Well, time to usher in 2015. It certainly looks to be another good year of movies with plenty of great actors and directors gearing up with compelling new projects. And, if you’re a franchise lover, this year ought to be nirvana.
So, here’s a year-beginning top 10 list. Normally, these do not even come close to lining up with my year end list. In both 2013 and 2014, only two films from the list were in my final top 10.
It is entirely likely that one or more of these films will not be finished in time for release in 2015 – I mainly worry about “Silence,” which has yet to begin production and will likely be a massive endeavor – so I’ll offer up a few honorable mentions and some 2014 festival holdovers that have yet to be released.
2014 HOLDOVERS: I’m not quite sure what year to file “Maps to the Stars” under given that Julianne Moore was nominated for a Golden Globe this year, but I’ll certainly be glad to see it on VOD (February 27). “While We’re Young” (March 27) looks like an incredibly promising follow-up to “Frances Ha” for Noah Baumbach.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Just outside the list is Derek Cianfrance’s “The Light Between Oceans” (TBD), which teams the director of “Blue Valentine” and “The Place Beyond the Pines” with perhaps the most exciting working actor, Michael Fassbender. The McConaissance looks to continue in “Sea of Trees” (TBD), a collaboration with Gus Van Sant.
I am sure in a year with two Pixar movies, “Inside Out” (June 19) and “The Good Dinosaur” (November 25), one of them will be decent. And ok, fine, I guess I’ll get somewhat excited for “Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens” (December 18).
“That’s What I’m Talking About” (TBD)
Written and directed by Richard Linklater
Despite all the adoration being heaped upon Richard Linklater after “Boyhood,” the director churns out a “Me & Orson Welles” about as often as he churns out a “Before Midnight.” I remain cautiously optimistic about his next film, a spiritual cousin to “Dazed and Confused,” which is set in a Texas college in the 1980s and somehow involves a baseball team. I’m not the biggest fan of “Dazed,” but I’ll definitely be awaiting this one.
“Knight of Cups” (TBD)
Written and directed by Terrence Malick
Starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman
How can any film lover not eagerly anticipate whatever Terrence Malick has cooked up next? The trailer for “Knight of Cups” was certainly … interesting. This could be a profound meditation on fame or a Sofia Coppola film made on quaaludes. Either way, I’m excited to see him work with Oscar winners like Bale, Blanchett, and Portman. (No offense, Olga Kurylenko.)
“The Intern” (September 25)
Written and directed by Nancy Meyers
Starring Anne Hathaway, Robert DeNiro, and Rene Russo
Make fun of me all you want, but I absolutely adore all of Nancy Meyers’ movies. My family stops to watch “Father of the Bride” and “The Parent Trap” each time they are on TV, and I thought “It’s Complicated” was a laugh riot. That was six years ago, so it’s time for her to make a new movie. The concept of an adult intern seems a little beneath her (not to mention kind of taken by “The Internship“), but I have faith that she’ll provide a potent blend of humor and heart like always.
“Sisters” (December 18)
Directed by Jason Moore
Written by Paula Pell
Starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph
TINA FEY AND AMY POEHLER IN A MOVIE TOGETHER AGAIN. This is not a drill, people! Sure, they’ve hosted the Golden Globes and both cameoed in “Anchorman 2.” But this is them co-starring in a movie together. I’m just going to have to watch “Baby Mama” ten times this year to mentally prepare myself.
“The Revenant” (December 25)
Written and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Domhnall Gleeson
I did not drink the “Birdman” Kool-Aid quite as much as others, but there is no denying that Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu is making bold, risky cinema. His next film, shot this fall, brings together Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. That pairing just needed to happen, first of all. Iñárritu also requested additional funding so he could shoot the film in sequence, a somewhat odd insistence that has me wondering why it was necessary. Perhaps to procure that first Oscar for DiCaprio?
Directed by Justin Kurzel
Written by Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, and Todd Louiso
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and David Thewlis
I am not necessarily a big Shakespeare dork, but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are two of the meatiest characters in all of fiction. Watching Fassbender and Cotillard inhabit them should be nothing short of thrilling. (They are also directed by Justin Kurzel, whose last feature, “The Snowtown Murders,” needs to be placed at the top of your Netflix queue immediately.)
“Midnight Special” (November 25)
Written and directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver
A big-budget studio sci-fi film directed by the guy who gave us 2013’s indie smash “Mud.” Hmmm. I think this could establish Jeff Nichols as the next Christopher Nolan or Steven Spielberg if all goes well.
“Untitled Woody Allen Project” (TBD)
Written and directed by Woody Allen
Starring Emma Stone, Joaquin Phoenix, and Parker Posey
A new Woody Allen film is always reason to rejoice. But this year’s installment features an odd yet intriguing pairing: Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone, Allen’s new female muse. There is some kind of teacher-student relationship at the heart of the film, which does sound a little clichéd. Still, to watch those two act opposite each other ought to be a show.
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Jay Cocks
Starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver
For decades, Scorsese’s work has dealt both directly and indirectly with his Catholic heritage. With his passion project, “Silence,” religion takes center stage with a story about Jesuit priests in Japan. Shockingly, Scorsese had to come beg for funds at Cannes for the film; you would think by this point, he could just get a check to make whatever he wants. It has still yet to shoot, so hopefully the final project is not so rushed that it turns out as sloppily self-indulgent as “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
“Joy” (December 25)
Directed by David O. Russell
Written by Annie Mumolo
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro
At this point, David O. Russell could direct Jennifer Lawrence reading a calculus textbook, and I would still buy a ticket. (And it would probably get her an Oscar nomination.) I’m not quite sure what they see in the story of the inventor of the Miracle Mop, but I am excited to see how they simultaneously find laughter and drama in it.
What movies are YOU excited to see in 2015? Any of these?! If you’re just dying to see “Avengers 2,” I guess we can still be friends…