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61 Reasons to Love 2014

From returning rock legends to heart-stopping thrillers, the best of what’s to come in music, movies and TV this year

Don't expect to get a cultural breather after the past 12 massive months: Beginning early in January, there are can't-miss concerts, new and returning watercooler TV shows and specials, albums from rock legends, and the release of big-budget popcorn flicks that'll have everyone talking. With the caveat that all dates are subject to change (and, in same cases, simply our best guesses) here are our picks for the music, movies and TV to watch out for in 2014. 

By Mike Ayers, David Fear, Blaine McEvoy, David Marchese and Dan Reilly

Steve Jennings/WireImage

Neil Young Live Dates (January)

Neil Young only has a handful of tour dates planned for 2014, but they should be something special. Carnegie Hall will host a series of solo acoustic "An Evening With Neil Young" performances on January 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th, and while there have been no announcements about what to expect, Shakey's set at September's Farm Aid consisted almost entirely of covers, save for "Old Man" and "Heart of Gold." Then, on January 12th, Young will undertake the first of four Canadian shows in support of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the group that's fighting to keep an oil concern from taking parts of its Alberta land. Diana Krall will serves as the special guest for those dates. This summer, Neil and Crazy Horse will head to Europe to play make-up gigs after canceling a slew of shows last year. 

Andrew Benge/Redferns via Getty Images

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’ (January 7th)

After a few years living in Berlin, Stephen Malkmus returns stateside with a new album, the curiously titled Wig Out at Jagbags. A jagbag, for the uninformed, is South Chicago slang that combines two words: jackoff and douchebags. Malkmus & the Jicks are in fine form here, singing about Scattergories, sexual hijinks, and weird-looking teenagers throughout the album's 12 tracks. Early singles "Lariat" and "Cinnamon and Lesbians" find the band at its tight, propulsive best. 

Courtesy Universal Pictures

‘Lone Survivor’ (January 10th)

Mark Wahlberg stars as Marcus Luttrell in the true story of a failed Navy Seal operation during the Afghanistan war. Four soldiers were sent to capture a Taliban leader only to get ambushed, leading to even more American casualties during the rescue mission. Peter Berg directs the film, which also features Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Eric Bana.

HBO

‘Girls’ (January 12th)

So what new romantic situations will Marnie find herself in the show's third season? (Christopher Abbott, who played Allison Williams' love interest Charlie, is out.) Will new roomies Shoshanna and Jessa strangle each other? Can Hannah and Adam make their relationship work? One thing we can bet on is that Lena Dunham's zeitgeisty, zinger-filled show will still make us laugh, cry and cringe in equal measure. Also, two words: Gravestone twerking.

James Bridges

‘True Detective’ (January 12th)

Nothing screams top-shelf television (in a good way) more than a cable series featuring marquee-name stars and movie-quality production values. So we wouldn't be surprised if HBO's pulpy crime-anthology show ends up being the hot new hit of the year — especially since its lurid inaugural season stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as Louisiana cops losing their moral compass while chasing a serial killer.

CHOZEN - Pictured: Chozen group image. CR. FX

FX

‘Chozen’ (January 13th)

Remember when said you wished FX would put out an animated series about a gay, white, ex-con rapper? Okay, maybe you've never said any such thing, but damned if the folks behind Archer and Eastbound & Down didn't fill that void, with SNL's Bobby Moynihan voicing the titular MC. If the show is half as funny as Chozen's "Murder, Sex" music video featuring horny zombies and dancers in bear masks, we've got ourselves an instant hip-hop 'toon classic. 

John Shearer/WireImage

Broken Bells, ‘After the Disco’ (January 14th)

"I'm not so young anymore," said Danger Mouse, the 36-year-old producer-musician in advance of the new album from Broken Bells. "Is this the way it's supposed to be?" That angst helped inspire After the Disco (out January 14th), his second collaboration with James Mercer of indie kings the Shins. Where synth swirls dominated the band's self-titled 2010 debut, Burton kept the equipment to a minimum this time, building sparser soundscapes for Mercer to sing over. (Though lead single 'Holding On for Life' has a dancefloor kick.) As Burton told us late last year about the new effort, "You can dance to it, but it still has the darker melancholy thing we like to do." Broken Bells have already announced they'll take the new music on the road in February. 

