Saturday, August 09, 2014

Kooperstown Komedy Kavalcade

To complete our Famous Baseball Summer - as I decided to call it just this instance - my dad and I went to Cooperstown a couple of weekends ago.  A slightly longer drive than the Canadian Hall of Fame, but no less worth it.  I've posted about induction weekend in Cooperstown before, so no need to go into great detail, save for the fact that there were a lot more people there than the last time I went - probably because this Hall of Fame class included a total of 6 Cy Youngs, 19 Gold Gloves, 8 Silver Sluggers, 12 World Series rings, 3 MVPs, and 10 Manager of the Year Awards.

Instead, let's talk about the weekend in general.

First off, future trips may need to involve taking the Friday of the weekend off; we just missed Andre Dawson at the Fergie Jenkins Foundation signing, as he was only available at 10 am on the Saturday, and that would have meant about a 3 AM departure.  But that's neither here nor there.
(Not the TV or boot. And Transcendence came from Target)

Initial stop - Cracker Barrel in Watertown.  Cracker Barrel is an examination in American consumerism - cheap food, large portions, and a store stuck right onto the side of it.  Beautiful!  Thus, we made good use of said store before and after lunch.

Then, on to Cooperstown!  The first day was rather uneventful in terms of actual Hall of Famey things.  We were there in time to see the entire Hall of Fame Parade down Main Street (we only caught the tail end of it when we went in 2011), and spent a good portion of time looking around the town, and spending money.  There were not many autograph opportunities for which we were willing to spend the money (too bad about Dawson, though), although if I were a Braves fan - boy oh boy.  In addition to inductees Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Bobby Cox, in town were John Rocker, Ryan Klesko, Marquis Grissom1, and John Smoltz - Mastercard would have been much happier with me.

Having shopped for our ladies, we opened our wallets for ourselves once in town.  Conveniently, we happened across some rather unique, and not outlandishly priced trinkets early in our adventures.

We wrapped up our first day's adventures2 with dinner at a Delmonico's, and trekked to our Utica Super 8 hotel.  As we arrived with a three-month-old reservation in hand, weary from our travels, we were greeted with a sigh and head shake.  At first, we thought this was a reflection of our late arrival time, which, really, bite me.  It turned out, however, to be a reflection of the clerk's distaste at dealing with another guest with a reservation whom she would need to turn away.  Apparently, Super 8's online booking system had been down at that particular hotel for several weeks and they had no idea how many reservations they had, so they'd been working on a walk-up policy - if they had a room when you walked up, you got it.  In our case, despite the clerk's assertion that we should really call Super 8 despite the fact that there was no way it would improve our immediate situation, we were too late and there were no available rooms.  Outstanding.

Unfortunately, considering this was probably the most heavily-booked day for hotel rooms in that particular part of upstate New York, it was not going to be easy to find a room.  Which we soon found out.  Five more hotels in Utica were a bust, so we began to trek 30 miles farther west to Syracuse, in hopes that whatever we did find, if anything, would not be $300 per night.  Our good karma finally decided to outweigh the bad, and we managed to find the last remaining room (albeit a single room) at a Days Inn just off the highway, next to a Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, and Boxing Hall of Fame (?).  Sweet Jesus.

After finally getting some sleep, Sunday - the big day - rolled around.  Although the day wrapped up with Marquis Grissom's autograph, a wonderful induction ceremony, an Olive Garden dinner, and a readily available hotel room, it did not start off quite so smoothly.

10 am: Arrive outside of the CVS for an autograph session featuring Dave Stewart. Do not yet see Dave Stewart.
10:15 am: Double check to make sure that Dave Stewart is coming, as the tickets we've purchased indicate he'll be signing between 10 and 11:30.  We are assured he will be here.
10:16 am to 11:15 am: Wait for Dave Stewart to arrive.  Dave Stewart does not arrive.  We and the gentlemen with the poster-sized Dave Stewart picture begin getting antsy.
11:16 am: We again ask if Dave Stewart is coming.  We have been directly in front of the lady we are asking the entire time.  Her response, "Oh, no, he cancelled, he's at an event at the Hall of Fame."
"Well...should we get our money back then?..."
"Oh yeah, sure, I can give you a refund if you want one."
The hell? Dave Stewart autograph, but luckily the former Braves were still signing, so we treated ourselves to a Marquis Grisson action shot.  We had decided not to leave Sunday empty-handed.

