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Serene, I fold my hands and wait: 69 of our most anticipated pop culture of 2014

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)
A new Wes Anderson film is always an event, particularly around the A.V. Club office, so we hardly have to mention that the filmmaker’s latest is high on our list of anticipated items this year. The trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel has our hopes up more than usual, because it could be the director’s funniest film. Ralph Fiennes looks perfectly cast as a charming rogue hotelier, and the supporting cast full of Anderson’s usual players shows plenty of promise.

2. Veronica Mars (March 14)
Following a seven-year wait and an exceedingly successful Kickstarter campaign, cancelled-too-soon critical darling Veronica Mars is getting its well-deserved movie adaptation. To the delight of all members of Team Marshmallow, the film will pull its titular detective back to her Neptune roots and reunite most of the original cast.  Anyone pulling for Piz in the inevitable Veronica-Logan-Piz triangle is just wrong and should get used to a life full of disappointments.


3. Game Of Thrones season four (spring)
The epic fantasy HBO series left fans hanging (or to use a more appropriate metaphor, lying on the floor, bleeding out) in June 2013 with “the Red Wedding,” a bloodbath that flabbergasted everyone who hadn’t read the George R.R. Martin books the show is adapting. Vast numbers of Internet complainers said Martin had broken their hearts and they’d never come back. We’ll see whether they can resist once the show’s back on the air.

4. Shows coming back for second seasons (all year)
2013 was one of the best years for new TV series in recent memory, but everybody knows the real proof of a great show comes when viewers see if it can handle the difficult transition to year two. So The Americans, Hannibal, Orange Is The New Black, Rectify, Nathan For You, Orphan Black, Masters Of Sex, Broadchurch, The Bridge, Inside Amy Schumer, et. al? Good luck. We’re counting on you.


5. Damon Albarn’s first solo record (TBA)
Blur frontman Damon Albarn continually contributes to some of the most interesting projects around, whether it’s Gorillaz albums or monkey-themed operas. He’s never made a solo record, though—until now. Albarn teased his “folk soul” record last month, and while the 20-second clip is hardly long enough to get a sense of what the record will be like, it’s intriguing. Plus, he’ll be touring in tandem, playing songs from all of his various projects.

6. Better Call Saul (August/September)
Spin-offs are a risky game; for every Frasier, there are half a dozen Joeys waiting in the wings. Better Call Saul just might make a go of it, though. Bob Odenkirk’s smarmy, sleazy Saul Goodman always seemed like he’d just stepped in from some other, slightly less grim universe, and the involvement of some of Breaking Bad’s creative team (including co-creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan) gives cause for slightly less cautious optimism.

7. Inherent Vice (TBA)
Given that Paul Thomas Anderson’s track record is basically perfect and that he’s working with great source material (Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel), Inherent Vice seems like a slam-dunk for one of 2014’s best films. Take a look at this cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Michael K. Williams… and Martin Short? Joanna Newsom? Assuming Anderson sticks to the novel, Vice will tell the story of shaggy pothead detective Doc Sportello, who’s looking for his missing ex-girlfriend as the ’60s become the ’70s. Brolin affectionately described the set of Inherent Vice as “just absolute fucking chaos, every day, all day,” which sounds pretty excellent, actually.

8. The Kitten Bowl (February 2)
Forget puppies. Puppies are done. Puppies are over. Puppies were always a little overrated, and we just pretended they weren’t because we wanted to keep our friends. The time is right for kittens, and the time is right for Hallmark Channel to launch a new champion to vanquish the pretender to the throne. The Kitten Bowl is coming. Make sure you’re right with the Lord.


9. The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon (February 24)
It was hard to be optimistic when NBC turned Late Night over to that guy who couldn’t stop laughing during all those SNL sketches. But a winning playfulness and charm, not to mention a great writing staff and the best band on television, has made Jimmy Fallon a worthy successor to David Letterman and Conan O’Brien. After three decades of Jay Leno reading typos out of the newspaper, The Tonight Show might actually be fun again.

