Chances are some amazing film will premiere at some film festival in the next few months that I had no idea existed. There may be studio films yet to be added to the prestige season calendar. Who knows? Release dates change all the time. But this is a list of what has me excited this moment with the knowledge I have now. The fact that 3 films on my list have been seen and widely praised certainly doesn’t hurt. There are of course plenty of other titles that sound promising that are worth mentioning.
Marvel’s slate is looking better than last year’s with a sequel to their best film Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, which sounds absolutely mental. We’re also getting a double dose of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller with The LEGO Movie and 22 Jump Street. That’s never a bad thing. I also expect great things from these proven directors: Joe Carnahan (Stretch), Woody Allen (Magic in the Moonlight), Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), Jonathan Glazer (Under the Skin), Kelly Reichardt (Night Moves), and Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special). There are loads more, but these are the 10 I don’t want to miss.
10. The Boxtrolls
Director: Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Starring: Elle Fanning, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Why: Laika has been more reliable than Pixar lately. ParaNorman cracked my 2012 top ten. This adaptation of Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters! already has 2 charming trailers. It definitely looks like the studio will continue to uphold their high standards of creating unique, handcrafted, and risk-taking feature films.
Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo
Why: Based on the insane true story of John du Pont and Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz. Bennett Miller had been trying to get the film made for awhile when passion project saviors Annapurna Pictures stepped in to get it done. After Moneyball, I’d see anything Miller made, but seeing Carell in the trailer shot this one up the list. Carell looks like he’s reaching for the pantheon.
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette
Why: It’s hard to say “because Richard Linklater just made one of his best films (Before Midnight)” because he’s been shooting this film, off and on, for the last 12 years. So I’ll just say because of Linklater instead. This is the kind of gimmick I can get behind. It’s something a genius like Linklater would try, and successfully turn into something greater than the trick. Also, the amazingly patient feat of filmmaking just won raves at Sundance.
7. Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
Why: I’m in for anything Fincher. That goes double for a mystery-thriller from the man behind Seven, The Game, and Zodiac. Heck, he was able to turn The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into an okay film and that story is garbage. Imagine what he’d do with a book everyone actually thinks is good? I’ve read like 5 pages and it’s already better source material than his last effort.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman
Why: Though I am not even remotely a religious person, I think the Bible has some terrific stories. Some of those stories have made for some fantastic movies, especially with a talented director behind the camera (The Last Temptation of Christ). So even though the trailer is lacking, I’m putting my faith in the guy that made Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. He doesn’t make boring films that’s for sure.
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt
Why: It’s the final film from the world’s greatest animation director. The story is a loose biography of Jiro Horikoshi the man behind the Japanese Zero fighters in WWII. It’s already nominated for an Oscar and showed up on a bunch of top ten lists because it had a one-week qualifying run last year. Well, I had a baby during that week, so I’m counting it as a 2014 film. My list, my rules.
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Alison Pill, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner
Why: You might recall I had this on my list in this exact same spot last year. Since then the film has become a hit in other countries, commercially and critically, while in the U.S. the director is still fighting Weinstein for his (successful)cut. Hopefully things work themselves out because I’m still really fired up for Bong Joon-ho’s English debut.
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton
Why: Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson.
Oh yeah…did you see the trailer? What do you mean you don’t like Wes Anderson films?
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow
Why: Originally written for Spielberg, but when he moved on, Nolan took over. Little is known about the plot. Space, wormholes, who cares? It’s Nolan reaching for the stars. Space movies by great directors have turned out pretty good recently (Sunshine, Gravity). And the cast has won some Bryan Oscars in recent years.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro, Jena Malone
Why: Paul Thomas Anderson is the best. Joaquin Phoenix is also the best. Anderson is back with his regular DP, Robert Elswit, he’s also the best. It’s an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon book, I hear he’s a pretty good writer. It’s a shaggy-dog detective story which sounds like Anderson is making his own The Long Goodbye/The Big Lewbowski. That sounds incredible!
What are some films you are looking forward to?