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 Haynes‘ Carol, 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 Education, Lone 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.
70. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie; Dec. 25th)
Although it went overlooked upon release a few years ago, Angelina Jolie showed promise with her directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey. With her sophomore effort, she’s stepping up her scope a great deal, working from a script rewritten by Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as recruiting their long-time cinematographer Roger Deakins. Unbroken tells the true story of Olympic hero Louie Zamperini, who survived a WWII plane crash and was stranded on a raft for 47 days, and, considering the team involved, we’re hopeful it’ll stray away from typical Oscar bait territory. – Jordan R.
69. The Interview (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; TBD)
After exceeding expectations with their directorial debut This is the End, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wasted no time getting back behind the camera again. Reteaming once again with the duo, James Franco stars in The Interview, which follows a talk show host (Franco), who gets involved in an assassination plot with the prime minister of North Korea, along with his producer, played by Rogen. Ditching the self-aware, celebrities-as-themselves set-up of their last effort, hopefully Rogen and crew pack the same punch. – Jordan R.
68. Child 44 (Daniel Espinosa; Fall TBD)
After directing the fairly fun, but forgettable Safe House for his English-language debut, Daniel Espinosa is getting into more serious, promising territory with the World War II drama Child 44. Starring Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Noomi Rapace, the adaptation of the Tom Rob Smith novel (from The Wire writer Richard Price), Child 44 features Tom Hardy portraying Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a Soviet police officer investigating a child killer run amok in the last days of Stalin‘s reign. Also starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joel Kinnaman, Summit Entertainment will give this a fall 2014 release. – Jack C.
67. Godzilla (Gareth Edwards; May 16th)
Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla reboot was a bloated, underdeveloped flop that did no justice to a beloved movie icon. Now, 16 years later, Gareth Edwards will try to update the franchise with his own take on the giant, destructive lizard. The project is in capable hands, as the director has already demonstrated a talent for producing substantial, stylish action with his remarkable found footage thriller Monsters. The first trailer was encouraging, with stars Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, and others caught up in what looks like a truly epic disaster – top it off with the beast’s signature roar, and you have one summer tentpole film that’s worth the anticipation. – Amanda W.
66. The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini; TBD)
While we attribute much of the success of Drive to Nicolas Winding Refn‘s directing, it was screenwriter Hossein Amini that put the words on the page and now, after working in blockbuster territory with Snow White and the Huntsman and 47 Ronin, he’s completed his directorial debut, The Two Faces of January. Returning to thriller territory in a story centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who try to flee a foreign country after one of them is caught up in the murder of a police officer. Amini assembled the powerhouse trio of Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac for the film that will hopefully see a premiere on the fall festival circuit. – Jordan R.
65. Enemy (Denis Villeneuve; March 14th)
Known as the other Denis Villeneuve-Jake Gyllenhaal film at TIFF this year, the duo shot this stylish Toronto-based film before Prisoners. Based on Jose Saramago’s novel The Double, Gyllenhaal plays two roles: a college professor who seeks a man he sees in a film that looks just like him. Debuting with major supporters — Mélanie Laurent, Isabella Rossellini, and Sarah Gadon — we can’t wait to see what’s in store come spring. – John F.
64. Mojave (William Monahan; TBD)
Despite the general disappointment that came with Monahan’s directorial debut, London Boulevard, there’s reason to hold out hope for this one. Oscar Issac and Garrett Hedlund, reteaming after Inside Llewyn Davis, star as a suicidal artist who travels to the desert and encounters his doppelganger, a murderous wanderer. There’s no doubt Monahan has got the chops as a writer, and with these two young bucks as his leads and a simple, intriguing story to hone in focus, Mojave could prove the debut we were hoping for. – Dan M.
63. The Captive (Atom Egoyan; TBD)
A true story tied Atom Egoyan’s hands (no pun intended) in The Devil’s Knot, a film with distinctively Egoyan themes that lacked the psychological elements of vintage works from the director. Perhaps The Captive (originally titled Queen of the Night), a thriller focusing on the aftermath the kidnapping of a truck driver’s daughter, will be a return to form for the Canadian auteur. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Mireille Enos, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Greenwood, expect Egoyan to return to TIFF with the film come fall. – John F.
62. The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum; TBD)
After crafting one of the most taut, well-directed international thrillers of recent years with Headhunters, Morten Tyldum will be making his English-language debut with this Alan Turing biopic. Led by Benedict Cumberbatch, he portrays the code-breaker who was an integral force for the Allies in World War II, before his life ended in tragedy. Add in an original score from Clint Mansell, and we can’t wait to see this one, likely arriving this fall. – Jordan R.
