The Closing Months of Cinema for 2014

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It seems as though everyone’s eyes at the moment are turned to the big summer films that are to be released. We’ve just had Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as well as the latest installment to the Transformers franchise, and obviously just recently we’ve had Guardians of the Galaxy from Marvel, so it’s clear we’ve got quite a full on summer ahead of us. Personally, I’m looking past all of these films and looking ahead to the second half of 2014 to see what’s heading our way.

I’m not saying all of the action films of the summer aren’t important, I’m still a bit of a geek at heart so I’m always excited by the prospect of whatever DC or Marvel Comics release. Just recently in fact I rather enjoyed the new X-Men flick; it wasn’t brilliant but my inner film nerd was pretty darn excited to see James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender on screen with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. So it’s not that I’m a film snob who turns their nose up at every blockbuster the summer has in store, it’s just from looking ahead to the end of the year it’s clear that Bradley Cooper voicing a Raccoon that jumps through space and shoots everything has nothing on what’s heading our way.

There’s an interesting collection heading towards our screens, with quite a few films that have caught my eye. I remember this time last year incidentally in which I was writing about films I was excited about. There was quite a range last year as well, from The Fifth Estate which managed to disappoint, right up to Saving Mr Banks which as my blog post from a couple of weeks ago showed, I absolutely loved. So if anything that just shows how there is everything still to play for at this point in the year.

As it stands my film of the year so far is still The Grand Budapest Hotel from back in march, with Richard Ayoade’s The Double still a close second. Nothing has beaten it so far, Wes Anderson has made an artistic masterpiece that is superbly written and directed in a way that maintains the complexity and keeps the film running like a clockwork mechanism. Much like other Wes Anderson films there’s a knock out cast, outstanding wit, beautiful cinematography, and of course the use of colour schemes, making it a really outstanding cinematic experience. At the moment for me it is the unchallenged champion of 2014’s cinema, but there is of course still time, and with some of the films that are yet to be released it could all change.

So what I’ve done is I’ve gone through various lists online of the films that are coming out in the next couple of months and I’ve selected the ones I’m looking forward to. I’ve tried to find as much information as I can on each of the films that are listed below. The dates that are attached to them are their release dates in the UK so it may vary depending on where you are reading this from. I am aware that I have broken this rule at times and spilled over the edges in to 2015, but with early releases at film festivals for some titles it is arguable that they can still be considered films of 2014. Regardless of the technicalities, my list is as follows:

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller (August 22nd) – now this one I may live to regret because I’m not overly fond of sequels being made of good films, but I still found myself intrigued by the trailers. I like the first film a lot and I think it was really well made to suit an impressive visual style. So with the addition of new actors and storylines I can only hope this second installment proves me wrong about sequels being bad.

Gone Girl – directed by David Fincher (October 3rd) – much like many other film fanatics I am a very big fan of David Fincher for obvious reasons (Fight Club, Seven, The Social Network) so to see him return to film after three years brings nothing but excitement. The film focuses on the disappearance of a woman and the impacts this has on her husband, and so it sounds like quite a delicate turn for Fincher. But with an impressive cast and Fincher himself at the helm I can only hope this will be another fantastic piece of film from a director who has proven himself to be a genius on a number of occasions. After his last film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this new film may see Fincher staying in a dark place but being more delicate, much like he did with Seven. 

The Judge – directed by David Dobkin (October 17th) – this is another one I’m hoping I won’t regret because looking at Dobkin’s history of bad comedy films I can only hope that this venture in to more serious territory is a step in the right direction. Based around lawyers and family connections I have to admit the premise of the film intrigues me. When films centred around court cases are done well then I absolutely love them; you cannot beat the tension created by fantastic screenplay. As I said before I can only hope this is a step in the right direction that is executed well. I’m also excited to see Robert Downey Jr stepping back in to more serious roles; he is a talented actor who is capable of doing more than just Tony Stark so I’m hoping he gets the chance to prove it here.

Fury – directed by David Ayer (October 19th) – there’s been a lot of talk about this film recently for obvious reasons, it has Brad Pitt leading the cast and it is going to be quite a heavy film so people are right to be excited about it. But the reason I’m excited about it is because it is set towards the end of the war. It’s all well and good making an action film based during World War II but I think by this point we’ve seen too many that focus just on all out war. I’m excited to see how Ayer manages to capture the struggle in the soldiers as they are working towards their final stand. I hope the film has that emotional connection that other films before it have failed to create. I really want this to be more than just an action film.

Birdman – directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu – now I have broken my own rule here because the UK release for this film is in January, but it has release dates in other countries that date back to October, so in a sneaky manner I will count that as a film from 2014. The only reason I’m going to break that rule is because I am really excited about this film. A film that is based around someone attempting to recapture former glory is an idea that interests me as it is, but when it’s coming from a talented director who brought us films such as Babel and Biutiful I can only get even more excited. Almost a year ago in fact I wrote a script for a drama competition that was based around a screenplay writer trying to recapture his former glory whilst dealing with issues with his family, so seeing a film that is based around the same idea is an exciting experience. I feel bad for breaking my own rule with this film but I honestly think it is going to be good.

St. Vincent – directed by Theodore Melfi (presumed release date in October) – I couldn’t find a UK release date for this film but in other countries it is released in October so I’m guessing we’ll receive it around the same time. Now the director/ writer of this one is an unknown to me but I’m going to take a risk because they’re bringing Bill Murray back to making comedy films, with this one being based around a young boy being helped by his old neighbour who is a lazy war veteran. It looks funny and the trailer did manage to make me laugh but it also looks as though the film has a heart. I really like comedies that manage to be engaging and thought provoking at the same time so I’m anxious but excited to see how this film turns out.

