We’re halfway. Six months down, six more to go. It’s July now and, so far, 2014 has offered up some great, some not so great and some downright terrible movies. But let’s not look back; let’s look ahead instead. Here’s a list of 20 movies that will still be released this year, 20 films that could be great, not so great or downright terrible, but movies I am looking forward to regardless. Until I’ve seen them I can only hope these films will not disappoint, but of course they very well can; I won’t know for sure until I’ve seen them. Here you will find a list with the titles of the movies sorted by US release date, a trailer per film and, of course, the reasons why I am looking forward to these films. Also note that movies without trailers like Exodus: Gods And Kings (December 12th), The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (December 17th) and Big Eyes (December 25th) have been excluded from this list. Now, without further ado, let’s get to my 20 picks.
Boyhood (July 11th)
Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood was filmed over a period of twelve years and chronicles the life of a boy who grows older and turns into a young man. While it’s certainly an unique and intriguing film for this reason alone, the director’s strong filmography (especially the thematically similar Before trilogy) is the main reason to watch out for Boyhood.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (July 11th)
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, the sequel to 2011’s very good Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, continues the story of Andy Serkis’ Caesar, the chimpanzee who led the ape revolt from the first film. Now he commands entire armies, but Caesar isn’t looking for war; he’s looking for equality and peace. But that’s not what everyone wants. What made Rise such a great film is that it had a lot to say and was truly moving, in addition to the exciting action and spectacle it delivered. Dawn seems to have the same goals and, judging from the trailers, it could very well surpass the 2011 movie.
Wish I Was Here (July 18th)
Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here is the spiritual successor to Garden State. Braff, director, writer and lead actor on the project, waited until he thought he really had something to say and then developed this new film, which was later realized through the use of a Kickstarter campaign. Now, ten years later, Wish I Was Here hopes to capture the same magic its predecessor did and, if the trailer is any indication, its flavor is certainly akin to Braff’s first directorial effort.
I Origins (July 18th)
I Origins promises to be a film that is both philosophical and firmly focused on genealogy. Michael Pitt’s character, a young doctor who is mesmerized by the human eye, falls for a girl and the development of their relationship leads him to new insights and sets him both a scientific and spiritual journey. Its interesting concept and phenomenal lead actor are I Origins draws.
Hercules (July 25th)
This swords and sandals film based on a comic takes the titular hero from Greek mythology and thrusts him into an adventure that is both true to and takes liberties with the source material. While many harbor doubts about the films, there’s one thing everyone seems to agree on: Dwayne Johnson as Hercules is a stroke of genius, especially since Johnson is frequently the standout in the film’s he’s been in. For my more elaborate take on the film, click here.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (August 1st)
Marvel Studios’ Guardians Of The Galaxy is another movie I’ve already written a column about, but let’s just say that, in the pantheon of Marvel Studios’ movies, this is the odd one out. It’s a sci-fi fantasy film with an eclectic cast of characters, quirky comedy and a brilliant ’70s and ’80s pop song soundtrack, which makes it not only a breath of fresh air amidst Marvel’s other properties; it’s also makes it a blockbuster unlike any other.
Calvary (August 1st)
This new dark comedy from John Michael McDonagh, director of 2011’s The Guard, has a stellar cast and, judging from the trailer, it aims to balance its laughs with drama and thrills. Thanks in part to its backdrop, Calvary promises to be a one-of-a-kind film in 2014’s film landscape, and definitely one that should be on every film fan’s radar.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8th)
For most who will go out and watch this Michael Bay-produced film it’s nostalgia that drives them and, after a dud of a first trailer for the film, the second one really went of its way to appease fans of the TMNT property. But it also showed audiences that the movie wants to be something newcomers can enjoy, giving us a taste of its humor, action and a great look at the new Turtles.
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 22nd)
The first Sin City from 2005 was a comic brought to life. The same can be said about this year’s sequel that features an ensemble cast and is helmed by the same director as the first movie. While there’s quite the gap between Sin City and A Dame To Kill For, that doesn’t have to matter: these two films are unlike anything else out there and it hyper-stylized film noir could again wow audiences.
The Drop (September 12th)
Michaël R. Roskam’s previous film Bullhead was a fantastic gritty crime drama with a superb lead performance by Matthias Schoenaerts. While the actor still has a significant role in successor The Drop, this time around the equally fantastic Tom Hardy is the leading man in this film based on a Dennis LeHane short story. Another reason to watch this is James Gandolfini: The Drop features one of his last performances before the actor’s untimely death.
