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Amir's Most Anticipated, 2014

Amir here, taking a break from the relentless torrent of lists, think pieces and twitter catfights about everything 2013 to look ahead at the new year.

Making a list of the year’s most anticipated films is always a risky task and there’s little payoff in raising one’s expectations of any film. Predictably so, there isn’t always overlap between what we anticipate and what we actually like when the final product materializes on the screen, but that’s the beauty of the whole thing. There will undoubtedly be disappointments, but in their stead, there will also be pleasant surprises. Of the films that shaped my lineup last year, only three ended up among my top 25 films of the year, but at this moment a year ago, I hadn’t even heard of something like Museum Hours or The Broken Circle Breakdown.

10 Noah (Darren Aronofsky)
Because: the director. The director, I say! The trailer for this biblical epic was mostly disappointing. The CGI looked unconvincing, the dialogue was gratingly cheesy and, as a non-religious man, I find the basic premise of this oft-told story laughable. But who am I kidding? I’m still going to be there on opening day. Darren Aronofsky has (almost) never disappointed and something tells me he’ll find an interesting angle on the most famous of all tales. Plus, I have a fondness for Russell Crowe few can match.

Nine more possible great ones after the jump...

09 Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu)
A comedy directed by Innaritu is just what everyone needs, including, and especially, Innaritu himself. I’ve long been an apologetic for the man and the failings of his directorial style, but Biutiful proved too dour even for my taste. Birdman, about a washed-up actor who fights for a career revival by staging a Broadway show, sounds like just the type of project that can drag him out of his (miserable) comfort zone. That he’s collaborating with his writing partner on Biutiful might be a warning sign but the eclectic cast has a proven track record at making comedy pop: Emma Stone, Ed Norton, Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan and Zach Galifianakis.

08 The Double (Richard Ayoade)
Word on the streets of Toronto suggests this is the best film I missed at TIFF. Richard Ayoade’s debut feature, Submarine, was critically acclaimed though sadly I have yet to catch up with it myself. His new film is an existential dramedy, adapted from Dostoyevsky’s novel of the same name, and stars Jesse Eisenberg as both sides of the titular character. This is going to be a great year for the actor; he also has Kelly Reichardt’s superb thriller Night Moves coming out.

07 Gone Girl (David Fincher)
David Fincher is one of the best American directors working and if Gone Girl is half as good as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or The Social Network, we’re in for a ride. I have yet to read the source novel but all signs indicate that it is right in my wheelhouse, and Fincher’s.

06 Godzilla (Gareth Edwards)
I start every year hoping that at least one big studio blockbuster succeeds in escaping predictable, conventional Hollywood trappings and I’m pinning those hopes on this one this time around. Edwards’s Monsters was one of the most inventive science fiction films of recent years, so there's reason to hope he’ll have a fresh take on the world’s most famous monster. Plus, how can you go wrong with Juliette Binoche in a Godzilla film?

05 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
Pure and simple: few directors bring as much joy as Wes Anderson. Every time I think of those flat, dioramic compositions, the off-kilter humor, the dependably game casts, and the intimate poignancy of his stories, I just want to dive right back in.

04 The Immigrant (James Gray)
Something haunting and ethereal draws me in. My familiarity with James Gray’s work unfortunately doesn’t extend beyond Two Lovers but several screenings of that film have cemented its position for me as a modern romance masterpiece. A period piece set in New York, The Immigrant stars Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner and tells the story of a Polish prostitute caught between rival magicians.

03 Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
The last time Assayas and Juliette Binoche worked together, we got Summer Hours; in the meantime, Assayas has given us Carlos and Something in the Air, Binoche has given us Certified Copy. The Frenchman is one of the most inventive and unpredictable directors in the world. That his newest film is about an older actress (Binoche) obsessing over a younger one (sadly, Chloe Moretz, but bear with me) who’s reprising a role she once performed is reason enough for excitement; a supporting cast as strangely assembled as one with Bruno Ganz, Kristen Stewart and Daniel Bruhl is just the icing on the cake.