Yasuyoshi ChibaAFP/Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen, ‘High Hopes’ (January 14th)

Erstwhile Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello joined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for a few shows last March as a temporary fill-in for Steven Van Zandt, and their chemistry led to Morello featuring heavily on Bruce's new album High Hopes. Following the LP's release Morello will rejoin the band for a five-week tour of South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand beginning on January 26th. There are no immediate plans for Springsteen to hit the road in the U.S., but the man himself planted some seeds in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. "We're looking around now to see what we might do," said Springsteen. "I don't want to say 'yes' because I don't want to disappoint people, but I certainly don't want to rule it out either," he said. "We're looking closely since there's places we missed on the last tour. We didn't get to Texas, where I love to play. We didn't get to Florida either. It might be fun to get back to some of those places."

Courtesy Paramount Pictures

‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ (January 17th)

Star Trek lead Chris Pine becomes the fourth actor to play Tom Clancy's hero, while this reboot is the first to not be based on the late author's novels. He'll face off against Kenneth Branagh, who also directed, as a Russian villain bent on crushing the U.S. economy. Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley also appear in the movie.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Syracuse University

David Crosby, ‘Croz’ (January 28th)

On his first new studio album in 20 years, golden-voiced ex-Byrds and CSN (and sometimes Y), singer-songwriter David Crosby explores a gritty diversity of subjects ranging from drone strikes to delicate personal reminscences. Crosby will support the album, which features Dire Straits singer-guitarist Mark Knopfler, with a North American tour set to begin January 28th at Manhattan's City Winery. 

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

‘Monuments Men’ (February 7th)

This World War II film features George Clooney and Matt Damon topping an all-star lineup that also includes Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Jean Dujardin. It's based on the true story of a unit dedicated to rescuing works of art that Hitler had stolen and ordered to be destroyed. Presumably it'll be  more historically accurate than Inglourious Basterds.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Sting and Paul Simon Tour Together (February)

After performing together at a benefit concert in May, Sting and Paul Simon decided that their collaboration was too good to be a one-off thing. Thus, they announced a 21-date North American tour plainly dubbed Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together. The icons, who formerly lived in the same Manhattan building, will kick off the trek on February 8th in Houston and hit Madison Square Garden twice before wrapping up in Orlando on March 16th. 

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Eric Church, ‘The Outsiders’ (February 11th)

Country rabble-rouser Eric Church broke through on the charts with 2011's Chief and the hit single "Springsteen." The Outsiders promises more twang and bad boy boogie, at least if the raucous first single/and title track is any indication. 

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

‘RoboCop’ (February 12th)

Come on, you knew it was inevitable that Paul Verhoeven's giddy, gory 1987 dystopic action film-cum-social satire would get the remake treatment. Thankfully, The Killing's Joel Kinnaman is the one stepping into those giant metallic boots, suggesting a moodier, broodier man-machine. Yes, you would, in fact, buy that for a dollar! The movie is directed by Brazilian Jose Padilha, the man responsible for the critically acclaimed Bus 174.

Melinda Sue Gordon for Netflix

‘House of Cards’ (February 14th)

"And the butchery begins!" intones Kevin Spacey's cutthroat senator at the end of Season 2 teaser for Netflix's political thriller series; knowing our Machiavellian antihero, even that murderous promise is probably an understatement. Brace yourself for even more Beltway backstabbing and backroom betrayals, as well as the welcome addition of Deadwood's Molly Parker to the cast of Washington power grabbers. 

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Schoolboy Q, ‘Oxymoron’ (February 25th)

With the success Kendrick Lamar is having, it's not crazy to think his associate Schoolboy Q is in line for a big 2014. Q's major label debut Oxymoron will feature guest spots from the likes of  Snoop, Action Bronson, Danny Brown, 50 Cent, and Raekwon. But judging from the first two singles, "Collard Greens" and "Man of the Year," it's Schoolboy's quickfire raps that should seal his stardom.

