Well, we’ve euthanized Old Man 2012, so now let’s welcome Young Baby 2013! What’s on the horizon for cinema in the coming year? It’s difficult to tell what might and might not be good at this early juncture. We can only guess based on plot synopses, cast and crew pedigrees, and sometimes trailers. Most of the major award contenders won’t emerge on the release slate until the film festivals start rolling out. At this point, here are the ten films coming out this year which I am most hopeful for.

Stoker (March 1)

stoker

South Korean director Park Chan-Wook makes his English-language debut with this weird-looking tale of a teenage girl (Mia Wasikowska) who develops an uneasy relationship with her uncle (Matthew Goode) after he moves in with her and her mentally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman). Chan-Wook is known for his incredibly dark, stylish, often twisted yet sophisticated films, and he has a distinctly un-Hollywood sensibility that I’m excited to see play out with Hollywood actors.

The Place Beyond the Pines (March 29)

Derek Cianfrance made waves with his controversial debut Blue Valentine back in 2010, and now he’s re-teamed with that film’s star, Ryan Gosling, for his follow-up. Gosling plays a carny motorcycle rider who stumbles into a clash with a policeman (Bradley Cooper) that dominoes into a multi-generational feud. The film’s trailer paints a picture of something starkly beautiful but gritty and harrowing.

The Heat (April 5)

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in a female buddy cop movie, directed by Paul Feig? I’m on board. Pretty much every comedy seems like an iffy prospect right up until it comes out (a rare exception is listed below), but there’s a ton of promise here. I trust everyone involved in this project

Iron Man 3 (May 3)

Iron Man 2 was a major disappointment, but Tony Stark’s resurgence in The Avengers and the addition of Shane Black as writer/director gives me renewed hope for this movie. Even with that weird new cream-colored suit that makes Iron Man look like a coffee accessory. Can Black and his team make this the rare great final movie in a trilogy? We’ll see.

Only God Forgives (US Release Unknown, Comes out in Denmark May 23)

only god forgives

Ryan Gosling pops up again, this time with his Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn. Refn is the undisputed master of movies that are incredibly vicious in a rather lovely and poetic way. This time, Gosling is an enforcer for a criminal operation in Bangkok who seeks to avenge the death of his brother. Kristin Scott Thomas plays his evil mother. There is nothing here that should not make you salivate. And of course, good or bad, this movie has already won the award for “Most Bone-Chillingly Badass Title of the Year.”

Much Ado About Nothing (June 7)

much ado about nothing

 

During the hectic production of The Avengers, Joss Whedon was somehow able to squeeze in this small film as well. It’s a black-and-white, modern-day-set adaptation of the Shakespeare play, filmed by a skeleton crew in just 12 days in Whedon’s own house, starring a coterie of his own favored actors. It’s such a curious oddity that I can’t help but be intrigued. And not just because I’ll watch pretty much anything Whedon puts out.

 

Pacific Rim (July 12)

pacific rim

 

Guillermo del Toro. Giant robots fighting giant monsters. Any questions? No? Good.

Elysium (August 9)

Back in 2009, Neill Blomkamp proved with District 9 that you could still make intelligent, ambitious sci-fi, and on a budget, to boot. So what happens when he’s handed a giant-sized budget and a blank creative check? This Matt Damon-starring tale of people on a ruined Earth attempting to break into the paradise space station of Elysium, that’s what. There’s an obvious metaphor for illegal immigration here that only excites me, as Blomkamp has demonstrated that the realm of the broad but powerful commentary is where he shines.

You’re Next (August 23)

This is a low-key indie horror film that started making its way around the festivals last year. It follows a family that comes under attack by a gang of brutal killers. Sounds like pretty standard slasher fare, right? But the reason it’s on this list is that every review I’ve read of the film has been an absolute gush, and not just from critics who focus on genre films. It’s been delayed for over two years, but it’ll finally be finding its way into theaters, and I’m definitely going to be there.

The World’s End (October 25)

the worlds end

This is the comedy that I have nothing but optimism for. Edgar Wright is one of the most exciting directors working today, and Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, his pair of loving and brilliant genre parodies, are two of the best comedies of the previous decade. Now, Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost are finishing off their “Blood and Cornetto” trilogy (Extremely violent movie parodies in which a flavor of Cornetto ice cream shows up at some point) with this apocalyptic tale of a pub crawl turned epic. If you aren’t looking forward to this, you just hate good things.