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10 things to look forward to at the movies in 2014

2014-01-10 15:14
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent

New York -  Hollywood may be hoping for a little less drama in 2014.

2013 was a tale of two cinemas. Blockbusters like The Lone Ranger and After Earth flopped spectacularly while many in the industry (including Steven Spielberg) bemoaned the increasingly commercial trajectory of the studios. And yet by the end of the year, Hollywood had set a record with nearly $11 billion in revenue, while critics hailed the year's crop as one of the best in years.

How will 2014 unfold? The plot, at least, will be unchanged, with Hollywood moving to the familiar pattern of sketchy spring releases, summer superhero blockbusters and fall awards-contenders.

Here are 10 things to look for at the movies in 2014:


Anticipation runs especially high for Interstellar, Christopher Nolan's deep space travel adventure starring Matthew McConaughey. Nolan, the director of Inception and The Dark Knight, is one of few directors whose name alone makes fanboys salivate. His imprimatur promises a cinematic experience (he likes to shoot with IMAX cameras) that few today can match. Nolan's name also looms large in Transcendence, which he produced. The artificial intelligence tale, starring Johnny Depp is the directorial debut of Nolan's longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister.


This year will benefit from last year's unusually good leftovers. George Clooney's World War II art rescue tale The Monuments Men will open in February after being delayed from December. James Grey's Ellis Island drama The Immigrant, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cottilard, could emerge as an Oscar dark horse after earning acclaim on the festival circuit. Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher, featuring a dark turn from Steve Carell, will bow sometime in 2014. Grace of Monaco, with Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, opens in March.


Marvel's world domination continues with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. The last, the lone non-sequel, represents Marvel's reach for another ensemble team-up film, and, with a cast including Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper, perhaps something a little different than its usual output.


Though 2013 contained no major live-action musical, several are coming this year. Clint Eastwood, of all people, directs the screen adaptation of the hit production about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in Jersey Boys. Annie, produced by Will Smith and Jay Z, will get a contemporary update with Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis as the titular orphan. Rob Marshall (Chicago) will transfer James Lapine and Steven Sondheim's Grimm fable Into the Woods to the big screen, with Meryl Streep as the Witch and Depp as the Big Bad Wolf.


Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master) releases have become the highlight of many a movie buff's year. His Inherent Vice, adapted from Thomas Pynchon's novel and starring Phoenix, continues the director's series of California-set films. Also hotly anticipated is David Fincher's version of Gillian Flynn's best-selling thriller, Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck. Other directors to watch in 2014 include Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Woody Allen (Magic in the Moonlight).


This year will boast not just a Noah, but also a Moses. First will come Darren Aronofsky's Noah, starring Russell Crowe and a very big boat. Ridley Scott will follow with Exodus, starring Christian Bale as Moses. Greek mythology will also double up in 2014 with two Hercules movies. The demigod will be played by Dwayne Johnson in Brett Ratner's Hercules and by Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules. More Greek warfare comes with the sequel 300: Rise of an Empire.


Naturally, 2014 boasts a boatload of sequels and remakes including Godzilla, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 22 Jump Street, The Expendables 3 and How to Train Your Dragon 2. Peter Jackson will finally close out his lifetime with J.R.R. Tolkien with his final Hobbit installment: The Hobbit: There and Back Again.


Co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will quickly follow up their 2013 hit This Is the End with The Interview, a comedy starring James Franco as a talk-show host caught up in an assassination plot. Rogen also stars with Zac Efron in Neighbors, by Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, about a young family living next to a frat house. The 2014 comedy lineup also includes Dumb and Dumber To, with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels; the one-night-stand comedy Walk of Shame with Elizabeth Banks; and Sex Tape with Cameron Diaz.


Angelina Jolie hasn't starred in a live-action film since 2010's forgettable The Tourist, but she'll be a large presence in 2014. She stars as the title villain in Maleficent, the twisted Sleeping Beauty tale. She also directs her second feature in Unbroken, a World War II prisoner-of-war drama co-scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen. Jolie's famous companion, Brad Pitt, stars in a WWII story of his own, Fury, about an American tank crew in Nazi Germany.


The competition is thick for the next hit young-adult franchise. Among the films looking to draw teenage audiences with stories from popular young-adult novels are: the post-apocalyptic Divergent, the high-school vampire fantasy Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters; and the sci-fi dystopia The Maze Runner. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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