Dana Nalbandian/WireImage

St. Vincent, ‘St. Vincent’ (February 25th)

St. Vincent's Annie Clark has spent a good portion of the last year-and-a-half touring with David Byrne around their collaborative album Love This Giant. And it sounds like the Talking Heads guru's knowledge of blending funky rhythms with rock music has seeped in. The first single of her new self-titled album, "Birth in Reverse," is an uptempo amalgam of quick drum snaps, rambling guitars and Clark singing about perverse domestic duties.

Craig Blankenhorn/FX

‘The Americans’ (February 26th)

What does the future, that is, the remainder of the Reagan era, hold in store for our favorite deep-cover Soviet couple? We've heard that Season 2 of The Americans will focus more on the whole family, with an emphasis on how the kids will deal with all that spy-vs-spy fallout. But we're sure that Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell's red-hot Reds will still find the time to, uh, get cozy with various inside sources and try on at least two dozen totally gnarly wigs.

IFC

‘Portlandia’ (February 27th)

We'd happily put a bird on whatever Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen delivered for this blistering, hipster-baiting sketch show's fourth season anyway, but the list of upcoming cameos has us drooling: Maya Rudolph, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Jello Biafra, Duff McKagan, TV on the Radio singer Tunde Adebimpe, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, sex columnist Dan Savage and members of the Portland Trailblazers. We're praying that either McKagan or Savage stops by the feminist bookstore. 

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

The xx’s New York City Residency (March)

New York City fans of the xx have had no shortage of the gorgeously melancholy British trio over the last few years. They've played pretty much every venue in the city, most recently a two-night stand at famed Radio City Music Hall. This March, they'll play a whopping 25 more shows — two per night, over the course of 10 days. The hook? They're playing at Manhattan's Park Avenue Armory, where only 40 people are allowed in per show. It's hard to imagine seeing this uniquely intimate band in more apt surroundings. 

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Arcade Fire Hit Arenas (March 6th)

Following a handful of club gigs to preview Reflektor, Arcade Fire are bringing their new songs to the masses with a huge tour. After a few shows in Australia, the ensemble returns to the States on March 6th to perform at Louisville, Kentucky's Yum! Center. The first leg of the arena tour wraps in early May, leaving plenty of room for some festival-headlining gigs, and picks up again on July 30th. And dress nicely – Arcade Fire are requesting that concert-goers wear a costume or formal attire.

Courtesy Fox Searchight

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (March 7th)

Director Wes Anderson's latest features Ralph Fiennes starring as Gustave H, a famed concierge who's framed for a wealthy woman's murder after she leaves him a valuable painting in her will. The caper also stars Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson among others. So far, it looks like it could be Anderson's most visually lush work yet.

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

‘Veronica Mars’ (March 14th)

Proving that persistence and having a cast that ages well can really pay off, the beloved but low-rated television series, starring Kristen Bell as a young private eye, returns as a feature film thanks to a $5.7-million Kickstarter campaign. As a nod to the show's 2004 origin, the movie is set at Veronica's 10-year high school reunion, and over 15 members of the original cast will return as her family, friends, and enemies. Now a big-shot lawyer, Mars has to get back to sleuthing to help her ex-boyfriend prove his innocence in a murder case. 

Courtesy Summit Entertainment

‘Divergent’ (March 21st)

Anyone suffering from Hunger Games withdrawal should be able to help soothe their jones on March 21st with Divergent. Based on Veronica Roth's book of the same name, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian version of Chicago where people are separated into factions based on their personalities. Naturally, the government is less benevolent than it appears. 

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

‘Nymphomaniac’ (March 21st)

Director Lars von Trier's latest controversy-courting film stars his frequent collaborator Charlotte Gainsbourg as the titular character, named Joe, alongside Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, and Willem Dafoe. The two-part film is split into eight chapters that document Joe's life from birth to age 50, with plenty of explicit, often unsimulated sex scenes along the way. 

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Johnny Cash, ‘Out Among the Stars’ (March 25th)

Finding any previously unheard Johnny Cash material is cause for celebration – but an entire album's worth? Cash's son, John Carter, has dug up and resurrected this 12-song album that was recorded in 1981 and 1984. Out Among the Stars features duets with Waylon Jennings, his wife June Carter Cash and guitar work from a young Marty Stuart.  The set captures Cash just moments before he would go on to form the Highwaymen, the Eighties country supergroup consisting of him, Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.