02 Inherent Vice (P.T. Anderson)
Despite being labeled "Pynchon-lite" by some critics, I found the 2009 novel to be one of Thomas Pynchon's most coherent and entertaining works. An adaptation by Paul Thomas Anderson is the best cinematic treatment one can hope for. This sprawling narrative has a colorful cast of supporting characters all of whom circle Doc Sportello, the perennially baked detective at the centre. That large ensemble and the fiery drug-infused dialogue could take the Modern American Master back to the glorious days of Boogie Nights.  A reunion with Joaquin Phoenix was always going to be welcome but it’s especially intriguing because this seems to be a much lighter fare than The Master. (If your mouth is not sufficiently watering for this one, have a look at these updates here.)

01 As 1001 Noites (Miguel Gomes)
This Portuguese director's track record, from his first short film Entretanto to this year’s incantatory Redemption, via Tabu and Our Beloved Month of August, is pitch perfect. Every one of us has a director or two, whose works touch us on a personal level, and Gomes is that for me, perhaps the most exciting director working. His newest film takes the structure of the famous Middle Eastern fable One Thousand and One Nights and applies it to modern day Portugal and its struggle with the financial crisis. But let’s be honest, he could film a dog humping a tree for a couple of hours and I’d still be first in line.

P.S.  I would have included The Lobster, the English language debut from Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, ALPS) had it not entirely disappeared from the face of the earth. IMDB now lists The Lobster as an English language film directed by an unknown Greek director with Greek actors, with a vaguely similar storyline to the one previously helmed by Lanthimos. The latest news on Lanthimos’s film was the casting of Lea Seydoux, Olivia Colman and Jason Clarke as recently as October, but without any news of a halting production, IMDB and other sources have pulled the film off. If you hear anything, please do share with this anxious soul.

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Reader Comments (30)

No Foxcatcher?

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

PJ: No one really "anticipates" Bennett Miller films.
Amir: I'm slightly surprised you went with Godzilla over Guardians of the Galaxy, but I agree that, as far as "adaptable" Pynchon, I can imagine Vineland, The Crying of Lot 49 or Inherent Vice are actual candidates for films. I could see a very good "single full season of American TV with no hope of renewal" format out of Mason and Dixon, V. or Against the Day. But Gravity's Rainbow is probably straight up unadaptable.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

PJ- Foxcatcher was included in last year's list, which I've linked to in the article. The only reason I left it off was to dedicate space to ten new films. In reality, I'm more excited for that than anything on this list but the first two.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

I can't help but be excited about Big Eyes. I know Tim Burton has been rather inconsistent this decade, but everything about it sounds appealing. Its a modest budget biopic written by the duo behind my favorite Burton movie, Ed Wood. No Johnny Depp or Helena Carter in sight either; it stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz as the lead couple. He's got one of my favorite DPs in the business back as well, Bruno Delbonnel. So, on paper, this all sounds very promising! But you never know what you're gonna get with movies til you sit down and watch the damn things.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny

I had a moment of mini-panic at that last paragraph about The Lobster--SO looking forward to that, go Yorgos!--but while it is super weird that it seems to have disappeared from IMDb, there was an interview with Olivia Colman this week that said it starts shooting in March. So all seems well in Lobsterland.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I am definitely anticipating Foxcatcher....

I agree about Big Eyes, and I haven't bothered to see a Tim Burton movie in years.

I am looking forward to Saint Vincent De Van Nuys. It's a first-time feature director, so no one knows what we could get, but the idea of teaming Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy is exciting, and apparently we won't see McCarthy limited by jokes about her size in this film - she won the role after competing with a number of top actresses.

I take it that Sils Maria is an English-language film? I can't imagine Stewart acting in French, but you never know.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Fincher is a great director, but I'm looking forward to Gone Girl mostly because Rosamund Pike FINALLY has a high-profile lead role. Why the hell has it taken so long?

The Lobster needs to happen as soon as possible.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Sils Maria- Assayas' Apres Mai rather unexpectedly stayed with me. I'm a little ambivalent about Moretz's involvement but if K-Stew takes more of these roles, I'll be happy.

The Lobster- You go get those arthouse roles, Jason Clarke!!!!!

The Grand Budapest Hotel- Ralph Fiennes is going to have a moment. I can feel it. Justice for the 10 Strange Days fans, including myself!!!!

The Immigrant

Nymphomaniac- Yes. I know. But I have it on great authority by a feminist who saw this film in Spain that this is an incredible experience. This is LVT examination of his own work. Cannot wait.

Inherent Vice

Maps of the Stars

The Birdman

A Most Wanted Man

The Double/Enemy- Eisenberg or Gyllenhaal? You know who you are in that choice.

