We’re done looking back on previous movie years. It’s finally time to look ahead. The calendar pages have turned over to 2014, and we have so many films climbing to the top of our need-to-see list. Have a hankering for superhero action? Hollywood has you covered. Are you a YA fan seeking the next Hunger Games? Studios continue to comb bookstore shelves in search of a proper replacement – though a third Hunger Games is on its way, as well.
Needless to say, there should be a little something for everyone in the coming year. And to help you plan out your movie-watching year, we singled out 14 titles we’re looking forward to in 2014, as well as a list of additional can’t-miss movies. We’re putting these in order of release date, making it easy to fill out your own personal calendar. I think we can all agree that 2013 was a fantastic year at the movie theaters. You have a lot to live up to, 2014, but your miraculous journey into our movie-loving hearts can start with:
The Monuments Men
Remember Monuments Men? At one point in time, a tangible percentage of observers were pretty convinced it would wind up walking away with the Academy Award for Best Picture this year. Unfortunately, some problems on the editing side of the equation forced Clooney and company to push the film’s release date back from December 2013 to February 2014. Will the delay and bizarre release date ultimately cost the film a moment in the sun at the next Oscars? Very possibly, but luckily for all of us, it should actually improve the film’s quality. After all, I’m sure the effects department was able to work wonders with the extra month that fell into their laps. Remember back in high school when you’d be struggling to finish something and the teacher would casually tell everyone they had an extra day? Well, this is like the grown-up version of that.
The larger film follows a ragtag unit of men who enlist as soldiers in order to try and save art from the Nazi war machine. Clooney and Matt Damon topline the project, and the rest of the unit is filled out by such brilliant and loveable actors as Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Jean Dujardin. No one outside the studio has actually seen the film yet, but all of the trailers and the sudden release date change have only increased excitement for what has all the makings of a brilliant and slyly hysterical film. Besides, I think we’re all a big thumbs up on any film that figures out a way to take on World War II from an angle that’s actually different.
Release Date: February 7, 2014
The LEGO Movie
It was back in 2003 that I first discovered filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Along with Spin City/Scrubs/Cougartown creator Bill Lawrence, the duo created the hilarious animated series Clone High, which told the story of what would happen if the most notable names in history all went to high school together. Their reputation has only gone up in the decade since, moving from television to features and directing the hits Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. They have a one-two punch coming in 2014, and I’m dying to see the sequel 22 Jump Street, but while that movie won’t be out until summer it’s The LEGO Movie that has a full hold of my attention right now.
More than just a nice nostalgia fix (I played with LEGOs endlessly when I was a kid), I’m fascinated by the film’s production. The movie is being made with a mix of both stop-motion animation and CG, but more importantly, it was confirmed at Comic-Con this past July that absolutely everything you see in the movie, from the oceans to the sky to explosions, will actually be made of LEGO.
Like just about every animated movie out there these days, the film boasts an impressive line-up of voice actors. But what sets it apart is the number of notable pop-culture figures who will be coming together. Trailers have revealed characters like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Abraham Lincoln, but the movie will also be bringing together Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern (voiced by Will Arnett, Channing Tatum, Cobie Smulders and Jonah Hill, respectively). Thankfully it’s coming out next month, so it’s just a few weeks away.
Release Date: February 7, 2014.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson. The name alone is enough to get me eagerly anticipating whatever adventure this writer-director wishes to take on next. Whether the subject is first love (Moonrise Kingdom), mid-life crisis (The Fantastic Mr. Fox), world-rattling grief (The Darjeeling Limited), May-December romance (Rushmore), or fractured families (The Royal Tenebaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), Anderson's tender yet detached style of storytelling brings forth a warm and beautiful narrative filled with a cavalcade of quirky yet charming characters.
Armed as ever with his pastel paintbrush and sharp sense of humor, he's taking on a murder mystery tale here, and I can't wait. This curious collision is made more exciting by a cast that includes established members of his repertory like Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Lea Seydoux, and Billy Murray… as well as newcomers to the Anderson aesthetic, like Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Saoirse Ronan and Ralph Fiennes. This sprawling cast should be counted as another major reason to get giddy over The Grand Budapest Hotel, but so too is the premise that has legendary concierge Gustave H (Fiennes) juggling a barrage of bizarre guests while fighting a murder rap of one of his old (as in octogenarian) lovers.
