Top List Thursday – Top 20 movies coming in 2015 which you may not know about

17 min read
3

It’s been well documented that 2015 is the year of the Geekpocalypse, as a film release schedule stuffed with such awesomeness as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and more, causes geeks around the world to just drop dead in excitement overload. But today, we’re not talking about those movies. We’re talking about the ones that may not have receive all the coverage you get from having funky lightsabers or killer robots or genetically engineered super-dinosaurs, but which we are just as excited to see. Well, maybe a smidgen less (GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SUPER-DINOSAURS!), but we’re still pretty damn stoked about them, and want to put them on your radar.

For a movie from the pretty reliable David Ayer (we still love End of Watch so much that we’ll forgive him the huge misstep on Sabotage), filled with stars like Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal and Michael Pena, and focusing on TANKS IN WWII, Fury seems to be getting very little hype. That will probably change when people walk out of our special screening of the film in two weeks time, and promptly can’t stop raving about it to their friends though. Till then, take note of that name. Trust me.

apatow-schumer-hader-675

Judd Apatow’s comedies (see: 40-Year Old Virgin, This Is 40, Knocked Up) have been a bit hit and miss for me, but my interest was immediately piqued when I read that his latest film was written by the utterly hilarious (and totally unhinged) Amy Schumer. We still have zero idea what the movie is actually about, but we know it stars a massive ensemble cast including Daniel Radcliffe, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Bill Hader, Barkhad Abdi and John Cena among many others. Yes, that John Cena.

The-Martian

Just look at this cast. Look at it! Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Kristin Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Pena, Donald Glover, and Sean Bean. Is it even legal to have that much talent in one room? Yes, director Ridley Scott has spent the last few years racking up Hollywood’s biggest telephone bill as he phones in one “blockbuster” after another, but with Drew “Cabin In The Woods” Goddard adapting Andy Weir’s simple, but intriguing novel – an astronaut finds himself stranded on Mars and has to survive – I have really high hopes that Scott can put a tick in the win column again with this one.

This self-contained action flick starring Salma Hayek is more than likely not going to end up on any awards list come the end of the year, but according to the buzz coming out of Fantastic Fest where it debuted last year, a whole lot of people are going to have a whole lot of fun with it. It’s like the proper Die Hard sequel you’ve been waiting on for years, except your balding, wisecracking hero is now a Mexican MILF with a thing for automatic weapons. Where do I sign up?

Daniel-Radcliffe-The-Woman-in-Black

Ever since he vacated his cupboard under the stairs in Privet Drive, Daniel Radcliffe has gone from The Boy Who Lived to The Man Who Acts In Really Interesting Movies. Virtually everything he’s done has been risky and out of the norm, and hopefully that trend continues with Victor Frankenstein, a reworking of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic horror from director Paul McGuigan (Push, Lucky Number Slevin) and screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle). The spin being that this tale is told from the perspective of Radcliffe’s Igor, assistant and confidante of James McAvoy’s titular Frankenstein, as the scientist goes about creating his monster.

SlowWest_Fassbender_McPhee

In case you  haven’t noticed, 2015 is apparently the year of the western. We’ve already written up plenty on the troubled production for Jane Got a Gun, which will finally be releasing later this year, and there’s also The Revenant (more on that later). Michael Fassbender may have been one of the many that dropped out of Jane – in his case, due to scheduling issues –  but he’ll still be getting his western on this year with Slow West, the feature film directing debut from screenwriter John Maclean (High Fidelity, It’s All Gone Pete Tong).

The flick sees the always incredible Fassbender teaming up with surging young talent Kodi Smit-McPhee, who was most recently seen in the awesome Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Slow West sees Smit-McPhee as “a 16-year-old boy on a journey across 19th Century frontier America in search of the woman he loves, while accompanied by mysterious traveler Silas”. The latter being played by Fassbender, who gets to play up a cool father-son dynamic, as helps the boy become a man through learning to shave with what appears to be a broadsword. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if some good ol’ fashioned bandit shooting also factored into their bonding.

McConaughey_591w

And the McConnaissance continues, as this time McConaughey is committing suicide. Luckily, not the career kind. Teaming up with director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk), McConaughey stars in this drama about an American man who plans to commit suicide in Japan’s infamous “Suicide Forest” at the base of Mt Fuji. His self-termination plans go awry though when he runs into Ken Watanabe, a fellow wannabe suicider, and the two start to talking about life, the universe and everything else. Based on the fact that I could probably listen to Ken Watanabe read the instructions on the back of shampoo bottle and be excited, and that McConaughey showed us in True Detective that he can do universal ponderings like few others, there’s only one thing to say about this movie: Alright, alright, alright!

RichardLinklater

Speaking of McConaughey, he originally put himself on the map with Richard Linklater’s seminal classic Dazed and Confused (McConaughey then proceeded to burn the map with several useless rom-coms, but that’s neither here nor there) and ever since he got his groove back, some people have become optimistic about a sequel to the 1993 coming-of-age comedy. But there’s not going to be a sequel. At least not in the traditional sense.

