40 must-see movies coming in 2014
Biblical epics, heavyweight biopics and jaw-dropping blockbusters – the next 12 months in movies looks to have it all. Throw in the odd off-the-wall treat, and it looks as though 2014 could be one of the best years for film in quite some time.
From compelling dramas to family-friendly fantasies, Mark Butler takes a look at 40 of the finest-looking features hitting UK cinemas this year.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Out January 3
Charting Nelson Mandela’s struggles against the Apartheid regime and his 27-year incarceration, Idris Elba stars as the South African freedom fighter turned President in a compelling mix of political thriller, courtroom drama and prison movie - dealt extra poignancy in light of the world leader’s recent passing.
12 Years A Slave
Out January 10
Telling the hard-hitting true story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in 19th century America, this is an already highly-regarded piece of filmmaking from Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) that looks set to bag a clutch of Oscars. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender head the impressive cast.
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Out January 17
Leonardo DiCaprio teams up with Martin Scorsese once more for this latest dramatic epic, about a Wall Street stockbroker who descends into rampant fraud while living a life of jaw-dropping decadence.
Out January 24
It’s Raging Bull vs Rocky, as Robert De Niro and Sly Stallone go head-to-head as as retired pugilists – and bitter rivals – who step back into the ring 30 years later for one last fight.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Out January 24
The Coen Brothers’ charming folk drama was a huge hit at Cannes. Oscar Isaac turns in a star-making performance as the embattled title character, alongside the talented likes of Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Out January 24
Chris Pine stars as a young version of the famous terrorist-battling hero in a new spy thriller, taking in Bourne-esque battles with hitmen, solid support from Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, and director/co-star Kenneth Branagh’s outrageous Russian accent.
Out Of The Furnace
Out January 29
Christian Bale goes up against a gang of ruthless thugs – led by Woody Harrelson’s detestable thug – as a sympathetic ex-con on a mission to find his missing brother. Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Casey Affleck and Zoe Saldana are along for the ride.
The Dallas Buyers Club
Out February 7
Matthew McConaughey continues his astonishing run of career-revitalising roles with a superb turn as homophobic, drug addict cowboy Ron Woodroof – in this real-life AIDS drama.
Out February 7
We need another ’80s remake like we need a hole in the head – but Jose Padilha’s take on the sci-fi action classic seems strikingly ambitious. It’s armed with a hefty budget, impressive visuals, and a solid supporting cast that includes Gary Oldman, Samuel L Jackson and Jackie Earle Haley.
Out February 14
Spike Jonze’s typically-unconventional unconventional romantic drama stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with a computer operating system – sublimely voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
The LEGO Movie
Out February 14
Based on the timeless, ever-popular children’s building toys, this animated blockbuster looks to have some serious comedy chops. Taking in a mission to save the universe, with characters such as Batman on board, the impressive voice cast includes Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman.
Out February 21
An unlikely World War II task force embark on a mission to retrieve art stolen by the Nazis in this delightful-looking caper from star/director George Clooney. His team-mates include Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and a French-accented Cate Blanchett.
Grand Budapest Hotel
Out March 7
Wes Anderson’s latest is another eccentric, offbeat comedy with an extraordinary ensemble cast. Ralph Fiennes plays a pensioner-bedding concierge at the titular establishment, with key support from Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, Adrien Brody, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, Tom Wilkinson, Mathieu Amalric and F Murray Abraham – not to mention Anderson regulars Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Willem Dafoe.
Under The Skin
Out March 14
Scarlett Johansson plays a seductive alien stalking the unsuspecting male-folk of Scotland, in this mind-warping erotic thriller from Sexy Beast director Jonathan Glazer. It looks sinister, atmospheric and utterly absorbing in equal measure.
Out March 14
Terry Gilliam’s latest stars Christoph Waltz as a reclusive computer genius coerced into exploring the meaning of life for Matt Damon’s mysterious figure. David Thewlis, Tilda Swinton and Ben Whishaw also appear in the intriguing dystopian movie – which is evoking comparisons with Gilliam’s celebrated cult classic Brazil.
Causing something of a stir on the indie festival circuit, this low-budget British sci-fi flick comes across as an ambitious, vivid, Bladerunner-esque tale of a humanoid cyborg on the run.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Out March 28
Marvel’s troubled super-soldier returns in his first post-Avengers role, pitted against mercenaries, assassins and sinister new foes in what has been billed as a superhero take on the political thriller. Various familiar faces return to join the fight.
Muppets Most Wanted
Out March 28
Everybody’s favourite colourful characters embark on a European adventure when an evil Kermit lookalike strikes. Expect plenty of exuberant comedy hi-jinks – and numerous celebrity cameos from the likes of Lady Gaga, Tom Hiddleston and P Diddy.
Out March 28
Russell Crowe stars as the fabled hero who prepares for the apocalypse by building a giant boat, in this intriguingly outlandish biblical epic from Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan). Armed with a $130 million budget and a story of ambitious scale, it’s certainly one of the most interesting blockbusters on the horizon.
