I recently wrote in my post-Oscar piece that the months ahead look bleak for cinema. That’s both true and not.
Within the context of a discussion around awards season, with the Academy Awards being the February pinnacle of the previous year’s best films, the prestige movies typically do not get released until the fall and winter months, between October and December. There are always outliers—The Grand Budapest Hotel came out in February 2014 and summer hits Guardians of the Galaxy and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes received Oscar nods in several categories—and those are appreciated. They’re also very legitimate reasons to get pumped up about the cinematic landscape of 2015!
So, moving past the prestige awards season complex we can really find a great deal of movie-going pleasure in the months ahead. There’s genre fare, sure-thing action hits, and plenty of drama to be excited about. Here I’ve compiled a list of the films I am itching to see; take a look and let me know what you cannot wait to pay way too much money to check out in theaters!
*Note: I will be updating this list with blurbs, trailers, and pictures as the release dates grow nearer.
Chappie (dir. Neill Blomkamp), March 6
No, I did not see Blomkamp’s District 9 follow-up Elysium, so perhaps I am putting too much faith in his next directorial effort. However, I think his film debut was a strong enough entry (earning a happy and surprising best picture nomination, in fact) to suggest that this guy has got some serious creativity up his sleeve. The participation of Die Antwoord musicians Ninja and Yolandi Visser, along with the increasingly visible and always likable Dev Patel, is intriguing, and you can count on the special effects and action being about as high caliber as you’re likely to find! Here’s hoping that Chappie blends emotional impact, science fiction, and modern-day satire as well as District 9.
It Follows (dir. David Robert Mitchell), March 13
Everything about this terrifying looking horror film intrigues me: the cast of mostly unknowns (with United States of Tara star Keir Gilchrist thrown in the mix), the unknown quality of the premise (after having sex, a mysterious something “follows” and kills off a group of teens), and the gorgeous, wide-framed shots in the trailer above. The word out of several film festivals, including Cannes, is that It Follows is stellar in almost every way. Perhaps most impressive, it sounds like it will actually scare the sh*t out of you; fans of the horror genre know that that is not an easy feat. Who wants to see it with me?
Insurgent (dir. Robert Schwentke), March 20
Divergent was a pleasant surprise for me last year, blending effective action and a heartfelt message of belonging (or lack thereof), and overcoming a somewhat disastrous villain turn from Kate Winslet. I love Shailene Woodley and think she can do no wrong—it would’ve been great to see her excellent work in The Fault In Our Stars and The Descendants recognized by a somehow reticent Academy. And her man-candy love interest Theo James is a better actor than this sort of teenage dystopian flick usually recruits. It will be interesting to see how this one picks up from the last, how Naomi Watts’ (who I am always happy to see) character will fit into the pack, and if Kate can make a better impression this time around! Count me excited…
White God (dir. Kornél Mundruczó), March 27
I have been chomping at the bit to see this dog vs. human drama (pictured at the top of this post) since reading about it out of Cannes last spring. I don’t know much about it, but the beautifully-crafted trailer suggests that the Hungarian government imposes fines for half-breed or mixed dogs (whether this is true or not I do not know, though I would suspect not). As such, 13-year-old Lili’s mutt Hagen is released to the streets where he joins up with hundreds of other dogs and starts an uprising against the humans. It’s a novel concept, and the trailer implies a certain wit and sense of humor that I respond positively to. The boy-and-his-dog genre is tried and true, but rarely do we see a young woman connected so intensely with her canine companion; this refreshing shock to the system, along with the promise of oodles of cute pups taking back what’s their’s will certainly make it a must-see for me. Interested?
Clouds of Sils Maria (dir. Olivier Assayas), April 10
One of my favorite films out of New York Film Festival, Clouds of Sils Maria centers around aging actress Maria Enders (a fearless Juliette Binoche) who is taking on the difficult play that made her a star years ago. This time, though, she will play the older woman desiring the hot young thing, to be played by trainwreck Hollywood actress Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz), and as she rehearses the script in a remote area of the Alps with her trusty assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart, never better), her life quickly unravels. There is a wealth of rich humor, jabs at modern celebrity culture—Moretz’s character resembles, in part, Stewart’s own public persona—and, ultimately, a tragic core to this beautifully-made, superbly acted drama. A must-see if it comes to your city!