10. Late Night With Seth Meyers (February 24)
2014 offers another big change in the world of late-night television, as Jay Leno’s retirement sends Jimmy Fallon to The Tonight Show and installs Seth Meyers on Late Night. To use words no one would have expected when Fallon took over Late Night in 2009: Meyers has big shoes to fill. Under Fallon, Late Night was surprising, funny, and consistently good, but Meyers has more of a Conan O’Brien edge than the crowd-pleasing Fallon—especially with Seth Reiss, former head writer of The Onion, on the show’s staff.


11. David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (September 4)
Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell worked with his wife Keiko Yoshida to translate Naoki Higashida’s book The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice Of A 13-Year-Old Boy With Autism in 2013, but he hasn’t published a work of fiction since The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet in 2010. His sixth novel, The Bone Clocks, tells the story of a woman who runs away from home in 1984 and is found 60 years later in Ireland during a worldwide climate catastrophe. The publisher information suggests that it’ll be another dense, sprawling story with a large cast of characters.

12. Goodbye To Language 3D (TBA)
New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard has never shied away from new technology, so the 83-year-old’s decision to shoot his next feature in 3-D doesn’t come as much of a surprise. What is surprising is that the movie happens to be about a talking dog. Godard and cinematographer Fabrice Aragno designed their own stereoscopic rig for the film, which the director showcased earlier this year in a hauntingly beautiful short, “The Three Disasters.”


13. The new record from Cloud Nothings (TBA)
Cleveland rockers Cloud Nothings produced one of The A.V. Club’s favorite records of 2012, the excellent Attack On Memory, but has been mostly silent since. That’s why we’re stoked for the band’s new record, which has no title and no release date, but does have this most excellent new album trailer. Excuse us while we go listen to “Fall In” on repeat.

14. Nymphomaniac (March 21, April 18)
After months of YouTube-restriction-pushing teasers, Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac will finally hit American shores in a pair of two and a half-hour parts in the spring. While that seems punishingly long, even for a von Trier movie, it’s also perfectly suited for what promises to be a pummeling celebrity gang-bang on the senses. There’s unlikely to be another film that will be the subject of as much conversation—whether appalled or furiously advocating—all year.


15. Review With Forrest MacNeil (February 27)
To reiterate one of our most anticipated items of 2013: Review With Forrest MacNeil, Andy Daly’s long-delayed Comedy Central series. Now that it finally has a premiere date, it feels like it’s actually happening. The show is a fake news magazine anchored by Forrest MacNeil (Daly), who tries new experiences from viewer suggestions and reports on them—only he tries stuff like stealing and cocaine. It’s a perfect fit for Daly, and it could be one of the funniest shows of the year.

16. Upperclassman returning shows (various)
There are a whole bunch of great shows coming back in 2014: Sherlock (January 19), Justified (January 7), Girls (January 12), Shameless (January 12), Community (January 2), Archer (January 13), and Switched At Birth (January 13)—and that’s just the first month of 2014. Other standouts: Game Of Thrones’ fourth season, Mad Men’s seventh, New Girl’s fourth, Bob’s Burgers fifth, and Boardwalk Empire’s fifth.


17. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 22)
It’s been almost a decade since Robert Rodriguez’s original Sin City adaptation hit screens, so there’s been plenty of time for anticipation to build for the sequel. With two all-new Frank Miller stories written for the film and new cast members including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, and Josh Brolin, there should be enough fresh blood—figuratively and literally—to easily revive this neo-noir world. Plus, Mickey Rourke is (once again) Marv. Enough said.

18. Wye Oak, TBA (TBA)
Wye Oak, purveyors of The A.V. Club’s favorite album of 2011, Civilian, recently told Spin that its upcoming album will feature “not a lick of guitar.” This bombshell could scare fans of the Baltimore duo (technically a Portland/Baltimore duo now), whose singer-guitarist, Jenn Wasner, is an absolute shredder when she wants to be. Instead, Wasner has switched to bass, with drummer/multi-instrumentalist Andy Stack doing “more droney lines” on keyboard. Wasner also told Spin that the record will be much happier. We’ve got confidence that even those massive change-ups will reveal something brilliant. Odds-on favorite for an AVC top album of 2014!


