Movies to Watch in 2014

Kate Voss

 

Now that the awards season is almost over, with only the Academy Awards remaining, our attention turns toward the most eagerly awaited films of 2014. This past year focused on real-life stories, with stellar accomplishments like 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street, The Butler, and Mandela. However, 2014 is looking to both expand on and provide some counterpoint to this trend, with a new crop of fantasy, sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural films, as well as historical fiction.

 

As there are every year, a few standout films begin creating buzz long before they debut in theaters. They are touted as the “ones to watch” due to the possession of an all-star cast, their inspiration from a beloved prior work, or fantastic reviews and fanfare from critics. Below you’ll find a few of the films that have already garnered anticipation for their 2014 premieres.

 

Noah

In his first film since Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky takes on a project of massive proportions with Noah. Hoping to resurrect the Biblical epic in a mainstream movie, he plans to retell the famous story of Noah and the flood. With a budget clocking in at around $130 million as well as a cast of A-listers including Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins, Noah seems sure to bring in an audience, regardless of their religious views. The film isn’t strictly historical or realistic either, according to Emma Watson, who stated in an interview, “It could be set sort of like a thousand years in the future or a thousand years in the past.” The film also features entirely computer-generated, fictitious animals, which Aronofsky described to The Hollywood Reporter as the most complicated that the CGI production company Industrial Light & Magic had ever created.

 

Gone Girl

This film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name is sure to be a divisive film for viewers. When talking to Entertainment Weekly, Flynn said the film would deviate from the novel, which is typical for film adaptations, but might not go over well for fans of the book. But fans should have faith in director David Fincher, who is no stranger to film adaptations of best-selling books (his resume includes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Missi Pyle headline the cast who are sure to perform well in their portrayal of the gritty subject matter.
 

 

 

Enemy

This Canadian adaptation of the Jose Saramago novel The Double has developed a cult following since its screening at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival. The film tells the story of two seemingly identical men living very different lives, both played by Jake Gyllenhaal. While university professor Adam Bell exists in a routine of mundane life, his “double” is fledgling actor Anthony Clair. After seeing a film with Clair in it, Bell sets out to meet him. When they do meet, it becomes clear they aren’t just doppelgangers, they are truly doubles of the same person. The film spirals into a surreal world of who’s who and the origin of the doubles. If you’re a DirecTV subscriber you can catch it ahead of it’s March 14th theatrical release via their OnDemand offerings (more info through www.directstartv.com).

 

Maleficent

While the story of Maleficent originated in Disney’s famous Sleeping Beauty, this film isn’t going to come close to that kind of saccharine sweetness. Starring Angelina Jolie as the “Mistress of All Evil,” Maleficent tackles the tale of Sleeping Beauty from the villain's perspective. From the trailer alone, it’s obvious the film will be visually stunning, with cutting-edge computer generated effects and masterful prosthetics. While no reviews have been published yet, expect big box-office numbers similar to those of Snow White.

 

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

This film from famed director Wes Anderson has already generated a slew of positive reviews praising its signature quirkiness and dedication to a lush visual experience. Like his previous films, Anderson stacked The Grand Budapest Hotel with big names, including Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, and Harvey Keitel. While his films aren’t to everyone's taste, if you’re an Anderson fan, this is not going to be one to miss. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn declared that, “With each beat exquisitely tied to Anderson's techniques, his zippy historical fairy tale (replete with hand-scrawled chapter headings) has a thoroughly immersive quality.”
 

Jersey Boys

Based on the Tony Award winning musical of the same name, Jersey Boys tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons from before their creation to the eventual breakup of the group. Directed by Clint Eastwood, this film is sure to be one of the most anticipated of the year, as the musical already has a large international fan base. While it doesn’t have a big name cast, expect it to make a star out of John Lloyd young. Young’s portrayal of Valli in the original Broadway production won him an array of awards and critical praise.  

 

 

Boyhood

Perhaps one of the most ambitious films to be made in recent memory, Boyhood took an astonishing 12 years to film and follows the lead actor from boyhood to adulthood. Writer/director Richard Linklater shot every few years out of the year starting in 2002 to capture the complexities of growing up in today’s world. Created as a series of 12 short films, Boyhood was described by Time Out’s Joshua Rothkopf as “unshakable, witty and deeply felt.” Watching lead actor Ellar Coltrane grow from a child to a man in the span of 163 minutes promises to be a moving and powerful experience for the audience.
 

 

A Most Wanted Man

In what was, sadly, his last role, Phillip Seymour Hoffman portrays Günther Bachmann, a German intelligence agent on the hunt for an escaped Islamist terrorist he suspects German lawyer Annabel Richter (played by Rachel McAdams) is connected to. Based on the novel of the same name, A Most Wanted Man tells the true story of the wrongly accused terrorist Murat Kurnaz, who was detained and tortured at Guantanamo Bay. It sheds a hypercritical light on American policies and explores the dark side to our intelligence programs. A must-see for those interested in the espionage genre.

 

Author Bio:

Kate Voss is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.

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