This period of the year is typically considered the graveyard season of the film distribution calendar. The big guns that studios hope will make more money come out in the spring, summer, and fall, while the motion pictures that they hope will be more critically praised come out during the holidays to take advantage of the award nomination deadlines. January and February are usually quiet, without too many notable flicks from which to choose, but we sometimes are surprised with quality productions, such as Silence of the Lambs. Here's a look at what we can expect this year.
First, four selections from a guest blogger, and then I'll add some more choices myself.
Two Movies to See and Two Maybes
Stand Up Guys (February 01) Stand Up Guys stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin in a tough but touching action comedy as retired gangsters who reunite for one epic last night. Val (Al Pacino) is released from prison after serving twenty-eight years for refusing to give up one of his close criminal associates. His best friend Doc (Christopher Walken) is there to pick him up, and the two soon re-team with another old pal, Hirsch (Alan Arkin). Their bond is as strong as ever, and the three reflect on freedom lost and gained, loyalties ebbed and flowed, and days of glory gone by. And despite their age, their capacity for mayhem is still very much alive and well-- bullets fly as they make a hilariously valiant effort to compensate for the decades of crime, drugs, and sex they've missed. But one of the friends is keeping a dangerous secret -- he's been put in an impossible quandary by a former mob boss, and his time to find an acceptable alternative is running out. As the sun rises on the guys' legendary reunion, their position becomes more and more desperate and they finally confront their past once and for all.
Warm Bodies (February 01)
A funny new twist on a classic love story, Warm Bodies is a poignant tale about the power of human connection. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human - setting off an exciting, romantic, and often comical chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world.
ON THE FENCE-----------------------
The Gangster Squad(January 11)
Gangster Squad is an upcoming crime film directed by Ruben Fleischer, from a screenplay written by Will Beall, starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, and Sean Penn. It is the story of LAPD Detectives who are attempting to keep Los Angeles free of gangsters during the 1940s and '50s. Some label it as a chronicle of the LAPD's fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles as six police officers and detectives must protect the law by breaking it, taking on Mickey Cohen and his gang.
Struck by Lightning (January 11)
High school senior Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer from Glee) was destined for bigger things than his close-minded small town could ever offer. He was on a path to greatness, but destiny had a different plan when he was suddenly killed by a bolt of lightning in his school parking lot. Demonstrating that life is what happens while you're busy planning your future, Carson recounts the last few weeks of his life via witty, insightful flashbacks, including a blackmail scheme targeting the popular kids in school that he concocts with his best friend (Rebel Wilson, Bridesmaids), and a home life that includes a mother (Allison Janney, Juno and The West Wing) who's more interested in the bottle than her son's future, and an estranged father (Dermot Mulroney, My Best Friend's Wedding) who suddenly appears with a pregnant fiancee (Christina Hendricks, Mad Men). The film also features Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Angela Kinsey (The Office), Polly Bergen (Desperate Housewives), and Ashley Rickards (One Tree Hill and American Horror Story).
Now, here are my selections.
Week-by-Week Movie Picks for January and February 2013
Zero Dark Thirty (January 11)
Director Kathryn Bigelow follows up her award-winning war movie The Hurt Locker with a military drama based on the hunt for terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Mama (January 18)
Produced by the talented Guillermo de Toro, here's a creepy little horror movie about kids raised in the woods by a supernatural force.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (January 25)
Long delayed, we shall finally see if this fairy tale reboot starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, and Famke Janssen was worth the wait.
Bullet to the Head (February 1)
Sylvester Stallone and Jason Momoa star as a hitman and a cop who team up to hunt down a killer who murdered both of their loved ones.
Identity Thief (February 8)
Actor Jason Bateman is always funny. In this comedy, he stars alongside Melissa McCarthy, John Cho, and Amanda Peet.
A Good Day to Die Hard (February 15)
Can Bruce Willis bring new life to the Die Hard franchise? Maybe, especially with Patrick Stewart as the villain.
Dark Skies (February 22)
Director Scott Charles Stewart helmed two previous guilty pleasures -- Legion and Priest-- so I will give this sci-fi drama a chance.
There are some other interesting ones set for release during the upcoming weeks: Snitch starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; the cartoon Escape from Planet Earth with the voices of Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, James Gandolfini, and Jessica Alba; the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven; Beautiful Creatures, based on the book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl; director Stepven Soderbergh's Side Effects, starring Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, and Catherine Zeta-Jones; A Haunted House, which is a spoof of Paranormal Activity by the makers of the Scary Movie franchise; The Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempted comeback to the action-adventure genre, co-starring Forest Whitaker; Broken City, a crime drama from the great director Allen Hughes, starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Kyle Chandler; the action thriller Parker, featuring Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, and Nick Nolte; and John Dies at the End, based on the quirky, bestselling fantasy book.
Which of these do you think might become sleeper hits, or do you think they all will be quickly forgotten?