First of all, let me apologize for the sheer lack of activity on this blog over the last several months. Life seems to have gotten the better of me, as you can imagine, what with Graduate school and trying to forge a career and all that malarkey blah blah blah. But now, yay, I have some time to post a couple of items, and just in time for the brand spanking new year as well.
With 2013 almost behind us, it is time to look ahead to see what treats and disappointments, the world of cinema has in store for us in 2014. So, like all good film bloggers and writers around this time, as well as putting together my Best/Worst of the year lists, I have put together a list of fifty movies that we can look forward to in 2014. Let’s get this show on the road.
1. The Monuments Men
Boasting an all star cast, including the likes of Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin, George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, promises to be a classy old fashioned Hollywood affair with extra charm to boot. Originally slated for a December 2013 release, the film was pushed back to February 2014 when Clooney asked the studio for more time to finish up with post production. The move could prove beneficial, having now been removed from the already crowded awards race. Based on a true story, the film follows a group of unlikely heroes (is there any other kind?) tasked with rescuing stolen artworks from the Nazis towards the end of World War 2. Everything we’ve seen in the trailers promises an effortlessly classy affair with a top draw cast to boot.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
With Thor: The Dark World scoring a whopping $600 million plus worldwide, the Marvel cinematic universe seems to show no signs of slowing down. Come April, Marvel Studios unleashes the next installment in their plan for blockbuster domination, with Captain America’s second solo adventure. Captain America: The First Avenger was a bit of a lame duck in the Marvel canon, but now that old Cap is firmly rooted in the present, things look set to get a whole lot more complicated for Chris Evans’ shield waving patriot. The trailer looked all kinds of impressive, especially considering this is from the Russo brothers, the guys whose CV sports the likes of episodes of Community and You me and Dupree. Not the first names you think of when it comes to comic book blockbuster movie, but they seemed to have nailed the look and the spectacle in this movie. Plus with the addition of Robert Redford in a key role, and a plot in which it’s not clear as to who the good and bad guys are, this could be one of the more interesting of the phase 2 Marvel movies.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
And speaking of Marvel, the fourth and final film in their Phase 2 plan, seems to be the riskiest and potentially most bonkers movie out of all the Marvel movies, cinematic universe or not. Anyone who stuck around for the mid credits sting in Thor:The Dark World would have already had a glimpse of the kind of thing we can expect from director James Gunn’s movie, with Benecio Del Toro gleefully hamming it up as The Collector. Featuring the likes of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Dave Bautista and a talking tree called Groot and a gun toting raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, this looks set to be one of the more insane and potentially brilliant blockbusters of next summer.
4. Only Lovers Left Alive
It’s time for vampires to be cool again and what better director to take that challenge that Jim Jarmusch. Seriously, Jarmusch tackling vampires? With Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as the titular lovers? Who wouldn’t get excited about that? Making the rounds on the festival circuit earlier this year, Only Lovers Left Alive seems to be pure Jarmusch. With great minimalism and beauty, the likes that only Jarmusch can muster, the film looks set to take the vampire myth and put a stake through the memories of those sparkly ones. With Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston playing the two lovers, and boasting support from Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt, Only Lovers Left Alive is set for release early next year.
5. Jane Got a Gun
Making headlines for all the wrong reasons, the behind the scenes documentary would probably be far more fascinating to see than whatever it is we eventually get to see on screen. Originally slated to be directed by Lynne Ramsey before she unexpectedly went MIA on the first day of filming, the film is now under the guidance of Gavin O’Connor. With an ever changing cast, production troubles the film somehow managed to to finish filming and now looks set for release August 2014. One must be feeling for star and producer Natalie Portman who stuck with it throughout the whole shenanigans. No matter how the film turns out in the end, it will simply be a success for making it to the screen at all. This will undoubtedly be case of the behind the scenes shenanigans being far more interesting than the final product.
