warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

2013's 7 Most Anticipated End-Of-The-Year Films

Jennifer Kuan |
October 23, 2013 | 2:38 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Brad Pitt in "The Counselor" (20th Century Fox).
Brad Pitt in "The Counselor" (20th Century Fox).

Earlier this month, buzz-generating films "Gravity" and "The Fifth Estate" premiered. "Gravity" remains at the top of the box office, while "The Fifth Estate" flopped during its opening weekend.

There are still several highly anticipated titles scheduled to be released before the end of the year—how will they fare?

Organized chronologically, these seven films are catching our attention.

"The Counselor"

"Breaking Bad" is over, but "The Counselor" debuts in mere days and promises to tackle some similar themes. The A-list cast includes Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt.

Director Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner," "Gladiator") and novelist Cormac McCarthy ("No Country for Old Men," "The Road") have teamed up for this picture. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is McCarthy's first original screenplay that has been turned into a feature film.

Fassbender plays a respected lawyer, known only as The Counselor, whose one-time foray into drug trafficking quickly puts him in over his head. Cruz plays his girlfriend, Laura, who is positive and trusting to a fault. The drug lord, Reiner, is played by Bardem, and Diaz plays his equally intimidating girlfriend; together they form a powerful, dangerous couple. Pitt plays Westray, the middleman between The Counselor and Reiner.

This film opens on October 25th. Watch the trailer for "The Counselor" below.

"Thor: The Dark World"

Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with "Thor: The Dark World."

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) return to battle a mysterious enemy older than the universe itself. Loki takes on a new role in "Thor: The Dark World." Having already played the antagonist twice in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this time, Loki and Thor form a tenuous alliance against their shared enemy. Thor also reunites with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in the film, reigniting some unanswered questions about their relationship.

"Thor: The Dark World" has been generating massive amounts of buzz online. In particular, the Marvel fandom is excited about Loki's maturing role in the franchise, as the same formula repeated over and over loses its appeal. Whether or not Thor and Loki can play nice remains to be seen.

This film opens on November 8th. Watch the trailer for "Thor: The Dark World" below.

"The Book Thief"

The movie adaptation of Markus Zusak's critically acclaimed novel, "The Book Thief," features Sophie Nélisse as Liesel Meminger, Geoffrey Rush as Hans Hubermann and Emily Watson (no, not Emma Watson) as Rosa Hubermann.

Similarly to "The Diary of Anne Frank," "The Book Thief" is a World War II drama that focuses on the consequences of the war on average citizens. Liesel, left with no real family, is taken in by the working-class Hubermanns in Nazi Germany. She arrives with a single stolen book, which sparks her relationship with Hans. Later, the family harbours the Jewish Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer), who also bonds with Liesel over books and the power of words.

Fans of the incredibly poignant novel are waiting for the film with high expectations and turbulent emotions. "The Book Thief" may not be as flashy as many of the other upcoming movies, but the novel unabashedly tugs at the reader's heartstrings, and fans are hoping that the film will too.

This film opens on November 8th. Watch the trailer for "The Book Thief" below.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

The second book of Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy hits the big screen in late November.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) just survived the tyrannical Capitol's notorious Hunger Games, and they have inadvertently sparked civilian revolt. Amidst a backdrop of political and social upheaval, Katniss and Peeta are thrust back into the arena for the 75th Hunger Games. This time, they compete against other victors. This year's Hunger Games are specially orchestrated by the Capitol to squash the rebellion by eliminating Katniss and other figures that challenge the Capitol.

"The Hunger Games" did very well in the box office, and the fandom is eagerly awaiting the on-screen debut of the characters introduced in "Catching Fire," especially Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and Johanna Mason (Jena Malone).

This film opens on November 22nd. Watch the trailer below.


Disney's newest animated film, "Frozen" has generated plenty of talk, both positive and negative.

The film follows Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell, who teams up with Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff and the charismatic snowman Olaf (Josh Gad). Together, they seek Anna's sister, Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has trapped their kingdom in an eternal state of winter.

Though many Disney fans are expressing excitement for the film, Disney's head animator, Lino DiSalvo, has drawn heavy criticism for his comments regarding animating female characters. In an article by The Independent, it is revealed that DiSalvo believes, "Historically speaking, animating female characters is really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions."

To this statement, Oscar-nominated animator Joanna Quinn counters, "The only challenge is the notion of beauty. It's really hard to inject lots of emotion because you're always trying to keep them [as] this sort of shiny, lovely character. I am looking for strong female characters that are not always gorgeous."

This film opens on November 27th. Watch the trailer for "Frozen" below.

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

As with his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Peter Jackson is releasing one "Hobbit" movie each December for three years. The second movie in the "Hobbit" trilogy, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," hits theatres on December 13.

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the dwarves pick up where they left off in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." Bilbo and the dwarves continue their journey to the Lonely Mountain, seeking to wrest their gold and home from the clutches of the dragon Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Meanwhile, Gandalf attends to secret business in the south, further developing the Necromancer (also played by Cumberbatch) plot.

On their way though the forest of Mirkwood, the company meets Legolas (Orlando Bloom) before his days in the Fellowship and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), an original character. Writer Philippa Boyens believes that bringing in Tauriel's "feminine energy … [is] completely within the spirit of Tolkien." The audience also gets their first true encounter with Smaug, whom Cumberbatch voices magnificently.

The film opens on December 13th. Watch the second official trailer for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" below.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is back and ready to take on the '80s in New York.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" includes the same cast of characters as its prequel, including Christina Applegate as Veronica Corningstone, Paul Rudd as Brian Fantana, Steve Carell as Brick Tamland and David Koechner as Champ Kind. After the disbandment of Channel 4 team, the group parted ways until a 24-hour news station in New York recruits them. Presumably, hilarity ensues.

Joining the "Anchorman 2" cast is Kristen Wiig, Harrison Ford, Tina Fey, Sacha Cohen and others. Their roles have yet to be specified.

"Anchorman 2" drops December 25th. Watch the "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" trailer below.

Reach Staff Reporter Jennifer Kuan here. Follow her on WordPress here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.