19. Downton Abbey season four (January 5)
Season three of Downton Abbey ended with a shocking death, and while the season premiere of the show demonstrated how the estate’s inhabitants are dealing with Matthew’s demise six months later, it’s in the long game where the series has the potential to titillate. Lady Mary’s back to her first-season stoicism, her mourning buried deep inside. It’s some icy shit, and something that should hopefully (quietly) amp up the show’s new season.

20. Sunn O))) & Ulver, Terrestrials (February 4)
The world has only heard an excerpt of a song—one of three very long tracks—from Terrestrials, the imminent collaboration between the drone druids of Sunn O))) and the blackened-ambience alchemists of Ulver. If it’s any indication, the album will plumb new depths of eerie, ritualistic minimalism. With volume.


21. True Detective (January 12)
Although American Horror Story has been a success for FX, no one else has picked up the “every season tells a new story with new characters” baton and run with it. Enter HBO, which aims to do just that with the crime genre and has gotten Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey to sign on for season one just to show it means business. Expect lots of desperate men taking desperate measures and laconic Southern drawls.

22. Whatever network TV puts on in the fall (fall)
Not trying to put pressure on you, big networks, but remember 1984? That was when you put The Cosby Show on the air. 1994? ER and Friends. 2004? Desperate Housewives, Lost, Veronica Mars, House, and the list goes on. Basically, even your most generically premised shows have a chance of being all-time greats this year! Don’t fuck this up for us.


23. Broad City (January 22)
The web series Broad City depicts the weirdly co-dependent friendship between Abbi Jacobson and Illana Glazer in brief bursts. Stretching the surreal, chummy sensibility of those shorts to fit a half-hour timeslot could be a challenge, but Jacobson and Glazer are being ushered to Comedy Central by an accomplished guide: executive producer Amy Poehler—not that they need the imprimatur of the world’s funniest person to make failing through your 20s look hilarious.


Comedy Central

24. St. Vincent, St. Vincent (February 25)
Maintaining a hefty touring and recording schedule, Annie “St. Vincent” Clark isn’t one to stay idle. And yet she still caught the Internet off-guard with “Birth In Reverse.” Led by 2014’s first great opening line—“Oh what an ordinary day / Take out the garbage, masturbate”—the track previews a self-titled record the reunites Clark with two important contributors to the St. Vincent sound: producer John Congleton and fried-circuit guitar fuzz.

25. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (November 21)
While the first Hunger Games movie was pretty good, the second one, Catching Fire, took the YA adaptation to new heights of bleak, gritty realism. The same director, Francis Lawrence, is doing the final two movies, and as readers of the books know, Mockingjay is where shit really starts to go down in Panem. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence is just flat-out great, so we’ll watch her in anything.


26. Actress, Ghettoville (January 28)
With each release, London producer Actress gets closer to refining what is, by design, a crumbling sound, taking snatches of Detroit techno and R&B and sending them through a concrete mixer that renders them intriguingly distant and decayed. His new Ghettoville is a nominal sequel to his 2008 debut, Hazyville—a return to a more desolate place after the relatively playful Splazsh and R.I.P. Both companion albums will be packaged together on vinyl, creating one long, bleak, introspective dance party.

27. Four Fists LP (TBA)
The collaborative album between Doomtree’s P.O.S. and new-to-Minneapolis rapper Astronautalis has long been hinted at, with the release of a two-song 7-inch proving that the project was more than a hip-hop tall tale. The songs delivered, with the duo’s delivery sharp and pointed, suggesting a full-length could be 2014’s Run The Jewels.


