50 Movies You Need To See In 2013: Part 1

50 Movies You Need To See In 2013: Part 1 film still

Ready for another bumper year of cinematic releases? Not before you've digested our essential guide to the movies that matter in 2013.



Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Released 1 February

Denzel Washington turns up the awards season heat with his central turn as a troubled airline pilot whose fondness for hooch hampers his day job to the tune of one downed passenger jet. Nice to see Zemeckis finally emerge from his CG cocoon.

Did you know This is Zemeckis' first film to receive an R rating in the US since his second feature, 1980's Used Cars.

Twelve Years A Slave

Directed by Steve McQueen

Released Winter 2013

A man living in New York during the mid-1800s is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep south. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch star.

Did you know McQueen's third directorial feature reunites Louisiana natives Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis, who shone in their shared screen debut, Beasts Of The Southern Wild.


Directed by Sacha Gervasi

Released 8 February

Yet another coffee table biopic with some heavy facial prosthetics, Hitchcock focuses on a key time in the life of the Master of Suspense, specifically the making of his postmodern slasher masterpiece, Psycho. Anthony Hopkins fills out the title role with Helen Mirren as his beloved wife and collaborator, Alma Reville.

Did you know Real-life serial killer Ed Gein not only inspired the character of Norman Bates but also Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, which famously stars Anthony Hopkins.

A Good Day To Die Hard


Directed by John Moore

Released 14 February

It's fifth time unto the breach for trigger-happy wiseacre John McClane (Bruce Willis), who this time around is drafted in by his own CIA operative son to prevent a nuclear war with the Russkies.

Did you know A Good Day To Die Hard is the first film to be specifically written as a Die Hard movie. The previous four were originally generic action movies which had McClane's character later added to them.

This Is 40

Directed by Judd Apatow

Released 14 February

Even though he's been behind some of the most popular and effective funnies of the twenty-first century, Judd Apatow returns with this melancholic comedy (melancomedy?) about a nuclear family navigating a mid-life rut. Stars Paul Rudd alongside Mrs Apatow, Leslie Mann.

Did you know Judd Apatow used to share a flat with Adam Sandler.

Cloud Atlas

Directed by Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer

Released 22 February

Returning after the horrific neon-hued pile-up that was Speed Racer, the Wachowskis return with Tom Tykwer cover their backs for this adaptation of David Mitchell purportedly 'unfilmable' novel. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry cake on the make-up as the universal representations of mankind in his or her many forms through the ages.

Did you know The production was split between two parallel filming units, one helmed by Tykwer and the other by the Wachowskis. No crew members beside the cast and the directors themselves were shared.

The Grandmaster


Directed by Wong Kar-Wai

Released 2013 TBC

Going head-to-head in the post production perfectionism stakes with fellow auteur big dog Terrence Malick, Wong Kar-Wai's long, long, long-gestating martial arts biopic of Ip Man, the Wing Chun instructor who taught Bruce Lee everything he knows, is soon set for a release. Look out for our first-look review when it opens the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival on 7 February.

Did you know This is leading man Tony Leung's seventh collaboration Wong Kar-Wai.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

Released Spring 2013

Another year, another Coen brothers movie, and as usual, nothing less than excellence is expected. Very little is known about this '60s-set tale of Greenwich Village bohos which is said to be loosely-based on an account of the era by folk minstrel and certified 'Mayor of MacDougal Street', Dave Van Ronk. Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake star.

Did you know An early review of the script suggests the film has no plot, so this could be one to file next to O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Released Autumn 2013

Uncle Marty has clearly purged his predilection for wide-eyed enchantment with Hugo, as his follow-up is a dense, deep and what looks to be a deadly serious cinematic excavation of serious fraud on Wall Street. And if that sounds a little dry, rest assured that Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey and Jean Dujardin are all on hand to pep up the proceedings.

Did you know The Wolf Of Wall Street boasts Spike Jonze's first credited feature film acting appearance since 1999's Three Kings.

