All eyes on film: the Big Movie Preview 2014
Donald Clarke and Tara Brady cast eyes towards the coming year’s cinematic treats
Welcome to our bumper guide to another year of sequels, remakes and leftfield experiments. The most comprehensive preview available is, for your convenience and ours, broken up into two digestible parts.
First, this writer takes you through the spill-off from Oscar season – pictures such as Inside Llewyn Davis and August Osage County – before addressing early shots in the silly season: Godzilla, Spider-Man and Captain America all make appearances.
Then Tara Brady plunges into full-on blockbuster mania and coasts towards another year-end orgy of expensive fun and looming awards bait. Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is out there fanboys. You only have 10 short months to wait.
12 YEARS A SLAVE
Steve McQueen’s savage story of a free man abducted as a slave has already clawed up plaudits through the world and been installed as favourite for the best-picture Oscar. Chiwetel Ejiofor rings every emotion as the (literally) tortured hero.
Vince Vaughn travels the world in search of the many children that he sired remotely after donating promiscuously to a sperm bank. More sentimental and less lewd than it sounds.
THE RAILWAY MAN
In a touching true-life story, Colin Firth plays a former Japanese prisoner of war who, decades later, returns to confront his captor. Jeremy Irvine does a good impersonation as the hero in earlier times.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
The latest film from Martin Scorsese – his longest ever at 179 minutes – stars Leonardo DiCaprio as financial fraudster Jordan Belfort. By all accounts, it’s loud, decadent and funny.
AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY
All the gang are on board – Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch, many others – for a potentially chewy adaption of Tracy Letts’s play concerning fraught family relations during a gathering in Oklahoma.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
It’s finally here. The Coen brothers’ latest – a hit in Cannes seven months ago – follows a budding folk singer as he pads about New York City in the days before Dylan.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
The bit after the colon sounds like one of those fake films from Seinfeld. Anyway, this is the latest attempt to disinter Tom Clancy’s glamorous spy. Kenneth Branagh directs Chris Pine.
This year’s Zero Dark Thirty perhaps. Peter Berg’s action picture follows the efforts of a Navy Seal team to kill a Taliban leader in Afghanistan. Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch are among the commandoes.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
The unstoppable Matthew McConaughey has been receiving raves for his performance as an Aids patient who, appalled at the authorities’ inefficiency, smuggles anti-viral drugs into the US from across the world.
Well, you don’t need to be told what this is. On this occasion, impressive Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman pulls on the helmet and grabs the big gun.
THE MONUMENTS MEN
George Clooney directs himself, Matt Damon, John Goodman and others in a study of the curators entrusted with rescuing works of art from Germany in the aftermath of the second World War.
THE LEGO MOVIE
What next? The Subbuteo movie? It sounds like an awful idea, but the animated feature from the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs people promises lots of snark and subversion.
NYMPHOMANIAC PART 1
Lars Von Trier wouldn’t be Last Von Trier without a smidgeon of controversy. His latest epic two-part shocker – the second episode arrives in March – stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as a committed sex addict.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
Jim Jarmusch proves that, against the odds, there really is room for one more vampire movie. His charming drama stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as undead pals adrift in Detroit.
An air martial on a transatlantic flight receives a text telling him that, unless funds are transferred, one passenger will be killed every 20 minutes. Is it Statham? Is it Stallone? No it’s Neeson, you fool. Sounds awesome.
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
Shouldn’t this be called 301? Anyway, it’s not. The belated sequel to Zack Snyder’s ancient epic turns its attention to some other battle taking place in some other part of the Mediterranean.
GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
By Golly, Wes Anderson can attract a good cast. Fiennes, Dafoe, Keitel, Swinton, Ronan: and that’s just the people you’ll recognise from surnames alone. Advance images promise something delicious.
GRACE OF MONACO
Following the stunning success of Diana, this study of an earlier European princess was moved to allow that film time to exit. Hang on. That’s not right. Nicole Kidman plays the lead.
A stag party goes badly wrong in this promising Irish comedy. The ubiquitous Andrew Scott and the perennially charming Hugh O’Conor are among those falling over.
THE ZERO THEOREM
Terry Gilliam’s latest is, by all accounts, no less odd than his earlier work. Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Thierry are pinballed about a characteristic dystopia.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
Tradition has it that we get a holding-pattern blockbuster in the weeks before Easter. This time round it’s the man with the shield. The first Captain America film was actually somewhat underrated.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
The sequel to the delightful reinvention of the Muppet franchise takes in an appearance by this newspaper as it tours Europe. Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey are among the humans involved.
Asghar Farhadi, director of A Separation, tells another tale of a marriage in crisis. Bérénice Bejo won best actress at Cannes for her performance.
Is it The Hunger Games or is it The Mortal Instruments? Hollywood’s latest attempt to turn a teen fiction franchise into a hit turns to Veronica Roth’s clever dystopia.
Once again, you know what this is. The first film about the nervous Macaw was only okay, but made a fortune. So, here we are.
LAST DAYS ON MARS
Irish director Ruairí Robinson sends Liev Schreiber to space for a tense, low-budge thriller that played to some acclaim at Cannes.
John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to The Guard casts Brendan Gleeson as a good priest in a difficult situation.
Wait. Come back. The latest take on the Japanese behemoth features Gareth Edwards – director of the excellent Monsters – back behind the camera. We’re foolishly optimistic.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
There’s no reason the second part of Muppet Babies: X-Men shouldn’t be as tolerable as the opening episode.