Billed as a “spiritual sequel” to 1970’s set Dazed, writer-director Richard Linklater claims that That’s What I’m Talking About is linked only in that it’s a “party film” set a decade after Dazed, when one of the younger characters from his earlier film could theoretically go off to college. Not the same characters though, let’s get that clear. These are totally different characters, but possibly set in the same world, exploring similar themes, but now in the 1980’s. The cast is filled with people you’ve never heard of, but based on how Linklater is currently drowning in all the praise and awards gold for Boyhood, this flick should definitely be one to watch out for.

the-green-room-patrick-stewart-skip

I still haven’t seen Blue Ruin, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier’s highly, highly acclaimed revenge-thriller from last year, but based on just how critically praised it was, I will definitely not be missing his follow-up flick Green Room. And if you still need convincing: The movie sees the internet’s favourite uncle, Patrick Stewart, as the leader of a group of Neo-Nazi skinheads, who terrorize and try to kill Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots’ young punk rock band over the course of an evening, after the young musos witness the skinheads committing a murder during one of their gigs and find themselves trapped in the secluded venue called the Green Room. Make it so, Number One!

Holmes

And now for Internet’s other favourite uncle, Ian McKellen, who stars in this very cool sounding flick as an elderly, retired Sherlock Holmes (seems that whole “dying at the Reitenbach Falls” thing didn’t stick). Set in 1947, the Bill Condon directed crime-drama sees a 93-year old Holmes living in a secluded farmhouse in Sussex with his housekeeper Ms Munroe (Laura Linney) and her son, where he tends to bees as he comes to terms with his once-great mind now starting to fail him. During this reflection though, he flashes back to his relatively younger days, and the one case he could never solve. Which my years of watching movies tell me, he will probably now finally solve in some dramatically awesome way.

It’s Thor vs Moby Dick. I don’t know why I still need to explain this further. Okay, very well, if you insist. In The Heart of the Sea sees director Ron Howard reteaming with Chris Hemsworth to tell the true story of the crew of the 19th century whaleship Essex, who found themselves adrift at sea for 90 days after a violent and protracted run-in with a very ornery sperm whale sunk their vessel. The crew would continue fighting off the whale, more than a thousand miles from land, while desperation eventually drove them to cannibalism. This incredible (and horrific) tale was actually the incident that inspired Herman Melville to pen his classic Moby Dick.

Based on how incredible the results were the last time Howard and Hemsworth teamed up to tell a true story (See: Rush), we whale (sorry) definitely be keeping an eye on this movie.

the-man-from-u-n-c-l-e-henrycavill-armiehammer

Reboots and remakes. Usually rather dirty words in most film geeks’ vocabulary, but sometimes these modern do-overs hold some promise. Much like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., fan-favourite director Guy “Snatch” Ritchie’s contemporary feature film adaptation of the TV show of the same name that most of the audience who will see this movie have probably never heard of.

Seeing as how well Ritchie reinvented Sherlock Holmes for a modern audience, I’m quite intrigued to see what he can do with these Cold War spy-vs-spy shenanigans. And hey, it stars Superman and the Lone Ranger!

MichaelShannon_JeffNichols_TakeShelter

Writer-director Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon are a very potent pairing, as they showed us in Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories. Nichols also proved that he’s mastered the coming-of-age drama with his Palme d’Or contender Mud. And we get to see all of these elements come together – with a sprinkling of some comic-book influences – in Midnight Special. Shannon stars in this “sci-fi chase film” as a father who goes on the run from authorities with his son, when he discovers that the boy has some powerful psychic abilities. Nichols has compared the movie to John Carpenter’s Starman, which instantly makes it a must-watch for me Co-stars Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst are just the gravy on top.

Just in case you were wondering, you pronounce Domhnall Gleeson’s first name like “tonal” but with a “d” in the front. You better start practicing that, because 2015 is Gleeson’s year (yes, I know I said earlier that it’s the year of the western, but we can have totally have both!). Not only is he starring in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he will also be showing up in a number of very intriguing projects this year. One of those is Ex Machina, the directing debut of Alex Garland, the writer behind Dredd, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and The Beach. 

The script for Ex Machina, which Garland also wrote, sees Gleeson as a software programmer invited by his boss to a private weekend retreat where he can show off the new AI he’s developed, but things may just be a bit more sinister than they appear. The film also stars a couple of fellow rapidly rising talents in Alicia Vikander as the robo-lady that causes all the trouble, and Gleeson’s Star Wars cast-mate Oscar Isaac as his boss.

