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Dan’s Most Anticipated 2014 Movies

2014-MOSTTalk about a tough act to follow. Last year was quite the year in movies, although some of the bigger blockbusters left a lot to be desired. As I look at the landscape of cinema for 2014 there is a great deal to be excited about. Anticipation is high with what  the promise 2014 can bring. Whether it is the return of some epic franchises or an acclaimed director looking to flex some creative muscle there is something for just about anyone. With that in mind I have constructed my list of the Top 30 Most Anticipated 2014 movies.  In order to satisfy that Yin and Yang portion of my brain I made sure not to only mention why it is anticipated, but why it also may be a possible let down.  Here’s hoping the successes out weigh the failures.


30. Birdman

Release Date:  TBD

Director:  Alejandro González Iñárritu

Writers:   Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay), Nicolás Giacobone (screenplay),

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone

Synopsis:   A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

The PositiveMichael Keaton’s talents have gone unused for far too long. A movie like this has the makings of letting that talent shine once again. The premise is so crazy enough it might work, and be a fitting reflection of the current craze with superheroes.

The Negative:  Part of me wonders if this ground is far too worn at this point. With movies like Kick-Ass  and James Gunn’s Super  is there anything new to add? Keaton has not successfully carried a movie on his own since the 80’s. Is he ripe for a comeback or has his time past him bye?




29. Edge of Tomorrow

Release Date:  June 6, 2014

Director: Doug Liman

Writers:  Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay), Jez Butterworth (screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton 

Synopsis:   A soldier fighting in a war with aliens finds himself caught in a time loop of his last day in the battle, though he becomes better skilled along the way.

The PositiveI know Tom Cruise is not everyone’s favorite person. His craziness in real life tends to turn people off. Still, when he comes out with a movie I’ll be interested. No one quite does the blockbuster like him. Not to mention the mechsuits. Movies are always better with mechsuits.

The Negative:  Doug Liman is very hit or miss as a director. He has given us The Bourne Identity  and what I feel is a fun action movie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. However, he has also made Jumper  so there is that.  The trailer did not wow me as much as I was hoping for, and with so many other bigger films coming out it may get lost.

28. Serena

Release Date:  TBD

Director: Susanne Bier

Writers:  Christopher Kyle (screenplay), Ron Rash (book)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans 

Synopsis:   In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton’s timber empire becomes complicated when it is learned that his wife, Serena, cannot bear children.

The PositiveAfter their work in Silver Linings Playbook  it is easy to get excited to see Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence joining forces once again. Although, I have yet to read the novel all I hear about it is universal praise. Based on that it seems like quality source material for a great movie.

The Negative:  Cooper and Lawrence are two actors I greatly respect, yet I can not picture them in a depression era period piece. Although I enjoyed Lawrence in American Hustle  her sensibilities were far too modern at times. Screen writer Christopher Kyle last wrote for Alexander–a movie I am still trying to forget about.




A Mand Most Wanted

27. A Most Wanted Man

Release Date:  TBD

Director: Anton Corbijn

Writers:   Andrew Bovell (screenplay), John le Carré (novel)

Starring:  Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Daniel Brühl

Synopsis:   A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught up in the international war on terror.

The PositiveSimilar to Serena  this is also based on a very acclaimed novel. Director Anton Corbijn also directed George Clooney in The American, which is a film I feel alone on liking. Also anytime Phillip Seymour Hoffman is in a movie it is worth seeing. In 2013 Daniel Brühl impressed me twice with his work in both Fifth Estate  and especially Rush. So I’m looking forward to anything he does next as well.

The Negative:  There is nothing in particular that has me worried, but there is also not much to go on at this point. Just speculation based on casting, and overall the cast looks quite good.




The Interview

26. The Interview

Release Date:

Director:  Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Writers:   Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Starring:  James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan 

Synopsis:   Dave Skylark (James Franco), host of a talk show, and producer, Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), get an interview with Kim Jong-Un, dictator of North Korea. The CIA asks them to kill Kim. They become the least qualified men to ever assassinate.

The PositiveLast year Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen gave us This Is the End, a crazy take on the end of the world genre that I eventually named the comedy of the year. (Although it was not a great year for comedy) They have also recruited James Franco for what sounds like a completely insane premise with a lot of promise.

The Negative:  Going from directing your first movie to your second just a year later does make me wonder if it is too much too soon. Are Rogen and Goldberg buying into their own hype too much? The premise is intriguing, but is it too crazy even for them?




