We Can’t Wait

50 Must-See Movies of 2013

Marlow Stern previews next year’s most promising films.

By Marlow Stern

 

2012 was a record-breaking year at the movie box office, with cash-cow blockbusters (The Avengers and The Hunger Games) and critics’ darlings (Zero Dark Thirty and Beasts of the Southern Wild) alike. And by the looks of things, 2013 is poised to be a helluva year, too. From superhero epics like Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 to period films The Great Gatsby and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, here are The Daily Beast’s picks for the most anticipated films of the year.

Wilson Webb/Warner Bros.

‘Gangster Squad’ (Jan. 11)

Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), this crime saga stars Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin as the leaders of an elite gang of LAPD detectives tasked with putting an end to organized crime in 1940s and 1950s Los Angeles—in particular, real-life notorious gangster Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn. The film also stars Nick Nolte as a police chief and Emma Stone as Gosling’s love interest, reuniting the two stars of Crazy, Stupid, Love. The film was supposed to be released in fall ’12 but was forced to delay and reshoot scenes due to the Aurora movie theater massacre: The Gangster Squad contained an eerily reminiscent scene in which people were shot up in a cinema.

Side Effects (Feb. 8)

Bringing the team behind Contagion together again, director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns follow the descent of a troubled young woman (Rooney Mara) into prescription drugs as she awaits the release of her husband (Channing Tatum) from prison. The film also stars Jude Law as Mara’s possibly culpable physician and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a rival doctor. It’s Mara’s first onscreen turn since her Oscar-nominated performance as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Cannes Film Festival 2012

‘Like Someone in Love’ (Feb. 13)

Named after the song by Ella Fitzgerald, Like Someone in Love is an experiment of sorts from acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami—the man behind acclaimed films Taste of CherryThe Wind Will Carry Us, and 2010’s Certified Copy. It’s a Japanese-language drama about a young Japanese woman, played by Rin Takanashi, who finances her education via prostitution. The film competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where it opened to critical acclaim.

Bea Kallos/MTI, via AP

‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ (Feb. 14)

Directed by John Moore, who helmed the underwhelming 2008 video game adaptation Max PayneA Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth film in the Die Hard franchise. This time, John McClane (Bruce Willis) must travel to Moscow to help his estranged son, who’s run afoul of the law. Things are more complicated than that, however, as McClane finds himself pitted against a terrorist plot. The film’s tagline, in case you’re wondering, is: “Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Russia.” Yep.

Warner Bros.

‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ (March 1)

This fantasy epic is directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men) and based on the fairytale “Jack the Giant Killer”—similar to “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a young farmhand who goes off on a mission to retrieve Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who’s been kidnapped by giants. In order to do so, he climbs a gigantic stalk and ends up opening a portal between Earth and a race of bloodthirsty giants. The Arthurian tale also stars Stanley Tucci, Bill Nighy, and Ewan McGregor.

‘Stoker’ (March 1)

The first English-language film from Korean master Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), and written by actor-cum-screenwriter Wentworth Miller, Stoker follows a young girl (Mia Wasikowska) and her emotionally volatile mother (Nicole Kidman), who are forced to deal with an enigmatic relative (Matthew Goode) when the patriarch dies. The screenplay made the 2010 “Black List” of the best unproduced screenplays, is produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, and also stars Jacki Weaver.

Walt Disney Pictures

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ (March 8)

This mega-blockbuster from acclaimed filmmaker Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) is based on L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—a prequel of sorts to The Wizard of Oz. The film, made on a mammoth $200 million budget, stars James Franco as Oscar Diggs, a struggling magician who’s swept away from Kansas to the magical Land of Oz. When he encounters three skeptical witches, played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams, he soon realizes that this wonderland perhaps isn’t all he’s bargained for, and must convince the people of Oz that he is indeed the great wizard they need—before it’s too late.

