The Must See Movies of January 2013

Time to take a deep breath from all of those Oscar contenders, folks, because you probably won't be seeing any in January. Generally considered the month where studios unload the junk they have little to no expectations for, this is really the "low risk, high reward" time of year. It's where you'll generally find at least one Mark Wahlberg film, a handful of low-cost horror movies and other genre fare. There's also at least one film that was at one time considered a potential award-winner, but Gangster Squad got bumped from its prime September slot to January due to the real-life tragedy in Aurora, CO

January 4th
56 Up
Director: Michael Apted
Acclaimed director Michael Apted created something truly unique in 1964 with Seven Up, an ambitious project in which he studied fourteen English children from various socioeconomic backgrounds to explore the idea of whether the social class they were born into affected their future. Every seven years since he has returned to these same people, literally watching them grow into men and women who have each experienced the highs, lows, happiness, and pains of adulthood. Now they're all aged 56, and faced with new challenges as they step beyond middle age into their twilight years.

All Superheroes Must Die
Director: Jason Trost
Cast: Jason Trost, Lucas Till, James Remar,
 You can probably count on at least one comic book movie every single month in 2013, but at least All Superheroes Must Die is something a little different. A Canadian production written, directed, and starring Jason Trost, the film is a combination of X-men: First Class (even featuring that film's Lucas Till) and the Saw flicks, following a foursome of heroes stripped of their powers and forced to endure brutal games of survival for the enjoyment of their arch nemesis (James Remar). You'll be able to find this On Demand starting January 1st.

Texas Chainsaw 3D
Director: John Luessenhop
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde, Trey Songz, Scott Eastwood, Gunnar Hansen, Dan Yeager
Seven years after the critically reviled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, yet another attempt is being made to keep Tobe Hooper's seminal horror classic alive and kicking. Directed by Takers' John Luessenhop, his film follows up on the 1974 classic and stars Alexandra Daddario(Percy Jackson) as a woman who discovers her link to the infamous Sawyer clan while down in Texas to claim an inheritance.

January 11th

A Haunted House
Director: Michael Tiddes
Cast: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer, Nick Swardson, David Koechner
Is 2013 going to be the year of a horror parody death match? Scary Movie 5 arrives in just a few months after a seven-year hiatus, but it's facing some stiff early competition from one of the guys who created it. Marlon Wayans co-writes and stars in A Haunted House, a Paranormal Activity spoof following a couple who move in together only to discover the house, and their relationship, is haunted. Having had a chance to see the film and pick Marlon's brain about it, he says there isn't any competition between his movie and Scary Movie. Don't believe it for a second.

Gangster Squad
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi
What are we to think of Gangster Squad? A year ago the 1940s crime film looked like an obvious Oscar contender, with a red hot director in Ruben Fleischer and a cast to die for. Then the tragic shooting in Colorado took place, and Warner Bros. took the immediate step to move it from September to January to fix a violent that struck a little too close to home. But is that the only reason they were so quick to bump it to the cinematic wasteland of January, or is there another reason to worry? Based on a story in the LA Times by Paul Lieberman, the story pits Ryan Gosling and a special LAPD unit against Sean Penn as real-life mobster Mickey Cohen. Gosling and Emma Stone have proven to be box office gold together before, and with the talent they're surrounded by now it's likely this will be the biggest hit of the month.

Struck By Lightning
Director: Brian Dannelly
Cast: Chris Colfer, Rebel Wilson, Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Hyland
Glee may have turned Chris Colfer into a Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee, but his aspirations stretch far and wide. Colfer had been working on the script for his teen comedy, Struck By Lightning, since before he landed on Fox's hit series, and as it's finally coming to fruition he's poised to own the big and small screens. He certainly couldn't have found a better fit for director; with Brian Dannelly (Saved!) taking the helm for a story of redemption that follows an ambitious teen struck and killed by lightning, then takes us back in time to see how he manipulated his classmates into furthering his own goals.

January 18th

Broken City
Director: Allen Hughes
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Kyle Chandler
Oh, it's January, must be a gritty Mark Wahlberg movie. Or could Broken City be something more? Certainly it looks like a step up from last year's Contraband, with Russell Crowe playing his nemesis and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the potential femme fatale. Directed by Allen Hughes, flying solo from his brother Albert, the film is a political noir with Wahlberg as a private investigator double-crossed by a big city mayor after being hired to expose his wife's affair.

