2014 is a year to look forward to for many reasons for cinephiles everywhere. For me personally, I think we have had a pretty big resurgence in the film industry in the last few years. Where we used to struggle to come up with Top 10 lists for a specific year, it seems that lately people have given up on trying to narrow the list down to 10 and instead we are seeing Top 15, 20, or even Top 25 lists.
Looking back specifically on the last few years what is obvious is that we have also seen a shift in the popularity of certain film genres. Take 2013 as an example. 2013 provided very few comedies that cracked Top Listings, and let’s not even get started about the life support that romantic comedies have been on as of late. Last year along with recent times have also seen a resurgence in ‘coming of age’ films as well as films depicting real life events, peoples or at least loosely based on true stories.
Whereas, a decade ago Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy and The Scorpion King represented a resurgence in the Fantasy Genre, so far this decade has seen the momentum come to a screeching halt with the flops of such films as; 47 Ronin, Clash/Wrath of the Titans, Immortals, John Carter and Percy Jackson. In its place we have seen an influx of science fiction films and the incredibly lucrative Superhero blockbusters!
But what will we see reign supreme in 2014?
Obviously it is hard to predict what films will live up to potential or expectations but nonetheless it is fun to look ahead to what exactly 2014 has in store. I love the annual task of deciding what you are most anticipating for the year for a number of reasons. First, it allows you the opportunity to educate yourself on what is coming down the pipeline and gives you an excuse to watch countless trailers! It also though, provides you with the chance to take off your ‘critic’ hat for a moment. When making a list like this its not about trying to predict the next ‘best picture’ class, heck its hardly even about making a list of what you think will be the ‘best’ films or even ‘your favorite’ films of the year. You can indulge yourself with a list like this…because its simply about what you, personally, are most looking forward to.
Save the critic hat for the end of 2014 when we are faced with the task of coming up with the best films from the first half of the decade (2010-2014)!
Until then, here are the 35 films I am most looking forward to for 2014 and the reasons why!
35. Nymphomaniac Part 1 & 2
Release Date: March 21st, 2014
Director: Lars von Trier
Writers: Lars von Trier
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, Connie Nielsen, Mia Goth, Udo Kier
Synopsis: The story of Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who is discovered badly beaten in an alley by an older bachelor, Seligman, who takes her into his home. As he tends to her wounds, she recounts the erotic story of her adolescence and young-adulthood
The Positive: I guess the draw for this film for me is strictly the intrigue between the type of content being covered and the cast involved. I’m not expecting it to be great but it could definitely be interested
The Negative: The potential for this movie to simply rely on the ‘sexual’ aspects and for the film to come across simply as softcore porn.
34. A Million Ways to Die in the West
Release Date: May 30th, 2014
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Writers: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris
Synopsis: After a cowardly sheep farmer backs out of a gunfight, his fickle girlfriend leaves him for another man. When a mysterious and beautiful woman rides into town, she helps him find his courage and they begin to fall in love. But when her husband, a notorious outlaw, arrives seeking revenge, the farmer must put his newfound courage to the test.
The Positive: It’s from the team behind Family Guy and Ted.
The Negative: This could easily be a disaster and one of the biggest letdowns of the year. Yes, MacFarlane did a decent job with Ted, but can he really pull off a live-action comedy?
33. The Chef
Release Date: May 9th, 2014
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Robert Downey, Jr, Dustin Hoffman
Synopsis: The story of Carl Casper, who loses his chef job and cooks up a food truck business in hopes of reestablishing his artistic promise. At the same time, he tries to reconnect with his estranged family.
The Positive:An amazing cast that includes the combination of Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. They seemed to work pretty well together in the Iron Man franchise…maybe they can work just as well outside of the comic book world
The Negative: The question I suppose is whether a story with this plot line can resonate with audiences
32. Jupiter Ascending
Release Date: July 18th, 2014
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Writers: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean
Synopsis: Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
The Positive: When you have the writers behind Cloud Atlas and The Matrix in charge, there is always the possibility for a pretty clever, fun and thought provoking film.
