Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Movie Guru's Top 25 Most Anticipated Films of 2015

Wow. I cannot believe that 2014 is over. It's been an absolutely magnificent year for movies and I'm very excited to share my picks for the best movies of the year in a few weeks time. Why am I waiting? Because I still haven't seen everything. Selma and Inherent Vice don't open in my area until January 9th and American Sniper isn't arriving until January 16th. Now, it does seem a little bit silly to hold off on releasing my top 15 list just because of three movies, but I also want to rewatch a few other films and make sure that my list is truly great. Until then, expect tons of reviews and new content on my site, starting with this list.

2015 is going to be a very exciting year for cinema. The Avengers are returning to fight their most dangerous foe yet. Bond is back and he's facing off against Spectre. Audiences will head back to Jurassic Park with Chris Pratt and some new dinosaurs. And of course, we'll be heading back to a galaxy far, far away with JJ Abrams and the original crew in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not to mention the many indie films and smaller blockbusters that will be hitting cinema screens this year. I'm psyched to see what this year might possibly hold and I'm hoping for another great year at the movies. Here are my top 25 most anticipated movies of 2015, along with 10 honorable mentions:

Honorable Mentions:

PIXELS- This Adam Sandler action comedy about classic video game characters attacking cities has major potential, but it still has to overcome the fact that it's an Adam Sandler movie. Directed by Chris Columbus. July 24

CRIMSON PEAK- I'm excited for this one because of its terrific cast (Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain) and the fact that Guillermo del Toro is directing. However, I'm less excited about the prospects of a gothic horror, simply because it's a genre that doesn't interest me. Nonetheless, it's one to keep an eye on. October 16

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY- PART 2- It's the conclusion of the epic franchise and it should be a bloody good time. This will certainly be the most intense chapter in the series and it should allow for Jennifer Lawrence to do some magnificent work. November 20

KNIGHT OF CUPS- Although I'm not overly familiar with Terence Malick's work, he's always a critical favorite. Knight of Cups should give him the opportunity to do some lighter work, with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman rounding out the cast. Very excited for this Hollywood satire. TBA

JUPITER ASCENDING- The visuals look astounding and I'm a huge fan of both Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. But the fact that the film was pushed to February is not a great sign. Hopefully the Wachowski's can create something amazing with this one. I'm optimistic, but I wouldn't be shocked to see it fall into shambles. February 6

THE MARTIAN- The Martian is based on a popular sci-fi best-seller and has an incredible cast that includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Pena. So why isn't it in my top 25? The answer is Ridley Scott. The iconic director has made several misfires in a row, so I'm not exactly confident. However, with that cast and the strong source material, there's no reason not to be excited. November 25

SCOUTS VS. ZOMBIES- Okay, I'll be honest. This could be really terrible. But the premise of boy scouts fighting zombies is simply irresistible to me. October 30

CHAPPIE- I was a big fan of Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, but the trailer for Chappie just didn't hook me like it should have. It came off as a little goofy and silly. However, Blomkamp is still a visionary and if he embraces the goofiness of the premise, I think that this film will be gold. March 6

MINIONS- The Despicable Me franchise is very funny and almost ubiquitous at this point, so a Minions spin-off was destined to happen. The first trailer was promising, but it'll be interesting to see if the minions can carry their own film. Should be funny nonetheless. July 10

ENTOURAGE- I'm very excited for this Hollywood-set comedy and I hope that it delivers. I'm a little worried about the story, but that's okay- it looks hilarious anyways. This one barely missed the cut. June 12

Now, for the 25 movies that did make the cut.

25. THE GOOD DINOSAUR- November 25

We're getting two Pixar films this year and I'm just a little bit more excited for one than the other. The Good Dinosaur features the voices of Neil Patrick Harris, Frances McDormand, Judy Greer, John Lithgow, Bill Hader and Lucas Neff and tells the story of a dinosaur that befriends a young boy. Great premise, but this movie went into significant turnaround at Pixar and the original director was booted off. Hopefully studio head John Lasseter can pull this one together.

24. TERMINATOR: GENISYS- July 1

Fan excitement for this one is at an all-time low after a series of goofy images and a confusing trailer were released. And I understand the trepidation. The cast isn't exactly extraordinary and the story does look pretty confusing. But I enjoyed the trailer and I think that this movie looks like a lot of fun. If it doesn't deliver, I say it's time to shelf this franchise for good. However, it almost certainly can't be worse than Terminator: Salvation.

23. SILENCE- TBA

Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors working today, so there's no reason that I wouldn't be excited for his latest effort, Silence. The story of a group of Jesuit priests (played by Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) who travel to Japan to spread Christianity sounds very intriguing and it feels like material that is well suited to Scorsese. At this point, we don't know if this one will hit theaters in 2015, but it's looking likely at this point. Look for this to be a major Oscar contender next year.

22. BLACKHAT- January 16

Michael Mann's Collateral is one of the most underrated movies of the century so far. It's a tense and grim Hitchcockian thriller and Mann handles the material superbly. After watching that movie, I knew that Mann was a great director. His next film, Blackhat, stars Chris Hemsworth as a hacker who works for the US government to stop a terrorist hacker from destroying the world. The January release date is troubling and the film could get a little preachy since the subject is so topical, but I am pumped for this film. I really hope Mann can deliver.

21. BLACK MASS- September 18

The true story of Whitey Bulger is getting many film adaptations, but I have my eye on Black Mass. Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace) is directing and the cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, Juno Temple, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, Adam Scott, Peter Sarsgaard and Johnny Depp as Bulger. Cooper is a promising young director and with that terrific cast, I don't see how this movie can be anything but terrific.

20. UNTITLED SETH ROGEN/JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT CHRISTMAS MOVIE- November 25

If you've seen 50/50, you know why I'm excited for this movie. I recently watched the cancer dramedy for the first time and it hit me hard. I gained new respect for Rogen and even more respect for Gordon-Levitt. The two actors are now re-teaming for a Christmas eve movie about the search for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties. 50/50 director Johnathan Levine is returning to the director's chair and Lizzy Caplan, Anthony Mackie and 22 Jump Street breakout Jillian Bell round out the cast. Rogen has been on a roll lately and I can't wait to see what he has in store for us here.

19. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL- November 25

I haven't seen either of Jeff Nichols' previous films, but just reading the plot synopsis for Midnight Special has me excited. Nichols described the film as a "sci-fi chase movie" and the plot synopsis talks about a father finding out that his son has special powers. Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Michael Shannon and St. Vincent star Jaedan Lieberher round out the cast. All in all, I'm pumped for this movie simply because there's so much we don't know. But there's also a lot of potential for a terrific sci-fi movie that will blow us all away.

18. TOMORROWLAND- May 22

The first teaser trailer was a bit of a letdown for me, but I'm still extremely excited to see what Brad Bird has in store for us with Tomorrowland. George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Judy Greer and Hugh Laurie star in this sci-fi drama about a futuristic world that involves Walt Disney, imagination, collective memories and much more. There's a lot to like with that premise and the trailer hinted at some exciting things. With Brad Bird in the director's chair, the sky's the limit for this project. Very excited to see how this turns out.

17. SOUTHPAW- TBA

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the premiere actors in Hollywood at this point and Southpaw could be the movie that wins him the Oscar. The boxing story about a rising champion prize fighter that finds his world collapsing around him sounds a bit familiar, but with Gyllenhaal, there's potential for something. I wasn't overly impressed with The Equalizer, so I'm slightly skeptical about Antoine Fuqua directing this film. However, that alone is not enough to dampen my excitement for what sounds like an intense and intriguing film.

16. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5- December 25

For one, I'm not even sure that this film will be in theaters this year. It's currently set to hit theaters way too close to Star Wars VII and I'm certain that Paramount does not want to face off against that one. But right now, it's set to hit theaters in 2015 and I'm very excited about that. The fourth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Ghost Protocol, was terrific action filmmaking and I'm ecstatic that the principal cast is returning for this one. Unfortunately, Brad Bird won't be back, but Christopher McQuarrie seems like a solid choice to take over. Mission: Impossible 5 has high expectations to live up to, but I believe in Tom Cruise and the rest of the team behind the M:I series.

15. THE REVENANT- December 25

Tom Hardy. Leonardo DiCaprio. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. What's not to like? The latest film from the director of Birdman tells the story of a frontiersman who seeks vengeance against the man who left him for dead. Definitely a tonal shift from Birdman, but it sounds like perfect material for Hardy and DiCaprio. I can't wait to see this one and it will certainly be one of the big Oscar contenders for next year.

14. THE WALK- October 2

I saw the trailer for this movie in IMAX 3D before The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and I was amazed. This looks like a truly dazzling movie. Plus, I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Robert Zemeckis so that makes me even more excited. The only reason that this isn't higher on this list is because I'm skeptical that there won't be much of a story to hang onto. But either way, this will be one incredible spectacle and I can't wait to see this film.

13. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE- February 13

Critics have already seen Matthew Vaughn's spy comedy and they love it. That only adds to my extreme excitement for the latest film from the director of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. The idea of a classy, ridiculous Bond movie in the style of Roger Moore and Sean Connery is infinitely appealing to me and I'm pumped to see this one. Hopefully it lives up to all of my expectations.

12. UNTITLED COLD WAR SPY THRILLER- October 16

Steven Spielberg returns after a three year hiatus with a Cold War-set spy thriller starring Tom Hanks. The story of an American lawyer who does CIA work in the Soviet Union sounds right in the wheelhouse of Spielberg and Hanks and I couldn't be more excited. Not much else is known about this film, but I'm psyched. Should be one of 2015's big Oscar contenders.