28. Helix (January 10)
This upcoming drama on Syfy is helmed by Ron Moore, the showrunner behind the reboot of space opera Battlestar Galactica. Helix is set in the arctic, where a potential disease outbreak has led to a CDC investigation. There’s a mystery… and that’s all the show’s publicity staff is revealing. But if Moore can do for the polar caps what he did for space, then it will be great.

29. Gone Girl (October 3)
David Fincher is one of our best directors. Gillian Flynn’s novel was the sort of trashy, compelling beach read that made for a pretty good book but could become a stellar movie. Rosamund Pike is someone who’s been primed for major stardom for a while. And Ben Affleck is Ben Affleck. Combine all of those elements, and it’s a film that could elevate its source material as much as The Godfather did.


30. Moebius (TBA)
Fans of graphic adventure games have been quietly waiting for a game both designed and directed by Jane Jensen since her Gabriel Knight series ended after its third installment. Enter Moebius, crowd-funded and ready to combine Jensen’s literate scripts with her talent for inventing compelling, secret histories. It promises to be a thought-provoking ride. (She’s also remaking Gabriel Knight, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)

31. The Magician’s Land (August 5)
Lev Grossman’s modern fantasy trilogy concluded its second book—2011’s The Magician King—on a devastating twist of a cliffhanger, so it’s only natural we’ve been feverishly anticipating this one since that book came out. Now, Grossman, who’s handled building his trilogy so well so far, gets to show everyone if he can stick the landing—and also whether hero Quentin Coldwater will finally stop being such a whiny jerk.


32. Battle Creek (TBA)
Details about Vince Gilligan’s other 2014 TV effort are murky. It’s a script from 2002, about two cops—one straitlaced, the other a loose cannon. It’s set in the cereal capital of Michigan. CBS committed to 13 episodes. Other than that, Battle Creek is a mystery—but it wasn’t so long ago that we said the same thing about the little story of a chemistry teacher forced into the drug trade to ensure his family’s financial future.

33. The Monuments Men (February 7)
Originally slated to debut during 2013 prestige season, George Clooney’s fifth turn in the director’s chair was pushed to the winter wasteland. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence, but the story of museum directors and art historians rescuing priceless artwork from the Nazis still sounds fun. It helps that the cast boasts an embarrassment of riches, with Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, and Bill Murray.


34. The Fault In Our Stars (June 6)
Look no further for the crushing tearjerker of the year, as John Green’s excellent novel could turn the aisles of the nearest multiplex into rivers of tears. The Descendants’ Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who will play brother and sister in Divergent in March) play Hazel and Augustus, a teenage couple struggling with life-threatening illnesses, but even describing that much of the story makes the room get dusty, so we’ll leave it at that.

35. Interstellar (November 7)
A new film directed by Christopher Nolan remains mandatory viewing, and the mysterious Interstellar has a stacked cast and an inscrutable story about space travel and theoretical physics. Topping the bill is Matthew McConaughey, who looks to have another big year, though little else is known about the plot: The first teaser trailer is basically a tone poem narrated by McConaughey.

36. B.J. Novak, One More Thing: Stories And Other Stories (February 4)
Although he’s branched out into more dramatic roles, first in Inglourious Basterds, and now in Saving Mr. Banks and the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2, B.J. Novak earned his first big break as a comedy writer—he’s credited with 15 episodes of The Office. His stand-up act has featured a number of story-length premises as well, including a brilliant bit on “Wikipedia Brown.” With a lot of humorous quasi-memoirs from his contemporaries on the market, Novak joins the fray with this humorous, surreal collection.


37. Godzilla (May 16)
Sixteen years after Roland Emmerich turned Japan’s most famous rubber-suit monster into a taco-shilling, Green Day-remixing CGI iguana, Hollywood is finally taking another shot at Godzilla. Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) has promised a return to the more somber tone of the 1954 original; he’s also assembled a surprisingly decent cast, including Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ken Watanabe. Really, though, it’s the rampant destruction that counts in a kaiju movie. If the teaser—and $160 million budget—is any indication, there will be rubble.