61. The Young & Prodigious Spivet (Jean-Pierre Jeunet; TBD)
A serendipitous pairing of source material with director, The Young & Prodigious Spivet unleashes the whimsical Jean-Pierre Jeunet on Reilf Laurson’s eccentric account of T.S. Spivet, an twelve-year old mapmaker living with a family of geniuses in Montana who hitchhikes across country to accept an award at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Stephen King praised the written work for the way it “combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Little Miss Sunshine.” It’s exhilarating to think what the man behind City of Lost Children and Amelie will do with that. – Nathan B.
60. True Story (Rupert Goold; TBD)
While one might expect a film starring Jonah Hill and James Franco to be a comedy, True Story is anything but. Produced by Brad Pitt, the film adapts journalist Michael Finkel‘s novel, following a tale of mistaken identity and an investigation into falsifying New York Times-published articles. Hill portrays Finkel, who learns that a FBI most-wanted criminal Christian Longo (Franco) gets captured and was taking his identity. When Finkel gets fired at the New York Times for reportedly falsifying articles his career seemed over, but Longo only wants to speak to Finkel and so begins a strange relationship. Considering production wrapped up nearly a year ago, hopefully it’s not long before it’s released. – Jordan R.
59. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu; TBD)
After a string of dark dramas, Alejandro González Iñárritu is embarking on a major departure with Birdman, crafting a superhero film…in a way. The dark comedy stars Michael Keaton, as a once-famous actor, known for his iconic superhero role of our title character. The story in the film only tracks a few days, as he attempts to mount a Broadway play and reclaim his personal life. Also starring Lindsay Duncan, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts, as well as cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki, expect this one to premiere in the fall. – Jordan R.
58. 22 Jump Street (Chris Lord and Phil Miller; June 13th)
As proven time and time again in Hollywood, sequels are a tricky thing to get right, but when it comes to the rebooted 21 Jump Street, we have some faith in its follow-up. Following the first film’s self-aware notion when it comes to the series, the trailer is already poking fun at the idea of a sequel in which we follow our duo in college. With original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller returning, along with much of our supporting cast (although, sadly, no Brie Larson), here’s hoping 22 Jump Street is as funny and fresh as its predecessor. – Jordan R.
57. Untitled Cameron Crowe Project (TBD)
Featuring one of 2014’s most star-studded casts, Cameron Crowe’s new project focuses on a military contractor (Bradley Cooper) who returns to the sight of his greatest accomplishment, falling for both an old flame and a new co-worker in the process. We’ve got female leads in the form of Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone, as well as supporting turns from the likes of Alec Baldwin, John Krasinki, Danny McBride and Bill Murray. Crowe’s distinct style meshed with this elite group of performers should prove extremely entertaining. – Dan M.
56. The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi; Sept. 26th)
With their last two productions — Coraline and ParaNorman — Laika Studios brought the art of stop-motion animation back to the magic of its glory days. Based off the children’s book Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, their newest, The Boxtrolls, follows a young orphan trying to protect a family of underground trolls from an exterminator. The voice-cast is full of awesomeness, including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley and Jared Harris. The first teaser focused solely on the craft involved in bringing this fantastical world to life. Here’s betting the feature film is worthy of such confidence. – Nathan B.
55. Locke (Steven Knight; April 25th)
Real-time thrillers are a very tricky thing: for all the pressure that comes with maintaining all shades of suspense and credibility, equally pressing is the establishment of credible dramatic throughlines for characters who, by all accounts, should be running, shouting, jumping, and shooting for a not-inconsiderable portion of the runtime. Tom Hardy, an actor with that rare combination of versatility and believable physical strength, is about as good a choice to anchor what sounds, based on descriptions, more intimate than something of the 24 variety — more likely static and brooding, which is just fine by us. Here’s hoping Steven Knight continues his streak of character-driven crime tales. – Nick N.
54. Mommy and Tom at the Farm (Xavier Dolan; TBD)
Having seen my first Xavier Dolan film last year (and placing it on my top 10), anticipation is high for his next two features. The young filmmaker debuted his thriller Tom at the Farm on the festival circuit last fall and it’ll hopefully see a U.S. release this year, while he also completed a shoot for his fifth feature, Mommy. Likely premiering later this year, Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément and Antoine-Olivier Pilon star in the darker story of mother-son relationship, featuring a custody battle and a child with a difficult past. – Jordan R.
53. Transcendence (Wally Pfister; April 18th)
After a long stint as Christopher Nolan‘s director of photography, Wally Pfister has flown the coop and will be debuting his first feature this spring. The sci-fi thriller finds an ailing Johnny Depp getting his conscious uploaded to a computer, and judging from the trailer, all hell breaks loose. In a year where the vast majority of studio releases seem to lack both originality and anticipation of any kind, here’s hoping Transcendence, which also stars Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman, breaks the mold. – Jordan R.
