BBC Culture

Eight films to watch in 2014

About the author

Tom Brook is a New York-based journalist who has reported on film and the movie industry for BBC News since 1985. He has presented Talking Movies on BBC World News since 1999.

  • Young Ones

    One film to look out for at the Sundance Film Festival this month is the world premiere of Young Ones, a Western set in a drought-ridden America of the future. It's a film put together by New York-based director Jake Paltrow who worked from his own screenplay with a stellar cast: Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Nicholas Hoult. Shannon plays a young father trying to bring water back to his fallow land. "Essentially it's a family chamber piece at its core, surrounded by the politics of the world that it's set in," says Paltrow. This is the filmmaker's first feature since making the 2007 romantic comedy The Good Night. (Jake Paltrow)

  • Maleficent

    Angelina Jolie has played some formidable women but she may intimidate audiences around the world by portraying the 'Mistress of All Evil’, Maleficent. The character is one of Disney’s most iconic villains, who first appeared in the 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty. If the promotional literature for the film is anything to go by, Maleficent’s ‘evilness’ may have been toned down to create a character who is a little more palatable for this live-action version. Perhaps they should keep her as mean as possible because Jolie – one of the world’s best known actresses – has the intensity to play nasty. Jolie will be joined by a strong supporting cast of British actors that includes Imelda Staunton, Sam Riley, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville. Released 30 May in the UK and US, 4 July in India and 24 July in Hong Kong.(Walt Disney Pictures)

  • Your Day Is My Night

    Director Lynne Sachs' Your Day is My Night shines a light on a little documented sub-culture in New York's Chinatown, chronicling immigrants who live communally in buildings where there's a shift-bed system. One person returns from a stint of overnight work to sleep in a bed just vacated by another person off to their day job. The form of this documentary is as compelling as its content. It is a beautiful collage of different media and music intricately edited together with the often emotional testimony of the immigrants. (PR)

  • Tiny Times 3.0

    One of the biggest events in cinemas in China next summer may well be the release of Tiny Times 3.0 - the third installment in what has proved to be a very lucrative but controversial franchise. It can be described as a Chinese combination of Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada and chronicles the adventures of a group of fashion-obsessed young women in Shanghai. The first two films, which made huge sums at the box office, brought forth scorn from some cultural critics who charged that the films are just an excessive celebration of materialism - but the franchise has resonated with some of the newly affluent members of China's young urbanite moviegoing audience. (PR)

  • Teenage

    After hitting the festival circuit in 2013, Teenage will arrive in cinemas next year, bringing to audiences an exploration of the birth of youth culture. Put together by New York based filmmaker Matt Wolf, it is based on a comprehensive book by British punk author Jon Savage. Using the voices of actors – including Jena Malone and Ben Whishaw – Wolf looks back at the lives of young people in Germany, the US and the UK in the decades before the arrival of the teenager as a concept. The director has cleverly ‘fabricated’ archival footage to illustrate historical characters for which there are no recorded images. Wolf says: “I’ve combined an array of archival footage with recreations that I filmed that look like actual home movies shot by teenagers.” But it’s not a vanilla historical portrait. “I was surprised by how political Teenage became – in the early 20th Century young people faced an incredible amount of repression from their parents and their governments and the police.” (PR)

  • Noah

    Has Darren Aronofsky, one of the most gifted filmmakers of his generation, bitten off more than he can chew with his biblical epic Noah, starring Russell Crowe? The director has worked mostly outside the studio system and he hasn’t – apart from The Fountain – made a picture so heavy on special effects. He’s reportedly clashed with Paramount, which has held test screenings of the film that did not yield the desired results. Additionally Aronofsky has also encountered the wrath of religious conservatives who are adamant that he should be telling this biblical story with strict adherence to the literal words of the Bible. The film is clearly going to generate a lot of talk, but if Aronofsky’s record is anything to go by it should be quite stunning visually. Released 28 March in the UK and US, 4 April in Brazil and 13 June in Japan. (Paramount Pictures)

  • Bombay Velvet

    One of India’s most eagerly awaited films, set for release in December, comes from maverick filmmaking powerhouse Anurag Kashyap. Bombay Velvet is a jazzy picture that will track the emergence of Mumbai into a metropolis in the 1960s. It will star two big names in Bollywood cinema: Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma. The movie is inspired by real events that took place in the city and is based on historian Gyan Prakash’s novel Mumbai Fables. It will provide another opportunity for Kashyap to demonstrate his skillfulness as one of India’s most adventurous filmmakers. (PR)

  • Manakamana

    This captivating experimental film by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez was produced under the aegis of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. The filmmakers installed their camera in a fixed position inside a cable car in Nepal and let it run for the entire length of a film roll as it observed passengers traveling to a hilltop temple. Mostly there is silence accompanying the unedited images of individuals inside the cable car. It’s a film you might expect to be boring – but it is quite the opposite. Manakamana is a testimony to the power of film to convey human detail – and it respects the ability of an audience to watch a long, long scene with a static image uninterrupted by the frenzied editing that often defines contemporary filmmaking. (The Cinema Guild)