Top 20 Remaing Movies of 2014 | The Complete List

#20: Gone Girl

Ever since the announcement that Gillian Flynn’s best-seller would be getting the adaptation treatment, there have been expectations. When it was announced thriller maestro David Fincher would be taking the helm those expectations were only heightened. “Gone Girl” possesses all of the elements of a 90’s style adult drama. From its domestic drama, fraught sensuality, violent subtext and ripped from the headlines premise, the groundwork for a word-of-mouth smash seems inevitable.

Despite the rarity of the suspense genre getting awards attention, the possibility still has people buzzing. One major key working to its box office advantage, is its cross appeal to both men and women. It’s an allure that should keep the excitement around “Gone Girl” from vanishing. Release Date: Oct 3
Read Eclectic Pop's Full Review here

#19: The Judge

Robert Downey Jr. stars in this courtroom drama as the son of a prominent judge (Robert Duvall) returning home for his mother’s funeral. His plans for a brief stay are extended when his father is arrested for murder. There are some clichĂ© elements at work in the story, a successful professional returns home to his small town where he reconnects with those he shunned.

While, it’s kind of been done before, it hasn’t been done with the caliber of this cast. Downey Jr. and Duvall alone are worth the price of admission. Add to that Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton and Vincent D’Onofrio and what you have is one of most talented ensembles of the year. Judging by the looks of it, this is a must-see. Release Date: Oct 10

#18: Whiplash

This music themed drama took Sundance by storm when it opened the famous festival. It would eventually take the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the drama category. Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neyman, a jazz drummer who studies at one of the most revered music schools in America. This puts him under the ferocious instruction of vitriolic teacher, Terence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons).

As Terence pushes Andrew to the brink in a bid to unearth all of his innate talent, the exasperated tensions between teacher and student intensify. Teller is one of the best young actors currently working and Simmons is a veteran thesp who brings out the best in his co-stars. To say the ingredients for a brilliant film are present would be an understatement. Release Date: Oct 10 [Limited]

#17: Kill the Messenger

In 1996, investigative reporter Gary Webb began publishing a series of exposes that became the basis for his book “Dark Alliance”. His controversial allegations involving the CIA led to a career blackout that he never recovered from.

Jeremy Renner stars as Webb. It’s a political thriller/biopic that appears to be aiming for awards recognition. For Renner there is a lot riding on this project.

Since his stunning turn in “The Hurt Locker” led to his first Oscar nomination, he has struggled to find the same caliber of screenplay to run with. “Kill” could potentially break that streak. As for movies on whistleblowers, “Kill” has a lot to live up to. In 1973 Sidney Lumet set the standard for the genre with the arresting “Serpico”. It wasn’t until Michael Mann’s 1999 film “The Insider” that another even came close. Release Date: Oct 10

#16: Birdman

One of the riskiest films on the list, the trailer immediately conjured images of a male-centric version of “Black Swan”. Michael Keaton stars as a downtrodden actor, whose claim to fame was playing an iconic movie superhero.

Attempting to resurrect his career, he decides on staging a comeback in a Broadway play. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu received mass acclaim for his 2003 film “21 Grams” and “Birdman” reunites him with one of the stars who was nominated for that film, Naomi Watts.

Inarritu co-wrote the script and the parallels that casting Keaton as the lead draws is unavoidable. Long an underappreciated talent, Keaton might soon receive a newfound acknowledgment with "Birdman". Given the film has already received a ringing endorsement from critics when it premiered at this year’s Venice Film Festival, all appears to be on the right track. Release Date: Oct 17

#15: Nightcrawler

In the seedy underworld of a nocturnal Los Angeles, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) has his sights set for success as a crime reporter. He soon begins walking a tightrope as both an observer and contributor to his lurid stories.

Between losing 20 pounds and injuring his hand when a scene became too method, Gyllenhaal dedicated a lot to this role and just based off the trailer, it shows. He’s been building an impressive filmography full of diverse performances throughout his career and this could prove a crowning achievement, a chance to disappear a bit more.

