At the beginning of July (being half-way through the year) I posted "The 10 Best Films of 2014 (Thus Far)." Now we're already to August and I am going to share my 10 most anticipated films for the rest of 2014. This is an extension of a Top 5 list and conversation that Trent and I had on the first episode of The Cineflect Podcast. With the highly anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy now in theaters, here's a look at what else is shining on the horizon (as with all my year-based lists, this is in accordance to U.S. theatrical release dates):
10. The Zero Theorem (Internet: August 19th / Theaters: September 19th)
Terry Gilliam's first feature since 2009's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus casts Oscar-darling Christoph Waltz as a futuristic hacker bent on discovering the meaning of life. The world of The Zero Theorem looks chock-full of interesting details and doohickeys, sights and sounds that will remind fans of Brazil and, my personal favorite, 12 Monkeys. There's few I'd rather see return to the well that mixes sci-fi and fantasy, but I hope Gilliam reaches deep with this one.
9. Gone Girl (October 3rd)
David Fincher is one of the most calculated and consistent directors of our time. His choice to adapt the best-selling Gillian Flynn novel about a man's highly publicized search for his missing wife was an interesting choice for him to take on next. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play the couple. It appears that we will be seeing a lot of her in flashbacks or haunting dreams. I've managed to avoid learning the ending to the novel and I plan to keep it that way. We'll see if Flynn (who wrote the screenplay) and Fincher cook up something special in store for those who think they know what the outcome will be.
8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (December 17)
The "butter spread over too much bread" (to borrow a line from Bilbo himself) adaptation of my favorite book continues and concludes by the year's end. Mostly, I'm just eager to see this finally close and hopefully without too much fuss, but after the noticeable step up that was The Desolation of Smaug, I'm genuinely psyched as well. They ended that film sooner than I thought they would giving The Battle of the Five Armies plenty of action to anticipate, including a dragon fight and the titular war involving five differing parties with differing motives. What oh what will Peter Jackson do with his life when this is over? Well, there's always The Silmarillion, right? Trailer Review
7. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22nd)
2005's Sin City was one of the most visually striking films of the last decade. The hard black-and-white base with choice colors was an aesthetic that grabbed my eyeballs from beginning to end. The noir detective beat, with a cast of characters gave the style so much substance. It was a dark, dreary, and sometimes disgusting ride, but what a tale! I am both excited and scared to return to the titular metropolis. Much of the original cast (who did not get castrated, shot up, eaten or otherwise disemboweled) will be returning for this one with some new faces like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the alluring Eva Green. This one has been a long time coming, but the trailers make it all seem worth it.
6. Foxcatcher (November 14th)
Originally due out during last year's Awards circuit, Foxcatcher was held over for this year's Cannes Film Festival where it won Best Director. This is the latest film from the terrifically talented Bennett Miller (see The Cruise, Capote and Moneyball - no really, see them all if you haven't) and tackles the true story of the Olympic wrestling Schultz brothers and John du Pont. I know few details of the relationships, but unfortunately I know the outcome of what I'll only describe as a terrible and tragic event. Besides Miller, who seems to have a knack for telling bizarrely factual American stories in his own quiet way, casting recognizable actors against type has me really eager to see it. Steve Carell plays du Pont and Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo play the brothers. Ever since I first saw a leaked trailer I've been predicting Carrell would lead the Best Actor race at the Oscars.
5. The Homesman (November 7th)
Last time Tommy Lee Jones directed a theatrical film, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, he brought it to Cannes and left with awards for Best Actor and Best Screenplay. He brought The Homesman to Cannes this year where it competed for the Palme d'Or, though I didn't hear much raving about it either way. Jones plays a claim jumper opposite a pioneer woman played by Hilary Swank. They team up to escort three mentally insane women from Nebraska to Iowa. We’ve never seen a “road trip movie” like this before. After seeing the trailer for The Homesman I found myself wishing Tommy Lee Jones would just make Westerns for the rest of his career.
4. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (October 17th)
Studio Ghibli is/was a two-headed dragon. Most of us only know or talk about Hayao Miyazaki (deservingly so, he's wildly more prolific than the other head), but Isao Takahata is his partner in goodness and over the years has proved to have just as steady a track record, if significantly smaller: Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko and My Neighbors the Yamadas. His latest, The Tale of Princess Kaguya looks to be in a similar minimal, hand-drawn style as Yamadas and adapts the Japanese folktale of the bamboo cutter. This marks Takahata's first film for Ghibli in some 14 years, unfortunately it's also said to be his last. Let's see if he can end things as magically as Miyzaki did with last year's The Wind Rises.
3. Interstellar (November 7th)
Christopher Nolan has had a free pass to direct whatever big-budget blockbuster he and his brother Jonathan can fathom up for a while now. Last time that brought about Inception. While his Batman trilogy did not end on the highest of notes (The Dark Knight Rises was the weakest of the trilogy in my estimation, but admirable still) I'm hopeful in anything entirely original he takes on. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and of course Michael Caine are set to star in a voyage that takes us past the stars. Few plot details have been released and the trailer kept things pretty sparse, leaving me to imagine all kinds of wonders until November comes.
2. Birdman (October 17th)
As much as I revere Alfonso Cuarón, even after my saddening second screening of Gravity, my favorite contemporary Mexican director would have to be Alejandro González Iñárritu. Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel and Buitiful are as heavy of dramas as you could find in the Americas before going across either pond to even more bleak territory. Some have even gone so far as to dismiss the man's work "suffering porn." Well, that may change with Birdman, the director's first American film and first comedy about a once big-time actor, famous for playing a superhero, who is manages his life and planning his revival. Michael Keaton stars (art imitating life eh?), Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone co-star. It has also been reported that Birdman will have the illusion of being a single shot. I geek out over such things. As "cool" as that will be to see, I am more eager to see how they work that into the narrative and hopefully it calls for such extravagance.
1. Inherent Vice (December 12th)
Three letters: P.T.A. He's the single strongest American filmmaker working today and his output just gets more and more surprising. The Master was my #1 film of 2012. There Will Be Blood was my #1 film of 2007. Punch-Drunk Love was damn near the top for 2002, and that's just what he's accomplished in the 21st Century, to say nothing of Magnolia (which would take us to "all-time" territory) and the better-with-each-viewing Boogie Nights. I know nothing outside of a one-sentence plot synopsis of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice is inherently based on, or anything about Pynchon at all for that matter. This marks the second time Anderson is "adapting" an existing text (Upton Sinclair's Oil! burns somewhere within Blood). A drug-addled detective beating '70s Los Angeles sounds good enough to me, but bringing Joaquin Phoenix back (the strongest American actor working today) to work with Anderson - what could be better? Name it! Other casting choices (Martin Short?, Owen Wilson?, Reese Witherspoon? and Josh Brolin) further bewilder/entice. Some lucky insiders have called it The Big Lebowski meets Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. Altman happens to be Anderson's favorite filmmaker adding more fuel to this choice. If I could only see one film on this list (please no!), it'd be Inherent Vice.
10 Honorable Mentions:
The Better Angels (October 24th)
Big Hero 6 (November 17th) - Trailer Review
The Clouds of Sils Maria (December 1st)
The Congress (August 27th)
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (September 26th)
Exodus: Gods and Kings (December 12th) - Trailer Review
Fury (October 17th)
Goodbye to Language 3D (October)
Mr. Turner (December 19th)
Nightcrawler (October 17th) - Trailer Review
Finally, here are 10 films that are rumored, suspected or hoped to be theatrically released in 2014 but are not making the list due to lack of actual release dates:
Knight of Cups
The Look of Silence
Maps to the Stars
A Most Violent Year
Queen of the Desert
There you have it! Not just 10, not 20, but 30 films we have to look forward to. Keep in mind that the last 10 might not be coming out this calendar year and may wind up on my most anticipated films of 2015 list. I'd love to hear of any of your thoughts on any of the above films. Please speak your mind and share your own most anticipated films for the rest of the year in the comments below.