2014! It’s a new year full of endless possibility and a whole bunch of new movies! To help you plan ahead, I’ve compiled a list of 44 films you just might want to check out before the next time the ball drops in Times Square.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (January 2)
If you’re a Paranormal Activity completist, this is the first of two movies you’ll need to see this year. It’s a “spinoff” and not an official part of the PA series, though, apparently because the people being haunted aren’t white suburbanites this time. Side note: You won’t lose your geek cred if you skip either of this year’s PA movies.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (January 17)
It’s been more than a decade since The Sum of All Fears. Ben Affleck has moved on to play Batman, Alec Baldwin has been preoccupied with making 30 Rock and public spectacles, and Harrison Ford won’t return their calls. Tom Clancy is dead. Just when things looked bleakest for fans of Jack Ryan, Chris Pine shows up in his USS Enterprise to reboot the Jack Ryan movie franchise with the first film not based on a Clancy story.
I, Frankenstein (January 24)
Doctor Frankenstein shouts “It’s Aliiiiive!” and out struts Aaron Eckhart as a present day dystopian monster. This one is made by the folks who directed the Underworld movies, and it appropriately includes Bill Nighy in the cast. Along for the surely bleak and monster filled story is Yvonne Strahovski from Chuck and Mass Effect (let’s just forget about Dexter, okay?).
The LEGO Movie (February 7)
First there were the LEGO toys. Then there were the licensed LEGO toys. Then there were the LEGO video games based on the licensed toys. And now there is The LEGO Movie, starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Alison Brie, Morgan Freeman, and a bunch of others. And after the movie there will be a LEGO video game based on the movie inspired by the toys.
The Monuments Men (February 7)
Did you know that FDR commissioned a group of Americans to rescue stolen art masterpieces from Hitler during World War II? When George Clooney found out about it, he got so excited that he made a movie about it with Matt Damon and Bill Murray.
RoboCop (February 12)
A devoted husband and Detroit cop is mortally wounded in the line of duty. Rather than letting him die, big brains reassemble him into a cyborg. If this story sounds familiar, shut up because remake.
Pompeii (February 21)
As a perfect post-Valentine’s date movie, check out this love story set in the midst of a volcanic apocalypse in 79 AD. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) fights through the destruction around Mount Vesuvius to rescue Babydoll (Emily Browning) before she melts. Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) also show up.
300: Rise of an Empire (March 7)
Zack Snyder directs this sequel to 300. “But wait,” you cry, “Didn’t all the Spartans die in 300?” “Is that a spoiler,” I retort, “I mean, it’s history. But the Persians didn’t all die, and Frank Miller wrote a sequel comic book so that he could afford more fedoras.” Eva Green plays Artemesia, so there surely will be diabolical and / or wicked things afoot.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)
If you don’t care about seeing greased up warriors and Eva Green sailing around the ocean, Wes Anderson’s new movie might be more your speed. Ralph Fiennes plays a hotel concierge in this European period film with a huge cast that includes (surprise, surprise) Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson.
Need for Speed (March 14)
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) drives madly out of Breaking Bad and into this adaptation of the video game racing series. In a year with no new Fast and Furious movies, this could be your cinematic automotive fix. Michael Keaton and Imogen Poots (hehe) also star.
Veronica Mars (March 14)
A long time ago you watched Veronica Mars, but you haven’t thought of her lately at all. Come on, now, Kickstarter! Bring it on, bring it on, yeah!
Divergent (March 21)
Did you like The Hunger Games? If so, you might like Divergent! I didn’t, but you still might. It’s dystopian and has Shailene Woodley as a tough girl in the midst of near-future romantic angst. It also is the start to a new film trilogy based on books and most likely will have an unnecessarily two-part finale.
Muppets Most Wanted (March 21)
The Muppets go on a world tour and meet up with Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey! 2011’s The Muppets will be a hard act to follow, but Disney never let that stop them from trying.
