It’s that time of the year again, not only for best-of lists, but for the lists that look forward to what’s coming next. 2014 has been an incredible year for film; the list of 50 films we compiled not long ago is just a sample of what we’ve seen in this calendar year. 2015 certainly has quite a few big films on offer — between Avengers, Star Wars and the new Bond film, Spectre, the blockbuster is well-represented. What else does the year have in store? Quite a lot, really.
Below is my list of ten particularly anticipated films for 2015, augmented by some runners-up and personal curiosities. As always, it’s weird to make this list just as the Sundance lineup is released, because so many of the currently unknown quantities in that program could end up being among the films we’re more eager to see hit theaters later in the year. A lot of what follows is drawn from the crop of bigger movies, though there are some smaller surprises in store, too.
The Runners-Up and Curiosities
This part of the list is going to be weird. It’s not the “real” list, so I’ve given it the freedom to go all over the damn place. Some of the films listed below are more curiosities than my most anticipated, some are things that I hope are good but have reason to doubt, and some are films that are big, but for which we haven’t seen much in the way of story or footage. They’re all films that have my attention for one reason or another.
Jane got a Gun
The behind-the-scenes problems of this film put it under public scrutiny long before it was ready, and if it was still Lynne Ramsay’s movie it would probably rank in my most anticipated lineup with no qualifications. As is, the idea of seeing Natalie Portman in a revisionist Western is too interesting to pass up.
Here’s a choice born from pure hope, and it’s probably a long shot. I hope that this new feature based on Charles Schultz’s incredible comic strip can live up to even some of the spirit of the original strips. The first Charlie Brown Christmas special shows that the translation can be done successfully, and I don’t expect this film to even live up to that standard. But a good Peanuts movie would be a gift. I’d feel more confident if the promo images didn’t all feature Charlie Brown smiling, but we’ll see what happens.
By the Sea
I’m hoping to see Angelina Jolie truly blossom as a director, and I’m wondering if this smaller film, in which she stars with husband Brad Pitt, might be the one to do it.
One more big curiosity — some of the tone of the first Chappie trailer was really terrible, but I’m also told that was a bit of a marketing ploy. I’d like to see Neill Blomkamp deliver, and this film seems like an oddly personal effort that just happens to come from a studio.
The latest Bond film sees the return not only of director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig, but of Spectre, the fictional organization that has been off-limits to Bond films for years thanks to an old split between producers. The production is clearly glad to have Spectre back in-house, and with Christoph Waltz on hand as the bad guy (he just has to be Blofeld, right?) this one could be good.
Alex Garland moves into the director’s chair for a sci-fi thriller starring Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander. Isaac has become someone I’ll watch in anything, and Garland has been an integral part of enough other projects we like that I’m curious to see what he has to offer as a director.
Pixar’s next film looks like one of the studio’s more unusual ideas, as it follows the anthropomorphized emotions that drive a young girl as she grows from childhood into adolescence.
Guillermo del Toro gets to make the big haunted house movie he’s always wanted to do. Since he has already made an excellent small haunted house movie (The Devil’s Backbone) we know he can pull this off. But I’m eager to see what he does with a big budget, a great cast, and the influence of classic old films such as The Haunting.
Passion projects are always dangerous prospects; there are many that, after years of gestation, emerge over-cooked and unsatisfying. But this is Martin Scorsese, and I’m guessing that his adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s 1980 novel about Jesuit missionaries in 17th Century Japan will avoid the pitfalls of the passion project.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
That teaser trailer was terrific, and the cast is excellent. Those two line items might be enough for many people, but this is also the follow-up to Revenge of the Sith from the director of Star Trek Into Darkness. I’ve been burned by Star Wars films too many times to just go on faith that this one will work. If it does, I’ll be ecstatic.
The real list starts on the next page. And now that you know that Star Wars isn’t there, what does make the cut?