Collider’s Most Anticipated 2014 Movies: January to March

by     Posted 203 days ago

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A New Year is now upon us, and with 2014 comes another full 12 months of new films to look forward to.  It will no doubt be filled with its fair share of disappointments, but right now we’re full of optimism as we look towards the first quarter.  The next three months host a promisingly varied slate of films that include a goofy animated adventure, a World War II picture, a new Muppets movie, a Biblical epic, and much more.  In the latest installment of our Most Anticipated series, Matt, Adam, and Dave have compiled a list of the films that they are most looking forward to in the first quarter of 2014.  Read on after the jump.

Matt’s Picks

TIM’S VERMEER

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Director: Teller

Release Date: January 28th

Why I’m Excited: This one got by me at the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, so I’m a little mad at myself for missing what’s apparently a great movie.  It was overshadowed by larger films, but I’ll definitely be tracking down during a slow January.  The story, which is about an inventor exploring and dissecting the unique work of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, sounds absolutely fascinating, and I’m excited to see a celebrated documentary so early in the year.

THE LEGO MOVIE

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Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Voice Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman

Release Date: February 7th

Why I’m Excited: This is easily one of my most anticipated movies of 2014.  I’ve been a fan of LEGO since I was a kid, and while the brand has grown exponentially in the decades since, their movie doesn’t come off like a crass cash-in.  Obviously, it’s going to sell a lot of toys, but with the brilliant directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) behind the camera, this looks like a legit and hilarious film.  Everything I’ve seen has gotten a laugh out of me, and it looks like Lord and Miller had combined the charm of LEGO with a blend of absurd comedy, goofiness, and left-of-center wit.

THE MONUMENTS MEN

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Director: George Clooney

Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, and Hugh Bonneville

Release Date: February 7th

Why I’m Excited: I’ve enjoyed all of George Clooney’s directorial efforts partially because he always seizes on great stories.  The Monuments Men definitely fits the bill as it tells the true story of a small group of soldiers tasked with rescuing art during World War II before the Nazis can destroy it.  There’s still a bit of question on whether or not Clooney can find the right balance between the comic and dramatic elements, but I’m confident he can pull it off, especially since he did it so well in his amazing directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

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Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse RonanF. Murray AbrahamEdward NortonMathieu AmalricAdrien BrodyWillem DafoeLea SeydouxJeff GoldblumJason SchwarztmanJude LawTilda SwintonHarvey KeitelTom WilkinsonBill Murray, and Owen Wilson

Release Date: March 7th

Why I’m Excited: After Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson is on a hot streak, and judging by the trailers for The Grand Budapest Hotel, he’s showing no signs of stopping.  The cast is absolutely packed, but all of the characters look memorable, and there’s still an emphasis on a clear protagonist played by Ralph Fiennes, who looks like he’s going to give a killer comic performance.

NOAH

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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Douglas Booth, and Anthony Hopkins

Release Date: March 28th

Why I’m Excited: The trailers haven’t been encouraging, and there’s talk of drama behind the scenes, but I don’t care.  It’s a new Darren Aronofsky movie, which means it’s one of my most anticipated movies of the year.  He’s one of my favorite filmmakers, and The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan were all in the top 3 of their respective annual “Top 10 Films” list.  For me, Aronofsky can do no wrong, and I’m hoping that will continue to be the case with his biblical epic.

Adam’s Picks

THE LEGO MOVIE

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Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Voice CastChris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman

Release Date: February 7th

Why I’m Excited: From Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to 21 Jump Street to Clone High, I have loved every single thing that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have done so far, and I have no reason to suspect that my feelings towards The LEGO Movie will be any different.  The trailers possess the duo’s trademark gleeful goofiness and promise plenty of excellent gags involving everyone’s favorite construction toy.  In the hands of a less ambitious filmmaker, The LEGO Movie could’ve been a lazy cash-in on a beloved property.  In the hands of Lord and Miller, we get a flying Abraham Lincoln.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

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Director: Wes Anderson

CastRalph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse RonanF. Murray AbrahamEdward NortonMathieu AmalricAdrien BrodyWillem DafoeLea SeydouxJeff GoldblumJason SchwarztmanJude LawTilda SwintonHarvey KeitelTom WilkinsonBill Murray, and Owen Wilson

Release Date: March 7th

Why I’m Excited:  Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom was my favorite film of 2012, and as a big fan of the filmmaker I was already looking forward to his next effort with a certain amount of anticipation.  The trailers for The Grand Budapest Hotel make the movie look like an absolute blast, from the colorful (and massive) cast of characters to the changing aspect ratios.  The setting and time period are a promising match for Anderson’s signature style, and I can’t wait to see what the full film entails.

