2013 was an incredible year for movies, but can 2014 stack up? That remains to be seen, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a pretty good crop of titles announced. We don’t know everything that will be coming out in the latter part of the year, but below you’ll find my most anticipated movies (in release date order) that are locked down so far for 2014.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” — March 7
Wes Anderson’s latest film comes in the form of this madcap comedy about a Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) and his friend/prot￩g￩ (Tony Revolori) who must recover a valuable painting and clear Gustave’s name after he’s been framed for the murder of his lover. That doesn’t necessarily sound particularly comedic, but leave it to Anderson to infuse the whole thing with his unique brand of quirky characters and humor. Besides, with a monstrous cast that also includes Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton, how could I not be anything other than excited for this?
“Noah” — March 7
So I know a lot of people are getting excited to see a big budget Hollywood movie about one of the grander stories in The Bible, but there’s something most of those people should know: This movie is likely not going to be what you expect, assuming you expect it to be a straight, simple retelling of the story in Genesis. That said, if you’re expecting it to have large-scale, epic battles that include the appearance of rock monsters and massive angelic beings, this will be more in line with your expectations. Personally, I can’t wait. Darren Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors working right now and I’m positively giddy at the thought of finally seeing a movie he’s been dreaming of making since he was a teenager.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — April 2
Marvel Studios’ dominance in the realm of comic book movies looks to continue apace with Captain America’s (Chris Evans) next solo outing, one that looks better and better with every trailer I see. It’s not just that the action on display looks fantastic (it does), it’s that this looks entirely centered around affecting Cap on levels both personal and ideological. That’s the sort of attention to character and spectacle that really sets these Marvel movies apart, and this looks like that winning formula is being refined to its highest levels yet with “The Winter Soldier.”
“22 Jump Street” — June 13
No one could have or even necessarily should have predicted that Chris Miller and Phil Lord would take a stupid, mostly forgotten TV show like “21 Jump Street” and turn it into one of the best comedies of the last decade (starring Channing Tatum no less). And yet they did. So between their amazing work on this, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and the universally strong word on “The Lego Movie,” I have nothing but high hopes for this, their first sequel. Tatum, Hill and several others from the original return so here’s hoping they can all recapture the madcap magic that made the first one so hilarious.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — July 18
I’m not sure anyone was asking for a reboot of the “Planet of the Apes” series, but 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” justified doing so in a fine way, thanks in large part to Andy Serkis’ brilliantly captured performance as the ape leader, Caesar. Thankfully, Serkis reprises that role here and it looks like we’re getting a story that progresses things nicely as the apes’ road toward planetary dominance opens. The expertly crafted teaser trailer for this gave me chills, so here’s hoping the rest of the film can live up to that initial reaction.
“Jupiter Ascending” — July 25
After the “Matrix” trilogy left mass audiences cold, people seem to have written off the Wachowski siblings. That’s a huge shame because they’ve done some of their best work since then with the criminally underrated and overlooked live action adaptation of “Speed Racer” and the beautiful, existential masterpiece “Cloud Atlas.” They’re returning to blockbuster sci-fi territory with “Jupiter Ascending” and I couldn’t be more giddy. These two are some of the most imaginative and clever filmmakers working today and I can’t wait to see where they go with this ambitious film. That it features an alien elf played by Channing Tatum who seems to be able to fight by breakdancing with zero-gravity shoes is just icing on the cake.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” — August 1
This is where we get to see just how much audiences trust/love Marvel Studios. With “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Marvel goes cosmic by giving us a true blue space opera in the vein of “Star Wars” and things get weird. How weird? Two of the main characters are an anthropomorphic, trash-talking, gun-toting raccoon and a sentient tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) that speaks using only a single sentence: “I am Groot!” Like I said: Weird. Me? I’m beyond excited. This is such an odd film and such a huge gamble and it’s being made by the least likely blockbuster director possible. Couple all of these elements and it’s absolutely worth getting excited to see such a hugely successful studio do anything other than play it safe with its properties.
“Gone Girl” — October 3
It’s David Fincher directing Ben Affleck. I’m not sure I really need to know anything else in order to get excited. Seriously. I know none of the plot details, only that one of my favorite directors is working with an actor/director whom I have come to respect immensely these last few years. Ticket=bought.