With 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,' ''Frozen' and 'Her,' the past year closed out with some pretty stupendous cinema. But it's 2014 now! So out with the old and in with the new: Here are 14 movies to watch out for in 2014.
To toast the New Year, we're looking ahead to the coming weeks and months in search of the most enticing upcoming titles. And what we found are some outrageous comedies, heart-racing romances, captivating coming-of-age stories and plenty of star-studded spectacle! By our count, there's already 14 reasons to be pumped over 2014 in cinema.
In Theaters: Jan. 24, 2014
Vanessa Hudgens digs into some serious drama (not to mention a major make-under) with this independent feature. Salacious turns in movies like 'Sucker Punch,' 'Spring Breakers' and 'Machete Kills' proved the 'High School Musical' star is not a child actor anymore. Now it's time for her to show what an accomplished actress she has become with this remarkable true story -- and we can't wait.
Written and directed by Ron Krauss, 'Gimme Shelter' has Hudgens playing Apple, a young woman who flees her abusive mother to find the father she never knew. But when his big home isn't as welcoming as she'd dreamed, Apple has to set out to form a family of her own. Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser and James Earl Jones co-star.
'That Awkward Moment'
In Theaters: Jan. 31, 2014
Funny enough, our next pick also features a 'High School Musical' alum! Zac Efron fronts this R-rated sex comedy about three best friends who swear off serious relationships after one has his heart broken into a million pieces. But their bro pact is threatened when these boys meet girls that understand the important things in life, like sex, scotch and Xbox.
Adding to our enthusiasm for this delectably raunchy comedy are Efron's co-stars, rising English ingénue Imogen Poots, Michael B. Jordan, who recently won critical acclaim with 'Fruitvale Station,' and Miles Teller, who stole our hearts with the stupendous coming-of-age drama 'The Spectacular Now.'
In Theaters: Feb. 14, 2014
Craving something with a bit of bite? Then mark your calendar for this sassy action-comedy inspired by the bestselling YA novels of Richelle Mead. Zoey Deutch stars as Rose Hathaway, a half-human/half-vampire in training to be a bodyguard for her best friend and vampire glamor girl Lissa (Lucy Fry) from the evil undead who'd do her harm. But when they aren't battling the powers of darkness, they are just dealing with the high drama inherent in high school.
Giving this YA adaptation added intrigue are its behind-the-scenes players, brothers Daniel and Mark Waters. The former is the screenwriter behind the devilish dark comedy 'Heathers,' while the latter directed the one and only 'Mean Girls.' We can't imagine a better team to tackle this sharp teen comedy.
'The Pretty One'
In Theaters: Feb. 7, 2014
'New Girl' star Jake Johnson works his curmudgeonly charms in this unconventional romantic comedy from writer-director Jenee LaMarque that has Zoe Kazan playing a pair of identical twins who are very different. Audrey is outgoing, fashionable and reckless. Laurel is timid, stuck in a time warp fashion-wise and frightened of new experiences. But after a fateful accident, Laurel makes a daring move by following in her sister's footsteps and assuming her identity. With a new lease on life, she finds herself falling for an eccentric but sweet guy next door (Johnson).
We had the chance to catch this quirky indie last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival, and have been eagerly awaiting its theatrical release ever since. While its plotline is decidedly dark, LaMarque's screenplay is wonderfully warm and funny. Best of all, the chemistry between Johnson and Kazan -- who deftly creates not one, but two compelling characters here -- is exhilarating. This is the kind of movie that'd be great for a date or a girls night out.
'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
In Theaters: March 7, 2014
Is there a filmmaker alive who makes prettier movies than Wes Anderson? The inventive writer-director behind such dazzling and delightful comedies as 'Rushmore,' 'The Royal Tenenbaums,' 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' and 'Moonrise Kingdom' is back with a murder mystery unlike any we've seen before. Over the years Andersen has shown a great gift for crafting clever characters and sensational stories. But on top of all that, his films are so flush with color they are never anything less than a feast for the eyes!
His latest ensemble piece centers on Gustave H, a concierge of the titular hotel who is suspected of foul play when one of his guests/lovers turns up dead. Hijinks and lots of fantastic banter are sure to ensue. Filling out his star-stacked ensemble are Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Wilkinson, Harvey Keitel and F. Murray Abraham.
In Theaters: March 14, 2014
From 2004 to 2007, teen detective Veronica Mars was relentless in her pursuit of truth and justice as she tore through the shadiness and secrets of the affluent community of Neptune, Calif. But the show's grievous cancellation didn't kill fan devotion. And after an appeal on Kickstarter, the series' creator, Rob Thomas, paid off on his promise for a spin-off movie!
Set nine years after the final episode, the Veronica Mars movie picks up with our plucky heroine living in New York City and trying desperately to distance herself from her past and all things Neptune. But her resolve vanishes when her long lost ex-boyfriend Logan is accused of murder. In no time, Veronica returns to Neptune and shakes things up at a high school reunion we suspect no one will ever forget. She's back in action and as badass as ever!
In Theaters: March 21, 2014
In 2012, 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager's' Shailene Woodley broke through in film with a Golden Globe-nominated performance in the dramedy 'The Descendants.' Now she's showing us what an action heroine she can be with this adventure story set in a dystopian world where different equals dangerous.