With the exception of The Hunger Games, the YA bubble was in considerable danger of finally bursting this year. With The Host failing to capitalize on the Stephanie Meyer brand and both Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones failing to make any kind of impact at the box office, it seemed as if the YA adaptation had finally had its day. Divergent however, could be the one to step up and challenge Miss Everdeen for her crown. Based on the first of the best selling series by Veronica Roth, Neil Burger’s adaptation stars Shaileene Woodley as a member of dystopic society, while people are separated into factions based on personality traits. All the ingredients of a classic YA are here; young tough female protagonist entering a strange new world, finding her strength, making out with buff guys with their shirts off, and battling evil doers. This looks set to be a hit with its core audience and could reignite the YA box office bubble.
7. The Maze Runner
The second YA adaptation of the year seems a far more interesting prospect. Once again, set in a dystopian future (of course) this one focuses on a group of lads, who are thrown into what is essentially a prison like community with their memories erased. Surrounded by a strange maze like structure, our hero, Thomas, has to become a titular Maze Runner in order to navigate and escape wherever it is that they have been placed. Featuring scary ass monsters and plenty of intrigue, this could prove to be a far more intriguing prospect than the usual YA adaptations that we’ve been accustomed to. Starring the likes of Will Poulter and Thomas Brodie Sangster, along with Patricia Clarkson and Kaya Scodelario, The Maze Runner could prove to be the male alternative to the so far female centric YA adaptations.
8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
But of course, the queen of the YA adaptation (for the next couple of years at least) is still Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss. Doing the now standard thing of splitting the final book into two parts, there’s no doubt that the first part of the finale will be just as massive as the first two entries, despite being the less well regarded of the three books. I was not a fan of the first movie, but I have to admit I was mightily impressed with Catching Fire. New director Francis Lawrence seemed far more comfortable with the material than his predecessor, while Jennifer Lawrence firmly cemented the role of Katniss as her own. Now that Katniss is done with the games, the first part of the third part (yes, that is ridiculous) will no doubt be another global hit and promises actual revolution and high emotion next time around.
9. The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Some are still questioning the necessity of adapting a 3oo page book into a nine hour trilogy, but there is no denying the appeal of Tolkien’s world and Peter Jackson’s interpretation of it. While the first installment had its flaws, The Desolation of Smaug was a vast improvement, reminding us of Jackson’s skill at pure epic fantasy filmmaking.With dragons, and a huge battle involving five, yes that’s right, five armies yet to come, the final part of The Hobbit trilogy could be the epic swansong that we’ve been hoping since The Lord of the Rings ended in 2003.
10. Transformers: Age of Extinction
Okay, first of all, let’s be clear: the first three Transformers movies were not that great. Pretty awful in some cases. So stupid and ridiculous in fact, that Michael Bay himself has apologized (or not, nobody’s really sure) on more than one occasion. But now, with a brand spanking new cast lead by Mark Wahlberg, and with promises from Bay himself of eliminating the “goofiness and cheesiness” from the movies, could the fourth Transformers movie be more than a giant toy advert with explosions and gratuitous pervy shots of young good looking people? Probably not. But let’s face it, nobody does explosions and yellow camera filters better than Michael Bay. Plus, sometimes one needs to see giant robots beating ten times of crap out of each other. Oh, and did we mention, Dino robots?
11. The Lego Movie
Okay, I have to admit, when I first heard that a movie was being made from Lego, I was hugely skeptical. Like a massive miserable skeptic man, whose superpower was being a miserable old bastard. But lo and behold how times change with the release of a trailer or two. From the guys who brought us 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, it’s easy to know what we can expect from the movie featuring everyone’s favorite childhood toy. The trailers make the movie look fantastic, with voice work from the likes of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, the film looks to a blast from start to finish. Also, Will Arnett as Lego Batman= pure genius.
12. 22 Jump Street
21 Jump Street was a surprise hit, both commercially and critically. Hilarious from start to finish, it was enough for the studio to warrant a sequel and so now we get the aptly titled 22 Jump Street. With our intrepid heroes now having graduated from High School, we find them undercover as freshman in college. Expect hijinks galore involving dorms, coed showers, weed, and whatever else young freshman get up to in college these days along with riffs on every college movie cliche in the book. The first red band trailer just released promises more of the same which is in no way a bad things. If it is anything like the first movie, then this could be comedy of the year.