Courtesy Paramount Pictures

‘Noah’ (March 28th)

The Biblical flood comes to the big screen in Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky's $130-million adaptation. Huge sets, tons of CGI animals, and a cast including Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, and Jennifer Connelly suggest this might not be a humble retelling of the tale.  

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Black Sabbath Back in America (March 31st)

Black Sabbath aren't done touring behind their April-released reunion album, 13, their first with original frontman Ozzy Osbourne since 1978's Never Say Die!  In November, the band announced it was adding more shows in North America and Europe, which should serve as the final gigs in support of the album. While most of the North American dates are in Canada, the metal gods will hit Brooklyn's Barclays Center on March 31st and the Hollywood Bowl on April 26th. With guitarist Tony Iommi recently having battled cancer, it's hard to know when, or if, Sabbath will tour again.

Courtesy Marvel

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (April 4th)

Following the events of The Avengers, Chris Evans' Captain America now has to take on an old friend who's been brainwashed into becoming KGB assassin the Winter Soldier, all while still struggling to fit in  the present day. Sebastian Stan plays the villain, while Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johannson, and Colbie Smulders return to the series. Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie, and Emily VanCamp are the new faces in the film.

Courtesy Alcon Entertainment

‘Transcendence’ (April 18th)

Johnny Depp stars in Transcendence as a computer scientist striving to improve artificial intelligence to the point where it is more powerful than the human mind — even as he risks becoming one with the technology. Director Wally Pfister earned his chops working as Christopher Nolan's top cinematographer and won an Oscar for his work on Inception. The movie also features Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, and Kate Mara.

Courtesy Sony Pictures

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ (May 2nd)

Following the $750 million box office of the 2012 Spider-Man reboot, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return to face new villains and teen troubles. This time Jamie Foxx (Electro) and Paul Giamatti (the Rhino) do battle with Spidey, who also meets his old pal Harry Osborn, played by Chronicle star Dane DeHaan. With director Marc Webb returning from the original and Garfield having proven he can pull off the role, it's a safe bet that this sequel will make an ocean of money.

Courtesy Universal Pictures

‘Neighbors’ (May 9th)

It's a beautiful day in new parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne's quaint, suburban neighborhood — until a party-animal fraternity headed by Zac Efron moves in next door. No, he won't be asking to borrow a cup of sugar; yes, a take-no-prisoners battle of raunch-comedic revenge is on like Donkey Kong. 

Courtesy Warner Brothers

‘Godzilla’ (May 16th)

Finally, the monster franchise gets a reboot so we can all forget about the earlier (1998) reboot. The new version, 3D of course, is directed by Gareth Edwards in his first major film following the acclaimed alien-invasion indie flick Monsters. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass, Nowhere Boy) stars alongside Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen. 

Courtesy Mayhem Pictures

‘Million Dollar Arm’ (May 16th)

This Disney film stars Jon Hamm as J.B. Bernstein, a real-life sports agent who launched a reality show in India to find the country's best baseball players. Though it's already known that the winners, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, eventually became the first Indian players to appear in professional baseball, both as minor-league pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates, you can expect a heartwarming yarn along the lines of Miracle and The Rookie.

Courtesy Marvel/Twentieth Century Fox

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ (May 23rd)

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, an all-star cast including James MacAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen reprise their roles to go back in time to stop a homo superior genocide that hasn't happened yet — but will in the near-future. Peter Dinklage also joins up as scientist Bolivar Trask. Got all that? Trust us, original X-Men director Bryan Singer will explain everything. Also, did we mention there's giant killer robots? 

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ (May 30th)

After voicing the profane stuffed bear in Ted, Seth MacFarlane's latest big-screen foray finds the Family Guy creator starring as a meek farmer who learns to be a gunslinger, with help from Charlize Theron. The Western comedy, due out just after Memorial Day on May 30th, also features Amanda Seyfried as his love interest and Liam Neeson as the bad guy. You can bet on seeing some of the best cowboy fart humor since Blazing Saddles.

