12 Films to Look Forward to in the Second Half of 2014

At the start of the year I listed 25 films to look forward to in 2014. Eighteen of these have now been released (sixteen of which I’ve seen) and one had its name changed and was postponed to next year. (Welcome to Yesterday, now Project Almanac).

It was inevitable that this was going to be a Jan to June heavy list so here now are ten more films which pre-Cannes and not yet having release dates were not on my radar six months ago. There are also two movies, Guardians of the Galaxy and Interstellar, that featured on the first list but I’m even more excited about them now than I was then.

Starting now then, in the tail end of the Summer, a time when blockbusters mix with little independents, and ending at the start of the awards season, here are twelve films to look forward to in the last half of 2014:

Boyhood – released 11th July

This film has been shooting for twelve years yet I’ve not heard of it until now. There is a lot of buzz about films these days, even from the very earliest stage of their production. (No even non-movie nerds can have escaped the continuos snippets of info coming out about Star Wars or Superman Vs Batman) I think the silence around Boyhood is a good sign, it means it is relying on quality film making, rather than hype.

They could have hyped this too, it’s been quite an undertaking and I’m not sure anything quite like it has been done before. In 2002 Richard Linklater cast 6 year old Ellar Coltrane and his own daughter Lorelei, then 7, as brother and sister. Since that point he has been shooting a few scenes each year to tell a story of children growing into adulthood. If nothing else you’ve got to respect the patience and commitment to continuity but from what the reviews are saying there is more to admire than that.

Begin Again – released 11th July

There aren’t really any actors who would make me want to see a film anymore, although stars Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo are both performers I admire very much. No, it’s the directors that I get excited about and sometimes it only needs one previous film to make me sit up and pay attention. Not put off by the disappointment of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla following the excellent Monsters, I can wait to see what John Carney has up his sleeve following on from his delightful, heartrending and sublime debut Once.

He may not be shaking it up with the story of a man and a woman who bond over a shared love of music on the city streets (this time New York – I do so love New York) but if it’s half as charming as what he gave us last it will be wonderful.

Earth to Echo – released 25th July

Following the success of E.T in the 80s there was a run of child centred sci-fi films. If you remember movies like Batteries Not Included, Explorers and The Flight of the Navigator then this could be a bit of a nostalgia trip. Earth to Echo certainly reminds me of these other films so I will definitely be going along with my ten year old daughter.

Guardians of the Galaxy – released 31st July

Marvel Studios had me at Iron Man and while it hasn’t all been glorious highs they haven’t really dropped the ball yet. This is their fourth film post Avengers but it is the first to introduce a new set of characters, one of whom is a raccoon. (Look out for the inevitable Cyril Sneer mash ups that will turn up on YouTube.)

They are drip feeding us different trailers for this one and while that can sometimes be overkill, on this occasion it all just looks a lot of fun. Also, that beefed up, throbbing beat version of Blue Suede’s Hooked On a Feeling they keep playing is just great, I so hope that’s on the soundtrack.

The Congress – released 15th August

Robin Wright plays actress Robin Wright who, fearing her age may mean the best of her career is behind her, sells her digital likeness to a film studio for them to cast and manage as they will. Her persona then becomes a bigger star than she ever was.

I don’t quite know what to make of this one but, part live action and part surreal animation, it’s looks like it’s going to be interesting.

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Two Days, One Night – released 22nd August

Going back to what I said about great directors driving me to select films, here we have the latest movie from, Belgian film makers, the Dardenne Brothers. This is about a woman trying to convince her colleagues to sacrifice their bonuses so that she is not made redundant. It doesn’t sound thrilling but that is the brothers art, they take relatively mundane stories and make them wonderful. Their last six films were all nominated for the Palme d’Or and two of them won so they know what there are doing.

Lucy – released 22nd August

Scarlett Johansson is having a good year. With Don Jon, Under the Skin, Her and The Winter Soldier she isn’t moving away from her reputation as a pretty face so much as showing that she doesn’t need to. She can take the sexy woman roles and be an interesting character actor at the same time.

In Lucy she plays a woman who is given a drug to enhance her human capabilities only for it to turn her into some kind of mega Jedi. It looks like Limitless meets Phenomenon.

Wish I Was Here – released 19th September

Next on my list of directors who I admire, often after only one film, is Zach Braff. In 2004 he gave us the delightful Garden State and now he is back with this intimate story of a father re-examining his life. I’m not selling it very well but didn’t you see Garden State? At the very least I expect to be introduced to some great new bands on the soundtrack.

Gone Girl – released 3rd October

Gillian Flynn, the screenwriter here and author of the best selling book on which this is based, has stated that the adaptation will actually be very different to the book. Apparently there will be deviations and the narrative will have a very different feel.

There are several examples of great books that made bad movies. (The Golden Compass, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Noah?) Sometimes the way for a story to succeed in both mediums is to accept that novels and films are very different animals and make appropriate changes. This has worked for texts as varied as Under the Skin and How to Train Your Dragon and it may similarly make Gone Girl a more interesting and memorable project.

Alternatively it might just enrage the fans but, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Gone a Girl has a great director behind it in David Fincher and anyone who’s read the book will know there are elements of its telling that could seem clunky on screen.

Kingsman: The Secret Service – released 17th October

I wish I looked half as good in a suit and glasses as Colin Firth. In this one he plays a senior agent who, after witnessing a chase through the city, recruits a streetwise kid into his secret organisation, in place of the more obvious contenders.

It promises fantastic action, advanced weaponry and wise cracks. It’s basically Men in Black without the aliens but it comes from the creative team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman who last turned over a classic genre with Kick Ass.

It also has Mark Hamill in it who we’ve not seen for a while. Could this be part of a career renaissance? Maybe with the new Star Wars film he’ll finally be able to build an interesting and varied CV off the back of playing Luke Skywalker.

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Interstellar – released 7th November

Of all the directors I revere Christopher Nolan is probably my favourite right now and this is due to much more than just one movie. This is the man who has given us the greatest superhero trilogy of all time (possibly even the greatest trilogy) and this isn’t even his best work.

I am nervous that one day he might turn out something that isn’t totally brilliant but that hasn’t happened yet and this new one is IN SPACE! Alfonso Whorón?

Foxcatcher – released 25th December

December’s biggest film is going to be The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (which I’m expecting any day now to be announced as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Part 1). It may not be the most memorable movie of the month though as Christmas Day sees the release of Foxcatcher. (Does anyone actually go to the cinema on Christmas Day?)

Foxcatcher is the true story of Olympic medal winning wrestler David Schultz, his brother and his sponsor, John du Pont. This is not an inspiring sports movie though, theirs was a relationship that went south in an alarming fashion. Think less Jerry Maquire and more Jeffrey Dahmer, less Senna and more Psycho, less Moneyball and more Monster’s Ball (I could do these all day but they won’t get any better.)

Paranoid schizophrenic du Pont is played by Steve Carell in an apparently amazing performance. We’ve seen evidence of this before but Carell now looks set to be regarded as one of those actors, alongside Robin Williams and Olivia Coleman (but not Robert DeNiro), who can do intense drama and broad comedy. Brick Tamland might just win an Oscar.

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