This will be, I believe, my fifth year writing this column. It’s one that I look forward to writing (twice) each year and one that I hope some of you, my dear readers, get at least a little something out of. If you’re a longtime fan of The Soap Box Office, you know that two years ago I started breaking this column up into two parts, one (the likes of which you are about to read) to cover January through June and one to cover the back half of the year, allowing me to highlight a few more films and protecting me from having to judge a late-November movie I haven’t even seen a poster for yet. As always, it should be noted that this is far from a science. I avoid bad movies like a champ but it can, of course, be difficult to peg a stinker six months out (see: the prominent place of Green Lantern in 2011 and the unfortunate miss on Taken 2). Also, let me say right now that the front half of 2013 looks like a real kick in the pants. Now, the back half…that’s a solid six months for film! But this section…not the best. So read on at your own peril. Honorable Mention – The Great Gatsby (May 10) – Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carrie Mulligan I really, really, really want to like The Great Gatsby. It’s one of my favorite books and DiCaprio is one of my favorite actors in the business, not to mention that the trailers forecast it to be a beautiful film. But man, I am just not a fan of Baz Luhrmann’s style. This leaves me quite wary of the finished product.
10. 42 (April 12) – Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Kelley Jakle It is SHOCKING to me that it’s taken over 60 years to get a legit, modern biopic for Jackie Robinson. I’m not entirely sold that 42 is going to be the landmark film that a hero like Robinson really deserves; it looks entirely too much like The Express for my tastes. Even still, it’s a tremendous story that needs to be told and I’m digging Ford’s involvement.
9. A Good Day to Die Hard (February 15) – Bruce Willis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jai Courtney Look, I know I shouldn’t be excited about the fifth entry in a series that probably should have stopped after the first one. But what can I say? I need more John McClaine in my life. Die Hard is the greatest action movie of all time and while none of the sequels have measured up, I have a healthy appreciation for all of them, especially Live Free or Die Hard, which I find to be incredibly rewatchable. At the end of the day, Bruce Willis in his element is never a bad thing, even when it isn’t a GREAT thing.
8. Warm Bodies (February 1) – Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich For the last I don’t know how many years, I have repeatedly made it clear that I am not the sort of nerd who goes in for all this zombie stuff. And yet, I now find myself deeply enthralled with The Walking Dead, defending the literary integrity of World War Z in the face of a movie adaptation I already loathe, and putting a blasted zombie rom-com on my “anticipated” list. I guess I’ve changed. Warm Bodies looks BRILLIANT to me and its pedigree (written and directed by Jonathan Levine of 50/50 fame) is superb.
7. Monsters University (June 21) – Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi Two years ago, there’s a very good chance that Monsters University would have topped this list. Monsters Inc. is one of my favorite Pixar films and if you know of my affinity for Pixar you know that that is really saying something. But with the near-travesty that was Cars 2 and the good-not-Pixar-great turn by Brave, I find myself much more leery of the studio than I ever thought I would be. That said, decent Pixar is still better than almost any other animated film so, of course, I’m still on board.
6. Fast and Furious 6 (May 24) – Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, The Rock You know what’s awesome, almost in spite of itself? Fast Five. I have probably watched all or parts of Fast Five two dozen times over the last 18 months and I am 100% not ashamed to admit it. Okay, maybe 90% not ashamed. Seriously, though, I love this franchise and it seems to me that everyone involved, from Diesel and Walker on to director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan are just now hitting their stride on how to make this series work. I can’t wait. I. CANNOT. Wait.
5. Oblivion (April 19) – Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko I had this movie flip-flopped originally with Fast Six but a viewing of the trailer in a theater today changed the order. I'm fully intrigued now. I don’t fully understand what’s happening in the first trailer for Oblivion and I think that’s part of why it’s so exciting. Is Morgan Freeman an alien or some sort of survivor from our species that was, assumedly, sort-of wiped out? Either way, I’m excited! And, as the leader of the “Movie Bloggers Who Love Tom Cruise” coalition, the prospect of Cruise in his first sci-fi turn in 8 years is exciting!
4. Gangster Squad (January 11) – Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone Obviously the reasons why Gangster Squad was bumped from the fall to January are awful. But if they were going to move it, it was awful nice of the studio to give it to us early in the year when it will be surrounded by absolutely nothing worth seeing, providing a nice little stop over to get us through to the warmer months. The more times I watch this trailer, the more I become convinced that, regardless of how the overall movie turns out, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both going to be INCREDIBLE in their roles. Also, I don’t know when exactly Gosling became one of my Hollywood favorites but I now look forward to his films sight unseen just because of his involvement.
3. Iron Man 3 (May 3) – Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley This is the mark at which 2013 stars to get itself in gear. Like most fans of this series, I was disappointed that Jon Favreau left the director’s chair empty instead of finishing at least a trilogy with a strong final chapter (though, if memory serves, RDJ will be back for a fourth film). Marvel wasted no time in replacing him, though, with Shane Black, who collaborated with RDJ on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a seriously underrated film that put its star back on the map. I am truly excited about seeing them work together again and the additions to the cast are fantastic.
2. Man of Steel (June 14) – Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Kevin Coster, Russell Crowe The fact that Man of Steel finds such a prominent place on this list is a testament to the ability of anyone and everyone involved with this film’s marketing campaign. Truth be told, Superman bores me to tears. I’ve never really and truly enjoyed any of the previous films and teaming director Zack Snyder with a relatively unknown Brit in the cape was not the best way to pique my interest. But the trailers, posters, etc. for Man of Steel have been otherworldly-great, bringing about a sort of giddy anticipation that I never would have expected a year ago.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17) – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch 2009’s Star Trek was one of my favorites of the year (in a very strong year I might add) and since then, it has become one of my favorites, period. It is constantly in my home viewing rotation. This sequel has the potential to be better, maybe even significantly better. As I noted when the trailer first arrived, it definitely has a different, much grander tone than the first film, which makes me nervous. But if JJ Abrams (in whom I place great trust) can pull it together, Star Trek Into Darkness could be a landmark sort of sci-fi blockbuster and could FINALLY make Benedict Cumberbatch a household name on these shores.