Mood Indigo


Directed by Michel Gondry

Released Summer 2013

Michel Gondry seems to have gone off the boil of late, especially since his shot at the comic book big time (The Green Hornet) was met with general disdain, as was its smaller, more experimental follow-up, The We And The I. Fingers crossed, then, that this eccentric-sounding new one, in which a woman (Audrey Tautou) suffers from an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs, sees him wheedling his way back into the good books.

Did you know Gondry still keeps his hand in with music video directing. His most recent was the promo for Bjork's Crystalline.

The Wind Rises

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Released 2013 TBC

Obviously we'll be getting another big annual quota of animated films from the Hollywood dream factory in 2013, but it's worth noting that Japan's Hayao Miyazaki will, at the age of 71, be offering up another potentially idiosyncratic Eastern missive in the form of The Wind Rises, his biopic of World War Two fighter plane designer, Jirō Horikoshi.

Did you know Studio Ghibli's other founder, Isao Takahata, has also directed a new film for 2013 called The Tale Of Princess Kaguya.


Directed by James Gray

Released 2013 TBC

Writer/director James Gray has always been one of those almost-but-not-quite filmmakers, though his previous film, Two Lovers, proved once and for all that he really has something of a magic touch. This latest (originally called Lowlife), which some are predicting will open the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, stars Marion Cotillard as an immigrant woman who is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a magician (Jeremy Renner) attempts to save her. We're intrigued.

Did you know Among his many forthcoming projects, Gray is also writing a Steve McQueen biopic which is set to also star Renner.

Upstream Color


Directed by Shane Carruth

Released 2013 TBC

When the line-up for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival was released, any cinephile worth their salt was most excited by Shane Carruth's long-in-demand follow-up to his sensational time travel brainteaser debut, Primer. Upstream Color is finally in the can, and looks like Carruth has been drinking the same Kool Aid that Terrence Malick was when he made The Tree Of Life.

Did you know: To this day, Carruth offers a prize of $1,000 to the first person to correctly explain the plot of Primer.

Only God Forgives

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Released Summer 2013

Looking increasingly like a modern day answer to Nicholas Ray or Samuel Fuller, Denmark's number one exponent of hard man cinema, Nicolas Winding Refn, returns after the success of Drive with a tale of cops in exile, underwood hoods and the joys of Thai boxing as a great leveller. Also in tow is his super cool leading man, Ryan Gosling, whose face resembles a mangled Christmas ham in the shocking first promo image.

Did you know Refn is rumoured to be remaking the mad, Larry Cohen-scripted 1988 horror film, Maniac Cop.

Night Moves

Directed by Kelly Reichardt

Released Winter 2013

Sharing its name with Arthur Penn's superlative 1975 detective yarn, this latest from American master Kelly Reichardt looks set to be her grandest production yet. Starring Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg as eco activists out to blow up a hydroelectric dam, early mumbles suggests that the directors touchstones are classical suspense films like The Wages Of Fear and Rififi.

Did you know Eisenberg and Fanning replaced original casting choices Paul Dano and Rooney Mara.



Directed by Pablo Larraín

Released 8 February

Who would have guessed that a movie about a 1988 politician referendum in Chile would be an early frontrunner for best film of 2013? Gael García Bernal as an influential ad man who's co-opted to help fight a television campaign to oust General Pinochet from power.

Did you know In the spirit of the film, it was shot entirely on vintage TV cameras from the period.


Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Released 2013 TBC

It’s finally happening. Mexican master of misery Alejandro González Iñárritu is making a comedy. Very little is known of the project thus far, though it's said to be about an actor who made his name playing a superhero and then attempts a 'serious' comeback by putting on a play. There’s currently no star attached to the film, so if it doesn’t crop up in 2013, expect it to arrive early 2014.

Did you know Iñárritu is also (still) developing a gritty revenge drama called The Revenant which Leonardo DiCaprio is said to be interested in. So it’s not all fun and larks.

