Jared’s Most Anticipated Films of 2014

2014 has the tough task of living up to the fantastic film year that was 2013. In all likelihood, it won’t. But there are still plenty of interesting projects due for release over the next twelve months. Keep in mind the selections here are those that appeal to my peculiar tastes, so don’t expect to see any superheroes on this list. Consider these roughly ordered by my excitement level.

Inherent Vice
Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson | Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson, Josh Brolin
Of course the new PTA pic is at the top. The Pynchon novel is great, and I expect the same of the film adaptation. Imagine a cross between Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye and The Big Lebowski with a bit more psychedelia, and you’ll have a sense of Vice‘s vibe.

Under the Skin
Dir: Jonathan Glazer | Cast: Scarlett Johansson
A polarizing film at fall festivals, Under the Skin marks Glazer’s (Sexy Beast, Birth) long-awaited return to cinema. The plot of this sci-fi flick (that is, a seductive alien preys on hitchhikers) makes it sound like an arthouse Species, but the teaser trailer is creepy and hypnotic.

Blue Ruin
Dir: Jeremy Saulnier | Cast: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray
This indie revenge thriller debuted at Cannes last year and has been jolting festival audiences ever since. It’s been compared to the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, which is all I needed to hear. The trailer gives me goosebumps. I had a chance to see this at AFI Fest, and I totally blew it.

Michael Mann
CYBER [December]
Dir: Michael Mann | Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei
Cyber is currently set for release in January 2015, but, given Mann’s pedigree, I expect an Oscar-qualifying run in late December. Not much information has been released about the plot, but it involves a globetrotting hunt for a cyber-crime network. Hopefully, this is a return to form after the underwhelming Public Enemies.

Giorgos Lanthimos
Dir: Giorgos Lanthimos | Cast: Jason Clarke, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux
There’s a good chance the English-language debut from the acclaimed Greek auteur doesn’t arrive until 2015, but I have to include it here given the brilliance of his earlier work (Dogtooth, Alps). The plot synopsis makes it sound like The Lobster will be his most bizarre story yet.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Dir: Hou Hsiao-Hsien | Cast: Shu Qi
Yep, the long-gestating film from Taiwanese master Hou (A City of Sadness, Three Times) will finally see the light of a film projector in 2014! Perhaps even more exciting is that it’s a change of pace for the filmmaker: The Assassin is a wuxia tale about an assassin who falls in love with one of her targets. No release date is set, but word on the street is that it might debut at Cannes in May.

Dir: Richard Linklater | Cast: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Salmon
Linklater’s most ambitious project, Boyhood covers 12 years in the life of a boy whose parents are divorced. And the film was shot over 12 years, as actor Salmon aged from 7 to 18. Crazy and awesome. It debuted at Sundance and should see a commercial release later in the year.

Only Lovers Left Alive
Dir: Jim Jarmusch | Cast: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin
Another film that debuted at fall festivals. Look, I’m as tired of vampire tales as you are, but everything I’ve read suggests indie darling Jarmusch has crafted something unique with Only Lovers Left Alive. If it’s even half as good as Down by Law or Stranger than Paradise, I’ll be satiated.

Tom at the Farm
Dir: Xavier Dolan | Cast: Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal
To be honest, I’ve already seen this one (at AFI Fest in November). It’s not as great as Laurence Anyways, but it’s totally worth seeing. An unnerving, menacing thriller that bears little resemblance to Dolan’s previous work. No US distribution yet, but it’s easily his most marketable film, and I expect it will show up in the fall.

Grand Budapest Hotel
Dir: Wes Anderson | Cast: Everyone
The warmth and charm of Moonrise Kingdom renewed my affection for the Wes Anderson style. From its fun trailer, The Grand Budapest Hotel looks to be Anderson’s biggest production yet.

David Fincher
GONE GIRL [October]
Dir: David Fincher | Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
David Fincher follows up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with another adaptation of a hot mystery novel, this time with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as his leads. Though I haven’t yet read the book, there’s no way I won’t see the movie opening day. It’s David Fincher we’re talking about here.

Dir: David Michôd | Cast: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy
Michôd wowed with Animal Kingdom, his feature debut, and this year he returns with a survival tale set in a dystopian Australian outback. If he can pair that foreboding atmosphere with the desolation of the desert, we’re in for a treat.

White Bird in a Blizzard
Dir: Gregg Araki | Cast: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Angela Bassett
Araki seems to have the most success when he dials back the craziness in favor of nuanced character study, which is why Mysterious Skin is his best work. White Bird in a Blizzard appears to be similar in tone, so I have high hopes.

Dir: Lars von Trier | Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Uma Thurman
If you haven’t yet read or heard about the Danish provocateur’s new film, you will very soon. This explicit tale of a woman’s sexual awakening is set to be the most controversial movie of 2014. You can find the extremely NSFW trailer various places online.

Dir: Richard Ayoade | Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska
So many films on this list premiered at fall festivals. Here’s another one: the sophomore feature from Richard Ayoade, whose Submarine was a memorable debut several years ago. Based on Dostoyevsky’s novella The Double, the film follows a shy man (Eisenberg) who discovers he has a doppelgänger. If that setup doesn’t sell you on it, maybe the cryptic trailer will.

ENEMY [March]
Dir: Denis Villeneuve | Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent
Villeneuve’s (Incendies, Prisoners) new film, Enemy, is based on José Saramago’s novel The Double, about a man who becomes obsessed with a look-alike actor. So, yeah, there are two films about protagonists with doppelgängers due out in the spring, and they’re both based on books called The Double. This won’t be confusing at all.

Maps to the Stars
Dir: David Cronenberg | Cast: John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson
Cronenberg’s last two films were forgettable, but I’ll always be excited for a new work from the director of Videodrome and The Fly. Like Cosmopolis, Maps to the Stars is a commentary on western culture but with a Hollywood bent. The big question: will there be any body horror?

Stray Dogs
Dir: Tsai Ming-liang | Cast: Lee Kang-sheng
Tsai’s latest made waves at the Venice Film Festival but had no US distribution deal until this month. This tale of a Taipei family living on the fringe of society should get a limited release sometime in 2014. If you’re not familiar with Tsai, I highly recommend checking out Goodbye, Dragon Inn.

Dir: Bong Joon-ho | Cast: Tilda Swinton, Chris Evans, John Hurt
If I knew the US release would be the uncut Korean version that received acclaim last year, this dystopian sci-fi thriller would be higher on my list. But it’s sounding like Weinstein is set on releasing a shorter, dumbed-down cut. Let’s hope he doesn’t destroy Bong’s English-language debut.

Dom Hemingway
Dir: Richard Shepard | Cast: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir
Is there room for another British gangster film? We’ll find out when Dom Hemingway hits theaters this spring. At the very least, we’re guaranteed a vulgar, madcap Jude Law, and that’s a good thing.

Other Films of Interest: Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special, Todd Haynes’ Carol, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, Dardennes Brothers’ Two Days, One Night, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, James Gray’s The Immigrant, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves, Hossein Amini’s The Two Faces of January, Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, Christian Petzold’s Phoenix, Fatih Akin’s The Cut, Steve James’ Life Itself, Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep, Luca Guadagnino’s Body Art.


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