The 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2014
konknaijaboy | On 16, Jan 2014
Last week we brought you numbers 100-51 of our 100 Most Anticipated Films of 2014. And while we still have several other look-ahead-to-2014 pieces in the works for the coming days, like a Sundance preview along with a rundown of potential lowlights, today we get on to the section that really matters—the top 50 2014 films we’re looking forward to most. It’s a mouthwatering selection that convinces us once again that we collectively have the greatest job in the world, and has us antsy for the January doldrums to get gone, so let’s dive straight in, shall we?
Previously on 100-51: So we survived the Year of Survival Movies, overfed ourselves on a glut of films about American excess, somehow struggled on while previous colossi of our movie world (Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Johnny Depp) came a cropper with underperforming tentpoles—folks, we made it through the cinematic year of 2013 and out the other side (all our Best of 2013 coverage so far). And here, at the brave new birth of the squalling, pink-faced 2014, we put aside thoughts of the year just passed and turn our faces toward what’s to come.
And yes, there’s an embarrassment of riches, quite aside from the cinematic returns of Christopher Nolan, Andersons Wes and Paul Thomas, David Fincher, Terrence Malick and Lars von Trier among many others. You may notice last year, we made two lists, including one with a more “escapist/popcorn” bent. This year we’re streamlining our format a bit by compiling one master list of the 100 films we’re most looking forward to, regardless of their budget or provenance, so teensy independents rub shoulders with mega-budgeted blockbusters, only ranked by how much collective Playlist drool has been spilled in anticipation. Here’s the first part of that countdown, from 100-51; stay tuned for part 2 on Monday of next week.
100. “Welcome to Me” Synopsis: A woman with Borderline Personality Disorder wins the lottery, goes off her meds and uses her winnings to fund a cable access talk show, which she hosts and uses to talk about her own life. What You Need To Know: Starring Kristen Wiig, produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions and directed by McKay’s wife Shira Piven (“Fully Loaded”), “Welcome to Me” also stars James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Alan Tudyk, Wes Bentley, Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ferrell himself. The film, written by Eliot Laurence, is above its breezy logline reportedly designed as an examination of society’s obsession with fame. Why Is It Anticipated: Following on from her game-changing success with “Bridesmaids” Kristen Wiig actually took it a bit easier than, say, fellow alum Melissa McCarthy, in making her next major move, and aside from last year’s disappointing “Girl Most Likely” has mostly shown up recently in supporting roles from “Despicable Me 2” to “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” to “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” But this film, coming from the Ferrell/McKay stable, seems perfectly tailored for her talents, and is apparently, despite the stacked cast, very closely focused on her character, which will be an interesting challenge for an actress who has generally been more of an ensemble player. The only red flags are that it’s described as a dramedy rather than an out-and-out comedy, a tone that can be hard to nail, and that Piven is relatively untested as a director. So it’s a somewhat risky proposition, but our fingers are crossed. Release Date: None assigned yet, but the film shot late summer 2013 and has already picked up a Canadian distributor so we expect a date soon.
99. “War Book” Synopsis: The aftermath of a major nuclear attack, told through the political backrooms of London. What You Need To Know: 2009′s “Scouting Book For Boys” was seen by almost no-one (the film never got a U.S. release), but we’ve been making noise about it for a long time; it was one of the best British films of the last few years, and suggested the arrival of serious new talents in director Tom Harper and writer Jack Thorne (who also has “A Long Way Down” coming this year). Very quietly, last year saw the pair reteam for this political thriller, which promises to be a “Fail Safe“-style look at a nuclear disaster, and features an excellent ensemble cast including Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (“Misfits“), Sophie Okonedo (“Hotel Rwanda“), Ben Chaplin (“The Truth About Cats And Dogs“), Kerry Fox (“Shallow Grave“), Adeel Akhtar (“Four Lions“), Anthony Sher (“The Wolfman“) and Phoebe Fox (the upcoming “The Woman In Black: The Angel Of Death,” also directed by Harper). Why It’s Anticipated: This kind of what-if political docu-drama is right up our street, so we’d be excited about it anyway, but that it reteams Harper and Thorne makes it even more enticing. That the cast pairs both veterans like Okonedo, Kerry Fox and Sher with exciting newcomers like Stewart-Jarrett, Akhtar and Phoebe Fox means this should be full of strong performances too. This might be under-the-radar at the moment, but we definitely think it’s worth keeping an eye on. Release Date: SXSW or even Tribeca could be a possibility, but a bow at the London Film Festival in October is probably more likely.