The Negative: When you have the writers behind Cloud Atlas and The Matrix in charge, there is always the possibility for a film that makes no sense whatsoever and takes eleven viewings for you to try and wrap your head around things. There is also the possibility that this film is actually too thin for this writing team and things may be too simplistic for us to really get a movie we can sink our teeth into.
31. The Equalizer
Release Date: September 26th, 2014
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz
Synopsis: A feature film adaptation of the hit 1980s television series “The Equalizer.” Edward Woodward starred as Robert McCall, a private detective with a lot of contacts who is available for hire if you have a problem that you don’t know how to solve.
The Positive: Antoine Fuqua directed Olympus has Fallen, Training Day and Replacement Killers which are all films that I think are entertaining and worth a watch. Oh, yea it has Denzel Washington in it too :)
The Negative: Not sure why anyone felt the need to make a movie based on this television series. I don’t think its really going to draw much of a nostalgia crew here.
30. The Loft
Release Date: August 29th, 2014
Director: Erik Van Looy
Writers: Wesley Strick
Starring: Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller
Synopsis: The story of five married guys who conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city–a place where they can carry out hidden affairs and indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realize one of the group must be involved. Paranoia seizes them as everyone begins to suspect one another. Friendships are tested, loyalties are questioned and marriages crumble as the group is consumed by fear, suspicion and murder in this relentless thriller.
The Positive: I honestly fully expect this movie to be awful…but I can be a sucker for the crime thriller genre
The Negative: Every aspect of this film could end up being the negative part and it could get lost in the shuffle as just another average or below average crime thriller. Hopefully, I’m wrong though
29. Transformers: Age of Extinction
Release Date: June 27th, 2014
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer
The Positive: It starts Mark Wahlberg and none of the cast from the previous films. Also, maybe a few years have helped the writers and directors figure out the right way to handle this franchise.
The Negative: There has been no change in the direction or writing teams over the previous three films
28. Jersey Boys
Release Date: June 20th, 2014
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice
Starring: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken
Synopsis: The story of the four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic ’60s rock group The Four Seasons. Their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the hit songs that influenced a generation, and are now being embraced by a new generation of fans through the stage musical.
The Positive: The director is Clint Eastwood, the writer was also behind Annie Hall and the cast includes Christopher Walken.
The Negative: Can Clint Eastwood truly pull off a Musical and will this musical live up to modern standards or fall flat?
Release Date: December 19th, 2014
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writers: Justin Isbell, William Nicholson
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes
Synopsis: A story based on the real events of 1996 Mount Everest disaster and also based on the book Into Thin Air written by Jon Krakauer. Several climbers died in that disaster in 1996.
The Positive: The director of a movie I loved last year, Two Guns. Also Nicholson was behind the screenplay of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Les Miserables and The Gladiator.
The Negative: Is there enough meat behind this story to really build a credible film?
26. Legend of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
Release Date: May 9th, 2014
Director: Dan St. Pierre, Will Finn
Writers: Randi Barnes, Adam Balsam, Barry Glasser
Starring: Lea Michele, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Hilty, Hugh Dancy, Oliver Platt, Patrick Stewart, Bernadette Peters
Synopsis: The plot begins as Dorothy returns to Kansas to find it devastated by the tornado that sent her to Oz. Before she can react to the destruction of her home, she is transported back to Oz, where her three friends (Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man) have disappeared.
The Positive: This movie has been delayed for more then two years, perhaps they really took their time and put some serious work into it. It also boasts a ridiculous voice cast including the great Patrick Stewart.
The Negative: Maybe this film was delayed for so long for a reason…
25. 300: Rise of an Empire
Release Date: March 7th, 2014
Director: Noam Murro
Writers: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham
Synopsis: Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war.
The Positive: Regardless of the effectiveness of the story this film will be a visual experience worth a trip to the theatre!
The Negative: Can the sequel really live up to the original?
24. The Maze Runner
Release Date: September 19th, 2014
Director: Wes Ball
Writers: James Dashner
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Aml Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Patricia Clarkson
Synopsis: When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
The Positive: The plot just seems intriguing to me for some reason. If anything at least the movie could be a unique film compared to a lot of what hollywood has to offer traditionally.
