Last year’s list was 25 films long… Well, we went a little longer this time. Expected release dates are in parentheses. Tell us what we missed!
35 Project Almanac (US 30 Jan, UK 6 Feb)
Before we get to the blockbusters and art-house icons, let’s start with something dumb but fun: a found footage time-travel movie. Hopefully this is something like The Blair Witch Project meets Primer, rather than Apollo 13 meets The Butterfly Effect. A group of teens try to fix past mistakes via their new time machine, but things go awry when one by one they start to disappear from reality. So… Chronicle meets the photo from Back to the Future?
34 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (20 Nov)
These are the best YA movies out there: a strong cast and smart direction should keep this story on track as events power through to the climax. Will Donald Sutherland get an explosive arrow in the face? (I genuinely don’t know, I’ve not read these books),
33 Inside Out (US 19 Jun, UK 2 July)
Disney’s new animation shows the conflicting emotions inside a young girl’s head. Amy Poehler plays joy, Mindy Kaling plays disgust, etc… Surely the animation of the year.
32 Carol (TBC)
Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven) returns to the 1950s with this story of a young lady department store clerk (Rooney Mara) who falls in love with a married woman (Cate Blanchette). I anticipate more Douglas Sirk-esque goodness.
31 Beyond Clueless (already on the festival circuit, but starting to widen…)
Dreamlike interleaving of images from pretty much every American teen movie from 1990-2010. To a soundtrack by (of course) Summer Camp, the tropes fuse to become a vision that is at once universal and at the same time completely fantastic and alienating through repetition. Stop trying to make fetch happen!
30 Knight of Cups (TBC)
Here’s hoping for a return to form by Terrence Malick, whose last decent movie was probably The New World. Christian Bale appears to be playing a troubled middle aged white professional of some description. Hopefully this will be better than than the similar-sounding Sean Penn bit from The Tree of Life.
29 The Duke of Burgundy (UK 20 Feb, Internet 23 Feb)
Dir: The king of creepy sound design, Peter Strickland! (Berberian Sound Studio). In a world without men or cars, the only polite pastime is attending or giving lepidoptory lectures… until the sun goes down. Nothing like a bit of unapologetic surrealist erotica.
28 Kingsman: The Secret Service (US 13 Feb, UK 29 Jan)
Reunites the creative team behind Kick-Ass (the fun original, not the fairly dire sequel). Tailor/spy Colin Firth inducts a young ragamuffin spy into a secret service unit, and tasks him with defending professor Mark Hamil against Big-Mac eating villain Samuel L Jackson. By all accounts this movie is pretty eccentric throughout, but achieves wholly unexpected levels of insanity in the third act.
27 Jane Got a Gun (US 4 Sept, UK 25 Sept)
Much delayed, much recast, this Natalie-Portman starring ‘feminist western’ will presumably emerge at some point. By now we almost want to see it more out of grim fascination than anything.
26 Crimson Peak (16 Oct)
Guillermo Del Toro 19th century gothic haunted house movie. SOLD. Bonus: Tom Hiddleston plays the homeowner.
25 The Martian (US 25 Nov, UK 27 Nov)
Thanks to Alien and Bladerunner I will always give a chance to a Ridley Scott sci-fi. Despite the existence of Prometheus. In this one, Matt Damon is stranded on Mars. That guy just loves being stranded on planets.
24 Black Mass (18 Sept)
Johnny Depp plays fat bald mafia don Whitey Bulger. Hopefully this is more Donnie Brasco than Public Enemies. The only question will be: is Depp miscast in a role that will probably require a more method approach than his usual pantomime schtick? If not, Benedict Cumberbatch will be on hand to pick up the acting slack.
23 Top Five (already out in the US, UK 30 March)
Chris Rock is a guy who keeps threatening to be an interesting filmmaker, if he can only be prised away from Adam Sandler. Top Five is a Woody-Allenesque roam around New York City, with Rosario Dawson as his sparring partner.
22 It Follows (US TBC, UK 27 Feb)
A great, smart, schlocky, urban-legend style horror. A teen realises she has contracted a sexually-transmitted haunting. Now something is coming for her, and wherever she goes… it follows.
21 Ubik (released: Never)
Michael Gondry was all set to direct this adaptation of my favourite reality-bending Philip K Dick novel. In the original story, protagonist Glen Runciter is dead. Or psychic. Or everyone else is. Or both. Everywhere he goes there are adverts for Ubik, the mysterious product of indeterminate utility… and someone wants to kill him (again). Sadly, Gondry recently abandoned this movie. It’s not coming. It’s on this list to represent all the movies that could have been… but never were.
20 Blackhat (US 16 Jan, UK 20 Feb)
Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral) directs Chris Hemsworth in what now seems to be a very topical thriller. A cyber war against Chinese hacker cells starts to heat up. Go get those Chinese hackers, Chris… unless it’s a frame job. Then you’ll just have made things worse.
19 A Most Violent Year (US already out, UK 23 Jan)
Already out in the US, this slow burn thriller set in early-80s New York features Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.
18 The Revenant (US 25 Dec, UK 15 Jan 2016)
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, fresh from Birdman, directs Leonardo DiCaprio as a man who was left for dead by his gang. But if Point Blank taught us anything, it’s that you never leave a man “for dead”.
