20 films to look forward to in 2014

From arthouse Oscar flicks to popcorn-shifting blockbusters, 2014 looks to be another massive year for movies

1/20

The tantalising talent
Writer-director Wes Anderson and a cast of associated loonballs including (but not limited to) Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum and, of course, the irrepressible Bill Murray.

The promising premise
In the titular hotel sometime in the mid 1920s, concierge Fiennes strikes up a friendship with bellhop Tony Revolori, a bond that will see them through all manner of ups and downs including being accused of murder and having to go on the run. After a rocky patch in the 2000s, Anderson’s last two films, The Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, have had him back on top form, and there’s no reason to believe that trajectory won’t continue. The trailers are funny, strange and fascinating—pure Wes, basically.

When’s it out?
March 7, 2014, making it the perfect antidote to those dark days of sludgy late winter.

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2/20

The tantalising talent
Monsters director Gareth Edwards and stars Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston and Sally Hawkins.

The promising premise
You have to ask? Giant lizard smashes stuff, havoc ensues. Let’s face it, Roland Emmerich’s 1998 reboot of the Japanese monster series didn’t exactly set the world on fire (in any sense), so here’s a chance to get back to the roots of what Godzilla is all about: less chatty-chatty, more smashy-smashy. And who better to deliver that than Britain’s own DIY movie master, Gareth Edwards, the man who made a classic monster flick in his bedroom? He'll have a bigger budget this time around, presumably…

When’s it out?
May 16, 2014, kicking the blockbuster season off with a great big bang.

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3/20

The tantalising talent
Director Todd Haynes, novelist Patricia Highsmith, screen couple Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. Now that’s what we call quality.

The promising premise
Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt, aka Carol, wasn’t the first to openly address lesbian issues, but controversy arose over the book’s ending, which implied that its two central characters, wife and mother Carol and outsider Therese, might actually live happily ever after. There’s surely no better director for this material than Haynes, whose eye for period detail and the nuances of social interaction is unparalleled, while Blanchett is on a roll following her remarkable turn in Blue Jasmine.

When’s it out?
There’s no release date set, but expect it late in 2014—right around awards season.

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4/20

The tantalising talent
The greatest living American director Paul Thomas Anderson, stars Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and many more—plus, let’s not forget novelist Thomas Pynchon.

The promising premise
In 1970s LA, a pot-smoking private dick (Phoenix) investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. But frankly, it could be about the adventures of a man reading the Yellow Pages and we’d still queue up for this, Anderson’s first since 2011’s The Master. Expect dazzling visuals, whip-cracking dialogue (Anderson’s script reportedly has the blessing of Pynchon himself) and a general air of beautiful decay and end-of-an-era ennui.

When’s it out?
There’s no release date set, but it will surely feature at a major festival such as Cannes or Toronto, before arriving in cinemas in fall 2014.

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5/20

The tantalising talent
Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan, stars Michael Fassbender, Domnhall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

The promising premise
If there’s a barmier movie proposition this year, we’ll eat our giant papier-mâché heads. The director of What Richard Did, the writers of, respectively, The Men Who Stare at Goats and the recent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy remake, that incredible cast, all coming together to tell a story based on the adventures of northern England's weirdest comedy export, punk-inspired monster-headed stand-up Frank Sidebottom. Sidebottom’s creator Chris Sievey died in 2010, and this is an attempt to pay tribute to a truly unique creative mind.

When’s it out?
May 2, 2014, though we’re still not totally convinced we haven’t dreamed the whole thing.

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6/20

The tantalising talent
Director David Fincher, bestselling novelist Gillian Flynn and cast members Rosamund Pike (finally getting a proper starring role), Ben Affleck and the ever-wonderful Neil Patrick Harris.

The promising premise
In Flynn’s rip-roaring novel, a husband (Affleck) goes in search of his missing wife (Pike), and turns up a lot more than he bargained for. But while we did enjoy the book, we’ll admit to being ever so slightly disappointed that Fincher has chosen to follow The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with yet another pulpy crime thriller, particularly when his last three original projects—Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network—showed a fine director becoming a truly great one. That said, this is bound to be a pulse-racing watch.

When’s it out?
October 3, 2014—just as winter starts drawing in.

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7/20

The tantalising talent
Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan and a raft of stars including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, John Lithgow and the great Ellen Burstyn.

The promising premise
Fanboy’s favourite Nolan is sure to set a few geeky pulses pounding with the premise for his first post-Bat feature. The plot is still tightly under wraps, but we know that it’s about a group of scientists who discover a wormhole allowing for interplanetary travel. It may also involve time-hopping and multiple dimensions. The cast is stunning, the setup sounds killer. Let’s hope Nolan can inject it with some of the spark of The Dark Knight rather than the frosty clever-cleverness of Inception.

