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Features

Empire's Giant 2013 Movie Preview
185 films of next year profiled and explained


Straight-Up Drama
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Gangster Squad

DATE  January 11
DIRECTOR  Ruben Fleischer
CAST  Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick

FILM FACT  The film was delayed from its planned release date in September to allow reshoots of a cinema shootout following the Colorado shooting tragedy.

SYNOPSIS  In the 1940s and 1950s, East Coast gangsters turned their attention to the fast-growing Los Angeles, led by Mickey Cohen (Penn). The LAPD puts together a cop team to stand against him, unencumbered by the usual rules about considerate treatment of suspects and not shooting first. Throw in a winsome gangster's moll in the shape of Emma Stone and, well, it's ON.

WHAT TO EXPECT  A reunion of Gosling and Stone, whose chemistry sizzled up Crazy Stupid Love, should ensure a fair amount of interest immediately, and the prospect of Sean Penn doing a De Niro and going all gangster as Cohen is also a tasty one. Can this live up to the standards of its obvious comparison, The Untouchables? Frankly we doubt it, but we do expect quite a bit of entertainment anyway.
• Watch the trailer below

What Richard Did

What Richard Did

DATE  January 11
DIRECTOR  Lenny Abrahamson
CAST  Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Lars Mikkelsen

BASED ON  This is a very loose adaptation of Bad Day At Blackrock, the bestselling novel by Kevin Power.

SYNOPSIS  Richard (Reynor) is leaving school with every prospect of a good life ahead; university and a potential career in rugby beckon. But one drunken night out with the lads changes all that, and he's left to confront the aftermath of a violent attack and decide what sort of person he really is.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Great performances from the largely untried cast, particularly Reynor (who's been cast in The Delivery Man with Vince Vaughn on the strength of this, and who's also shortlisted for the male lead in the film adaptation of Divergent at the time of writing), and a quietly gripping story of shattered lives.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

Flight

Flight

DATE  February 1
DIRECTOR  Robert Zemeckis
CAST  Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo

BASED ON  This story resembles that of jumbo jet Captain Robert Piche, who in 2001 made a fuel-less landing and became a hero, only to see journalists reveal past misdemeanours in public.

SYNOPSIS  Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) becomes an overnight sensation when he successfully lands a failing plane against all the odds. However, when a blood test taken that night reveals that he had alcohol in his system, he faces life imprisonment as he struggles with his sudden notoriety.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Denzel's never less than decent and usually quite a bit more, and the early word suggests that Robert Zemeckis' return to live action after 13 years is a successful one.
• Watch the trailer below

Hyde Park On Hudson

Hyde Park On Hudson

DATE  February 1
DIRECTOR  Roger Michell
CAST  Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Olivia Colman, Samuel West, Elizabeth Wilson

SEE ALSO  The King's Speech, where Colin Firth of course also plays George VI. And to see Jake Busey play FDR, click this way.

SYNOPSIS  On the eve of World War II, George VI (West) and Queen Elizabeth (Colman) visited the US on the invitation of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Murray), spending a weekend at his country estate of Hyde Park, New York. Both hoped to bring their countries closer together for the War that would soon break out, but some cultural barriers had to be overcome first.

WHAT TO EXPECT  This is a more comic approach to that period of history than we're perhaps used to seeing, but if it can establish a sure tone then the endless appeal of Bill Murray should carry it the rest of the way. While early reviews have been mixed, we're still counting on him.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

To The Wonder

To The Wonder

DATE  February 22
DIRECTOR  Terrence Malick
CAST  Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem

FUN FACT  Jessica Chastain, Rachel Weisz, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper and Michael Sheen were all dropped from the final cut. Even the cast list above must be considered a tiny bit uncertain until the film actually hits cinemas.

SYNOPSIS  The story of a married couple, Neil (Affleck) and Marina (Kurylenko). After visiting Mont Saint Michel, they return to Oklahoma where Neil reconnects - nudge, nudge, wink, wink (or probably not, given the filmmaker) - with a childhood friend, Jane (McAdams), and Marina meets a Spanish priest who's struggling with his vocation (Bardem).

WHAT TO EXPECT  It's a Terrence Malick film, so there's a 100% certainty that it will look gorgeous and a 90% chance there will be long, lingering shots of long grass rippling in the wind. It will also say something profound about the human condition, but possibly in such a slow, quiet way that half the audience misses it.
• Watch the trailer below

The Paperboy

The Paperboy

DATE  March 15
DIRECTOR  Lee Daniels
CAST  Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Scott Glenn

FUN FACT  The original choice of director for this was reportedly Pedro Almodóvar, who considered making it his English language debut.