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

’22 Jump Street’ (June 13th)

No one was more surprised than us when the 2012 big-screen revamp of the '80s TV cop show became the action-comedy of the year. So we're totally stoked that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are back for more self-mocking, undercover-bromance shenanigans, this time posing as college students. You may commence keg-stand gags now.

Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ (July 11th)

Andy Serkis returns as Caesar in the sequel to 2011's highly successful reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The follow-up takes place 10 years after the original, with Caesar leading the apes in battle against Earth's remaining humans, played by a cast that includes Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell. 

Courtesy Warner Brothers

‘Jupiter Ascending’ (July 18th)

The Wachowski siblings return to Matrix territory with Jupiter Ascending. Sure to be visually stunning and mondo mind-bending, the film tells the story of an innocent young woman (Mila Kunis) who is the only capable of preventing  interplanetary warfare. Lucky for her, a man-scara–wearing Channing Tatum is on bodyguard duty. Game of Thrones' Sean Bean is also on-board. We are so there.

‘Get On Up’ (August 1st)

It's about damned time the hardest-working man in showbiz got his own rags-to-riches biopic! If in Get On Up Chadwick Boseman does for Soul Brother #1 James Brown what he did for Jackie Robinson in 42, we'll be more than please-please-pleased. Here's hoping director Tate Taylor (The Help), with help from co-producer Mick Jagger, also gives the drummer some. 

David Livingston/Getty Images

‘Sex Tape’ (August 1st)

Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz will star as spouses who record themselves bumping uglies one night for fun — only to wake up the next morning and discover their personal porn flick has gone missing. (Oops!) Considering the cast also includes Jack Black, Rob Lowe and The Office's Ellie Kemper, we're predicting a down-and-dirty laugh riot.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Spike TV

‘The Giver’ (August 15th)

Film fans will be glad to know that Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep star in this cinematic adaptation of Lois Lowry's classic Young Adult novel. Millions of Taylor Swift fans, though, are sure to go wild over the fact that the superstar will play a supporting role in the tale of a 12-year-old boy chosen to be a futuristic utopia's "keeper" of memories. 

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Victor Maymudes’ ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan’ (September 9th)

From 1961 on, Victor Maymudes was one of Bob Dylan's closest friends and confidantes. The pair had a falling out in 2000, after which Maymudes decided he would write a book about his life with the rock icon, but he died (from a brain aneurysm) the following year before he could complete the work. Now, Maymudes' son Jake has resurrected the project. Definitely don't expect something similar to Dylan's Chronicles.


David Becker/Getty Images

‘Gone Girl’ (October 3rd)

We'd gladly watch David Fincher direct a phonebook reading, but thankfully, the Fight Club auteur has chosen something chewier for his next project: A take on Gillian Flynn's smash success suspense novel about a missing wife (Rosamund Pike) and the husband (Ben Affleck) who's suspected of killing her. "Blurred Lines" sex symbol Emily Ratajkowski also has a role. 

Rob Kim/Getty Images

‘Dumb and Dumber To’ (November 14th)

Lloyd and Harry are back! Twenty years after Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels blessed us with the ne plus ultra in buddy-comedy stupidity, the dynamic duo reunite (along with directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly) for a new adventure involving road trips, kidney transplants and lost kids. This will easily be the dumberest movie of the year. 

Courtesy Legendary Pictures

‘Interstellar’ (November 7th)

He's rifled through our comic-book collections and "incepted" our dreams; now director Christopher Nolan sets his sights on the far reaches of the galaxy with this tale of astronauts (led by Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) exploring a wormhole. Expect lots of cerebral sci-fi musings, some IMAX-ready cosmic slop and a gloriously droning Hans Zimmer score. 

Vera Anderson/WireImage

‘Exodus’ (December 12th)

Christian Bale has unleashed Old Testament-style wrath in the past (sometimes even onscreen!), so we're dying to see what he does with the lead in Ridley Scott's biblical epic: He plays Moses, the man who helps the Israelites transition from pyramid laborers to denizens of the Promised Land. You'd better let his people go, Ramses!

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