Wide Screen’s 10 movie picks for 2013

Jessica Chastain in Columbia Pictures'

It's January, which means that the Hollywood awards season is just around the corner. And while you may still be playing catch up with all of 2012's movies, it's 2013 - there's a whole new year of movies to look forward to. Here are ten films that Wide Screen will be watching very closely this year.

“Zero Dark Thirty” – Let’s be honest: While Kathryn Bigelow’s action thriller about the hunt for Sept. 11th mastermind Osama bin Laden may have technically screened for critics and select audiences in late 2012 (in order for it to be a contender in the upcoming awards season), most folks won’t have a chance to see “Zero Dark Thirty” until its wide release on Jan. 11 - making it the first of our 2013 picks.

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Why is it one of our picks? Hot quantity Jessica Chastain (“The Help,” “Lawless”) leads an all-star cast as a CIA field agent spearheading the hunt for bin Laden. Oh, and the film is Bigelow’s highly anticipated followup to the Academy Award-winning “The Hurt Locker,” a movie that also won her the coveted Best Director prize. Released on January 11.

“A Good Day to Die Hard” – Yes, it’s almost universally accepted that Len Wiseman’s “Live Free or Die Hard” was not that great, and yes, “A Good Day to Die Hard” director John Moore (“Behind Enemy Lines,” “Max Payne”) doesn’t have the most stellar track record. But hey, we’ll jump at the chance to spend some more time with John McClane (Bruce Willis), our favourite accidental action hero. The fifth “Die Hard” flick sees McClane travel to Moscow to help out his son, John Jr. (Jai Courtney), who has run afoul of the Russian legal system and some nasty terrorists. After literally decades of terrorist butt kicking, you’d think baddies would know by now that it’s a horrible idea to mess with McClane and his family. Released on February 14.

“Stoker” – Between the spine-tingling trailer and spooky poster, South Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park has already creeped out audiences with his hotly anticipated English-language debut before they’ve even setting foot inside the cinema. The “Oldboy” director has lined up a stellar cast for the psychological thriller, one that includes Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”), Nicole Kidman (“Moulin Rouge”), and Matthew Goode (“Watchmen”). If the director’s previous work in his native country is any indication, the familial horror movie promises to be an unsettling affair. Released on March 1.

“Only God Forgives” – Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and Canadian actor Ryan Gosling created a modern crime masterpiece with the moody and highly stylized “Drive” in 2011, and the pair are set to collaborate yet again on “Only God Forgives” – a revenge thriller set in the criminal underworld of Thailand. The film follows Julian (Gosling) - the son of the local drug queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) - who runs a Thai boxing gym in Bangkok as a front for his family’s illegal activities. After his brother is killed, his mother forces Julian to find and murder the person responsible. If the poster - featuring a badly beaten Gosling – offers any clues about the movie, it’s that “Only God Forgives” is going to be one violent ride. Release TBA.

“Star Trek into Darkness” – We still don’t really know what J. J. Abrams’ followup to the 2009 sci-fi reboot “Star Trek” is actually about, but that doesn’t make us any less excited about the galaxy-spanning sequel. There have been many clues that suggest that the film might be a retelling or spin on the classic “Space Seed/Wrath of Khan” storyline (the apparent superhuman powers of Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain, Alice Eve playing the role of Kirk’s “Wrath” squeeze Dr. Carol Marcus, etc.), but the trailers and other marketing materials for the film have been deliberately vague.

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Audiences will likely have to wait until the film’s release to find out anything concrete. Let’s just hope Abrams eases up on the lens flares this time out. Released on May 17.

“Man of Steel” - Warner Bros. has a lot riding on Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel.” Although the company has found plenty of success with the Batman franchise, their non-Caped Crusader superhero movies have not been quite as popular. The future of the planned DC Comics film universe – particularly the “Justice League” movie - rests heavily on the success of the new Superman flick. What we do know is that the movie looks gorgeous – though that’s not really a surprise given director Snyder’s involvement. But will “Man of Steel” have a heart? Snyder’s somewhat vapid previous films would indicate otherwise, but thankfully “Man of Steel” had “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan helping out on the story and production side of things. Donning the iconic red and blue suit is Brit Henry Cavill ("Immortals"), who leads a cast that includes Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Kevin Costner as Pa Kent, and Russell Crowe as Superman's Kryptonian father Jor-El. Consider us intrigued. Released on June 14.

 

This Is The End - TrailerThe comedy This Is The End follows six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, windling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption.

“This is the End” – An apocalyptic comedy starring a who’s who of Hollywood comic acting talent? Sign us up! While the “put enough funny people in a movie and it will be funny” formula doesn’t always work, it should be noted that “This is the End” has been a labour of love for Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”) and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”), who have been trying to get the project off the ground since 2007.

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What began as a fake trailer for a nonexistent movie (starring Canadians Rogen and Jay Baruchel as fictional versions of themselves) has blossomed into an all-star action comedy starring everyone from James Franco and Dannie McBride to Emma Watson and even Rihanna. "This is the End" is not going to win any Oscars, but it will more than likely deliver apocalyptic laughs and some serious Hollywood roasting. Released on June 14.

“Pacific Rim” - All that "Pan's Labyrinth" director Guillermo del Toro really had to say was "giant robots versus alien monsters," and audiences would have likely turned out in droves. Instead, del Toro offered up a whiz-bang trailer for "Pacific Rim," and the dreams of so many robot-loving '80s kids were finally realized on screen. The $200 million sci-fi flick follows humanity's desperate battle against an invading army of enormous aliens and is meant to be the Mexican director's homage to Japanese "Kaiju" movies like "Godzilla" that he watched as a child. With Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba starring as giant 'bot pilots, "Pacific Rim" promises to be the only movie of 2013 where you'll get to see a 400 foot tall mech rocket-punch an extraterrestrial monster in the face. That's gotta be worth something, right? Released on July 12.

“The Wolverine” - Forgetting for a moment the terrible "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," James Mangold's "The Wolverine" promises to give Hugh Jackman's mutant antihero a chance at the standalone film he deserves. Loosely based on a popular Frank Miller/Chris Claremont comic book storyline, the latest "X-Men" spinoff sees Logan travel to Japan to confront his mysterious past. Though Jackman's character seems to be a box office draw no matter how good or bad the movie is, the producers of the film should probably just cut to the chase and make the tagline of the film "Wolverine with a samurai sword." Sold yet? Released on July 24.

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“Ender’s Game” - Author Orson Scott Card's seminal 1985 sci-fi novel of the same name finally comes to the big screen, with big names like Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley on board, no less. Set after a devastating future war with an alien race, the film follows the harsh military training of Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a brilliant young boy whose strategic mind is thought to be humanity's best hope in the expected next conflict. Card's novel remains controversial to this day because of its violence and questionable morality, but how much of that will actually survive the transition to the big screen remains to be seen. Either way, it'll be good to see Harrison Ford in a sci-fi role once again. Released on October 25.

Are any of these films on your 2013 watch list? What else are you looking forward to this year?