By Sam Adams | Criticwire December 16, 2013 at 9:04AM
Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday morning. (The answer to the second, "What is the best film in theaters right now?" can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.
Q: What are you most looking forward to, culturally speaking, in 2014?
Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, Business Week
I wish I had some brilliant and unique and out-of-left-field response here, but I don't. I suppose at some point we're likely to see these new films Terrence Malick has been working on, which would be very exciting to me. As an avowed and unrepentant Christopher Nolan fan, I'm very excited about Interstellar -- though I'm not so excited about silently gritting my teeth when all my friends inevitably start to complain about it. Besides that, I'm hoping that Michael Mann's Cyber, scheduled for January 2015, will turn out to be so great and will wrap so far ahead of schedule that it'll sneak into the December release pile. Oh, and Nymphomaniac, which I'm seriously considering flying to Denmark on Christmas to see. Other than that... I dunno. Is Gillian Armstrong working on anything new?
James Poniewozik, Time
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the BBC (and BBC America) adaptation of the Susannah Clarke novel, set in a 19th century Britain in which magic has been rediscovered. The novel was gorgeous and dreamlike -- she makes it eerie, and yet utterly plausible, that magic could be pursued in the manner of science, argued about in journals, and used in the Napoleonic Wars. I don't think I've awaited any adaptation this eagerly (and, OK, trepidatiously) since -- well, the last big TV fantasy adaptation, Game of Thrones.
Tim Grierson, Screen International, Paste
The movie I'm probably most looking forward to in 2014 is one I've already seen. When I went to Cannes this year, The Immigrant was high on my list of anticipated films. (James Gray's previous collaboration with Joaquin Phoenix, Two Lovers, was the best film of 2009.) After seeing The Immigrant, I was impressed, moved but also strangely underwhelmed. I tried to capture my mixed emotions in my review, but days later I found myself still wrestling with the movie. Others at the festival experienced from The Immigrant what I had wanted it to be -- a rich, tragic, gorgeous period drama -- whereas I walked away convinced it was a bit too studied. I tend to go with my gut about these things, but I'm hoping that a second viewing will allow me to see what I missed the first time around. I'll be very happy to discover that my initial judgments were dead wrong.
Alissa Wilkinson, Christianity Today
It's a toss-up between House of Cards, Season 2 and Inherent Vice, if it comes out on time. But followed closely by all those mid-season premieres which will destroy my feeling of being caught up on television for once.
R. Emmet Sweeney, Movie Morlocks
January and February tend to be my favorite movie-going months of the year, as studios dump their disreputable genre product in the hopes that no one notices. But I'll be at the theater, Mets credit card in hand. I've placed my unfair expectations this year on Jaume Collet-Serra's Non-Stop, the Liam Neeson versus a plane thriller that opens on February 28. Collet-Serra is a director of interest, his precise framing wringing the gothic out of Orphan and the paranoia out of Unknown. My second most-anticipated title of 2014 is the Collet-Serra/Liam Neeson something or other Run All Night.
John Oursler, Village Voice, The L Magazine
Can I just say Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac a hundred times? Because that. Also, I'm dying to see Glazer's Under the Skin again.
Jason Shawhan, The Nashville Scene, Interface 2037
What I'm most looking forward to in 2014... Arrow UK's HD restoration of White of the Eye, Under the Skin, The Guest, Hits, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, White Bird in a Blizzard, The Sacrament, Incompresa, Nymphomaniac, whatever the next Louis CK special is, maybe a Prince album that feels vibrant and alive, season five of Community, hopefully the first season of The Embassy, and seeing Only Lovers Left Alive again... and often.
Luke Y Thompson, Topless Robot
Even though I'm almost sure to be disappointed, I can't wait to see Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem. I also really hope Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac is on the same level of Antichrist and Melancholia, though two installments of it seems daunting.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap, What the Flick?!
I'm looking forward to the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the summer of 1984. I was lucky enough to spend that summer, as a recent high school graduate, working at a suburban multiplex, and the offerings were quite spectacular: Ghostbuster, Gremlins, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Buckaroo Banzai and Purple Rain, to name just a few. Can't wait to see which L.A. theaters can dig up great 35mm (or even 70mm!) prints for screenings with guests in attendance.