Noah (March 28)
Russell Crowe plays a guy who really super overreacts to the weekend weather forecast. Very likely Megyn Kelly approved, this Biblical epic co-stars an alabaster cast featuring Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins.
The Raid 2 (March 28)
When there’s a really good and successful movie that consists almost entirely of people beating the crap out of each other, you can bet there will be a sequel.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
Steve Rogers dons his star spangled suit to help Marvel meet their annual quota! Robert Redford joins the Marvel movieverse alongside a bunch of returning faces from The Avengers as Cap hurls his shield at bad guys in Washington D.C. (though probably not at the ones we all wish he would).
Only Lovers Left Alive (April 11)
Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play vampire lovers. John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, and Mia Wasikowska co-star. Tumblr explodes with a new dawn of gif sets.
Trascendence (April 18)
Johnny Depp stars as an artificial intelligence researcher who becomes the target of anti-technology attacks. Curse those damn, dirty Luddites! Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, and Cillian Murphy will take part but have not yet declared their own feelings about sentient robots.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
Load up a superhero movie with a whole bunch of villains and subplots, and you’re guaranteed a fandom masterpiece! It worked for X-Men: The Last Stand, right? Er, well, maybe it’ll work for Spider-Man when Electro, Rhino, and other baddies come to town.
Godzilla (May 16)
For the longest time I thought Evan Peters from American Horror Story was in this Godzilla reboot, but it turns out it’s the kid from Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor Johnson) instead. My mistake is borne of their both being cast as Quicksilver in upcoming Marvel movies being made at different studios. This is what happens when you pay too much attention to movie news. This is what happens.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
I mentioned X-Men: The Last Stand a couple of entries ago, but let’s forget about that and focus on the far superior X-Men: First Class. Days of Future Past is a sequel to that one, even if it’s bringing back enough of the previous X-Men movie cast (coughHalleBerrycough) to make me nervous.
Maleficent (May 30)
Once upon a time, Gregory Maguire wrote a book that made everybody sympathetic toward the Wicked Witch of the West, and then there was a musical made from it. Now everybody loves Elphie. Don’t buy into it! She’s a wicked witch, and it’s propaganda! Now Angelina Jolie wants you to believe that the evil sorceress from Sleeping Beauty was just misguided. How can we know who to trust anymore?
The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
Shailene Woodley again, this time in an adaptation of the John Green book that makes everyone’s face turn into a waterfall of tears. Download the trailer and make gifs from it and then go see it and post about the feels it makes you have. ALL the feels, right?
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt join Bill Paxton and Jeremy Piven in what sounds a lot like a science fiction version of Groundhog Day. Interestingly, this is one of the movies Bill Murray is not in this year.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
Just in case you need some additional pointers, DreamWorks is back with another entry in their popular educational pet care documentary series.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)
Wait, what? Shia LaBeouf isn’t in this one? He’s too busy plagiarizing some other movie? Oh, but wait, Mark Wahlberg and Kelsey Grammer are in it instead? Oh, Michael Bay, how you play the strings of our heart lutes.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
The apes are back, and this time they aren’t monkeying around! Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, and Keri Russell are part of the cast for this sequel to the 2011 Apes reboot. If they remake this reboot sequel in a few years they’ll achieve the full trifecta of 21st century blockbuster crafting.
Jupiter Ascending (July 18)
Holy crap, where did this movie come from? It’s a sci-fi action flick from the Wachowskis that just materialized in trailer form and looks amazing. Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star with Sean Bean. Guess which one probably doesn’t survive the movie.
The Legend of Hercules (July 25)
This isn’t the Hercules movie The Rock is working hard every day to make himself ghastly enormous for. This is the other one, starring Kellan Lutz and directed by Renny Harlin.
