The big one: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
In his second solo film, the Star-Spangled Avenger (Chris Evans) takes on both a shadowy conspiracy and “The Winter Soldier,” a masked bad-guy with a robotic arm. Original Cap director Joe Johnston was replaced for this sequel by Anthony and Joe Russo, who’ve directed features like Welcome To Colinwood and You, Me, And Dupree, but are better known for their work on television comedies like Community and Arrested Development. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a Scarlett Johansson chicken dance, but we’ll settle for Nick Fury accusing his S.H.I.E.L.D. superiors of “light treason.”
Afflicted* … In this award-winning found-footage horror movie from last year’s Fantastic Fest, two vacationing friends discover one of them is slowly turning into a vampire.
The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden* … A German settlement on the Galapagos Islands ends in murder in this documentary from the directors of Ballet Russes.
Under The Skin* … Scarlett Johansson’s other April release is this sexy science-fiction film about an alien looking for human mates/victims in Scotland.
The Unknown Known* … Documentarian Errol Morris trains his patented “Interrotron” camera on former Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
And: Alan Partridge, Alien Abduction*, Dom Hemingway, Flex Is Kings*, Goodbye World, Ilo Ilo*, In The Blood, Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar*, Jinn*, On The Other Side Of The Tracks*, The Retrieval, 10 Rules For Sleeping Around, Watermark*.
The big one: Only Lovers Left Alive*
Since debuting at Cannes last May, Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film has also played the Toronto International Film Festival and Sundance—the major festival trifecta!—and at each stop, Only Lovers Left Alive has proved divisive. Some critics have found Jarmusch’s story of a long-undead couple played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton to be tedious and obvious; many others have found the film’s depiction of comfortable ennui funny and poignant (along with its use of Detroit as a crumbling home for pale monsters). Anyway, because this is a film by one of this era’s most respected American writer-directors, it’ll likely outlive any initial barbs, like a… Frankenstein? A mummy? There’s got to be a good supernatural analogy here.
Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film … One of the most distinctive singer-songwriters in indie-rock gets an impressionistic concert film, shot during the tour for his typically moody album Apocalypse.
Cuban Fury* … Film and TV comedy favorites Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, and Olivia Colman star in a movie about an ordinary schlub who tries to recapture his youthful love of salsa dancing.
Draft Day … Star Kevin Costner and director Ivan Reitman attempt a Moneyball for football (only without all that unmanly statistical analysis), casting Costner as a Cleveland Browns GM making some of the most important decisions of his career.
Hateship Loveship … Director Liza Johnson (who made the quite good Return a few years ago) helms screenwriter Mark Poirier’s adaptation of an Alice Munro short story, with Kristen Wiig playing a housekeeper who gets duped by a teenager (Hailee Steinfeld) into thinking she has has a secret admirer.
Joe … Nicolas Cage stars as a hard-bitten Texas ex-con who helps a troubled teen in director David Gordon Green’s return to low-key indie drama.
Rio 2 … The brightly colored, tropically flavored animated hit gets its inevitable sequel.
Visions Of Mary Frank/JG* … Two films about artists play together at New York’s Film Forum: John Cohen’s Visions Of Mary Frank, about Mary Frank; and Tacita Dean’s JG, combing J.G. Ballard’s words with Robert Smithson’s landscape sculptures.
And: Dancing In Jaffa, A Fragile Trust*, Fractured*, Heaven Is For Real*, Nymphomaniac: Volume II, Perfect Sisters, The Railway Man*, Wolf Creek 2.
The big one: Transcendence
Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut with a brainy science-fiction adventure starring Johnny Depp as a scientist who transfers his consciousness into a super-computer and becomes dangerously powerful, worrying his wife (played by Rebecca Hall) and his colleagues. Jack Paglen’s script made 2012’s “Black List” of best unproduced screenplays, which doesn’t always signal a hit. More interesting is that Summit and Warner Bros. are releasing a reportedly $100 million genre film—with no previously established characters or concepts—in mid-April, which could position Transcendence to be this year’s pre-summer left-field blockbuster.
Bears* … DisneyNature’s latest family-friendly documentary considers the adventurous lives of Alaskan grizzlies.
The Final Member … An offbeat documentary follows one Icelandic museum’s attempt to complete its collection of preserved penises.
Manakamana* … The Sensory Ethnography Lab (the people behind the avant-garde fishing documentary Leviathan) presents an unusual film that follows a series of pilgrims as they journey by cable car to visit a Buddhist shrine.
Oculus … Already a festival favorite, this supernatural horror film taps into the previously under-exploited fear of the killer mirror.
13 Sins* … The Thai horror-comedy 13 Beloved—about a man who believes he’s on a hidden-camera game show and has to complete 13 strange tasks to win the big prize—gets an American remake.
And: Authors Anonymous*, Bicycling With Moliere*, Fading Gigolo*, Half The Road, A Haunted House 2, Proxy, Redwood Highway*, Soft In The Head*, Tasting Menu*.
The big one: Blue Ruin
An old genre gets a new twist in this superb revenge thriller from writer-director Jeremy Saulnier (Murder Party). When Dwight (Macon Blair), learns that the man who committed a horrible crime against his family has been released from prison, he journeys home with an ill-conceived plan for vengeance. Ridiculously suspenseful and heartbreakingly sad, Blue Ruin has been a favorite of numerous Dissolve staff members since last year, when it played Cannes, Fantastic Fest, and Toronto.
Brick Mansions* … An English-language remake of the French parkour cop thriller District B13, starring the original film’s David Belle and the late Paul Walker.
Locke* … This stripped-down drama follows 85 minutes in the life of a man (Tom Hardy) as he makes some life-altering decisions over the course of a long car ride.
The Other Woman … Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann realize they’re both sleeping with the same man in this comedy from Nick Cassavetes, the director of The Notebook.
The Quiet Ones … The latest horror movie from revived British studio Hammer Films, with Mad Men’s Jared Harris as a professor performing experiments on a young girl with “unspeakable secrets.” Naturally, it’s “inspired” by true events.
Young & Beautiful … Director François Ozon returns with a drama about a teenage prostitute. Charlotte Rampling also stars. Naturally, it’s French.
And: The German Doctor*, The Machine*, Walk of Shame, Who Is Dayani Cristal?