After an extremely well-attended ceremony, and a hike back to the car, we wrapped up our international weekend jaunt with a trip to Target (where I think I spent more money on the cat than myself), and back home.

With any luck, future visits - possibly as early as next year with Carlos Delgado, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Troy Percival, or 2016 with first-balloters Trevor Hoffman and Ken Griffey, Jr. - will go more smoothly.

I know we won't be staying at a Super 8 with Dave Stewart.

1 - Whom we did get, in light of his time in Montreal

2 - We thought

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Oh, CanaDon

So, Don Cherry said this after the NHL Draft:

I've done a Don Cherry piece before, and I know it's really no feat to prove his rationale wrong, nor does anyone care, but come on.

Cherry objected, mainly it seemed, to the Leafs drafting Canadian-born but Sweden-raised William Nylander with their first pick in this year's draft, over someone like, say, Orangeville's Nick Ritchie. Apparently, Toronto needs to draft more Canadians (he uses "Canada" and "Ontario" interchangeably, as though he were talking about the Netherlands), specifically big Canadians (so, no Frenchies or hippies from out west), or they simply can't compete with teams like Los Angeles - who drafted 7 Canadians this year - especially with Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams hailing from Cobourg (but drafted by Philadelphia).  Sounds pretty bad, right? Over the last five drafts:
  • The Leafs rank 9th in percentage of Canadian-born players selected (48.5%)
  • The Leafs rank 5th among Canadian teams, ahead of Ottawa (15th, 42.9%) and Montreal (17th, 42.4%)
  • The Leafs rank 3rd among Eastern Conference teams, behind Florida (5th, 52.4%) and Carolina (T-6th, 50.0%)
  • Two teams - Calgary and Colorado - have drafted above 60%, 68.8% and 63.6%, respectively
  • Seven teams - Edmonton, Winnipeg, Florida, Carolina, Phoenix, Vancouver - drafted between 50% and 59.9%
  • Of the 12 different teams that have been to the Conference Finals in the last 5 years, two - Vancouver and Phoenix, both at 50% - drafted a higher percentage of Canadians than Toronto

Start planning the parade, Toronto! And I can't wait for all the all-Canadian Stanley Cup Final matchups.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Baseball Hall of Fame: The Canadian Way

At the end of July, my dad and I will be attending the inductions of Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  We've been to an induction weekend once before, but that was very specifically for Robbie Alomar.  This year, despite a few Toronto connections, there really isn't any specific reason to go.  Other than to go to both Canadian and American baseballs halls of fame in the same year.

We've been to St. Mary's once before, but just to visit the Hall.  Having now been for an Induction Day, if you've done one, you absolutely must do the other.

This is the first year that the Jays have sponsored the weekend's events, so the main street of St. Mary's looked like this:

Local shops1 opened their doors at 9 am, and the special guests began to be set up.

We were first pleasantly surprised that the Fergie Jenkins Foundation was there - we met Jesse Barfield in Cooperstown while he was signing for the Foundation.  This time, though, Fergie himself was actually there - we had missed him in New York - as was fellow Chatham native and former MLB pitcher Bill Atkinson.  Now, here's my funny story about Bill Atkinson:

I wanted to get a bobblehead, but they weren't signed.  I asked someone at the booth if Fergie would signed it if we bought it.  He said, "Yes".  I said, "I'll take two", as dad wanted one.  This person at the booth was not some intern at the foundation.  It was Bill Atkinson.  Bravo, me.  I apologized to him later in the day.

Anyway, there was a ton of stuff available for, by far, the most reasonable memorabilia prices you're likely to see.  As such, our pockets were a little lighter rather quickly:

He was also kind enough to pose for a picture with my dad.2

After lunch, and a personal sidetrack to buy Jonah Keri's book Up, Up, and Away and get it signed by the author, we got in line for the event of the morning:
Duane Ward - who seemed quite flattered when we mentioned how much we enjoyed him on the Jays broadcasts - Devon White - who looks like he could still play - and George Bell - who...doesn't - all signed autographs and chatted with fans for an hour.