52. 99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani; TBD)
While most lists of this ilk include a certain Andrew Garfield-led blockbuster, much more anticipation surrounds the independent drama he recently shot with Ramin Bahrani. Co-starring Michael Shannon and Laura Dern, 99 Homes follows Garfield as a man whose home is lost in a foreclosure, but who’s soon able to attain financial solace employed under the real estate broker responsible for this original loss. Although I was left unimpressed by Bahranhi’s At Any Price, here’s hoping his latest signals a return to authentic drama. – Jordan R.
51. The Cobbler (Thomas McCarthy; TBD)
One thing that has carried through all of Thomas McCarthy‘s three features (The Station Agent, The Visitor, Win Win) is a strong lead performance. So we’re at a welcome crossroads when it comes to his latest work, a drama led by Adam Sandler, who has shown, clearly, that he could care less for the craft in recent years. The Cobbler, following Sandler as our titular character — who can literally step into the shoes of his customers — hopefully signals a new a direction for the actor (also evidenced by his involvement with Jason Reitman‘s latest work) as well a continued streak for McCarthy. With shooting recently wrapped, this one’s a safe bet for the fall festival circuit. – Jordan R.
50. Suite française (Saul Debb; TBD)
It wouldn’t be a new year without another World War II drama, but one of the more promising entries is Suite Française. Directed by Saul Dibb (The Duchess), The Weinstein Company project stars Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas and Sam Riley. Based on the Irene Nemirovsky novel, Williams stars as Lucile, a French woman who begins forming romantic interest in Bruno (Schoenaerts), the German soldier staying in her home as Nazi forces take hold of her native country. An unlikely bond is threatened when Lucile’s mother-in-law (Thomas) gets in the way. – Jordan R.
49. Exodus (Ridley Scott; Dec. 12th)
Destined to be seen by more people in its first few days of release than the entirety of viewers for his last effort, The Counselor, Ridley Scott‘s Moses biopic Exodus marks his biggest production yet. Led by Christian Bale, the top-notch cast also includes his Alien star Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Paul, Joel Edgerton, and more. With Scott still able to capture epic visuals, let’s hope this feature is not just following a trend set by Darren Aronofsky earlier in the year. – Jordan R.
48. The Dying of the Light (Paul Schrader; TBD)
No, The Canyons wasn’t terribly good, but to blame Paul Schrader for that production is like pointing your finger at a master chef when his fellow cook left a dead rat in your sandwich. As one who’s still an immensely important voice in American cinema and still a fine scribe, it’s with open arms that we’ll welcome The Dying of the Light, a long-gestating project that’s fallen from Nicolas Winding Refn and Harrison Ford to, now, himself and Nicolas Cage — a shaggier, potentially crazier duo who, with 1999’s Bringing Out the Dead, have already proved a fine example of voice and speaker. With any luck, the picture both shoots and finds someone wise enough to release it by the end of 2014. – Nick N.
47. Squirrels to the Nuts (Peter Bogdanovich; TBD)
It’s been a little while since the one and only Peter Bogdanovich graced theater screens — we’re coming up on twelve years since The Cat’s Meow had theatrical release, and more than six since his documentary, Runnin’ Down a Dream — and if he’s getting this placement in large part because of that very absence, so be it. (Did you direct The Last Picture Show, anyway?) Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach have taken it upon themselves to support the filmmaker’s next picture, which concerns a young prostitute (Imogen Poots) with dreams of making it big on Broadway, only for Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, and Jennifer Aniston to get in the way. Sound off-kilter? Sure, but we doubt it’s in some quirky, Sundance-esque register; Bogdanovich (co-writing with Louise Stratton) has proven himself too smart to fall into such terrible traps, and I don’t think old age is going to temper his considerable wit. – Nick N.
46. Jimmy’s Hall (Ken Loach; TBD)
The supposed final feature from the soon-to-be-retired Ken Loach, Jimmy’s Hall is hopefully a fitting send-off for the master director. Set in 1932 Ireland, the film follows James Gralton (Barry Ward), a local communist leader who returns, after a decade-long stay in New York, to open an old dance hall designed for celebrating the spirit of the free thinkers who want to learn, argue, dream and have fun. – Jordan R.