Then there's those curious trailers! Colors so lovely and questions abound. Who is the interesting old fellow? What's the deal with "Boy with Apple?" How do all these wild figures tie together? What's with that hooked scar on Agatha's cheek? But most importantly, who is the killer in their midst?!
Release Date: March 7, 2014
A year prior to the film’s release date, Veronica Mars fans were invited to rally in support of their beloved spunky detective (marshmallow), pile up their cash and make the wished-for follow-up film a reality. They came through in droves, and this March, Veronica Mars will hit the big screen, bringing the snarky once-teen detective back to Neptune to crack the next big mystery. The film won’t ignore the massive time gap between Veronica’s college years — where the TV series left off — and the present. Kristen Bell’s character will be returning to Southern California for her high school reunion, and though she’s left her days as a private eye behind, pursuing a career practicing law instead, she may be drawn back into the investigating business when her ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Doehring) asks her to help clear his name after he’s accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend.
For fans of the gone-too-soon UPN/CW series, Veronica Mars’ return in feature form is a massively anticipated event for 2014. Not only has the character been long overdue for a revival, but the series left off in such an uncertain place that it seems necessary to revisit the story, if only to get some better closure. Hopefully the film offers that along with plenty of witty banter, nods to the original series, and a mystery to rival that of the first season.
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister is best known for his work alongside famed director Christopher Nolan, but later this year, he may break out in a big way on his own thanks to the artificial-intelligence-gone-wrong science fiction thriller Transcendence. The film started generating a ton of buzz back in December on the heels of a creepy and brilliant teaser, and the subsequently released trailer did nothing to dissuade fans from their collective excitement.
Beneath the surface, there are definitely some deep, dark secrets in play here, but the basic plot seems pretty clear at this point. Johnny Depp, working with someone other than Tim Burton or Gore Verbinski, is a brilliant scientist working on the singularity problem. At some point during the course of his research, he gets shot by an anti-technology group, but rather than deter him, the radiation bullet somehow frees his mind to begin pushing what’s possible in new and exciting directions. Maybe he’s a monster. Maybe he’s a liberator. It’s still sort of unclear whose side he’s on and whether or not we should root for him, but regardless of whether he’s an antagonist or a protagonist, he certainly seems like a character we’ll never, ever forget – which, for a director making his first feature, seems like the ultimate goal.
Release Date: April 17, 2014
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Opinions on Marc Webb’s Spider-Man origin reboot were mixed. The movie made money, banking $752 million globally. But it divided critics and fans into camps, some of whom preferred Sam Raimi’s take on the web-slinger over Webb’s modern vision. I loved Andrew Garfield’s take on Peter Parker, an updated high school geek who doesn’t realize he’s actually cool, embracing sarcasm in ways Tobey Maguire never figured out. Sony also fell for Webb’s approach, greenlighting May’s anticipated sequel as well as multiple sequels.
This is the movie where we believe Webb will show us the breadth of his Spider-Man plan. Stages will be set for massive Spider-Man action, introducing cinematic villains in Electro (Jamie Foxx) and a new Goblin (Dane DeHaan). In addition, puzzle pieces will be moved into place that should sustain Spidey through many more movies, possibly establishing Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) and OsCorp as a "Big Bad" to contend with for decades… and possibly eliminating Peter Parker’s love interest, Gwen (Emma Stone). Sony already has put its chips on the table, betting big on the future of Spider-Man. That tells us they like what they see in Webb’s universe, and I’m gambling we’ll all be on the same page come the start of next summer.
Release Date: May 2, 2014
While I love movies that are heavy on plot and character, sometimes all I really want is a movie that isn’t afraid to heap assuredly-directed action on top of assuredly-directed action. And that, my friends, is hopefully what Gareth Edwards is bringing with Godzilla, his first film following 2010’s pretty excellent low-budget thriller Monsters. While the plot has been largely kept under wraps, the trailer makes it look like a never-ending stream of larger-than-life action and suspense. It seems like any movie involving the legendary giant lizard would be a pinnacle of excitement, but it only takes a quick mention of Roland Emmerich’s highly misguided 1998 entry to the franchise to remind audiences that it takes talent and sometimes a MechaGodzilla to make such a film a success.
