Featuring some repeats from last year, since a bunch of good-looking stuff ended up getting pushed to 2014. You know what that means? We’re setting up for another great year in film.
Tim Burton has driven away a lot of fans over the last few years with his increasingly idiotic and overblown adaptations starring Johnny Depp, but Big Eyes seems poised to be a return to form, more in line with the likes of Big Fish than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The film revolves around Walter and Margaret Keane (Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams, respectively), a couple whose toxic divorce exposed an art world secret—Walter claimed his wife’s paintings as his own. For the record, these hellish abominations are what they were fighting over. Hopefully the movie ends with an exorcism because if you look at those painting too long they ope—AHH THEY’RE EATING ME!
THEY’RE EATING MEEEEEEEE!
Both of these were on my 2013 list but didn’t make it to theaters in 2014. Calvary is John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to The Guard and is about an Irish priest (Brendan Gleeson) dealing with the awful people populating his village, and Cuban Fury is Nick Frost’s salsa dance revenge movie. That’s right. A salsa dance revenge movie. Starring Nick Frost.
Dumb and Dumber To
This is really just morbid curiosity. I don’t have particularly high hopes or anything, but I loved Dumb and Dumber as a kid, so, out of nostalgia, I hope the sequel doesn’t suck.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s first collaboration with French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, Prisoners, yielded a career-best performance from Gyllenhaal, and by all accounts they get even better results in their second go-round, Enemy. It’s about a dude who seeks out his doppelganger and is billed as a thriller. Co-starring Melanie Laurent.
Another 2013 repeat, Bennett Miller’s film about Olympic wrestling and murder was kicked to 2014 after the award season slate filled up early. Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, it’s based on the true story of how a wealthy wrestling aficionado and sponsor ended up murdering an Olympic champ. Just a reminder, in this movie, Mark Ruffalo looks like this:
I wasn’t into it until the teaser came out, and then I was all over it. It looks like the good kind of summer blockbuster, the kind that is entertaining and cool, but isn’t completely dumb and has a bit of unique style to it. Basically, the opposite of a Michael Bay movie.
I actually didn’t care for this book much, but I’m curious to see if the movie sticks with the ending, since it was, um, not very Minivan Majority-friendly. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star a seemingly ideal Midwest couple whose skeletons come out of the closet when the wife is kidnapped.
Guardians of the Galaxy
It’s not that I’m not looking forward to Captain America 2, also, it’s just that I have a handle on my expectations there. Guardians of the Galaxy, however, is totally batshit insane and is a huge gamble for Marvel, a studio that lives and breathes huge gambles. I have no idea what to expect, except that I like the cast, lead by a ready-to-break-out Chris Pratt, and writer/director James Gunn (Super, Slither), and one of the characters is a machine gun wielding talking raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, and another is a space ent. Sure to be interesting, at the very least.
Also left over from 2013 is Alexandre Aja’s Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe, which is about a guy who sprouts horns from his head after his girlfriend is murdered. Aja’s Maniac remake with Elijah Wood was graphic but had a lot of innovative and interesting filmmaking, and Horns is his most original work yet (he’s best known for horror remakes like Piranha 3D and The Hills Have Eyes).
Kill the Messenger
Whatever movie star juice Jeremy Renner has managed to build over the last few years he’s put into getting Kill the Messenger made. Based on a book of the same name, it’s a biopic about Gary Webb, the journalist who linked the CIA to the Nicaraguan Contras smuggling coke into the US in the 1980s. But when the story exploded, his sources recanted and his newspaper abandoned him. Disgraced, Webb ended up killing himself, even though further investigations have vindicated him. It’s a compelling story and Renner has surrounded himself with a killer cast including Michael Sheen, Barry Pepper, Ray Liotta, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosemarie DeWitt, Richard Schiff and Oliver Platt. Sure to figure into festival season at the least, with award season potential.
Need for Speed
Interested for two reasons. 1) I like car movies (except for that fucking Zoom Zoom Car franchise, which are too stupid to be tolerated), and 2) I want to see what happens with Aaron Paul’s post-Breaking Bad career. I don’t expect this to be a great movie, but really all Paul needs it to do is establish him as a viable commodity in the mainstream movie market. This one will be more about box office than the Tomatometer.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch’s vampire romance tale was a popular festival pick in 2013, and also has the distinction of looking like the most accessible Jarmusch movie in years. Plus Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston make a ridiculously attractive on-screen couple.
It seems unlikely that we will get to see Bong Joon-ho’s version of Snowpiercer, which has been a huge hit in his native South Korea, as well as a critical favorite in several international territories where it’s already been released, but given the blowback Harvey Weinstein has faced here in the US over potential cuts, we might not get such a compromised American version either. I’m still hoping that the director’s cut is made available in some way (VOD, Weinstein. VOD), but now I’m also curious to see how Weinstein’s edited version comes out. Snowpiercer is good enough that even with some cuts it will still be a decent action movie. It’s just that Weinstein’s plan would suck out everything unique and special about it.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
The final 2013 holdover, and another movie that was kicked out of the current award season. Starring James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain, there will be two versions of this movie, one from her perspective and one from him. It’s an ambitious plan and the way that this will make it into theaters is not quite clear yet, but it should be interesting nonetheless.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
This looks like the most Wes Anderson movie to ever Wes Anderson.
The first non-superhero, non-comedic role Robert Downey, Jr. has had since 2009’s The Soloist. He stars opposite Robert Duvall in a family drama involving a murder, and the cast also includes Melissa Leo, Vera Farmiga and Billy Bob Thornton. This is another one that looks like early award bait, but mostly I’m looking forward to seeing a serious turn from RDJ.
The LEGO Movie
This looks like a rare case of a January/February movie that doesn’t suck. The trailer is funny and charming, and the voice over cast is loaded (Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Cobie Smulders, Charlie Day, Morgan Freeman), and that “Everything is Awesome” song pops into mind at the weirdest moments. Really looking forward to this one.
The Trip to Italy
A sequel to Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 The Trip, The Trip to Italy reunites Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing loosely fictionalized versions of themselves on a road trip in Europe. The Trip was one of my favorite movies of 2010, and early word on Italy is that it is every bit as good.
Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, was a tough watch, between the brutal subject matter and a rather weak script that made for some pretty skint characterizations. But as a director, Jolie was not bad. She has a decent eye and isn’t afraid to look at ugly and unpleasant things, and there were moments of real grace and style. Hopefully Unbroken improves on that debut, especially because the story, though tough—it’s about a WWII hero who survived plane crashes, forty-plus days at sea, and Japanese internment camps—ultimately has a happy ending. I would like to see a Jolie film I can actually enjoy watching.
Under the Skin
Jonathan Glazer’s follow-up to Birth, Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien who eats men. Yep. Into it.
A little less interesting in 2014
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Most dreaded film of 2014
Doubling down on Michael Bay for a tie: Transformers: Age of Extinction and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles