The world is going to end in 2013, repeatedly: by aliens, bad waste management, war or zombies. In other apocalyptic news, Adam Sandler is releasing Grown Ups 2. On the bright side, a plethora of heroes are standing up. The Superman franchise has been rebooted (and re-caped) by director Zack Snyder as Man of Steel, starring English actor Henry Cavill as one of those few “good” aliens. Superman will be leading a pack of both superheroes and the conventional muscular variety (Arnie, Bruce, Sly) to save the world. And, perhaps, new films coming from Spike Jonze, the Coen brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Atom Egoyan and Terrence Malick can save cinema at the same time.
What follows is a handy compendium of 2013 movies, to help keep the disasters and the saviours straight. A word of caution: Release dates are given when known but may change. If we know one thing from the movies, it’s that anything can happen and frequently does.
Starting with the crème, two must-see Oscar contenders for 2012 have not yet been widely released: Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or-winning Amour, about an elderly Parisian couple in the last fight of their lives, hits the screens on Jan. 11, as does Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which topped many year-end critics’ polls, and raised clouds of controversy. Jumping ahead to next year’s contenders, some directors are already in the running. Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (May 10) stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the glamorous, corrupt protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Roaring Twenties novel, with Carey Mulligan as Daisy, his dream girl with a voice full of money. English director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) brings to the screen Twelve Years a Slave, the 19th-century memoir of a New Yorker kidnapped and sold into slavery, which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Paul Giamatti. The Coen brothers are back with Inside Llewyn Davis, a fictional account of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early sixties, with Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan again, and Justin Timberlake. Details about Terrence Malick’s latest, Knight of Cups (named after a tarot card), are, typically for the enigmatic director, being kept under wraps, though we know it stars Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett. Otherwise, Meryl Streep can probably draft her best-actress speech for her role as a sharp-tongued, drug-addled, ailing matriarch in the film adaptation of Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer-winning black comedy, August: Osage County.
Following the conclusion of the Twilight film series, there’s more room for other stories of young women action stars and their supernatural lovers. In the supernatural horror-comedy Warm Bodies (Feb. 1), teen Julie (Teresa Palmer) falls for an undead boy, Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class), and brings him back to life. Then there’s The Host (March 21), adapted from a book by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, about aliens invading human bodies – though one surviving human (Saoirse Ronan) bonds with her resident alien to reunite with her loved ones. Finally, Jennifer Lawrence follows the most successful female action film in history with the sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Nov. 21).
The lot falls into three sub-categories this year:
1. Family Movies: The Croods (March 22), with Nicolas Cage and Catherine Keener, follows the adventures of a pre-Flintstones stone-age family. Monsters University (June 21), is a prequel to Monsters Inc., in which Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are nerdy college kids. Also this year, for the middle-aged kids, comes the droll Mr. Peabody and Sherman (Nov. 1), a 3-D animated version of the half-century-old cartoon (part of the groundbreaking Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) about the genius dog, Mr. Peabody, and his pet boy, Sherman.
2. Girl Power: In the animated musical Dorothy and Oz, Dorothy Gale (Glee’s Lea Michele) returns to tornado-devastated Kansas and then is transported back to Oz where there’s fresh trouble. The environmentally flavoured Epic (May 24), based on a story by William Joyce (Rise of the Guardians), is about a teen (Amanda Seyfried) involved in a battle between good and evil to save the forest. Returning to its traditional fairy-tale base, Disney offers Frozen (Nov. 27) based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, starring Kristen Bell as the princess who must race to lift an icy curse on her heart. Disney is also to rerelease its 1989 hit The Little Mermaid, in 3-D (Sept. 13).
3. Boys and toys: Escape from Planet Earth (Feb. 14) has Brendan Fraser as a heroic astronaut on another planet, and Rob Corddry as his nerdy sibling. Disney’s Planes (Aug. 9) is a spinoff of Cars, while DreamWorks’s Turbo is a story of a snail who wants to be the fastest snail ever (is there an escargot pun here?). And then there are all those sequels to help kids learn to count: Despicable Me 2 (July 3), The Smurfs 2 (July 31) and Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers (Sept. 27).