45. Manglehorn (David Gordon Green; TBD)
After giving Nicolas Cage one of his best roles in years in Joe (our review), David Gordon Green is hoping to do the same for Al Pacino. Manglehorn, co-written with Paul Logan, follows A.J. Manglehorn, an older man who is tied to his daily routine but, we soon learn, is an ex-con with a dark past. The prolific director is already in post-production on the film, also starring Holly Hunter, Chris Messina and Harmony Korine, and we’d wager it’ll be ready for a fall film festival debut. – Jordan R.
44. The New Girlfriend (Francois Ozon; TBD)
With his drama In the House getting a U.S. release last year and IFC hopefully releasing his follow-up Young & Beautiful (one of the 30 Best 2014 films we’ve already seen) this year, Francois Ozon is poised to soon debut his next feature, The New Girlfriend. Although details are sparse, we know it’s adaptation of the first story in Ruth Rendell’s eponymous omnibus — one specifically concerning Claire, a young woman who falls into depression after her best girlfriend’s death. Starring Anaïs Demoustier, Romain Duris, and Raphaël Personnaz, we expect he’ll be returning to Cannes yet again. – Jordan R.
43. The Drop (Michaël R. Roskam; Sept. 19th)
One of two features starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace this year, The Drop marks the English-language debut of the Oscar-nominated director behind Bullhead, Michaël R. Roskam. Based on a short story by Dennis Lehane, the film follows an unassuming New York bartender, one whose life is thrown asunder upon discovering a wounded dog. Also featuring the last performance from James Gandolfini, we imagine the drama is a safe bet for the fall festivals. – Jordan R.
42. Leviafan (Andrey Zvyagintsev; TBD)
Not to be confused with one of the best documentaries of the last decade, the next film from Russia’s Andrey Zvyagintsev marks his follow-up to Elena. Described as a social drama that follows multiple character, it has major intentions, dissecting “the human insecurity in a new country which gradually unwinds to a mythological scale concerning the human condition on earth entirely.” Considering he crafted one of my favorite dramas, The Return, I’ll always be looking forward to what Zvyagintsev crafts next. – Jordan R.
41. The Better Angels (A.J. Edwards; Sundance Premiere)
Even if we don’t get at least one of Terrence Malick‘s new films this year, we’ll still receive a work with his stamp on it. Premiering at Sundance is The Better Angels, produced by the Days of Heaven director and easily one of our most-anticipated titles in Park City. While our only glimpse thus far has been a few gorgeous stills from the black-and-white production, we know that it follows the (very) early days of The Great Emancipator’s life, and stars Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, and Brit Marling. – Jordan R.
40. Jane Got a Gun (Gavin O’Connor; Aug. 28th)
Stepping in to take over this troubled production after a much publicized clash between producers and former director Lynne Ramsay, Gavin O’Connor is known for a visceral style in several films I’ve admired, including Tumbleweeds, Pride and Glory and Miracle. Coming off Warrior, he seems like an interesting choice for a western, but we’ll have to see how his directorial style compliments, or clashes, with the intense dark humor of Ramsay’s original iteration. Starring Natalie Portman, Rodrigo Santoro, Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton, the film follows a woman who recruits her ex-lover to protect her husband, who has a price on his head. – John F.
39. Phoenix (Christian Petzold; TBD)
Christian Petzold‘s Barbara snuck in as one of the more quietly affecting dramas of 2012, its lens on the divisions of Soviet-era Berlin serving thrills without polemics and building a full character via subtle grace notes. His sixth collaboration with Nina Hoss, Phoenix, may arrive this year, but that — along with something about “the transformational period at the end and then just after World War II,” thus keeping a general pace with his prior feature — is about as deep as it goes. Not that we’ll need much more to justify anticipation. – Nick N.
38. Jupiter Ascending (Wachowskis; July 18th)
It’s going to be a crowded year for sci-fi but with a gorgeous, dynamic trailer already out there whetting appetites for their slick new space opera, the Wachowskis have pre-emptively thrown down the gauntlet. Even if their last film Cloud Atlas — made with Tom Tykwer — wasn’t the ambitious, beautiful epic it turned out to be, Jupiter Ascending would still be worth looking out for. Dealing with cosmic assassins, space princesses, and intergalactic intrigue, Jupiter looks like the Brothers Grimm by way of Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. And who can argue with Mila Kunis as the savior of the universe? – Nathan B.
37. Cemetery of Kings (Apichatpong Weerasethakul; TBD)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul — or, if you want to prove that you’re a real cinephile, simply “Joe” — has undeniably seen his profile rise with the surprise Palme d’Or win of his last feature, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Yet instead of succumbing to the temptation of a (comparatively) big-budget international production, he’s decided to make his newest completely in line with the resources of all his previous features. It should come as no surprise, then, that the story concerns something completely familiar to him: dreaming, which he’ll undoubtedly make stranger than anything your sleep could ever produce. – Ethan V.
