We opened 2014 with heated anticipation for the next great turns from Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, Christopher Nolan, Lars von Trier, and a number of other cinematic vets. But the year has also treated us to a hefty sum of noteworthy first timers. We've caught a wide variety of debut attempts over the course of these past eight months, with enough qualitative range to incite reactions from "The next Hitchcock!" to "I might be able to get you a gig with my friend who does wedding videos, but don't tell him you know me." Here's a quick rundown of the debut flicks we've seen so far in '14, from great to terrible.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
Palo AltoDirector: Gia CoppolaWhy we're already on her bandwagon: In the vein of her aunt Sofia, the young Gia Coppola showcases an indubitable understanding of upper class ennui.
Hide Your Smiling Faces Director: Daniel Patrick CarboneWhy we're already on his bandwagon: Carbone's primarily wordless coming-of-age drama shows off his patience and pensiveness, not to mention his ability to skirt the self-importance than many films of Smiling Faces' ilk seem to bear.
Obvious ChildDirector: Gillian RobespierreWhy we're already on her bandwagon: It's funny as hell even within the margins of genre tradition, and sweet without succumbing to Hollywood sugar.
THE VERY GOOD
Zero MotivationDirector: Talya LavieShows promise of: A knack for absurdist humor and grounded character relationships alike.
It Felt Like LoveDirector: Eliza HittmanShows promise of: A uniquely keen empathy for how young people conduct themselves, both internally and among one another.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
The Bachelor Weekend/The StagDirector: John ButlerShows potential in: A good sense of humor, especially when it veers closer to Apatow than McKay.
Are You HereDirector: Matthew WeinerShows potential in: Social commentary through character construction, but Weiner needs a better handle on cinematic pacing.
The One I LoveDirector: Charlie McDowellShows potential in: Big ideas, and the presentation thereof, but lacks in the ultimate execution of where they can and ought to go.
Drafthouse Films via Everett Collection
Beneath the Harvest SkyDirector: Aron Gaudet and Gita PullapillyThere's room for improvement regarding: A sharper attention to the characters and story, which occasionally fade out of focus at the behest of a vivid North Maine setting.
LullabyDirector: Andrew LevitasThere's room for improvement regarding The acerbic but knowing humor shared by the central family members, in favor of the intense melodrama that the film feels impelled to stuff itself with from time to time.
Cheap ThrillsDirector: E.L. KatzThere's room for improvement regarding: The energy set toward invoking a truly interesting story or course of events, rather than the allowance of the "weird" or "dangerous" to take the wheel altogether like it does here.
TammyDirector: Ben FalconeThere's room for improvement regarding: An authentic commitment to the sincerity in the characters, in place of wild and wacky antics like jetski crashes and deer mouth-to-mouth... though these were probably studio notes, we have to assume.
Music Box Films via Everett Collection
Winter’s TaleDirector: Akiva GoldsmanWhat we hope he gets right next time: A more defined storytelling goal. While some of the film's elements worked in a vaccuum, Goldsman had been gestating a Winter's Tale adaptation for years, coming out the gate with something that is oddly both convoluted and terribly narrow.
MaleficentDirector: Robert StrombergWhat we hope he gets right next time: More Angie.
A Coffee in Berlin/Oh BoyDirector: Jan Ole GersterWhat we hope he gets right next time: A better understanding of the fine line between cheeky and irritating. The German comedy/drama plays
Earth to EchoDirector: Dave GreenWhat we hope he gets right next time: Ditch the essentially pointless found footage antic and hone in on the fleeting spirit of the kids.
TranscendenceDirector: Wally PfisterWhy we're nervous for his future: Pfister is a skilled cinematographer, but his grasp of character, story, and ambiance seem dangerously absent.
Goodbye to All ThatDirector: Angus McLachlanWhy we're nervous for his future: Ambitions seem to fall shy of originality, settling instead on retreating the same indie dramedy territory we've seen time and time again, but without any discernible charisma.
