Out with 2013, and in with 2014 (finally). There are so many great-looking movies coming out this year that I had trouble narrowing down my list (hence why you’re getting a top 15 instead of a top 10), but here are the ones I’m most excited about.
(Note: I’ve already seen Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves and David Gordon Green’s Joe, or else they would definitely be on the list.)
15. The Skeleton Twins
It feels like I’ve been hearing about this Kristen Wiig/Bill Hader family drama for a long time now, but it’ll finally make its debut this year at Sundance. I think director Craig Johnson‘s previous film, True Adolescents (starring Mark Duplass, who executive produces here with brother Jay), was an overlooked little gem, so I’m excited to see what he’ll bring with this sophomore feature.
14. 99 Homes
I thought director Ramin Bahrani‘s last venture into Hollywood territory, At Any Price, was a bit of a disaster. However, I still have hope for this family drama, which stars Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, and Laura Dern. After all of this Spider-Man fanfare, it’ll be nice to see Garfield get back to low-key dramas. (Unless this turns out like At Any Price. Then it won’t be nice.)
William Monahan has written films like Kingdom of Heaven and The Departed and now he steps behind the camera for the second time with this trippy-sounding thriller about a man who meets his dangerous doppelganger in the desert. It also stars two of the most interesting young actors working (and Inside Llewyn Davis co-stars), Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac, which is reason enough to pique my interest.
Lone Scherfig‘s An Education was a delectable study of, among other things, class divisions and the education system in England. Now, it looks like she’s back at that familiar territory with Posh, a tale of students at Oxford University who join the school’s legendary Riot Club. It also happens to star all of your favourite young, classy Brits, including Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, and Max Irons.
11. A Most Wanted Man
One of my favourite movies of the past decade was the moody Joy Division biopic, Control. Now director Anton Corbijn is back with this moody thriller that stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Bruhl, Robin Wright, and Willem Dafoe. It’s based on a John le Carre novel, who also penned Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, so get ready to pay attention.
Angelina Jolie makes her directorial follow-up to In the Land of Blood and Honey with this intense-sounding drama about an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces at the height of WWII. With the Coen Brothers contributing to the script and Roger Deakins as cinematographer, it’s got a nice pedigree. However, Deakins’ camerawork won’t be the only nice thing to look at on screen, as the up-and-coming young cast includes Garrett Hedlund, Jack O’Connell, Jai Courtney, Domhnall Gleeson, Alex Russell, Luke Treadaway, John Magaro, and Finn Wittrock.
9. Sils Maria
Olivier Assayas is a director that I really respect, and my admiration only grew with last year’s Something in the Air. Now, he returns with this mysterious project that stars Chloe Moretz, Kristen
Stewart, Juliette Binoche, Brady Corbet, and British folk singer Johnny Flynn. The plot is still undisclosed and I’m not even much of a fan of Moretz, but I’m certainly interested to see how Assayas will handle his first film with such a high level of star calibre.
Wally Pfister has made a name for himself as the DP on all of Christopher Nolan’s recent films, and now he’s stepping in as director for the first time for this Inception-like movie about artificial intelligence. With a top-notch cast that includes Rebecca Hall, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman, it looks like a moody and intelligent thriller. I’m excited to see Pfister’s directorial chops, and this will also provide the first opportunity to see Depp in a “serious” role in what feels like a very long time.
7. Suite Francaise
Based on the acclaimed WWII-era novel, this drama by Saul Dibb (The Duchess) stars Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), Sam Riley (On the Road), Ruth Wilson (Luther), and Kristen Scott Thomas. I tend to trust Williams’ role choices, and I’m intrigued by this one.
I’m surprised this is on here, too. But the trailer really impressed me, making it look as though the film will take a more serious, somewhat character-driven taken on the “monster movie” trope. Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, and David Strathairn also give me hope.
Based on the Colm Toibin novel and with a screenplay by Nick Hornby, Brooklyn tells the tale of a young Irish immigrant who comes to New York in the 1950s. It stars Saoirse Ronan, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, and Domhnall Gleeson, and if that’s not a likeable cast, I don’t know what is. Also, since seeing Beneath the Harvest Sky (and, to a lesser extent, The Place Beyond the Pines) I sang the praises of Emory Cohen and here he’ll have a chance to show his stuff once again. Also working in Brooklyn‘s favour is that it’s directed by John Crowley, the director of Boy A, a wonderful little underseen gem that helped launch Andrew Garfield.
I’ll admit that the teaser trailer didn’t fully capture my interest, but this latest space-themed project from Christopher Nolan still sounds very intriguing. Like Inception, it has a top-notch cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn, and Michael Caine. Now, it’s possible that all that starpower could cause the whole thing to self-destruct, but Nolan has proven to be one of the few directors who can actually handle a huge, star-studded cast successfully.
3. Midnight Special
As soon as I saw “Jeff Nichols” and “Michael Shannon“, I knew this was going to fall right near the top of my list. The director and actor have teamed up several times before and their last project, Mud, was my second-favourite film of last year. This time, they explore the story of a man who goes on the run when he finds out that his son has special powers. Who knows if Nichols will be able to keep his impressive directorial streak going, but with a film that also stars Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, and Adam Driver, I’d say there’s a good chance he will.
2. Untitled Cameron Crowe Project
Cameron Crowe is one of my favourite directors, so he was guaranteed a spot on the list. However, the cast here is what really put it over the top: Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Jay Baruchel, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, and Danny McBride. (Personally, I could take or leave Rachel McAdams and Alec Baldwin.) Not much is known about the film at this point, but apparently it’s a comedy about a military man re-connecting with a former love while also falling for an Air Force watch-dog who has been assigned to cover him.
1. Inherent Vice
In just about any other year, Cameron Crowe’s movie would take the top spot on this list, but when there’s a new Paul Thomas Anderson film on the horizon, you can’t deny it. (Especially so soon after his last project!) The movie is based on the book of the same name by the great Thomas Pynchon and it stars Joaquin Phoenix as a drugged-out 1970s detective. The supporting cast includes Owen Wilson, Benecio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Reece Witherspoon, and Maya Rudolph. If PTA’s past work has been any indication, we’re in for a pretty interesting ride.
This is just a small selection of the great-looking movies on tap for 2014. I’ll give honorable mentions to Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah which looks kind of awful but could turn out to be spectacular, Maleficent for bringing a spat of interesting actors (Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Sharlto Copley, Juno Temple, and Angelina Jolie) into a dark Disney world, and Slow West for giving us these magnificent set photos (and for pairing up Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn).
There are tons of other intriguing projects slated for 2014 release, and these are just my personal selections, so feel free to sound off in the comments about which upcoming movie you’re most looking forward to!