Can’t Hardly Wait

Our Most Anticipated Culture Events of 2013 (Photos)

Meryl and Julia team up, Beyoncé tackles the Super Bowl halftime show, and a royal baby! See the 2013 culture we’re buzzing about.

Mark your calendars! Meryl and Julia team up, Downton Abbey returns, Beyonce tackles the Superbowl halftime show, a royal baby, and more 2013 events we’re already buzzing about.

PBS

‘Downton Abbey’: Season 3

Jan. 6 on PBS

 

The wait is finally over, America! Downton Abbey finally heads across the pond as part of PBS’s Masterpiece Classic. Season 3 is not only fantastic, but it recalls the dizzying heights of the first season, an addictive mix of drama, romance, tragedy, and humor, enacted both upstairs and down. Among this season’s many highlights: a sumptuous wedding that fans have eagerly awaited—that is, if the bride and groom actually make it down the aisle—and the introduction of Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, the American mother of Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora. Suffice it to say, you’ll want to cancel your Sunday-night plans and curl up in front of the telly with a cup of tea for the next eight weeks.

 

Jace Lacob

HBO

‘Girls’: Season 2

Jan. 13 on HBO

 

The sophomore season of the HBO comedy, from writer-director–executive producer–star Lena Dunham, finds Hannah and her friends continuing to grapple with adulthood, offering a journey through suspended adolescence that is biting and emotional. Girls returns with its humor and insight attached as Dunham’s Hannah zigzags through life in Brooklyn and through a series of misadventures that are as painful as they are hysterical to watch. This show, as always, has a powerful right hook.

 

Jace Lacob

Craig Blankenhorn/CW

‘The Carrie Diaries’

Jan. 14 on CW

 

It's 1984 and young Carrie Bradshaw is yet to meet Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte, or Mr. Big. The fashion-forward teen is in high school, navigating life after the tragic death of her mother, trying to make friends and maybe even find love. Maybe. This is The Carrie Diaries, the CW's adaptation of Candace Bushnell's beloved novel with the same name. Starring AnnaSophia Robb as the title character, we see Carrie's adventures before she hits the Big Apple. With a fun, heartwarming (but not too cheesy) storyline, quirky characters, retro fashion, and an '80s soundtrack to boot, this is one flashback we can't wait for in 2013.    
 

Anna Klassen

Michael Becker/Fox

‘American Idol’: Nicki vs. Mariah

Jan. 16 on Fox

 

For the past 11 years, the biggest phenomenon on television has spun through hundreds of cities, thousands of pitchy auditions, and seven different judges. So there’s no reason to believe that the new panel—with Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Randy Jackson—will be better than the others. Actually, there is. Did you see that screaming match  between two of music’s biggest divas? It’s like Idol is now a Bravo reality show and singing competition all in one!

 

Ramin Setoodeh

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright  
Jan. 17

 

Al Qaeda or Scientology, which was more impenetrable? Our money is on the cultish church, as Wright expands on his viral New Yorker article and conducts more than 200 hundred interviews with current and former members to understand why Hollywood performers are lured by the church.

 

Jimmy So

‘The Following’

Jan. 21 on Fox

 

Kevin Bacon on TV. If that isn’t enough of a draw for you, there’s a lot more in The Following that could be. Fox’s upcoming psychological thriller promises to deliver on suspense and a complex construction that goes well beyond the story of a serial killer who breaks out of prison and the cop who put him there. Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, the defeated ex-FBI agent. His nemesis is Joe Carroll, played by James Purefoy, who is in full monster mode and exciting to watch. Terrifying and addictive, it’s easily the most anticipated show of midseason.

 

—Maria Elena Fernandez

Craig Blankenhorn/FX

‘The Americans’

Jan. 30 on FX

 

The heir apparent to Homeland isn’t on Showtime—it’s this electrifying period drama on FX starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as a married couple living the seemingly perfect life with their kids in 1980s Falls Church, Va. But these two share a secret: they’re highly trained Soviet sleeper agents operating at the very height of the Cold War. While they’ve gone to great lengths to conceal their true nature, their new neighbor (Noah Emmerich) is an FBI agent who wonders if they aren’t who they seem to be. Based on the gripping pilot, this promises to be a tense thriller as well as an examination of patriotism, zealotry, and identity. And if Russell and Rhys aren’t enough to sell you, Margo Martindale (Justified) has joined the cast of The Americans as well. This is definitely one to watch.

