Most Anticipated Movies of 2014: #30-21

#30: Noah

Director: Darren Aronosfsky

Starring: Russell Crowe

Plot: It’s the story of Noah’s Ark. Read a book. There’s a good one I can recommend.

Pros: Darren Aronofsky is one of the most talented American directors working today and he is good at making great big films (Black Swan) as well as films that feel more intimate (The Wrestler). He has a fantastic track record with actors, and I can never count out Crowe, even after the embarrassment that was Les Miserables. The material should already be pretty gripping on its own, so watch out if Aronofsky finds a creative new way to tap into this antiquated story.

Cons: Most of my qualms come from what has been a terribly lackluster TV marketing campaign. Also, why is this releasing in the doldrums of March, while Ridley Scott’s biblical picture gets to come out in December during peak movie season? Are they trying to stand out by debuting at a quieter time or do they just know they have a disappointing product?

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Most Anticipated Movies of 2014: #40-31

We’re steadily working our way through the year’s hottest upcoming properties. We kick things off with the movie that probably has the greatest on-paper odds of being an awards juggernaut nine months from now.

 

#40: Unbroken

Director: Angelina Jolie

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domnhall Gleeson, Jai Courtney, Garret Hedlund

Plot: The story of Olympic long-distance runner Louis Zamperini. As a member of the United States Air Force, he was shot down during WWII and survived many days at sea, only to be thrown into a Japanese POW camp.

Pros: Well, in terms of prestige, it has just about everything going for it. The story looks to involve the glorious camaraderie of sport, the agonies of war, and the inspirational tug of a survival tale. If told right, this could be a rousing tear-jerker with a fascinating historical figure at its center. Angelina Jolie is just about the closest approximation of royalty that America has, and her husband, King Brad the Benevolent just won his first Oscar for producing 12 Years A Slave. Could Jolie follow it up with an award of her own? She recently debuted some footage from the film’s war scenes at CinemaCon in Las Vegas barely 48 hours ago, and word is that it all looked pretty impressive.

Cons: Jolie is still very untested as a director and her debut film, In the Land of Blood and Honey, apparently had a lot of self-important conviction and not a whole lot else. The middlebrow feel of this project reminds me a lot of her fellow heartthrob-turned-director George Clooney, who has had middling directorial success despite picking scripts that look safe on paper. I foresee a similar fate for Jolie unless she can make her hero’s tale into something truly interesting and literate. The slate of actors is also far from a slam-dunk. Jai Courtney is most well-known for co-starring with Bruce Willis in the terrible A Good Day to Die Hard, Garret Hedlund did nothing to elevate the tedious Tron: Legacy, and Domnhall Gleeson has done little of note besides playing one of Ron Weasley’s brothers. Jolie will not only have to make her story snap, but will have to coax great performances out of some very green talent.

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Most Anticipated Movies: #50-41

After about four days delay, here is #50-41 of my most anticipated 2014 film releases!

 

#50: Every Thing Will Be Fine

Director: Wim Wenders

Starring: James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marie-Josee Croze

Plot: While driving aimlessly after a quarrel with his girlfriend, a writer accidentally runs over and kills a child. The accident and its aftermath deeply traumatizes him. Over the next 12 years, he struggles to make sense of what happened and continue on with life, but when he looks in the mirror, he sees a murderer.

Pros: Wim Wenders made two of the best films of the 1980’s with Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire. Since then, he’s been on a bit of a dry spell, but still shows up from time to time with strong work like Buena Vista Social Club or 2011’s Pina. It sounds like it could be a delicate, thoughtful film with a lot room for subtle character dynamics. It should be very exciting to see what a newly reenergized James Franco does with this lead role, and I hope that the ever-promising Rachel McAdams will have a chance to remind us of her talent. The rest of the cast is great as well, so it could be an exceptional film if Wenders is in peak form.

Cons: The problem is Wenders is inconsistent as of late. Yes, Pina and Buena Vista Social Club are good films, but, more specifically, they’re good documentaries. Every Thing is a fictional narrative film. One would have to look back a lot further to find the last Wenders narrative feature that was wholly satisfying. I hope his success with Pina has renewed his confidence, but it’s been some time since he was at the top of his game as a fictional storyteller.