Once the morning wrapped up, we made our way "across" town to the Hall, where we saw, the moment we walked in, 2014 inductee Tim Wallach.  Just hanging out.  As it turned out, "Just hanging out" is certainly a theme of a Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend.

For example, Pat Gillick was just hanging out.  So was Paul Beeston.  And Paul Spoljaric.  The inductees, including Wallach, were probably the least accessible of all the people there, and even they were waving and chatting with people as they filed into their seats.

Seats, by the way, which are within feet of the inductees.  For the record, in Cooperstown, you're not within a football field of anyone outside of media members kind enough to make eye contact.

Rod Black MCed the event, Michael Burgess sang the national anthems, Bob Elliott gave an update on the last year in Canadian baseball and a parade of former players, managers, politicians, welcomed friends, fans, and family to the event.  Truly, Canada's Baseball Hall of Fame is the most inclusive hall in sports.

This was ultimately confirmed after the ceremony, when each inductee, as well as other present members, signed autographs for a grand total of $10.3 It was definitely a walk down Canadian baseball memory lane, and really reminds you that professional athletes (and executives, and media members) really are just out to have a fun Saturday at the ball park.

Canadian baseball fans, if you have the ability to get to St. Mary's at any time, but particularly for an induction weekend, get yourself there.  I venture to say that it, even more than Cooperstown, will make you fall in love with baseball all over again.

Onward to New York.

1 - And by the way, if you have a chance to look through St. Mary's proper, you'll be very pleased
2 - I got mine taken with Ace
3 - We got in early as newly minted "Elite" members of the Hall

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Red Sox Parallel

Last season, the Boston Red Sox went from this in 2012:

to this:

After tumbling off a cliff in the final weeks of 2011 and getting eliminated from the playoffs on the final game of the season, they were touted as the "Best Team Ever"1 leading up to the 2012 season. Unfortunately, they finished with the worst record in the American League East, losing 12 of their final 13 games en route to a 69-93 record. After a fairly significant overhaul during 2012 and the offseason, they finished 2013 atop Major League Baseball.

See below for a comparison of their 2012 and 2013 Opening Day rosters (not including players that started the year on the DL):

2012 2013
Alfredo AcevesAlfredo Aceves
Matt AlbersAndrew Bailey
Scott AtchisonClay Buchholz
Daniel BardRyan Dempster
Josh BeckettFelix Doubront
Michael BowdenJoel Hanrahan
Clay BuchholzJohn Lackey
Felix DoubrontJon Lester
Jon LesterAndrew Miller
Mark MelanconClayton Mortensen
Franklin MoralesJunichi Tazawa
Vicente PadillaKoji Uehara
Justin Thomas
Jarrod SaltalamacchiDavid Ross
Kelly ShoppachJarrod Saltalamacchia
Mike AvilesMike Carp
Adrian GonzalezPedro Ciriaco
David OrtizJose Iglesias
Dustin PedroiaWill Middlebrooks
Nick PuntoMike Napoli
Kevin YoukilisDustin Pedroia
Jacoby EllsburyJackie Bradley, Jr.
Darnell McDonaldJacoby Ellsbury
Cody RossJonny Gomes
Ryan SweeneyDaniel Nava
Shane Victorino

Only seven returnees from one Opening Day to the next2 definitely counts as an overhaul.

Now, compare that to the Jays, facing a similar situation this offseason as the Red Sox did between 2012 and 2013. However, after they failed to meet expectations, they did not give themselves nearly as significant a makeover.