A Godzilla movie does not need a multi-threaded narrative in order to work. It just needs to set up a place for the King of the Monsters to destroy, and a cast of characters that try and stop it; it isn’t the most complex formula. Evans, directing form a script written by Max Borenstein, is bringing a military angle to it, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing one of a soldier unit who will somehow try to take the beast down. We’ve also got a host of other talented actors in roles that aren’t quite clear just yet, including Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins. This may be the only film this year where I’d be perfectly fine with every character’s motivation summed up as "wanting to stay alive." I’m pretty sure Godzilla is going to make people forget about every tentpole film that Summer 2013 had to offer.
Release Date: May 16, 2014
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Even though superhero films might be coming off tired or desperate to some fans, that tickle of recognition still remains. The onslaught of comic book adaptations are becoming less and less recognizable as having comic roots, and more similar to the bloat of 90's-era blockbusters that hyperventilated all over screens trying to outdo each other. Basically, picking up an X-Men comic was a much more exciting and imaginative experience than sitting through any of Fox's X-adventures thus far. Though Bryan Singer's first two films in the series came close, and the fact that he is returning for this year's X-Men: Days Of Future Past inspires hope.
But that's not really enough to get a former X-fan into the theater, particularly after Singer's Jack The Giant Slayer. No, instead Fox had to bring out the big guns, adapting a storyline that is both the favorite of most X-Men followers as well as one of the least likely to be adapted. Not only is Days Of Future Past one of the more fantastical stories in the X-canon, featuring time travel and apocalyptic futures, but it's also one of the shortest, lasting only two issues. It's also not a great fit with the grounded sci-fi world established by Singer and carried on by Matthew Vaughn in the franchise thus far. But the fact that they're tackling it at all is something of a Hail Mary for this franchise, an audacious attempt at bridging the worlds between X-Men: First Class and Singer's earlier films. The X-Men are loopy enough; introducing time travel is an excessively odd and welcome twist on what has become a tired superhero genre.
Also, Bishop is in it. And they gave him a big-ass gun. Look at that thing, man.
Release Date: May 23, 2014
There are two sides to every story, and who’s to say that the side we’re most familiar with is the better story? We’ve all heard some version of Sleeping Beauty — most likely Disney’s — telling the tale of a beautiful young princess who’s cursed by the evil Maleficent. This May, Disney will offer us an alternate perspective on one of its lead characters, as Maleficent tells the origin story of Sleeping Beauty’s villain, beginning with her idyllic upbringing in a peaceable forest kingdom and her land is invaded and she rises up to be its fiercest protector. The story eventually ties into the curse she puts on Aurora.
Is a villain origin story a better alternative to a live-action remake? Time will tell, especially if we find ourselves too-closely comparing Maleficent to either of 2012’s Snow White movies. This alternate concept is certainly a more original approach to tapping the well of fan favorites. Disney’s taking a chance in dipping back into one of their most beloved classics to tell this story, and we’re hopeful that Maleficent will, at the very least, do the 1959 classic justice. Angelina Jolie looks a mixture of stunning and terrifying as the title character, and her performance may very well help Maleficent meet its potential as a brilliant villain story. We can’t wait to find out.
Release Date: May 30, 2014
Once upon a time, Breckin Meyer accidentally mailed a sex tape not involving his girlfriend to his girlfriend, requiring a mad dash across the country to retrieve it. That somehow, depressingly happened 14 years ago, and given the prevalence of sex tapes, it was only a matter of time before someone else decided to swoop in and comment on the genre. Enter Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan. He’s shown a flair with raunchy R-rated comedy in the past, and now, he’s set to leave his stink all over Sex Tape, an upcoming comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Jack Black and a slew of comedy’s best supporting actors.
The basic premise, of course, involves Diaz, Segel and a missing sex tape. Fueled by attraction to each other and a desire to do something new, the two film themselves in throes of passion. After waking up the next morning, they immediately realize said tape is gone and set off on a frantic search around town and among their friends to figure out where the X-rated footage could have possibly gone. It has all the ingredients needed for a breakout adult comedy, and more importantly, it could well mark a giant step in the right direction for Black, who hasn’t had a live action hit since Tropic Thunder. Remember when he won us all over in High Fidelity? That greatness is still inside there somewhere. This should be the movie that brings it out!