Wild – directed by Jean-Marc Vallée – again I have broken my own rule here because this film is released in the UK early next year but in other countries it is this year, so I’m going to break that rule again but it is again with good intentions. This is another film I am excited about, from the director of Dallas Buyers Club and with the leading role filled by Reese Witherspoon I have very high hopes for this one. I really like Reese Witherspoon as an actress already and to see her take the lead role in a film based around someone embarking on a solo hike to recover from past events I get the feeling this could another films that exceeds expectations. I think Dallas Buyers Club was a fantastic piece of film so I can’t wait to see more work from the same director.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – directed by Peter Jackson (December 12th) – I know up until this point I haven’t been the biggest fan of The Hobbit as a series of films but I have to see it through to the end. I love the book and so I am excited to see how Jackson approaches the conclusion of a literary treasure. He cares about the source material as much as the fans do so I can only hope he does the right thing and delivers a film that is satisfying.

Exodus: Gods and Kings – directed by Ridley Scott (December 26th) – I am a big fan of Ridley Scott and I have admired his work in the past, so I can only hope his venture back in to more of an epic styled film is one worth watching. He is obviously known as being a pioneer of science fiction with great works such as Alien and Blade Runner among his previous works, but when Scott makes historical films they can go one of two ways. In the case of Robin Hood we’re presented with a film we would rather forget, but then with Gladiator we’re given a film that is a fantastic piece of art that we hold close to us and recognise as a masterpiece. I am excited about this new film that has obvious biblical overtones and I can only hope that with a strong cast and a heavy premise that Scott has not made a mistake with this one.

So those are the films I am looking forward to that are yet to grace our screens. I’m hoping my choices will not leave me disappointed but of course only time will tell. All that is left to do is present the three films that I am most excited about this year. There are three that have not been mentioned yet that I believe will be the three to potentially challenge The Grand Budapest Hotel and the title it currently holds. So in no particular order, the three films I am most looking forward to at the end of this year:

1. The Imitation Game – directed by Morten Tyldum (November 14th) – now this is one that I really want to be good because it has such a powerful story behind it. It focuses on the life of Alan Turing who helped to break the enigma code during World War II. I don’t know if it will delve in to what happened to him afterwards but I am hoping that it does so with the utmost sincerity because as shocking as the aftermath to the war for Turing was it is a story that people need to hear. The story still makes me feel angry because of how badly he was treated, but it is a story that should be told because it shows how times have changed and how ugly our country can be at times. I think Benedict Cumberbatch will do a fantastic job playing Turing, and I can only hope the film approaches events from the right angle to deliver the story in an honest manner.

2. Inherent Vice – directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (January 2015) – again I am going to count this film as being part of 2014 because it is unveiled this year at various film festivals. Regular readers of this blog will know I admire PTA and the work he has done for cinema, so I cannot even express how excited I am to see him writing and directing a film based around a drug-fueled detective in the seventies investigating the disappearance of his ex-partner. PTA is very good at writing scripts that have incredible weight to them, for example There Will Be Blood and The Master so I intrigued to see if he has continued his legacy in a similar fashion or if the film will be completely different from previous works. Not much has been released in terms of first looks, all we have to go on is a picture recently of Joaquin Phoenix mid scene, but this only makes the film more intriguing. The cast looks incredible with Joaquin Phoenix once again leading the way so I know the film is going to be good, if not better. PTA’s previous work has impressed me a lot, and in fact four of his films currently hold a place in my favourite films of all time, so he has a lot to live up to but I know he is more than capable of exceeding my expectations, every time.

3. Interstellar – directed by Christopher Nolan (November 7th) – Christopher Nolan writing and directing a science fiction film based around a team exploring interstellar travel because the Earth is slowly dying. Nothing more needs to be said about the film because it sounds phenomenal as it is, and yet I could easily talk about it all day. To describe how excited I am for the film all I would need to say is that I have watched the trailer countless times since it was released, including an entire afternoon in which I kept revisiting it because I was so excited. The cast looks incredible, much like with all of Nolan’s work, but I think it’s the idea of it that excites me the most. Just to see Nolan directing a science fiction film based on exploring different universes and planets, it just makes me think that although it is a bold statement I think this could be a film that is on the same scale as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is a bold statement, but based on what we have seen so far of the film and how talented we already know Nolan is as a film maker, this could easily be his greatest film yet, and indeed his masterpiece.

So there it is, the completed list of the films I am most looking forward to in 2014(ish). I can only hope that they do not disappoint and that in the months to come I will not regret choosing them, however after last year’s results I think it would be safer to say it will be another mixed bag. Risks have indeed been taken but that’s what this process is all about. I would rather speak up and be proven as an idiot than not speak up and let people assume.

I am aware there will be some I have missed and that haven’t been addressed so if there is a film you would like to me to comment on then please leave a comment and I will get back to you. Equally if you would like to leave a comment on any of the films mentioned along with your thoughts then I welcome anything you have to say. This is a topic I am very open about so I’m interested to see what other people think. Any comments left will be responded to as soon as possible, and thank you for taking the time to read this post and possibly comment if you did so. I’ll hopefully follow up these choices with reviews in the future as they are released.

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