Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl"
Photo credit: Merrick Morton. Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl"

With awards season still very much in full swing, it's still too soon to shake off 2013 completely. But a slate of great-looking films lies ahead on the horizon, as well as the theatrical releases of some of 2013's festivals hits that we've already seen.


Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in "Labor Day"
Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in "Labor Day"

1. January 31, 2014: Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" debuted at Telluride and failed to achieve awards-season lift-off. Paramount wisely waited for a new-year launch and we recommend it as a throbbily melodramatic and entertaining romantic psychological thriller that Hitchcock would appreciate. 

2. February 7, 2014: Like Ken Russell's "The Devils," Ben Wheatley "A Field in England" uses a 17th-century British historical framework to radically redefine the rules of postmodern cinema. Shot entirely in B&W, this English Civil War arthouse epic is brilliant, but difficult to parse, especially after one of the rogue soldiers ingests a heady dose of hallucinogens. Not for the faint of heart, or epileptic.

3. February 28, 2014: Miyazaki's gorgeous Oscar contender "The Wind Rises" gets its official stateside release, complete with recently announced English-dubbed voice cast (including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Werner Herzog).

4. April 11, 2014: Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive" stars Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as exquisitely cool ancient vampires still in love after centuries--perhaps because they live on different continents. Jarmusch takes full advantage of the equally exotic locales Tangier and Detroit. In this must-see romance, the filmmaker combines many of the things he adores (actors, music, books, visuals) in one deliciously entertaining film. 

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac."
Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac."

5. March 21 and April 18, 2014: Lars von Trier's hotly anticipated sex addiction epic "Nymphomaniac" rolls out in two installments this spring. While the promotion has been gimmicky (sex sells, clearly), judging from the first volume which we reviewed at Sundance, it's a terrific and visually haunting opus. (Review of Volume 1 here; trailer here.)

6. Spring, 2014: "Palo Alto" is Gia Coppola's debut feature, which impressed out of the 2013 fall fest circuit. Starring Emma Roberts and James Franco, and based on Franco's own short story, the dreamy, malaise-y coming-of-age film proves that director Coppola (one of the LA Times' Faces to Watch for 2014) has talent and subject matter in common with her aunt, Sofia Coppola.

7. Summer 2014: From "Waltz with Bashir" director Ari Folman, "The Congress" starring Robin Wright as herself, an actress who literally sells her soul to the studio system, was one of the best under-appreciated gems off the 2013 festival circuit. Blending live-action, animation and boundless imagination -- and with Wright's career-best performance at the heart of it -- "The Congress" is both a devastating love letter to cinema and a poison-laced piece of hate mail to Hollywood.