Last of the Best

film thirtyFive noteworthy 2012 films to watch for in 2013 

The carols have been sung, the New Year’s champagne quaffed, and various large, stuffed, cinematic holiday hams have been delivered to local movie theaters. It may seem like it’s all over but the shouting as far as end-of-the-year Hollywood blockbuster movie releases go. But wait.

There’s more! The reason that so many year-end critics and industry award lists contain titles you’ve never heard of is that—as usual—some of the potentially biggest films of the year opened only for one week in New York and Los Angeles in order to qualify for 2013 Academy Awards consideration. As we run up to the Oscars in the next seven weeks or so, these heavy hitters (or so the producers hope) will be platforming gradually out into wide release. Here are a few of the last big Hollywood movies of last year to look out for, coming soon to a movie theater near you.

ZERO DARK THIRTY Kathryn Bigelow has figured out that the only way for a woman to win a Best Director Academy Award is by directing a gritty, guy-oriented action movie. Her follow-up to the Iraqi War drama, The Hurt Locker, is this fact-based dramatic recounting of the ten-year hunt across Afghanistan and Pakistan for Al Qeada terrorist leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden—resulting in his execution by Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011. Controversy is already brewing over the filmmakers’ access to classified government information in researching and writing this story. Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, James Gandolfini, and Mark Duplass are featured in the cast. (R) 157 minutes. (Opens Jan. 11.)

THE IMPOSSIBLE Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star in this fictionalized true story of a British couple and their young kids on vacation in Thailand during the Christmas season, 2004, who were literally swept up in the disaster when a tsunami struck their holiday resort. Separated by the giant wall of water, the parents and children struggle to find each other amid the devastated landscape, hundreds of thousands of victims and survivors—of all nationalities and social classes—left behind in the tsunami’s wake. Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) directs. (PG-13) 114 minutes. (Opens Jan. 11.)

ON THE ROAD Jack Kerouac’s thinly disguised autobiographical novel about his cross-country road trip with fellow 1950s beat icons, Neal Cassady and LuAnne Henderson finally reaches the big screen via much-lauded Brazilian director Walter Salles (Central Station; The Motorcycle Diaries). Sam Riley stars as Kerouac surrogate Sal Paradise, Garrett Hedlund is the Cassady character, Dean Moriarty, and Kristen Stewart plays their wild-spirited road-mate, Marylou. Amy Adams and Elisabeth Moss pop up in the cast; Kirsten Dunst plays the Carolyn Cassady character and Viggo Mortensen plays a character based on William S, Burroughs. (R) 124 minutes. (Release date unknown.)

RUST AND BONE French filmmaker Jacques Audiard’s last film, the stylish, yet brutal A Prophet, was nominated for a Foreign Language Academy Award. This follow-up is an unorthodox romantic drama in which a Belgian man (Matthias Schoenaerts) relocates to the French coastal resort town of Antibes to live with his sister and brother-in-law while raising his young son. Marion Cotillard is being discussed for another Best Actress nomination as the woman with whom he begins to bond, a killer whale trainer in a marine park exhibition. (R) 120 minutes. (Opens Jan. 25.)

AMOUR Another potential Best Actress nominee is Emanuelle Riva, an iconic French beauty when she starred in Hiroshima Mon Amour 53 years ago. She plays an octogenarian in this dramatic tone poem from German-born filmmaker Michael Haneke (Cache; The White Ribbon), which explores the bonds of love, family, and culture. Riva stars with the legendary Jean-Louis Trintignant as a couple of retired music teachers in their 80s who have retreated to the inner sanctum of their Paris apartment. But a medical emergency and its aftermath forces them to face up to issues of age, isolation, and the true depths of their love for each other. Isabelle Huppert co-stars as their grown daughter who lives abroad with her own family. (PG-13) 127 minutes. (Opens Feb. 1.)

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