The Negative. An unproven director, writer and cast could equate to a major flop
Release Date: November 14th, 2014
Director: David Ayer
Writers: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs
Synopsis: “Fury” is set at the very end of World War II, in April 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theater, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
The Positive: David Ayer has brought us some great films like End of Watch, Training Day and U-571. Brad Pitt, Jason Isaacs and Michael Pena are all capable of delivering truly memorable performances
The Negative: I’m honestly joining the bandwagon of people who can’t stand Shia LaBeouf thanks to his unethical practices over the past few years. Also, can this film separate itself from the plethora of WWII films already in existence?
22. St. Vincent De Van Nuys
Release Date: April 11th, 2014
Director: Ted Melfi
Writers: Ted Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Naomi Watts
Synopsis: A young boy whose parents just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic, war veteran who lives next door.
The Positive: The image above should say it all: Bill Murray
The Negative: Even greats like Bill Murray give us some bad films from time to time.
21. Blood Ties
Release Date: March 21st, 2014
Director: Guillaume Canet
Writers: Guillaume Canet, James Gray
Starring: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Austin Williams, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard, Zoe Saldana, James Caan
Synopsis: New York, 1974. Fifty year-old Chris has just been released on good behavior after several years in prison following a gangland murder. Waiting for him reluctantly outside the prison gates is his younger brother, Frank, a cop with a bright future. Chris and Frank have always been different, and their father, Leon, who’d raised them alone, seems strangely to prefer Chris – this, despite all his troubles. Yet blood ties are the ones that bind. Frank, hoping that his brother has changed, is willing to give him a chance; he shares his home, finds him a job, and helps him reconnect with his children and his ex-wife, Monica. But Chris’ past quickly catches up to him, and his descent back into a life of crime becomes inevitable.
The Positive: Decent cast, decent plot, could be a sleeper this year.
The Negative: I probably will wish I didn’t have this film this high on the list come the end of the year
20. In Secret
Release Date: February 21st, 2014
Director: Charlie Stratton
Writers: Charlie Stratton
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton, Jessica Lange, Oscar Isaac
Synopsis: Set in the lower depths of 1860s Paris, “In Secret” is a tale of obsessive love, adultery and revenge based on Emile Zola’s scandalous novel, “Thérèse Raquin.”
The Positive: I am a sucker for period pieces, Oscar Isaac seems to be on a role and Elizabeth Olsen is intriguing. Obsession, Adultery, Revenge, Scandalous…what’s not to be interested in?
The Negative: Just might be a swing and a miss
19. Dom Hemingway
Release Date: April 4th, 2014
Director: Richard Shepard
Writers: Richard Shepard
Starring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bechir, Emilia Clarke
Synopsis: Dom Hemingway, a larger-than-life safecracker with a loose fuse who is funny, profane, and dangerous. After twelve years in prison, he sets off with his partner in crime Dickie looking to collect what he’s owed for keeping his mouth shut and protecting his boss Mr. Fontaine
The Positive: Jude Law looks insanely ridiculous and awesome in all the trailers
The Negative: Is that enough to carry the movie?
18. The Giver
Release Date: August 15th, 2014
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writers: Vadim Perelman
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift
Synopsis: The haunting story of “The Giver” centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. The film is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbury Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
The Positive: Phillip Noyce was behind such films as Salt, The Bone Collector, The Saint, Clear and Present Dangers and Patriot Games. Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep also make quite the dynamic duo. How has this book not been made into a movie yet?
The Negative: Can Noyce handle a genre that seems to be out of his niche?
17. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Release Date: March 7, 2014
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness,
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes
Synopsis: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
The Positive: Wes Anderson should be all I need to say here [Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Bottle Rocket] In case I need more though; Ralph Fiennes and Jude Law. Ok, sign me up for this one, opening week!
The Negative: Anderson is bound to falter at some point right?
16. The Fault in Our Stars
Release Date: June 6th, 2014
Director: Josh Boone
Writers: Scott Neustadter
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern
Synopsis: Hazel and Gus are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them – and us – on an unforgettable journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.
The Positive: I loved 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now and Shailene Woodley is one of the fasting rising young stars in the business.
The Negative: Can it be more than just another clever coming of age film? How will it set itself apart?