 

Jace Lacob

Joel Ryan/AP

Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

Feb. 3 on CBS

 

Last year’s halftime headliner, Madonna, was a befuddling choice, since the fan bases of the Material Girl and football overlap probably by exactly three people. Beyoncé’s following may be just scantly more in line with pigskin diehards, but all that’s unlikely to matter when Sasha Fierce takes the stage after the second quarter. As she proved last year when she torched the stage at the Glastonbury Music Festival—perhaps the biggest rock-and-roll event in the world—she can win over even the most skeptical crowd. With more than 110 million pairs of eyes on her, there’s no doubt that Beyoncé will deliver the performance of her life.   

 

Kevin Fallon

Will Hart/NBC

Jennifer Hudson on ‘Smash’

Feb. 5 on NBC

 

When Smash premiered last winter, it was a dazzling, glossy, riveting beacon of hope that, even though Glee had completely cheesified itself into a messy after-school special, the musical-TV genre could still be good. Even great. But for-the-love-of–Patti LuPone did Smash become a nonsensical, dreary creative disaster. Thankfully for Season 2, Smash has ditched last year’s showrunner, excised its most ridiculous characters, and added an Oscar-winning force of nature to the cast. If early trailers are any indication, Jennifer Hudson, who is joining to play a Broadway diva, could bring the jolt of energy and larger-than-life spectacle that the show sorely needs to become a smash again. 

 

Kevin Fallon

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

 

Feb. 12 

 

All of 31 and Russell has already had a whiff of victory but not tasted it (her debut novel was one of three finalists in a year that saw the Pulitzer board awarding no prize for literature). Better this than the sophomore slump, but this is in fact Russell’s second short-story collection. The title story is as advertised—two married vampires talking in a lemon grove. The husband has “a tan that won’t fade until I die (which I never will).” The second offering is about daughters of samurai warriors, “but of course there is no way for anyone to verify that now.” But of course! What a quaint sense of humor; what surprises spring from Russell’s imagination; how she captures the way we humans think, whether we are eternally dead or Japanese in kimonos.

 

Jimmy So

Chris Pizzello/AP

‘Broke With Expensive Taste,’ Azealia Banks

Feb. 12 

 

The Jay-Z co-signed, 21-year-old Harlem rapper exploded into the public consciousness in 2012 thanks to her well-received four-track EP 1991, released in May. Banks, who is openly bisexual, has a breakneck lyrical flow, noteworthy fashion sense, and has collaborated with everyone from Lady Gaga to Kanye West. This young starlet is poised to be the next big thing in hip-hop in 2013, when she’ll finally release her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste

 

Marlow Stern

Chris Pizzello/AP

‘Amok,’ Atoms for Peace

Feb. 25 

 

Named after an infamous 1953 speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower responsible for distributing nuclear materials to less technologically advanced countries like Iran and Pakistan, Atoms for Peace is an alt-rock supergroup comprised of singer Thom Yorke (Radiohead), bassist Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), drummer Joey Waronker (Beck & R.E.M.), and multi-instrumentalist Mauro Refosco (David Byrne). Since forming in 2009, the band has only performed a series of well-received one-off shows, but will finally release their debut album, Amok, in February

 

Marlow Stern

Disney

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’

March 7

 

This Wizard of Oz prequel directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) stars James Franco as the title character and Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good Witch. Plus, the munchkins return!

 

Ramin Setoodeh

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

 

April 23

 

Put it next to Marx’s Das Kapital in the category of books that started a revolution: The Omnivore’s Dilemma made locavore a household term, and we’ll never look at corn the same way again. In Cooked, Pollan borrows from sociology to examine how cooking used to connect us all—think of wedding banquets, holiday feasts, and family meals around the dining table—and how eating processed food breaks that bond. 

 

Jimmy So

Suzanne Plunkett/AP

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris  
April 23 

 

The great humorist has long noticed the absurd habits of Americans. Or Christmas. Or himself. Or squirrels. Now he sets his sights on the world, as he goes to a dentist’s appointment in France, feeds a kookaburra in Australia, and squats over a toilet in Beijing.

 

Jimmy So

Joshua Wildman/AP/PRNewsFoto

Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s New Album

Spring

 

The group’s last album, It’s Blitz!, was easily one of alternative pop’s most flawless efforts of the past decade. It was a feastlike deluge of glittering, swooning synths and unpredictable, exhilarating vocals from Karen O—beckons, screams, and airy exhalations, all in the space of a few heartbeats, and all with the aesthetic, syrupy smoothness of molten gold. But that was 2009. It’s been a long three years, but Yeah Yeah Yeahs return next spring to re-assault listeners with the unabashedly reckless, romantic emotions that they’ll never became too hip for.

