Thursday, February 13, 2014

Most Anticipated Films of 2014 – Part 2: Prestige and Fun Films

Prestige Films:

Title: Gone Girl
Release: October 3
Genre: Drama/Mystery/Thriller
Plot: Amy Dunne mysteriously disappears on her wedding anniversary. Her husband Nick desperately looks for her, but many suspect that he may have killed her and disposed of the body, as their marriage had noticeably disintegrated in recent months leading up to Amy’s disappearance.
Director: David Fincher
Editor’s Thoughts: Who is not eagerly anticipating a new mystery-thriller from David Fincher, one of America’s great current auteurs. His past mystery-thrillers include Se7en, The Game, Fight Club (I suppose that counts, right), Zodiac, and his most recent film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gone Girl very well could end up being one of the ten best films of 2014. Plus, it will be nice to see Rosamund Pike finally in a great Hollywood part.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Title: Foxcatcher
Release: Fall/Winter
Genre: Drama
Plot: Mark Schultz and his brother Dave are both phenomenal wrestlers: Mark competing in the Olympics and Dave a former Olympic Champion. But, this is the story of how paranoid schizophrenic John DuPont completely destroys their lives by killing Dave.
Director: Bennett Miller
Editor’s Thoughts: Foxcatcher seems like it should be a fantastic character-driven drama, built on strong leading performances. And, Bennett Miller is among Hollywood greatest new talents. This is his third feature, following up Capote and Moneyball. The question is, however, why was this film delayed from its original 2013 release? Sony Pictures stated that the delay is to give Miller more time to finish the film, but some wonder if it is just not up to the high standards of the top films of 2013 (a reason many former ‘awards’ films were pushed to 2014). I think that in all likeliness this will be a brilliant drama and was not pushed for quality reasons (after all, it did make this list).
Trailer: Here (if available)

Release: Fall/Winter
Genre: Drama
Plot: 1970s Los Angeles, Larry “Doc” Sportello, a drug-dependent detective, investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
Editor’s Thoughts: Paul Thomas Anderson has been on a role lately – his last two films being There Will Be Blood and The Master, both multiple Oscar nominees and among the ten best films in their respective years (and really, he has only made good films so far). Inherent Vice sees Anderson reteaming with Joaquin Phoenix (who has also been among Hollywood’s best leading men lately performance wise), leaving me excited to see another wonderful collaboration between the two artistes.  Another great collaboration on the film sees Jonny Greenwood again returning to provide the score. His work on There Will Be Blood and The Master is utterly dynamic; thusly, I am very interested to see what he does with this noirish narrative.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Title: Trash
Release: Fall/Winter
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Plot: Set in an unnamed Central/South American Third World country, three kids make a shocking discovery in a garbage dump. Finding something they should not have, they soon find themselves on the run from the cops and corrupt authorities.
Director: Stephen Daldry
Editor’s Thoughts: Trash sounds a little like Slumdog Millionaire – at least the parts involving the young kids running around the streets trying to survive in a world gone mad. Stephen Daldry is a very good director (three of his four films have been nominated for Best Picture, and three of the four are quite good – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was nominated for Best Picture but is not very good – my favorite of Daldry’s work is The Hours) and he is working with great screenwriter Richard Curtis. I also think the cast in support of the three young unknown actors playing the boys is excellent (Rooney Mara has really established herself as one of the very best young actresses and some will know Brazilian actor Wagner Moura from Elite Squad). This is probably under the radar on most ‘anticipated films’ lists for 2014, but I think it has a lot of potential to be in the mix for Best Picture.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Title: One of Terrence Malick’s Many in production films
Release: Unknown
Genre: Drama
Plot: Terrence Malick has three films that could potentially see release in 2014. The first is Knight of Cups. It is about a man dealing being a celebrity, the temptations and excesses. The second is Untitled and is about two love triangles that intersect against the backdrop of Austin’s music scene. Last is Voyage of Time. It is an examination of the birth and death of the known universe (picking up where The Tree of Life left off?).
Director: Terrence Malick
Editor’s Thoughts: Anytime we are treated to a new Terrence Malick film it is a great day for cinema. In 2013, Malick released To the Wonder, what is probably his weakest film, but that said it still plays as an aesthetically beautiful piece that deeply ponders love. I do not know for sure that any of these three films will get released in 2014, but I really hope one does. The sheer star power and acting talent involved is staggering. Plus, I really like Malick’s approach to filmmaking, as his films play much more like visual poems than cookie-cutter narratives (that have been done to death even when appearing new).
Trailer: Here (if available)

