As ever, some of the strongest films of the year are to be released in January and February in the run-up to the Oscars in March. But there will then be 10 more months of movie madness after the winter Oscar releases. Here is an overview of some the films we’re looking forward to this year.

Tilda Swinton quenches her ancient thirst for... food dye in Only Lovers Left Alive

Let’s start with those early releases. Two films with a strong moral vision: 12 Years a Slave is already being heralded as a modern classic and one to finally show some of the horrors of slavery. Meanwhile Martin Scorsese creates another picture of human avarice and folly in Wolf of Wall Street, although some are not so sure if these excesses are really being glorified.

Fans of 80s and 90s Indie films will be hopping from foot to foot in anticipation of releases from the Coen Brothers, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Jonze and Tim Burton. The Coens appear to have turned in a goodie with Inside Llewyn Davis. In Only Lovers Left Alive Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play two very striking vampires, the latter of whom also happens to be a rock star.

The sporadic Spike Jonze brings us Her, an intriguing tale of a man falling in love with his personal SUI type operating system – starring Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, and Scarlett Johansson’s voice. 2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of one of Tim Burton’s best films, Ed Wood. This year he releases Big Eyes, written by the screenwriters behind the aforementioned classic, it’s a biopic about another artistic eccentric Margaret Keane, an artist who faced a legal battle with her husband who tried to pass off her paintings of large eyed waifs as his own.

People gettin' freaky in Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem

British films come in all shapes and sizes. Terry Gilliam always makes interesting movies, even if they don’t always quite work. His latest, The Zero Theorem is set for release in mid-March with Christophe Waltz and Mélanie Thierry in the two central roles. Jonathan Glazer’s experimental sci-fi Under The Skin comes out the same week, with Scarlett Johansson literally playing a man-eating alien.

All of us who were amazed by Asgar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning A Separation will be pleased to hear that his follow-up The Past is finally being released in UK cinemas at the end of March, after winning the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (awarded to films which honour the spiritual dimension of experience) at Cannes last year.

Wes Anderson is one of the most visually distinctive directors working at the moment and it looks like he has ramped up the extravagance in The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film’s influences include German Expressionism, the fantasy ‘Hollywood Europe’ seen in the films of Ernst Lubitch, and a smattering of Franz Kafka. Gosh. Combining arresting visual style with narrative complexity, Christopher Nolan is heading deep into sci-fi territory in Interstellar to be released in November. With a story involving worm holes through space/time, the film will probably leave us scratching our heads as usual, but may have a different look as Nolan’s cinematographer Wally Pfister has been replaced by Hoyte van Hoytema.

Presumably the most bonkers sci-fi of all will be the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Mila Kunis is Jupiter Jones, a lavatory cleaner who is singled out as the leader of the universe if only she can avoid getting killed by the the Queen of the Universe’s minions. Another director with an interest in arcane knowledge is Terence Mallick whose new film Knight of Cups is named after a Tarot card. Not much is known about the plot beyond that it’s about celebrity and excess, and it stars Christian Bale (unless he ends up on the cutting room floor).

Domestic bliss in Asghar Farhadi's The Past

2014 is an exciting year for literary adaptations too. If you’re in the habit of checking out what everyone else on the train/bus last year is reading, you will have seen Gone Girl around. Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck star in David Fincher’s adaptation out in October. Paul Thomas Anderson directs the first ever Thomas Pynchon adaptation, Inherent Vice, starring Joachim Phoenix and Reece Witherspoon (although Indie warbler Joanna Newsome also pops up too).

The master of British espionage fiction, John Le Carre will see two of his books released as films this year. Our Kind of Traitor stars Ralph Fiennes, Mads Mikkelsen, and Ewan McGregor in a tale of an ordinary couple who become caught up between MI6 and the Russian Mafia when an oligarch plans to defect to the UK. Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) directs A Most Wanted Man, which casts an acerbic eye over the War on Terror when a Chechen Muslim arrives in Hamburg. The security services have to find out if he’s an innocent victim of torture or a jihadi. The film stars Daniel Bruhl, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman and William Defoe.

Lovers of period drama, or period-set films at least, have some original fare coming their way. Following in the footsteps of 12 Years a Slave comes a film focussing on a more unexpected corner of black history. Directed by Amma Asante, Belle, tells the true story of the mixed race daughter of an 18 Century British Admiral, who must navigate between the social restrictions imposed by the colour of her skin and her own ambitions. Belle is released on 13 June.

