Big Bangs

Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell, David Koechner and Steve Carell go forward into the past (the ‘80s, to be exact) in the Anchorman sequel.

After a so-so summer of mostly unremarkable releases, Oscar season is now upon us, and it looks promising. Rather than offering a laundry list of upcoming new releases, here are the six movies I’m looking forward to the most over the next four months.

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Insidious: Chapter 2

No filmmakers working today do horror better than director James Wan and his longtime collaborator, actor/writer Leigh Whannell. Together they’ve found a way to genuinely scare and disturb, as true horror should do, without relying on obscene slasher or torture porn conventions. This may not mean much to those who don’t like getting the bejeezus scared out of them, but after the first Saw in 2004, Insidious in 2010 and this year’s The Conjuring, excitement and expectations are high for where they’ll take Insidious next.

Gravity

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock play astronauts for director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men) in this sci-fi drama. While floating in outer space, Bullock’s character, who is mourning the loss of her child, loses sight of her ship and co-pilot (Clooney) and is set adrift. The film is promisingly tense and well-made and has Oscar vibes all over it.

The Counselor

Working from an original script by acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men), director Ridley Scott has an all-star cast for this story of drugs and corruption. Michael Fassbender plays the title role, a lawyer lured into a drug-running operation who gets in over his head. Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz play baddies, and Penelope Cruz also stars. Movies from A-list directors about characters in over their heads – Martin Scorsese’s The Departed comes to mind – can be phenomenal when handled well, so here’s hoping Scott is at the top of his game and he doesn’t give us another dud like Prometheus.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Speaking of Scorsese, his latest stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a hotshot stockbroker who makes millions through illegal securities fraud. The time is the early ’90s, so expect plenty of hedonism in the form of women and cocaine, and be ready for what look like eccentric characters played by Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. Aside from the fact that a new Scorsese movie is always cause for excitement, and that DiCaprio looks to be at his dapper, charming best prior to his character inevitably getting caught, it’ll be interesting to see what parallels Scorsese draws between financial crimes of 20 years ago and those of today. Shockingly similar, one expects.

Anchorman 2

The world has waited nine long years for the return of Ron Burgundy, and if he treats the ’80s the same way he handled the ’70s, we all win. Along with director Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner return for a sequel in which Ron has lost everything, only to have a chance for redemption at the advent of 24-hour cable news. With Ron staying classy on the national stage and cameos from Kristen Wiig, Harrison Ford, Tina Fey, Kanye West and more, this could be the funniest movie of 2013.

August: Osage County

Family drama is one thing. But family drama that prompts Julia Roberts to lash out at Meryl Streep is another altogether, and it’s one that sounds too good to be true. In this adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Streep plays the temperamental and abusive matriarch whose daughters (played by Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis) come to visit, prompting chaos to ensue. John Wells (the underrated The Company Men) directs and with Oscar-winning Argo producer George Clooney also on board, this is a surefire Best Picture contender. 

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