This is a hard list to make; I almost cheated and used both ties and honorable mentions. However, as much as it bothered me, I narrowed my list to ten films. Furthermore, I decided to cut the year in half because I do not know all the films that will be released from September thru December; the part II list will be released sometime during the summer. Also, being that January is over I skipped that month; I was gleefully happy to skip the month known as the ‘studio’s dumping ground.’
Ten Films I am Excited for in 2014 Part I (February to August)
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
Release Date: August 1st
The first real risk Marvel has taken since the release of the original Iron Man, I did not know anything about these intergalactic warriors when the film was first announced. So like any geek, I decided to read some of their comics; they are an entertaining group to say the least. But the big question is will this CGI heavy film connect with the audience? That is almost impossible to guess; I mean there is a talking raccoon and tree in this film. Perhaps being voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel will help, but still, this film is an extremely hard sell.
What really got me excited was when Marvel brought on James Gunn. People may not know Gunn, but he has a wacky personality that sticks out in Hollywood. He wrote Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead and directed the sup-par Super and underrated Slither. I happen to like the guy and it does not hurt that he always happened to gather an entertaining cast for his directorial efforts. Besides the previously mentioned voice actors, the cast includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, and many more.
The teaser that was released last comic con looked unbelievably cool and forced me to pay attention to this product. Being that this is a Marvel film, I was going to see it no matter what; but unlike other Marvel films, at least I will be excited with this one.
9. Nymphomaniac: Volume I & II
Release Date: March 21st & April 18th
I have never been a fan of Lars Von Trier; he has always seemed a contentious man and his films seem to reflect that. I have only seen Melancholia and bits of Antichrist; both films were simply not for me and represented shock-cinema. For instance, Antichrist was a film that was shocking for the sake of being shocking. But there is something about Nymphomaniac that drew me to the film; perhaps it is the risqué plot, but also, everyone involved has glowingly talked about it.
This film, which is now being released in two parts, may be distasteful but I want to see it and judge it for myself. Is this film going to take the Shame route and show the hardships of sex addicts or will it be taboo for the sake of being taboo? I do not know, but the cast is very talented and must see more in the script than shock art. Why else would Jaime Bell, Willem Dafoe, Uma Thurman, Stellan Skarsgard, or Connie Nelson do this film?
At the moment, the film has an average score of 80 on Metacritic. While it is still early to go by that average score, all these reviews were from popular critics in major publications. Now this film will be in a limited release because it will not be officially rated by the MPAA; but while in theaters, it will also be available on Video on Demand.
Release Date: April 11th
Yes, I am putting a Nicolas Cage film on my list; better yet, I am putting a David Gordon Green film on here as well. David Gordon Green was originally an arthouse film director, but in recent years he has been the man behind several stoner comedies: the funny Pineapple Express, the mediocre Your Highness, and the atrocious The Sitter. But he has decided to go back to his independent roots with last year’s Prince Avalanche and this year’s Joe.
This ‘coming of age story’ features an ex-con Joe (Nicolas Cage) who becomes a role model to a boy named Gary (Tye Sheridan from last year’s Mud). Without giving anything else away, even though the recent trailer ruined the entire film, Joe has to choose between right and wrong to help the boy. This film garnered rave reviews out of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was compared to the ‘indie’ darling Mud. While the story seems similar, one should see Joe for Nicolas Cage, who seemingly takes on a subtle role.
This film is not on anyone’s radar and it should be; I know people are sick of Nicolas Cage films because most of them are crap. But do not ignore this movie because of Cage; when he is good he can elevate any picture. I am so eager to see this film and I hope it does not have the same fate as the underrated Mud.
7. Jersey Boys
Release Date: June 20th
All one needs to say is that Clint Eastwood directed a musical, and out of pure curiosity, I would buy a ticket. Now add the fact, that Jersey Boys is one of the best Broadway musicals I have ever seen and suddenly it is in my ten most anticipated of 2014. Now, I do not know why this film will be released in the summer because this seems like a fall or winter film; a Clint Eastwood musical is basically award bait.
With that said, at the moment there are zero trailers or advertisements that dictate the quality; but if the release date does not get pushed back, I would expect a trailer within the next two months. Yet, if one is worried about the film then he or she should note that not only is Clint Eastwood directing, but also, most of the Broadway cast is reprising their roles.
6. The Giver
Release Date: August 15th
The Giver is another film that does not have any news. All the public knows is the stars of the film; Jeff Bridges will play the unnamed giver; Meryl Streep was cast as the Chief Elder. Brenton Thwaites will be our protagonist Jonas; last, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard will be his parents. Again, I am listing off names because, beside the plot, there is not much known.
So why is it in my top ten most anticipated; because I fell in love with this book as a child. I have not revisited this book as much as The Great Gatsby, but in grade school I remember reading it several times. I was stunned by the story of a painless society, where the price of a utopia is no emotions. It was the only book I truly loved in my early teens; also, this is where I first learned that books or entertainment could have an ambiguous ending. This adaptation has been in the works for such a long time and I have been waiting patiently; but if this is a bad film, I will be devastated.