Scarlett keeps one eye on her next victim, while the other looks over her shoulder in Under The Skin

A name we normally associate with working in front of the camera is moving behind the lens. Uber-cool indie hearthrob, Ryan Gosling has written, produced and directed a fantasy-neo-noir called How to Catch a Monster. IMDB says “A single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town.” Which sounds pretty mad. Ingmar Bergman’s muse and collaborator Liv Ullmann is releasing her sixth film, an adaptation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie set in 1890 Northern Ireland, with Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell.

Some other films that look intriguing include Luc Besson’s superhero film Lucy, and a comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu about a washed-up actor who was best known for playing superhero Birdman. It has taken Richard Linklater more than 12 years to make Boyhood, a film in which he filmed principal actor Ellar Salmon growing up from the age of six to 18. Comedy comes in the form of Jon Favreau’s Chef, Simon Pegg in the philosophical Hector and the Search for Happiness, and finally Woody Allen returns with a 1920s set romantic comedy – Magic in the Moonlight which stars Colin Firth as an Englishman in the South of France, helping unmask a possible swindle.

That probably amounts to about 1% of the decent films coming out over the coming year and includes no documentaries. If you want to find out about release dates check this website, and here is another great look at the highlights of 2014. Enjoy.

May Sollawn’s Films to look forward to in 2014

Angelina Jolie looks positively maleficent in Maleficent

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m struggling to pinpoint which films I’m most excited for this year, because there’s quite the crop ahead of you.

To start, what’s not to love about a Wes Anderson film? I’ll admit, he first drew my interest in 2012 with the release of Moonrise Kingdom, a film that turned out to be one of my favourites that year. I won’t be missing a release ever again. The Grand Budapest Hotel boasts an ensemble including Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Saorise Ronan, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. Gustave H is a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel, who must deal with the theft of a priceless Renaissance painting from a rich guest, along with his lobby boy Zero Moustafa.

It felt like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ended just as things were getting interesting, much like the source material written by Suzanne Collins. in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, having been safely taken from the arena and transported to the underground District Thirteen, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is to reluctantly become the symbol of a mass rebellion against the autocratic Capitol, that will shake the nation of Panem to the core. Although it bugs me they’ve split the last book in half, I’m intrigued to discover where part 1 will leave off.

We’ve not seen a lot of Angelina Jolie lately, which is probably why the marketing campaign for Maleficent has centred so heavily on her. Based on the animated Disney flick, Sleeping Beauty, this live action tale is told this time from the perspective of the villainous Maleficent. What happened to harden her heart and lead her to cursing the young Princess Aurora? While the trailer made me cringe a little bit thanks to Elle Fanning’s over-the-top English accent, I can’t deny I want to get to the nitty gritty of this iconic character the same as anyone else.

I’m also looking forward to the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, Into the Woods. A modern twist on the beloved fairytales by the Brothers Grimm, the film is a musical which follows Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel- all tied together by an original story. A witch portrayed by Meryl Streep conspires to teach important lessons to these famed characters. James Corden is portraying The Baker, Anna Kendrick is Cinderella, Emily Blunt The Baker’s Wife and Johnny Depp is The Wolf. Do you need any other reason to be as excited as I am?

Chris Tosan’s films to look forward to in 2014:

George gets a huge present in The Monuments Men

2014 will result in a lot of trips to the cinema. I’ve accepted this, and I’m okay with it. This is, I admit, at least in part because I’m content to sit and fill my face with every snack I can carry into a screen as I watch this stuff play out. Who says overeating is only a Christmas thing?

I saw the second Hobbit flick over the Christmas/New Year break, and 2014’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again will surely soothe my desire for Tolkien/Jackson work. After that? Who knows. The Silmarillion?

There’s also the glut of comic book movies to delve into this year, too. The Amazing Spider Man 2 will no doubt be a predictable but enjoyable web-fest, starring Andrew Garfield as the titular hero and Jamie Foxx as Electro. X-Men: Days of Future Past tosses both the McAvoy and Stewart eras of the X-Men cast into the same mix, with presumably entertaining results. Round that off with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the surreal-looking Guardians of the Galaxy, and we can safely say comic books are due to enjoy yet another happy year at the movies.

Finally, there’s The Monuments Men, a star-studded film about a team of experts recruited to help recover art stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War, and also Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, the mysterious but interesting sci-fi film I’d like to dig into. With the former, I think it’ll be a solid watch, but Interstellar is admittedly drawing my attention far more. Nolan’s work on both Batman and Inception are second to none, and I’d like to see what he does here.

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