Roger Ebert doc Life Itself

Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner

Mia Hanson-Love's Eden

Ira Sachs' Love is Strange

The 3 Mystery Malick films. Will any of them come out this year? Ever?

The Blockbusters:

Interstellar- I loved the teaser, which I feel was a minority opinion. Hopefully Nolan has come to the realization that there is room for 2 good female characters, because seriously, if Anne and Chastain don't both have good things to do, I'll riot.

Godzilla- I really hope with its international cast that everybody stays international and not all rendered into Americans.

22 Jump Street

Captain America: The Winter Soldier- One of my favorite comic book runs.

Guardians of the Galaxy- I have no clue about the comics but I do like James Gunn and I'd love to see Chris Pratt be this beta-male superstar.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes- You go Jason Clarke and get that awesome paycheck.

Foxcatcher looks interesting in terms of story but that trailer made it look like a genre movie. I'm cool on Miller's whole output because both of his films adapted from subjects I was incredibly familiar with, baseball, the Oakland A's, sabermetrics, In Cold Blood, and finding the movies too cold, slick, and somewhat unnecessarily full of dramatic license. It helps I am so unfamiliar with the Foxcatcher story so my own reading is not spoiled or rather, spoiling Miller's impressions he leaves on the viewer.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I can't believe no one but me apparently is anticipating Body Art. The director of I Am Love adapting Don DeLillo with a cast that includes Sigourney Weaver and Isabelle Huppert. As long as these two are acting opposite each other that's sincerely the whole point of this vehicle and being excited about it.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

3rtful -- omg. just goes to show you how insane my life gets this time of year. i hadn't even heard of that and BODY ARTIST is my favorite DeLillo book. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

CMG -- i'm one of the 10 strange day fans and so is nick. So we gotta find the other 7 soon and have a party. i already made the eisenberg/gyllenhaal choice when i saw ENEMY at TIFF but not THE DOUBLE ;)

Johnny -- agreed on BIG EYES... though i'm cool on Delbonnel in general

January 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

CMG- A Man Most Wanted was at number 11 for me.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Re: Body Art. In addition to the dream combo of Sigourney Weaver and Isabelle Huppert, it also features Denis Lavant and David Cronenberg in major roles. This is probably my most anticipated movie of 2014, give or take Inherent Vice.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

3rtful - that's been my most anticipated movie since the day, long ago, that I spoke my first word: Sigourney. It's the movie I dream about every night.

It's hard to believe that it's real; I can only presume that my subconscious willed it to be.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Amir- I love Le Carre and am interested in this Corbjn effort (Loved Control, was somewhat into The American but felt like Clooney's presence was both a blessing and a curse). The accents in the trailer I saw were a bit surprising but McAdams looks fully engaged in a way I never saw from her in a dramatic role. Hope we get good reports from Sundance.

Nathaniel- Ha! I knew Strange Days fandom could be found here. Enemy and The Double both look pretty interesting.

I was also going to include movies I have seen at TIFF:

Palo Alto- This is a great HS movie and I hope its 2/3 performers (Jack Kilmer and Nat Wolff) get more roles in addition for Emma Roberts being taken a little more seriously. I hope it finds an audience in the way The Spectacular Now did.

Starred Up- Smart, taut, lean prison movie. Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn are mesmerizing.

Under the Skin- Having not seen Her, I'm still confident that this will be the best genre film ScarJo was apart of in 2013-2014.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Looking forward to Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Dang I forgot about Snowpiercer (Which based on what Harvey did to The Grandmaster, I'll wait for the Korean leak that got so much acclaim) and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Also, Harvey. Tread lightly, sir).

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Amir, I LOOOVE that you put Miguel Gomes in your top spot. Miguel Gomes should be a much more lauded foreign auteur by now. I don't know why but TABU skipped a lot of radars last year (even here, at TFE, I think Nathaniel didn't watch it - am I correct? :P).

I hope he goes to Cannes for this one and wins something. He was totally robbed of the Golden Bear in Berlin two years ago.

2014 has a whole lot of Binoche!!! Between Sils Maria, Godzilla, Nadia Quiere La Noche (from "Elegy"'s director Isabel Coixet), The 33 (based on the Chilean coal miners drama)... Guess Binoche wants Cotillard to know the throne of "most beloved french actress in America" is still hers ;)

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Under The Skin is the big one for me currently. And it got picked up by A24 so brownie points. April 4th!