Fun Films:

Release: March 7
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Plot: Told through a series of flashbacks, the film is about the adventures of Gustave H, the legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the world wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
Director: Wes Anderson
Editor’s Thoughts: The Great Budapest Hotel looks like Wes Anderson’s most aesthetically magnificent film yet. It is no secret for those who read this blog a lot that Anderson is among my favorite filmmakers, and thus this is maybe the film I am most looking forward to in 2014 (well this and Interstellar). While Anderson’s fans know that his films have always been fantastic, the general public seemed to forget, only catching back on with Moonrise Kingdom (his most successful film to date at the box office). That said, however, The Grand Budapest Hotel looks very steeped in the traditions of film history and very much influenced by the films of the 1930s (European filmmakers like Ernst Lubitsch) with each time period being reflected by its appropriate aspect ratio (with some scenes shot in 1.37:1 which looks very odd now to modern filmgoers who are accustomed to widescreen), as well as the writing of Stefan Zweig. It is a film that will likely not play as well or go over the heads of many not well-versed in film history (especially in film’s golden era). I, myself, cannot wait to see it. It looks completely brilliant, and what a great cast. The film just debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival to very positive critical reviews – many calling it the first Oscar contender of the year.
Trailer: Here

Release: April 18
Genre: Sci-Fit/Thriller
Plot: Will is a brilliant scientist poised to change the world with his breakthroughs in technology. There is only one problem. He is terminally ill. In an attempt to save his consciousness, his mind is downloaded into a computer. Now, with unimaginable power, Will begins to change, embracing the power becoming unstoppable as he dictates his will upon the world.
Director: Wally Pfister
Editor’s Thoughts: Transcendence is Wally Pfister’s directorial debut. He is best known for his brilliant work as Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer (shooting all but one of his films – his first called Following). This film looks like it takes a bit of its grand style from Nolan, who also serves as a producer on the film, but hopefully Pfister will showcase his talent and his own voice as well. I think it looks like a great thriller and it is one of the films I am most looking forward to this year. I also like the fact that it is an original story. Plus, it has a pretty great cast. Johnny Depp looks like he may have finally taken on a challenging character (instead of just coasting on the typical strange personas he has been relegated to lately).
Trailer: Here

Release: October 10
Genre: Comedy
Plot: TV talk show host Dave Skylark and his producer Aaron Rapoport get an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jon-Un. As they prep for the interview, they are approached by the CIA and asked to assassinate Kim.
Main Cast: Seth Rogan, James Franco, and Lizzy Caplan
Editor’s Thoughts: Writer-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan delivered a very funny action-horror-comedy last year with This Is the End (probably 2013’s best comedy). Thus, The Interview certainly has the potential to be hilarious as well. Plus, the premise is just insane enough to really create lots of opportunities for fantastic comedy. Seth Rogan and James Franco also make a great comedy team. I cannot think of a comedy I am looking forward to more than this in 2014.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Title: Exodus
Release: December 12
Genre: Drama/Epic
Plot: The story of Moses leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt.
Director: Ridley Scott
Editor’s Thoughts: Exodus looks like it is going to be a grand epic from Ridley Scott, a director known for his brilliant visual style – and he is working with a script by Steven Zaillian. I also cannot think of a better actor to portray Moses than Christian Bale (who is the most talented leading man of his generation). It will be interesting to see how Scott approaches this Biblical figure – whether it is played realistically or tending more towards the mystical.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Release: Fall
Genre: Thriller
Plot: The Enigma code was used by the Nazi’s to transmit secret messages throughout WWII. English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, made it is goal to crack to the code and help the allies win the war.
Director: Morten Tydum
Editor’s Thoughts: The Imitation Game is another film that is mostly under the radar, but it certainly has the potential to be one of 2014’s best thrillers. The cast is fantastic – who does not want to see Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing? And, Morten Tydum is a really great choice as director. His breakthrough film, the crime-thriller Headhunters, is wonderful and very much worth checking out. I also love WWII era narratives.
Trailer: Here (if available)

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