If I StayDirector: R.J. CutlerWhy we're nervous for his future: A dastardly aesthetic, paper-thin characters, a devoted marriage to teen movie cliches, and a potentially dangerous mentality driving the story altogether do not bode well for Cutler's future behind the camera.
Behaving BadlyDirector: Tim GarrickWhy we're nervous for his future: Because he made this horrible thing.
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Actress Emily Blunt hid her pregnancy on the set of action movie Edge Of Tomorrow until her co-star Tom Cruise figured out the truth when she stopped taking part in hair-raising stunts. The two screen stars play alien-battling soldiers in the new sci-fi movie, and shooting on the film wrapped before the British actress fell pregnant with her first child.
However, after conceiving, she had to return to shoot some additional scenes, and Top Gun star Cruise suspected something was amiss when he noticed Blunt was no longer keen to perform her own stunts.
She tells U.K. talk show host Graham Norton, "For some additional photography I was pregnant but it was still early and I wasn't really telling anyone. So Tom was confused as to why I wasn't engaging with all the stunts, as I was game when we did them originally. So I told him I was growing a human. He was so cute about it and protected me - he almost went overboard on helping me. In the end I had to say, 'Tom. I'm fine, I can do stairs!'"
Blunt gave birth to daughter Hazel, her first child with her husband John Krasinski, in February (14).
John Legend has warned his rapper friend Kanye West that his fiancee Kim Kardashian's reality TV show may place an extra strain on their relationship. The Ordinary People hitmaker has turned down the chance to front a reality series with his model wife Chrissy Teigen, convinced such projects can spell disasters for a relationship - and he has urged the Stronger rapper to think twice before turning his romance into a TV spectacle.
Legend tells BANG Showbiz, "I don't know what Kanye is doing with the show (Keeping Up With The Kardashians). To this point, he's made minor appearances but it's not been all about their relationship. It's really hard to do that on television and I think it's dangerous for a relationship."
However the singer did reveal that Teigen is keen to give reality TV a shot: "I think there are all kinds of unscripted television and I think Chrissy's keen to do the right kind, but not the, 'Let's watch John and Chrissy be married' kind, it's not really healthy for our relationship... We don't want to put our relationship on television, I think we share enough as it is."
Veteran rocker Sir Elton John is keen to reunite in the studio with Kanye West after realising he was "in the presence of greatness" while working on the rapper's star-studded All Of The Lights track. The Rocket Man star joined the likes of Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, Fergie, John Legend and Rihanna to lend his vocals to the 2011 hit and he was so in awe of West's creative talent, he admits he would love to collaborate with him again.
He tells RollingStone.com, "In the studio with Kanye, when I was doing that (All of the Lights) in Honolulu (Hawaii), he was just on fire. It was amazing to watch. You knew you were in the presence of greatness. I knew once I heard four or five tracks from that (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album) in the studio, I knew it was going to be a motherf**ker of a record...
"(His 2008 album) 808s & Heartbreak came out of left field and just blew my mind. I was like, 'What?' And then each album he does is a little different... I love Kanye because he's not afraid of taking a chance and pushing barriers. Working with people like that is something that I really enjoy."
And Elton, who previously teamed up with rapper Eminem for an unlikely duet at the 2001 Grammy Awards, reveals he is also eyeing a collaboration with Pharrell Williams as he attempts to incorporate more hip-hop music into his own work: "I might do a couple of tracks with Pharrell. I don't know.
"I'd love to (add more of a hip-hop sound to my music). I just don't know how to do it... So, for me, I'd have to work with someone who knows about it, like a Pharrell or a Kanye, who I respect tremendously. I'd love to do that. It's just a matter of when and where and, should I do it, the mood that I'm in. You can never tell. It's happenstance and luck, basically."
A Rome cafe which has featured in films like The Godfather Part Ii and To Rome With Love is facing closure. The Antico Caffe della Pace near the city's Piazza Navona has been a celebrity haven for decades, but financial issues have prompted the owners to move on.