 

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Most Anticipated Films of 2014: #63-51

Greetings, friends and enemies of the Couch! It’s been a little while since we’ve posted new content, but we’re starting to ramp back up again. March is never the most exciting time of the film-going year, but I can happily say that The Lego Movie and The Grand Budapest Hotel are wonderful and well worth your time, so go see them and let their heartfelt exuberance tide you over until more great films come along. But, since things are still a bit slow overall, I figured I’d start whetting your appetites for what we have to look forward to. Every day or so, I’ll release more of my countdown to the films that I am most anticipating. I tried to cover a healthy range of arthouse and blockbuster fare, though you may notice certain tentpole movies appearing fairly low on the list. Some of these titles are ones I may not be truly anticipating with any great interest, but I thought it was still worth noting their existence just in case some of you are looking forward to them. I’m kicking off with my #63-51 most anticipated movies, and I’ll try to release 10 more every day or so. If any of you are reading, chime in with any films you are looking forward to. It may not make the film year progress any faster, but it makes the waiting more fun! Now, without further ado. . . .

#63: The Hobbit: There and Back Again

Plot: Bilbo Baggins and friends face off against the fearsome dragon, Smaug. Then they all go home.

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen

Pros: Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are very good actors. It’s always nice to see them, even in films that look like tacky video games. I know they’ll make the viewing experience as pleasant as they can when I am inevitably dragged to this by my Anglophile significant other.

Cons: The two Hobbit movies have ranged from lackluster to terrible. After starting off with a mediocre but passable first installment, the second film jumped the tracks to become an interminable, dumb slog. If Lord of the Rings was that great Spring Break adventure you took ten years ago in college, The Hobbit has been a misguided attempt to recreate that trip, even though the only one who seems really into it is the pudgy New Zealander driving the car. At the end of it, I have a hunch we’ll all just feel sad for a time that can never be recaptured. And then we’ll think long and hard the next time Peter Jackson asks us to take a three-year road trip with him.

 

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#11: Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers begins with a prologue straight out of a music video, all young flesh and abrasive beats. A common complaint from detractors of the movie is that its frenetic, flashy, leering style makes the whole piece feel not radically different from an episode of MTV’s The Grind. This is an intensely euphoric opening, full of lusty women and arrogant men. Hordes of scantily clad girls and testosterone-addled guys are grinding, thrusting, and exposing themselves along the beaches of St. Petersburg, Florida, as a Skrillex track blares and scratches along with them. We cannot hear voices above the throbbing techno beat, but everyone appears to be caught up in a drunken ecstasy that borders on spiritual. Some of the girls wrap their mouths suggestively around the tips of red-white-and-blue popsicles. In a few minutes, however, this frenzied vision passes and we find ourselves on a quiet, anonymous college campus, far away from all those half-nude, writhing bodies. We have woken up in the real world of droning professors and suburban houses, but we sense that feverish vision was very real and is still out there, waiting for us. Some might call Spring Breakers a music video but, as imagined by director Harmony Korine, the beaches seen in so many MTV specials take on a fantastic, almost mythical quality. This is the land of Spring Break, a beautiful, undulating dream and a flamboyant, vulgar nightmare. It is an insidious and seductive American promised land, alluring and morally bankrupt and bathed in every shade of neon. And it is always out there.

Spring Breakers- Opening

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Brady’s Oscar Predictions

Oscars

For anyone out there reading us, I must first apologize for what has turned into a lengthy Carnivorous Couch hiatus. Robb and I have each been in our own dank holes of stress and responsibility lately, so it’s been almost two weeks since we have posted any new content to the site. I am working feverishly away on the review for my #11 film of the year, which should become available some time very soon. Next week, we’ll have a full feature dedicated to Top 10 lists from ourselves and from various friends of the show. But, before we get to all of that goodness, the long Oscar season finally comes to a close tonight. We’ll be throwing our third annual Oscar Spectacular with foods and cocktails for all the Best Picture nominees. We’ll also have shots in every f***ing color because Spring Breakers don’t need no stinkin’ Best Picture nomination to come to our party! Until then, I wanted to go through my own thoughts on this awards season by offering up predictions, spoilers, and thoughts on what should have been there. I am actually going to attempt to do this for almost every category (except Documentary Shorts, of which I have yet to see one, ever), even though there are a couple of films I missed (sorry, August: Osage County). So, if you are rapidly trying to fill out a prediction ballot for a party of your own, feel free to copy off of my test, though there’s a good chance we’ll both end up having to take the entire class over. I’m going to go from the smaller categories and work my way down to the big ones. Here we go!

 
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