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

Jorge -- it skipped a lot of radars because, i'd argue, it came out christmas week when 100s of movies cram into tiny theaters. I still have never figured out why arthouse distributors think that's a good week for them. I can barely breathe from december-to-january with oscar appts, interviews, screenings, and family/friend/holiday stuff... i'd love to see more foreign films but that's the worst possible week of the year.

sorry that i said that all out loud... but i've just never really understood why distributors do that. they can't possibly be getting as much media coverage out of it as they'd get during other months of the year.

January 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel, you're absolutely right, no need to apologize. I wish that Portugal had selected it for Foreign Film last year because it was buzzing hard and it could have led to a better release strategy... but then again small distributors for foreign films don't know how to deal with some of their gems.

Most of all I am sorry that you couldn't watch it, I know you'd love it.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

3rtful, Edwin, Nathaniel, It gives me NO pleasure to let you know that Body Art seems unlikely to see the light of day, here's a quote i pulled from an interview with Guadagnino from Novemeber.(The link is below)

Earlier this year, Guadagnino revealed that Simons, now the couturier at Dior, would design costumes for his next feature, “Body Art,” set to star Sigourney Weaver and Isabelle Huppert, but the project is temporarily on hold, for reasons he declines to discuss.


January 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

jorge -- one day!

john -- that is depressing. UGH. it's so sad to me that Guadagnino can make such a masterpiece and have such trouble mounting a follow up. still no auntie mame with tilda either. I don't get it because I am Love was a modest arthouse hit so it's not like anyone lost a ton of money on him.

January 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

When the fans of "Strange Days" get together, please send me an invitation. I grew up in Los Angeles and love films that show how my beloved home ends (ended ?) up. I could count the people with me in the theater on my digits (if I took off a shoe) when I saw it.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

I googled "The Lobster IMDb", and I got a result with this description: " Every three hundred years a lobster would take the form of a human."... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (and it's from last year, so it's pretty close).

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

The Immigrant, Into the Woods, Maleficent, Inherent Vice, Grand Budapest Hotel, Gone Girl (maybe, still haven't finished the book), Far From the Madding Crowd, The Imitation Game, The Two Faces of January, Dark Places, Welcome to Me are the ones I know I'm excited about.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I hope the temporary setback is a minor bump in the road. Sigourney Weaver deserves a proper vehicle for her prowess as an actress. I can't believe she and Streep are the same age and went to drama school together and yet are so unequally valued. And Isabelle Huppert is the reason to watch anything French. I love that Chastain and hopefully soon Sigourney Weaver get to act alongside her.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Speaking of Chastain, I am curious for Miss Julie. Liv directing (never seen a work by her), and Chastain paired with Colin Farrell with Samantha Morton in supporting. The cast at least makes it promising, and yeah, I am still in the Colin Farrell fan club. Look up his filmography and for every dead-end project he at least still works with interesting directors.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

good list except Godzilla. check out prelude_e_n_i_g_m_a on imdb for a lot more future films. Why don't you think The lobster is coming out?? Just cause the names not on the directors imdb page?? all the articles about it shooting in march are on imdb. dig a little deeper.

January 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterprelude-e-n-i-g-m-a

prelude-e-n-i-g-m-a - No, not just because of that. As I mentioned in the write-up, I read conflicting reports elsewhere too. I just really hope it goes through.

January 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Knight of Cups: Bale/ Gosling/ Blanchett/ Mara

Carol: Blanchett/ Haynes/ Mara

Body Art: Weaver/ Huppert/ Luca Guadagnino

Untitled Terrence Malick project: Blanchett/ Bale/ Gosling/ Mara/ Portman

Gone Girl: Fincher/ Rosamund Pike



X-Men 3

Midnight Special: Dunst/ Nichols/ Shannon/ Edgerton

Maps of the Stars: Cronenberg/ Pattinson/ Dern/ Moore/ Wasikowska

Suite française: Scott Thomas/ Williams/ Schoenaerts/ Riley/ Maria Lara

Miss Julie: Morton/ Chastain/ Farrell/ Ullmann

The Gunman: Elba/ Penn/ Bardem/ Winstone/

Sin City: A Dame to Kill

January 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

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