 

Melissa Leon

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

 

April 30 

 

Messud’s previous novel, The Emperor’s Children, somehow captured what was lost on Sept. 11, 2001. The world did not end, and New York journalists still went about their business. But something changed, and Messud captured that feeling. Rather, she captured our anxiety to recognize and articulate that feeling—we must begin to know ourselves, and only then can we live an examined life. The Women Upstairs extends that preoccupation, and follows 37-year-old elementary-school teacher Nora Eldridge as she tries to understand a neighboring multicultural family, and how their dreams and values differ from and relate to hers. Know thyself, America.

 

Jimmy So

Junji Kurokawa/AP

‘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 I’m 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 is 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). 

 

Marlow Stern

Warner Bros.

‘The Great Gatsby’

May 10

 

From the trailers, it's obvious that director Baz Luhrmann has taken a few liberties with F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece. For example, was Kanye West really making music in the 1920s? Leonardo DiCaprio's Jay Gatsby seems less like a recluse and more like, well, a romantic out of Moulin Rouge. And as Daisy, Carey Mulligan's voice is full of money—and lust. Warner Bros. pushed back Gatsby's original release out of Oscar season, which isn't a good sign. But we're still curious to see it, old sport.

 

Ramin Setoodeh

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.

 

Marlow Stern

Paramount

‘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. While the film’s release was delayed from ’12 to ’13 so scenes could be reshot, The Cabin in the Woods scribe Drew Goddard was hired to do rewrites, and Marc Forster, the dubious director behind the only bad Daniel Craig bond film (Quantum of Solace) is at the helm, the trailer looks pretty kick-ass. And it’s Brad Pitt fighting zombies, so...what’s not to like?  

 

Marlow Stern

Alastair Grant/AP

Royal Baby!

Summer (approximately)

 

If the breathless huzzahs and ballyhoos that accompanied the news that Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting a royal baby didn’t overwhelm you, then just wait until the little bugger is actually born! A teeny tiny future monarch—the masses will hardly be able to control themselves. And, as if you weren’t already excited, there’s a 50 percent chance that Baby Mountbatten-Windsor will be a redhead. (Also, yes, its last name will be Mountbatten-Windsor!)

 

Kevin Fallon

Peter Mountain/Disney

‘The Lone 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 lightning could 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. 

 

Marlow Stern

Kimberley French/Columbia

‘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 1 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.

 

Marlow Stern

Photo credit: Murray Close

‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

Nov. 21

 

The first movie based on Suzanne Collins's bestselling novel made $408 million last spring—more than any of the Twilight films. Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen in the sequel.

 

Ramin Setoodeh

The ‘Anchorman’ Sequel

Dec. 20

 

Your excitement for the release of a sequel to Will Ferrell’s 2004 comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is directly related to how funny you find the line “I love lamp.” Still, that means there’s a lot of comedy fans counting down the days until Anchorman: The Legend Continues hits theaters. The entire bonkers Channel 4 News Team will be back—Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell—with new faces like Kristen Wiig to ramp up excitement. So, until December, stay classy, San Diego.

 

Kevin Fallon

Gary He/AP

MGMT’s New Album

TBA  

 

The sophomore album by this psychedelic-rock outfit comprised of trustafarian Wesleyan grads, 2010’s Congratulations, was unjustly maligned by many critics, since it failed to replicate the radio-friendliness of their stellar 2007 debut, Oracular Spectacular—in particular addictive anthems like “Time to Pretend” and “Kids.” But the boys are back with their third effort, the self-titled album MGMT, to be released sometime in '13. According to frontman Andrew VanWyngarden, MGMT was largely inspired by R.E.M. and is “too good not to talk about.” We’ll see, fellas.

 

Marlow Stern

Craig Blankenhorn/Showtime

‘Masters of Sex’

TBA

 

Wait, Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen together on screen in a 1950s set drama about sex researchers? We are so there. In Masters of Sex—based on Thomas Maier’s nonfiction book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love—Sheen (Midnight in Paris) plays Dr. Masters and Caplan (Party Down) plays his research assistant, Johnson, in this period drama from director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love). After meeting in 1957 on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, the pioneering duo almost single-handedly kicks off the sexual revolution in America thanks to their research...and embarks on a tangled romance of their own.

 

Jace Lacob

AP

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in ‘August: Osage County’

TBA

One is the greatest actress of our time. The other is the greatest movie star of our time—and, lest we forget, a pretty damned good actress, too. It’s a Tony-winning, Pulitzer-winning, alternately hysterical and absolutely gutting play by the brilliant Tracy Letts. These ingredients together—Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts playing antagonistic mother and daughter in August: Osage County—make for a bona fide movie event.

—Kevin Fallon