“If you never do anything, you never become anyone,” laments Carey Mulligan's Jenny in 2009's An Education, but for the young English actress there's no such problem. In the few years since her composed breakthrough Mulligan has worked with a variety of prominent directors, although not all of them knew what to do with her mercurial spirit and self-reflective pathos; she was an accessory in Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but at her best in Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go. Now, in the recent wake of Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive and Steve McQueen's forthcoming Shame, Mulligan has a further raft of promising roles.
Having recently finished filming a part famous in literature but never previously captured with any intent on the screen – Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann's take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby – Mulligan will next join the ensemble cast assembled by the Coen brothers for their next movie, Inside Llewyn Davis. The film is about the Greenwich Village folk scene in early 1960s New York, which was a period when the traditional folk movement was remade with the arrival of Bob Dylan's vision and rock & roll's popularity. Oscar Isaac plays the titular young musician new to town, while alongside Mulligan there are roles for Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and F. Murray Abraham.
After that Mulligan will be part of the first collaboration between director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman since their celebrated one-two production of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation in 1999 and 2002 respectively. Their new, untitled project is a satire about a secret summit where the world's leaders assemble to plan forthcoming major events – including wars – that will subsequently unfold (conspiracy theorists will be nodding their heads vigorously).
Joining Mulligan in a movie that should be rich with character parts is Joaquin Phoenix, who is returning to acting after the self-destructive perceptions of his mockumentary, 2010's I'm Still Here, have finally lifted. As well as Spike Jonze, Phoenix is once again the leading man for director James Gray (The Yards, Two Lovers) in his next film, a period piece which co-stars Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard, and features in one of the year's most anticipated releases, The Master. Paul Thomas Anderson's follow-up to There Will Be Blood stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a World War II veteran who starts a religion called The Cause with Phoenix as his right hand man; comparisons to L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology have been made but denied by Anderson and his producers.
The German-born actress Diane Kruger moves easily between American and European productions, alternating the likes of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds with Fred Cavaye's Anything For Her (subsequently remade by Hollywood as The Next Three Days). For her next film, which opens the Berlin Film Festival in February, she's back in France and corseted, playing the doomed 18th century royal Marie Antoinette in Farewell, My Queen. The director is Benoit Jacquot (The Untouchable) and the picture, which co-stars Virginie Ledoyen and Lea Seydoux, tells the story of French Revolution from the perspective of servants at the imperial residence in Versailles.