Timur Bekmambetov first came to my attention with the incredible Russian fantasy-thriller Night Watch, and while his Wanted is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, I haven’t been too enamoured with the rest of the films he’s directed (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, come on doooowwwn!). So it’s a good thing he’s only producing Hardcore and not directing it. That duty falls to Ilya Naishuller, the fledgling Russian filmmaker who caught Bekmambatov’s eye with his really cool pitch about “Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator from the clutches of a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, AKAN, and his army of mercenaries”, all while being helped by what appears to be a British soldier from the past named Jimmy, played by Sharlto Copley. The catch though – and yes, there is still a catch on top of that crazy premise – is that the entire film is shot in first-person perspective from Henry’s point-of-view.

This could either be failed experiment resulting in cinema aisles full of motion-sickness induced sick, or it could be the best video game ever made that’s not actually based on a video game.

I’m such a gigantic fan of Flight of the Conchords that I’ll watch pretty much anything they’re in (it was Jemaine Clement’s involvement that got me to watch Men In Black 3; it definitely wasn’t that eardrum destroying Pitbull song!). Luckily for me, it just so happens that most of what Clement and partner Brett McKenzie are involved with is quite good. Case in point(ed teeth): The Clement led vampire mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows which looks to be the best vampire-related thing to happen to movies in years, and that includes Robert Pattinson crapping on the Twilight movies while he was starring in them.

The trailers looked incredibly funny and according to the film festival reviews, the rest of the movie doesn’t disappoint one bit either as it’s currently sitting on a 93% approval on Rotten Tomatoes.

MartinScorsese_7370_728x

A new Martin Scorsese movie is always a big deal, but this is especially true when a project with as much potential as Silence. Starring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield, Scorsese’s historical drama based on Shusaku Endo’s 1980 novel of the same, sees Garfield’s young Jesuit priest sent into closed-off 17th century Japan to find his former mentor who has been missing for a decade and is suspected of having renounced his faith under torture during the Japanese persecution of Christians of that time.

Neeson is in dire, dire need of some good material again, and this looks like just the thing to reaffirm his Oscar-winning status again. The last time Scorsese tackled matters of religion we ended up with the controversial but masterfully crafted Last Temptation of Christ. Although I don’t think Silence will be courting that kind of controversy again, it certainly has the potential to earn the same kind of praise.

EmilyBlunt-looper-tristar02

Emily Blunt – and already, that’s enough to get some of you onboard – stars in this latest thriller from director Denis Villeneuve who is yet to put a single, solitary foot wrong in his career with his previous two efforts, Prisoners and Enemy, being some of the best, mature thrillers to come out of Hollywood in years. This time around its Blunt as a young FBI agent who heads into Mexico with a band of mercenaries to take down a ruthless drug cartel. At this point we know nothing else about the movie (that pic above is actually from Looper), except that it also stars Josh Brolin, Jon Bernthal, and Benecio Del Toro. Throw those names in the already potent mix of Villeneuve and Blunt, and you got yourself a potential sleeper hit for 2015.

TomHanks_StevenSpielberg_ColdWarThriller_dd9

I miss the Cold War. Now clearly, having been born in 1981, I was far too young to actually understand the geo-political meanderings of the Cold War, all I knew is that served as a very potent backdrop for some of my favourite spy movies of all time. And now the Cold War is heating up again thanks to some movie love from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Their spy movie may not have a name yet, but it has a script from the Coen Bros which follows the true story of Hanks’ James Donovan, “an attorney who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.”

Spielberg and Hanks teaming up has already given us the likes of Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and The Terminal, and the last time Spielberg tackled true-life historical drama, we got Lincoln and Munich, arguably the two best feature films he’s done in a decade. So yeah, you could definitely say that I’m excited for this.

django-unchained-leonardo-dicaprio-2012-01

When the whole Oscar Pistorious trial was going on, a funny pic made the rounds on the net showing some frightening looking prison inmates with the caption reading that they were “going to get an Oscar before Leonardo DiCaprio”. Yeah, well that shit ain’t funny anymore. The fact that DiCaprio has been denied the big prize so many times is so laughable that it’s stop being humurous. DiCaprio came mighty close in 2012 with Django Unchained, so why not go back to the Western well for his next attempt at gold. And this one looks like a doozie.

The Revenant is directed by Alejandro González Iñárrituo, whose Birdman all the talk of the town lately, and stars Leo as “frontiersman, Hugh Glass, who in the 1820s set out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling”. Well, dang, it doesn’t get more badass than “I was half-eaten by a bear, but I got better and now I’m coming to kill you”. Oh and did I mention it also stars Tom Hardy? Probably not as the bear though, although that would only make me want to see this movie even more. And just to totally seal the deal, you can also throw in Domhnall Gleeson (there he is again!) and Will Poulter, two seriously talented up-and-comers.

Gentlemen, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention!

Last Updated: January 15, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

Check Also

Darksiders III Review – Apocalypse Frau

Beneath the mountain of bugs, shoddy design and inconsistent performance, there’s a genui…