When’s it out?
November 7, 2014, only a week before this Christmas’s real blockbuster drops: yes, we mean Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?.

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8/20

The tantalising talent
Comedienne Melissa McCarthy, her co-writer, director and husband Ben Falcone, plus a supporting cast including Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass and the magnificent Allison Janney.

The promising premise
The outline sounds like a pretty typical Hollywood comedy—jobless Tammy (McCarthy) finds out her husband has been cheating, and decides to take her alcoholic granny (Sarandon) on a road trip. But, after Bridesmaids and The Heat, McCarthy is on one hell of a roll, and we’re intrigued to see what she’ll come up with as a writer. Plus the cast is just outstanding—can Sarandon do broad comedy? We’re about to find out.

When’s it out?
July 2, 2014—just in time for McCarthy to declare her independence.

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9/20

The tantalising talent
Writer-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski, stars Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne and, according to the internet, Terry Gilliam in "a small but vital part."

The promising premise
It’s a new spin on the old "ordinary Joe discovers they’re the saviour of the galaxy" idea first explored by the Wachowskis in The Matrix. This time, The One is Jupiter Jones (Kunis), a simple Russian janitor who turns out to be the Queen of the Universe for some reason. Yes, it all sounds very silly, but if Cloud Atlas proved anything it’s that the Wachowskis can approach ludicrous material with a straight face and make it magnificently entertaining. The trailer looks completely batshit—which is exactly how we like it.

When’s it out?
July 18, 2014—smack in the middle of the summer season, which implies a certain optimism on the part of the producers.

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10/20

The tantalising talent
The Host director Bong Joon-ho, a magnificent cast including Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Chris Evans and Ewen Bremner.

The promising premise
In a frozen post-apocalyptic wasteland, the only thing moving is the Snowpiercer, a sealed train housing the last vestiges of humanity— rich at the front, poor at the back. Hey, allegory! This Korean-French-American co-production has actually been released in the first two of those territories, and has been hailed as a classic, while the handful of British critics who made the trip across the channel came back raving (in a good way).

When’s it out?
There’s no US release date set, and with co-producer Harvey Weinstein proposing a shorter cut for the English-language market, will we ever get to see Snowpiercer as its director intended?

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11/20

The tantalising talent
First time writer-director Stuart Murdoch, his longtime pop group Belle and Sebastian, newly discovered singer-actress Catherine Ireton.

The promising premise
The indie-pop Mamma Mia? This long-gestating project from Belle and Sebastian frontman Murdoch pays homage to the classic era of rock ‘n’ roll movies—the title is a play on the 1956 Jayne Mansfield classic The Girl Can’t Help It—following a young woman (Ireton) with dreams of becoming a singer. Murdoch’s music has been accused of being rather fey and ironic; let’s hope he’s left that behind for this promising modern musical.

When’s it out?
It’s premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014, and showing in theaters January 18, 2014.

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12/20

The tantalising talent
Musician-turned-writer-director John McLean, omnipresent star and first-time producer Michael Fassbender, plus backup from Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn.

The promising premise
Erstwhile Beta Band frontman McLean heads west for his directorial debut, the tale of a teenage boy (Smit-McPhee) roaming the frontier in search of his lost love, and pairing up with Fassbender’s mysterious Silas. In a bold move, McLean has largely eschewed American locations in favour of a shoot based in New Zealand, plus a few days in the Scottish Highlands. The title implies a leisurely take on the genre: expect Meek’s Cutoff rather than The Lone Ranger.

When’s it out?
There’s no date confirmed, but let’s hope it’s not too slow in getting here.

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13/20

The tantalising talent
Last King of Scotland director Kevin MacDonald, star Jude Law and a ragtag gaggle of beloved character actors including Michael Smiley, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy.

The promising premise
There’s gold in that there sub, boys… When he comes into possession of a map showing the whereabouts of a downed Russian vessel, former submarine captain Law pulls together a bolshy band of sailors and engineers to go and retrieve the loot. Of course, things don’t go exactly to plan… After a few years making docs and kids’ movies (including the sorely underrated How I Live Now), Kevin MacDonald is getting serious again with this old fashioned, dad-friendly maritime adventure. Expect fisticuffs, foul language and extreme claustrophobic sweatiness.

When’s it out?
Black Sea should surface sometime in 2014.

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14/20

The tantalising talent
Cinematographer-turned-director Wally Pfister and an impressive cast including Johnny Depp, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany.

The promising premise
Computers are clever, right? Well, we’d better hope they don’t get any clevererer... In this directorial debut for Dark Knight lensman Pfister, Mara plays a scientist whose deceased husband’s consciousness (a non-corporeal Depp) is now housed in a state-of-the-art computer. But as controversy grows worldwide about the ethics of building a machine that can outthink a human, will Dr Kate ever get her beloved Johnny back again? This sounds like popcorn thrills with a sharp techno-thriller edge.

