The Most Anticipated Movies of 2013: The Real Deal

List: 50-46 | 45-41 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1 | Runners-Up: 10-6 | 5-1 |

The top ten has arrived a little late - but no worries, there's still plenty of time to figure out if I'm a giant d-bag for my selection! If there is going to be only 10 movies that I would pay full price on - this would be the list. I have really high expectations for all of these movies and if they come even close to fulfilling the hype they've landed on this blog, then I consider it a win!

10. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro
Release Date: December 13
I just finished a marathon viewing at my local theater of the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And it was awesome. I had completely forgot how great this epic fantasy trilogy was. It has been almost eight years since I had seen any of the movies and I completely enjoyed all 11 hours of them. So The Hobbit has a lot to live up to - I certainly think it's the better (and more adventurous) of all of Tolkien's books - it was just more fun. Whereas the politics and warfare of the trilogy are center stage for the last two thirds of the trilogy - The Hobbit is all about the journey to defeat a dragon and claim his treasure. But in between the time I wrote about the first movie in last year's list and now, the studio decided to split up the movie again into three parts. Don't get me wrong - I want to see more and more of Tolkien's world and I'll line up on opening weekend to see all of them - however, I do believe the story didn't need to be more than two movies long. It does sound like most of the third movie is drawn from the supplemental material Tolkien wrote in the appendices of Return of the King to help "bridge" the gap between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. Which is dumb - the third movie is probably not going to be that good. But we're not here to talk about that movie (save that for next year!) - we're here to talk about this movie and it's going to be awesome - Smaug is the dragon that the dwarves and Bilbo confront at the climax of the story - so this is going to be exciting - I have a really good feeling this is going to rock my world. I spent a lot of time complaining about this particular trilogy, but it's still Middle-Earth and it's still Peter Jackson (with Guillermo del Toro co-writing!), so I can't get too upset. There's a reason this one is number 10 and I'm going to enjoy every single minute of this fantasy!
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gweneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce
Director: Shane Black
Writers: Shane Black, Drew Pearce
Release Date: May 3
Iron Man 2 was a bit of a let down. I enjoyed all of the characters, but the story was a little bit of a mess and there really wasn't any character development. Thankfully, Shane Black, the man who wrote and directed one of Robert Downey Jr.'s best movies, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, has written and directed this third installment. I appreciate what Jon Favreau did for the series, but Iron Man is in need of a fresh take. And although the trailer makes this third film look like the darkest and most depressing of all the Iron Man films, the producer, Kevin Feige (the brains behind the whole Marvel universe phase one and two epicness), has gone on to say that this is still going to be a fun movie and don't worry too much about the tone - it's still a summer blockbuster. I'm not familiar with the comic books and Iron Man's foes, but the Mandarin is Iron Man's most familiar villain and I think Ben Kingsley is the right man to play this guy - he lends a lot of credibility to the film and I think this will be streets ahead of Mickey Rourke's Whiplash. There's also Guy Pearce as a semi-villain? I think Guy Pearce is another great addition and he'll bring his own unique flavor to the movie. The teaser trailer looks amazing - but I'm not getting my hopes up too high - Iron Man 2 looked amazing according to the trailers, but it ended up just okay. I think Iron Man 3 is going to make a rebound and will be a great addition to the series. And on top of that, it's going to be the first movie to start the whole Avengers, phase two part of the Marvel Universe, which is exciting and I can't wait to see what little tidbits they'll insert into this movie to hint at a much larger conflict.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt
Release Date: November 22
The Hunger Games seemed like it came out of nowhere this year to actually live up to the "next Twilight/Harry Potter" hype. And it earned that honor because of its smart adaptation and amazing cast. The cast returns, along with a few new additions - this time there's more beefier roles for the Tributes. And those new Tributes have been cast well - Jeffrey Wright plays Beetee, a very smart tribute who helps Katniss during the hunger games and Jenna Malone plays Johanna Mason, who eventually befriends Katniss and helps her "win" the game. So I'm all thumps up on the cast and the movie is written by a couple of amazing writers (Beaufoy is responsible for Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, while Arndt has the upcoming Obivion, Toy Stoy 3 and Little Miss Sunshine to his credit). I don't know about the director, however. His last movie was Water for Elephants, a terrible, terrible film - but that was more to do with the screenplay and acting more than anything else. He's also done I Am Legend, which I liked. So he's a mixed bag, but I think he'll be able to pull this off. Most people think Catching Fire is the weakest of the three books, but it's still good! There's a lot of fun stuff that happens in the book and I cannot wait to see how they pull off the arena - an environment that has all sorts of dangerous traps and hazards. I really liked how the first movie cut away from the perspective of Katniss to show what's happening with the sponsors and back home. The books are all told through her perspective, so if the rest of the movies stick to this same blend of different perspectives, it's going to be really amazing.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mareille Enos, David Morse
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Damon Lindelof, Matthew Michael Carnahan
Release Date: June 21
After constant production delays and problems on the set (and being number 17 on my list last year!), World War Z is shaping up to be the summer zombie film. There's been several different people who've worked on the script (only two get credit!) and there's been really good buzz about the story. Some have compared the story to that of Children of Men, which is one of my favorite sci-fi flicks. The film is based on a novel about an oral history of a fictional zombie outbreak and subsequent war by Max Brooks. The film focuses on an United Nations employee trying to figure out how to stop the pandemic. A lot of people are really upset at where the movie is headed, but I cannot imagine how to distill a story like World War Z with a lot different characters into a two-hour movie. I trust the writers to tell a good story while maintaining the spirit of the book. And Marc Forster, who's done a good action film with a terrible story (Quantum of Solace) and a phenomenal drama with no action (Stranger Than Fiction) - so the dude's legit. People may complain (even me! I could not get into The Walking Dead!) that zombies are getting old, but there really hasn't been a whole lot of major studio zombie films lately and this looks like it's going to put to shame all those awful direct-to-DVD zombie B-flicks. The talent is there and the script sounds like it's going to be awesome - this should be an amazing, epic movie even if it's had a lot of re-writes and re-shoots. The trailer really puts it all out there and I love how they're treating the zombie hoard by giving them a relentless speed. Brad Pitt is going to be great - I hope I see him kicking some zombie ass and I cannot wait to see this on the big screen.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writers: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón, Rodrigo Garcia
Release Date: October 18
There's still not a whole lot of information about this movie since this was on my list last year at number 46. But the more I hear about what could happen with this movie and how Alfonso Cuarón has a very ambitious plan for the movie, the more I really, really want to see this. The official plot synopsis is this: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone--tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth, and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space. Doesn't this just sound amazing? I think this could be 127 Hours in space and that's a really awesome thing! I really think Cuaron is an amazing, visionary director and rumor has it there's a really long and continous open shot in space (Children of Men has one amazing continuous shot that leaves me speechless every time I see it (the car chase!). I know this is going to be simply beautiful - Cuaron is known for making his movies look and feel like poems and this won't be an exception. If the tension and acting can hold up as well as the directing, this is going to be topping critics' lists next year.

List: 50-46 | 45-41 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1 | Runners-Up: 10-6 | 5-1 |

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