Russ Fischer’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

10. Ned Rifle
dir. Hal Hartley, stars Liam Aiken, Aubrey Plaza, Parker Posey, James Urbaniak, Thomas Jay Ryan

The work of Hal Hartley is what pulled me into the independent film scene in the first place; chance encounters with his films Trust and The Unbelievable Truth were early wake-up calls that told me a lot more was going on in movies than I’d previously realized. Here, the writer/director returns to the characters of one of his best films, Henry Fool, for an unlikely third chapter in a trilogy. (The middle chapter is Fay Grim, which is, well, not as good.) Word out of festivals was good for Ned Rifle, and I would be thrilled to have a new Hartley movie to rally around.

Macbeth

09. Macbeth
dir. Justin Kurzel, stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, David Thewlis, Jack Reynor

Based on the material alone this wouldn’t place on my list — not only have we seen Macbeth on film many times, we’ve seen it done badly on film all-too often. But with this cast, I’m in. I would watch Fassbender, Cotillard and Thewlis act in anything, but drop them into a piece of work that is as savage and intense as this, and they may have a chance to do something special.

THE SEA OF TREES
08. Sea of Trees
dir. Gus Van Sant, stars Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe

If you finished off True Detective wanting more of McConaughey’s Rustin Cohle, this could be in the ballpark. Here the actor plays a man who walks into Mount Fuji’s “suicidal forest” with the intent killing himself, only to be interrupted by another man who had the same plan, played by Ken Watanabe. From there, “the two begin a journey of reflection and survival,” and given McConaughey’s recent impeccable track record in choosing material, that’s all I need to know.

Ultron: "there are no strings on me"

07. Avengers: Age of Ultron
dir. Joss Whedon, stars Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, James Spader

You’ve probably heard of this one. Marvel has built something impressive with it’s paradigm-shifting connected universe, and while I hate some of the influence it has had on other studios, that’s not Marvel’s fault. Age of Ultron looks like the sort of all-out comic book movie that can only be purchased with great success, and Marvel appears to be moving forward with great confidence. It also offers the chance to see (or hear) James Spader perform as a killer robot, and that’s enough for me.

Emily Blunt

06. Sicario
dir. Denis Villeneuve, stars Emily Blunt, Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro

Yeah, that image is from Edge of Tomorrow, but we’ve got no officially-released assets for Sicario yet. But the idea is there: this is a film in which Emily Blunt gets center stage. She’s a cop who travels from Arizona to Mexico, with a couple mercenaries in tow, to track down a drug lord. Director Denis Villeneuve didn’t quite hit with Prisoners, but his film Enemy was one of the better, and weirder releases of this year. And for Sicario he’s working again with cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose work was among the best aspects of Prisoners.

 

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