Movie critics, academies and various guilds spend the first few months of every year taking stock of the one before it — a ritual culminating in this year's Academy Awards on March 2. But while so much attention is being placed on 2013, the real fun lies ahead.
This is a totally subjective, completely biased look at what is coming to movie theaters in 2014, and we included some important Oklahoma films that are debuting this month at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Beyond that, all release dates are subject to change, just like real life.
Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy makes his directorial debut with the musical drama “Rudderless,” which was filmed last year in Oklahoma City and Guthrie. The film is still searching for a buyer to bring it to a big screen near us, and fingers are crossed that it finds one this month at the Sundance Film Festival, where it is showing three times, including in the prestigious closing night slot. Penned by Edmond screenwriters Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison, with an assist from Macy, “Rudderless” follows a grieving former ad executive (Billy Crudup) who starts an unlikely rock band after finding some of his late son's demo tapes. Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez, Laurence Fishburne and Felicity Huffman co-star.
“This May Be the Last Time,” a documentary about American Indian music from Oklahoma-based filmmakers Sterlin Harjo and Matt Leach, also is making its world premiere at Sundance. The most personal film to date for director Harjo (“Barking Water,” “Four Sheets to the Wind”), it explores the mystery of his grandfather's death in the context of the influential and endangered ceremonial music of the Creek Nation, which played a key role in his family's grief.
Austin, Texas-based writer and director Richard Linklater started making “Boyhood” in 2002, then shot the film in small sections over the next 12 years to explore the changing relationship between Mason (Ellar Salmon) and his parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) from first grade to high school graduation. Linklater proved he is a director who takes the long view of stories with his “Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight” series, and this will be a fascinating experiment — possibly a historic one.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the go-to guys for unlikely adaptations — they turned the gentle 1970s children's book “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” into a fast-paced, computer-generated hit, and made the 1980s cops-in-high-school melodrama “21 Jump Street” into one of the funniest and smartest dumb comedies in years. Now, Lord and Miller raid your kid's toy box for “The LEGO Movie,” which puts “minifig” Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) in league with LEGO superheroes, including Superman (Channing Tatum), Batman (Will Arnett) and Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders).
With “Monuments Men,” superstar George Clooney is doing it all — starring, directing, producing and co-writing — to foil the Nazis. Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, the World War II action-thriller follows a platoon of museum curators and historians dispatched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt behind enemy lines in Germany to steal back and return to the rightful owners artistic masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. Along with Clooney, the stellar cast includes Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and John Goodman.
Sure, a “RoboCop” remake seems like a direct violation of a taste or decency code. But with a strong cast (Joel Kinnaman of “The Killing,” Michael K. Williams, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish and Michael Keaton), the Brazilian director of the “Elite Squad” films (Jose Padilha), and a trailer that seems to get both the action and the satire right, well, we'd buy that for a dollar.
The first of two films in 2014 related to graphic novelist Frank Miller (see also “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”), “300: Rise of an Empire” is a sequel to 2007's “300,” directed by Zack Snyder, taking place before, during and after that film. Snyder returns to write and produce; Noam Murro directs. In something of a first, the comic book on which the film is based won't be completed and released before the debut of the film, as Miller's Hollywood responsibilities have kept him from finishing the art, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Wes Anderson shot in three different screen widths — one for each timeline of his story — for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a sprawling comedy-drama featuring several of Anderson's repertory players (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban) and actors who should have been invited to the party years ago (welcome, Jeff Goldblum).
Back in 2011, writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller teamed with director James Bobin to reboot “The Muppets,” and triumphantly brought the late Jim Henson's funny, furry creations back to cinema screens. Now, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the rest of the lovable critters are back for “Muppets Most Wanted,” in which they get tangled up in a European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick. Segel isn't on board for the sequel, but the felt friends have Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey and a slew of celebrity cameos for backup. Even better, songsmith Bret McKenzie, who won an Oscar for his work on the 2011 reboot, is back to give the Muppets their music.
With the small-screen success of “The Bible” miniseries, it's not surprising to find 2014 vying to become the year of the big-screen biblical epic. Visionary writer and director Darren Aronofsky's long-awaited “Noah” is the first of two hotly anticipated cinematic offerings taken from the Old Testament due out this year (see also “Exodus”). With Aronofsky at the helm, it's unlikely that “Noah” will sail the same familiar waters of the Scripture-based films that came before it, but the auteur has an excellent cast — Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson — helping him steer the boat.
In “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Chris Evans returns as Captain America following the events of “The Avengers.” Steve Rogers learns to cope with the modern world, but when a conspiracy involving the mysterious Winter Soldier is discovered, Captain America must team up with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to stop a covert enemy.