The directing debut of screenwriter Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler” offers a jaunt into the scarcely explored world of tabloid journalism. Who are the people behind the salacious storylines of the media’s dark corner? There is an interesting commentary to be culled from that angle alone. As a character study on a guy who slips down the rabbit hole of ambition, it’s just as intriguing. Release Date: Oct 31

#14: Before I Go to Sleep 

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, this adaptation stars Nicole Kidman as the survivor of an accident that caused her to suffer from retrograde amnesia. Unable to create new memories ever since, she faces a 24-hour reset and is left to fully trust and depend on the word of a man who claims to be her husband (Colin Firth).

When an incident occurs that causes her to question everything, she sets out to answer the questions that plague her with the help of her doctor (Mark Strong). “50 First Dates” meets “Momento” in this psychological thriller and the cast gives credence to it being a promising watch. As previously mentioned, suspense dramas are a rare breed these days and indulging in them when they’re made is worthwhile. Release Date: Oct 31

#13: Laggies

Movies about adults who refuse to grow up seem to be all the rage in Indies these days. “The Lifeguard” was a banal attempt to cover this topic and for those who find it a tediously boring subset of hipster drama, this might not hold much interest. Keira Knightley stars as a 20-something who runs away from her life after her boyfriend proposes, hiding out with a teenager (Chloe Grace Moretz) she recently befriended and the girl’s dad (Sam Rockwell).

Directed by Lynn Shelton, the writer/helmer of the spectacular Indie “Your Sister’s Sister”, this has potential if properly executed. Among the hopeful aspects is Knightly starring opposite Rockwell. Her prim demeanor juxtaposed with his charming modernity could make for a strong screen pairing. Release Date: Oct 24

#12: St. Vincent

What do you get when you mix the movies “Bad Santa”, “Bad Words” and “Unhook the Stars” together? The answer is a movie that looks a lot like Billy Murray’s latest; “St. Vincent”. You’ve got the raunchy older male ruffians of both “Bad” movies and the care taking plotline of “Unhook the Stars” with a gender reversal. While, it might not be breaking any new ground story wise, it is a tale that given its repetitive appearance in movies, still has its appeal.

Murray stars as a curmudgeonly slacker who agrees to babysit his neighbor’s (Melissa McCarthy) son for extra money. Watching a comic legend such as Murray share the screen with McCarthy, the reigning queen of comedy is worth the price of admission alone. Not to mention, Naomi Watts co-stars. Release Date: Oct 24

#11: Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s latest epic has already ventured into theaters and the reaction was easily the most divisive and controversial of the year. Coming off of his Oscar win, Matthew McConaughey continues the “McConaissance” with a voyage into space, playing an engineer who leaves his young children in a quest to save humanity.

The story is classic Nolan (i.e. “Inception”, “The Prestige”), a single dad surmounting huge obstacles to reunite with his children. As a filmmaker Nolan can sometimes lose sight of character development in a bid for grand effects and stunning visuals. Caring about these characters is crucial, especially with a 3 hour runtime. 

Boosting the scientific pedigree of the script is the input of revered theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who served as a scientific consultant and executive producer on the project. His expertise on wormholes and relativity is tantamount to the basis of the film. “Interstellar” has the potential to fall into three camps; the emotional power of Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13”, the wacky narrative of “Mr. Nobody” or the overrated space opera “Gravity”. Release Date: Nov 7

#10: Foxcatcher

When it debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Foxcatcher” was thrust into the center of awards season conversation as an early frontrunner and the buzz has only been building since. Director Bennett Miller’s previous works include “Capote”, for which he was nominated for the Best Director Oscar, and the sports drama “Moneyball”.

For “Foxcatcher” Miller switches gears to the wrestling world. A shocking true crime drama, it focuses on the lives of Olympic wrestlers Mark (Channing Tatum) and David (Mark Ruffalo) Shultz and their relationship with multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell), a prominent sponsor for USA Wrestling in the 90s. 

To this point, most of the critical attention has been lavished on Carrell’s transformative turn as du Pont, a role that required him to wear a prosthetic nose. Co-star Mark Ruffalo could prove to be a dark horse in the awards race; sporting a different look and starring in an uncharacteristically dark drama, may draw him attention as a contender.