When’s it out?
April 18, 2014—a timely Easter release for a film about rebirth and creation.

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15/20

The tantalising talent
Ultra-low-budget writer-directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, and a cast you’ve almost certainly never heard of.

The promising premise
Aaron Katz was born to go to Iceland: his best film, the beautiful Quiet City, was a mumblecore romance with a very Scandinavian sense of humour, and his last film, a similarly dry detective story, was even called Cold Weather. Teaming up with Passenger Pigeons director Stephens, he’s heading off to the frozen north for this road-trip comedy about a pair of brothers-in-law on a mission to reclaim their lost youth in the nightspots of Reykjavik.

When’s it out?
January 19 2014 and premiering at Sundance.

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16/20

The tantalising talent
Training Day scribe turned filmmaker David Ayer, star Brad Pitt, some other people who aren’t Brad Pitt, but wish they were (one of whom is Shia Labeouf).

The promising premise
Brad goes back to war. Yes, four years after he single-handedly smashed the Nazi high command in Inglourious Basterds, our Bradley is being called back to the front. This time he’s playing a Sherman tank commander called (yes!) Wardaddy, who leads his hard-bitten crew on a death-or-glory mission in the dying days of WW2. We haven’t been too sold on Ayer’s directorial work so far—Street Kings and End of Watch—but this has got old-school meaty treat written all over it.

When’s it out?
November 12, 2014, right in the middle of Oscar season.

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17/20

The tantalising talent
Director Angelina Jolie and screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen… hang on, that can’t be right! The world’s turned upside down…

The promising premise
Her directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey wasn’t exactly a critical favorite, but this time around actress-turned-filmmaker Jolie has a not-so-secret weapon in the form of heavy-duty screenwriters the Coen brothers. These three mismatched movie veterans have joined forces to tell the tale of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who was held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. A solid cast of up-and-comers includes Garrett Hedlund, Domnhall Gleeson and the breakout star of British prison flick Starred Up, Jack O’Connell, as Zamperini.

When’s it out?
Christmas Day 2014—just in time for the holidays.

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18/20

The tantalising talent
An Education director Lone Scherfig, playwright Laura Wade, up-and-coming British stars Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer and Max "son of Jeremy" Irons.

The promising premise
Class war! When Wade’s stage play about a group of privileged public-school psychos calling themselves The Riot Club premiered during the General Election in 2010, reviews ranged from five-star raves like the one in Time Out to cries of anti-establishment slander. Let’s hope the film can retain that sense of spiky, class-baiting insouciance, and not water down the play’s obvious parallels with the past history of many of our leading politicians. Scherfig’s An Education was a smart look at Britain’s cultural landscape back in the ’60s, let’s hope she can turn that keen eye on a more modern topic.

When’s it out?
With a UK release date of September 19, 2014, we hope it will hit the US just as school’s coming back in.

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19/20

The tantalising talent
Director Takashi Miike, manga author Muneyuki Kaneshiro and a cast of doomed Japanese teens.

The promising premise
When weird and violent things start happening at his high school, Shun finds himself in a battle to the death against his classmates, and a mysterious, deadly power. Many Japanese critics complained (with reason) that The Hunger Games bore a number of similarities to 2000’s teen-on-teen action-horror flick Battle Royale. This is the country’s chance to get even. The premise sounds fantastic—but it’s the presence of 13 Assassins director Takashi that’s got us really excited.

When’s it out?
It’s out in Japan this year, and a US release shouldn’t be too far behind.

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20/20

The tantalising talent
Director Ridley Scott and an army of thespian talent including Christian Bale, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, John Turturro and we’re guessing roughly 10,000,000 digital extras.

The promising premise
"Let my people goooooooooooo…" Yes, in this year of Noah, Pompeii and Hercules, the big Daddy of historical epics is most definitely this megabudget Biblical barnstormer from the Gladiator man himself, Ridley Scott. Now, we’re not entirely convinced about the whole sword-and-sandal thing—Gladiator was great, but it’s been downhill ever since—but if anyone can pull off the kind of spectacle, special effects and seriousness the Moses story requires, it’s our Ridley. And Christian Bale as Moses? Yeah, okay, we’ll buy that.

When’s it out?
December 12, 2014, right before Christmas—and only a week before a certain hairy-footed threequel hoves onto the scene…

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Here at Time Out, we’ve already caught a good few of 2014’s cinematic heavy-hitters: check out our reviews of five-star smashes like 12 Years a Slave, Under the Skin and Inside Llewyn Davis. But what about those films that haven’t been screened yet, those titles that are still shrouded in mystery and expectation? Here are 20 films we reckon are going to knock our socks off in the coming year…

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