13. Veronica Mars
After the historical Kickstarter project from Rob Thomas and co. the Veronica Mars movie is actually finally happening. The will of the people have spoken and the film adaptation of the cult TV series is set for release next March, with all the major principles returning, including a few new faces. For fans of the short lived show, which ran for three seasons, this movie is a glorious thing, something that for a long time was nothing more than a pipe dream. But oh technology and crowdfunding and kickstarter, yay. Hopefully the film manages to capture the magic of the TV show and live up to fans expectations.
14. The Raid 2: Berandal
Gareth Evans first Raid movie came out of nowhere in 2011, punching and kicking its way into movie history as an instant action classic. A hard act to follow, no doubt, but Gareth Evans and star Iwo Ikais have not let expectations deter them as the sequel looks set to hit screens early next year and looks set to be just as bloody and brutal as the first movie. Supposedly picking up a mere two hours from where the first movie ended, the first teaser promises action as insane and crazy as the first. Evans proved himself a true action director with The Raid, so here’s hoping he’s been able to evolve his talents for the second movie and deliver something that transcends even the quality of the first one. A tall order for sure, but I feel confident he has.
Darren Aronofsky always manages to make interesting and visually compelling films, regardless of what you may think of them. I personally believe that The Fountain was one of the most visually stunning movies of the last decade. The sheer prospect of a director like Aronofsky tackling a biblical story as epic and iconic as the Noah story is something to truly get excited about. Reports of troubles behind the scenes are to be expected with a director as unconventional as Aronofsky, but that should not deter from the fact that this could be an epic in the truest sense of the word. With Russell Crowe in the title role with ample support from the likes of Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins, this might be one not to miss come March next year.
And speaking of biblical epics, Aronofsky is not the only director taking on the old testament. Ridley Scott takes on the Moses story in Exodus with Christian Bale taking on the title role supported by a cast that includes Sigourney Weaver, Sir Ben Kingsley and Aaron Paul. With Scott’s visual panache, we can most certainly expect grandstanding epic visuals, worthy of such a story. However, with Scott’s last two movies, Prometheus and The Counselor proving gut busting disappointments, some may have lost faith in Scott’s ability to produce compelling storytelling. However, with this cast and this kind of material, who knows. Then again, that’s what I said about The Counselor.
If you are fans of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, you may have noticed that regular host Jon Stewart took a break this summer to go away and shoot a movie. However, this is not a political satire as one might expect from the late night news satirist, but rather a tale of political imprisonment and survival. The film tells the true story of a journalist detained in Iran for more than 100 days and his brutal interrogation he experienced at the hands of his captors. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, it will be interesting to see how Stewart handles the material in his first major directorial effort.
18. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson returns to our screens next year with what could possibly be his most entertaining movie yet. Boasting his most unique visual style and wit, The Grand Budapest Hotel looks pure Wes Anderson in all its glory and then some. Ralph Fiennes looks to be on top form, exercising some rare comic talents that we haven’t had a chance to see from the actor before (unless of course you count Maid in Manhattan but you’re not are you, not). The starry cast is full of the usual Wes Anderson regulars, including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartman and Tilda Swinton plus a whole bunch more. For Anderson fans, this looks like a pure delight. For everyone else, well… This looks like a pure delight.
Ah Lars Von Trier… Always a talking point. Good or bad, the man knows how to stir up the hornet’s nest. Whether or not his films are actually worth any kind of artistic merit or are simply made to garner a shock reaction out of people, will no doubt be debated for years, and no doubt that question will be asked again when he unleashes his latest opus upon us. Charting the sexual history of a woman through her entire life, the first trailer promises scenes of intense visceral scenes that only a director like Von Trier is capable of. Sure to make headlines when it premieres at Cannes next year, it will no doubt be the movie that almost everyone will be talking about this time next year.
