The end of a year brings about a deluge of listicles designed to pay homage to the best and worst of that year, as well as anticipatory ones for the new year. This is a piece in the latter category, exploring some of the most exciting new films for 2014. Although these films are largely from the first half of the year (ie, excluding most of the awards season films), they consist of a variety of movies that are exciting for many different reasons. 2014 is looking like a very exciting year for all film lovers, whether they prefer big action movies, raunchy comedies, or fare for the thinking moviegoer.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)
The latest fare from writer-director Wes Anderson looks like it might be one of his most outright comedic films to date. Featuring a team of frequent collaborators ranging from Ralph Fiennes to Bill Murray, The Grand Budapest Hotel contains an exciting story about murder, intrigue, and a hotel. The trailer alone is promising enough to entice Wes Anderson enthusiasts and general audiences alike.
2. Noah (March 28)
Darren Aronofsky is one of the most visionary directors working in Hollywood today, and his adaptation of the story of Noah and his arc, starring Russell Crowe, looks like it could be the biggest religious epic film in recent history. There is irony to be found in the fact that the set of the film was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, but with the $130m budget being given to make the film, this will be Aronofsky’s grandest (and maybe best) film yet.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
Producer Kevin Feige has described the sequel to The First Avenger as a political thriller film in the style of the films of the genre from the 1970s. Casting Robert Redford to appear in the film is a great step towards fulfilling that description. The Russo Brothers were surprising choices to direct the film, given their backgrounds in comedy, but it’s likely that whatever it was that impressed Marvel about the Russos will impress audiences as well.
4. Neighbors (May 9)
A Zac Efron film may seem like an unlikely choice for a “most anticipated films” list, but the latest film from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Neighbors, appears to be a raunchy comedy that will star Efron as we’ve never seen him before. The film stars Efron, Dave Franco, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as members of a local fraternity that butts heads with the young couple (Rogen and Rose Byrne) that lives next door. The first trailer alone was funnier than many movies this year, and Nicholas Stoller’s work on Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek is proof that he can direct a funny movie.
5. Godzilla (May 16)
Have you seen the trailer for this? The upcoming reboot of the classic Godzilla film franchise comes in the shadow of the 1998 flop, so standards are low. But this looks like the darkest and biggest Godzilla yet, and the involvement of director Gareth Edwards, who directed 2010’s critically acclaimed Monsters, is indicative that this is a very exciting film to keep an eye on.
6. Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
What do you get when you cross Groundhog Day with Starship Troopers? Edge of Tomorrow, the exciting summer action movie starring Tom Cruise as a soldier who gets caught in a time loop during a suicide mission. Based on the award-nominated novel, All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, Go, and The Bourne Identity), Edge of Tomorrow looks like it could be a sci-fi film to remember.
7. 22 Jump Street (June 13)
21 Jump Street was the breakout comedy movie of 2012, and its sequel reunites the team, this time at a local college. All the key talents return for the film, which promises to be another fun ride-along. The recently released trailer shows that all the comedic elements that made the first movie a success are going to remain in the sequel.
8. How To Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
2010’s How To Train Your Dragon was a surprise success for DreamWorks Animation, with some saying that it was as good or better than that year’s Toy Story 3. The sequel brings back much of the original cast for a new adventure, and if DreamWorks can capture the magic of the original, it could be box office gold.
9. Lucy (August 8)
Coming from anyone else, an action/sci-fi film starring Scarlett Johansson as a drug mule-turned-superhuman would have us skeptical. Coming from Luc Besson, the director of films like Nikita, Léon: The Professional, and The Fifth Element, this has us excited for a kickass adventure into the Taiwanese drug world.
10. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)
Robert Rodriguez’s 2005 Sin City has quietly become a modern classic, perfectly capturing the noir world created by Frank Miller’s comic. Reuniting much of the original cast, while also bringing in new talent like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, and Ray Liotta, if this film is anything like the original then it could be one of the most exciting of 2014.
11. Gone Girl (October 3)
David Fincher proved that he can effectively adapt a book to film with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now he directs the adaptation of the universally acclaimed novel by Gillian Flynn, working with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. It will be interesting to see how he translates the narrative device of the unreliable narrator to film.
12. Interstellar (November 7)
Is there a more polarizing director in Hollywood right now than Christopher Nolan? Some are quick to praise him as a visionary writer and a director who attracts the best talent. Others accuse his work of being derivative and overly dark, and blame him for being behind some of the worst trends in mainstream films. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but Interstellar is an ambitious sci-fi film, and following in the footsteps of Inception, it has a big legacy to live up to. The cast Nolan has assembled is a star-studded one, bringing past Nolan collaborators like Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine together with new ones like Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, and Matt Damon. Whatever your opinion of Nolan, this is without a doubt one of the most anticipated films of 2014.
13. The Hobbit: There and Back Again (December 17)
After seeing the first Hobbit film, one might rightfully have been skeptical that Peter Jackson could recapture the magic of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But The Desolation of Smaug has assuaged many of those fears and silenced much of the skepticism. The third and final film in the Tolkien universe (for now) promises to be an epic culmination to a trilogy that has grown in scope and excitement.