36. Miss Julie (Liv Ullmann; TBD)
Following a much-respected ‘50s adaptation, a much-forgotten ‘90s spin, and innumerable college lectures provided in every decade since its publication, you’d figure the world doesn’t really need another take on Miss Julie — until you see this particular spin is written and directed by Liv Ullmann, with a central onscreen team of Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, and Samantha Morton. I don’t care if it’s a tale told 100 times over: I think I’d like if that quartet gave me the story a hundred times more. – Nick N.
35. The Voices (Marjane Satrapi; Sundance Premiere)
After crafting two acclaimed French-language films based on her graphics novels – the semi-autobiographical Persepolis and the dark comedy Chicken with Plums – Marjane Satrapi embarks on her first English effort with The Voices. Written by Paranormal Activity 2 scribe, Michael R. Perry, the psychological thriller follows a sweet, but disturbed bathtub factory worker (played by Ryan Reynolds) who receives direction from a talking cat and dog. The bold concept seems like a warped version of Garfield, with Reynolds serving as a schizophrenic John Arbuckle led astray by his manipulative pets – combine that with the fact that Satrapi went solo on this project, instead of co-directing with longtime collaborator, Vincent Paronnaud, and you have a must-see curiosity from one of today’s brightest cinematic talents. – Amanda W.
34. How to Catch a Monster (Ryan Gosling; TBD)
Original, mysterious and marking the directorial debut of Ryan Gosling, How to Catch A Monster is a scintillating proposition, made more exciting because of how little we currently know. Described as a neo-noir fantasy, the story follows a single mother who discovers all is not what it seems when her son follows a passage to an underwater world. Besides the fact we’ll get to see the luminous Christina Hendricks and Doctor Who himself, Matt Smith, doing their thing alongside Saoirse Ronan and Ben Mendelsohn, Gosling gets to show off what he’s learned from the great directors he’s worked with over the years. – Nathan B.
33. Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrara; TBD)
While excess was certainly anointed by many as the theme of 2013 American cinema, Abel Ferrara’s new film, centered on the rape case of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, promises not just to see it through the European perspective of its characters, but also the guilt-stricken one of its auteur. Paired with his also-forthcoming Pasolini, Ferrara should, in 2014, prove the biopic as being more than awards fodder and, in fact, the fascinating subgenre that it can be. – Ethan V.
32. Noah (Darren Aronofsky; March 28th)
Of everything headed for release in 2014, Noah is perhaps the biggest question mark. The pre-film comics have promised multi-armed, giant angels, early trailers played in front of faith-based conferences and at churches, and script reports have touted a significant environmental angle. With Russell Crowe as Noah, it looks like Biblical tale told as far-out science fiction, but the studio wants a mass-market religious flick. Aronofsky, now five solid films into a career that has refused major compromise, seems to have the weirdest blockbuster ever on his hands and the real disappointment would be delivering something safe and pedestrian. – Nathan B.
31. Magic in the Moonlight (Woody Allen; Summer TBD)
Hot off the heels of one of his best films from the last decade (or two), Woody Allen quietly went to work on his latest feature this past summer, and we expect it to be released about a year later. Starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, the romantic comedy-drama is said to span a few decades — but, other than that, details are sparse. Thankfully, the director’s name alone sells it for us, and we’ll have to wait and see if, unlike Blue Jasmine, it pops up at a film festival. – Jordan R.
30. Life of Riley (Alain Resnais; Berlin Premiere)
Few (if any) filmmakers of his generation are on a streak quite like that which belongs to Alain Resnais — few are still working or, well, alive, come to think of it — who’s grown wittier and more whimsical in recent years, despite so few in the United States really taking notice. First photos from his third adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn — following Smoking/No Smoking and Private Fears in Public Places — might point toward more of the minimalistic dressing that helped define otherwise-undefinable 21st-century efforts, and that potential carry-over is all we need to ask for at this point in time. – Nick N.
29. Interstellar (Christopher Nolan; Nov. 7th)
In the world of blockbuster filmmaking, there’s only a few names that garner our anticipation and near the top of the list is Christopher Nolan. After sputtering out the finale to his Batman trilogy, the helmer is finally free to focus on solely original projects and first out of the gate is a sci-fi epic that finds astronauts heading to different dimensions via wormholes with the hopes of renewing Earth’s depleted agriculture. With an enigmatic teaser trailer hinting at infinite possibilities and a dream, but varied, cast top lined by Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar has our attention. – Jordan R.