2013 2014 (Projected)
Mark BuehrleMark Buehrle
Brett CecilBrett Cecil
Steve DelabarSteve Delabar
R.A. DickeyR.A. Dickey
J.A. HappJ.A. Happ
Casey JanssenDrew Hutchinson
Jeremy JeffressCasey Janssen
Josh JohnsonAaron Loup
Aaron LoupDustin McGowan
Brandon MorrowBrandon Morrow
Darren OliverTodd Redmond
Esmil RogersEsmil Rogers
Sergio SantosSergio Santos
J.P. ArencibiaErik Kratz
Henry BlancoDioner Navarro
Emilio BonifacioEdwin Encarnacion
Mark DeRosaRyan Goins
Edwin EncarnacionMaicer Izturis
Maicer IzturisBrett Lawrie
Adam LindAdam Lind
Jose ReyesJose Reyes
Jose BautistaJose Bautista
Melky CabreraMelky Cabrera
Rajai DavisKevin Pillar
Colby RasmusColby Rasmus

Perhaps disastrously similar to the roster that finished 74-88 last season. If you believe the hype, the Jays' lack of attention to their pitching - not signing Ervin Santana was not as big a blow as some would have you believe, as anyone that's owned him in fantasy baseball knows - and second base could be a tragic mistake.

But was it, really? I think expectations are tempered, and no one thinks they're going to win 101 games and cruise to a World Series victory, and as such, is it hard to expect an 85-win season? There have been a few reasons given to explain Boston's turnaround - chief among them being the firing on Bobby Valentine and the "unity" created by the "Got Beard" movement - but I've certainly heard they've won both despite and in spite of their roster makeover.

How much of a difference did it really make, though? Their 2012 Opening Day roster accounted for 23.5 Wins Above Replacement3, while in 2013, their roster earned 46.5, virtually double. However, no holdovers from 2012 saw a decrease in their WAR; indeed, the seven returnees accounted for 14.3 WAR over their contributions from the previous year, good for 22.1 overall. In fact, only nine new players had a WAR above 1 in 2013 - Lackey (2.8), Tazawa (1.0), Uehara (3.6), Napoli (4.1), Gomes (1.2), Nava (2.9), and Victorino (6.2). Everyone else was under 1, or negative.

Now, look at the Jays. In 2013, the total Wins Above Replacement of their Game 1 roster was 25.6. The only contributor they won't have back is Rajai Davis (1.8). What have they lost? Josh Johnson's -1.5 "Wins". The catching duo of J.P. Arencibia and Henry Blanco (combined -0.6). The infield combo of Mark DeRosa and Emilio Bonifacio contributed, clubhouse leadership notwithstanding, 0.1 wins. The seven new players (projected to be) on their 2014 Opening Day roster had a combined 2013 WAR of 6.1 - certainly an improvement over the departed.

If Dickey and Buehrle hold steady at about 2.0 WAR (around where they were last year), and if Brandon Morrow can return to even the form of his first two seasons in Toronto, he'll contribute another win-and-a-half. Whatever combination of J.A. Happ, Dustin McGowan, Todd Redmond, and Esmil Rogers rounds out the rotation will certainly contribute more than Johnson did, and when you add in a bullpen that includes Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos, Aaron Loup, and Brett Cecil (combined 5.3 WAR), and their pitching staff probably combines for about 11 Wins.

Throw in an improving Brett Lawrie (2.3 WAR last year), the glove of Ryan Goins (1.4, almost entirely dWAR), and solid seasons from Rasmus, Bautista, and Encarnacion (3.8, 4.1, 4.0, respectively), and suddenly half the roster is responsible for more than 32 WAR, compared to the team that opened the campaign last year.

At the end of the day, as always, injuries - in 2013, Boston got at least 116 games played from nine players, and 27 starts from four pitchers compared to five and two for the Jays - and luck - Boston's Batting Average on Balls in Play was first in the majors; Toronto's was 27th - will play their parts. They're the crutch an underperforming team leans on, and the hurdles that winners overcome.

Boston won't be as good as they were in 2013.

Toronto won't be as bad as they were in 2013.

Neither may even make the playoffs. But if Toronto does, you know it will be because of facial hair.

1 - Admittedly, by the Boston Herald, not exactly a bastion of journalistic integrity
2 - Plus David Ortiz
3 - Baseball Reference's version of WAR

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014: Marvelsplosion

I set myself a "By the Oscars" deadline to get this on, before I'd seen too many of the movies, or before too many of them had been trashed and, shockingly, I actually hit it.

It's sequels aplenty this year, and Marvel has no less than four properties ready to screen.  There are two Johnny Depp movies, two with Channing Tatum, and even a couple based on the Bible.

