People who know my propensity for listing the movies I like are often asking me which movies I look forward to seeing in a given year. To begin with, I have already enjoyed several movies this year, including (alphabetically) “The Butler,” “In a World,” “Side Effects,” “The Way Way Back,” “White House Down,” and “42.” But, as we all know, many of the movies that may be outstanding have yet to be released. So, here are the movies I most look forward to seeing during the last four months of 2013. They are listed alphabetically:
· “All Is Lost” This movie about an older man alone on a sinking sailboat may not sound like much, but with 76-year-old Robert Redford in the lead role, it promises to be an Oscar contender.
· “American Hustle” Since “Flirting With Disaster” in 1996, David O. Russell has made a string of movies that are as good as or better than any other director’s work during that period, including “Three Kings,” “I Heart Huckabees,” “The Fighter,” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Here, he’s working with a familiar cast that includes Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. This may be my most highly anticipated film of 2013.
· “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” I admit to considerable laughter during the original Anchorman movie, and the same crew is returning for the sequel. For my money, this was Will Ferrell’s best role, and hopefully, they can repeat the magic.
· “August: Osage County” This could wind up being the year’s best film, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, Juliet Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, and many others. The question mark seems to be director John Wells, who is primarily a TV producer (ER, Southland, Shameless, etc.). But the original play by Tracy Letts, who also wrote the screenplay, is so good that it should transcend any directorial mishaps.
· “Captain Phillips” Seeing Tom Hanks live on Broadway recently in “Lucky Guy” reaffirmed how good an actor he is, given the right material. This could be that kind of material, and as long as director Paul Greengrass sticks with the type of honest tension that made “United 93” so effective and less with the fast-cutting approach of his two Bourne movies, this one, about the 2009 pirate attack on the Maersk Alabama, could be special.
· “Gravity” Alfonso Cuaron doesn’t make a lot of films, but “Children of Men” was a great one. Here, he’s worked with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on a psychological drama set in space.
· “Inside Llewyn Davis” The story, about a Bob Dylan-like performer in Greenwich Village, sounds like a small, indie flick, except it is directed by the Cohen brothers and its cast includes Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman. We shall see.
· “Jack Ryan” I’ve enjoyed the other movies based around Tom Clancy’s most famous character, so I’m willing to take a flyer on this Kenneth Branagh-directed prequel, starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, and Keira Knightley.
· “Labor Day,” Right up there with David O. Russell is Jason Reitman, whose first four full-length films have been “Thank You For Smoking,” “Juno,” “Up In the Air,” and “Young Adult.” Need I say more? Here, he’s working with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet in his most dramatic attempt to date—a home invasion story based on Joyce Maynard’s novel.
· “Machete Kills” For pure, gory action fun, there have been few better movies than Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete” (2010). This is the sequel, still starring Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, and Michelle Rodriguez, but in this case, instead of Robert DeNiro, Steven Segal, and Don Johnson, the supporting cast includes Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, Cuba Gooding, Edward James Olmos, Sofia Vergara, and Venessa Hudgens (among others).
· “The Monuments Men” This sounds like a classic WWII action flick, but it’s directed by George Clooney and stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett among others.
· “Riddick” David Twohy directed Vin Diesel in the previous two Riddick movies—“Pitch Black" (2000) and “The Chronicles of Riddick” (2004). The first was a brilliant piece of horror/sci-fi/action and the second was an overblown piece of crap. In interviews, Twohy has admitted both and wants to get back to the level of suspense that made “Pitch Black” so special.
· “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” I loved the original film version of this Thurber story, which starred the amazing Danny Kaye, so I’m both excited and worried about Ben Stiller’s remake.
· “The Wolf of Wall Street” In this movie, Martin Scorsese turns his attention from gangsters to investment bankers in the early 1990s. With a great cast, headed by Leonardo DiCaprio, it could be another “Goodfellas.”
· “12 Years a Slave” With movies like “Hunger” and “Shame,” British director Steve McQueen is quickly establishing himself as an expert in films in which psychological discomfort is a primary factor. Here, he again gets to direct Michael Fassbender, this time with Chiwetel Ejiofor finally getting a well-deserved lead role.Other movies on my “interested in seeing” list include (alphabetically) “The Counselor,” “Diana,” “Don Jon,” “Ender’s Game,” “The Family,” “The Fifth Estate,” “Grace of Monaco,” “Her,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Last Vegas,” “Nebraska,” “Oldboy,” “Out of the Furnace,” “Philomena,” “Prisoners,” “Runner Runner,” "Rush," ”Saving Mr. Banks,” “Thor: The Dark World,” and “Touchy Feely.”