10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — Reviews, so far, have suggested what many of us have suspected: The movie is not nearly as good as the phenomenal trailer portends. Expect another slickly packaged, feel-good movie that follows a predictably empty studio template and makes a mockery of the original. But hey! Adam Scott has a terrible moustache, and it’s nice to see Kristen Wiig again.
9. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — Look: No one is really that excited about the second part of Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films that have no business being a trilogy, but we’re all going to see it, because we can’t help our damn selves. Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch is in this one, which should offset the presence of Evangeline Lilly and her made-up love interest. I feel like we’ve been watching the same trailer for six months, though, and the appeal of the dragon has completely lost its novelty.
8. Saving Mr. Banks — It doesn’t look, at least to me, like a strong Oscar contender (save for another Tom Hanks’ Best Actor nom), but reviews of the film — which concern the backstory of how Walt Disney convinced P.L. Travers to allow him to adapt Mary Poppins to the big screen — suggest that the movie is a simple, sugary delight. That’s exactly how the trailer looks.
7. Out of the Furnace — Scott Cooper’s follow-up to Crazy Heart hasn’t been getting as much buzz as it deserves for a cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Forrest Whitaker, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Casey Affleck, and another brilliantly sleazeball Christian Bale performance. The positive reviews so far make it compelling, plus the Pearl Jam song in the trailer practically makes Out of the Furnace a must see.
6. August: Osage County — Huge terrifically talented ensemble that includes Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, and Margo Martindale, plus it is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play adapted by the play’s author, Tracy Letts (familiar to many of you as Senator Lockhart on Homeland). It basically has everything going for it, except a lot of interest from anyone who is not an affluent, NPR-loving snoot, but 99 percent of that demo will see it.
5. Her — I can’t get a beat on Her, the Spike Jonze romantic comedy in which a character played by Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The premise is intriguing, but I do hope that there’s more to it than the conventionally whimsical indie rom com we’ve come to expect. It seems so obvious that it’s not what it seems that what it seems may actually be the subversion. Now I’ve confused myself. Where’s Siri? Help me out with this, sweetheart.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street — Leonardo DiCaprio, working with Martin Scorsese once again, continues his mid-career foray into unlikable, unsympathetic characters, and while the trailer suggests a hilarious change-of-pace for Scorsese, the three-hour runtime and words like “devastating” that I’ve seen associated with the film also suggests something deeper and more typical of Scorsese.
3. Anchorman: The Legend Continues — You know you won’t be able to resist, and you know it won’t be nearly as good as the original, because the original was something of a deranged fluke that could never truly be replicated. The sequel will trade on too many references to the original, and probably overplay its hand when it comes to Brick, and the entire enterprise will feel familiar, unlike the original, which felt exciting and new and confusing. But, you will see it, and there will be a few sequences in it that will make you laugh so har your gut will ache, which will drown out the mediocrity that will dominate the rest of the film.
2. American Hustle — David O’ Russell is on a nice winning streak with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, and in American Hustle, he smashes together much of the cast from those two films, puts them in the 1970s, outfits them with insanely unflattering fashion choices, and will undoubtedly make another run for an Oscar.
1. Inside Llewyn Davis — The Coen Brothers + T. Bone Burnett (and a soundtrack that will likely be an entire generation’s entry point into folk music) = Most Anticipated Film of 2013. If you’re not at least a little excited by this, you’re on the wrong site, folks.