25. The Gunman

Release Date:  TBD

Director: Pierre Morel

Writers:  Don MacPherson, Jean-Patrick Manchette (novel)

Starring: Sean Penn, Idris Elba, and Javier Bardem

Synopsis:  An international operative named Martin Terrier (Sean Penn) wants out of the game, so he can settle down with his longtime love (Jasmine Trinca). The organization he works for has other plans in mind, and he is forced to go on the run across Europe

The Positive: In 2008 director Pierre Morel surprised the world with his action-thriller Taken. The film was not only a critical and financial success it also redefined Liam Neeson’s career as a badass action star. The idea of Sean Penn in a similar role is rather fascinating. Considering the cast this has the potential of not only being the next Taken  but possibly a replacement for the Bourne  franchise.

The Negative:  Although Pierre Morel busted out of the gates with District B13  and Taken  his follow-up From Paris with Love  was an absolute disaster. So much so he has not directed a movie since. The script is being penned by Don MacPherson, and the last film script he worked on was The Avengers…no not that Avengers—the 1998 Avengers starring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman.  So that does leave a lot to be desired.





24. Jane Got a Gun

Release Date: August 2014

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Writers: Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis (rewrite)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Rodrigo Santoro, Ewan McGregor 

Synopsis: Jane Hammond (Portman), a good girl is married to one of the worst baddies in town. When her husband Bill (Emmerich) turns against his own gang, the vicious Bishop Boys, and returns home barely alive with eight bullets in his back, Jane decides to grab a gun and take matters into her own hands. As the relentless leader John Bishop (McGregor) gears up for revenge, Jane’s best hope for her family’s survival rests with her old love Dan Frost (Edgerton) – a gunslinger whose hatred for Bill is only slightly overshadowed by his love for Jane.

The PositiveBrian Duffield’s original script appeared on the 2011 Black List, which lists the best screenplays that have not been produced. Director Gavin O’Connor’s last film Warrior  was a critic gem and landed Nick Nolte an Oscar nomination. This time he has Oscar winner  Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor to work with so more awards could be in their future.

The Negative. The production problems have already become legendary. Michael Fassbender, Bradely Cooper, and Jude Law were all tied to the film at one point but later withdrew from production. Director Gavin O’Connor was  brought on after the original director Lynne Ramsay left the project.  With all this shuffling around one worries if there was actually any time to make the movie.




23. The Lego Movie

Release Date: February 7, 2014

Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

WritersDan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

StarringChris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett 

SynopsisAn ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.

The PositiveWatching the trailer for The Lego Movie   was like watching a child’s imagination come to life. Phil Lord has quite the track record with animation based on his work on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs  and the cult television show Clone High. Not to mention his work as a live-action director on 21 Jump Street. With cameos from characters like Batman and Wonder Woman this might end up being the Justice League movie we have all been waiting for.

The Negative: The one worry with a movie like this is that it will become nothing more than a cameo fest, where they throw as many characters as possible at the screen just because they can. Trying to make a film based on Legos is a difficult concept. There are so many possibilities where do you even begin, and will people be satisfied with what you come up with?





22.  Men Women & Children

Release Date: (Possible December 2014)

Director:  Jason Reitman

WritersChad Kultgen (novel), Jason Reitman, Erin Cresidda Wilson

StarringEmma Thompson, Adam Sandler, Judy Greer

SynopsisA look at the sexual frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today’s world.

The PositiveFor one it is great to see Adam Sandler get away from the world of Grown Ups  and his other lackluster comedies of late, and get back to some deeper material. Jason Reitman has made some amazing movies including Up in the Air, Thank You for Smoking, and Juno. Although those movies have their detractors I found them all highly enjoyable.

The Negative:  Reitman has been on somewhat of downward slope as of late. Young Adult had its moments, but overall was a lesser effort for him. Although I have yet to see Labor Day  all the talk behind it at this point appears to be rather negative. It is great to see Sandler taking a step outside his comfort level, but has he been there too long?  Time will tell.





21. Unbroken

Release Date:  December 25, 2014

Director: Angelina Jolie

Writers:   Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Laura Hillenbrand (book)

Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney

SynopsisA chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.

The PositiveAt this point anything with the Coen’s name attached is worth a gander, even if they are not directing. The Coen brothers and Angelina Jolie are not names that are synonymous with one another, but they do make for an intriguing trio. This also feels like possible amazing story that has not properly been told.

The Negative: This is Jolie’s second time in the director chair, and her first did not going very well. In the land of Blood and Honey  was a letdown that had potential but never did anything with it. Maybe with a better script behind her she has a better shot at making it work.





20. Big Hero 6

Release Date: TBD

Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams

WritersDon Hall,


SynopsisA group of six superheroes are recruited by the government to protect the nation.