98. “This Is Where I Leave You” Synopsis: An argumentative Jewish family reunite to honor their late father’s wish that they sit shiva for a week to mourn his passing. What You Need To Know: The family reunion movie is more or less played out, and one directed by Shawn Levy (“Night At the Museum,” “Date Night,” “The Internship“) isn’t exactly a way to get our attention. But this is based on an acclaimed best-seller by writer Jonathan Tropper and has an absolutely killer cast for this sort of thing: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Corey Stoll play the squabbling siblings, with Jane Fonda as their mother, while Connie Britton, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Spencer, Ben Schwartz and Dax Shepard make up their various partners and loved ones. Why It’s Anticipated: Again, Levy’s career to date has not been especially rewarding, but there have been more positive signs of change: “Real Steel” was certainly his best work so far, and he was a producer on the acclaimed “The Spectacular Now.” More importantly, there’s a specificity to the set-up here that will hopefully make it less bland than, say, “The Family Stone.” More importantly, there’s that cast, which gives overdue showcases to the likes of Driver, Stoll, Hahn and Britton, who’ve been wowing in indies or on the small screen but should get some mainstream attention here. With this many talented people on screen, we’d watch the end result even if Uwe Boll was directing. Release Date: September 12, 2014
97. “Jersey Boys” Synopsis: Musical based on the lives and careers of legendary music group The Four Seasons. What You Need To Know: Sooner or later, every filmmaker seems to get the itch to work on a musical. Clint Eastwood got to it late—by the time his is released, he’ll have just turned 84—but he’s finally done it, with this adaptation of the long-running Broadway smash built around the music, and careers, of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Picked up by Eastwood and Warners when Universal put Jon Favreau‘s version into turnaround, Eastwood has cast it mostly with unknowns, with the Tony-award winning John Lloyd Young (who won his award for the stage version in 2006) reprising his role as Valli. The biggest name otherwise is Christopher Walken, playing a mobster. Fingers crossed he gets to sing at some point… Why It’s Anticipated: You might not have stars, but when you have solid gold hits like the ones knocked out by the Four Seasons, who needs them? The stage show is definitely one of the more effective of this kind of jukebox musical, and while Eastwood doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice for something like this (remember “Paint Your Wagon“…), he’s been wanting to scratch this itch for a while (he’s spent a few years planning a remake of “A Star Is Born” that didn’t come to pass), and last time he did anything close, it was “Bird,” one of the best films of his career. Release Date: June 20, 2014
96. “The Search” Synopsis: In war-torn Chechnya, a woman working for a charity tries to help a young boy reunite with his family. What You Need To Know: Having blown up with the surprise silent hit “The Artist,” winning a Best Director Oscar (and another for the film itself), French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius had the world at his feet, but didn’t immediately launch into a new project. Then, a few months back, it turned out that he’d secretly already started filming on his semi-remake of Fred Zinnemann‘s 1948 weepie “The Search.” A move away from the mostly comedic work he’s known for, this version updates the setting to the war in Chechnya, with Hazanavicius’ wife Berenice Bejo taking the lead role and Annette Bening in support. Why It’s Anticipated: The domination of “The Artist” during the awards season two years back meant it attracted its fair share of backlash, but when you step away from all that, it’s still a gorgeous and moving piece of work, and more than enough reason to get excited about whatever Hazanavicius does next. There were certainly chunks of melodrama in “The Artist,” so this isn’t a departure in the way that it seems initially, either. And after Bejo’s brilliant performance in “The Past,” we’re excited to see her get another meaty role to stick her teeth into. Certainly not one to be underestimated. Release Date: None yet, but it’s a fair bet that Hazanavicius could return to Cannes if the film is done in time.
95. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” Synopsis: As Spider-Man negotiates the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of being a superhero, greater conflicts lie ahead in the form of super villains threatening to ruin New York. What You Need To Know: The official synopsis for the film is either purposefully vague and mysterious or what many already fear: this sequel could suffer from “Spider-Man 3”-itis, an overkill of villains in a jumbled plot. This time around Spider-Man faces a bevy of new baddies including Electro (Jamie Foxx), Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Green Goblin/Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), who was also the Green Goblin in the comics (and played by Willem Dafoe in the Sam Raimi series). The fear on top of bad guy overflow is middle chapter-itis: the serialization of movies that makes for episodes instead of self-contained stories is also worrisome considering this franchise seems to be building towards a Sinister Six movie/showdown. Why Is It Anticipated: This is a very good question and one we’ve asked ourselves. “The Amazing Spider-Man” wasn’t particularly good, but Marc Webb is a talented director and the aforementioned cast of enemies plus Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone—if this were some drama, we’d be salivating at the mouth, frankly. And so while villain superfluity and “episode 2” issues are a strong possibility, the cast (which also includes Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore and Sally Field) makes us feel tentatively optimistic. After “Star Trek Into Darkness” however, the writers (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner) do make our concerns feel justified. Release Date: May 2, 2014
94. “The Giver” Synopsis: A child learns that he’s the product of a dystopian future world and must learn the truth before he becomes a part of a restricted, colorless adult life. What You Need To Know: Lois Lowry’s “The Giver,” for those of you who had more adventurous high school English curricula, is one of the touchstones of classic young adult literature. The likelihood is that the book is a product of the post-“Twilight” YA movement, but this is less “Divergent” and more like “Ender’s Game,” a long-in-the-works adaptation of fairly brainy, low-key subject matter designed to give kids a chance to think twice and ask questions of society, not dodge fireballs and sell Happy Meals. Unlike “Ender’s Game,” there’s really not many ways to gussy this material up with distracting special effects and crowd-pleasing action sequences. However, Taylor Swift is in it. Why Is It Anticipated: There seems to be a trial-and-error process in selecting the proper filmmaker for these properties, but Philip Noyce is probably one of the better selections. Noyce is a restless filmmaker with endless intellectual energy, and though his last film was the dopey “Salt,” he gave that action script a socio-political insight that would have been absent from another director’s version. We expect the same attention to detail here, particularly with a cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgård. But again, Taylor Swift is in it too. Release Date: August 15, 2014
93. “Dark Places” Synopsis: A woman who survived the brutal killing of her family as a child is forced to confront the events of that day by a secret society obsessed with solving notorious crimes. What You Need To Know: 2014’s other Gillian Flynn adaptation (aside from David Fincher’s “Gone Girl”) may have a less well-known director at the helm (“Sarah’s Key” director Gilles Paquet-Brenner) but the cast definitely matches that of its higher-profile rival. Led by Charlize Theron (in a role originally rumored for Amy Adams, to give you an idea of the caliber of talent that’s always circled this project), the ensemble also includes our “House of Cards” favorite breakout, Corey Stoll, as the brother serving a life sentence, alongside Tye Sheridan, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Hoult, Christina Hendricks and Sterling Jerins. Why Is It Anticipated: “Dark Places” has a stacked cast, a promising director and a salacious-sounding premise which has potential to be a twisty, grimy psychological thriller provided its more sensationalist aspects (Satanic cults; amateur crime solvers; recovered memories) are treated with a degree of restraint. Whatever you may think of Flynn’s writing, there’s no doubt she knows her way around a sticky, twisty plotline, and if that translates as well as it can to the screen, there’s quite the potential here for something taut, gripping and dark. Release Date: September 5, 2014. If it sticks, then it will get out of the gate a month before “Gone Girl”—traditionally a wise strategy for the lower profile of two similar, easily bracketed properties.