Release Date: July 25, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy
In 2012, Marvel Studios brought together six of Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop an alien invasion from taking over the planet in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. In 2014, they will be bringing together a very different kind of team, namely the motley crew of delinquents you see in the image above. May I present to you the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax The Destroyer, Groot and Rocket Raccoon are characters that even regular comic book readers aren’t all too familiar with, but the look of the movie inspires a lot of research. Directed by James Gunn -- a Troma Entertainment alum whose previous credits include Slither and Super -- the big space adventure looks incredibly odd and totally different than anything Marvel has done thus far (just ask anybody who saw the footage at San Diego Comic-Con or D23 this past summer).
What’s more, it has one of the most fascinating casts that the studio has put together yet. Even beyond the ensemble of leads – which includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and both Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel in voice roles – the supporting cast is crazy packed with talent, featuring Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Peter Serafinowicz and Gregg Henry. I’m extremely excited for Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier this year as well, but it’s Guardians of the Galaxy that really has my attention, and I can’t wait until August to see it.
Release Date: August 1, 2014
Arriving in theaters, The Boxtrolls will introduce us to the posh Victorian-era town of Cheesebridge, a cheese-obsessed society that exists on the cobblestone streets, set above the sewer-dwelling Boxtrolls, the foul monsters who lurk beneath the surface of the town, occasionally snatching up children. Ok, probably not really, but so goes the legend, according to the cheese-eaters above ground. This 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid could be Laika’s next winner to follow in the footsteps of ParaNorman and Coraline.
The story follows an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who was raised by the Boxtrolls and grew up following in their footsteps, dumpster-diving and scouring for junk with the rest of them. Ben Kingsley voices the villainous Archibald Snatcher, a man determined to secure himself a place in Cheesebridge society by eradicating the town of the Boxtrolls. Between the premise and setting, which are based on Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters, added to Laika’s developing reputation for quality storytelling set behind fantastic stop-motion animation, we’re hoping The Boxtrolls turns out to be Laika’s next instant classic.
Release Date: September 26, 2014
In the summer of 2012, you couldn't go anywhere without spotting someone reading Gillian Flynn's heralded novel Gone Girl. The thriller, about a man who is the key suspect when his lovely wife goes missing, became a New York Times Bestseller and essential reading for anyone who loves a good mystery. Without going into spoiler territory, I can tell you two things. First off, the book is madly addictive, the kind of read that makes you resent every responsibility in your life because it gets in the way of you tearing through the next chapter. (Skip lunch. Who needs sleep!?)
Secondly, Flynn's novel worked on a surprising level where it forced the reader to reconsider everything they thought they knew, every few chapters. What could have been a cheap gimmick (or a frustrating one) became an intoxicating device in the hands of this talented storyteller. And now its translation has been handed off to a fascinating filmmaker.
David Fincher has helmed a string of adaptations, from the dark drama Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the mind-bending Fight Club, to non-fiction-inspired films like Zodiac and The Social Network. He's got a bold sense of style and a gift for sick and shocking twists, making him perfect for this complicated missing-person tale. Making Gone Girl even more intriguing is Fincher's casting choices, which have ranged from the sensible to the startling. With a cast that boasts Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Patrick Fugit, Scoot McNairy, Casey Wilson and one of the women from the "Blurred Lines" video, we could tell you we know what to expect from this movie adaptation. But we'd be lying through our teeth.
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Any year that has a Christopher Nolan movie in it is a good year for cinema. Even when making films based on a licensed character, Nolan is a pillar of innovation and imagination, and his next film Interstellar could possibly be his most original film to date, if not the most original film of the year. I’m a sucker for time travel, space thrillers and huge casts, and this one has got all three of those and then some. Part of the fun is waiting for this is the torturously minimal amount of information that Nolan & Co. have released as far as the plot goes.
With a story based on wormhole theories of way-smarter-than-me theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, Interstellar will take viewers on a voyage to find another planet where plants and life can thrive, in a future where our own Earth is no longer capable. Complementing this expansive story is an astounding cast of Academy Award winners and nominees, including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Ellen Burstyn, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley and Topher Grace.
Because Nolan is just as interesting a director as he is a storyteller – per usual, he co-wrote the script with his brother Jonathan – we can expect to see some of the most amazing space cinematography this side of Gravity, with IMAX cameras being utilized once again. For all of us who half-expected Inception to be the biggest movie of Nolan’s career, Interstellar could possibly dwarf that dreamy film, and without all the confusion and spinning tops.
Release Date: November 7, 2014 Also, These!
Muppets Most Wanted
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
22 Jump Street
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Dumb and Dumber To
Into the Woods
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