The Evil Dead

Directed by Fede Alvarez

Released 19 April

Excited for a(nother) horror remake? We may U-turn on this one nearer the time, but this retooling of Sam Raimi’s superlative 1981 plasticine 'n' food dye opus has certainly piqued our interest. Maybe for no other reason that to prove that digital special effects will never be able to trump tactile gloop in a million years.

Did you know Original Ash Bruce Campbell declined the offer of a cameo role.



Directed by Park Chan-wook

Released 1 March

The kind of operatic Eastern revenge sagas heads to the US of A to flex his creative muscles on this curiously-titled fairy tale about a booze-addled widow (Nicole Kidman), her Wednesday Addams-ish daughter (Mia Wasikowska) and the strange goings on that occur when their dapped Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) pays them a visit. Shadow Of A Doubt remake, anyone?

Did you know Park Chan-wook turned down the chance to direct the remake of The Evil Dead.

Venus In Fur

Directed by Roman Polanski

Released Winter 2013

2013 should be a big year for Polanski, kicking off as it does with a major retrospective of his work at the BFI. His new film, like his previous effort, Carnage, has been adapted from a stage play (by David Ives), and sees an actress (played by – stunt casting alert! – Mrs Polanski, Emmanuelle Seigner) attempting to convince a director how perfect for a role in his upcoming production.

Did you know Polanski will turn 80 this year.

To The Wonder

Directed by Terrence Malick

Released 22 February

El Tel returns after his glorious The Tree Of Life with another beauteous tale of metaphysical woe, again set in the southern states of America. Starring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko and a host of others who were eventually cut from the film (natch), the film got something of a critical brick-batting following its Autumn festival screenings, so we’re keen to see how this one turns out.

Did you know Malick did a script polish on Jack Nicholson’s 1971 directorial debut, Drive, He Said.

Side Effects


Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Released 15 March

Steven Soderbergh scored something of a minor hit in 2012 with his charming male stripper yarn Magic Mike, and has decided to collaborate with its star, Channing Tatum, once more in this tale concerning the social hazards of drug addiction. Stirling support is offered in the form of Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jude Law.

Did you know The director’s long-mooted Liberace biopic is also coming out in 2013. It’s called Behind The Candelabra and will premiere on TV. Don't be surprised if the 'Bergh squeezes out another flick before the year is out.

Neighbouring Sounds

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho

Released 2013 TBC

There’s few things more exciting than seeing a festival film slowly but surely gain traction over the year to the point where it’s picked up for local release. Such is the case with Kleber Mendonça Filho’s sublime Neighbouring Sounds, a film looking at the daily workings of a large estate in Recife, Brazil, that draws on both Jacques Tati’s Playtime and John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13.

Did you know We’ve seen it, it’s ace. So look out for it, okay?

Bad Santa 2

Directed by Steve Pink

Released Winter 2013

In a recent revealing interview Terry Zwigoff, the director of Ghost World and the original Bad Santa movie, he complained this his salty Christmas caper was altered by the studios and that he’d be keen to release a director’s cut. In the meantime, we may have to do with this belated sequel in which Billy Bob Thornton again dons his soiled fur-lined Santa suit, this time with Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink taking up the directing reigns.

Did you know Thornton first mentioned the idea of a BS sequel on a TV talk show back in 2009.



Directed by Danny Boyle

Released 27 March

Golden boy Danny Boyle could’ve pretty much filmed the contents of his fridge for two hours and been given a free pass for his follow up to both Oscar and Olympics glory. His new one, Trance, sees James McAvoy witness an art heist, to then wind up in need of some deep neural probing (c/o Rosario Dawson) to locate the perps.

Did you know The film is not a Human Traffic-style look at the '90s clubbing scene.

Want more 2013 movie goodness? Check out the second part of our essential preview and tweet us your most anticipated films of the year @LWLies.

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