92. “Sabotage” Synopsis: When millions of dollars go missing from a drug bust, members of an elite DEA strike team start being picked off, one by one. What You Need To Know: People haven’t necessarily been going to see his movies, but Arnie’s comeback is going pretty well: “The Last Stand” was his best movie since “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” and he gives one of his best performances in “Escape Plan.” In “Sabotage,” the Austrian oak teams up with director David Ayer, who’s coming hot off his acclaimed “End of Watch” for a hard-boiled actioner whodunnit. His team involves a veritable who’s who of cinematic ass-kickers, including Sam Worthington and his ridiculous beard, Joe Mangianello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Max Martini and Mireille Enos, who seems to be relishing the chance to play something other than the stricken wife she was stuck with in “Gangster Squad” and “World War Z,” while Olivia Williams also gets a welcome chance to play the action star (with a badass accent). Why It’s Anticipated: Ayer specializes in tough cops doing tough things, and while it hasn’t always worked, he’s always had an ear for the camaraderie of dangerous men, and “End of Watch” was a big step up for him as a director. He’s got the more promising “Fury” in the can (more on that tomorrow), but this actually looks like a decent bit of fun. Release Date: April 11, 2014
91. “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” Synopsis: A prequel to 2005’s “Sin City,” the story follows Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) and his dangerous relationship with the seductive Ava Lord (Eva Green). What You Need to Know: Since the success of “Sin City,” fans have clamored for a sequel, and director Robert Rodriguez has certainly taken his sweet time bringing it. The movie completed principle photography back in October 2012 and was set for release in August 2013. Rodriguez had plans to release it alongside “Machete Kills,” but had issues with post-production, moving ‘A Dame to Kill For‘ to October 2013 instead. At the eleventh hour, Rodriguez still couldn’t wrap up the massive CGI post-production on the film and pushed it back an entire year to August 2014. Why Is It Anticipated: Regardless of the various setbacks, there’s a reason to hold tight to this movie being awesome. ‘A Dame to Kill For’ is grittier, bloodier, and a far better story than the various ones utilized in “Sin City,” although the original is still great. The villainous Ava Lord is one of the most disturbing female villains and played by Eva Green, expect fireworks. The cast is also rounded out by returning cast Jessica Alba, Jaime King, and Bruce Willis, on top of newcomers like the aforementioned Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Juno Temple. Release Date: August 22, 2014
90. “Leviafan” Synopsis: A social drama set in a fictional “new country” spanning multiple characters. What You Need To Know: Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev has spent the last decade establishing himself as one of the most exciting filmmakers on the international scene: 2003 saw his debut film “The Return” win the Golden Lion in Venice, while 2007′s “The Banishment” pick up Best Actor at Cannes, and his third film “Elena,” a Playlist favorite, picked up the Special Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard at the same festival. “Leviafan” is his mysterious new project. Why It’s Anticipated: Zvyagintsev might not be a household name, but he’s three for three as far as we’re concerned, so a new film from him is always going to have our interest. As is often the case with world cinema, details are fairly thin, but the logline suggests something broader and more ambitious than “Elena,” with the film promised to unwind “to a mythological scale concerning the human condition on earth entirely.” The director has provided some of the most incisive commentary on Russia around, and given the country’s issues at the moment, that makes him a hugely important voice. Release Date: Cannes is highly probable.
89. “Muppets Most Wanted” Synopsis: While on tour with the Muppets in Europe, Kermit is kidnapped and replaced by his evil doppelganger Constantine, who is working with a nefarious accomplice to pull off some dastardly robberies. What You Need To Know: After the success of 2011′s “The Muppets,” the felt creatures were proven to be draws again, and Disney made a speedy follow-up something of a priority. Jason Segel, who co-wrote and starred in the original, isn’t back this time, but co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin (squeezing this in before graduating to “Alice In Wonderland 2“) are both back, with Oscar-winner Bret McKenzie also returning to write some new songs. Meanwhile, Ricky Gervais plays the villain’s sidekick, Ty Burrell is a Clouseau-ish copper, and Tina Fey is a Russian prison guard, with Chloe Grace Moretz, Tom Hiddleston and Christoph Waltz among the cameos revealed so far. Why It’s Anticipated: The last Muppets movie had its problems, but was for the most part a loving and hugely enjoyable return for Jim Henson‘s creations, with sparky direction from Bobin, a post-modern script just this side of clever, and songs that are as good as anything Paul Williams ever wrote for the fuzzy friends. All being well, we should get more of the same here. In fact, the addition of Gervais, Burrell and Fey gives an added comedic shot in the arm, and Muppet caper movies have always been among the most enjoyable of the series. Release Date: March 21, 2014