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
Guardians of the Galaxy probably weren’t your first (or second or fifth or tenth) guess as to what Marvel’s next tentpole movie would be, but here it comes! Vin Diesel plays a tree, and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) shaved her head for this movie. And did I mention the talking interstellar raccoon at the center of all the comic booky action?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)
Why is Megan Fox playing April O’Neil? Because that’s the world we live in, folks. This fifth TMNT movie promises to stick more closely to the series’ comic book origins, despite William Fichtner’s being cast to play a white Shredder.
The Expendables 3 (August 15)
Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, and Antonio Banderas join the growing ranks of ridiculousness for this third outing. As does Kelsey Grammer. Seriously, between this and Transformers, when did Frasier suddenly become a summer action hero?
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)
The long delayed sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s collaboration with Frank Miller finally has a release date! This one weaves together two of the comic stories and brings back Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, and Bruce Willis from the original cast. Expect more black and white violence involving trenchcoats and hookers.
Resident Evil 6 (September 12)
Milla Jovovich and her husband are having another monster party, and you’re invited! Supposedly this is the last one. Supposedly.
The Maze Runner (September 19)
A bunch of kids are put into a harrowing ordeal, very possibly by sinister governmental agents and very possibly for the amusement of an unseen audience. Sound like The Hunger Games? Don’t be so hasty! If the plot follows the book all these kids are hetero boys, so the romance-among-tributes angle is out the window. Except, well, for the one girl who has some sort of connection to the main boy, so never mind. Totally Hunger Games-ish.
The Equalizer (September 26)
In this remake of the ‘80s TV show, Denzel Washington stars as a man who balances mathematical equations all day long. Or maybe he’s a badass private detective alongside Chloë Grace Moretz. One or the other.
Gone Girl (October 3)
Sure to be the feel-good movie of the year, Gone Girl is based on the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play a married couple who seem to have the perfect life until she disappears and everyone suspects him of killing her. Don’t they know he’s Batman? Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry co-star, but don’t expect any Barney Stinson or Madea-esque moments in this one.
Dracula Untold (October 17)
You’d think after all these years that Universal Studios didn’t have much more to tell about Dracula, but this movie would say you’re foolish. Director Gary Shore prequelizes the classic Dracula tales as Luke Evans stars in the infamous Count’s origin story. I’m betting it has something to do with a radioactive spider or muggers killing his parents.
Paranormal Activity 5 (October 24)
How did we get so lucky as to have two Paranormal Activity movies in one year? Nobody came up with anything better, that’s how! Ghost demon kids or possibly possessed nannies or chupacabras show up in found footage on security cameras. Probable spoiler: Everybody dies at the end.
Interstellar (November 7)
Christopher Nolan directs Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, and a whole bunch of other cool people you know in what very well could be an awesome science fiction flick. There’s not a lot known just yet, aside from that it has to do with wormholes, and don’t wormholes make everything better? Except maybe produce. But this isn’t a farming movie. Or is it?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (November 21)
The first part of the third movie in the adaptation of the three book series. There will be death! There will be politics! There will be awkward Jennifer Lawrence romance moments! Did you know the guy who played Jonathan on Buffy the Vampire Slayer writes the screenplays for these movies? Good on him!
Exodus (December 12)
Earlier in the year Russell Crowe is playing Noah, and this Biblical epic closes out the year with Christian Bale playing Moses. Ridley Scott directs this one, which also stars Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. Keep an eye out for Noah Vs. Moses in 2015. I can’t wait to see what happens to the ark when the sea gets parted!
The Hobbit: There and Back Again (December 17)
The Star Wars Prequels era of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth movies is almost over! Starring Magneto, Kate from Lost, Ned the Piemaker, Sherlock Holmes, and Watson.
Into the Woods (December 25)
Disney celebrates Christmas and closes out the year with their adaptation of the musical your high school likely produced at some point. Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, and Emily Blunt probably didn’t go to your high school, so there’s still something new to see here.
Editor’s Note: Some of the above images may not reflect footage from the actual movies. But wouldn’t it be awesome if they all did?