Release Date: March 28th
Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is the only biblical film worth seeing this year. The other biblical films include Son of God, which is a reworking of the History Channel’s Bible miniseries, and Ridley Scott’s Exodus. I will not talk about the unethical aspect of charging people a movie ticket for Son of God when the film can be seen on television. Nor will I mention, that the Exodus has white people playing Egyptians, but these two films seem like they are designed to make their targeted audience happy.
As I indicated in an earlier blog, Noah is making Christians angry and the studio nervous. Even though the story takes place in the Old Testament, the Christians are up in arms over the Aronofsky’s so-called environmental agenda or the fact that several liberties were taken with the story: of course the interpretations of the bible should only be literal. With all my sarcasm aside, my response to these people is the same response I tell those who complain about Wolf of Wall Street, if it bothers you then do not see it. It is as simple as that; now with that out of the way, I am extremely excited for this film. Darren Aronofsky has always been a filmmaker that I have watched and enjoyed; he takes somber plots and makes them into watchable character studies.
Now, he is not for everyone; Requiem for a Dream is a particularly hard film to sit through. But this film looks like a beautifully shot adventure film with a fantastic cast; of course people know the ending of the story, but Aronofsky seems to have a different take on this timeless journey.
4. Captain America: Winter Soldier
Release Date: April 4th
Everyone knows my feelings about this film; yes, I really want to see it, but at the same time, I have seen way too many trailers for it. In fact, this was my most anticipated Marvel phase II film, but it just needs to be released.
What is left to say about this that has not been said by the trailers? I guess a simple plot description: after the recent events of The Avengers, Captain America works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and faces his greatest threat to date: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier. From the trailers, it looks like a continuation of the ‘fish out of water’ story, with a dash of timely political commentary against the NSA.
The action looks bigger, the supporting cast is awesome, and the comic this was based on was amazing. I am excited to see the Russo brothers’ feature debut and Chris Evans looks like he finally settled into the role of Steve Rogers. I only ask one thing; please do not be as bad as Thor: Something World.
3. The Raid 2
Release Date: March 28h
Gareth Evans floored me with the first film in his planned trilogy. Everyone was talking about The Raid’s brutality, and when I finally saw it, I could not believe the pace of the 100-minute film. If one does not know, the original film shared a similar plot with the equally awesome but under-seen Dredd: a police force gets stuck in a slum apartment building, which is ruled by a ruthless crime lord and his thugs.
The sequel takes place only a few short hours after the original; the surviving police officer goes undercover to take down the crime syndicate and the corruption within his police force. This sequel has a bigger budget, a supposedly more fleshed out story, and an almost 150 minute runtime. The recent reports out of Sundance have been nothing but praise and the pre-production on the final film is rumored to have started.
I cannot emphasize how excited I am for The Raid 2; if this were playing in one theater in Omaha, Nebraska I would drive out there to see it.
2. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Release Date: Allegedly August 22nd, but I will believe it when it is released.
I have been waiting for this film for almost a decade. Rodriguez promised the public a sequel back in 2005 when the first film was deemed successful; yet, for some reason this film kept getting pushed back. Let me put this in perspective; in the time I have been waiting I graduated grade school, high school, and college. Rodriguez even explained that he was going to use my favorite Sin City storyline: A Dame to Kill For. If he knows the storylines he wanted to use, why did the film take nine years to make?
What is worse is that he made crap films instead of the sequel: Shorts, Machete, Spy Kids 4, and Machete Kills. I could understand if he was giving us good films, but Spy Kids 4! A film series that should have died ages ago lives on, but a financially successful black and white noir does not. Robert Rodriguez is the Adam Sandler of directors! I swear if this film does not come out this year, I am going to have a damn aneurism.
Every year this film is on my most anticipated list and every year I am disappointed when it has been pushed back. Please release it. At this point, I do not even care if it is good; I just want to put this behind me.
1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Release Date: May 2nd
A film that I did not expect to top my list, but as the trailers rolled out, my excitement for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has gone ‘through the roof.’ I know people are nervous with the amount of villains in the story; a lot of people reference Spider-Man 3 to prove that too many villains hurt a movie. However, I am going to say that Spider-Man 3 had a lot more problems then the abundance of villains.
Everything about this film has me excited. The villains look awesome (minus the Green Goblin). The CGI looks better than the last film; which means, the fight scenes are going to look absolutely amazing. I cannot wait to see Marc Webb’s second attempt at the webslinger. A lot of people had a problem with the first film because it was another origin story, but I actually liked it: especially Andrew Garfield, who is a better Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire.
The trailers for the sequel have shown a lot of the action but not much of the plot, which is a positive. The basic synopsis I can take from the trailers is that Oscorp sends villains after Spider-Man. Even the IMDB synopsis shares the same vague plotline; which is a change of pace these days. I like going in sort of blind and I feel that this film will be more accepted by the general public than its predecessor. Either way, I will be the first in line when it comes out on May 2nd.