28. Goodbye to Language 3D (Jean Luc-Godard; TBD)
The greatest living filmmaker (if to already get the hyperbolic ball rolling) returns with a 3D feature, of all things, though that doesn’t mean you should expect Mr. Godard to suddenly go commercial. If anything, this could potentially be the peak of his post-film experimentation, which have included both video and digital, all in his constant pursuit of… well, that can sometimes be hard to exactly articulate. But you should look forward to trying, anyway. – Ethan V.
27. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien; TBD)
Between Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster, Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin, and, soon (hopefully), Hou Hsiao-hsien’s latest — a period Wuxia epic — there appears to be a serious overlap between Asia’s arthouse and popular cinemas. Admittedly, Hou is the most difficult to envision making an action picture, but the promise of him going back to China’s Tang Dynasty seems wholly appropriate — even his present-set films are approaching their times as already being a distant past. – Ethan V.
26. A Trip to Italy (Michael Winterbottom; Sundance Premiere)
A sequel to 2011’s The Trip — the made-for-TV comedy series featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon that was simultaneously hilarious and obnoxious — finds our leads returning, playing once again only “slightly fictionalized” versions of themselves. For this follow-up, they’ll be taking a culinary road trip through Italy, promising for more undeniable comedic chemistry. Like The Trip, this new project will be released in the US as a theatrical feature, first premiering at Sundance. – John F.
25. Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Vinterberg; TBD)
Following up one of the best films of last year, The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg is turning to a literary classic for his next film. Far From the Madding Crowd teams Carey Mulligan with Matthias Schoenaerts and follows the former attracting three different suitors, the others being Tom Sturridge and Michael Sheen. If Vinterberg is able to conjure the same dramatic tension and top-notch performances as his other work, there’s no doubt this will be one to watch later this year. – Jordan R.
24. Body Art (Luca Guadagnino; TBD)
After delivering the sumptuous, ravishing I Am Love, director Luca Guadagnino is returning with Body Art, an adaptation of Don DeLillo‘s 2001 novel The Body Artist. Featuring a stellar cast of David Cronenberg, Isabelle Huppert, Denis Lavant, and Sigourney Weaver, the film follows a woman who grieves after her husband’s death and finds a stranger living in the room above her. Production was supposed to kick off last summer, but was since delayed and hopefully restarting this year. – Jordan R.
23. The Cut (Fatih Akin; TBD)
Not much is known about Fatih Akin’s The Cut, the latest narrative from the versatile Turkish-German filmmaker whose work often explores the complex implications of this geopolitical relationship on individuals like himself that are of both worlds. His first narrative feature since 2009’s comedy Soul Kitchen, the film starring Tahar Rahim (The Prophet) is currently in post-production and reportedly features a silent performance from our lead. – John F.
22. Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello; TBD)
Bonello’s prior feature, House of Pleasures, earns a follow-up its own place on this list. Some (or many) may hold little interest in a biopic following one of fashion’s biggest icons, but the director and his team — Gaspard Ulliel, Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Jérémie Renier, and Willem Dafoe (as Andy Warhol!) — sound like a sight for sore eyes regardless. – Nick N.
21. Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve; TBD)
Unfortunate as it is that being a female directorial voice must serve as some major distinction — even in the international market — Mia Hansen-Løve nevertheless provided a uniquely feminine perspective on young heartbreak in Goodbye First Love, which is about as promising a breakthrough as we’ve seen these past few years. (Regardless of it actually being her third feature.) With the tender qualities of that recent reflection in mind, her look into the continent-spanning ‘90s club scene — something her brother and co-scribe, Sven, happens to know for himself — carries untold potential to bring us back and lift us upward. Who doesn’t want to see Greta Gerwig spin some house records, for God’s sake? – Nick N.
20. Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh; TBD)
Mike Leigh’s biographic work, including Topsy Turvy and Vera Drake, are as emotionally fresh as his intimate social realist portraits of contemporary family. Mr. Turner reunites Leigh and frequent collaborator Timothy Spall as J.M.M. Turner, best known as a “painter of light” in what will be Leigh’s first foray into digital filmmaking. We’d expect a Cannes premiere for this highly-anticipated drama. – Jack C.
19. While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach; TBD)
As his third, untitled, seemingly forgotten collaboration with Greta Gerwig awaits some kind of premiere, we’re plenty privy to While We’re Young, a project that’s been in the waiting for several years. After pegging the right players — Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried — we should be seeing yet another metropolitan-rooted generational examination before the year’s end. If it all sounds like your sort of thing, odds say Baumbach, ever a consistent storyteller, will deliver something satisfying. – Nick N.
