Movie Fanatic Round Table: Must-See Movies of 2013

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We’ve convened the Movie Fanatic Round Table for our inaugural 2013 edition featuring the opinions of some of the best and brightest who are writing about movies and asked them their top three must-sees of 2013.

Movie Fanatic Round Table Pic

So, for those of us that see hundreds of films a year... what are we most excited to see in the next 12 months?

Ned Ehrbar, Metro World News

Star Trek: Into Darkness
J.J. Abrams has been keeping us waiting four years for the follow-up to his fantastic reboot of the sci-fi juggernaut with Star Trek Into Darkness. But if it's anything like the first film, the wait will have been well worth it. And with Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch coming onboard in a highly speculated-upon villain role, odds are it will impress.

The World's End
Speaking of long waits, Edgar Wright is going to finally -- finally! -- release the last entry in his Cornetto Trilogy, after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The film follows pals played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as they relive a pub crawl that may or may not coincide with the apocalypse. While it might seem more appropriate for a late-2012 release, we're willing to wait.

Ender's Game
Science-fiction fans have been waiting a long, long time for a film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's tale of kids training to battle aliens in the near future, but the wait is (almost) over. The cast is stacked with the likes of Harrison Ford, Sir Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis, plus high-brow younger talent like Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Asa Butterfield (Hugo) as Ender.

Joel D. Amos, MovieFanatic.com

As published in our Top 13 Movie Moments of 2013, my top three are:

Man of Steel
Although I am one who thoroughly enjoyed Brandon Routh in Superman Returns, but was not a fan of the story or direction, the idea that we Superman fans would get another chance at an origins story with Man of Steel is pure bliss. At first we wondered about the casting of Cavill in the lead role, but after meeting him in person, Movie Fanatic was sold. And don't get us started on the cast that includes Kevin Costner as Clark Kent's father, Russell Crowe as Superman's supernatural father, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as Zod -- we could not be more excited.

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel

Iron Man 3
Tony Stark is back and it appears that as iffy as Iron Man 2 was, Iron Man 3 will put the heavy metal superhero back into the forefront of awesomeness. After stealing scenes left and right in The Avengers, Robert Downey Jr. is once again ready for action and with Ben Kingsley as Mandarin... we finally have an evil force to match Downey's talent for the fierce.

Elysium
I'm a huge fan of District 9 and after witnessing that sci-fi stunner, anything from director Neill Blomkamp immediately shoots to the top of our expectation list. The helmer has joined forces with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster for a story of the future that might not be too far from what really could happen.

Runners-Up: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Oz: The Great and Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness

Don Kaye, MSN Parallel Universe

Man of Steel
The last Superman movie, 2006's Superman Returns, left such a bad taste in my mouth that I was convinced we'd never see a good Superman movie again. When Man of Steel was announced, I wasn't keen on revisiting the character's origin story and I wasn't completely convinced that Zack Snyder was the guy to direct it. But having seen the trailer (and a little extra footage at last summer's Comic-Con) and getting a feel for how they're approaching this, I'm now totally excited to see the picture.

I think we're finally going to get the epic battles and majestic tone that we want from a Superman movie and the question that Superman (Henry Cavill) poses in voice-over at the end of the trailer always gives me goose bumps. Producer Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer delivered the best Batman movies ever, so I think they can help Snyder shepherd a terrific Superman movie to the screen as well. 

Gravity
I'm also looking forward to Gravity. Alfonso Cuaron has not made nearly enough movies, but everything he makes is beautifully filmed, elegantly written and almost always intense on both a visceral and emotional level. His last film, 2006's Children of Men, was quite possibly the best film of that year and one of the best of the decade -- and it's science fiction as well. So seeing Cuaron return to the genre with Gravity, and hearing about the incredible visuals that the movie reportedly has, my anticipation for this has been off the chart.

I must admit I was concerned when it was bumped out of a 2012 release, and there have been reports from one or two super-secret test screenings of mixed audience reactions, but I am hoping that this filmmaker blows my mind and breaks my heart once again.

Bruce Greenwood Chris Pine Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness
Third on my list is Star Trek Into Darkness -- but my anticipation for it comes from a weird place. I did like J.J. Abrams' 2009 reboot of the franchise very much, with all its flaws, and I'm incredibly curious about what he and his writing team (Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman -- none of whom are such great scribes, by the way) plan to offer this time. Will they recapture the magic of the 2009 film while also retaining the flavor and chemistry of the original series?

