It's become quite obvious what draws me to the theater more than anything, the work of directors I've come to admire, appreciate and expect great things from. Certainly a film's subject matter adds to that excitement, but most often it's because the directors I most anticipate tell stories I most want to see brought to life.
However, what today's list of my top ten most anticipated movies of 2014 illustrates is that even when the subject matter isn't necessarily something in my immediate wheelhouse, the thought of a new movie from one of my favorite directors makes such subject matter immediately more interesting. Or, as in the case with one particular film on this list, the subject matter, the development of the film itself and the talent involved makes it an obvious choice for my top ten, which we'll get to right now...
If you've missed any of the previous installments on this year's list of most anticipated movies you can use the navigation below, which is also available at the bottom of the final page of this post.
Most Anticipated 2014 Navigation
I absolutely cannot wait to see Darren Aronofsky's Noah while at the same time I feel a massive amount of trepidation and concern it may be an absolute failure, a word I would never think to associate with Aronofsky's work.
The film is sure to be controversial as it started just as filming was beginning to take place when faith-based screenwriter Brian Godawa's October 2012 blog post headlined "Darren Aronofsky's Noah: Environmentalist Wacko" hit the Internet. Of course, any real kind of controversy is more-or-less ludicrous if those making the argument are looking at the Bible as some sort of 100% fact based book, but people are allowed to draw their own conclusions. I just hope drummed up controversy doesn't become the topic of conversation over what I hope will be an amazing film.
Noah is a close adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah's Ark. In a world ravaged by human sin, Noah (Russell Crowe) is given a divine mission: to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood. The screenplay was written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel and revised by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, Hugo).
Far from the Madding Crowd
Director Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt made my list of Top Ten Movies of 2013 and so a certain level of excitement for his follow-up, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd (which you can buy for your Kindle for free by clicking that link), seems only natural, especially give the cast he's lined up for this one.
Starring Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Juno Temple, I expect this one will play the 2014 Cannes Film Festival as it has already been acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures for release. Should The Hunt manage to win Best Foreign Language Picture at the Oscars this year it will only help raise the profile of Vinterberg's latest.
Based on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd is the story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching willfulness; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor. This timeless story of Bathsheba's choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love – as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.
I started reading Thomas Pynchon's novel almost as soon as I learned Paul Thomas Anderson was setting out to film an adaptation and, I'll be honest, I still haven't finished it. This isn't to say I don't like it as I can easily see the attraction Anderson had to it and I love the idea of Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role as P.I. Larry "Doc" Sportello, but I just get distracted easily nowadays when attempting to read fiction and if I get distracted from a book for a week or so I tend to have a hard time going back to where I left off. This one, I expect I'll finish before Inherent Vice finally hits theaters and at the moment I expect it to have a Toronto Film Festival debut.
By the way, along with Phoenix, the film co-stars Benicio del Toro, Kevin J. O'Connor, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Martin Short, Josh Brolin and Maya Rudolph. Yeah, try and not get excited with a cast like that.
Based on Thomas Pynchon's novel "Inherent Vice", the story follows 1960s stoner P.I. Larry "Doc" Sportello who is hired by an ex-girlfriend to investigate the disappearance of her wealthy lover.