1. The Lego Movie (February 7) – In what looks to be a surprisingly comedic animated spectacle, Legos taking the shape of characters like Batman and Wonder Woman (with a voice cast including Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman) will have some pretty exciting adventures. I’ve never been into Lego animation, but with a script by the writers of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (1 & 2), I have hope it will be entertaining.
2. The Monuments Men (February 7) – “The Monuments Men” was originally set to release at the tail-end of 2013, not the beginning of 2014. With an all-star cast of Oscar favorites (George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett), I can see why it wouldn’t prefer to be stuck in the muck of February releases. No matter, this has Oscar written all over, even if it does come 365 days early. Based on the real-life adventures of a group of conservators tasked with protecting monuments, paintings, and statues being destroyed by careless armies in WWII, the story has promise. I’m reading the book, and so far I see a perfectly executable story and a fantastic set of casting. Clooney and Damon will do fantastic in their roles as George Stout and James Rorimer. I’m pumped.
3. Son of God (February 28) – This one is getting a lot of hype in my small, conservative hometown theater. Now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m not shocked. It’s that Jesus biopic we’ve all been waiting for, but Jesus (to be played by Portuguese star Diogo Morgado) looks like your average, likeable, sarcastic prophet. It tells his whole story, which might mean some important scenes won’t get the attention they deserve (that’s why there’s “The Nativity Story” and “The Passion of the Christ” to thoroughly cover those periods of his life) – either way, it could be interesting.
4. Bad Words (March 21) – Jason Bateman is an adult who finds a loophole that allows him to enter the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee – which he lost decades earlier. 40% of viewers who saw it in early screenings (in Canada) gave it a 10/10 on IMDb. That’s impressive for a comedy being released to the general public in March. I’m sure I’ll have more words to describe it once I see it, but for now all I can thing of is p-r-o-m-i-s-i-n-g.
5. Noah (March 28) – The following week, Darren Aronosky’s (“Pi,” “Black Swan“) newest thriller releases. It’s “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly and based (obviously) on the epic Biblical tale. With amazing-looking CGI, a great cast (also including Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins), and my favorite director at the helm, “Noah” could not be more highly-anticipated.
6. Dom Hemingway (April 4) – Having already released across the pond, “Dom Hemingway” (starring Jude Law as the title character) has already received mixed reviews. The story of a beloved safe-cracker’s release from prison, and his venture to gain back all he lost when he was caught, seems fun. Comedy/crime/dramas (like, I would say, “The Wolf of Wall Street“) are a fun sort of movie. This looks like it could be some fun and then some.
7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2) – Just look at the trailer. Do it. I’ll wait here. Have you watched it? See what I mean! Dang that’s exciting.
8. Neighbors (May 9) – Everybody loves a funny comedy. “Neighbors,” about a family with a young baby (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) unknowingly moving in next to a fraternity house (with frat boys Zac Efron and Dave Franco), looks funny. Really funny. At one point, Efron and Franco dress like different Robert De Niro characters for a party and interact with Rogen in character. Hilarious stuff.
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23) – Teaming together the best of both worlds…I don’t mean humans and mutants, I mean the youthful cast of “First Class” and and elder cast of the original “X-Men” trilogy. By adding a time travel element (believe me, it doesn’t look cheesy so far), director Bryan Singer is able to put Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, and Ian McKellen in the same movie – along with a ton of others, making this look to be the best “X-Men” movie ever.
10. A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 30) – Seth MacFarlane’s second attempt at directing (the hysterical “Ted” being his first) is exciting to me. A great cast (Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, and Seth MacFarlane himself) and a promising premise (“A cowardly farmer seeks the help of a gunslinger’s wife to help him win back the woman who left him,” from IMDb) makes me await with anxiety the late May release date for this comedy.
11. The Expendables 3 (August 15) – I’m not ashamed to admit I look forward to this team of guys’ guys hitting theaters together again. Along with Stallone, Li, Statham, and Schwartzenegger are Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderes, and Mel Gibson. I don’t even know if I want to see ol’ Mel shooting big guns with these guys, but the hesitation is part of the reason it’s so exciting!
12. The Maze Runner (September 19) – Based on James Dashner’s popular novel of the same name, “The Maze Runner” is a post-apocalyptic story about a boy who finds himself in a creepy maze with other boys, all of whom have had their memories erased. They must find their way through the maze and try to piece together why they’re there or what they’re doing in the process. It looks thrilling, and I love claustrophobic adventures like this is looking to be.
13. The Equalizer (September 26) – The popular late-80s television series turns into a feature-length film (and, if rumors are true, franchise) starring Denzel Washington as an ex-CIA who quits his job to help the common man (and, as the casting suggests, woman) get back at those who have wronged them. Also starring Chloe Grace-Moretz (“Carrie“) and Oscar-winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”), I can see this being a perfect role for Denzel. Here’s to hoping he’s an anti-hero (like “Training Day” or “American Gangster”) instead of the everyman hero he always plays in disappointing movies like “Unstoppable” and “The Taking of Pelham 123.”
14. Gone Girl (October 3) – The newest from director David Fincher (“Se7en,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), “Gone Girl” (based on the bestselling novel) stars Ben Affleck as a husband searching for his wife, who has gone missing. Their marriage had been crumbling for years, so naturally the husband is the first suspect in the disappearance. A Fincher-directed thriller starring Ben Affleck has a ton of potential. It sounds exciting. These will be a long ten months…