These days it seems people talk more about movies that are about to come out than movies that are already out. Usually I try to write about movies I’ve recently seen. However, given the general January-February quality new release drought (the excellent LEGO Movie and today’s expanded release of The Wind Rises being notable exceptions), I don’t see the harm in looking at the movies coming soon I’m looking forward to. Will these movies be good? Who knows; this time last year Star Trek Into Darkness and Elysium seemed like sure bets, and look how they turned out. Whatever the case is, these are my top 10 most anticipated 2014 movies:
I honestly have no idea if this movie’s gonna be good. The trailers haven’t been all that impressive, and the whitewashed casting is incredibly annoying (Even if it’s an ahistorical interpretation, “less Middle East, more Middle-Earth“, why must fantasy in Hollywood=all white people? Contextually less bothersome than Ridley Scott’s Exodus, which has the gall to redesign the freaking Sphinx to give it more Caucasian features, but still bothersome.). But with Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Black Swan) directing, I’m assured this will at least be interesting. Given the angry reactions from test screenings with religious groups, very interesting.
9. Jupiter Ascending
Another case where most of my excitement comes from the directors. Love their work or hate it, the Wachowskis are never less than bold and ambitious. This space opera doesn’t appear as experimental as Cloud Atlas, but there’s a chance this could be the sort of big goofy-but-smart mainstream-appealing hit they haven’t really had since The Matrix. Plus a sci-fi summer blockbuster that’s not a sequel or reboot is gonna inevitably catch my attention.
Not that reboots are necessarily a bad thing. I don’t know how exactly Gareth Edwards plans to update a Japanese nuclear allegory for modern America, but with a great trailer and an impressive cast including Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe, it looks like they’re a lot closer to doing this right than Roland Emmerich was in 1998. In a year with two big Michael Bay productions, this hopes to offer a smarter alternative for your annual summertime destruction.
7. How to Train Your Dragon 2
And sequels aren’t necessarily a bad thing either. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie, after goodwill built up from the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes, just missed this list, and the sequel to Dreamworks’ surprising first truly great animated film in a long time has been highly anticipated by me. Any fears that this would turn out a cheap cash-in a la the later Shrek sequels have been long canceled out by the amazing teaser trailer that perfectly captures what made the first movie so beautiful.
6. Mockingjay Part 1
I’m nervous about that scene. You know the one: the one that was supposed to be Philip Seymour Hoffman’s huge acting showcase but now is likely to be filled in with some sure-to-be-terrifying CGI impersonation of Philip Seymour Hoffman. That’s gonna be tough to watch in a bad way. Hopefully the rest of the movie will be intense in a good way. Given the rushed source material, the decision to split the book into two movies actually seems like less a cash grab and rather a move that could lead to improvement.
5. Big Eyes
What’s this? What’s this? A Tim Burton movie that DOESN’T star Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, but instead Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams? What’s this? What’s this? And it’s NOT some old fantasy media property being given a predictable Tim Burton redesign, but rather based on a true story (about kitsch painters Walter and Margaret Keane), and written by the same screenwriters as Tim Burton’s last brilliant biopic Ed Wood? I can’t believe my eyes, I must be dreaming, wake up Reuben, this isn’t fair! What’s this?
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s next film is opening soon (March 7th), and it’s already screened to great reviews and the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. The cast is packed full of Anderson regulars (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson) and other talent (Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton), the art design is as gorgeous and quirky as one expects from Anderson, and the story’s a mystery jumping between different time frames (represented by differing aspect ratios). So this is pretty much a guaranteed wonderful time for Wes Anderson fans.
3. The Boxtrolls
After Coraline and Paranorman, LAIKA’s become a studio to watch. Given Pixar’s recent fallback into safe sequels (they have no film coming out this year, though 2015’s InsideOut might be a comeback), they’re currently America’s coolest feature animation house. The promotion for their next film just oozes coolness, from a teaser trailer that continues Paranorman‘s nonchalant attitude towards gay characters in family movies to a trailer (above) that makes a point of “Hey, we’re artists who take serious pride in our work!”
Christopher Nolan directs a story developed by Steven Spielberg based on scientific theories about wormholes and space-time, starring suddenly-great actor Matthew McConaughey and filmed in IMAX. We don’t really know anything else about it, but seriously, do you need to?
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Why I’m writing this article now. Marvel Studios have had a great track record with making well-done entertaining movies (their other releases this year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the animated Disney co-production Big Hero 6, are probably #11 and #12 on my anticipated list). But this looks like they’re taking things to another level entirely. A level of cosmic weirdness, ridiculous comedy, and a gun-totting alien raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper who controls a tree voiced by Vin Diesel. Ooga-chaka. I’ve never read a Guardians of the Galaxy comic, but it still fills me with glee that this is something that’s being made. I can’t wait to see more of this bunch of a-holes.