Michael Gibson

‘Carrie’ (March 15)

She’s back! This remake of the 1976 Brian De Palma cult classic is directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) and stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie, a teenage outcast born with telekinetic powers—much to the chagrin of her uber-religious, abusive mother (Julianne Moore). She is tormented by a clique of popular high-school girls known as “The Ultras,” but exacts her bloody revenge on prom night.

Thelonius/Splash News

‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ (March 29)

This multigenerational crime saga, featuring three different storylines, reunites star Ryan Gosling with his Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance. Gosling stars as a tattooed, peroxide-headed motorcycle stuntman who ponders committing a crime in order to provide for his newborn child with girlfriend Romina (Eva Mendes). Along the way, he crosses paths with a cop-turned-politician played by Bradley Cooper. Gosling’s female admirers perhaps best know the film, which also stars Rose Byrne and Ray Liotta, as the movie where he met his current off-screen flame (Mendes).

Alan Markfield/Open Road Films

‘The Host’ (March 29)

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), The Host involves parasitic aliens—or “Souls”—who have begun to take over Earth and possess people’s minds. Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) is a teenager whose soul is possessed by an alien but she has the power to resist its pull. She then goes off in search of her family. The film is based on Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s novel of the same name. Will it cause a similar stir?

‘The Heat’ (April 5)

The Heat is director Paul Feig’s highly anticipated follow-up to his 2011 comedy smash Bridesmaids, and stars Sandra Bullock as a tight-assed FBI agent who teams with a crazy, loose-cannon detective, played by Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy, to foil a Russian mobster’s nefarious plot. There’s never really been a female buddy-cop comedy, and the combination of Bullock and McCarthy could spell a new action-comedy franchise a la Lethal Weapon.

D. Stevens/Warner Bros.

‘42’ (April 12)

Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, the Oscar-winning scribe of neo-noir classic L.A. Confidential, this film is a biopic of baseball player Jackie Robinson—the man credited with breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The film stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, Harrison Ford as baseball executive Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson, and Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, Robinson’s manager on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Redbud Pictures

‘To the Wonder’ (April 12)

This largely dialogue-less film is the latest from visionary filmmaker Terrence Malick (Days of Heaven, The Tree of Life), and follows an American man, played by Ben Affleck, who attempts to reconnect with a woman he once loved from his hometown (Rachel McAdams) after his marriage to a fiery, beautiful European woman (Olga Kurylenko) falls to pieces. The film, which drew a mixed reception when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, also stars Javier Bardem as a priest, and features the work of acclaimed five-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of LifeChildren of Men).

Paramount Pictures

‘Pain and Gain’ (April 26)

“I’m extremely excited to simplify my film career this spring with a great character piece,” said director Michael Bay—he of the bombastic Transformers films. Pain and Gain, while a modestly budgeted film at $22 million, still looks like vintage Bay from the insane, bullet-riddled trailer. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie as a trio of bodybuilders who hatch a plot to kidnap dirty businessman—and gym regular—Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) and extort him. The film, which is based on a true story, stems from a series of 1999 articles in the Miami New Times.

‘Iron Man 3’ (May 3)

I’ve had many discussions about how craptastic I thought Iron Man 2 was, with its muddled plot and shoddy villains (Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke), but am still holding out hope the third installment will return the Marvel superhero franchise to its former glory. This time around, Jon Favreau has relinquished the director’s chair to Shane Black—the man responsible for jump-starting star Robert Downey Jr.’s career with the underrated 2005 action-comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Industrialist-cum-superhero Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) squares off against the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), the leader of an international terrorist organization. Iron Man’s once again joined by his trusty assistant-lover Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and pal Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), as well as newcomers Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall).

Warner Bros. Pictures

‘The Great Gatsby’ (May 10)

Moved from Christmas ’12 to the summer of ‘13 due to production conflicts, Baz Luhrmann’s grandiose adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, a millionaire tycoon who is trailed by his neighbor, Nick Carraway, played by DiCaprio pal Tobey Maguire, at the height of the Roaring Twenties. The film also stars Carey Mulligan as Gatsby’s coveted prize, Daisy Buchanan, as well as Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, and last but not least, Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim. The film marks the reunion of DiCaprio and Luhrmann, who last collaborated together on the 1996 cult classic Romeo + Juliet.

Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal

‘Star Trek into Darkness’ (May 17)

Filmmaker J.J. Abrams’s highly anticipated sequel to his spectacular reimagining, 2009’s Star Trek, will finally hit theaters in ’13. Star Trek Into Darkness does, by most accounts, bear some striking similarities to the most celebrated film in the Trek canon: The Wrath of Khan. The crew of the starship Enterprise, including Capt. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Uhura (Zoe Saldana), has returned to square off against John Harrison, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, a mysterious villain from their past.

Vivien Killilea/WireImage

‘Frances Ha’ (May 17)

Many critics have drawn comparisons between Noah Baumbach’s coming-of-age dramedy Frances Haco-written by and starring indie “it girl” Greta Gerwig, and the HBO series Girls, since both focus on a Brooklyn hipster chick (Gerwig) struggling in life and love—and both feature actor Adam Driver. But Baumbach’s film, shot in gorgeous black-and-white—borrowing a page from Woody Allen’s Manhattan—is a horse of a different color, offering a complex character study about a young woman in flux and a career-defining performance by Gerwig, who just so happens to be Baumbach’s girlfriend. The film earned critical raves when it made the film festival rounds in ’12, and should earn Gerwig a Best Actress Independent Spirit Award nod at the very least.

FilmDistrict

‘Only God Forgives’ (May 23)

Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling, the team behind 2011’s Drive, have joined forces once more for this brutal crime-thriller set in Bangkok, Thailand. The film centers on Julian (Gosling), an Englishman who operates a Thai kickboxing club as a front for his family’s drug-smuggling operation, led by his terrifying mother, played by Kristin Scott Thomas. When Julian’s brother is killed, his mother orders him to find the person responsible. There will be blood, and plenty of it.

Warner Bros. Pictures

‘The Hangover Part III’ (May 24)

Even though it was a pretty awful film, the previous installment in The Hangover franchise, The Hangover Part II, earned a whopping $581 million worldwide—making it the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time. The Hangover Part III returns the rowdy gang of Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and Stu (Ed Helms), to their original stomping grounds of Las Vegas, and includes newcomers Melissa McCarthy and John Goodman in supporting roles. It’s rumored that a subplot in the film involves the gang breaking Alan out of a mental hospital, but this is unconfirmed.

Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures

‘Fast & Furious 6’ (May 24)

Fast Five, the fifth installment in the Fast and the Furious film series, was not only the best action film of 2011 but also one of the best films, period. It was a throwback to the Schwarzenegger action films of yore, deftly combining thrilling action, silly punch lines, and a winking-at-the-audience self-awareness. Fast & Furious 6 transports the gang from Rio de Janeiro to London and, in addition to Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and the rest of the old gang, newcomers Luke Evans and Gina Carano join the fray as a rival heister and a diplomatic security service agent, respectively.

‘After Earth’ (June 7)

Will filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan rebound from his past two duds, The Last Airbender and the laughably bad The Happening? Here, the director teams up with Oscar-winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) to tell the tale of a father (Will Smith) and son (Jaden Smith) who have crash-landed on a destroyed earth, 1,000 years after a series of catastrophic events forced humans to escape to greener pastures. With the father badly injured, the son must embark on a dangerous journey to get him some help before it’s too late.

Clay Enos/Warner Bros.

‘Man of Steel’ (June 14)

Although filmmaker Zack Snyder’s last effort was the truly abysmal 2011 film Sucker Punch, there are high hopes for this blockbuster that sees a new-and-improved Superman, played by Henry Cavill, square off against galactic tyrant, General Zod (Michael Shannon, perfectly cast). Trailers and early footage look more like J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek revamp than 300, and the film is produced by the man who breathed new life into the Batman franchise: Christopher Nolan. Plus, in addition to Shannon—who always makes a delectable villain—the rest of the casting is inspired as well, including Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Superman’s father, Jor-El, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Superman’s adoptive parents.

