By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Chuck Wilson
The Heat: Melissa McCarthy is funny as hell, and hopefully, re-teaming with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig for this buddy cop comedy will give her her second big-screen role worthy of her talents. Sandra Bullock co-stars, but then again, so does Marlon Wayans.
I'm So Excited: Pedro Almodóvar chases his masterfully disturbing body horror melodrama The Skin I Live In with this sex comedy about flight attendants who will do anything to keep their customers happy. It's exciting to see Almodóvar return to peppy, deranged farces, especially as he's now a better filmmaker than when he made lopsided gems like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It would be better still if Almodóvar discovery Antonio Banderas's part in this showcases how far he's come as an actor since Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!
Museum Hours: Among the most buzzed-about titles at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Jem Cohen's Museum Hours stood out, partly because it didn't star James Franco with a grill and wasn't directed by P.T. Anderson. Set in the Viennese Kunsthistorisches Museum, Cohen's breakout follows a security guard and a mysterious guest as they pore over paintings, and talk about their lives and the city's history.
The Lone Ranger: After Rango, we shouldn't underestimate director Gore Verbinski, even if he did direct two of those dire Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Yes, watching Johnny Depp play Tonto sounds offensive, but the film is bound to be visually dynamic thanks to Verbinski's knack for cartoonish set pieces. Jack White provides the score, and nostalgia provides the audience.
The Way, Way Back: Once the Sundance Film Festival is underway, it only takes a couple days before a few titles are hyped as that year's must-see films. The Way, Way, Back, a sweet coming-of-age story set at a water park, is one of this year's word-of-mouth hits. Word is the directorial debut of Jim Rash—Community's dean!—is a Meatballs-meets-Adventureland pleasure that benefits from stars Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Sam Rockwell.
Hammer of the Gods: This bloody Viking drama is the directorial debut of Farren Blackburn, whose previous TV credits include Doctor Who and Luther. The film follows a young, probably often bare-chested Viking's quest to reunite with his brother. Let's hope it's not Ragnarök.
Pacific Rim: Giant monsters fight giant robot in Guillermo del Toro's high-concept action film. If it's anywhere near as violent and operatic as del Toro would have us believe, it might make up for the fact that the Pan's Labyrinth director will never make that adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness he's been trying to land. Bonus: Sons of Anarchy stars Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman turn up, along with Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, and Charlie Day from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
V/H/S 2: Like pretty much any portmanteau film made by multiple directors, the first V/H/S, a compilation of found footage horror shorts, was a mixed bag. Still, it proved that creative things that can still be achieved in Paranormal Activity-style found-footage horror films. V/H/S 2 includes new shorts by the makers of The Blair Witch Project, The Raid: Redemption, and Hobo with a Shotgun. Seriously, one guy we know really liked it!
The Hot Flashes: Susan Seidelman's latest film sounds like it could be either hellish or delightfully cheesy: A group of middle-age Texan women try to get their mojo back by challenging a group of high school girls to a basketball tournament. The older women in question include Wanda Sykes, Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, and Camryn Manheim. It's been too long since Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan, but with luck, Hot Flashes will be Hoosiers for mature actresses who deserve better roles.
R.I.P.D.: This Men in Black-esque, high-as-a-kite-concept action-comedy stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as ghost cops—meaning "ghosts that are cops," rather than cops who gun for ghosts. The plot: Bridges shows Reynolds the ropes of ghost policing as the duo tries to track down Reynolds's character's killer, probably either Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, or James Hong. This is director Robert Schwentke's follow-up to Red, the only comic book movie where Helen Mirren teams up with a really big gun.
Computer Chess: Set in the '80s, this comedy concerns the designers of one of the earliest chess-playing computer program. Within the short-lived cycle of mumblecore indie dramas about self-involved twentysomethings, Andrew Bujalski's films stand apart. He has an ear for hilarious, naturalistic dialogue, and his scope has grown ambitious: Beeswax, his third feature, was a Whit Stillman-inspired romantic drama, as well as a capitalist critique—will Big Chess feel a sting from this one?
Only God Forgives: Ryan Gosling re-teams with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn for this bonkers thriller, recently screened at Cannes. Refn has described Only God Forgives as a contemporary western set in Thailand, and the plot synopsis is no less incredible: Gosling plays a drug-dealing cop-killer and Thai boxing club proprietor/hitman who gets tangled up with the crime lord played by Kristin Scott Thomas. Seriously, this is a real film that's coming out.
Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!