Looking Ahead: Ethan Picks His Top 14 Most Anticipated Films of 2014
by Ethan Anderton
January 8, 2014
We've already had one week of new theatrical releases in 2014, but there are dozens more to come, with much better movies than the dismal offerings that January holds. After delivering my personal picks for the 15 Best Movies of 2013 (make sure you check out Joey & Jeremy's Top 10 of 2013 as well), it's time to look to the future. Much like last year, I've composed a list of the films that I'm most excited to see this year. Honestly, this list could be endless, but these are the ones that I just can't wait to see. There's not really any indies, because it's hard to tell when most will get released, and next week, I'll be checking out a lot of hopefuls at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival anyway. So here's my 14 Most Anticipated Films of 2014.
#14. The Monuments Men (February 7th)
This is a holdover from last year, since the film ended up being delayed from its original late 2013 awards season release, but with George Clooney directing a story from the pages of history, I'm still very much excited to see how this film turns out. Any hopes of Oscar love are pretty much dashed unless it can pull of some wizardry like Silence of the Lambs (which received a February release and took home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay). With a cast that includes Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Cate Blanchett (along with Clooney himself), the film may have a small chance, but I'll just be happy to finally see it in February.
#13. The LEGO Movie (February 7th)
When this movie was announced at Warner Bros., like many viewers who are sick of films based on every toy, game, book and older movie under the sun, I was very skeptical. But my interest took a slight turn when directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) were brought on board to bring the film to life. The teaser trailer and full length theatrical trailer have only increased my excitement, as the film seems to have the brand of comedy that made Lord & Miller's previous comedies so damn good. Plus the idea of having superheroes like Batman & Superman in the same world as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other random LEGO figures, well, that's just awesome.
#12. A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 30th)
We only just recently got our first look at this western comedy from Seth MacFarlane, but having thoroughly enjoyed Ted, the "Family Guy" creators sophomore effort behind the camera already has my attention. The film has been said to be in the same vein as Blazing Saddles (a classic that's hard to top), and since genre parody films just aren't good anymore, I'm very excited to see what a skilled comedy writer and director like MacFarlane can do. It also helps that MacFarlane will be joined on screen by Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman. Here's hoping we see a trailer soon.
#11. Dumb & Dumber To (November 14th)
While the chances are slim that this sequel will be anywhere near as good as the surprising 1994 comedy hit starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, I'm hoping that Peter & Bobby Farrelly can get back to their roots with another fun, dimwitted bit of fun. If anything, the prospect of Daniels and Carrey together again as the bumbling duo of Lloyd and Harry will be worth some of the 20 year wait when all is said and done. But it would be nice if the film was at least as funny as Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues when compared to its comedy original from nearly 10 years ago.
#10. Big Hero 6 (November 7th)
Marvel and Disney teaming up for their first animated feature? That's about all one needs to know about this forthcoming comic book adaptation, the first since Marvel was picked up by The House of Mouse. It'll be nice to have a Marvel film in a different style, and one that doesn't have to tie in to Marvel's cinematic universe in which The Avengers exist. Though we're still waiting for a voice cast for this superhero team, the style from the tease of the fictional setting of San Fransokyo and the concept art is enough for us to see that this will be a unique comic book adaptation, and Disney might have a superhero hit that could rival The Incredibles. They just got a new co-director, so we hope the film doesn't end up being delayed.
#9. The Interview (October 10th)
Here's a comedy that we haven't seen much of, but the film has been shooting in Vancouver with Seth Rogen and James Franco reuniting yet again after their successful collaboration in Pineapple Express and This is The End. Back behind the camera is Rogen with his longtime friend and writing partner Evan Goldberg. Considering the fact that This is The End made a lot of people's Top 10 lists from 2013 (it was really hard to cut it out from my own list), this will be one to keep an eye on. Again Rogen and Goldberg aim to bring their comedy brand to a new genre, this time with a plot that turns a TV producer and talk show host into assassins for the government. Plus Lizzy Kaplan is in this one too, so that's cool.
#8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7th)
If there's a new film from Wes Anderson being released, you can bet it will be one of my most anticipated films of the year. Anderson has an almost flawless filmmaking record (The Darjeeling Limited was a bit of a letdown), and with new faces like Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law and Saoirse Ronan joining the filmmaker's previous collaborators like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman, this has the potential to be just as good as The Royal Tenenbaums. That's a pretty tall order, but as someone who loves Anderson, I'm hoping for the best.