Columbia Pictures

‘This Is the End’ (June 14)

This action-comedy-mockumentary, written and directed by Superbad scribes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, stars real-life pals James Franco, Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson as fictional versions of themselves struggling to survive following Armageddon. The film also features appearances by Paul Rudd, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Jason Segel, Kevin Hart, and pop superstar Rihanna. Talk about a stacked cast.

Jaap Buitendijk/Paramount Pictures

‘World War Z’ (June 21)

Based on Max Brooks’s novel of the same name, World War Z is a zombie blockbuster that centers on United Nations worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who searches the globe for information on how to stop the zombie epidemic that’s destroying the world. There are a few red flags: the film’s release was delayed from ’12 to ’13 so scenes could be reshot, Cabin in the Woods scribe Drew Goddard had to do rewrites, and Marc Forster, the dubious director behind the only bad Daniel Craig bond film (Quantum of Solace) is at the helm. Still, the trailer still looks pretty kick-ass. And it’s Brad Pitt fighting zombies so … what’s not to like?

‘Monsters University’ (June 21)

Marking the directorial debut of Pixar storyboard artist Dan Scanlon, who worked on Cars and Toy Story 3Monsters University is a prequel to the 2001 hit Monsters, Inc. Set about 10 years before the events of that film, teens Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) and Jake (voiced by Billy Crystal) are bitter rivals at the same college fraternity—who are also both planning on become scarers at Monsters, Inc. The film follows their relationship as they slowly turn into lifelong friends, and also features the voices of Steve Buscemi and Kelsey Grammar, and will—naturally—be released in 3-D.

‘The Long Ranger’ (July 3)

This film was green-lit by now-ousted Disney exec Rich Ross—the brains behind box office mega-bomb John Carter—and shooting was delayed due to a bloated budget rumored to be in excess of $250 million. But the combination of director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp proved to be a massive boon for the studio with the Pirates of the Caribbean films, so maybe lightning will strike twice! This film adaptation of the American Old West serials is a high-octane action-comedy pitting Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Depp) and back-from-the-dead lawman John Reid/The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) against a gang of corrupt industrialists, led by Tom Wilkinson. In addition to Verbinski and Depp, it’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and features a booming score courtesy of Hans Zimmer—or all the ingredients for a box-office smash and rollicking good time.

Kerry Hayes/Warner Bros.

‘Pacific Rim’ (July 12)

Acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (HellboyPan’s Labyrinth) was supposed to direct The Hobbit films. After dropping off that mammoth three-film project, he decided to helm this 3-D sci-fi epic set in a dystopia where giant monsters have risen from beneath the oceans and wreaked havoc on the human race. In order to prevent their certain doom, a gang of humans, led by Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Idris Elba (Luther), and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel), develop a massive robot—dubbed a Jaeger—to battle the monsters. The film, with a reported budget of $200 million, is a huge gamble for distributor Warner Bros.

James Fisher/Marvel Characters, Inc and Twentieth Century Fox Film

‘The Wolverine’ (July 26)

Sadly, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) dropped out of this superhero film to direct his Noah’s Ark epic, Noah. He was replaced by James Mangold (Walk the Line) and, while the previous film in the Wolverine franchise, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was pretty crap, this film seems very different as Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to bust up some Yakuza crime bosses, including the Silver Samurai.

Kimberley French/Columbia TriStar

‘Elysium’ (Aug. 9)

Director Neill Blomkamp is the man behind the 2009 sci-fi classic District 9, managing to craft an expensive-looking film on a meager budget of just $30 million. He’s been given a much loftier budget—a reported $120 million—for his highly anticipated follow-up, Elysium. Set in the year 2159, where the one percent lives in a corporate-owned space station while the rest toil away on a ruined earth, an ex-con (Matt Damon) accepts a mission to upend this inequitable dystopia, challenging its closed-minded arbiter, Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), who is fervently anti-immigration and wishes to preserve the glorious lifestyles of Elysium’s fortunate denizens.

