Monday, December 23, 2013

2014 at a glance

All dates are subject to change, but here's a look at what I find worth looking at in the year ahead:

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (1/17)
I have yet to see any of the previous Jack Ryan movies, but that doesn't diminish my appreciation for their considerable cinematic legacy, and this one features a stellar cast (Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner) and a terrific director (Kenneth Branagh).

Ride Along (1/17)
Kevin Hart seems destined to be a huge star, and this will be his biggest test to date, buddying with Ice Cube in a movie directed by Tim Story.

I, Frankenstein (1/24)
Aaron Eckhart finally seems to be making some forward momentum from The Dark Knight.

Labor Day (1/31)
Jason Reitman, Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin...Another dynamo combination right there.

The Monuments Men (2/7)
It kind of seems wrong to speak of WWII in terms of other than the Holocaust or all the fighting, but if there's a worthy story elsewhere this is probably it, the struggle to rescue the culture Hitler was also busily smashing along the way.

Winter's Tale (2/14)
With films like The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Odine under his belt, Colin Farrell is fast locking in a new career as a star of modern fantasy.  This may be the movie where audiences take notice.

Pompeii (2/21)
Paul Anderson's genre credentials seem to be expanding with this effort.  Could be very interesting.

3 Days to Kill (2/21)
Kevin Costner returns to starring roles.  I figure that's a good thing.  And this one's directed by McG, who became widely unappreciated far too quickly.

300: Rise of an Empire (3/7)
We'll see the true appeal of this budding franchise as it forges ahead without Gerard Butler.

Grace of Monaco (3/14)
It only figures that Princess Grace would eventually find herself back in the movies.  And Nicole Kidman is about the right person to make it happen.

Muppets Most Wanted (3/21)
Kind of sad Jason Segel isn't back for this one (on the whole, I think Forgetting Sarah Marshall was still a better Muppets effort than his actual one), but I'm always game for these guys.

Stretch (3/21)
Directed by Joe Carnahan?  Check.  Excellent cast?  Check (Chris Pine, Jessica Alba, Patrick Wilson, Ray Liotta, James Badge Dale, who's still looking for that breakout role he richly deserves; Carnahan could very well help him achieve that).  It's worth noting that one of Pine's most interesting roles to date was in a Carnahan movie already (Smokin' Aces, wildly underappreciated as a whole).

Noah (3/28)
The last time Darren Aronofsky tried something hugely ambitious (The Fountain), he come incredibly close to pulling it off.  This one stars Russell Crowe.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4/4)
One of the Avengers movies I'm most looking forward to, although I'm wondering if they're going to lose the real appeal of the last one trying to make it funnier.  I love the pedigree of Anthony and Joe Russo (Arrested Development, Community), but that's the wrong direction for a premise that seems can't-miss for comic book fans already familiar with the material, arguably the strongest of this character's long history.

Dom Hemingway (4/4)
Ten years ago Jude Law starred in every movie that was released for an entire year.  It seems wrong that he's had to wait so long for a comeback.

St. Vincent De Van Nuys (4/11)
Another actor who hasn't starred in his own movie for a long time (the curiously can't-miss misfire of playing FDR in Hyde Park on the Hudson from last year doesn't seem to count) is Bill Murray.  And this seems like about as classic a Bill Murray movie as you can get.

Transcendence (4/18)
This Johnny Depp movie is getting Inception buzz.  Depp's yet another actor vying for a comeback in 2014.  Was this planned or something?

The Other Woman (4/24)
Cameron Diaz is in on the act, too.  I think it's downright criminal how her career fell off the public radar, after an early millennial bid to become arguably the best actress in the industry.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (5/2)
It's a testament to this rebooted franchise that the buzz surrounding this effort has nothing to do with how it compares to the Raimi/Maguire/Dunst era.

Belle (5/2)
Can we all agree that Gugu Mbatha-Raw deserves to be a star no matter how complicated her name is?  Keep it at Gugu if you have to.  She's awesome.  Make her stardom happen already!

Chef (5/9)
Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. reunite.

Godzilla (5/16)
Will this be the one that makes this franchise actually relevant to American audiences?

X-Men: Days of the Future Past (5/23)
The movie where 20th Century Fox finally realizes it had the Avengers formula before Disney did.

Blended (5/23)
If you're a really big fan of 50 First Dates, you might love this Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore reunion.  Oh, and this also counts as a Barrymore comeback.  The trend continues!

Maleficent (5/30)
This Angelina Jolie project based on Sleeping Beauty has been building buzz for a while now.

A Million Ways to Die in the West (5/30)
His Oscars hosting gig seemed to sabotage Seth MacFarlane's mainstream push.  Can he win it back in a Western?

Edge of Tomorrow (6/6)
Tom Cruise in another opulent sci-fi spectacle.  This one also features Emily Blunt!

22 Jump Street (6/13)
Sequel to the surprise original, and apparently part of Channing Tatum's own bid for a comeback.  Although, seriously, that 2012 track record would be hard for anyone to duplicate.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (6/13)
Loved the first one.  Expect to love the second one.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (6/27)
The fourth in this series has a brand new cast.  Could be very interesting.

Tammy (7/4)
Apparently Melissa McCarthy's passion project, which might go a long way to answering the question of how long she can remain a huge star.

Fast & Furious 7 (7/11)
This was always going to be a hit.  After the passing of Paul Walker, probably expect the franchise's biggest hit yet.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (7/18)
Needs to be leagues better than the last one.  I hated that one.

Sex Tape (7/18)
Jason Segel!  Cameron Diaz!

Jupiter Ascending (7/25)
It's the Wachowskis.  Either they find their popular mojo again, or this will be next summer's After Earth.

Hercules (7/25)
Dwayne Johnson as Hercules.  Or as the Klumps matriarch might put it, "Hercules!  Hercules!"

Guardians of the Galaxy (8/1)
Pound for pound, the ensemble put together for this gamble in the Avengers cycle might be the best yet.  It will need to be.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (8/8)
Could be very interesting!

The Expendables 3 (8/15)
The casts for these movies just keep getting more interesting.

The Giver (8/15)
I've never read the book, but the movie might finally help me correct that.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (8/22)
I'm game for this in a big, big way.

The Loft (8/29)
With a cast boasting the likes of Rhona Mitra, Karl Urban, James Marsden, and Wentworth Miller, I'm salivating.

Search Party (9/12)
The same goes for one with Krysten Ritter and Alison Brie, two brilliant stars of hugely unappreciated sitcoms.

The Equalizer (9/26)
More than a decade after Training Day, Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua finally reunite?  I'm there.

Selfless (9/26)
Directed by Tarsem?  I'm already penciling it in as one of my favorite movies of the year.  The man is a genius.  It also stars Ryan Reynolds, who might be the star capable of finally explaining that to everyone else.

Gone Girl (10/3)
David Fincher previously got me to experience a much buzzed-about book as a movie with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  He's going to be doing it again with this film.

Dracula Untold (10/3)
Could be the movie where Luke Evans finally distinguishes himself.

And as always, there are bound to be a few surprises along the way, too.  But I think 2014 is looking pretty darn good already!