The Last Stand
Director: Kim Ji-Woon
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Genesis Rodriguez, Luis Guzman, Peter Stormare, Jaimie Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro
In the first two months of 2013 we'll be treated to a solo film from four members of The Expendables, and it's only fitting that the first be Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to big time action flicks. Marking the English-language debut from South Korea's Kim Ji-Woon, the film puts the Governator into the weathered shoes of a small-town sheriff who mounts up his young police force to stop a violent crime lord from reaching the U.S./Mexico border. Ji-Woon found the right balance of grim attitude and humor with I Saw the Devil, but judging by the trailers the vast majority of the jokes will center on Schwarzenegger's brittle old bones.

Director: Sheldon Candis
Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Meagan Good, Lonette McKee, Michael K. Williams
Emerging out of Sundance to mixed reviews but strong buzz surrounding the lead performance by rapper/actor Common, Sheldon Candis' directorial debut follows a young boy who learns from his uncle how to become a man and survive the dangerous streets of Baltimore.

Director: Andres Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau
She's already taken home a handful of Best Actress awards for Zero Dark Thirty, and seems all but a lock to at least earn an Oscar nomination. So how is Jessica Chastain following it up? With a low budget horror movie, that's how. To be honest, Mama would probably fly under the radar if it weren't for her, the fact that Guillermo Del Toro has given it has stamp of approval, and that it looks pretty terrifying. Directed by Andres Muschietti based on his own short film, Chastain stars with Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) as a couple who take in a pair of seriously disturbed orphans who may be in the grip of a supernatural presence.

January 25th

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Thomas Mann
From the director who gave us the Nazi zombie film, Dead Snow! If that means anything to you, then maybe you're the one being targeted for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Marking the one-trillionth franchise lead for Jeremy Renner, he pairs up with former Bond girl Gemma Arterton in a blood and guts-filled fairy tale actioner that posits the two kids as grown up witch killers. Frankly, it looks pretty terrible, and considering Paramount has bounced it up and down the schedule for more than a year their lack of confidence is obvious. Gauge your expectations accordingly.

John Dies At the End
Director: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Rob Mayes, Chase Williamson, Paul Giamatti, Daniel Roebuck, Jonny Weston, Doug Jones, Clancy Brown, and Glynn Turman
By now we've come to expect nothing less than sheer horrific insanity from Don Coscarelli, the guy who brought us Phantasm and the cult hit Bubba Ho-Tep. Even by his standards John Dies At the End is out there. The film follows a pair of slackers who take a weird drug concoction known as Soy Sauce, which screws them up and takes them on a bad trip through time and space, where they become pawns in an intergalactic plot to destroy mankind. Meat monsters, insectoid aliens, mutant females, and Paul Giamatti(!?!) make for the strangest movie of the month.

Movie 43
Directors: The Farrelly Brothers, Elizabeth Banks, Brett Ratner, Mike Judge, Bob Odenkirk
Cast: Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, Gerard Butler, Kristen Bell, Chloe Moretz, Josh Duhamel, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Elizabeth Banks, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Richard Gere, Anna Faris, Justin Long, Liev Schreiber, Uma Thurman, Seann William Scott, Kieran Culkin, Leslie Bibb, Jimmy Bennett, Kate Bosworth, Patrick Warburton, Tony Shalhoub, Chris Pratt, Jason Sudeikis, Jack McBrayer, Aasif Mandvi, Bobby Cannavale
Seriously, just look at the cast. Do you even care what the movie is about? Ok, it's always possible this could be one of those flaccid holiday flicks from Garry Marshall, but it most certainly isn't. Movie 43 is an envelope-pushing sketch comedy where apparently no subject is too tawdry or taboo. Want to see Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin discussing her menstrual cycle? Or Anna Faris wanting her husband Chris Pratt to poop on her during sex? How about Leslie Bibb, Justin Long, and more as superheroes at a speed dating party? Obviously, this is one you may want to keep the kiddies at home for.

Director: Taylor Hackford
Cast: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr., Nick Nolte
It's a testament to the....let's call it steadiness(although some would say predictability) of Jason Statham that even with a film from an Oscar-winning director and a co-star like Jennifer Lopez, Parker still looks like every other film he's done. This one's interesting only in that it's based on the crime novels by Donald Westlake, with Statham playing the titular thief we've seen previously portrayed by Mel Gibson in Payback. The story is straight boilerplate material, with Parker seeking revenge on the thugs who double-crossed him.