Will their villain (Benedict Cumberbatch) just be a lazy retread of Khan or will they come up with something original? The signals are very mixed on this one, and I have my doubts about what they're doing -- but all that has escalated my interest to sky-high levels. I'm going to go in with an open mind and hope that Abrams has made a terrific Trek movie -- but I'm prepared for anything.

Runners-Up: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Elysium, Pacific Rim, Before Midnight, Ender's Game, No, Monuments Men, Catching Fire, Saving Mr. Banks, The Conjuring, Oblivion, The Wolverine, Inside Llewllyn Davis, The World's End and many more...

Ryan Downey, MTV Movies

Star Trek Into Darkness
Like many fans, I'm excited to see what happens with the Star Trek sequel, as the quality of the reboot was something of a welcome surprise to me.

The Wolverine
As someone with supporting characters from the Wolverine comics tattooed on me, as well as Dark Phoenix, I'm hopeful about The Wolverine. Growing up, I loved both the four issue mini-series and the lesser remembered six-issue mini-series, Kitty Pryde & Wolverine, which were both set in Japan, so hopefully this is more on the mark than Origins.

I know Jackman loves and understands the character deeply, even if he is too tall. (Couldn't they do some forced perspective, like on Star Trek TNG's bridge or in Lord of the Rings? Haha).

A Good Day to Die Hard
Die Hard
is my favorite Christmas movie and my favorite action movie, so I'm always down for a new entry there, even if I didn't love the last one (I did LIKE it, at least).

Runner-Up: The Monsters Inc prequel should be fun (just re-watched the original in the theater).

Debbie Lynn Elias, www.MovieSharkdeblore.com

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald and the opulence, beauty and decadence of the Roaring 20's and the Art Deco era meet Baz Luhrmann. Based on Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, the lush story of Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan as seen through the eyes of midwestern transplant Nick Carraway has always proven a fascination for filmmakers. As early as 1926, Fitzgerald’s tale has been a favorite adaptation for filmmakers with the most notable version to date being that in 1974 with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.

Yet, something has always been missing as each prior filmmaker has softened the story and the look with a rose-colored glasses sensibility. With Luhrmann at the helm and production designer/costumer wunderkind Catherine Martin by his side, I expect The Great Gatsby 2013 to be a mesmerizing and immersive sensory experience that, as with Moulin Rouge, extends into the cinematography, editing and music. And did I mention that cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire?

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby
Pacific Rim
Alien monsters rising from a crevice in the Pacific Ocean, human powered robots and Guillermo del Toro, what is not to like? A master at illusion and capturing the negative space in the mind’s eye and bringing it to the screen, del Toro’s work always has a mysterious and beautiful lyricism to it.

With a cast that includes Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Idris Elba, Charlie Day and Clifton Collins, Jr., among other notables, the testosterone level should prove epic and be an interesting complement to the anticipated beauty and power of man, machine, monsters and the mighty sea. Shot on the Red Epic, VFX is being handled by ILM, practical effects are from Legacy and Iron Man suit creator Shane Mahan is on board as Effects Supervisor which should guarantee some eye-popping visual spectacles.

Jack Ryan
Long a fan of Kenneth Branagh, both in front of and behind the camera, and uber fan of Tom Clancy’s novels and particularly the Jack Ryan series, my curiosity is piqued with this latest entry into the film franchise. While the seminal Jack Ryan is, and always will be, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck did a more than admirable job assuming the role in 2002's The Sum of All Fears and I suspect that Chris Pine will more than hold his own this go round -- if he can break free of his Star Trek James Kirk persona.

With a story pitting a young Ryan against a Russian terrorist and a plot to crash the U.S. economy (again), the spy thriller concept updated for the 21st Century global world is once again ripe for the picking. And with Branagh himself as the Russian villain, there’s already a delicious insidious evil to look forward to.

Runner-Up: Black Rock

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The ones I'm looking forward to are:
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
2. Ender's Game
3. Oz: The Great and Powerful
4. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Sea of Monsters

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The ones I'm looking forward to are:
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
2. Ender's Game
3. Oz: The Great and Powerful
4. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Sea of Monsters

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