The big performance gamble is whether Tatum can carry a drama of this magnitude. His performance is just as vital a component to its effectiveness. Release Date: Nov 14

#9: The Theory of Everything 

Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s remarkable life and first marriage is the subject of this biopic. Based on his first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking’s memoir “Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen”, this film follows their relationship as it blossomed when they were both students at Cambridge in the 1960s and continues throughout their marriage.

If you’ve seen the 2013 documentary “Hawking” you have a strong idea about the various adversities and triumphs the film will cover and the sad revelation that despite all they surmounted, their marriage didn’t have a happy ending.

While it’s hard to imagine this drama capturing the raw disclosure of the moving doc, the powerful emotion of their story is a rousing cinematic prospect. Eddie Redmayne is already garnering Oscar attention for his portrayal of Hawking. As large of an icon as Hawking is, the first Mrs. Hawking is a strikingly fascinating figure herself and watching them explored at the same time is exciting. Release: Nov 26

#8: The Imitation Game

In 2011 the script for this historical thriller earned the top spot on the annual Black List of the best un-produced scripts in Hollywood. Three years later, it is among the heavy hitters this awards season.

This biopic stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the British cryptanalyst, mathematician, logician and computer scientist who played a key role in deciphering the Nazi’s Enigma code which was crucial in securing the Allies victory in World War II. The last chapter of Turing’s life would take a tragic turn when he was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952.

A story about Turing’s life has been in the works for a while and after years of pre-production travails it is finally making its way to theaters. “The Imitation Game” marks the English language directorial debut of Morten Tyldum, who brought audiences the astounding thriller “Headhunters”. A strong supporting cast that includes Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong and Charles Dance rounds out the recipe for something spectacular. Release Date: Nov 28

#7: Wild

Only a year after his Oscar winning film “Dallas Buyers Club”, Jean-Marc Vallee is back with a follow-up that is already making waves as an awards competitor. Reese Witherspoon stars in this adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir “Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”, which tells the true story of her 1,100 mile solo trek to find clarity after a string of personal hardships. During her various sojourns, she reflects back on her life and through flashbacks viewers learn what led her to make a journey of self-discovery. 

After a string of commercial travails at the box office with her romantic comedies, Witherspoon is aiming for the stripped down simplicity of indie drama in “Wild”. Sans the glamorous hair and make-up of her usual roles, she’s digging into something deeper here.

As one of the first actresses to successfully navigate between the worlds of big box office and critically rewarding indies, her contribution as a trailblazer hasn’t necessarily received the credit it deserves in recent years. As a critical comeback “Wild” is a pivotal moment in her career and many will be watching to see how it turns out. Release Date: Dec 5

#6: Exodus: Gods and Kings

Ridley Scott harkens back to his highest grossing film, the Oscar winning historical blockbuster “Gladiator”; in this sword-and-sandal epic, loosely inspired by the Bible’s narrative of Moses. Christian Bale stars as the leader who defies his brother, the Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton) so he can lead the slaves of Egypt to freedom.

As with Darren Aronofsky’s highly controversial “Noah” earlier this year, “Exodus” is not expected to be a Biblically accurate take on the Old Testament account and as a result, will have to be judged as an abstract interpretation.

Scott has not matched the success of “Gladiator” with any of his other films and it’s a long shot this will be the one to rival it. As a sweeping piece of high drama, it is likelier to hit the mark. Its cinematography is the most distinct aspect to set it apart from similar films.

Steering away from the arid visualization of Wolfgang Peterson’s “Troy”, “Exodus” has a darker, more foreboding feel that compliments its subject matter. Chiefly fueling most of the interest in this movie is curiosity and much like “Noah”, once people actually see it, the initial buzz will decide its fate. Release Date: Dec 12

#5: Unbroken

Angelina Jolie’s much anticipated biopic of Olympic runner and World War II POW, Louis Zamporini (Jack O’Connell) tells the incredible true story of his harrowing ordeal. Already facing a rather ambivalent awards reaction so far, “Unbroken” now faces the embrace of audiences. The subject matter is grim and as was seen earlier this year with “The Railway Man”, viewers may not be up to seeing the horrors of war.