Out April 11
Starring Brendan Gleeson as a conflicted priest in a small-town community, Calvary is a darkly comic Irish drama that looks intriguing to say the least. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh gaves us one of the films of the year in 2011 with brilliant crime comedy The Guard - and this looks similarly promising.
Amazing Spider-Man 2
Out April 18
Peter Parker tangles with a trio of super-villains in this latest Spidey adventure, which looks to be more action-packed and explicitly ‘comic book’ than its slightly drab predecessor. The bad guy roles are fulfilled by Paul Giamatti and Jamie Foxx as Rhino and Electro respectively, while rising star Dane DeHaan portrays Harry Osborn aka Green Goblin.
Out May 16
Directed by Gareth Edwards, who wowed critics with his inventive, low-budget creature feature Monsters back in 2010, this latest entry in the classic monster series boasts a solid cast, an eye-widening disaster movie aesthetic, and the biggest Godzilla yet.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Out May 22
Uniting the casts of the original trilogy and First Class reboot side by side on screen for the first time, Bryan Singer returns to helm an explosive time travel saga with more deadly fights, murky conspiracies and A-List star factor than you could shake an Adamantium claw at.
Out May 30
Angelina Jolie plays the villainous witch who casts the curse on Sleeping Beauty, in a live-action Disney extravaganza that looks to be dark, captivating and visually-spectacular. Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Miranda Richardson and Peter Capaldi also star.
22 Jump Street
Out June 6
A direct follow-up to last year’s surprise critical and commercial hit, 21 Jump Street, this crime-comedy caper sees stars Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reprise their roles as hapless, immature cops – now going undercover as college students.
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Out July 4
DreamWorks’ wonderful first adventure was a feast of sumptuous animation, classic storytelling and real dramatic depth – and now dragon-riding Viking boy Hiccup is back for a new, even more epic adventure.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Out July 17
Man and ape will clash in a full-on conflict, while Gary Oldman wields a ruddy huge machine-gun, in this gritty, post-apocalyptic follow-up to 2011′s surprisingly decent reboot. Motion-capture ace Andy Serkis is back as Caesar, with newcomers Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-Mcphee hopping aboard.
Out July 25
This baffling new sci-fi epic from the creators of The Matrix looks bizarre and brilliant at the same time. Coming across like Die Hard meets Bladerunner, it features Sean Bean as a Han Solo figure; Channing Tatum as an intergalactic hitman; and Mila Kunis as a toilet cleaner turned (possible) Queen Of The Universe.
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Out August 1
Based on the comic book series of the same name, Guardians Of The Galaxy is an ensemble superhero adventure set in space, and teasing a fun, tongue-in-cheek approach. The impressive cast includes Glenn Close, Zoe Saldana, John C Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Karen Gillan – and Vin Diesel as a talking tree.
The Inbetweeners 2
Out August 6
Following their record-breaking big screen debut, the hapless boys are back. This time they’ll be backpacking around Australia, with the writers promising animal-related hi-jinks in the shape of kangaroos and koalas.
The Expendables 3
Out August 15
Action legends Sly Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes and Terry Crews unite for another tongue-in-cheek outing – alongside special guest stars Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer. Stallone is promising “big things” this time around.
Having been recently crowned the box office king of 2013, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson steps into the shoes of the mythological Greek hero for an action epic revolving around a titanic war. Ian McShane, John Hurt and Rufus Sewell co-star.
Sin City 2
Robert Rodriguez’s long-awaited follow-up to his magnificent 2005 take on Frank Miller’s sordid neo-noir comic welcomes back old heroes Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke, alongside new kids in town such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s gambler and Josh Brolin’s surgery-altered Dwight.
David Fincher’s adaptation of the acclaimed Gillian Flynn novel stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris in an immersive tale of mystery, suspicion and intrigue when a woman goes missing on her wedding day.
Five soldiers embark on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines in this World War II action drama. Brad Pitt is the battle-hardened army sergeant who takes his Sherman tank and crew to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany – where they are severely outmanned and outgunned.
Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi voyage sees a group of space explorers travel deep into the unknown, with Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, David Oyelowo, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine all along for the compelling ride.
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Following on from the rather excellent first two Hunger Games films, Katniss Everdeen returns for a new bout of bloody dystopian combat, as an all-out rebellion swings into action.
Christian Bale is Moses in this sprawling biblical epic from director Ridley Scott, which tells the tale of his rebellion against Egyptian enslavement with the help of Sigourney Weaver and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul.
Dumb And Dumber To
20 years after they first delighted us in the Farrelly Brothers’ laugh-a-minute anarchic comedy, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are back as intellectually-challenged pals Harry and Lloyd, who embark on a fresh road trip to track down a long-lost child. Daniels claims the script is “hysterical” – and puts even the original in the shade.
The Hobbit: There And Back Again
Rounding off Bilbo’s fantasy saga with the final installment in a second, audacious Middle Earth trilogy, expect Peter Jackson to pull out all the stops for this magical, action-packed finale.
Which films are you most looking forward to in 2014?
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