While Awards Season for 2012 films has just begun, we turn our sights forward to the promising slate of movies due out in 2013. Directors like Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Terrence Malick, J.J. Abrams, Richard Linklater and Joss Whedon all have new movies due out in the next 12 months. The following 40 movies are the ones we’re most excited about—not the ones that will necessarily have the biggest box office draws. They range from indie dramas to smart-looking popcorn blockbusters. They’re presented in calendar order, and we’ll update this list with trailers and release dates as they’re released.
1. Side Effects
Release Date: Feb. 8
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Why We’re Excited: Oscar-winner Soderbergh has explored the effects of pharmaceuticals before in Traffic, but this time the drugs at the heart of this psychological thriller are of the legal variety.
2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Release Date: March 15
Director: Don Scardino
Stars: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde
Why We’re Excited: It’s Steve Carell vs. Jim Carrey in a battle of the golden manes—the most promising magician rivalry since The Prestige. Wonderstone (Carrell) is trying to liven up his stale act as audiences fall instead for street magician Steve Gray (Carrey).
3. The Place Beyond the Pines
Release Date: March 22
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne
Why We’re Excited: Gosling plays a motorcyclist pressured to pull heists to support his son in this crime drama from the director of Blue Valentine, which also starred Gosling.
4. To the Wonder
Release Date: April 12
Director: Terrence Malick
Stars: Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams
Why We’re Excited: Usually there’s a new president before there’s a new Malick film (he skipped Reagan and GHW Bush completely). But he’s got three projects that could see release this year, including this exploration of love with Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams.
5. Iron Man 3
Release Date: May 3
Director: Shane Black
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall
Why We’re Excited: Robert Downey Jr. has made the “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” Tony Stark one of our favorite superheroes of recent memory. This time he’s responding to a nano-virus created by evil geneticist Aldich Killian (Guy Pearce).
6. Star Trek Into Darkness
Release Date: May 17
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch
Why We’re Excited: J.J. Abrams breathed new life into the franchise with its reboot, and now he’s given us another excuse to say the words “Benedict Cumberbatch” as our favorite Sherlock Holmes plays a rogue villain from Starfleet itself.
7. The Lone Ranger
Release Date: May 31
Director: Gore Verbinski
Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper
Why We’re Excited: Frankly we’re not so sure about a white guy playing Tonto, but Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski have made a great team in the past (Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango).
8. Only God Forgives
Release Date: May
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Burke
Why We’re Excited: We loved Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn’s last film with Ryan Gosling, and can’t wait to see them team up for this one, a film about a police lieutenant in Bangkok who fights a local gangster in a Thai-boxing match.
9. The Grandmaster
Release Date: Spring
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Stars: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang
Why We’re Excited: Set in the 1930s, the latest from Wong Kar-wai (In The Mood For Love, 2046) features several of the director’s regulars, including Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and tells the story of the martial arts master who trailed Bruce Lee.
10. Much Ado About Nothing
Release Date: June 7
Director: Joss Whedon
Stars: Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese
Why We’re Excited: How do you followup an epic multi-superhero comicbook blockbuster that earned $600 million? A modern-day, black-and-white take on a Shakespeare comedy with the cast of Whedon’s TV series Angel, of course.