#7. Neighbors (May 9th)
Who would have thought that teaming Zac Efron and Seth Rogen would be a good idea? Efron showed plenty of comedic potential in 17 Again, and has proven his acting chops in The Paperboy and Me & Orson Welles. But teaming up with one of the top comedy talents today is something completely different. Fortunately, the red band trailer and the more recent theatrical trailer look hilarious. It's frat boy versus family man, and we're happy to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller tackling R-rated comedy again. And aside from the leads, Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse will make this even more of a laugh riot.
#6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23rd)
With a superhero ensemble that rivals that of The Avengers, this comic book adaptation of one of the most iconic storylines in the X-Men universe is bringing together the casts of the original X-Men film franchise, and the prequel series that began with X-Men: First Class. Time travel, sentinels, Peter Dinklage and plenty more mutants promise to make this the biggest X-Men film yet, and with a lead-up to X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016, there's no reason not to be excited about this one. The teaser only gives us a brief glimpse into the sequel that will push some deeper sci-fi and a new timeline into the X-Men world, and we can't wait to see more. It helps that Bryan Singer is back, but it's all the X-Men that makes it epic.
#5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4th)
Since Captain America: The First Avenger was my favorite individual Marvel universe film after Iron Man, the sequel was always going to be on this list. But with a change in setting and style, Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks just as good as any acclaimed action thriller that doesn't have a superhero in the driver's seat. With Robert Redford as a questionable S.H.I.E.L.D. director and a timely story about pre-emptive attack and fear mongering in the name of patriotism, the film has the relevancy and action that made comic books great to begin with. And let's not forget about how bad-ass the action looks too.
#4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11th)
Not to brag, but I have a little bit of a leg up on the excitement surrounding this prequel-sequel after visiting the set last year. I can't reveal any specific details, but the scale is much bigger, and the cast of humans and apes seems to make this a vast improvement over the already impressive first film. Jason Clarke leads a team of humans, struggling to survive in a desolate San Francisco where much of the human population has been killed by the Simian flu that began spreading during the credits of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. When the humans have to deal with Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his evolved, revolutionary ape brethren, that's when things get complicated, and another face-off between humans and apes brews. If you're not excited yet, you should probably watch the short but sweet teaser trailer right here.
#3. 22 Jump Street (June 13th)
Nick Offerman said it best in the first red band trailer for this sequel, "No one gave a shit about the Jump Street reboot." But Jonah HIll and Channing Tatum made for one of the best buddy cop comedy team-ups in a long time, taking only the basic concept from the original TV series that inspired the film, and giving it new life, thanks to the talents of Phil Lord & Chris Miller behind the camera. Now the sequel continues the self-aware nature of the original, and mixing things up by sending out undercover duo to college. In the trailer, the plot seems eerily similar to the original film, but I'm betting that's just a small part of the sequel, and we'll be dealing with something completely different this time.
#2. Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1st)
Now that Marvel has gotten comfortable with their superhero ensemble, The Avengers, it's time to shake things up with a more bold, lesser known team. Guardians of the Galaxy has a little bit of The Avengers mixed with Star Wars, all with a rough-around-the-edges package that will make this something truly interesting to behold. With director James Gunn taking on his biggest film ever, and an odd assembly of talent featuring comedian Chris Pratt as the leader Starlord, wrestler Dave Bautista as a buff tattooed alien, Zoe Saldana as a sultry assassin, and a talking raccoon and tree voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel respectively, this is going to be Marvel Studios most outlandish project to date. The first look photo is a great tease, but the footage at Comic-Con was truly impressive, and got me on board with this film.
#1. Interstellar (November 7th)
Needless to say, it's the filmmaking genius of Christopher Nolan that has everyone truly excited for this film. With the shroud of mystery that has accompanied all of his films since The Dark Knight, we're not entirely sure of what to expect other than a sci-fi adventure involving wormholes and unprecedented space exploration. With Matthew McConaughey in the cast, this almost feels like a spiritual sequel to Contact, and the vibe from the teaser trailer feels similar to the sci-fi flick starring Jodie Foster from the late 90s. But we're sure there's something in this film that's going to be truly mesmerizing and just might inspire a whole new generation to look to the stars for inspiration yet again.
Honorable Mentions: Welcome to Yesterday, Bad Words, Muppets Most Wanted, Noah, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Godzilla, The Fault in Our Stars, Edge of Tomorrow, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, The Maze Runner, Gone Girl, Horrible Bosses 2, The Hobbit: There and Back Again
That's it for my anticipated films of 2014. Early next week, we'll dive into some of the indie films that myself and Alex Billington are excited to see at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off on January 16th next week. In the meantime, it's your turn. What films are you most excited to see in 2014?