Josh Spiegel, Mousterpiece Cinema, Sound on Sight
One of my favorite experiences this year was sitting in the Alamo Drafthouse on a Sunday morning in September, attending a Fantastic Fest press screening of Blue Ruin. This intense low-budget meditation on familial vengeance would easily be on my top ten of 2013 if it had opened outside of the festival circuit. Instead, The Weinstein Company's Radius division is opening it in theaters (and presumably on demand) in April of 2014. So, right now, I am most looking forward to seeing Blue Ruin, an expertly made, smart, and mature thriller; and to seeing how the reaction to the film once it opens to wider audiences. I was, and remain, so excited about the film and have been talking about it since September. But I can't wait to see how everyone else reacts in a few months. Blue Ruin: put it on your calendar.
Danny Bowes, RogerEbert.com, Movies By Bowes
Next October, the years-in-the-making reunion of choreographer/director Farah Khan and star Shahrukh Khan (no relation), Happy New Year drops. The last time they teamed up, Om Shanti Om happened, and Om Shanti Om is one of the greatest things, movie or otherwise, that exists in the universe. Long story short, the best film choreographer since Busby Berkeley and one of the greatest movie stars ever to breathe (SRK is still king) are making a movie together. That it also stars Deepika Padukone, Boman Irani, and Sonu Sood is just extra. Hell, I'm even excited to see Abhishek Bachchan in this thing.
Katey Rich, Vanity Fair
Noah. It might be a complete mess, but a director handed an enormous budget after a decade of scraping by in all his films has got to be a thing worth watching.
Sean Chavel, Flick Minute
Noah. Anything by Darren Aronofsky is going to take my interest first.
Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit, First Showing
Short of hoping to get out of grinding poverty in 2014 (and putting the personal life aspect of 2013 hopefully in the rearview mirror...it's been a rough one), I'm most looking forward to Bruce Springsteen's new CD and Jason Reitman's adaptation of one of my favorite books, Men, Women & Children. That and, you know, hopefully continuing to be able to struggle to do what I love for a living.
Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post
I could cherry-pick but I'll just cop out and say: Everything. Only it's not a cop-out. The unpredictability of this particular scene (festivals, indies, the critic gig) is what makes it so exciting. I think mostly the discovery of films (and filmmakers) that grew close to my heart and agitated my mind in ways that pushed me to see the world a little differently. And ... more 4 a.m. hot tubs in random cities. And ... Under the Skin. Again.
I think I speak for the entire blogosphere or whatever when I say that, in 2014, I'm most looking forward to doing the same thing everyone did during 2013: Looking forward to 2015.
But to cheat the whole anticipation thing, I'll champion a film I've already seen and say that I'm really excited for the release of Glazer's Under the Skin, which was the best thing I saw at TIFF. While Glazer wears his influences on his sleeve, his first feature since Birth is nevertheless one of the rare films that feels genuinely new. It's one of the most compellingly empathetic depictions of loneliness I've ever seen, and no one will ever be able to look at Scarlett Johansson the same way. I can't wait to see how people react to it, and to watch the fun when the movie is awarded the first CinemaScore of Q-.
Scott Renshaw, City Weekly
In my ongoing efforts never to look too far down the road -- and avoid perpetuating the endless entertainment cycle of "what's next" always being more interesting than "what's right in front of me" -- I'll simply look towards my 17th Sundance Film Festival next month. Sure, there are always drags and disappointments and the ghastly weather. But I still find it a thrilling annual opportunity to discover a filmmaker who may be a powerful voice for decades to come, or be able to start banging the drum early for a film that may turn out to be one of the year's best. I'll try to let the rest of the year beyond January unfold as it will.
Jake Cole, Film.com, Slant
This is the first year I managed to attend the Toronto International Film Festival (my first film festival, period, in fact), so I was fortunate enough to see a number of films either awaiting distribution or set for 2014 releases. So already, I have a decent run of releases either confirmed for 2014 or are ones I hope get releases: Closed Curtain, Stray Dogs, Only Lovers Left Alive, Blind Detective, Under the Skin. So for the time being, the film I most look forward to is the latest from Alex Ross Perry, Listen Up Philip. I continue to hold off watching his debut, Impolex, until such time as I can actually pay for it and support the artist, but I found Perry's The Color Wheel to be the most exciting American independent film in perhaps a decade, a screwball revival that met all the genre's guidelines with wit and control but also bled beyond them by hiding a number of piercing truths in its ostensibly "edgy" taboos.