18. Sunset Song (Terence Davies; TBD)
A second film adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel, Terence Davies’ latest begins with a suicide attempt that changes the lives of two daughters forced to manage a farm. Featuring Peter Mullan, Agyness Deyn, Kevin Guthrie, Ian Pirie, the film had been given the greenlight, and we hope shooting begins soon for a release by year’s end. Following his extraordinary The Deep Blue Sea, Davies has prime source material to create another intensely emotional work. – John F.
17. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer; April 4th)
An alien disguised in a sexy human form prowls the Scottish landscape in search of male victims to lure into her deadly lair – so goes the concept behind director Jonathan Glazer’s moody sci-fi experiment, in which Scarlett Johansson stretches her acting muscle to play his comely extraterrestrial. Early reviews point to an emphasis on style over story, as the Sexy Beast helmer relies on a low tech digital aesthetic to capture how the lonely succubus becomes wrapped up in our strange world. On top of that, trailers for the film are packed with mind blowing visuals and a discordant, vaguely Hitchcockian score, both of which promise a highly visceral experience. – Amanda W.
16. Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan; TBD)
I wish I could tell you anything about the narrative this follows, but the Turkish director — without question, the most widely revered that nation currently has in its roster — will succeed Once Upon a Time in Anatolia with another drama set in that eponymous region — one, in his own words, “about humans,” and with some special focus on landscapes. Winter Sleep, coming off a couple of future classics, should premiere at Cannes. – Nick N.
15. Every Thing Will Be Fine (Wim Wenders; TBD)
This, admittedly, would probably not chart if only known as a grief-centered 3D drama starring James Franco — but context matters, and the contextual key, here, is Wim Wenders returning to a format he so amply applied only a few years back. The question of how well his technical trickery and a (from the sound of it) traditional dramatic outline will congeal — well, supposing they even do — is reason enough to keep our eyes peeled. – Nick N.
14. The Rover (David Michôd; Summer TBD)
After debuting the family crime drama Animal Kingdom back in 2010, it’s been a longer-than-expected wait for David Michôd‘s follow-up, but 2014 will finally bring it with The Rover. A likely bet for Cannes following its summer release, the existential western teams Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy and more, following a loner who tracks down the men responsible for stealing his car. If Michôd continues to display his knack for unbridled tension, this could prove to be one of Pattinson’s best performances. – Jordan R.
13. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller; TBD)
Delayed from last fall, we imagine the next film from Moneyball director Bennett Miller could stop on this year’s fall festival circuit, or even Cannes. Following an intriguing, leaked trailer that revealed a dark transformation for Steve Carell (both physically and performance-wise), this true story of a schizophrenic immersed in the world of wrestling, also starring Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, is high on our must-see list. – Jordan R.
12. Gone Girl (David Fincher; Oct. 3rd)
Although I wish his take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea would’ve got off the ground, it’s difficult to complain when David Fincher gets back behind the camera. Following a short stint kicking off House of Cards, the director is taking on this adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s bestseller, tracking a husband (Ben Affleck) whose wife (Rosamund Pike) goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. Having read the book, one wonders how the narrative structure will be handled, but viewers are in for a twisty, suspenseful thriller, and one I imagine will be gorgeously captured. – Jordan R.
11. A Most Wanted Man (Anton Corbijn; Sundance Premiere)
Although this popped up high on last year’s rundown, Anton Corbijn‘s John le Carré adaptation, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rachel McAdams, will finally land early this year at Sundance. With Corbijn’s previous two films, Control and The American, being some of my favorites of recent years, we’re greatly looking forward to what’s in store, particularly when it comes to source material that seems perfectly suited for Corbijn’s slick, restrained style. – Jordan R.
10. Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho; TBD)
Knowing The Weinstein Company’s mischievous ways, there’s a chance we won’t even get Snowpiercer this year, but we’re holding out hope. Following initial word that signaled a bow last summer, it came and went, along with no appearances at the major fall festivals, but as Bong Joon-ho and Harvey Weinstein hash out a new cut, one thing’s for certain: you’ll be able to import a French Blu-ray by spring. Featuring the unharmed theatrical international cut (aka approved by our director), we can’t wait to see this post-apocalyptic tale of class struggle set on a barreling train, even if it’s from the comfort of our own home. – Jordan R.
9. Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas; TBD)
After revisiting the hyper-personal Cold Water as a means of crafting Something in the Air, there’s some chronological logic in Olivier Assayas, as a follow-up, going back to the meta-cinematic territory of Irma Vep for Sils Maria. From Maggie Cheung to Juliette Binoche, our next look at the strange life of an international star is coming from an artist who, in this writer’s opinion, has only grown more controlled and assured in the many years since. On this one, it’s hard to maintain any reasonable expectations. – Nick N.
