January has been and gone, leaving us with a mixed bag of releases. There were a few stunning movies that could be in the running for Best of 2014 at the end of the year.
February is a similarly strong month as the build-up to the 2014 Oscars continues. There are some great dramas coming out and also a number of solid blockbusters on and around Valentine’s Day in the middle of the month.
Here are the top ten February releases.
10. Nymphomaniac (Feb 22)
Nymphomaniac is a very bizarre proposition indeed. It’s a two-part erotic odyssey from the warped mind of Lars von Trier, who is the man behind such bizarre works as Antichrist and Melancholia. For all of his flaws, von Trier certainly isn’t the kind of guy who shrinks away from controversy.
He initially planned to release hardcore and softcore versions of the film, but he gave up the final cut in November, saying he couldn’t get it down to four hours from his original five hour edit.
It looks set to be an interesting piece of work, but the biggest question is whether it can grow to be more than the some of its private parts.
Warning: Contains NSFW content.
9. The Book Thief (Feb 26)
Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is a bona fide bestseller, which was first published in 2006 and has hoovered up awards since.
Narrated by Death himself, it tells the story of Liesel, who is a young girl finding solace and sanctuary from the horrors of war by stealing books and sharing them with people she meets.
It’s a glossy, starry period piece and, but for a very crowded awards season, it could have been in amongst the statuettes this year. Either way, it’s sure to be a touching and affecting piece of work.
8. Mr Peabody & Sherman (Feb 7)
In 2013, many of the funniest films to come out of Hollywood were for kids. Despicable Me 2 and Frozen delighted audiences of all ages, and this year’s bunch of animations starts with Mr Peabody & Sherman, focusing on an intelligent dog who adopts a human child.
The story then turns into a history lesson combined with a time travel film, as the pair chase themselves and their mishaps through the space-time continuum. If that sounds fun, it’s because it really is.
I was lucky enough to catch this film at a preview screening and it’s a warm, hilarious movie with plenty of semi-hidden gags in there for the history nerds to latch on to, whilst teaching the kids too.
7. The Monuments Men (Feb 14)
Moved out of awards season, The Monuments Men is a George Clooney passion project that follows the effort to rescue priceless artwork from Hitler and the Nazis. It features an all-star cast, including Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman and Bill Murray.
It was also filmed mostly in the UK, so it’s one that we can claim some of the credit for as well.
6. Non-Stop (Feb 28)
Liam Neeson is currently in the prime of his career. hitting his stride as a proper action hero with the Taken franchise. He’s balancing the fluffy, exploitation stuff like that with more serious, thoughtful turns in films like The Grey.
Non-Stop is another nail-biting actioner from the former Jedi master as he battles to save the passengers on a plane from a murderer who pledges to kill someone every 20 minutes.
Neeson can pretty much carry a film on his own at the moment and this one has a really cool high concept hook. It should be a couple of hours of nail-biting entertainment.
5. Cuban Fury (Feb 14)
The Monuments Men was predominantly shot in the UK, but Cuban Fury is the only true British film on this list. It stars Nick Frost and Chris O’Dowd as warring men who use salsa dancing to try and woo their attractive new boss Rashida Jones.
It has the potential to be an absolutely brilliant comedy, featuring many of the best talents currently working in UK comedy. Based on the trailer, O’Dowd’s character is remarkably and hilariously horrible and the concept has legs to twirl and an arse to shake.
I think it will be great.
4. Dallas Buyers Club (Feb 7)
Surrounded by the buzz of awards season victory, Dallas Buyers Club comes into UK cinemas riding on a wave of excitement. The film depicts an HIV sufferer given only a month to live and his decision to move non-approved drugs into American from Mexico to treat his condition.
Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are the frontrunners for their respective acting awards at the 2014 Oscars, with both already adding silverware to their shelves this year. They also both subjected themselves to massive weight loss to get the emaciated look for their performances.
The film looks like a very interesting drama, with two awesome central turns at its heart.
3. RoboCop (Feb 7)
This one could go either way. The original 1987 version of RoboCop is a movie that could only have been made in the 80s, and only by Paul Verhoeven. It mixes capitalist criticisms with crunching ultra-violence to great effect.
And so, in 2014, comes the new RoboCop, complete with a new lead in Joel Kinnaman, a new suit and a new 12A certificate. It could be an intelligent modernisation of the classic original, or it could be a neutered, pathetic imitation of what is one of the best dystopian sci-fi films ever made.
Dead or alive, to the cinema with me.
2. The Lego Movie (Feb 14)
Early reviews for The Lego Movie are starting to fly in now, and they’re pretty much universally positive. And, when you look at either the trailer or the cast list, it seems like a foregone conclusion.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, best known for 21 Jump Street and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, have drawn from the most recognisable figures in the Lego roster to produce a comedy of epic proportions.
1. Her (Feb 14)
Out in time for Valentine’s Day is Spike Jonze’s Her, which looks set to be one of the weirdest romantic comedies of this year, and indeed any other. The film follows Joaquin Phoenix’s central loner as he falls in love with his computer’s operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
The film won a screenplay prize at the Golden Globes and could well repeat that feat at the 2014 Oscars, but either way, it’s one of the most interesting films coming up this year and could be a real modern classic.
It feels almost as if it could be an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and, hopefully, it’ll be just as good.
Let me know which of these films you have seen or plan to see in the comments section below. Are there any exciting releases I haven’t mentioned?