What’s Left in 2014: Ten Highly Anticipated Movies

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It will be August in a few days now, which means that more than half of the calendar year has passed already, but there are still several films that should be on your radar. The summer movie season is over, but there is still a few tentpole productions to look forward to before the fall/winter in the form of Marvel’s oddest feature yet, the beginning of the end of the Hunger Games franchise and Christopher Nolan’s excursion into the stars.

Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug 1)
Comic book films are often chastised for being too cookie-cutter, but those films don’t include a sentient tree and a talking raccoon with a penchant for violence. Guardians could either be hugely successful or an eccentric failure for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I have a feeling this is the movie that makes Chris Pratt a household name and that can’t be a bad thing.

Calvary (Aug 1)
A small-town priest (played by Brendan Gleeson) is told he is going to be murdered in confession. John Michael McDonagh riffed on the cop genre successfully with 2011’s The Guard and, given the colorful cast he has to work with here, expect a great deal of fun. Festival speculators have suggested that Gleeson could perhaps earn awards buzz for this role. It’s about time for the criminally underrated actor, he’s been stealing shows for years.

Gone Girl (Oct 3)
Fincher’s last adaptation of a pulpy best-seller (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) didn’t make too many waves at the Academy Awards, but buzz surrounding Gone Girl has been high and this film is right in Fincher’s wheelhouse. And this could be the film that convinces audiences that Ben Affleck can lead a feature without him directing it.

Birdman (Oct 17)
Birdman is a departure of sorts for director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose upcoming feature will tread the line between funny and completely insane. Rumor is that the film will look like one long take following the mental breakdown of a very recognizable actor remembered for playing a superhero. If there has been a better pairing of actor and material than this, I don’t think I’ve seen it.

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Interstellar (Nov 7)
To be honest, all I needed to know about Interstellar was that Christopher Nolan would be directing the film. The spectacular teaser released along with Godzilla only picqued my interest further. When can I buy my IMAX tickets?

A Most Violent Year (Nov 12)
J.C. Chandor made a big splash with Margin Call and All Is Lost, throw Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain into the mix and Chandor’s next film is on the radar of many critics and festival goers. Plus, it’s shot by the d.p. from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which may be one of the prettiest films from 2013.

Foxcatcher (Nov 14)
Who would have guessed a real-life drama starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum would be one of the most anticipated pictures of the year even as recently as a year ago? Channing Tatum’s popularity exploded after Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street, but 2013 saw him take a few steps back. This prestige picture produced by Megan Ellison could not only jump-start Tatum again but shatter the type-casted image of Carell as Michael Scott forever.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Nov 21)
The first installment of the conclusion of the Hunger Games franchise hits theatres right around Thanksgiving and this time Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and the rest of the rebels are in full-out war against the Capitol. The stakes are higher than ever for Katniss Everdeen, will she be able to lead her people to freedom? Or slaughter?

Inherent Vice (Dec. 12)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s last effort with Joaquin Phoenix stirred up critics everywhere; one only imagines what will happen when he translates the free-wheeling, gleefully unhinged works of Thomas Pynchon to the big-screen. Phoenix has polished his chameleon-like abilities with roles like Freddie Quells and Theodore Twombley, watching him play private detective Doc Portello in the late sixties should be a pleasure as well.

Macbeth (TBA)
One of Shakespeare’s most tragic works gets a facelift and two of the most talented actors working today (Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard) to help realize it. Justin Kurzel only has two features under his belt, but if the latest screenshots are anything to attest to, he is going to create a memorable take on The Bard.

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