Limiting personal expectations is the casting of O’Connell as Zamporini. Having mostly played a cache of villains, it’s hard to imagine him playing a heroic role. Having left such an indelible impression with his terrifyingly evil portrayals of despicable youths in “Eden Lake” and “Harry Brown”, watching him as a hero will require quite a disappearing act and a staggering range of characterization.

When it comes to measuring up “Unbroken”, it faces its toughest comparative competition from Werner Herzog’s under seen POW opus, “Rescue Dawn” starring Christian Bale and Steve Zhan. Release Date: Dec 25

#4: The Gambler

Mark Wahlberg stars in this remake of the 1974 film of the same name. The plot centers on Axel (Wahlberg) a literary professor from an upper class family, whose secret life as an obsessive gambler has led him into owing a huge debt to a gangster. When he partakes in a risky romance with one of his students (Brie Larson), it only complicates matters further.

The highly regarded original was written by James Toback and James Caan won a Golden Globe for his performance in it. Paramount is hoping some of that awards luck will rub off on this long-developing retread. What, if anything new, this version has to offer is unclear.

James Caan is an impossible act to follow and seeing how Wahlberg stacks up should be interesting. A big talent to look for in this is Brie Larson. She’s been building a steady resume of impressive performances, most notably with her heart-rending turn in “Short Term 12”. She’s a talent to watch and worth watching “The Gambler” for. Release Date: Dec 25

#3: Big Eyes

Tim Burton takes a step back from his oft zany works to deliver a more restrained rendering for this biopic of renowned artist Margaret Keene (Amy Adams). The real artist of the popular Big Eyes paintings, the movie tells the story of Keene’s struggle to come clean and claim the work that had been credited to her husband (Christoph Waltz). “Big Eyes” is in a prime position for major awards love and Adams, a perennial nominee, should be a shoe-in for further recognition.

Whether this is the role that finally nabs her that much deserved Oscar, remains to be seen. The film itself is a dark horse and Adams will have to compete against some tough competition from Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon (“Wild) and the also long overdue, Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”).

No matter the awards banter, “Big Eyes” is worth watching just to see how Tim Burton handles the material and to see Amy Adams take on a role that is hopefully far meatier than her part in “American Hustle”. Release Date: Dec 25

#2: Into the Woods

An adaptation of the Broadway musical, “Into the Woods” tells the interwoven narratives of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale characters, as a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who desperately want a child, set out to procure items for a witch (Meryl Streep) so they can break the curse that’s been placed on their ability to procreate. The movie is packed to the gills with an all-star cast that includes the aforementioned, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick and more.

While the ensemble is impressive, it is director Rob Marshall who might just prove the most alluring draw. He’s an eclectic director, having served up his share of musicals (“Chicago” and “Nine), gripping drama (the criminally underrated “Memoirs of a Geisha”) and swashbuckling adventure (“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”).

He knows how to balance high style production labyrinths with the essentials of character development, an ideal candidate to take on the enchanting world of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical. Release Date: Dec 25

#1: A Most Violent Year

Director J.C. Chandor’s first two feature films have been anything other than stagnate in what they’ve attempted to explore. Breaking out with his buzzy and loquacious debut, the Wall Street drama “Margin Call”, Chandor followed that up with last year’s critically championed, sea drama “All Is Lost” starring Robert Redford in a dialogue free, one-man show.

He returns a year later with “A Most Violent Year”, a gritty crime drama set during 1981, the most violent year in the history of New York City. The story centers on a young family struggling to carve out their piece of the American dream.

Oscar Isaac stars as the family patriarch, an ambitious man struggling to keep a hold of his business and protect his family amidst the increasing scrutiny of a police investigation led by a determined detective (David Oyelowo). Jessica Chastain stars as Isaac’s cunning wife. While both Chastain and Isaac have been a part of awards conversation, Chastain has been leading the charge, securing a critical Golden Globe nomination for her performance. Release Date: Dec 31

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