88. “Big Hero 6″ Synopsis: In the city of San Fransokyo, a boy genius and his robot bodyguard are enlisted to join an inexperienced superhero team that also includes a sword-fighting chef, the furious GoGo Tomago, the beautiful Honey Lemon, and the Godzilla-like Fred. What You Need To Know: When Disney purchased Marvel a few years back, many speculated that it would only be a matter of time before the studio put out an animated movie based on a Marvel property, and that time has come. However it’s not with big name characters, but with “Big Hero 6,” based on a fairly obscure miniseries featuring a Japanese super team. Dropping the X-Men characters who were included in the comic (Fox hold the rights to them), this looks to be tinkering with the source material a little. Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh“) and Chris Williams (“Bolt“) direct, and the cast is yet to be revealed. Why It’s Anticipated: Disney have been on a bit of a roll recently, with “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frozen” coming back to back: for the first time in recent memory, their work has been outshining that of subsidiary Pixar (who are sitting out 2014, after “The Good Dinosaur” was delayed). “Big Hero 6″ mostly remains under wraps so far, but early footage has been distinctive and beautiful, and the idea of a Disney Marvel movie is bound to attract the geek crowd. “The Incredibles” is a high bar to clear when it comes to animated superheroics, but we’re certainly willing to give this a try. Release Date: November 7, 2014
87. “Big Eyes” Synopsis: A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s. What You Need To Know: Tim Burton has been playing exclusively in the big-budget sandbox for quite a while, but seems to be a palate-cleanser: “Big Eyes” is a fantasy-free drama with a modest budget (only just above $10 million, apparently). A long-gestating drama from “Ed Wood” writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, based on an extraordinary real-world story, this stars awards favorites Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams as the Keanes, with Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman and Terence Stamp backing them up. Why It’s Anticipated: We’re not alone in finding most of Tim Burton’s latter-day work almost unbearable, but we’re hopeful that this could be something of a change for him, not least because it reunites him with the writers of his best film, “Ed Wood.” The material seems to scratch at Burton’s interests while hopefully being much more grounded, and Waltz and Adams are actors who should fit in nicely with the director. Fingers crossed that this could be closer to Burton at his best than to “Alice In Wonderland” or “Dark Shadows” Release Date: None yet, but The Weinstein Company are likely to make this one of their main awards season hopes.
86. “Jupiter Ascending” Synopsis: A young woman discovers that she shares the same DNA as the Queen Of The Universe, and goes on the run with a genetically engineered former soldier who’s part wolf. What You Need To Know: Fifteen years on from “The Matrix,” the Wachowskis return to the original sci-fi blockbuster with a bonkers-looking mash-up of “Star Wars,” Greek mythology, comic book “Saga” and a million other different things. Looking like a cousin to the future-set sections of “Cloud Atlas,” it sees Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in the lead roles, with Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton in support, along with a cameo from Terry Gilliam, whose work is said to be an influence on the movie. Why It’s Anticipated: Love them or loathe them (and there are plenty on both sides), “Speed Racer” and “Cloud Atlas” made it clear that the Wachowskis do not remotely give a fuck what anyone else thinks: they’re walking to the beat of their own drums, and that’s always an exciting thing to see. “Jupiter Ascending” looks big, bold and potentially terrible (we’ve been calling it “The Chronicles Of Riddickulous” in the office), but even when their ideas don’t entirely work, the Wachowskis always make things that are hugely watchable, and despite Channing Tatum’s odd goat-like make-up, we have our fingers crossed that this could be the most individual and idiosyncratic blockbuster of 2014. Release Date: July 18, 2014
85. “Edge of Tomorrow” Synopsis: A soldier fighting in a world war against invading aliens finds himself caught in a time loop of his last day in the battle, though he becomes better skilled along the way. What You Need To Know: Yep, it’s yet another high-concept sci-fi movie starring Tom Cruise, and its antecedent “Oblivion” just wasn’t very exceptional in the end. In fact, this one sounds like the concept of “Groundhog Day” grafted onto a sci-fi/time travel alien invasion movie. Or a hodge podge of Hollywood sci-fi movies (maybe “Starship Troopers” meets “Source Code”). It was given a March 2014 date originally, but was likely pushed when Warner Bros. felt it would perform stronger in the summer (and those pesky visual effects needed more completion time anyhow). Why Is It Anticipated: It’s directed by Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith“) who hopefully feels like he has to redeem himself in the time travel genre after 2008′s most unfortunate “Jumper.” Why it’s maybe not so anticipated? See “Jumper” again and the fact that at least three screenwriters took a pass at this and all are credited (Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth), so it seems like there were several major rewrites (Wikipedia lists eight writers, and if that’s correct, yikes). The supporting cast includes Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and mostly relatively unknown international character actors, but perhaps this Liman/Cruise combo can make for a decent escapist summer movie. Release Date: June 6, 2014
84. “The Two Faces of January” Synopsis: A con artist, his wife, and a stranger try to flee a foreign country after one of them is caught up in the murder of a police officer. What You Need To Know: This thriller is intriguing for several reasons. One it’s based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (films based on her books include “Strangers On a Train,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and Wim Wenders‘ “The American Friend“) and it’s the directorial debut of Hossein Amini, the screenwriter behind “Drive” (and studio punch-up, pay-the-bills work like (“47 Ronin” “Snow White and the Huntsman”). Why Is It Anticipated: For the aforementioned reasons, plus the cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac as the main trio (Daisy Bevan co-stars). Screenwriters-turned-directors can be a mixed bag of success, but fingers crossed. Though admittedly, there is some worry as this one shot back in 2012 and should be way done by now. Release Date: TBD, but maybe a festival bow is in the works and our guess would be TIFF.