Avengers: Age of Ultron (dir. Joss Whedon), May 1
After the rousing humor and drama of Joss Whedon’s original Avengers outing, I simply cannot wait to see more. The Marvel cinematic universe has grown steadily, carefully marketing each of these characters as unique beings interconnected through their heroics and their care for one another. The actors playing Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and The Hulk are also imminently likable; we care for them, and that’s not an easy feat in the action-adventure genre, let alone in the glut of superhero fare we are fed year after year. Ultron (voiced by James Spader) appears to be a dastardly villain, and it will be interesting to see how brother and sister duo Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) fit into the mix, too. I’ve missed out on various individual Marvel outings, but I wouldn’t miss seeing this crew unite once again!
Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller), May 15
Insanity. Pure insanity. That’s what comes to mind when I watch this mind-blowing trailer for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, a reboot of the iconic Mel Gibson-led post-apocalyptic series. It remains to be seen if the film will have a single quiet, contemplative moment. The advertising campaign seems focused on bombast and emotional pyrotechnics, though the painterly way many of these scenes and image are composed really up the ante for typical summer blockbuster fare. A berth at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14th, the day before it opens wide in the U.S., is certainly a vote of confidence (though the fest has had its fare share of commercial bombs, too). I just can’t wait to see Charlize Theron, one of my favorite actresses, kick some ass, shed some tears, and fight her way through this seemingly horrific waste land. It’s sure to be an intense and worthwhile ride.
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (dir. Alex Gibney), May 16
Many of you may have already caught prolific documentarian Alex Gibney’s Going Clear on HBO, or you may have read the nonfiction book of the same name. But when the film opens wide in mid-May, it will make a cultural impact, and it will almost certainly change society’s view of scientology forever. A scathing look at what is perhaps the largest cult in American history, Going Clear traces the origins of scientology, the sad life of its founder, science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and its development to present day. Along the way you will grow to despise Tom Cruise and John Travolta for their continued—admittedly somewhat forcible—belief in the “church,” and you will be shocked by many of the revelations former members of the church bring to light. That a supposed religion could employ what are essentially slave labor tactics and cut people off from their “subversive” loved ones while still remaining tax-exempt is simply astounding. No doubt Going Clear will accelerate what I hope will be the downfall of scientology in America.
Tomorrowland (dir. Brad Bird), May 22
I am not quite sure what to make of this one. The cast is great, the concepts seem audacious and spectacular, and the imagery is already gorgeous. But just what is Brad Bird’s live-action Tomorrowland about? The advertising is playing it a little too close to the chest with this one—will people lose interest before it even opens?—but I am excited to walk into the theater unaware of what to expect. All that we know for sure is that there is a futuristic world, unseen by most, that young Casey (Britt Robertson) can access by holding a retro-looking pin, and that George Clooney’s Frank Walker may be the only other person who knows what she’s going through. Here’s hoping that this family-friendly epic will break some rules and stand out as a must-see cinematic event.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (dir. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon), June 12
Dope (dir. Rick Famuyiwa), June 19
The Overnight (dir. Patrick Brice), June 19
Inside Out (dir. Pete Docter), June 19
Tangerine (dir. Sean Baker), July 10
Trainwreck (dir. Judd Apatow), July 17
Ant-Man (dir. Peyton Reed), July 17
Mr. Holmes (dir. Bill Condon), July 17
Southpaw (dir. Antoine Fuqua), July 24
Ricki and the Flash (dir. Jonathan Demme), August 6
Fantastic Four (dir. Josh Trank), August 7
Grandma (dir. Paul Weitz), August 21
Black Mass (dir. Scott Cooper), September 18
The Jungle Book (dir. Jon Favreau), October 9
Crimson Peak (dir. Guillermo del Toro), October 16
Bridge of Spies (dir. Steven Spielberg), October 16
Spectre (dir. Sam Mendes), November 6
The Hateful Eight (dir. Quentin Tarantino), November 13
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (dir. Francis Lawrence), November 20
The Martian (dir. Ridley Scott), November 27
The Good Dinosaur (dir. Peter Sohn), November 27
In the Heart of the Sea (dir. Ron Howard), December 11
Stars Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (dir. J.J. Abrams), December 18
The Revenant (dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu), December 25