In which I attempt to employ better formatting than in previous installments of this feature.
I really enjoy Adventureland, so I’m excited to see Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart re-team, this time in a comedy about a stoner (Eisenberg) who becomes the target of a government operation that forces him on the lam with his girlfriend (Stewart). Written by Max Landis (Chronicle and Victor Frankenstein, also on this list), and co-starring Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, and Tony Hale, I’m hoping this is the comedy hit 30 Minutes or Less didn’t quite manage to be.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Beasts of No Nation
Based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Jane Eyre) writes and directs the adaptation. Idris Elba stars as a brutal African warlord who forces children to become soldiers, including young Agu (Abraham Attah). Bound to be a tough one, but it has a very talented group of people behind it.
Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace star in this movie about Stalin-era Soviet Russia in which an MGB agent, Leo, in trouble with his superiors, is assigned to a case with “political suicide/actual Gulag-centric death” stamped all over it. Leo investigates a serial killer targeting children who turns out to have ties to the highest ranks of the Communist party. Sounds like a tense thriller built around and old-timey murder plot. I love old-timey murder plots.
I didn’t like Pacific Rim as much as I hoped to, but with Crimson Peak Guillermo Del Toro returns to the gothic-horror movie ground he mined so well with Pan’s Labryinth. With a top-notch cast (Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Charlie Hunnam) and incredible production design—the Crimson Peak display at Comic Con was stunning—the movie, at least, looks great. And it’s a haunted house story with House of Usher undertones: A new bride goes to her husband’s ancestral estate only to find the house has a life of its own.
Fifty Shades of Grey
C’mon, we’re all curious how this turns out.
Twenty-plus years later, Jurassic Park has been open long enough for people to begin taking nu-dinos for granted. Enter a new genetic hybrid monstersaur and Chris Pratt and his pack of trained hunting raptors. Yes please.
Knight of Cups
Terrence Malick completed a film. Always cause for interest/celebration.
Anton Corbijn made a very astute, thoughtful spy movie last year with A Most Wanted Man. I’m hoping he brings the same depth and sensitivity to the story of the friendship between Life Magazine photographer Dennis Stock and James Dean. Starring Robert Pattinson as Stock and Dane DeHaan as Dean, I’m curious to see what Corbijn—a real actor’s director—makes of those two.
The Little Prince
An animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic children’s story, I’m mostly just curious to see if this manages to be a successful translation of Saint-Exupery’s tale. It’s an enduring story that has somehow defied cinematic treatment to date.
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos made the disturbing Dogtooth. Now he’s made a dystopian sci-fi/comedy about a future in which single people are forced to find a mate in 45 days or else they’ll be turned into an animal. That delightfully bizarre concept, as realized by a filmmaker with Lanthimos’s proven weirdo track record, is tantalizing. That the cast includes Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Olivia Colman, and John C. Reilly is just a bonus.
Don Cheadle’s long-gestating Miles Davis biopic, which he also directs and co-wrote, finally makes it to the big screen. It’s a worthy subject portrayed by a great actor.
Emma Donoghue adapts her own novel of the same name about a kidnapped woman who raises a child in a shed. Brie Larson stars in what distributor A24 hopes will be a repeat of Gone Girl’s success.
St. James Place
My favorite Steven Spielberg movie of the last ten years—and one of his best movies, period—is Munich, and with this Cold War-era espionage thriller, he looks to be returning to those fertile, morally ambiguous grounds. Tom Hanks stars as a lawyer working to free an American pilot shot down behind Soviet lines, and Joel & Ethan Coen worked on the script. There’s a lot to look forward to here.
Sea of Trees
Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe star in this movie about two men who meet in Japan’s “suicide forest” and then have to find their way out after becoming lost. Directed by Gus Van Sant.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Please don’t suck.
Straight Outta Compton
A biopic about rap group NWA. I hope it takes its subject seriously and isn’t just going for easy “urban market” money. This could be a fascinating take on a seminal moment in music and pop culture, or it could be like, Red Tails With Music.
Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, and Carey Mulligan star as proto-feminists fighting for equality in the early 20th century. The story specifically focuses on Maud (Mulligan), a working-class woman who doubts the “peaceful protest” of the Suffragette movement to that point. Given that it feels like women’s rights have taken several steps back these last few years, this is a timely story.
What is it all about?! We don’t know! It’s a big production from Disney but with all the geek focus being put on Age of Ultron and Star Wars Episode VII, this one slid under the radar and remains relatively mysterious. The first trailer looks promising, though, and it’s nice to see George Clooney do something that looks fun.
A new take on Mary Shelley’s novel as told by Igor. James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe star, and it’s directed by Paul McGuigan, who’s had a lot of success reviving Sherlock for modern audiences. Can he do the same for Dr. Frankenstein?
After a hiatus in 2014, Pixar returns with two feature films, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. The first is about a girl’s emotions helping her to navigate a traumatic move, and the latter is about a future in which humans and dinosaurs, who never went extinct, exist in increasingly-fractious semi-harmony. Inside Out sounds more interesting, but new original films from Pixar are always welcome.
Michael Fassbender’s Big Year
I’m not sure anyone has a year ripe with more potential than Michael Fassbender. He has a Western passion project, Slow West; a high-profile Shakespeare adaptation, Macbeth; a family drama centered on Irish criminals, Trespass Against Us; and Derek Cianfrance’s award-baity The Light Between Oceans, about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who raise a baby they found adrift in a boat. That’s a lot of potential heaped on one plate.
Everything Jake Gyllenhaal Is In
Has anyone been making better/more interesting career moves than Jake G? It’s to the point that I will see anything he’s in because his movies over the last couple years have only gotten progressively more interesting/good. Over 2015 he’ll star in Jean-Marc Vallee’s potential award bait Demolition; the mountaineering tragedy tale Everest; and boxing drama Southpaw. The only thing that bums me out is that there is no actress with a similarly compelling slate for 2015. One good actor can star in three or four promising films a year, but an actress is lucky to get one plum role per year. THAT is the problem.
A little less interesting in 2015
Ant-Man, By the Sea, Ex Machina, The Hateful Eight, I Saw the Light, In the Heart of the Sea, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
Most dreaded film of 2015