Which, if you haven’t been paying attention, is the wicked queen in Sleeping Beauty. Angelina Jolie makes with the raised eyebrows.
22 JUMP STREET
We barely remembered the TV series, but the first buddy comedy was so funny it hardly mattered. More of the same would do all right.
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
Seth MacFarlane’s Ted was a big hit. Can the prankster make sense of a western comedy? There have been worse ideas.
THE PURGE 2
It will be interesting to see how they fashion a sequel from the first underrated high-concept musing on violence in contemporary America.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are chained together. After messing up the future in Divergent, they, erm, converge for this keenly-anticipated dying-young romance.
MRS BROWN’S BOYS
Do you resent Brendan O’Carroll’s belated success with the naughty family comedy? Then you’re a f@&€ing b&@%#d. More of the same, but bigger, I bet.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
Another sequel to a surprisingly delightful hit, the second comic fantasy need only turn up to boss the multiplex. Made good (if too dark) use of stupid 3D last time.
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
Extinction? If only. Oh let’s not be cruel. Our own Jack Reynor turns up in the fourth chapter. Expect the occasional detonation.
DAWN OF PLANET OF THE APES
Now, here’s a sequel we’re actually looking forward to. The first was great. The trailer suggests some Heart of Darkness atmosphere and much ape-on-man violence.
The latest from the Wachowski siblings – creators of The Matrix – focuses on an ordinary person who discovers they may have extraordinary potential. Sounds familiar. Mila Kunis is at the centre of sci-fi mayhem.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
This is a bit of a strange one. Just outside the Marvel mainstream, we find a gang of intergalactic ex-cons seeking some sort of mysterious object. Experts tell us the film is based on the reboot of the original comic.
THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE 2
The first adaptation surprised even the most educated film expert by going ballistic at the box office. But they have problems with this sequel. Much of the cast – supposedly college age – is now closing in on 30.
THE EXPENDABLES 3
Let’s face it. You’re not interested in the plot. All you want to know is which old geezers have been summoned forth to join the gang. Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford to name but two. Apparently, Willis wanted too much money.
Luc Besson – emperor of Euro-flash – directs Scarlett Johansson in the tale of a drug mule who, after taking her produce, turns into a “metahuman”. If you say so M Besson.
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Oh there you are! The second film in the comic-book noir has been on and off the schedules since Philip Marlowe was in work. Jessica Alba is back. Josh Brolin joins the hard-boiled team.
Nothing provocative about that title, then. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are the couple trying to track down a naughty video that has got into the wrong hands. It’s not the most tasteful notion. But it’s astonishing nobody thought of it before.
Nice to see some stop-motion animation in the calendar. This family entertainment from the Laika Studio is based on a popular book by Alan Snow. Expect something in the vein of Colarine.
After delivering the only modestly successful Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher again gets to direct a film of the era’s most voguish thriller. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike take the leads in this take on Gillian Flynn’s twisty mystery.
Yes, that’s right. It’s a much-belated big screen version of the TV thriller that made such good use of the late Edward Woodward. Who dares step in those shoes? Why Denzel Washington, of course. He’ll do just fine.
Luke Evans stars as the great vampire in a film that takes us back to his origins as Vlad the Impaler. Much of the picture was filmed in and round Belfast (which is surely far too sunny and merry for Transylvania).
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
They had to be called “Hero Turtles” in the UK, you know. It’s produced by Michael Bay’s company, so we can expect a gentle, quiet, measured take on the material. Maybe.
Is this half-term or something? It’s an animated version of the notorious Robert Altman film that nearly ruined Hollywood. This time Paul Thomas Anderson directs. No he doesn’t. It’s a cartoon.
THE MAZE RUNNER
And Hollywood takes yet another crack at a young adult novel sequence. Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario are among those seeking to translate the popular books by James Dashner. Does another franchise beckon? (See also: Divergent)
Haven’t heard of this yet? Trust us, you will. After polishing off the Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan embarks on a science fiction adventure involving wormholes through space and time. Not much else is known. But the ubiquitous Matthew McConaughey is on board. That’s the law, these days.
NATIVITY 3: DUDE, WHERE’S MY DONKEY?
Well, Christmas is a time for miracles, I suppose. How in the name of heaven did this feeble British comedy series make it to a third episode? Have you met any fans? Anyway, here it is.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1
Hollywood finally found a fresh franchise when it tackled Suzanne Collins’s tale of warring young people. The second film was even better than the first. So there no pressure on young Ms Lawrence then.
A fascinating documentary on the west London station. Not really. It is, of course, a big-screen adaptation of Michael Bond’s charming books concerning a polite Peruvian bear. Colin Firth voices the hero. Julie Walters makes the marmalade sandwiches.
No, it’s not another take on the Leon Uris book. It’s not any kind of metaphor. Ridley Scott really is tackling the biblical story of the Israelites. Christian Bale is Moses. I don’t fancy their chances if Noah fails earlier in the year.
DUMB AND DUMBER TO
Yes, that’s really what it’s called (funny title, actually). The faltering Farrelly brothers return to characters from one of their earliest hits. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are back on the bike. Jennifer Lawrence brings her stardust to a smaller role.
THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN
What’s this? Let’s check Wikipedia. Apparently it’s some sort of fantasy thing starring the blokes from Sherlock. To be fair, the second one wasn’t bad. Now, it’s time for Peter Jackson to do something else.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3
Well, that’s your treat for the undemanding offspring sorted a whole year in advance. Ricky Gervais, Ben Stiller and Robin Williams are back for more frolics after hours.