83. “Neighbors” Synopsis: A group of frat guys move in next door to a friendly suburban couple, setting off an epic turf war that crosses generational divides. What You Need To Know: While not a Judd Apatow production (the boys have left the nest), “Neighbors” continues director Nicolas Stoller’s association with this similar brand of comedy following “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him To The Greek” and “The Five-Year Engagement.” Having previously collaborated with Jason Segel and Jonah Hill, this time he teams with Seth Rogen, who, with Rose Byrne, play the exasperated suburbanites. This is also one of those movies absolutely loaded with comedic ringers, with Zac Efron leading a frat that includes Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and others. And in case you were wondering, no, this has nothing to do with the oddball ’80s flick that starred Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Why Is It Anticipated: There’s always been something creepy about Mr. Efron, as if his beauty was somehow cruel and unfair. Kudos to him for the career move in utilizing this appeal to play the villain. He doesn’t have to go as far as alienate his fanbase, given that it’s a comedy, but it also allows him to display an antagonistic side that kept manifesting during his brief run as a leading man. That nastiness will add plenty of acid to this R-rated culture-clash comedy, which promises several ludicrous gags as well as, the trailer promises, a brief Robert De Niro impersonation party. Which is the kind of thing you slap yourself for not coming up with yourself. Release Date: May 9, 2014
82. “Into the Woods” Synopsis: A baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt) journey through the world of fairy tales in the hopes of lifting a witch’s curse preventing them from having children. What You Need to Know: Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim is immortal to fans of the Great White Way, and “Into the Woods” is one of his more accessible works, dealing with fairy tales and nursery rhymes. So no surprise Disney has run with it, despite the questionable sequences they may or may not be including. Why Is It Anticipated: The all-star cast is worth applauding: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Chris Pine are just a few names on the massive cast list, all of whom will be flexing their musical muscles for Disney’s big-budget spectacle. And it certainly is prepped for razzle dazzle with Disney seeking to turn this into an epic Christmas day musical on par with “Chicago,” even going so far as to hire director Rob Marshall, who has a relationship with Disney through their “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. “Chicago” gave Marshall his start, but the disastrous “Nine” is enough to have us questioning whether lightning can strike twice. Regardless, the coveted Christmas Day spot shows Disney has faith in this and it will definitely extend Sondheim’s work into the stratosphere. Release Date: December 25, 2014
81. “Kill The Messenger” Synopsis: This is the true story of journalist Gary Webb, who documented the CIA’s involvement in the global drug trade, and ended up having his career destroyed as a result. What You Need To Know: Jeremy Renner is using his clout from “The Bourne Legacy” and “The Avengers” to get this story out there, serving as producer and star for this true story. The script from Peter Landesman draws inspiration from two books, Webb’s own “Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras And The Crack Cocaine Explosion” and “Kill The Messenger: How The CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Gary Webb” by Nick Schou. Renner was smart enough to reach into his past to hire his “Twelve And Holding” director Michael Cuesta, who has also logged hours in television with “Homeland” and “Dexter.” Rosemarie DeWitt, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael K. Williams, Robert Patrick, Barry Pepper, Oliver Platt, Paz Vega, Michael Sheen, Ray Liotta and Mary Elizabeth Winstead co-star. Why Is It Anticipated: Simply put, this is a significant story that needs to be told about the CIA sullying the name of an innocent man in plain sight in order to protect their clearly illegal actions. There’s been a strand of aggression and antagonism towards honest reportage in the recent political climate, and the government (and the media, somehow!) have been allowed to control the narrative and distract the public from nakedly obvious wrongdoing. A movie isn’t going to do much in the long run, but as far as informing the public, it’s a start. Release Date: Possibly fourth quarter 2014.
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