Earlier this week, Kris, Greg and Drew put their heads together to compile a list of their 25 most anticipated films of 2014. It was certainly a fine, blockbuster-heavy list, but the cinematic buffet ahead of us stretches a lot further than just 25 films — so we decided there was room for another list, focusing slightly more on the year’s more specialist options.
“Prestige film” is, of course, a loose term, one that covers everything from broad Oscar bait to the most esoteric of art house fare. It covers, but is of course not limited to, auteur cinema — but then, what is an auteur? Mike Leigh is one, yes, but so is Christopher Nolan. And the “festival” label isn’t as exclusive as is sometimes implied — mainstream smashes debut alongside buried treasure at festivals all the time, be it at Toronto or Berlin.
With that in mind, we kept the brief for this list flexible. Prestige is so often in the eye of the beholder, and these are all films that, between us, we thought a little more classily appetizing than the rest. That may include high-end pulp like David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” or lower-profile exotica like Luca Guadagnino’s “Body Art” — we’re not out to put films in boxes. Not all prestige cinema is Oscar bait… or Palme d’Or bait, for that matter.
I should offer the caveat that this list isn’t as heavy as it could be on foreign film — the exclusion wasn’t conscious, but world cinema is less easy to track far in advance. Still, the films left standing once Kris, Greg and I had each submitted our own lists — and believe me, we touched on a lot more than 25 titles between us — are a pleasingly diverse bunch all the same.
Major directors, of course, abound, from Paul Thomas Anderson to Lars von Trier to David Cronenberg, but there are some exciting up-and-comers in the mix, including two Hollywood megastars taking a turn behind the camera. Patricia Highsmith pops up twice. Oh, and so does Michael Fassbender — once with his natural head, and once without.
Some will get the festival red-carpet treatment, others may make their way more quietly to cinema screens, and one has already premiered — and landed on two of our Top 10 of 2013 lists. Some may well be in the awards conversation this time next year; others most certainly will not. One film returns after initially showing up on the 2013 release calendar; others, of course, may yet be delayed or pushed to 2015. It’s early days yet.
All in all, however, they point to a rich and rewarding year at the movies — all the more so with the knowledge that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Every year, some of the year’s most thrilling festival sensations and awards hopefuls are hardly seen coming in January. How many people were aware of “Blue is the Warmest Color” a year ago, after all?
Have a browse, then, through our 25 most anticipated prestige films of 2014 in the gallery below, and share your own thoughts and hopes for the year ahead in the comments.