38. The Immigrant (TBA)
Featuring career-best performances from Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner, The Immigrant is a richly textured period piece about life on the margins of 1920s New York. James Gray’s fifth film premiered at Cannes and has already been released in several countries; the delayed U.S. release is set for some time in 2014.

39. Girls (January 12)
Although “financial stability” may be in the cards for the characters of Girls in season three, the latest trailer hints that this won’t remove the show’s delicious levels of drama and turmoil. Hannah and Adam’s rekindled relationship seems to continue being a slow-motion train wreck, while Shoshanna’s neuroticism and Marnie’s self-absorbed existential crises are present in spades. Of course, where Girls is concerned, this is just business as usual—which makes for compelling TV.

40. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Give The People What They Want (January 14)

Pushed from 2013 after Sharon Jones’ cancer treatment, Give The People What They Want lives up to its title. As the commanding lead single “Retreat!” underscores, the group’s fifth album is set to deliver more solid soul music driven by sharp-shooting horns and Jones’ mighty rasp. Taken in light of her health scare, it’s even more of a welcome return to form.

41. Lydia Davis, Can’t And Won’t (April 8)
In a world where people climb over each other to say as much as they can, as loudly as they can, as quickly as they can, recent Man Booker International Prize recipient Lydia Davis has a quiet, stripped-down style that feels like a brain palate cleanser. Can’t And Won’t is her first new fiction published since 2007’s Varieties Of Disturbance.


42. Watch Dogs (late spring)
Disappointment abounded when this techno-dystopian open-world game had its release date pushed back into 2014. But Ubisoft Montreal says it simply wants to get Watch Dogs right. With previews showing glimpses of a cool alternate-universe Chicago where you can hack and manipulate the city’s grid at will, the game looks like it will be worth the wait.

43. Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega (February 11)
Fans following Joe Hill’s Locke & Key by the issue found out how it ended in late December 2013, but those following the graphic novels have to wait for February to learn how the best horror comic since Girls wraps up. It’s been a taut, imaginative, thrilling run, and since the series launched in 2008, it’s been steadily ramping up in intensity and extremity. Here, finally, is the release, in the form of the series’ final issues.


44. New Braid album (TBA)
Unlike many band reunions, Braid’s produced new music, with an EP in 2011 and another two songs in 2013. Although the band had spent the bulk of its career aligned with Polyvinyl Records, it recently moved to Topshelf Records, a Boston-based label with a solid stable of young acts. With a new label behind it, and its new songs matching up to the classics, the next Braid album has the potential to be its best.

45. Sense8 (late 2014)
Andy and Lana Wachowski, the minds behind The Matrix, and Michael Straczynski, the creator of the cult hit Babylon 5, are teaming up with Netflix to produce a 10-hour series on eight individuals who are suddenly gifted with telepathic powers. Netflix’s first sci-fi endeavor, Hemlock Grove, wasn’t very good, but Sense8 comes with a strong pedigree.


46. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything (January 21)
Like a chamber orchestra fueled with crust-punk fierceness, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra never met a distorted riff it didn’t turn symphonic—or a classical instrument it didn’t want to saw in half. Accordingly, its new album, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything, ought to soar.

47. Noah (March 28)
Look, we like a good superhero movie, but the thought of Darren Aronofsky taking on the story of Noah’s ark has us wondering what happens if all of Hollywood’s auteurs are forced to make Biblical epics. Judging from the trailer of this one, it will be unexpectedly bracing and weird. Also, Russell Crowe will be much in demand again. If this is a success, we vote for Wes Anderson on the book of Revelation next.

48. Enlisted (January 9)
The armed forces aren’t a seemingly natural fit for wacky comedy—outside, of course, of the eternally hilarious exploits of Beetle Bailey—but Cougar Town co-creator Kevin Biegel aims to bring big laughs and stealth heart to the setting. A little bit Bad News Bears and a little bit M*A*S*H (if M*A*S*H were set in the U.S.), here’s a sitcom that has a great chance of becoming more than the sum of its parts.

