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Our 80 Most-Anticipated Films of 2014

Written by on January 8, 2014 

After highlighting the 30 best 2014 films we’ve already seen, it’s time to take a look at our most-anticipated features — but, before we get to that, let’s take a (brief) look at how our 2013 countdown fared. Last January, we posted our rundown of the most-anticipated films of 2013, and we’ll zero in on the top 10 to compare where they wound up on our best films of 2013 list.

From 10 to 1, with its placement on our year-end list in parentheses: 10. Closed Curtain (#16), 9. A Most Wanted Man (not released), 8. Before Midnight (#3), 7. Snowpiercer (not released), 6. 12 Years a Slave (#1), 5. The Grandmaster (#37), 4. The Past (#50), 3. The Wolf of Wall Street (#2), 2. Inside Llewyn Davis (#5), 1. Gravity (#20). Those actually released all landed a spot on our year-end list, with four earning top-ten recognition; here’s hoping the alignment’s as good this year.

With the next twelve months in sight, we’ve highlighted 80 titles that have either nabbed release dates or are expected to at least premiere on the festival circuit (i.e. some of these won’t actually be released in the U.S. until 2015, if then). There are also a handful of highly-anticipated titles we’ve noticed appearing on similar rundowns — notably Jeff Nichols Midnight Special, Todd HaynesCarol, Justin Kurzel‘s Macbeth — but considering their production timetables, we don’t imagine they’ll arrive this year.

Now, without further ado, check out our 80 most-anticipated films of 2014 below, and comment with what you’re most looking forward to.

80. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn; Aug. 1st)

When Disney decided to bank on an adaptation of one of Marvel’s more bizarre properties – an epic space adventure featuring a group of weird-looking misfits – the move was met with some skepticism. Then casting revealed an attractive array of key players, among them Zoe Saldana, wrestler Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel, not to mention Bradley Cooper as the voice of a well-armed galactic raccoon, and Chris Pratt in a potentially star-making role as hero Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord. The story offers up an old fashioned sci-fi fantasy with an eccentric flair, making it the perfect piece of escapist summer fun. In addition, director James Gunn, who co-wrote the screenplay with Chris McCoy, likely imbued the film with a humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone, which should make it appealing to those unfamiliar with the comics. – Amanda W.

79. Dark Places (Gilles Paquet-Brenner; TBD)

While a certain Gillian Flynn adaptation will make waves come fall (and can be seen further down this list), another one also recently finished production. Dark Places, directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner (coming off the indie hit Sarah’s Key), brings together Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christina Hendricks and Drea de Matteo. The story follows Theron as Libby Day, a woman who, at the age of 7, survives the massacre of her family and testifies against her brother as the murderer. Twenty-five years later, a group obsessed with solving notorious crimes confronts her with questions about the horrific event. – Jordan R.

78. Open Windows (Nacho Vigalondo)

After crafting the smart, entertaining time-travel thriller Timecrimes, helmer Nacho Vigalondo masked a relationship comedy inside a sci-fi film with Extraterrestrial and now he’s headed into a new direction with his latest work. His real-time thriller Open Windows stars Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey, following the former’s search for the latter, who has been captured by a villain named Chord (Neil Maskell). Taking place entirely on a computer screen or various cameras, we can’t wait to see what Vigalondo is up to and he’ll be likely coming to SXSW, if we had to wager a guess. – Jack C.

77. Black Sea (Kevin Macdonald; TBD)

Kevin Macdonald has had a hit-or-miss career, from directing Forest Whitaker to an Oscar (The Last King of Scotland) to momentarily stunting Channing Tatum’s rise to stardom with the ill-advised sword-and-sandal film The Eagle. With Black Sea, Macdonald tells the story of a disgraced submarine captain (Jude Law) who takes on a dangerous job searching the Black Sea for a lost submarine full of gold. There’s an old-school feel to this project that’s intriguing, not to mention the very engaging Mr. Law in a lead role. – Dan M.

76. Cymbeline (Michael Almereyda; TBD)

Michael Almereyda, the man who gave us Hamlet soliloquizing his way through a Blockbuster Video, modernizes Shakespeare again with a big, sweaty, action-packed tale of biker gangs and dirty cops that recreates the Bard’s language while visually resembling Sons of Anarchy. The original recounted clan strife between Roman and Celtic nobility, and Almereyda’s version looks set to build on this in sublimely nutty ways. Dakota Johnson, Milla Jovovich, Anton Yelchin and Ethan Hawke are intriguingly cast, but does anyone else look at Ed Harris as the titular monarch and summon visions of George Romero’s Knightriders? – Nathan B.

75. Posh (Lone Scherfig; TBD)

After breaking out with the Carey Mulligan-led drama An EducationLone Scherfig‘s followed it up with the Anne Hathaway romantic drama One Day, and now she’s bringing to screen Laura Wade’s West End play Posh. With Wade adapting the script herself, the film follows the upper-class elite of Oxford University, notably a pair of freshman who are determined to join the infamous Riot Club where reputations can be made or destroyed over the course of a single evening. – Jack C.

74. Rosewater (John Stewart; TBD)

Everybody’s favorite liberal directed a movie! Stewart’s directorial debut focuses on Maziar Bahari, a journalist who was detained, interrogated and tortured in Iran for over 100 days following the 2009 presidential election. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal as Bahari, Stewart’s name along with the socio-political content of the film should be enough to draw a significant amount of curiosity from the peanut gallery. – Dan M.

72. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (Spike Lee; Fall TBD)

Taking to Kickstarter, Spike Lee cryptically built himself as the original “crowdsourcing” indie filmmaker. Not much is known about Da Sweet Blood of Jesus apart from the fact it will be the director’s first horror joint, and that piques our interest, as several iconic indie filmmakers (like Neil LaBute) have downsized in recent years. Following the recent rift with Film District over his remake of Oldboy, we can’t wait to see what Lee does without restrictions. – John F.

72. Rio, I Love You (Various; TBD)

After finding success with the metropolis-centered projects Paris, je t’aime and New York, I Love, producer Emmanuel Benbihy is embarking on a franchise with the sheer breadth to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Marvel. With Shanghai, I Love You, Jerusalem, I Love You and Berlin, I Love You all in various stages of development, next on the list is Brazil’s Rio, eu te amo (or Rio, I Love You). Featuring  Vincent Cassel with City of God director Fernando Meirelles, as well as segments from Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age, Rio), Im Sang-soo (The Housemaid), Stephan Elliott (Easy Virtue), Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty), Guillermo Arriaga (Babel) and Andrucha Waddington (Party Crashers), Nadine Labaki (Where Do We Go Now?) and José Padilha (RoboCop, Elite Squad), hopefully we get news of a premiere soon. – Jack C.

71. Big Hero 6 (Don Hall, Chris Williams; Nov. 7th)

Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Studios for $4 billion seemed like a hefty buy, but just a few years later we can see that it was well worth the price. Following the success of The Avengers and this summer’s Iron Man 3, the studio is now finally venturing into other arenas, and this fall we’ll se their first animated collaboration. Big Hero 6 stems from a lesser known comic book series following a boy and a robot who fight crime in the fantasy city of San Fransokyo. With helming coming from Winnie the Pooh‘s Don Hall, we hope this is an exciting new direction for the studio. – Jack C.

See our 70 most-anticipated films of 2014 >>

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