Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My Top 15 Most Anticipated Films of 2015...

With 2014 past us, and the Oscars set to air this Sunday, I thought now would be the best time to finally reveal my list of my most anticipated films of the year. 2014 wasn’t all that impressive of a year to me, despite three fantastic movies that were each fiercely battling it out with each other to be my favorite film of the year. However, if you were underwhelmed with the number of stellar films, then 2015 should bring incredible promise.

2015 is going to be LOADED with potentially fantastic films, from smaller and creative independent fare, to bigger and possibly wildly fun blockbusters. There are so many films that look great coming out this year that I found it uncommonly difficult to narrow down a list of what films I’m most looking forward to. For this reason, rather than narrow it down to ten, to include all the films I’m excited for, I made a list of my top fifteen most anticipated films, along with ten honorable mentions… And believe me, there were STILL movies I wanted to include here.

Anticipation can often be a dangerous thing, because we’re never necessarily sure if these movies will live up to expectations, if they’ll be good, or if they’ll suck. In fact, some movies may not even be released this year at all. Sometimes, smaller films can even swoop in with little fanfare and steal anticipation away from another film, much like films like Birdman and Whiplash which made huge splashes in the festival circuit. So for these reasons, this list is merely how it stands at the present, and films could likely swap places as time goes on. Also, I neglected to include films that aren’t guaranteed to be released this year, such as David O. Russell’s Joy.

As always, this list is based on my own personal preferences and taste, so if a film you’re anticipating isn’t on here, it means I haven’t yet heard of it, I’m anticipating it but not enough to put it on the list, or I’m simply not looking forward to it at all. So if you were hoping to see Mad Max: Fury Road in here somewhere, I apologize in advance for the disappointment.

Anyway, let’s start off with the films that didn’t quite make it in the top 15.

Honorable Mentions include:
25. The Stanford Prison Experiment

24. Ant-Man

23. Equals

22. Everest

21. Knight of Cups

20. Tomorrowland

19. Jane Got a Gun

18. Dark Places

17. In the Heart of the Sea

16. Freeheld

And with those addressed, let’s get to the real list.

15. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
For all the flak I give to young adult novel adaptations, I won’t deny when there’s a series I actually like. Such is the case with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This series has always shown a great level of intelligence lacking in numerous imitators and cash cows, and this final installment could potentially be the best film in the series. Many are assuming this will be nothing but a feature length action sequence, but that is absolutely not the case, for should this film follow the book faithfully, it will be a very eventful and emotionally potent experience.

14. The Good Dinosaur
There seems to be a consistent worry that Pixar have lost their touch when it comes to making great movies. Perhaps their two year absence is what they needed to get back on track, for they’ll be back with not one, but two movies in 2015. One of these is The Good Dinosaur releasing in November, which features a creative premise, and will see Pixar taking on dinosaurs, which is something I’ve always wanted to see them tackle. I could easily have tacked it alongside Inside Out, but it’s lower on this list because, frankly, its production problems (including the decision to drop Bob Peterson as director) are very worrisome. Hopefully things work out for the better.

13. Steve Jobs
We’ve already had one biopic about famed Apple founder Steve Jobs, albeit with a horrible vehicle for Ashton Kutcher. We got a tremendous upgrade when it was announced Aaron Sorkin (of The Social Network and West Wing fame) would be writing his own Jobs biopic. Unfortunately, David Fincher was not available to direct, but we got an equally great director with Danny Boyle, and with Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen set to co-star respectively as Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak, it looks to be exactly what the Kutcher film could never have been in its wildest dreams.

12. The Revenant
The Revenant will be the latest film from Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, fresh off of my favorite movie of 2014, Birdman. The film is a western starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a man seeking vengeance against three friends that rob him and leave him for dead. It’s not often nowadays that we get truly great and original westerns, and to see Innaritu take on the genre, as well as DiCaprio and a group of fantastic actors attached, gives me more than enough reason to be eager.

11. The Walk
After watching James Marsh’s incredible 2008 documentary Man on Wire, detailing the nail-biting process of how Phillipe Petit walked on a tightrope between the World Trade Center, I remember telling myself “This would make a great biopic.” It seems that waiting for it to get made might have finally paid off. Director Robert Zemeckis spent several years specializing in his doomed ImageMovers motion capture based films, and this marks his second film in live action since then, and has Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to star in the lead role. The trailer for this film promises great things to come, and I’ve no doubt that the film will deliver on its potential to leave the palms of audiences sweating.

10. Jurassic World
Many may assume this to be obvious given that the original is my all time favorite film, but a year ago, I’d have laughed this movie off without a second glance. My heated disdain for the sequels is on record, but now that I’ve gotten to see new details, as well as the committed and talented cast and crew that the movie has attracted, as well as a smart marketing campaign, I couldn’t be any more excited to relive the nostalgia of Isla Nublar. However, I’m intentionally hampering my expectations, and bracing myself for the possibility that the movie is awful. Hopefully those fears turn out to be without merit.

9. Crimson Peak
Guillermo del Toro has mostly kept behind the scenes in the years following Pan’s Labyrinth, only coming back to the director’s chair for Hellboy 2 and Pacific Rim. In 2015, he looks to be going back to his horror roots with Crimson Peak, which will see the director tackling a potentially fascinating ghost story. Not much is really known about the film, and what we’re to expect, but perhaps some movies are best experienced not knowing much about them. Hopefully del Toro will deliver on the great promise of this movie.

