Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: TBD
Why It Might Be a Must See: "Foxcatcher" was a highly anticipated potential fixture in the awards race going on right now for last year's films. But the film was pushed to 2014 at the last minute because director Miller ("Capote," "Moneyball") didn't want to rush things. But considering how crowded the current Oscar race is, maybe it was for the best. And it gives us something to very much look forward to in 2014. Starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell, Sienna Miller and Vanessa Redgrave, the film tells the true story of Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers Mark Schultz (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Ruffalo) and their relationship with the eccentric John du Pont (Carell), heir to the du Pont Chemical fortune that led to murder. Written by E. Max Frye and "Capote" scribe Dan Futterman, if it were to so work out roughly a year from now, it would be Bennett Miller's third straight film to receive a best picture nomination.
"Grace of Monaco"
Director: Olivier Dahan
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: March 14
Why It Might Be a Must-See: Harvey Weinsteim bumped the film's release from last December to this March, effectively barring it from this season's awards race, but that alone does not diminish our hope for the biopic. If there was ever an actress born to embody screen legend Grace Kelly, it's Nicole Kidman with her strikingly similar porcelain features and radiant on-screen presence. And director Olivier Dahan proved that he can deliver a ravishing film in the same mold, with his Oscar-winning "La Vie en Rose." Maybe Harvey was simply telling the truth; that it wasn't ready in time. Only time will tell.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: March 7
Why It Might Be a Must-See: It’s hard to say Wes Anderson is on a roll since he never really slowed down, but "The Grand Budapest Hotel" looks like another capricious delight from America’s great chronicler of whimsical personalities. Set in the Europe of the 1920’s, the movie features Ralph Fiennes as a noted hotel concierge framed for murder and hiding from the police; meanwhile, Bill Murray naturally finds his way into the story as the manager of a rival hotel. Early buzz and trailers indicate an elegant, snappy comedy, confirming Anderson’s claims that he’s working in the tradition of great screwball director Ernst Lubitsch. While Anderson’s style might be easy to parody and sometimes too precious for its own good, there’s no doubting that he ranks among the more enjoyably inventive entertainers working in film today.
Director: Eugenio Mira
Cast: Elijan Wood, John Cusack
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Release Date: March 7
Why It Might Be a Must See: Eugenio Mira’s wildly entertaining Brian De Palma homage stars Elijah Wood as famous young pianist Tom Selznick thrust into the hardest concert of his career — mainly because an unseen gunman (voiced by John Cusack) forces the musician to play the piece correctly in order to stay alive. While an unsuspecting audience looks on, Tom desperately pounds on one key to the next, while constantly thinking through his scenario: Who is this shadowy puppet master and what does he really want? Once the oddball premise is established, "Grand Piano" is a slick thriller that earns its reputation as a classical music riff on "Speed," with Wood transforming into an unlikely tuxedoed action figure. It’s a ridiculous and outrageously fun alternative to any big scale blockbuster you’ll see this year.
Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham
Distributor: None of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival
Why It Might Be a Must-See: After going all star crazy with last summer’s "Drinking Buddies," Joe Swanberg is at it again, employing bankable actors for his latest ensemble comedy, "Happy Christmas." "Buddies" star Anna Kendrick is back, alongside a roster of Swanberg newcomers including Lena Dunham, Mark Webber and Melanie Lynskey. Working with "Beasts of the Southern Wild" cinematographer Ben Richardson (who also shot "Drinking Buddies"), the quintessentially digital-friendly Swanberg made "Happy Christmas" on Super 16mm film, his first production to utilize the medium since film school.