The Most Anticipated Movies of 2014: Small is the New Big

The List: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | 41-45 | 46-50 | Runners-Up
Artist rendering of The Lone Ranger's budget.

I think sometimes I overlook the smaller movies that come out during the year. Sure, nothing gets me more excited than a sweet-looking sci-fi epic that's bound to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But I also really, really love those smaller, more independent-minded films. Most of these next films have very little in common with the summer blockbuster, but they may just end up being some of my favorite movies of the year. There's always a few of these movies that creep up out of nowhere to find a spot on my top 10 (Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those movies from last year and it didn't even make my list!). So I may not rank these movies very high on my list, but they could just end up besting that movie with the superhero in it.

I know this is from 50 First Dates! Sorry folks, I'm not the paparazzi!
45. Blended
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore
Director: Frank Corachi
Writers: Ivan Menchell, Clare Sera
Release Date: May 23
Adam Sandler has been in a lot of bad movies lately and I thought very naively that the movie That's My Boy might end up being decent. Boy, I was wrong - it was certainly one of the worst movies I've seen a long time. But this time around he's back with Drew Barrymore and their other two movies together are exceptionally great romantic comedies (50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer). The film at least sounds like it's going to be another romantic comedy, rather than a not-funny raunch fest. The plot, from IMDb: After a bad blind date, a man and woman find themselves stuck together at a resort for families, where their attractions grows as their respective kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship. And the movie even has the director from The Wedding Singer. It sounds like it has more heart that most of Sandler's other lazy, somewhat misogynistic man-boy comedies. But it's hard to judge anything else about this picture other than what you've read. The trailer for this movie can change my opinion and possibly lead me to believe that Adam Sandler still has some good movies ahead of him. Or it can just reinforce my belief that Sandler peaked about 10 years ago and is dying a slow comedic death.

44. This is Where I Leave You
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Connie Britton, Rose Byrne
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Jonathan Tropper
Release Date: September 12
I'm always fond of drama/comedies that have families coming together for the holidays or other events where confrontations get aired out and we all laugh and cry. There's a handful of movies that did this right and in their own unique way - The Family Stone, The Royal Tenenbaums, Dan in Real Life, just to name a few. This is Where I Leave You is based on the novel of the same name and the author even wrote the screenplay, which I think is perfect. Stephen Chbosky did this for The Perks of Being a Wallflower (and took it even further with directing) and I think this is a smart move - Tropper can get the most out of the movie because he knows the characters so well. And the cast sounds amazing - Bateman might be playing Michael Bluth here, but he's so good in these types of roles. And Tina Fey is always brilliant. The supporting cast includes Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids!), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights!), Adam Driver (Girls!) and the always dapper Timothy Olyphant. Bateman plays the lead character who finds himself sitting shiva with the rest of his family after the death of their father. Let the melodrama ensue! I think this will end up being one of those movies that will grab me right from the beginning and it will be a whirlwind of emotion - I'll be laughing and crying, basically water will be coming out of my eyes the entire time.

43. Horrible Bosses 2
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day
Director: Sean Anders
Writers: John Francis Daly, Jonathan M. Goldstein
Release Date: November 26
This landed outside of my top 50, then I did some research and I couldn't help but put this on the list. I mean, it's got the same writers from the original and the director has written some of my favorite R-rated comedies in the past 6 years (Hot Tub Time Machine, Sex Drive, She's Out of My League). He also wrote the horrendous That's My Boy, but 90% of his resume is fantastic. I can't fault him for one terrible movie. The movie finds the original threesome become bosses themselves when they start their own business. But a slick investor pulls a fast one on them, leaving them desperate. So, they decide to kidnap the investor's adult son and ransom him to regain control of their business. And the titular boss this time around? Christoph Waltz! How can you not get excited about this movie now? I'm all sorts of excited - Horrible Bosses was a huge surprise a couple years back and I think they've sufficiently upped the ante this time around to make the premise just as funny as the original. Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston are back as well and I'm pretty sure they'll bring the funny again.

42. Foxcatcher
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell
Director: Bennet Miller
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Release Date: ???
Foxcatcher is bases on the autobiography of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose brother, another Olympic wrestler, was killed by a multimillionaire paranoid schizophrenic, John du Pont. It's a fascinating tale that I really only know minor details. Steve Carell plays du Pont and if that picture says anything - he's looking utterly spooky. Which is great - Carell can definitely act and sometimes he doesn't get to show off his dramatic abilities (much like Will Farrell, they get stuck doing comedies even though they are really good dramatic actors). Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo I think are also perfect in this role. And the director, Bennet Miller, has seen both of his movies get nominated for Best Picture (Capote, Moneyball). That's a batting average of a thousand. So the story is in good hands - I'm really anxious to see this movie simply because of all the talent behind it. It was shown recently at the AFI film fest and was originally set for a December release, but got pushed back to next year. Hopefully it will come out soon, otherwise it might be until next fall because the studio may want to push this come awards season. Boo!

41. Chef
Starring: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jon Favreau
Release Date: May 9
Favreau finds himself going back to his indie roots in this small comedy about a chef who loses his job only to find redemption in opening up his own food truck. I've loved Favreau ever since I saw Swingers when I was in high school. It still is one of my favorite movies of all time - Favreau and Vince Vaughn just kill it in that movie. And with Chef, I can see that spark of genius when I read about this movie. It doesn't hurt that he's got RDJ with him on screen, either. I think him and RDJ have formed a good, solid relationship that will probably show on camera. I'm excited to see how funny this movie will be and I'm also excited to see Jon Favreau get behind the camera for a more intimate and smaller movie.

The List: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | 41-45 | 46-50 | Runners-Up

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