Enjoy, 2014 moviegoers!


Lone Survivor, January 10
The story goes that Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch took hefty paycuts (although it's humourous to imagine that their paycheques would be anywhere near eachother) to get this movie made. Based on the true story of a botched mission in Afghanistan, Lone Survivor has been hailed as one of the best war movies in years.
Her, January 10
Her is nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and while it almost certainly won't win (although it could well win a writing award), it's certainly worth a viewing. Set a few years in the future, it, ostensibly, tells the story of Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with his computer operating system.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, January 17
Booted from its original Christmas Day release to make room for Wolf of Wall Street, Chris Pine takes over the Jack Ryan mantle held, most recently, by Ben Affleck. It gives Tom Clancy's super-analyst more of the Casino Royale treatment, and gives a 21st century upgrade to him.  Kenneth Branagh directs, while Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner co-star.


The LEGO Movie, February 7
While obviously aimed at kids, The LEGO Movie has enough to appeal to adults, too. Filled with characters from other franchises - Batman, Han Solo, Gandalf - in Lego form, the film also features a bevy of voice cameos to keep nerds and dorks alike entertained.
The Monuments Men, February 7
Like Jack Ryan, Monuments Men was bumped from its Christmas Day release date, but rather to avoid a head-to-head battle with Scorcese's pic. Directed by and starring George Clooney, Monuments Men tells the story of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program tasked by the Allied Armies during World War II to rescue the artwork plundered by the Nazis from being lost forever. Filled with award winners - Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin - but apparently not with the most compelling story, this has suffered more than expected after release.
The Wind Rises, February 28
The Wind Rises may or may not be Hayao Miyazaki's final feature film as a director, but it's still going to absolutely worth seeing. It's adapted from Miyazaki's own manga, and portrays a fictionalized version of the life of Jori Horikoshi, a Japanese engineer who created the A6M Zero fighter aircraft. The film was the highest-grossing film in Japan in 2013, and has earned a nomination for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award.


300: Rise of an Empire, March 7
300: Rise of an Empire was pushed back seven months from August 2013, and, with luck, that time was spent ironing out whatever was going to spoil the original. Zach Snyder does not return in the director's chair, although he contributed to the screenplay and acts as a producer. What 300 did for strategic mountain passes this film is going to try to do for naval warfare, focusing on more battles that took place during the second Persian invasion of Greece.
Muppets Most Wanted, March 21
Jason Segel allegedly declined involvement with Muppets Most Wanted, saying that he'd accomplished his goal of bringing them back to the big screen. I think they finished it without telling him. A who's who of stars again make appearances - Christoph Waltz, Stanley Tucci, Lady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, among many many others - while Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey start as the centerpieces of the heist that the Muppets find themselves embroiled in.
Noah, March 28
In the first Biblical releases this year, Darren Aronofsky directs Russell Crowe as Noah, framing - judging by the trailers - his ark-building mission more as a measure to save his family from the apocalyptic flood he has foreseen than as an order from God. Jennifer Connelly pairs again with Crowe (she also played his wife in A Beautiful Mind), and Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, and Nick Nolte make appearances.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier, April 4
The sad little brother of the Avengers franchise, Captain America has difficulty adapting to the current culture. Chris Evans does an admirable job, but there's only so much that can be done with a character exemplifying the 1950s America zeitgeist. Plenty of Marvel mainstays make themselves known - Black Widow, Maria Hill, Nick Fury - and Sebastian Stan reprises his role as Bucky Barnes, eventually to become the eponymous Winter Soldier.
Transcendence, April 18
Wally Pfister - better know as Christopher Nolan's cinematographer - makes his directorial debut, and does so while bossing around the likes Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, and Paul Bettany. Not a bad way to break in the director's chair. Depp plays a scientist who, faced with a terminal illness, downloads his mind into a computer, and becomes more powerful than he could have imagined. Screenwriter Jack Paglen is also making his debut.
The Immigrant, April TBD
Admittedly, The Immigrant won't be on many must-see lists - writer/director James Gray hasn't done anything since 2008 - but the headlining cast is enough to pique my interest. Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, and Marion Cotillard star in this story about a Polish family's arrival in Manhattan in the 1920s. Six-time Oscar nominee Patricia Norris does costume design for the film.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2, May 2
The beginning of blockbuster season starts with a bang, with the return of Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. Mark Webb returns to direct, as does Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy - although early screenshots of the film show Peter catching her with webbing after she's thrown from a bridge, and Spiderman comic fans will know what that could mean. Featuring appearances from Jamie Foxx as Electro, Paul Giamatti as The Rhino, and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, hopefully this will not suffer the same villain overload as Spider-Man 3.
Million Dollar Arm, May 16
I'm sure this will be fairly Disney-fied, and I'm sure it will be less about sports than I would like, but the story of a sports agent trying to adapt cricket bowlers into Major League Baseball pitchers intrigues me. It also doesn't hurt that the writer, Thomas McCarthy, helped to pen Up.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, May 23
Bryan Singer returns to direct this sort-of double sequel (to X-Men: First Class and X-Men: The Last Stand) about mutants and time travel. In the original comic, the two storylines featured were (at the time, the present) 1980 and 2013, and involves an heavily expanded role for Kitty Pryde. The film is a who's who of the X-Men universe, old and new - Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Michael Fassbender, Shawn Ashmore - and may introduce Sentinels into the storyline. I'm pumped.