20. How to Catch A Monster
Ryan Gosling may have made a name for himself as one of the coolest and just really really good looking leading men of his generation, but now he’s decided to step behind the camera for his first directorial effort. Described as a fantasy neo-noir, How to Catch a Monster tells the story of a single mother who enters a dark lifestyle, while her son uncovers a road leading to an underwater utopia. It all sounds very mysterious and surreal. No doubt a first trailer will shed more light on the kind of thing that Gosling is going for, but one can imagine it won’t be your usual fantasy neo-noir, considering the kind of directors Gosling has worked with in the past (I’m looking at you Winding Refn). With a cast that includes Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, Saorise Ronan, Christina Hendricks and former Doctor Who himself Matt Smith, file this one under one of the more intriguing prospects of next year.
21. Dark Places
Anyone who’s read the book knows what kind of thing to expect when Gilles Paquet Brenner’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s brilliantly compelling novel opens next year. Dark Places follows Libby Day (Charlize Theron), the only surviving witness of a horrific massacre that took her mother and sisters. Believing the slaughter to be the work of a Satanic cult, Libby testifies in court against her own brother. 25 years after the murder, she remains haunted by the gruesome violence of her past when she meets a group of amateur investigators who call themselves “The Kill Club”. In order to help them, Libby must unearth painful memories of the event, and learn that her past may not be what it seems. The brutal massacre that provides the catalyst for events of the film, leads into a comment on poverty and marital abuse. With a cast that includes Charlize Theron, Chloe Moretz and Nicholas Hoult this is most certainly a contender for thriller of the year.
22. Animal Rescue
Enough Said may have shown the greatness that James Gandolfini was still yet to achieve following his untimely death but Michael R. Roskam’s film will mark the great actor’s final appearance in a film. Not only notable for that, the film looks intriguing nonetheless. The story is centered around a pit bull, a scam artist and a killing. With Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace taking lead roles and featuring a screenplay from crime writer Dennis Lehane, this could prove to be a melancholic swansong for Gandolfini and also a damn good crime drama to boot. And if this cutesy picture of Tom Hardy and a pit bull isn’t enough to make you want to see the movie, then your heart is made of ice.
23. Child 44
The second film of 2014 to feature both Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace. Once slated for Ridley Scott to direct at one point, the film, now being helmed by Daniel Espinosa, set in Stalin era Soviet Russia, tells the story of Leo Demidov, a disgraced MGB agent sent to investigate a series of child murders, which could have connections to the very top of party leadership. Tom Rob Smith’s source material is a cracking good read and is the first in a trilogy of novels featuring Hardy’s and Rapace’s characters. Featuring an all star cast, including Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Joel Kinneman, Vincent Cassel and Paddy Considine, the film is set for release at some point next year.
Out of all the Disney villains that have terrified and enthralled us over the years, only one stands above all others and that is Maleficent, the iconic witch from Dinesy’s Sleeping Beauty. Now it seems, she’s getting a film of her own. Touted as the “untold story” the film stars Angelina Jolie as the iconic villain (early prize for most perfect casting of the year), and promises to tell the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of our favorite black horned witch. The first trailer revealed some nice Disneyfied visuals and could be a far more intriguing prospect from the mouse house than most fare they’ve put out before. Hopefully the film is as interesting as Maleficent herself.
25. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Okay, I’ll admit; I have such mixed feelings when it comes to this movie. Firstly, being an absolute TMNT fanboy, I welcome any kind of TMNT film that hits the screen. But this, this thing… Okay, first of all, the whole alien thing. Apparently that’s been thrown under the bus, which is fine, then there’s the whole Jonathan Libesmann directing thing. For someone whose best movie to date is Battle: La, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when it comes to handling the greatest cultural anything ever invented by mankind. Then there’s Michael Bay… Nuff said. But hell, it’s a TMNT film. William Fichtner is playing Shredder. That’s already pretty damn awesome. Plus it’s TMNT, on the big screen. Who isn’t excited about the prospect of a new TMNT movie?
Check back later for the second part of the 50 Movies To Look Forward To in 2014