ENEMY

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Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, and Sarah Gadon

Release Date: March 14th

Why I’m Excited: Director Denis Villeneuve made a splash this past fall with the dark thriller Prisoners, but he has quite possibly an even darker film already in the can by way of Enemy.  The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival alongside Prisoners, and while the Hugh Jackman-fronted procedural was understandably the more prominent of the two, word on Enemy had me highly intrigued.  The film finds Jake Gyllenhaal playing dual roles as a paranoid teacher who believes that he has found his exact doppelganger, and those who caught the pic described it as a twisted and disturbing drama.

STRETCH

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Director: Joe Carnahan

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Chris Pine, Jessica Alba, Ed Helms, James Badge Dale, Brooklyn Decker, Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff

Release Date: March 21st

Why I’m Excited: Joe Carnahan.  That’s really it.  Carnahan has proven himself to be one hell of a filmmaker, and coming off the ballsy existentialist survival drama The Grey, the director opted to write and direct a small-scale action-comedy on his own terms.  We don’t really know all that much about Stretch other than the fact that it revolves around a down-on-his-luck chauffeur driving around a mysterious billionaire who “drags him to hell and back,” and Wilson himself said the pic is in the vein of “all those excessive 80s R-rated action comedies.”  With Carnahan at the reins, Stretch is sure to be one hell of a crazy ride.

NOAH

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DirectorDarren Aronofsky

CastRussell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Douglas Booth, and Anthony Hopkins

Release Date: March 28th

Why I’m Excited: Director Darren Aronofsky has been trying to get his adaptation of the Biblical flood story off the ground for years, and now Noah has finally come to fruition.  Though the initial trailers look to be teasing a relatively straightforward story, we know that anything from the mind of Aronofsky is anything but.  The pic involves a number of fascinating elements, including 11-foot-tall fallen angels, and I’m incredibly curious to see how the final result turns out.

Dave’s Picks

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT

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Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris PineKeira KnightleyKevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Nonso Anozie and Colm Feore

Release Date: January 17th

Why I’m Excited: The character of Jack Ryan has become a sort of American James Bond, with Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck having taken on the role over the years.  Not only does Pine get a chance to prove whether or not he’s worthy of shouldering the franchise (which I think he very well could be), but he gets to do it from the beginning, as Shadow Recruit will focus on the origin of Tom Clancy’s action hero.  As a bonus, we get Branagh behind the camera again, meaning the dramatic tension should be of Shakespearean proportions.

A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING

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Director: Crispian Mills and Chris Hopewell

Cast: Simon Pegg, Alan Drake, Kiran Shah, Michael Feast, Clare Higgens, Paul Freeman and Mo Idriss

Release Date: February 7th

Why I’m Excited: I’d like to see Pegg take a lead role in something other than an Edgar Wright film or a Star Trek installment, so the quirky-looking A Fantastic Fear of Everything will hopefully cast some more light on Pegg’s acting range.  Even in his limited role on the mini-series Mob City, Pegg positively shined, so I have high hopes for his portrayal of a paranoid writer suffering for his craft.

GRAND PIANO

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Director: Eugenio Mira

Cast: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Tamsin Egerton and Dee Wallace

Release Date: March 7th

Why I’m Excited: Well, the premise here – a pianist is forced to turn in a flawless performance or he and his loved ones will be killed – is over the top and borderline ridiculous, so obviously I’m already on board.  Wood continues to take on roles that exist on the fringes of mainstream cinema and it’s not often that Cusack takes on a villainous part, so the pairing is certainly worthy of a watch.

NEED FOR SPEED

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Director: Scott Waugh

Cast: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Chillie Mo, Dakota Johnson, Imogen Poots, Sir Maejor, Rami Malek and Michael Keaton

Release Date: March 14th

Why I’m Excited: It will be interesting to see if Paul can make the jump from the small-screen success of Breaking Bad to a relatively big-budget, big-screen picture. Equally curious is whether Need for Speed  can muscle in on the street-racing territory currently dominated by the Fast & Furious franchise.  Hopefully the video game adaptation will turn in a fresh approach to the high-performance vehicle actioners to set itself apart from the Vin Diesel-fronted series of films.

THE RAID 2: BERANDAL

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Director: Gareth Evans

Cast: Iko UwaisJulie EstelleAlex AbbadMarsha TimothyMathias MuchusTio Pakusadewo, and Cecep Arif Rahman

Release Date: March 28th

Why I’m Excited: I mean, did you see the first one? And if not, have you seen the trailer for this one? It’s infrequent that an Asian actioner makes waves on North American shores, even more rare that one so heavily influences other Hollywood films.  Thankfully, The Raid didn’t just stay confined to cult status, but is getting a bigger push for its sequel, which looks to achieve the improbable task of improving on the original across the board.




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