17 Silence (TBC)
Martin Scorsese’s new film is the tale of two priests persecuted for attempting to spread Christianity in 17th century Japan. A return to religious themes for Scorsese after The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun. A previous 1971 adaptation of the source novel has been described by The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin as “Apocalypse Now with Samurai”.
16 A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (already out in the US, UK TBC)
The greatest monochrome Persian vampire western of all time. A girl walks home through Bad City (located somewhere between LA and Tehran). She’s alone, but there’s a reason for that.
15 Ant-Man (17 July)
Can small-time criminal Paul Rudd turn things around and be “the hero his daughter already thinks he is”? Surely YES, once Michael Douglas teaches him to shrink down really small and use his mind to control ants. Biff bam pow… ants.
14 The Ferryman (TBC)
It’s been a while since a truly great Wong Kar Wai movie – maybe since In The Mood for Love. Even when they don’t work they are gorgeous confections, but here’s hoping he delivers something more than that this time around. The simple storyline – a young woman falls in love with a painter with an unfaithful wife – is promising. Could this be a return to his strengths?
13 American Honey (TBC)
The first American movie from director Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights). Arnold is one of the great directors of non-verbal cinema, shooting films of incredible rawness. This is apparently a road movie centring on “a runaway teenager selling magazine subscriptions around the U.S., who gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard-partying, law-bending and young love.”
12 Mad Max: Fury Road (15 May)
Original series director George Miller returns with Tom Hardy taking on the title role. Fury Road is so high up this list on the basis of its gloriously amped-up trailer.
11 Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (18 Dec)
Some sort of spaceships kind of deal.
10 A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence (US TBC, UK 24 April)
Roy Andersson (Songs From The Second Floor) returns. This guy’s movies are all like a terminally depressed Swedish version of Monty Python’sThe Meaning of Life. In one scene in Pigeon, Sweden’s 18th century King Charles XII is heading to the famously catastrophic battle of Poltava when he decides he feels thirsty – a situation he remedies by locating a completely modern bar, and kicking out the increasingly perplexed customers. To be clear… this is either up your street or it isn’t.
9 The Lobster (March)
We hoped for this in 2014, so please see our fuller description elsewhere, but: this is about people who are arrested and forced to assemble in a hotel and pair off romantically. If they fail, after 45 days they are transmogrified into animals and released into the forest. I think we can all relate.
8 Mission Impossible 5 (US 25 Dec, UK 26 Dec)
Aside from M:I-2 this series is seriously fun, and to my mind somewhat underrated. The plots have just enough twists to keep them interesting, but serve primarily as a way to string together the best stunt and chase sequences in the business. This is a movie-as-rollercoaster, done right.
7 Spectre (US 6 Nov, UK 23 Oct)
Blofeld. Is. Back. But which member of the cast is playing him/her?
6 Queen of the Desert (TBC)
Werner Herzog, director of so many great movies (including one of my all-time favourites, Fitzcarraldo), has once again got his hands a decent budget by the looks of it. Nicole Kidman plays Gertrude Bell, the real-life British “traveller, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer and political officer” also known as the “female Lawrence of Arabia”. Jolly good.
5 The Hateful Eight (13 Nov)
Tarantino’s infamously leaked script has apparently been “rewritten” although to what extent is unclear. Eight (or is it now nine?) strangers in the American west are forced to share a remote cabin in a snowstorm. But everyone has a secret, and most of them have a weapon. As ever, there is a cast to die (horribly) for.
4 Inherent Vice (already out in the US, UK 30 Jan)
PT Anderson (There Will Be Blood) directs the first ever adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel. He has, thankfully, chosen the simplest, funniest one. Another great ensemble cast means that this should hopefully be a great addition to that niche genre, “stoner private eye noir” (see also The Long Goodbye and The Big Lebowski).
3 Flashmob (TBC)
Michael Haneke (Caché, The White Ribbon) directs this movie, about which almost nothing is known beyond the fact that it follows a group of people who have met on the Internet. Shooting was delayed to allow Haneke to cast the exact actress he needed. Will it even be ready in 2015? It’s a mystery.
2 Avengers: The Age of Ultron (US 1 May, UK 24 April)
Some sort of superheroes vs killer robot thing.
1 High Rise (TBC)
Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) directs this JG Ballard adaptation about the dream of new-build high-rise living going horribly wrong. In the novel the sense of cold doom is there right from the opening words:
“Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog…”
The good news is that “he” in that sentence will be leading man Tom Hiddleston. Here’s a quote from Wheatley (via io9.com):
Yeah, well, I mean it’s going to look like the ’70s. It’s going to be very styled in that way. We’re looking at the Ridley Scott adverts of that period. It’s going to be modern in a way that the ’70s looked. In a way that, “I don’t know what the future looks like anymore,” which is quite funny. We’re already in Buck Rogers land now. Aren’t we? We’ve all got phones, it’s not that exciting. But back then they had a real idea of what the future was going to be like, and it was much more stylish.
Tom Hiddleston, holed up on his mid-70s luxury balcony, looking stylish, and eating a dog.