Invoking “Moby Dick” in its first moments and dipping into Greek mythology along the way, Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” pits two estranged brothers (Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton) against each other and their father (Nick Nolte) against the backdrop of a mixed martial arts winner-takes-all event. O’Connor finds the heart and soul of a potentially preposterous premise with the same offhand skill as his Olympic hockey tale, “Miracle.”
Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver who’s also a getaway driver by night. Nicolas Winding Refn says “Drive” is the third of a trilogy with “Bronson” and “Valhalla Rising” about men who must transform themselves to survive and leave their earlier lives behind. With Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks, whose gangster boss is not to be trusted when there’s cutlery around. Based on the sleek 2005 novella by James Sallis.
Rod Lurie remakes Sam Peckinpah, transposing his 1971 thriller to the swampy American South; James Marsden takes on the Dustin Hoffman role of a man who would not take it any more. With Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard.
Quirky teen angst: Gus Van Sant’s year-delayed “Restless” is based on a play by a college colleague of co-producer Bryce Dallas Howard, and stars a dying Mia Wasikowska with funeral-happy Henry Hopper (son of Dennis) who also banters with the ghost of a World War II kamikaze pilot.
The Newborn Identity: baby-face Taylor Lautner tumbles into a covert espionage caper under the direction of John Singleton. Sounds almost meshuggah enough to matter.
The latest installment in Joe Swanberg’s—Chicago’s most prolific micro-budget director—filmography, co-directed by Adam Wingard, explores young Chicagoans’ sexual frustrations in four chapters.
Director Bennett Miller’s first feature since “Capote” was a Steven Soderbergh project until almost the last minute; Brad Pitt stars as an Oakland A’s general manager who turned the club’s fortunes around. With Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s long-awaited follow-up to 2000’s “You Can Count On Me” was shot from a 185-page script in 2005: the grief-drenched “Margaret” will fascinate at the very least for the time capsule quality of seeing Anna Paquin as a seventeen-year-old high school student and younger versions of Matthew Broderick, Kieran Culkin, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon.
General Orders No. 9
Robert Persons’ atmospheric essay about the haunted ground of the American South is a ten-years-in-the-making world of wonders of mood and marvels of beauty: ominous, fraught, prophetic.
Comedy: A twenty-seven-year-old (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) faces a diagnosis of cancer with the help of his best buddy (Seth Rogen) and a cute therapist (Anna Kendrick). From Jonathan Levine, the intriguing young director of “The Wackness,” and based on the personal experiences of screenwriter Will Reiser, whose script bore the blunter title “I’m With Cancer.” With Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Philip Baker Hall, Matt Frewer.
The Ides of March
George Clooney directs himself as a Pennsylvania governor running for president, and Ryan Gosling as his young press secretary headed for a fall. Based on Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North.” With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood.
Michael Shannon thinks the weather’s gone wrong again as an Ohio father given to apocalyptic visions. Jeff Nichols’ follow-up to “Shotgun Stories” shows he knows just what information to withhold as a storyteller. “Anxiety is born out of having something to lose” is Nichols’ fitting summation of the haunting story. With Jessica Chastain.
C’mon, are you going to top the nihilism (and fantastic effects) of John Carpenter’s version? Try, at least!
Kevin Smith brings horror to his version of the Westboro Baptist Church and its notorious hate tactics. With John Goodman.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Writer-director Sean Durkin’s debut is a moody, lyrical portrait of a young woman on the run. Elizabeth Olsen is terrific in the title role(s); John Hawkes charms and chills as a charismatic, cold Manson-ish cult leader.
The Skin I Live In
Almodóvar and Banderas, together again, in a hyper-stylish fable about identity and plastic surgery.
World on A Wire
The late Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 science fiction epic about virtual reality has been restored from its sixteen-millimeter Ektachrome origins. It’s a gorgeous, strange time capsule of futurism past, with dollops of Philip K. Dick and many recognizable Fassbinder themes and players.
Paranormal Activity 3
A new annual low-budget tradition continues in a version of the haunted-house infestation by Henry Joost, one of the filmmakers behind the is-it-a-doc-or-not “Catfish.” Sounds like clever casting…
“Gattaca” filmmaker Andrew Niccol writes-produces-directs a thriller about an era when time is literally money and the rich buy longevity from the young and poor. From “The Truman Show” forward, most of Niccol’s projects have been as high-concept as they come, and this metaphor for Hollywood careers is chillingly apt. With Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Alex Pettyfer and Cillian Murphy.
The Rum Diary
Bruce Robinson gets the chance to put a bibulous bookend to his magnificent “Withnail & I,” adapting Hunter S. Thompson’s novel about his days as a young journalist in Puerto Rico; the trailer looks like Johnny Depp’s gone the Full Hunter once more. With Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi and Richard Jenkins.
Roland Emmerich has his way with Wm. Shaks.’ cold, dead pen, hoping to figure out who really wrote the plays. The cast seems game: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, Rafe Spall and Derek Jacobi.
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life
Stylish fantasia of the life and music of Serge Gainsbourg, from a debut director whose hand demonstrates origins as a comics artist.
My Week With Marilyn
Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe: If she pulls that off, it’ll be a doozy.
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
The stoner bros escape Gitmo and return from Amsterdam to put up a perfect Christmas tree. 3D, plus Neil Patrick Harris.
Tarsem Singh (“The Cell,” “The Fall”) has one of the most crushingly voluptuous visual styles in practice: Early images and footage from this exploration of Greek mythology suggests a big budget does good by him.
Tall Leonardo DiCaprio plays the bulldog-faced fireplug of an FBI director; will Clint Eastwood play down his height? Or the stories of his bachelorhood? The eighty-one-year-old auteur bypassed the festival circuit for this wide release. Written by Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”). With Josh Lucas, Naomi Watts, Dermot Mulroney, Lea Thompson, Judi Dench and Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson.
Jack And Jill
Adam Sandler plays Jack and his own twin sister, Jill, and Al Pacino plays himself. O-o-o-okay.
Another earth: Lars von Trier orchestrates the end of the world, on the collision course with planet “Melancholia” on a wedding day. (But does not mention Nazis.) With Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård and Udo Kier.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Tomas Alfredson’s first feature since “Let the Right One In” got its first rave from novelist John Le Carré himself. Gary Oldman plays Smiley, and the cast of the 1970s-set espionage thriller includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds and Toby Jones.
From the creators of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”… the return of “The Muppets” to the big screen. Co-written by and starring Jason Segel, with Amy Adams, a batch of Muppets, a raft of cameos and a story about saving the Muppet Theater from being torn down by an oil man unless $10 million can be raised.
Mmmm… Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, David Koechner, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey… and boobs. Is there any other word appropriate for “3DD”-sploitation? Oh, fishies. Fishies, too. Shot in 3D, rather than converted afterwards.
Alexander Payne’s first film in years is a tragicomedy set in Hawaii, with George Clooney as a man moping through life.
Adapting Brian Selznick’s novel, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” Martin Scorsese’s first 3D production is a kid’s story, but it’s also a story about the origins of cinema, with Ben Kingsley in the role of cinema pioneer Georges Méliès, Chloë Moretz as the spunky young heroine and Sacha Baron Cohen as the mustache-twirling baddie.