8. Inside Out
Set to debut in June, this is Pixar’s other big release of the year. Directed by Pete Doctor of Up and Monsters, Inc. fame, this film takes a very simple, but inspired concept of a young child’s emotions running wild due to the hardships and pressures of a new environment. The film looks to feature Pixar’s signature blend of mature real world themes and razor sharp hilarity, and looks to be the studio at their… Pixariest. Many people may seem to think Pixar is in a slump, but this looks to be the film that will make them rebound. Big time!

7. Sicario
2013 saw Denis Villeneuve take on his first English-language film with the Fincher-esque thriller Prisoners. He also had 2014’s Enemy to his credit (although I haven’t seen it), but I’m happy to see that he’ll be getting back to the thriller genre for Sicario. The film will star Emily Blunt – whose recently been making a career out of great, tough as nails women – as an officer who crosses the border to Mexico in order to track down a drug lord, and with a great cast and the legendary Roger Deakins shooting the film, I’m pumped to see it already.

6. Brooklyn
This was one of the latest inclusions on my list, as it recently played at the Sundance Film Festival, and was the recipient of enthusiastic reviews, eventually being bought by Fox Searchlight Pictures. The premise itself sounds great, and the talent involved is wonderful, but the one, simple reason that this film is on my list… is Saoirse Ronan. Ronan has quickly become one of my favorite actresses working today, and after an unfortunate string of critically derided films in 2013, I’m glad to see she’ll be getting back on track with great roles again, and with Brooklyn, is even potentially in the race for her second Oscar nomination. Even if I don’t end up liking the actual film, I’ve no doubt that she is going to be amazing, and that’s enough for me.

5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The second phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe came to a heated boil last year with the critically acclaimed Captain America sequel and Guardians of the Galaxy, and with Age of Ultron, the company is intent on finishing off this portion of the ongoing series in style. Given that the first Avengers still stands as the studio’s best film (with fierce competition from Guardians), I’ve no idea how this film is going to top it. The company has been running a smart marketing campaign (even in the face of trailers getting leaked), the film will feature several great new cast members, and if director Joss Whedon can retain the same great character interactions, sense of fun, and the epic scope that made the previous Avengers film work, as well as move the characters forward without rehashing older bits, this will likely be the studio’s best and most exciting film yet.

4. The Hateful Eight
Rule of cinema #1: If a film from Quentin Tarantino is being released in any given year, it will automatically rank highly on your list. Quentin Tarantino likes to take his dear sweet time in between each movie he makes, and the high quality of each one always makes the wait well worth it. Initially scrapped by Tarantino since the script had leaked online, the film eventually got back on track, and will see the man taking on his second western after Django Unchained. The film features a huge and talented cast (including but not limited to Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, and Tarantino staple Samuel L. Jackson), and considering that no one writes dialogue more engaging than Tarantino does, expect numerous extended, but utterly enthralling conversations between characters. BRING IT ON!

3. St. James Place
Rule of cinema #2: If a Steven Spielberg film is being released in any given year, it too shall automatically rank highly on your list. It’s been three years since Spielberg brought us his last directorial effort with Lincoln, and while his directorial output is starting to get fewer in numbers recently, it hasn’t hurt the quality of his films in the slightest. St. James Place is a Cold War thriller that will see him teaming back up with actor Tom Hanks, and working from a script authored by the Brothers Coen. The writing duo had an unfortunate snag with Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (which lacked the unique personality you expect to see from them due to having four writers), but with no heavy interference from other writers, and Spielberg at the helm, my worries for this movie are non-existent.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It’s a Star Wars movie! It’s on my list merely for existing, but if that’s not reason enough, let me go more in depth. Much of this movie has been kept in secret in its marketing and has fascinated everyone across the world, the film is bringing back the original cast members of the classic trilogy and mixing them with spectacular newcomers, John Williams is attached to it, the teaser trailer for the film was mind-blowing, but best of all is that the film is directed by J.J. Abrams, the man responsible for the rebooted Star Trek film series. If he can bring the same style and broad appeal to newcomers and die hard devotees to this film that he brought to the Trek movies, then there’s no way this movie can fail.

1. Spectre
Where do I even begin? It’s long been established that I am a die-hard fan of the James Bond films (See my retrospective that I did for more on that), and after Sam Mendes gave us – in my opinion – the single greatest Bond film ever with Skyfall in 2012, the fact that the studio brought him back on for this new film is reason enough to be hyped. Of course, Daniel Craig is back, Mendes will be working with an incredible cast and top notch technicians, but I’m most curious about how the story will ultimately unfold. I’m quite fascinated to see how they’ll update Spectre for the 21st century (and how they’ll be able to wrap up the Quantum storyline, seeing as how that organization already felt like a modern day Spectre), but I’ve no worries that the film will pull it off. This movie is doing exactly what I think it should do. It looks to return to the classic style of Bond, but still looks to do new and creative things with the customs and Bond’s character in the process. How Mendes is supposed to top arguably his greatest film to date is a question yet to be answered, but you can be sure that being the Bond fanatic I am, I’ll be one of the very first in line to support this movie.

And there you have it. The numerous films I’m looking forward to in 2015, and who knows how many more great films there could be that didn’t make it on here. Here’s to a great year, and let’s just hope that none of these movies get pushed back several years… Looking at you, Seventh Son….

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