That film alone effectively gives Perry carte blanche for me, and though I know nothing about the plot of the film (and aim to keep it that way as much as possible before seeing it), but looking over its cast, the innate draw of Perry's voice and direction is supplemented further by the chance to see the like of Kate Lyn Sheil acting alongside veterans like Elizabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce(!). Not only do I have high hopes for the film, I also have my fingers crossed it can finally prompt someone to release Perry's first two movies on home video. Oh, and I almost forgot, James Gray's The Immigrant, a film I shall write no more about lest I devolve into pure babble about Gray's genius and a hatred of the Weinsteins.
Peter Labuza, The Cinephiliacs, To Be (Cont'd)
While I always caution against anticipation of much, I cannot lie there are films which I am quite curious to see in the upcoming calendar year. The first is the latest documentary by the non-fiction guru Robert Greene, Actress, which he has been crafting for quite some time, and I'm curious to see how he has structured a narrative out of a fascinating subject. Secondly, US festivals should be doing all they can to bring the final film of Akesei German, Hard to be a God, to our shores, after its premiere at the Rome Film Festival. The reviews have called it "incomprehensible" "non-stop onslaught of revolting imagery," and containing a "defiant, immovable philosophy," and "not entertainment." This makes me very excited.
John Keefer, 51 Deep
This is weird. I'm out of the loop on what's coming up in 2014. By default, then, I'm most looking forward to the new American Godzilla film. Having recently committed to watching every Godzilla film (up to 11, 17 more to go) I'm curious to see how this new new American approach to the iconic King of Monsters will pan out. Will it prove, yet again, the true joy of Godzilla can't quite translate to a Western context? Will it be as anti-greed and pro-environment as the series it draws inspiration from? Will there be aliens from the Planet X who will steal Godzilla and Rodan away from the planet so they can take over the world? No, that probably won't happen. So my enjoyment of the film will be in seeing the application of the modern action spectacle model to yet another pre-existing character. I'm looking forward to the Inception trumpets and the moment before a big digital explosion when everything goes silent or a character leaping through the air in slow-motion again in relative silence before another brrrrrrrraaaaaaang noise.
Jordan Hoffman, Film.com, ScreenCrush
I'm still breathlessly wrapping up 2013. 2014? I dunno ... is there a new Resident Evil movie coming out? I feel like we're due. What about the Peter Greenaway movie that never got released? I'd like to hear from that guy, too.
Glenn Heath Jr., San Diego CityBeat, Slant Magazine
Paul W. S. Anderson's Pompeii, which looks downright insane.
Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute
This is the time of year that tries critics' souls and reminds us of why, when all is said, voted and filed, we still love our professions enough to get excited about what's coming. For me, no brainer highlights include Gone Girl, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Monuments Men. But I'm also finding mouthwatering, or should I say eye-peeling, temptations out of Sundance. After his spectacular turn in The Spectacular Now, I'm really curious to see Miles Teller's Whiplash, in which he costars with J.K. Simmons. But, true confessions: the one I'm really looking forward to? The Trip to Italy, Michael Winterbottom's reunion for Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan, this time road tripping throughout magnificent Italy, bonding and bickering over impersonations and the artistic value of Jagged Little Pill.
Richard Brody, The New Yorker
(In alphabetical order): Gone Girl, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Happy Christmas, Listen Up Philip, Noah, Ping Pong Summer; the overdue releases of The Last of the Unjust and The Immigrant. Also, the French biography of Eric Rohmer by Antoine de Baecque and Noel Herpe, coming in January. In anticipation of the book's publication, Anne Diatkine, who has read it, wrote about Rohmer in Liberation last week; here are a couple of her observations, which make it all the more tempting:
"Eric Rohmer lived frugally... He didn't live in a sumptuous apartment, didn't earn huge sums, and yet, his films were successful and all the more profitable since in general they didn't cost much. But every cent of profit was reinvested in the next film.... A small crew, an old camera, no assistant, no gaffer, no script supervisor. Some films, such as The Tree, the Mayor, and the Mediatheque, were conceived as amateur productions, shot on weekends and during vacation. Diane Baratier, the director of photography… recalls that Eric Rohmer carried her cases and cables and that the producer, Francoise Etchegaray, pulled focus.