Edge of Tomorrow, June 6
Though I'm not sure I buy Emily Blunt as an action hero (although Tom Cruise will have no problem with it), this Groundhog Day-like sci-fi film looks pretty interesting. Essentially, Tom Cruise is a soldier in a war against an invading alien race who is stuck in a time loop, re-living the day he is killed in battle, only to become more and more skilled with each re-incarnation. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) directs.
22 Jump Street, June 13
The team behind the surprisingly enjoyable 21 Jump Street returns for the aptly titled 22 Jump Street. The first film showed us that Channing Tatum has some real comic timing, and all directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have done since 21 is direct The LEGO Movie and the pilot of Golden Globe-award winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine. All the principals from the first film return - Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Dave Franco - and so long as it doesn't become a parody of itself, it should be a hit.
How To Train Your Dragon 2, June 13
Five years after the events of the first film, humans and dragons are living in harmony. Hiccup and Toothless, however, discover an ice cave, full of wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider. It should be another very fun movie, which hopefully won't suffer from any Part 2 problems - How To Train Your Dragon 3 has been announced for a June 2016 release.
Transformers: Age of Extinction, June 27
Oh, who the hell cares? I'll see this, it won't be especially good, but it'll be fun as hell. Josh Duhamel and Shia LaBeouf are gone, Mark Wahlberg steps in and Nicola Peltz plays the requisite eye candy (although, she is a mechanic's daughter, which is super original).


Tammy, July 2
This appears to be the same role Melissa McCarthy has played countless times before, but this may actually be a chance for her to really spread her wings. Directed by her husband Ben Falcone, and also starring Toni Collette, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, and Dan Aykroyd, this could actually be a summer hit.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, July 11
Andy Serkis reprises his role as Caesar, leader of the race of apes that is quickly gaining dominance over the planet. The remaining humans - among them, Gary Oldman and Judy Greer - are trying to band together in an uprising. Matt Reeves directs, and if his last two films - Let Me In and Cloverfield - are any indication, it'll be a suspenseful ride.
Jupiter Ascending, July 18
The Wachowskis (not the Wachowski Brothers, as the poster asserts) look to follow up 2012's convoluted but satisfying Cloud Atlas with a more straightforward - well, as straightforward as it gets - space drama. Mila Kunis stars as a (chosen) woman targeted by the Queen of the Galaxy for assassination, while Channing Tatum is tasked with her protection. Sean Bean probably plays a bad guy. It's also not coming out on the day that the poster says.  Man, I picked a bad poster.