Reports suggest the property bosses, who run the building that houses the cafe, are keen to turn the site into a hotel.
A petition launched by locals will be handed to local lawmakers in an effort to save the place, and have it listed as a historic landmark.
As well as featuring in films shot in and around Rome, the Antico Caffe della Pace has hosted celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Madonna and the late Grace Kelly, while Pope John Paul II was a frequent guest.
Game Of Thrones star Kit Harington has a murky past - one of his direct ancestors invented the flushing toilet. The actor reveals poet and inventor John Harrington came up with the contraption in the late 1500s.
He says, "Thus why it's called the john."
And the actor's relative had a very special first client - Queen Elizabeth I.
His famous descendant adds, "He invented it for her, as the story goes, and she made him godson to her, which is quite interesting. She was obviously very grateful."
Harington is keen to spread the word about his latrine-loving relative to discredit 19th century plumber Thomas Crapper, who is often credited for inventing the toilet, as "an absolute charlatan".
The actor states, "He came in and he took all the credit for it."
Oasis rocker Liam Gallagher has reportedly set his sights on actor Jared Leto to star in the rocker's upcoming film about the Beatles. The Beady Eye frontman's film company, 1 Productions, is developing the movie adaptation of Richard DiLello's 1973 book, The Longest Cocktail Party, and Gallagher is keen to cast the Dallas Buyers Club star, who ironically played John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman in 2007 drama Chapter 27.
Gallagher is preparing to hold castings in Los Angeles in April (14), and Leto, as well as Before Midnight's Ethan Hawke, are on the shortlist to star in the movie, according to the U.K.'s The Sun newspaper.
An insider tells the publication, "He knows he's not going to manage to entice someone like Brad Pitt but he wants high-calibre people who are more on the indie scene of Hollywood. He thinks actors such as Jared and Ethan would be perfect."
The Longest Cocktail Party details DiLello's tenure at the Beatles' Apple company, and covers the band's peak years from 1968 to the split in 1970.
WENNThe BRIT Awards may no longer be the must-see event it was in the 90s, but it's still by far the British music industry's biggest night. Here's a look at the list of this year's nominees and the acts who should perhaps start preparing their acceptance speeches ready for February 19. British Male Solo ArtistDavid Bowie, Jake Bugg, James Blake, John Newman, Tom OdellConsidering the BRITs' reputation for awarding sales over talent, it's surprising but pleasing to see that both Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams have been snubbed here. The panel may want to justify giving New Boring singer-songwriter Tom Odell the Critics Choice award last year, but there would surely be an outcry if David Bowie didn't get the sentimental vote and pick up his first BRIT in nearly 30 years.Who Will Win: David BowieWho Should Win: David BowieBritish Female Solo ArtistBirdy, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, Laura Marling, Laura MvulaLaura Marling surprised everyone by pipping Ellie Goulding to this award in 2011 but considering the latter's triumphant twelve months, it's difficult to see her doing the same this year. Just as long as the caterwauling Jessie J doesn’t get her hands on it.Who Will Win: Ellie GouldingWho Should Win: Laura MvulaBritish GroupArctic Monkeys, Bastille, Disclosure, One Direction, RudimentalIt’s encouraging to see the BRITs recognise two of the year's best commercial dance acts in this category, but British Group almost always goes to a guitar band so Arctic Monkeys are almost certain to add to their tally of five.Who Will Win: Arctic MonkeysWho Should Win: DisclosureBritish Breakthrough ActBastille, Disclosure, Laura Mvula, London Grammar, Tom OdellLondon Grammar produced one of the most beautiful albums of last year with If You Wait but as this award is voted for by listeners of Radio 1, it will inevitably go to the act with the biggest fan base. Step forward the unfathomably successful Bastille.Who Will