Mark Davis/Getty

‘2 Guns’ (Aug. 16)

The title is unimaginative to say the least, but this action flick from Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur, whose film The Deep is short-listed for this year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar, has the mob pitting a DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer, played by Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, respectively, against one another. Denzel vs. Marky Mark? That’s worth the price of admission alone.

Brendon Thorne/Getty

‘Prisoners’ (Sept. 20)

Directed by Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, whose 2010 film Incendies was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, and adapted from a “Black List” screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski, Prisoners centers on a Boston family man, played by Hugh Jackman, who kidnaps the man (Jake Gyllenhaal) he suspects is behind the mysterious disappearance of his daughter and her best friend. The rest of the stellar cast includes Paul Dano, Mario Bello, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, and Terrence Howard.

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ (Oct. 4)

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, and based on Miller’s series of graphic novels, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For marks the long-awaited sequel to the acclaimed 2005 neo-noir Sin City. According to Miller, the film, which stars Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, and Mickey Rourke, is said to be a sequel and prequel, with interconnected stories set both before and after the events of the first film, and will comprise the graphic novels A Dame to Kill ForJust Another Saturday Night, and two original stories Miller penned.

Michael Stewart/WireImage

‘Oldboy’ (Oct. 11)

Spike Lee directs this remake of Park Chan-wook’s 2003 Korean cult classic, Oldboy, which allegedly sticks closer to the original manga, Old Boy, than the original. One evening, family man Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) collapses in a drunken stupor. When he awakens, he finds himself trapped inside a man-made prison, with no clue as to why or how he got there. After 15 years, he’s mysteriously released and goes on a search to find out why he was held hostage for all those years. The film also stars District 9’s Sharlto Copley as the film’s debonair villain, Adrian Pryce, Elizabeth Olsen, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Mark Wilson/Getty for CFN

‘Captain Phillips’ (Oct. 11)

Directed by acclaimed journalist-cum-filmmaker Paul Greengrass, the man behind The Bourne SupremacyUnited 93, and The Bourne Ultimatum, this film tells the true-life story of Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), a seaman who was taken hostage by a vicious gang of Somali Pirates during the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009. The film also stars the always-excellent Catherine Keener as Phillips’s wife, Andrea.

Warner Bros.

‘Gravity’ (Oct. 18)

Directed by the brilliant filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men), this space drama has been in development for quite some time. After Robert Downey Jr. dropped out, and Natalie Portman turned down the female lead, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock stepped in to play veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky and medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone, respectively, whose shuttle is destroyed during a routine spacewalk. The disaster leaves Kowalsky and Stone tethered to one another, as they struggle to survive, drifting off in space. Cuaron’s film is rumored to open with a continuous 17-minute shot. Can’t wait.

‘The World’s End’ (Oct. 25)

Director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the team behind the hilarious British comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, have returned for this new comedy about five childhood friends who reunite after 20 years to reenact a Herculean pub-crawl from their youth that ends at the pub The World’s End.  They soon realize, however, that the adventure “is not theirs, but humankind’s,” according to the film’s press materials. The movie also stars Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, and Martin Freeman.

Joel Ryan/AP

‘The Counselor’ (Nov. 15)

Directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) from an original screenplay by celebrated novelist Cormac McCarthy, The Counselor stars Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who gets in some serious hot water when he becomes mixed up in a drug trafficking ring. The A-list cast also includes Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz.

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ (Nov. 22)

The first Hunger Games film, about a post-apocalyptic dystopia where poor boys and girls aged 12-18 compete in a televised event known as “The Hunger Games” and fight to the death—much to the amusement of the 1 percent—was a global phenomenon, grossing $686 million worldwide. The sequel, Catching Fire, sees filmmaker Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) replace Gary Ross in the director’s chair. It follows our hero, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), on her victory tour after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games. But the districts are rife with rebellion. The film returns Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Woody Harrelson, and welcomes a couple of pro newcomers: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) and Jeffrey Wright (Beetee).

Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (Dec. 13)

The second film in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy sees the gang from the first film, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellan), and his merry band of Dwarfs, continue on their epic journey to claim their gold from the evil dragon Smaug, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Mary Evans/Walt Disney Pictures, via Everett

‘Saving Mr. Banks’ (Dec. 20)

Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), this Oscar bait film offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 1964 film Mary Poppins. It centers on Mary Poppins’s  author, Aussie P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), and her dealings with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and her husband, Robert Goff Travers (Colin Farrell), during the making of the Disney classic. The film also stars Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and B.J. Novak.

‘Anchorman: The Legend Continues’ (Dec. 20)

Little is known about the plot of the sequel to the 2004 comedy cult classic Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. What we do know is that the entire crew from the first film, including director Adam McKay, producer Judd Apatow, and stars Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner, have all returned to reprise their roles as a ‘70s-era San Diego-based evening news team. And Vince Vaughn will once more cameo as their bitter rival, Wes Mantooth.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

‘The Monuments Men’ (Dec. 20)

Written and directed by George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck), this awards bait film is based on the book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel, which centered on The Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program—an Allied group whose mission was to save important treasures and works of art from being destroyed by Adolf Hitler during WWII. The unbelievable cast includes Clooney, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Jean Dujardin.  

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage via Getty

‘47 Ronin’ (Dec. 25)

This $200 million 3D fantasy epic tells the tale of the 47 Ronin—a group of real-life samurai in 18th century Japan who set out to avenge the murder of their master—and stars Keanu Reeves in the title role. It’s a huge gamble since it is directed by relative newcomer Carl Rinsch and features no other bankable stars, with Reeves joined by an all-Japanese cast, including Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, best known for playing Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat film, Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer), and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel).

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (Dec. 25)

Directed by Ben Stiller, this remake of the 1947 comedy film centers on a mild-mannered magazine photo editor, played by Stiller, who lives vicariously through his vivid daydreams. The film also stars Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, and Patton Oswalt.

Jon FurnissInvision, via AP

‘Jack Ryan’ (Dec. 25)

Chris Pine (Star Trek) will follow Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck as the fourth actor to step into the shoes of Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst Jack Ryan as the young agent must foil a Russian plot to torpedo the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor), the film also stars Keira Knightly as Ryan’s wife, Kevin Costner, and Branagh himself as the villain, Viktor Cherevin.

Chris Pizzello/AP

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (TBD, 2013)

Directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Terence Winter (The Sopranos), this crime drama marks the fifth collaboration between Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio. Based on Jordan Belfort’s book of the same name, the film stars DiCaprio as a New York stockbroker who refuses to cooperate in a massive securities-fraud case that includes the corporate banking world and the mob. The amazing cast also includes Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler, Matthew McConaughey, and director Rob Reiner in a rare acting turn.

Mike Marsland/WireImage

‘Twelve Years a Slave’ (TBD, 2013)

Written and directed by Steve McQueen (Shame) this film is based on Solomon Northrup’s memoir Twelve Years a Slave, about a black man who is born free in New York and then kidnapped and sold into slavery, where he’s forced to work under brutal conditions on a Louisiana plantation just before the Civil War. The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northrup, and the cast is rounded out by McQueen regular Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, and Beasts of the Southern Wild’s pint-sized star, Quvenzhané Wallis.

Jason Merritt/Getty

‘Her’ (TBD, 2013)

This upcoming science fiction film, written and directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), marks Jonze’s solo screenwriting debut. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a sad-sack writer, purchases a newly developed operating system that is designed to meet his every need. Things get complicated, however, when he begins to fall in love with the operating system. The film also stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Samantha Morton.

Chris Pizzello/Invision, via AP

‘Lowlife’ (TBD, 2013)

Written and directed by James Gray (Two Lovers), the film stars Marion Cotillard as an immigrant polish woman in 1920s New York City who is cruelly tricked into a life of sexy burlesque—until she crosses paths with Orlando the Magician (Jeremy Renner), who tries to save her and reunite her with her missing sister, who is being held hostage inside Ellis Island. The film also stars Gray regular Joaquin Phoenix as the devious Bruno Weiss.