Guardians of the Galaxy, August 1
James Gunn - he really hasn't done much - directs this Marvel tale of a space-based superhero squad that, honestly, no one really cares about. However, based on the casting, and the need to not cough up a flop in the Marvel Universe, this will probably actually be quite good. This film has ties to both The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World, so it would appear there's no plan to leave this film alone on an island. Bradley Cooper is probably the film's biggest star, although he's just doing voice work, but it also stars Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, Chris Pratt - whose star I hope continues to rise - and Vin Diesel.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, August 8
Heroes in the Half-Shell! Michael Bay made the turtles aliens, because he's dumb, and Megan Fox has been cast as April. Jiminy. But, with Will Arnett, Danny Woodburn, William Fichtner, and Whoopi Goldberg, this may not be terrible. Of course, it very well could be.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, August 22
After a nearly year-long delay from its original October 4 release date - which was apparently just a ploy to hold an October date for Machete Kills - this sequel is coming out nearly a decade after the original. Again under the direction of Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez and featuring an ensemble cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Rosario Dawson, this film has been plagued by production delays that everyone seems to keep blaming on everyone else. The source material proved successful in the first film, and with a couple of stories written especially for this movie, this should be a worthy sequel.
Big Eyes, August 28
Tim Burton directs this biopic of artists Margaret and Walter Keane - Burton actually commissioned Margaret to paint his former fiancée Lisa Marie. Amy Adams plays Margaret and Christoph Waltz plays Walter, and the film depicts their bitter divorce battle and Margaret's battle to get rightful credit for her paintings, which Walter had claimed as his own.
Jane Got a Gun, August 29
Natalie Portman. Enough said! Well, not really - this western also stars Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton, and Rodrigo Santoro. This came off the 2011 Black List, and about the only people that have been constantly involved seem to have been Portman and Edgerton - although in McGregor's role - and it's even on its second director. Still, though, initial plot points make it sound pretty interesting. Plus, Natalie Portman.


No Good Deed, September 12
I would watch Idris Elba run on a treadmill. This story of home invasion looks like it will be better even than that. Taraji P. Henson also stars.
The Boxtrolls, September 26
Man, they don't waste time turning children's books into movies anymore. This is a story about an orphaned boy named Eggs, raised by a group of trash collectors called Boxtrolls. Ultimately, Eggs needs to save his friends from an evil exterminator.


Gone Girl, October 3
Speaking of not taking long to adapt a book to the silver screen. Now, that being said, it doesn't look like they could have done it much better. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel, was tapped to write the screenplay, two-time Oscar nominee David Fincher will direct, and Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike lead the cast. This may turn out pretty well.
The Judge, October 10
Quite a cast leads The Judge, including Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, and Melissa Leo. David Dobkin directs this story of a successful lawyer who, upon returning home for his mother's funeral, discovers his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder.
The Interview, October 10
It looks like this may be the Pineapple Express 2 that This is the End joked about. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen direct this film about a talk show host and his producer (James Franco and Rogen), tasked by the CIA with assassinating Kim Jong-Un during an interview. Five bucks says there's pot involved.


Interstellar, November 7
Christopher and Jonathan Nolan wrote this, and Christopher directs. Even if the entire movie was just stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway reading the script in a planetarium, it would be fantastic. Please please please do not get pushed back.
Dumb and Dumber To, November 14
Completely ignoring the existence of Dumb and Dumberer, all the principal parties return for the long rumoured sequel to Dumb & Dumber. Twenty years later, we find Lloyd and Harry searching for one of their long lost children, in hopes of securing a new kidney. Cam Neely stars.
Fury, November 14
Brad Pitt returns to fight Nazis in David Ayer's Fury. I've enjoyed Ayer's previous works, particularly 2012's End of Watch, and if those films are any indication, this will not exactly be for the faint of heart. Michael Pena and Shia LaBeouf also star.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, November 21
As with years past, this will be absolutely huge. As has become the norm, this is split into two films, so don't expect a conclusion.


Exodus, December 12
Christian Bale has hopefully been working on his voices, as he portrays Moses in an adaptation of the Book of Exodus. Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver co-star, along with Joel Edgerton as Rhamses, for some reason, and Ridley Scott directs.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again, December 17
The last installment ended with Smaug en route to obliterate Dale. There and Back Again will feature plenty of fire, plenty of war, and plenty of riches. A wholly satisfying follow up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy will come to an end.
Into the Woods, December 25
Chris Pine. Emily Brunt. Anna Kendrick. Johnny Depp. Meryl Streep. I'm there.