SYNOPSIS  A reporter (McConaughey) and his younger brother (Efron) investigate the circumstances around the conviction of a death row inmate (Cusack) at the behest of his penpal / girlfriend (Kidman). And yes, as you've heard if you've heard anything about this film, Nicole Kidman pees on Efron when he gets stung by a jellyfish.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Kidman is on To Die For form as a Southern flirt, and Efron's not bad, but Rolling Stone's description of the whole thing as a "hot mess" is probably fair.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

Rush

DATE  September 13
DIRECTOR  Ron Howard
CAST  Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Dormer, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, Christian McKay

SEE ALSO  If you haven't already, make sure to see Senna. It may reflect another generation of race driving, but it's an astonishingly good documentary.

SYNOPSIS  James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Bruhl) are in competition for the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship. Lauda, the more technical and careful of the two, suffers a near-death crash at the German Grand Prix but returns for the Japanese Grand Prix to challenge Hunt for the title. It's a walk-off showdown for the ages.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The focus seems very much on character drama rather than sports movie clichés here, so we're expecting a period piece that focuses on two very different men battling it out for supremacy - never a bad premise. If the film can capture their rivalry well, and make each sympathetic in his own way, it should be a tense and fascinating watch.

Side Effects

Side Effects

DATE  March 15
DIRECTOR  Steven Soderbergh
CAST  Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mamie Gummer

FUN FACT  Steven Soderbergh has a very different vision of retirement to the rest of us.

SYNOPSIS  With her husband (Tatum) just coming out of prison, Emily (Mara) is suffering from anxiety and is prescribed something to take for it. Problem is there are side effects, leading to violence, shouting and sinister goings on.

WHAT TO EXPECT  We've watched the trailer and are no wiser on who to root for and why, but a Soderbergh film is always something to welcome. It does look like Soderbergh's given Law a more likeable character than he did in Contagion, but that's not saying much.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

A Late Quartet

A Late Quartet

DATE  April 5
DIRECTOR  Yaron Zilberman
CAST  Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir, Wallace Shawn, Imogen Poots

BASED ON  The film's music is supplied by the Brentano String Quartet, Princeton University's quartet-in-residence. We all have a quartet-in-residence, right?

SYNOPSIS  As the leader of a quartet (Walken) faces retirement, the remaining members adjust to his departure, with competing egos threatening the marriage of two (Hoffman, Keener), while they play Beethoven's lengthy Op.131.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Great performances, great music and a slow bubble of minutely examined group tensions, along with lots of snowy New York scenes that make it look like one of Woody Allen's more serious efforts.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

Trance

Trance

DATE  March 27
DIRECTOR  Danny Boyle
CAST  James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson

FUN FACT  Did you know that Danny Boyle directed the Olympic Opening Ceremony? We just thought we'd remind you of that.

SYNOPSIS  All we know is the brief synopsis, which says that, "A fine art auctioneer mixed up with a criminal gang joins forces with a hypnotherapist to recover a lost painting" and that the lines between reality, post-hypnotic suggestion and desire blur. So that's not terribly helpful.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Lord Sir Danny Of Boyle can do no wrong as far as this nation is concerned. We expect perfection, whatever this film turns out to be.

Promised Land

Promised Land

DATE  April 19
DIRECTOR  Gus Van Sant
CAST  Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, Rosemarie DeWitt

BASED ON  Krasinski and Damon wrote the screenplay together, based on a Dave Eggers short story which was itself based on Krasinski's premise.

SYNOPSIS  Steve (Damon) and Sue (McDormand) are corporate salespeople sent in to get drilling rights for the small town of McKinley. All's going well until they meet resistance from a schoolteacher (DeWitt) who Steve fancies, and an environmentalist (Krasinski) she's working with.

WHAT TO EXPECT  There's been an outcry from the fracking industry about the film before they've even seen it, so it seems to have touched a nerve somewhere. Damon and Van Sant generally tend to put drama over political hectoring, however, so don't expect another Gasland.
• Watch the trailer below

Runner Runner

Runner Runner

DATE  September 27
DIRECTOR  Brad Furman
CAST  Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, Sam Palladio

FUN FACT  Leonardo DiCaprio is among the producers of this film, through his Appian Way production company.

SYNOPSIS  A businessman (Affleck) running an (illegal, according to some reports) offshore gambling operation finds his relationship with his protégé (Timberlake) becoming stretched.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Furman previously directed sleeper hit The Lincoln Lawyer, and Affleck and Timberlake tend to be better leading men than they're sometimes given credit for.


Quick Poll   Which of these films are you looking forward to most?

Gangster Squad
What Richard Did
Flight
Hyde Park On Hudson
To The Wonder
The Paperboy
Side Effects
Trance
A Late Quartet
Promised Land
Rush
Runner Runner


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