Win: Bastille Who Should Win: London GrammarBritish SingleBastille ("Pompeii"), Calvin Harris ("I Need Your Love"), Disclosure ("White Noise"), Ellie Goulding ("Burn"), John Newman ("Love Me Again"), Naughty Boy ("La La La"), One Direction ("One Way Or Another/Teenage Kicks"), Passenger ("Let Her Go"), Rudimental ("Waiting All Night")Bar Passenger's contrived snoozefest, this isn't a bad list of the best-selling singles of the last year. Again voted for by the public, One Direction will inevitably walk away with the award. But it's a shame that it'll be for their karaoke mash-up of Blondie's "One Way Or Another"/The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" rather than the far superior "Story Of My Life."Who Will Win: One DirectionWho Should Win: Naughty BoyBritish Album of the YearArctic Monkeys (AM), Bastille (Bad Blood), David Bowie (The Next Day), Disclosure (Settle), Rudimental (Home)A welcome departure from the bombastic EDM favoured by the likes of Guetta et al, Disclosure's Settle was the album that 2013 needed. But following the return-to-form of AM, BRITs favorites Arctic Monkeys will probably pick up the second and arguably the most coveted award of the night.Who Will Win: Arctic MonkeysWho Should Win: DisclosureInternational Male Solo ArtistBruno Mars, Drake, Eminem, John Grant, Justin TimberlakePossibly the biggest snub of the awards is the lack of Kanye West, who like his former touring partner Jay-Z, has been entirely ignored in favour of Justin Timberlake's two bloated and self-indulgent comeback albums and Eminem's regressive Marshall Mathers sequel. More encouraging is this year's most leftfield nominee John Grant, but with Bruno Mars set to perform on the night, this category will only go one way.Who Will Win: Bruno MarsWho Should Win: John GrantInternational Female Solo ArtistJanelle Monae, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Lorde, PinkSuggesting the BRITs panel aren't too keen on the whole twerking phenomenon, Miley Cyrus is another major omission here. Lorde might be worth an outside bet but currently the most bankable pop star on the planet, Katy Perry will probably reign supreme.Who Will Win: Katy PerryWho Should Win: Janelle MonaeInternational GroupArcade Fire, Daft Punk, Haim, Kings Of Leon, Macklemore & Ryan LewisIf there was an award for Best International Single, Daft Punk would run away with it. But despite the mixed reaction to their last album, the BRITs are more likely to favour Kings of Leon than any of the more adventurous names on the list.Who Will Win: Kings Of LeonWho Should Win: Haim
A fifth installment of hit animated film franchise Ice Age will hit cinemas in 2016. Last year's (12) Ice Age: Continental Drift banked $874.9 million (£583.3 million) at the global box office and actor John Leguizamo, who voices talkative sloth Sid, admitted he was keen to reprise his character for another sequel, if executives at Fox Animation Studios and Blue Sky Studios were game.
He said: "It sounds like they're working on something. So hopefully the answer is yes, but I cannot say for sure."
On Friday (20Dec13), Leguizamo's wish was granted as studio bosses set a July, 2016 release date for Ice Age 5.
Casting details have yet to be confirmed, although all Ice Age films to date have featured the voices of Ray Romano, Leguizamo and Denis Leary.
Actor John Goodman is determined to undergo knee surgery to fulfill his dream of returning to the stage. The Argo star last appeared in a play five years ago when he starred in Waiting for Godot and now he is planning a second surgery to correct the effects arthritis and his weight have had on his knees.
Goodman has been gradually losing weight since 2010 and has one titanium knee, but he revealed last year (12) he still has to undergo a second procedure despite his slimmer physique.
He tells the New York Daily News, "I would like to do some theatre... I would like to get involved with that and I need to get my knee fixed first."
And his 2014 bucket list also includes a reunion with his former onscreen wife, Roseanne Barr. The two friends, who starred in U.S. TV sitcom Roseanne from 1988 to 1997, attempted to pitch a TV show together two years ago, but the project went nowhere.
But he says, "We sure had fun doing it."