8. Nymphomaniac (Lars von Trier; March/April)
Lars von Trier’s name, alone, is enough to garner curiosity, but when his latest project is easily shaping up to be his most ambitious outing yet, it’s among our most-anticipated of the year. Unveiled in Denmark late last year, the four-hour, eight-chapter, two-part Nymphomaniac looks to go above and beyond our expectations, judging from early reviews. While we wish we could see the 5.5-hour director’s cut of the thing, this should hold us over until later in 2014. – Jordan R.
7. Queen of the Desert (Werner Herzog; TBD)
Following years of irritating stop-start development, Werner Herzog is finally shooting his first feature since 2009’s Bad Lieutenant and My Son, My Son. Shifts on the casting front are only natural with such long progressions acting as a factor, and now the central spot of legendary cartographer Gertrude Bell has been filled by Nicole Kidman — she buoyed by the likes of Robert Pattinson, James Franco, and Damian Lewis — and the subject’s staggering impact on history gives the sort of thread this writer-director has proven himself deeply invested in for decades. (Fitzcarraldo being but one obvious reference point.) It might prove a perfect fit, and we can’t wait to see how Queen shapes up to his true classics. – Nick N.
6 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson; March 7th)
Moonrise Kingdom was a wonderful return to quirky form for Wes Anderson — but let’s face it: the man hasn’t ever strayed far from the idiosyncratic picture-book worlds he began creating with Bottle Rocket. You already know how you feel about the director, and everything we’ve seen from The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind. Those anxious for their next fix are thus pleased at the mere thought of Ralph Fiennes and the usual menagerie of Anderson regulars running about a European hotel in the 1920s. Executed properly, it could be pure bliss. – Nathan B.
5. Two Days, One Night (Dardennes; TBD)
There are few certainties in life: the sun will rise, temperatures will dip well below zero during a Canadian winter, and, every three years, a new Dardenne brothers film will premiere in competition at Cannes. It’s with equal certainty that we say it can be great — but as if to shake up the usual equation, their newest is the first with an international A-list star (Marion Cotillard). Still judging by their consistency, however, it should be no cause for concern. – Ethan V.
4. Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg; TBD)
David Cronenberg is working in a different register these days — more removed (quite literally, in terms of something as essential as camera distance), more clinical, more alien — so those hoping for Scanners and not Cosmopolis might need to rearrange most expectations. The wicked sense of humor, however, is as cutting as ever, and in coming off a perfectly tuned, pitch-black social satire, his take on the corrosive nature of Hollywood — which required his first shooting endeavor in the United States — should be a sight; consider the lineup — Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, as well as a returning Robert Pattinson & Sarah Gadon — and it’s hard to imagine many films will incite more of a visceral thrill this year. – Nick N.
3. Knight of Cups and Untitled Project (Terrence Malick; TBD)
As with any looking-ahead list that includes a title from this director, what’s here is as much a signal of anticipation as it is, in all honesty, just a big question mark. We don’t know what story Terrence Malick has elected to tell in Knight of Cups — something about “celebrities and excess”; that’s all we’re going to get for the time being — and although details on the untitled project (including some insane set photos) point toward a film at least partially concerned with the music festival scene, placing bets is a fool’s gambit. Are strictly-defined plot mechanics ever known to concern the man, either? What matters is that he’s completely off, doing his own thing in a more-productive-than-ever state — and for that, alone, cinema itself does some good in 2014. – Nick N.
2. Boyhood (Richard Linklater; TBD)
After delivering my favorite film of last year, Richard Linklater returns in 2014 with a project arguably even more ambitious than his Before trilogy. Shooting in segments for the past twelve years, Boyhood is a coming-of-age tale the likes of which we’ve never seen. Reteaming with Ethan Hawke, the story tracks newcomer Ellar Coltrane and his upbringing (thanks to parents, played by Patricia Arquette and Hawke), during the (real-time) ages of 7 to 18. As completion was recently announced, we’re betting this one pops up on the film festival circuit in the coming months. – Jordan R.
1. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson; TBD)
With a little over one year having passed since his last feature was released, it’s unorthodox for Paul Thomas Anderson to have his follow-up in the can, but that, happily, is just the case. Inherent Vice, an adaptation of the off-kilter Thomas Pynchon novel, marks a return for PTA to sprawling, varied ensembles, as he makes a Master reteam with Joaquin Phoenix in the role of Doc Sportello, a pot-loving detective who gets entangled in a case when it comes to his missing ex-girlfriend. Without a blemish to Anderson’s record yet, Inherent Vice, which we’d peg for fall release, is easily our most-anticipated film of 2014. – Jordan R.
What films are you most looking forward to this year?