49. Transistor (TBA)
As the sophomore effort from the game studio that created Bastion, Transistor has a small but significant legacy to carry forward. We’ve only gotten glimpses so far of Transistor, but previews have shown that Supergiant Games intends to carry forward some of the broad strokes that made Bastion great: a lush, hand-drawn art style, an intriguing hero, and a soundtrack full of heart.

50. The Strain (summer)
Everybody in TV would like to have those sweet, sweet Walking Dead ratings. FX is going directly to the methods that made AMC’s series a success. Take a pre-existing property—in this case, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire novels—add a big name—del Toro—and hope the horror follows. The biggest innovation? The Strain is specifically designed to run for three to five seasons, no more and no less.


51. Beck, Morning Phase (February)
When did Beck release his last album that isn’t a songbook? (Five-plus years—Modern Guilt came out in ’08.) When did Beck release his last album worth getting excited about? (Twelve years—it was Sea Change.) Backed by Sea Change’s personnel, advance word on Morning Phase is that it’s “California music” that works in the warm, lush vein of that sad-bastard classic. Here’s a reason to cheer—and get bummed out all the same.

52. The Red Road (TBA)
Promotions for The Red Road trumpet the prestige-drama affiliations of its cast, an ensemble boasting “Game Of Thrones’ Jason Momoa” and “Boardwalk Empire’s Julianne Nicholson.” And yet, after the superb 2013 that Sundance Channel had, it ought to be able to promote its original series on its own merit. That goes double considering The Red Road’s main plot—tragedy and ages-old conflict in a small town—is basically Sundance’s bread and butter.


53. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (July 11)
2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was one of the rare franchise reboots to succeed both commercially and creatively. (Just ask Tim Burton how hard it is to pull that off.) Now the fun really starts as Dawn picks up the story 10 years later, with the remnants of humanity facing off against an army of super-apes led by Caesar (voiced by Andy Serkis).

54. Listen Up Philip (TBA)
Alex Ross Perry’s The Color Wheel was the underdog champ of the 2011 film-festival circuit, a shoestring screwball comedy that debuted at small regional fests and ended up topping multiple critic polls as the year’s best undistributed film. Perry’s follow-up, Listen Up Philip, starring Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss, will premiere at Sundance in January; hopefully, the long-delayed DVD release of The Color Wheel will not be far behind.


55. Sherlock (January 19)
Even the structure of Steven Moffat’s Sherlock—only six long episodes have aired over three years—leaves viewers wanting more. But “The Reichenbach Fall,” which aired an everlasting year and a half ago, took dramatic tensions to new heights—specifically, four stories above hard concrete, where Sherlock plunged to his mysterious fake death. Finally, we can all stop reading the Sherlock conspiracy websites in hopes of discovering some new clue.

56. Tina Fey’s new shows (fall) 
30 Rock aired its final episodes in 2013, but it still feels like Tina Fey has been off our screens for far too long. Fear not: She’ll have two new sitcoms in the fall—Tooken on NBC, stars Ellie Kemper and follows the life of a dropout from a doomsday cult. An untitled Fox show is about a woman’s college that accepts men for the first time.


57. The Witness (TBA)
You’re stuck on an island with nobody around, and to figure out what’s going on, you have to solve arcane puzzles that are embedded into the strange architecture around you. If The Witness sounds like Myst, Jonathan Blow (of Braid fame) isn’t about to dissuade you of that notion. Rather than re-create the point-and-click format, though, Blow intends to modernize it, and to build a new world that finds beauty in loneliness.

58. Self Defense Family, Try Me (January 7)
Self Defense Family released a stunning six EPs in 2013 (and has an impressively deep discography under its previous name, End Of A Year). Now the prolific band has a curious new full-length, Try Me. The album splits its time between music and a segmented 40-minute interview with Jeanna Fine, the music reflecting or contrasting what she discusses in the interview portions. Both harrowing and rewarding, Try Me brings newfound importance to a vital band.