The Skeleton Twins (September 19th)
This dramedie starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as a pair of estranged siblings who coincidentally cheat death on the same day and, subsequently, decide to reevaluate their lives and relationship, promises to mix laughs and heartfelt moments of genuine emotion in equal measure. In addition to the straightforward but promising story both leads have proven to be worth their salt and that’s why The Skeleton Twins could very well be a surprisingly funny and moving time at the movies.
The Boxtrolls (September 26th)
The Boxtrolls comes from the creators of Caroline and ParaNorman, both beautifully stop motion animated movies that have set the bar high for this new film by LAIKA. While both Caroline and ParaNorman had a bit of an edge, which made them too scary for some young viewers, The Boxtrolls seems to offer a less creepy story while it still maintains the studio’s signature style and quirkiness. It could very well LAIKA’s most family-friendly effort to date and, hopefully, audiences will go out and see it.
Gone Girl (October 3rd)
David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel about a man whose life is being turned inside out following the disappearance of his wife, promises to be a dark and emotional motion picture with a mesmerizing lead performance by Ben Affleck. As evidenced by the trailer it’s also a beautifully shot and visually impressive film, which of course is a Fincher hallmark. The haunting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross only adds to the mood of the movie that is, without a doubt, my most anticipated film of the year.
Birdman (October 17th)
Birdman is a film that’s appealing both because of its director Alejandro González Iñárritu and its lead actor Michael Keaton. It’s been a while since Keaton has carried a film, let alone such a trippy one as Birdman seems to be. With dashes of surrealism, dark comedy and a story about a once famous actor who tries to mount a Broadway play to reclaim past glory, Iñárritu’s film certainly is very different from the director’s past work, which is certainly exciting.
Interstellar (November 7th)
Like most Christopher Nolan films, this movie is veiled in secrecy. What we do know is that Interstellar features a stellar cast led by Matthew McConaughey and that the plot revolves around space travel. Knowing Nolan that probably doesn’t come even close to all the film’s story has to offer, but that’s exactly why many people are looking forward to Interstellar: it’s rare these days to go into a movie while knowing very little about it. Interstellar can genuinely surprise its audience.
Foxcatcher (November 14th)
This new film from Capote and Moneyball director Bennett Miller is already a clear contender for the Oscars. It’s a movie that’s based on a true story and, from the looks of it, it will be very intense. Some wonderful out-of-left-field casting decisions, the film’s beautiful cinematography and its broody vibe, make Foxcatcher a movie that could very well be one of the year’s best, while it could also solidify Channing Tatum as a dramatic actor and, once again, show audiences that Steve Carell is much more than just a funnyman.
Fury (November 14th)
David Ayer’s film about the crew of a Sherman tank who tries to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany during World War II, could be a great new WWII movie. The trailer shows viewers it’s a serious film and, at times, it evokes the tone and vibe of Steven Spielberg’s great Saving Private Ryan. While that comparison comes with a lot of expectations, Fury certainly has the talent to back it up, especially in the acting department: Brad Pitt, Jon Bernthal and Michael Peña, among many others.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (November 21st)
The first part of the last part of the The Hunger Games trilogy is once again directed by Catching Fire‘s Francis Lawrence, who did an excellent job with the franchise’s latest outing. Catching Fire was expertly paced and got the balance between action and character moments exactly right. Additionally Jennifer Lawrence also stepped up her game and Catching Fire‘s cliffhanger made audiences want more immediately. Mockingjay, Part 1 will finally give them exactly that, which alone is reason enough to look forward to this film.
Horrible Bosses 2 (November 26th)
While the first Horrible Bosses wasn’t universally liked, it certainly found its audience and its sequel caters to those people. Horrible Bosses 2 seems to offer audiences more of the same, which can be either a good or a bad thing, depending on where you’re coming from. What’s undoubtedly a good thing though, is the addition of Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz to the comedy’s cast, actor’s with significant comedic chops and screen presence.
The Salvation (TBA)
While a US release date hasn’t been set yet, The Salvation has been confirmed as a 2014 film for other territories. This Western that premiered during the Cannes film festival, tells the story of a settler who avenges his family but, by doing so, unleashes the fury of a gang leader. Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green and Jeffrey Dean Morgan portray the film’s central characters and lend their considerable talents to a film from a genre that’s not widely popular anymore. The Western still has its fans though, and The Salvation aims to give that audience exactly what it wants: a straightforward but intense revenge plot reminiscent of the old classics.
These are the 20 movies I most look forward to in the latter half of 2014, but what are yours? And what do you think of the titles on this list? Please comment below and let me know.