The Positive: When the Marvel-Disney merger occurred many dreamed of seeing a possible Marvel movie done by Pixar. This is not quite that, but based on Pixar’s track record recently it might be better this way. Big Hero 6 was honestly a team I never heard of before his movie was announced. It excites me that Disney willing to branch out to the unexpected and not just do the obvious. Director Don Hall’s last movie was the extremely unrated Winnie the Pooh  in 2011. With Marvel behind him he does not have to worry about flying under the radar this time.

The Negative: The key to any animated movie is the voice cast, and up to this point no one has been casted. So without that knowledge it is hard to be completely on board.  Branching out to the unexpected is exciting. It is also risky. There’s no one clamoring for a Big Hero 6  movie to be made. Getting people invested into a team and characters they never heard about will be a challenge.




19. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Release Date: May 23, 2014

Director: Matt Reeves

WritersMark Bomback, Scott Z. Burns, Rick Jaffa

StarringGary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis 

SynopsisSurvivors of the simian plague trigger an all-out war between humanity and Caesar’s growing forces.

The PositiveRise of the Planet of the Apes  was one of the biggest surprises in the last few years. After the horrible mess that was the 2001 Tim Burton Planet of the Apes  this was a franchise most gave up on.  Matt Reaves is a director on the rise. Cloverfield and Let Me In  are both supremely unrated, and showed he has a versatile style

The Negative:  Although I enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I did not have the level of admiration for it as a lot of people did. The last twenty minutes were fantastic. Getting to that point was a chore in a few spots. Reeves may have talent, but bringing in a new director to a franchise is a challenge. Also the Apes franchise has a history of being hit and miss so looking at the past trajectory this should be a massive failure. Maybe it can buck that trend.





Exodus MOvie

18. Exodus

Release Date: December 12, 2014

Director: Ridley Scott

WritersBill Collage (screenplay), Adam Cooper(screenplay

StarringChristian Bale, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver

SynopsisAn account of Moses’ hand in leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt.

The PositiveWith Exodus  Ridley Scott is getting back to familiar territory. We all know he has the talent to do the grand scale epic right. He is the man who gave us Gladiator. There is no actor hotter right now than Christian Bale, and Aaron Paul is looking to have an acting life after Breaking Bad. He certainly has the talent to do so. With a staked cast, acclaimed director, and story based on a biblical tale this has award contender written all over it.

The NegativeRidley Scott did give us Gladiator. He also gave us Kingdom of Heaven. I tend to like the film more than most, but Robin Hood  I cannot even defend.  Last year The Counselor  was one of my biggest disappointments of 2013 so I may be setting myself up for failure yet again. Screenwriters Bill Collage and Adam Cooper have also yet to prove themselves. So far their works include New York Minute, Accepted, and Tower Heist. Hopefully those were just stepping-stones to get to higher ground.




 Guardians of the Galaxy

17. Guardians of the Galaxy

Release Date: August 1, 2014

Director: James Gunn

WritersJames Gunn, Nicole Perlman

Starring Lee Pace, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana 

SynopsisIn the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.

The PositiveUnlike Big Hero 6 the Guardians of the Galaxy are a team I am very familiar with. When I was in the thick of comics their book was relauched and I followed it closely for the first few years. Even I never thought a movie would ever be made. I mean the team is made up of a talking Raccoon and a Giant Tree. Leave it to Marvel to do the impossible. They got the right guy for the job too. James Gunn’s sensibilities fall right in line with the comic.

The NegativeOn a commercial side I wonder if Marvel went one step too far with this one. People can buy a man with a magic hammer, a playboy in a metal suit, and a super soldier being frozen alive for 50 year—but can they buy this? It is a huge risk and has the makings of being a massive disaster the level of Howard the Duck. Just with less hair.



16. The Monuments Men

Release Date: February 7, 2014

Director: George Clooney

WritersGeorge Clooney (screenplay), Grant Heslov(screenplay)

StarringGeorge Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon 

SynopsisAn unlikely World War II platoon are tasked to rescue art masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their owners.

The PositiveIf I did this list in 2013 this would have appeared on there as well. One I’m a sucker for a good World War II film, and also I  have been impressed with George Clooney as a director since his very first film. I am a big of Good Night, and Good luck  as it showed Clooney has the director’s eye. Looking at the cast I am still amazed they were able to fit them all into one movie.

The NegativeWhen a movie is pushed back there is some inherit hesitation. This was set to be released in December but for a multitude of reasons was pushed back to February. Sometimes pushing a movie back ends up being better for the movie, but sometimes it is because the final product was a letdown. Releasing it February does not help matters, because that is usually a dumping ground.



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