so evident in "Take Shelter," has been elevated to a potentially more commercially accessible plane. It's about time he got the attention he deserves. [Eric Kohn]
"The New Black"
Director: Yoruba Richen
Distributor: None yet.
Release Date: "The New Black" is set to debut at festivals later this year.
Why Might It Be a Must See: The film, which has gotten the support from a number of documentary film funds, is direly needed to create a definitive and careful history of the rhetorical and real ties made between the black and LGBT communities as well as the black and LGBT civil rights struggles. Early footage looks incredible, and the world should prepare itself for an addition to the LGBT documentary canon. [Bryce J. Renninger]
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
Release date: Nothing yet; the film is currently in post-production.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Reichardt has repeatedly delivered some of the most thoughtful American independent films in recent years, starting with the career-rejuvenating "Old Joy," which followed with "Wendy and Lucy" and "Meek's Cutoff." Each movie starts with rather basic scenarios -- a weekend getaway, a missing dog, a minimalist western -- and develops them into profound explorations of personal yearning. While Reichardt has repeatedly worked with Michelle Williams, the trio of big names associated with this particular project certainly attest to her current clout, while the premise about a trio of environmentalists planning to blow up a bomb sounds exactly like the simple plotlines Reichardt always manages to infuse with new life. Additionally, Reichardt's films have always been attuned to the relationship between man and nature, so this theme is a familiar one for fans of oeuvre. [Eric Kohn]
Director: Pablo Larraîn
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Release date: February
Why Might It Be a Must See: With his last two features, "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem," Chilean director Pablo Larraín quickly established himself as the preeminent chronicler of his country's lingering demons from its years of oppression under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. For his third and most accomplished work, "No," Larraín has traded the allegorical track for the real thing, delivering a lively, mesmerizing drama about a national call to action during the 1988 referendum on Pinochet's presidency. With a full-bodied turn by Gael Garcia Bernal as its anchor, "No" broadens Larraín's range by replicating historical events in engrossing detail. A hit at festivals Cannes, Telluride and Toronto, "No" makes a quick stop at Sundance ahead of its U.S. theatrical release. It's a definite contender for the foreign language film Oscar race at the end of the year. [Eric Kohn]
Director: Lars von Trier
Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Connie Nielsen, Willem Dafoe, Uma Thurman, Charlotte Rampling
Distributor: none yet
Release Date: May 30 overseas; no U.S. date
Why Might It Be a Must See: Uh, check the title, the content and the filmmaker. Let’s just say the curiosity factor is high. Like his protagonist in this look at a woman’s eventful erotic history, Von Trier just can’t help himself. The dark prince of provocation has frequently explored the suffering of female characters that often indulge in sexual activity that ultimately leads to dark places (see “Breaking the Waves,” “Antichrist,” “Dogville,” etc.). But with “Nymphomaniac,” he strips away all other elements with the help of major returning players from his revolving acting troupe (Gainsbourg, Skargard, Dafoe, Rampling), a few highly sexy older actresses (Thurman, Nielsen) and… Shia LaBeouf, who has intimated that he may be going, um, all in. The big question is whether the French will let Von Trier back into Cannes after his Hitler snafu the last time he attended the festival, with “Melancholia.” But our bet is on Cannes being the first chance we’ll have to view it. [Jay A. Fernandez]
"Only God Forgives"
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm and Yaya Ying
Release Date: Not yet announced.
Why Might It Be A Must See: Following their acclaimed work together on "Drive," Ryan Gosling and Cannes award-winning director Nicolas Winding Refn re-team for "Only God Forgives," a film that's rumored to be even more violent than their first collaboration. Recently acquired by The Weinstein Company's multi platform distribution label Radius, the thriller centers on a man (Gosling) living in exile in Bangkok who sets out to avenge his murdered brother at the behest of his mother (Kristin Scott-Thomas). Refn and Gosling did wonders getting inside the mind of a troubled protagonist with "Drive," and their latest sounds no less dark and morally dubious than its predecessor. Sign us up. [Nigel M. Smith]