Below is my third list of films for the 2013-2014 Awards season, titled Little Pics That Might Could. Each article in this series will present a group of upcoming releases that are currently on my watch list. I divided the articles up to each represent the strengths found in cinema in one of the last four years (with 2013 as an unknown wild card for the fifth post). This post is in honor of the year 2011, when the little art house film (most too small for Oscar to notice) ruled the day. In its honor, I present this set of films destined for limited release and crossed fingers. This category can contain many genres, but it is mainly the stomping ground of dramas and dramedies.
On a side note, 2013 is showing early signs of a strong art house year already. Films like Mud, Fruitvale & Ain't Them Bodies Saints are already tearing up the festival circuit and we still have films from Jeunet and Gillam coming down the pike.
The movies that already have release dates are presented in chronological order. The films that have not received such dates are listed alphabetically afterward. The fifteen films (that have not already been released) that I am most excited about seeing appear in bold with short descriptions of why. Do not be surprised if we see some of these get pushed back until 2014. I will be surprised if we don't. Still, for now, the Little Pics That Might Could in 2013 are...
01/11 - Quartet (stars Maggie Smith)
03/15 - Better Mus Come
Ginger & Rosa (Elle Fanning is supposed to be amazing)
03/22 - My Brother the Devil (gay themes and Islam collide in Great Britain)
The Sapphires (the 2012 festival sensation finally makes it stateside)
04/26 - Mud: So, director Jeff Nichols blew me away with Take Shelter in 2011 and Michael Shannon (my #1 lead male performance of 2011 for Shelter) is reunited with the film maker for this picture. This film has received almost universal praise on the festival circuit. Oh, and for those who feel Matthew McConaughey was unduly snubbed for his work in Magic Mike last year, this is supposedly the best work of his career. Also features Reese Witherspoon.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
05/03 - What Maisie Knew (Julianne Moore & Alexander Skarsgard & the trailer looks GREAT)
05/17 - The English Teacher (Julianne Moore again)
05/31 - Shadow Dancer (Andrea Riseborough's lead performance has received near universal acclaim)
06/07 - Passion (Brian De Palma directs a sapphic thriller starring Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams)
06/14 - Bling Ring (director Sophia Coppola's follow up to Somewhere looks far less drowsy)
06/21 - Unfinished Song (Terrence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave)
07/19 - Girl Most Likely (Kristen Wiig and Matt Damon)
07/26 - Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen's latest)
Fruitvale: This film already won writer/director Ryan Coogler both the Grand Jury Prize and an Audience Award at Sundance before being picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Co. I don't know how your math adds up, but that sounds like a potential awards player to me. Star Michael B. Jordan is also generating buzz. Octavia Spencer supports.
08/16 - Ain't Them Bodies Saints: This one won the Cinematography award at Sundance and David Lowery won the Directors To Watch award at the Palm Springs Film Festival. With a cast that includes Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster, this one could also be a major player.
TBA - Austenland
Berberian Sound Studio: This little horror film cleaned up at last year's British Independent Film Awards as well as with the London Film Critics Circle last year. Lead actor Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) has also won a lot of acclaim. Now if it would just get a U.S. release date...
Breathe In (writer/director Drake Doremus's follow up to Martha Marcy Mae Marlene)
Calvary (writer/director John Michael McDonaugh's follow up to The Guard)
Dallas Buyer's Club: Matthew McConaughey may have the best year ever in 2013. He stars in this tale of a homophobic man infected with HIV in the mid-80's who founds a smuggling ring to get unapproved meds into this country. Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria, Cafe de Flore) directs and Jennifer Garner co-stars.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hers
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His: Two films that tell the same story from two different perspectives. This will be the debut feature from writer/director Ned Benson but he managed to attract a cast that includes Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Ciaran Hinds, William Hurt and Viola Davis.
Effie: Emma Thompson penned this one and has a meaty supporting turn. Oh, and it stars Dakota Fanning.
Francis Ha (Noah Brumbaugh and Greta Gerwig's follow up to Greenberg)
Gambit (script by the Coen Brothers)
Jayne Mansfield's Car (written & directed by Billy Bob Thornton)
Kill Your Darlings: Writer/director John Krokidas's debut feature is a thriller set in the world of the beat generation. The film stars (get ready) Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, Elizabeth Olsen, Ben Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgewick & Dane Dehaan. Krokidas was cited as a director to watch at the Palm Springs film festival.
Laurence Anyways: Winner of the Queer Palme at 2012 Cannes, this film from director Xavier Dolan (I Killed My Mother) follows a transexual's relationship with her lover as she changes. Actress Suzanne Clement also was awarded Un Certain Regard.
The Look of Love (from Michael Winterbottom, director of 24 Hour Party People)
Madame Bovary: This latest adaptation from director Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls) is being kept fairly quiet at the moment. However, any film that stars Ezra Miller, Mia Wasikowska & Paul Giamatti has my interest.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom: The Weinstein Company has already picked up this latest from director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl), which always boosts a film's chances at recognition. The film stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris as the Mandelas.
Mother of George
Night Moves (Jesse Eisenberg & Dakota Fanning)
Nymphomaniac: Writer/director Lars von Trier is both a genius and a madman, his films both amazing and disturbing. This follow up to the masterpiece Melancholia stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Christian Slater, and Willem Dafoe.
Parkland (Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Tom Welling, Billy Bob Thornton, Jackie Earle Hayley...)
The Railway Man: Oscar loves movies tied to World War II and true stories and this is both. More than that it stars Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, and War Horse star Jeremy Irvine.
Sunlight, Jr. (Naomi Watts & Matt Dillon)
You Can't Win
The Young and Prodigious Spivet: Writer/director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's work (Amelie, City of Lost Children, Micmacs) is always creative, playful, dark and wondrous simultaneously. This time he's working in English with Helena Bonham Carter, Rober Maillet (a usual suspect), Callum Keith Rennie and Judy Davis.
Zero Theorem: Terry Gillam has got to be one of the most pivotal directors of the last several decades to have never received a Best Director nomination (although he did get a screenwriting nod for Brazil). Granted, his work is usually VERY bizarre, but surely the Academy has to recognize what a unique cinematic voice the man has. Oh, well, they'll probably ignore this one too, and I'll probably love it. The cast features Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton, David Thewliss & Melanie Thierry.
And that does it for the Little Pics That Might Could in the coming year. Two more sets of films remain. Next up: "The Usual Suspects" covers the true Oscar Bait. Hop aboard my lily pad and take a look.
Related Articles: Upcoming 2013 Award Season Preview: Part One: Pulpy Players, Part Two: Specialties That Might Spellbind, Senna, Take 13 (Take Shelter review), Where Did the Magic Spider Go? (Magic Mike review), Martha's Certified Method (Martha Marcy Mae Marlene review), WE Guard Rum (The
Guard review), Beautiful Melancholy Conspirator (Melancholia review)