Adapted from Veronica Roth's YA novel, 'Divergent' stars Woodley as Beatrice Prior, a teen girl on the brink of learning which classification she qualifies for: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless or Erudite. But when she takes the aptitude test (think Harry Potter's sorting hat), she is frightened to learn she is "Divergent," a classification that makes her very existence a threat to her society's grim government. Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller co-star.
'The Other Woman'
In Theaters: April 25, 2014
You know that thing where you meet a guy who seems positively perfect, then find out he's married? The anti-heroine at the center of 'The Other Woman' does. Played by Cameron Diaz, this spunky singleton is stunned to discover her boyfriend's been hiding a wife from her. When she and his Mrs. (Leslie Mann) hit it off, they decide not to get mad, but get even.
This unconventional buddy comedy is being called 'The First Wives Club' for a younger generation. Not only does it boast a buzzed about script from rising screenwriter Melissa Stacks, but 'The Other Woman' also features appearances from 'Game of Thrones' hunk Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, fashionista/rap artist Nicki Minaj and Sports Illustratedcovergirl Kate Upton. And did we mention it's directed by Nick Cassavetes, helmer of 'The Notebook'?
In Theaters: May 9, 2014
How about a double dose of R-rated comedies starring Zac Efron? As follow-up to his rocky rom-com 'The Five-Year Engagement,' director Nicholas Stoller offers 'Neighbors,' which focuses on that age-old battle between suburbanites and frat boys.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play a married couple with a newborn baby and a growing fear they are getting old. But this concern takes a backseat when a rowdy fraternity moves in next door. Wild parties leave their nights sleepless and their yard caked in trash and used condoms. But fighting back incites a full on prank war with the frat's oft-shirtless leader (Efron!) Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Craig Roberts co-star.
In Theaters: May 30, 2014
Think you know the story of 'Sleeping Beauty'? Guess again. Angelina Jolie brings to life the iconic Maleficent. You might know her as the cruel and shape-shifting sorceress who cursed the lovely Princess Aurora. But Disney's upcoming live-action adventure will at long last unveil this villainess' backstory, which led her to a road of wickedness and revenge. As it's helmed by two-time Academy Award-winning art designer, Robert Stromberg, we're expecting something pretty spectacular here.
Elle Fanning fills the role of the adored Aurora, while Juno Temple, Sharlto Copley, Brentn Thwaites and Imelda Staunton co-star.
'The Fault in Our Stars'
In Theaters: June 6, 2014
'Divergent' star Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort reunite for another YA adaptation, this one based on the heralded John Green novel about two teenagers who find first love while battling with terminal cancer. Woodley stars as 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has been fighting stage four cancer since she was 13. Her parents worry that despite her excelling in her studies, she's depressed. So they push her to go to a support group for kids living with cancer. There she meet Gus (Ansel), a former basketball player who has lost his leg, but not his spirit. Sharing a similar sense of humor, their connection is instant, beautiful and rare… but bound to be short-lived.
There was an outcry among fans when the film's poster hit with the tag line "One Sick Love Story." While the twisted humor in there didn't play to all, we're eagerly awaiting the film's first trailer and its upcoming summer release.
In Theaters: July 2, 2014
After proving to be the breakout star of the 2011 smash hit 'Bridesmaids,' comedienne Melissa McCarthy could basically write her own ticket in Hollywood. And as a follow-up to her hilarious and wildly successful summer movie 'The Heat,' she's offering another sure-to-please comedy with 'Tammy.'
Penned by herself and husband Ben Falcone -- who also directs- -t his funny feature follows the titular Tammy, a woman whose life is thrown into spin when she loses her job and learns her husband has been cheating on her. How to cope? How about a road trip with her hard-drinking grandmother who swears like a sailor and is played by Susan Sarandon? Works for us!
In Theaters: Oct. 3, 2014
Not only was Gillian Flynn's best-selling crime novel 'Gone Girl' at the top of the New York Timesbestseller list for eight weeks straight, but it also was the must-see read for book clubs and bookworms nationwide thanks to its addictive prose and tantalizing twists and turns. It's fitting then that David Fincher, who has helmed such enthralling adaptations as 'Fight Club,' 'Zodiac' and 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' has directed this chilling thriller.
Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a down-on-his-luck writer who becomes the number one suspect when his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing on their wedding anniversary. One major joy of the novel was not knowing what might happen next. And with Flynn confessing she's written a completely new third act as the adaptation's screenwriter, the same could well hold true for this tantalizing title. Neil Patrick Harris, Missi Pyle, Casey Wilson and Tyler Perry co-star.
'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'
In Theaters: Nov. 21, 2014
Headlined by Jennifer Lawrence, this franchise inspired by Suzanne Collins' wildly popular YA novels has been shattering box office records and proving audiences will turn out in force for a female-fronted action movie. The series second installment, 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,' has just passed 'Iron Man 3' as the highest grossing release of 2013, so we can rightly count its follow-up, 'Mockingjay - Part 1,' as one of the most anticipated movies of 2014, if not the most.
Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) has now twice survived the cruel mechanizations of the corrupt Capitol's Hunger Games. But at the end of the Quarter Quell, she was saved by rebel force while her friend and love interest Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) was left behind. On the first half of this series finale, she'll not only have to confront her feelings for him, but also face her destiny as a leader of the growing rebellion against the Capitol and the vicious President Snow. Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin and Julianne Moore co-star.