IoS film preview of 2013: Hats off! It's the year of the auteur

Promising British directors to make their mark, plus predatory aliens and even a talking dog

After a slightly diminished 2012 showing for the UK art house, Brit auteurs return en masse. There are new features by Clio Barnard (a Bradford-based take on Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant), Joanna Hogg (starring ex-Slits guitarist Viv Albertine) and Ben Wheatley, bringing warped psychedelia to the Cromwell era with A Field in England. Ken Loach ventures into new territory with his archive documentary The Spirit of '45, while the elusive Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) unveils Under the Skin, with Scarlett Johansson as a predatory alien. Steve McQueen returns with Twelve Years a Slave, with a cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Cumberbatch. And, injecting a note of mainstream jollity, Edgar Wright reteams with Simon Pegg for an apocalyptic pub crawl in The World's End.

Who do they think they are?

The Big Theme of 2013 appears to be impersonation, with the great and the good queuing up to play the good, the bad and the implausible. First we see Daniel Day-Lewis don his stovepipe hat in Spielberg's Lincoln and Anthony Hopkins bulk up for Hitchcock, then the list just goes on: Naomi Watts as Princess Diana, Amy Adams as Janis Joplin, Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg …. Don't expect all biopics to be high-minded: Amanda Seyfried plays the star of Deep Throat in Lovelace, while Steve Coogan will be fluffing up his chest hair as Brit nudie king Paul Raymond in Michael Winterbottom's The Look of Love.

 

Auteurs a go go

The most ominous trailer currently online is for Pedro Almodovar's I'm So Excited, in which camp flight attendants lip-synch to the Pointer Sisters: just what we wanted from the maestro, a Hispanic remake of Come Fly With Me. Meanwhile, having escaped The Hobbit in one piece, Mexican genre man Guillermo del Toro opts for robots-vs-monsters epic Pacific Rim. Among the Asian maestros, Wong Kar-wai goes martial arts with Berlin Festival opener The Grandmaster, and Korean thriller specialist Bong Joon-Ho reveals the improbable sounding Snowpiercer, a futuristic train adventure starring Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans. Danish extremists will battle it out, no doubt in Cannes: has Lars von Trier (Nymphomaniac, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg) still got what it takes to out-shockjock Nicolas Winding Refn (Thai boxing drama Only God Forgives, featuring a battered Ryan Gosling)? And floating cantankerously above it all is arch-auteur Jean-Luc Godard, whose Goodbye to Language was shot in 3D (true!), on two iPhones (reputedly) and features a talking dog (so he claims).

 

Festival stragglers

They were lauded as they orbited the festival circuit in 2012; this year they finally touch down in the UK. Gangs of Wasseypur was the best-kept secret of Cannes, an Indian crime epic that raised pulses and eyebrows over a five-hour stretch; we'll be getting it soon, in two parts. Sergei Loznitsa's In the Fog is a Russian drama about truth, honour and betrayal, and one of the very best war films of recent years. Another Second World War story that's set festival audiences raving is Lore, a German-set drama by Cate Shortland. And I'm hoping that we'll get to see Something in the Air, French director Olivier Assayas's take on 1968. Radicalism, chic and Syd Barrett songs Ω what distributor could resist?

Face to watch

Alden Ehrenreich may sound like a Wall Street brokerage firm, but he could be this year's Robert Pattinson, given his star role in forthcoming Gothic romance Beautiful Creatures. His gangling all-American innocent was one of the better things in Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro. Next up: Park Chan-wook's chiller Stoker, and the inevitable Woody Allen project.

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