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It's impossible to anticipate an entire year's worth of films, so consider this list incomplete. I welcome you to share any and all oversights, so that our moviegoing radars ensure nothing is overlooked. Here's to a fruitful 2013 in film!
5. The Taste of Money (Im Sang-Soo, South Korea) I've made no bones about my admiration of South Korean film in general and Im in particular—neither has my colleague Ben Sachs, for that matter. But many of my cinephile friends seem to have a strong distaste for Im, glibly referring to him as "the lesser Sang-soo," in deference to the undeniably great Hong Sang-soo—similar to the incessant and equally unfair comparisons people like to make between Andersons Wes, Paul W.S., and Paul Thomas. All grievances aside, Im's next film is a self-described "spiritual sequel" to his previous effort, The Housemaid, meaning it's likely another erotically charged piece of scathing social commentary, a simultaneously lush and lurid depiction of class relations.
4. Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh, USA) America's most chameleonic director returns with his third film in just a little over one year. At this point, following Soderbergh's generic trajectory is essentially a fool's errand—his previous two films were a suspense actioner and a comedic drama, while this one's some sort of psychological thriller about a young woman who has an adverse reaction to prescription drugs—so I find it best to enter a Soderbergh film with as few expectations as possible. What is for certain, though, is Soderbergh has assembled a stellar cast—par for the course at this point, as Soderbergh is one of the greatest directors of actors working today—that includes the likes of Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Rooney Mara.
3. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, USA) If only because I'm keen to wash the sour taste of Lola Versus out of my mouth, as Baumbach teams up with Greta Gerwig in a film that's been described as a cross between Woody Allen's Manhattan and early Francois Truffaut. Considering Gerwig excelled as the flighty central character in Whit Stillman's recent Damsels in Distress, I figure she's likely to be just as good in Baumbach's film—after all, Baumbach is a noted devotee of Stillman's, and shares his penchant for humanistic introspection disguised as pointless navel-gazing.
2. Mud (Jeff Nichols, USA) Matthew McConaughey turned a lot of heads this year: between his incredible (and incredibly terrifying) lead performance as the titular Joe of Killer Joe and his notable supporting turns in films like Magic Mike, The Paperboy, and Bernie, he had many critics and cinephiles buzzing. According to some, he's even better in this, Nichols's follow-up to the great Take Shelter. McConaughey plays a fugitive on the run from bounty hunters.
1. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, USA) The second sequel to Linklater's seminal Before Sunrise premieres at this year's Sundance, easily the most anticipated movie screening at the annual festival. Like many, I'm eager to revisit this ongoing story of two lovers—Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their roles, as if there was any doubt—and look forward to experiencing the sort of narrative style Linklater has essentially perfected: carefree, seemingly unmotivated, but captivating and rich with ideas and emotions.
Honorable mentions: Matt Porterfield's follow-up to Putty Hill (2011), I Used to Be Darker; Alain Resnais's You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!; Edgar Wright's The World's End; and a pair of summer tentpoles from some "vulgar auteurists" who are occasionally worth a damn: Jon Chu's G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Roland Emmerich's White House Down.