59. Warpaint, Warpaint (January 21)
The moody, mystique-steeped indie-rock band Warpaint already sounds lush—so it’s hard to imagine just how ethereal its upcoming, self-titled full-length will be. Produced by Flood and mixed by Nigel Goodrich, it promises to have a similarly haunting vibe that those gentlemen have brought to everyone from PJ Harvey Radiohead.

60. Stuart Dybek, Ecstatic Cahoots and Paper Lantern (June 3)
Perhaps the greatest living Chicago writer, Stuart Dybek will release two collections of short stories over the summer. Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories collects a plethora of shorter works—dubbed everything from “microfiction” to “flash fiction” to “short shorts.” Paper Lantern: Love Stories collects more standard-length stories for a double dose of new material, Dybek’s first fiction since The Coast Of Chicago a decade ago.


61. Pompeii (February 21)
No one stages action in 3-D quite like than Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Death Race), so the world’s pre-eminent director of video-game adaptations and movies that look like video-game adaptations should be well suited for destruction on an epic, tentpole-budget scale.

62. Kelis, Food (April 28)
Armed with a new label (Ninja Tune) and a new producer (Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio), Kelis is set for yet another musical evolution. More specifically, a press release about the record notes it’s “a soul record that’s as raw and alternative as it is classic.” Knowing Kelis’ ability to turn the mundane into something dazzling, Food will likely be a delight.    


63. X-Men: Days Of Future Past (May 23)
Bryan Singer’s triumphant return to the X-Men franchise sees the whole beautiful cross-generational cast brought together for a lot of time-travel antics that, if they manage to stick the landing, could be transcendent. Singer is adapting one comics’ greatest-ever story arcs and seems to know the weight of the material; meanwhile, Fox is hastily setting up as many sequels and spin-offs as it can.

64. Justin Cronin, The City Of Mirrors (TBA)
Justin Cronin’s bestselling 2010 literary horror novel, The Passagewas a terrific surprise, but the more diffuse, pulpy 2012 sequel The Twelve squandered some of its potential. The trilogy is due to wrap up with The City Of Mirrors, which should make it clear whether the series is one for the ages: If Cronin can finish as strong as he started, the middle won’t much matter.


65. Mulaney (spring)
John Mulaney’s self-titled sitcom has been revamped and undergone cast changes since NBC foolishly passed on it last year, but he’s still one of America’s finest stand-ups and Fox wisely moved to pick him up. It’s unclear how much the show has changed, but the original pilot script was terrific, and Mulaney’s cast includes Martin Short, Elliott Gould, and Nasim Pedrad. If nothing else, the pilot should be appointment television.

66. Dark Souls 2 (March)
One of the most rewarding yet brutal games (dying all the time is a prerequisite) gets a sequel in the coming year, which at first was controversial. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of the 2011 original has not returned, and there was talk of making this gritty medieval RPG more “accessible.” Fan outcry ensued, but early demos suggest there will still be much merriment in failure.


67. The Giver (August 15)
Jeff Bridges has tried to adapt Lois Lowry’s YA novel The Giver—set in a dystopian world where pain, suffering, and choice have been eliminated—since it became a bestseller in the early ’90s, but it never escaped development limbo. Bridges finally got the project off the ground with director Philip Noyce (The Quiet American) and a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, and, uh, Taylor Swift.

68. Elbow’s sixth album, TBA (March 10)

At least in America, murk-rock band Elbow—i.e., The National’s grizzled U.K. counterpart—remains one of music’s best-kept secrets. If there’s any justice, the band’s sixth album (which it recorded partly at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios) should change that cult status. Then again, perhaps the fact that frontman Guy Garvey’s lyrical muses this time around are New York City and its denizens just might help Elbow’s case more.


69. Titanfall (March 11)
If global warming or the Rapture don’t destroy humanity, the smart money is on guys in giant, heavily armed robot suits with a bone to pick and no respect for civil authority. Titanfall, a multiplayer, first-person shooter for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC will undoubtedly provide valuable training for the mech-based combat economy of the near future.