Monday, December 22, 2014

Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

Maps to the Stars. Image courtesy of Focus World.
Unfortunately, my top 10 of 2014 is not going to be up until New Year's Eve and, likely, late that day due to the numerous potentially substantial films being released between Christmas and Dec. 31.

So, in the meantime, I've put together a list of films - 20, to be exact, with a few runners up - to which I'm most looking forward in 2015. I've included "Maps to the Stars" on this list, despite several critics having included it in their 2014 best-of lists. That film was only released for a day or two in Los Angeles to qualify for the Oscars, but it remains virtually unseen by most.

So, I'd love to hear from you - are the films listed below ones you're anticipating? And are there any I've missed that you're excited about? Let me know in the comment section below.

The films below are listed in alphabetical order. And drop back by on Dec. 31 for my best of 2014 list.

Carol - Todd Haynes ("I'm Not There") adapts Patricia Highsmith's novel about a department store clerk in 1950s New York who falls for an older, married woman (Cate Blanchett).

Clouds of Sils Maria - Olivier Assayas ("Carlos") directed this film, which debuted at Cannes last May, about a renowned actress (Juliette Binoche) who is rehearsing for a revival of a play with a scandal-mongering Hollywood starlet in the Alps. Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz also star.

Flashmob - Michael Haneke, known mostly for his austere dramas such as "The White Ribbon" and "Amour," directs this film about a group of people who meet over the Internet and plan to form a, you guessed it, flashmob.

The Hateful Eight - Quentin Tarantino's latest is a "Ten Little Indians" style western set primarily in a bar where an assortment of unruly characters, including a Civil War general and a bounty hunter, have gathered to wait out a blizzard.

Joy - Jennifer Lawrence stars in this biopic from David O. Russell ("American Hustle") about the single, Long Island mother who invented the Miracle Mop

Knight of Cups - Although, as usual, it's a little unclear what Terrence Malick's latest film is about, suffice it to say that the trailer for the movie, which stars Christian Bale and Natalie Portman, is stunning.

The Lobster - Yorgos Lanthimos, who was responsible for the batshit crazy (in a good way) "Dogtooth," directs this film, which stars Rachel Weisz, set in a dystopian future in which single people are arrested, taken to a motel, forced to mate and, if they fail, transformed into an animal and released into the woods.

Maps to the Stars - David Cronenberg's caustic take on Hollywood and celebrity culture has landed on some 2014 top ten lists, although it doesn't get released until late February. Julianne Moore's performance in the film has caused a fair amount of buzz.

Midnight Special - Jeff Nichols ("Take Shelter") directs this John Carpenter-esque sci-fi thriller about a father and child who go on the run after the boy is discovered to have special powers. The film stars Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst.

Phoenix - This World War II thriller, directed by Christian Petzold ("Barbara") drew raves at the Toronto Film Festival. The picture follows the story of a disfigured concentration camp survivor who searches for her husband, who might have betrayed her to the Nazis, across Europe in the years after the war.

Queen of the Desert - Werner Herzog's latest follows the life of traveler, writer, archaeologist, cartographer and explorer Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman).

The Revenant - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's follow up to "Birdman" is a Civil War-era drama is about a frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) who sets out for revenge against the men who left him for dead after a bear mauling.

The Sea of Trees - Matthew McConaughey stars as a suicidal American who befriends a Japanese man near Mount Fuji and the two attempt to find their way out of a labyrinthine forest. Gus Van Sant directs.

Silence - Martin Scorsese has long planned to direct this remake of the 1972 Japanese film of the same name. The story follows two Jesuit priests (Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield) who face persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor.

Straight Outta Compton - F. Gary Gray ("Set It Off") directs this biopic on controversial and groundbreaking hip hop group N.W.A.

That's What I'm Talking About - Although I'm not completely convinced this film will be released in 2015, Richard Linklater's "spiritual" sequel to "Dazed and Confused" is set on a college campus in the early 1980s and follows a series of athletes.

The Tribe - This Ukrainian film caused a sensation at this year's Cannes Film Festival. In the picture, a deaf mute teenager attempts to fit in at a boarding school, where he becomes part of the wild titular organization. The film has hardly any dialogue and mostly features sign language.

Untitled Spielberg Cold War Thriller - Steven Spielberg's new film, which currently has no title, stars Tom Hanks as an American lawyer who attempts to rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

While We're Young - The new film by Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale") follows the story of a middle aged couple (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) whose lives are shaken up when they become involved with a younger couple.

Wild Tales - This Argentinian film was a big hit at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Described by some as Tarantino-esque, it has been submitted as a candidate for this year's Best Foreign Film Oscar. The movie will be released in February.

But That's Not All: Some other highlights of the upcoming year include Swedish surrealist Roy Andersson's Venice Film Festival winner A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting Upon Existence, Spike Lee's horror film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, the Russian epic Hard to Be a God, Michael Mann's cyber thriller Blackhat, Cameron Crowe's tentatively titled Deep Tiki, Xavier Dolan's acclaimed Cannes hit Mommy, Ridley Scott's The Martian, the untitled Woody Allen movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, the sure-to-be-huge Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a slew of horror movies that received raves at Toronto and elsewhere - It Follows, Goodnight Mommy, Cub and Bag Boy Lover Boy.

And, Just Possibly: These films would all certainly make my most anticipated list, but I'm close to positive that none of them will be released until 2016 or later - Terrence Malick's Austin music scene movie, Malick's documentary Voyage of Time, Kathryn Bigelow's The True American, the Coen Brothers' 1950s-era Hollywood comedy Hail, Caesar!, Ang Lee's adaptation of the novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Nicolas Winding Refn's horror movie The Neon Demon, the untitled new film by Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"), Hou Hsiao Hsien's long awaited The Assassin, Alexander Payne's Downsizing and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cemetery of Kings.

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