The man named Maurice Schérer on his birth certificate is also named Gilbert Cordier on the cover of his first novel, Elisabeth, published by Gallimard in 1946, but also Anthony Barrier, a filmmaker so experimental that his oeuvre will forever be still to come, and he also used many other masks. With Arielle Dombasle, he co-wrote 'a secret film, under a pseudonym, that came out, was seen, and was well-liked,' the actress said. Those who knew Eric Rohmer knew nothing of the life of Maurice Schérer, and vice versa, to the point that 'le Grand Momo's mother never knew that her son was a filmmaker. Eric Rohmer's entourage never met Maurice Schérer's wife, Therese, his two sons, or his grandchildren. It was only at his funeral that the two families were brought together."
Adam Batty, Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second, Periodical
I'm looking forward to the UK playing catch-up for the first couple of months of 2014. The Wolf of Wall Street, Her and American Hustle are just three of the awards buzz films that we've yet to receive, while Claire Denis' Bastards is one title I'm especially looking forward to finally seeing when it opens here on Valentine's Day. January has traditionally always been a great time for moviegoers on this side of the Atlantic.
Looking further forward I'm excited about the continuing development of the Jeunes cinema movement in France. Justine Triet's La Bataille de Solferino made the Cahiers du cinéma top ten, while I named Sébastien Betbeder's 2 Autumns, 3 Winters as my favorite undistributed film of the year, and I'm keen to see where the movement goes.
My most anticipated film outright of 2014 would be Jean-Luc Godard's Adieu au langage. It's symbolic of 2014 being a "return of the auteur", which is something I've been whinging about of late. All things going to plan 2014 should feature new films from the aforementioned, plus PTA, Wes Anderson, Terrence Malick and Fincher. I can't wait.
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com, Cinephiled
I am sorry but whenever I am presented with this question the only thing I can think of is something Ozzy Osbourne said a long time ago: "I'm not a Satanist. I don't... worship Satan. I can barely conjure myself out of bed in the morning." That said, I hear there'll be a new Godard, new Cronenberg, new Wackadoodle, I'll definitely see all those if I can conjure etc etc
Gary Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News,
What I am looking forward to most in 2014 is seeing Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac. I can't wait. I really just can't. I feel I've been teased enough by the posters and the NSFW trailer, and even Jean-Marc Barr, one of the cast members, telling me he's seen it and it's von Trier's "masterpiece" and a "film for the ages." Really, the fact that it's not out in theaters until March 21 and then I have to wait a whole month to see Part 2 is kind of cruel. But that's why I like Lars. He never makes it easy. I will just suffer in anticipation hoping the payoff will result in me leaving the theater with an O Face, unless I break down and see it on VOD. Also, in a shameless bit of self-promotion, I am really looking forward to the book I co-edited, Directory of World Cinema: Argentina, which is thisclose to being published
Zac Oldenburg, Having Said That..., Movie Mezzanine
As great as 2013 has been, there are a ton more 2014 films I am excited for from the get go of the calendar year than I was for this one. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy, Nymph()maniac, Noah, Tomorrowland, Under the Skin, A Most Wanted Man, Snowpiercer, Jupiter Ascending, but I think Inherent Vice barely edges out Interstellar. We shouldn't be so lucky to get another Paul Thomas Anderson film less than two years after his last, but here we are. I've never read the source novel, but between the cast, supposed subject matter and Joaquin Phoenix in the lead, I can't wait.
Robert Levin, amNewYork
It's hard to process 2014, having just wrapped up the current year in movies. But I can say this: Whenever a new year dawns, I'm always most excited for the films I haven't heard of, the unexpected discoveries, the word-of-mouth, out-of-nowhere successes. Sundance usually crystallizes things a bit, so maybe I'd be better served answering this in about a month. Still, it's hard to imagine that anything would intrigue me more than Interstellar, if only because few director-subject pairings seem more perfect than Christopher Nolan and wormholes.
Tony Dayoub, Press Play, The House Next Door
I guess the atypical wealth of high quality American films in 2013 has me looking forward to 2014 with renewed optimism. The film industry media narrative tends to focus on the death of personal cinema in the face of the growing threat of the blockbuster, but this past year proved them quite wrong. It's unfortunate that all of these movies are increasingly put forth for consideration in the last 6 weeks of the year. It creates a virtual movie desert in the first three months that kill even the most bright-eyed cinephile's spirit. Many of us don't usually forget great movies that come out early in the year (Side Effects, a February release, made it onto my top 10 this year). So I'm hoping studios spread the wealth a little more this upcoming year.
Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, Film Racket
Interstellar, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Noah, and Guardians of the Galaxy are all pretty obvious choices. A less obvious choice is Nurse 3D. Why do I anticipate it? Because have you seen that trailer? This is the kind of movie that will either be completely terrible or a work of demented genius. I'm really hoping it's the latter. As much as I love big Hollywood blockbusters, award-worthy arthouse pictures, and the works of gifted auteurs, I also have a very deep appreciation for well-executed exploitation films. When a movie has the guts to go bonkers, it's kind of a beautiful thing to behold. Nurse 3D appears to have that sort of go-for-broke spirit, taking the time-honored T&A/violence mixture and infusing it with a little bit of the medical paranoia many of us possess. Besides, it's got an appearance from Kathleen freakin' Turner! My pulse is quickening just thinking about it. On a non movie-related note, Young the Giant has a new CD coming out in early 2014, and I'm pretty stoked for that, as well. Maybe I'll crank it up in my car while I'm driving to see Nurse 3D.
If we're talking about films we're most looking forward to next year I'd say I'm most anticipating The Grand Budapest Hotel from Wes Anderson. It seems to be his most ambitious film to date and his most star studded, and coming off the rejuvenating success of Moonrise Kingdom I'm sure Anderson's idiosyncratic touches will be at full strength. I also need to mention that the teaser trailer just dropped for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar and you can count me intrigued.
Marc V. Ciafardini, Go See Talk
I'm gonna be very, very interested to see how James Gunn and Marvel fare with Guardians of the Galaxy. It's always tough to get audiences on board with such foreign characters many people, even comic fans, have likely never even heard of. Trying to get us invested in such an unfamiliar property is partly why John Carter failed to win very many fans...well that and poor marketing. So Marvel's biggest hurdle should prove to be the ad campaign and I for one want to see how that's handled even more than I care about the story. Well, I do hope the story is spectacular but not too worried about the outcome because as far as extra-planetary enjoyment I'm gonna get my fix from Chris Nolan's Interstellar.
Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Right now I'm most looking forward to Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. From the entertaining trailer it looks to be as formally precise and visually enchanting as most of Anderson's films, but with added character interest in the intriguing lead casting of Ralph Fiennes, who normally resists such confines. I'm keen to see where this combination leads.
Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online
Off the top of my head, I'm looking forward to catching up with certain films that are supposedly getting a theatrical release in 2014 that I missed at the festivals I attended this year: films like Blue Ruin, Ilo Ilo, The Congress, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting right now.
Andrew Welch, To Be (Cont'd)
The only two movies on my radar right now are The Grand Budapest Hotel and Interstellar. Neither can get here soon enough.
Mark Young, Sound on Sight, The New York Movie Klub
I can't lie and/or make overtures to the festival season: The 2014 movie I'm most excited about is X-Men: Days of Future Past. X-Men comics were a huge part of my childhood, and I looked forward to each new movie in the series (even the vile X-Men Origins: Wolverine) with new excitement. That Bryan Singer has returned to direct, and brought along with him almost every single actor ever to play a mutant on-screen, is just a bonus.
Edwin Arnaudin, Ashvegas
The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson has assembled perhaps his finest cast to date and has taken his detailed dollhouse aesthetic to his largest venue yet. I’m also looking forward to seeing how a screenplay written solely by Anderson plays out and how Ralph Fiennes fits in. Newcomers to the core Anderson ensemble (e.g. Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums and Adrien Brody in The Darjeeling Limited) tend to add just the right amount of freshness to the filmmaker’s familiar yet exciting style, so I’m optimistic on all fronts.
Fico Cangiano, CineXpress
Movies, movies, movies. I mean 2014 ain't no 2015, but it's got plenty of firepower too. I'm looking forward to The Grand Budapest Hotel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomorrow, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Noah, The Monuments Men, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla, The Raid 2, Transformers 4, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Fast & Furious 7, 22 Jump Street, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. And that's mostly commercial films. Should be a great year.
Q: What is the best movie in theaters?
A: Inside Llewyn Davis
Other movies receiving multiple votes: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Nebraska.