Starring: Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Sheen
Director: Michael Cuesta
Writer: Peter Landesman
Release Date: October 10
Natalie Portman's Jane Got a Gun has had some difficulties - casting has been a crazy affair (3 cast changes for the lead role!) and the original director just didn't show up on the first day. This apparently didn't affect the production as Portman and her production team scrambled to find a replacement. But then the studio decided to move the release date to next year. All this drama for a small western film! Kill the Messenger seemed like an appropriate fill-in for this particular movie. It's based on a true story about the investigation of journalist Gary Webb who uncovered connection between the CIA and drug traffickers. It sparked a media frenzy in 2004 and led to his resignation, and ultimately, his suicide. There's an enormous amount of talent behind the film and it looks like this should be an interesting story. I'm getting a Confessions of a Dangerous Mind-vibe from the story (a fantastic movie, directed by George Clooney no less!) and a thriller-like sense of production. With Jeremy Renner attached as the lead and a great supporting cast (Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta, Mary Elizabeth Winstead) this could be an early Oscar contender. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up like Argo from two years ago - a critical and commercial success. Count me in!
Starring: Joaquin Phoeniz, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Release Date: December 12
Due to the tragic circumstances with Paul Walker's death, it became very clear that production would have to be halted for the crew and creative team to figure out the best way to move forward without Walker. Thus the delay until 2015 - it's unfortunate, but ultimately I trust the studio to make a tasteful and elegant way for Walker to bow out of the franchise without disrespecting his legacy or his character. It's with that somber note that I move on to replacing this movie with a very different movie. If Fast and Furious 7 is all about fast cars and crazy ass stunts, Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel is more like a VW van rolling through the countryside on its way to Burning Man. The first ever Pynchon novel to be adapted into film - Inherent Vice is very much a pulp novel and plays out like a film noire. Joaquin Phoenix plays the lead, "Doc" Sportello, a detective who finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy involving the cops. It's an interesting take for Anderson - who's mainly known for his intentionally vague narrative dramas focused on characters rather than story. But I really dig PTA - even with his last film, The Master, it managed to make me think about the film long after I had watched it. So he seems like a perfect fit to unravel a Pynchon novel - they seem like kindred spirits, just in different mediums. And Joaquin Phoenix has done a wonderful job after the debacle of his "retirement" - he's doing some of his best work right now and I think this movie is going to be another Oscar contender! If it hits all the right notes, this might be one of my favorite movies this year.
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Release Date: October 24
With the flabber-gasting news of Jupiter Ascending being pushed back to next year just a couple of months before its release (it was supposed to come out this summer), I felt so disappointed. I think the Wachowskis made one of their best films with Cloud Atlas. It's just so sad that the studio seems to have zero faith in this sci-fi epic. I'll be for sure watching this day one when it comes out, regardless of reviews. But that means I needed to replace this movie - and I think Kingsman fills that role quite well. Matthew Vaughn has had an incredible career so far - all of his directorial efforts have been, in my opinion, great movies (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, Stardust, Layer Cake) and he's once again teaming up with Matt Millar (the genius comic book writer behind Kick-Ass and Wanted) to provide another delectably absurd action/fantasy film. This time he's got Colin First kicking ass and saving the day against the evil intentions of Samuel L. Jackson. It'll be nice to see Jackson in villain mode again - he's been playing Nick Fury for too long it seems! Plus I like the idea of a young punk learning to be a badass through rigorous training. It just seems like a fun action movie - I'm hoping for the best here!