11. INSIDE OUT- June 19

Inside Out is the single most promising film from Pixar in years and I'm pumped to see what they have in store for us here. After three years of sequels and unoriginal princess movies, we're finally getting a truly original Pixar movie set in the imagination of a young girl. The first trailer played off of the emotions of previous Pixar movies, but the second trailer blew me away by fully showing off the potential of the premise. This could definitely be the next Pixar classic.

10. JURASSIC WORLD- June 12

Jurassic Park is one of the great sci-fi horror movies and fans have waited forever for a truly great sequel/reboot. After watching the first trailer, I believe that Jurassic World could be that great film. Chris Pratt is a charismatic star and Ty Simpkins was great in Iron Man 3. Not to mention that the trailer set a tense, ominous mood that I hope carries over to the film. I'm not 100% sure about Jurassic World, but I'm anticipating what could be in store with this film.

9. IN THE HEART OF THE SEA- March 13

In the Heart of the Sea is the latest film from Ron Howard, which is primarily why I was excited initially. However, my excitement has grown since the release of the first two trailers. The trailers have been incredible and this looks like such an intense and visceral film. Howard is a great director and he had great success with Chris Hemsworth when they last teamed up. Hopefully they can recapture some of that magic.

8. THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT- TBA

Richard Linklater is an ambitious director and he's following up Boyhood with a spiritual sequel to his incredible 12 year project and his stoner comedy Dazed and Confused. That's enough to pique my interest and the fact that the movie is about baseball makes me even more enthusiastic about the film. We don't know much more than that, but I believe that's enough to make any Linklater fan eager to see this one.

7. JOY- December 25

Joy is a biopic of the woman that created the Miracle Mop. That doesn't necessarily sound all that promising, but when you add David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro into the mix, you've got a movie that I cannot wait to see. Russell gave us American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook over the last few years and he's back with another quirky dramedy. Looking forward to seeing what's in store this time around.

6. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON- May 1

The Avengers was a more massive hit than anybody could have imagined and the entire world is anticipating the sequel, Age of Ultron. The first trailer was chilling and frightening, which hints at a darker Avengers film. The only reason I'm less enthused about this one is because Marvel has set up so much after Age of Ultron that the film might feel inconsequential. Still, this is certainly going to be one of the year's biggest films and I'm hoping that director Joss Whedon can deliver another delightful superhero flick.

5. FURIOUS 7- April 3

The Fast and Furious franchise lost one of its major stars last year when Paul Walker passed away, but the series will continue on. And it looks like an extremely good time. The first trailer was electrifying and incredible and after Fast Five and Furious 6, there's no reason not to be pumped for Furious 7. With Jason Statham and Kurt Russell joining the cast and James Wan in the director's chair, this could definitely be the best installment in the series so far.

4. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD- May 15

A year ago, there was no reason to be even remotely interested in Mad Max: Fury Road. Production had been a disaster and there were numerous delays. However, once the first trailer dropped, the film world was turned upside down. This has slowly become one of the most anticipated movies of 2015 and I could not be more psyched for what looks like a spectacular ride.

3. THE HATEFUL EIGHT- TBA

It's Quentin Tarantino. What more do I need to say? The legendary director hasn't missed yet and he only has a few films left before he retires. And this chilly western sounds just as fun as the rest of his filmography. With a cast that includes Sam Jackson, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell and Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight sounds like a bloody good time.

2. SPECTRE- November 6

Bond is one of the most enduring and fun franchises in Hollywood and Skyfall was the best Bond yet. The way that it mixed the old and the new was brilliant and I have a feeling that Spectre will keep that trend going. Bringing back Spectre is a fantastic idea and I love the new actors (Christoph Waltz especially) that director Sam Mendes has brought in. All in all, this was almost my most anticipated of the year and I hope that Spectre can be the next Bond classic. I'm so incredibly excited.

1. STAR WARS: EPISODE VII- THE FORCE AWAKENS- December 18

Nothing else could top this list. Spectre looks great, Hateful Eight sounds like a great time and Mad Max looks amazing, but Star Wars is THE movie to look forward to in 2015. JJ Abrams is a major draw and the cast is incredible, yet the real draw is the franchise itself. We know almost nothing about the latest installment in the Star Wars series and that has only taken my anticipation to another level. This might not be the movie that I'm most excited to see, but it's certainly the movie that I'm anticipating the most. The fact that I have to wait until December to see it is painful and I'm praying that Abrams makes this film worth it.

I'm hoping for a truly fantastic 2015. It's shaping up to be a terrific year and a lot of great films will be hitting theaters over the next 12 months. Those are the 25 that I'm looking forward to the most, share yours in the comments below!

Image Credits: LA Times, Screen Rant, Indiewire, Hollywood Reporter, Latino Review, MTV, River Run Film, YouTube, Coming Soon, Brightest Young Things, National Geographic, Geek Tyrant, Yahoo, Variety, YouTube, Jurassic Park Wikia, YouTube, Indiewire, Screen Rant, Screen Rant, Business Insider, We Got This Covered, Movie Pilot, Empire, Star Wars

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