As the 21st century lunges forward we must be wary of the impending zombie apocalypse. Luckily moviezzzzz offer an escape from this impending disaster. There are around 30 flicks I have my eyes on that could be really great, but these fifteen (plus a few others) are the ones we absolutely must survive the year for. These are just the ones on my radar, and I’m sure there will be plenty that I know little about or haven’t even heard of that will be among the best of the year. I picked these based on the filmmakers working on them, buzz, trailers, synopsis’ and their overall potential.
Others to get excited for: Southpaw, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Tomorrowland, Crimson Peak, Demolition Man, The Neon Demon, Sea of Trees, Ex Machina, Bridge of Spies
15. The Martian– Ridley Scott heading back into Sci-Fi is enough to be massively excited. It’s about a man stranded on Mars, and that’s all I need to know. With the plans to head to Mars in 2024 it will hopefully spark public interest in space exploration, but I’m not counting on it… Scott directed two masterpieces in the Sci-Fi genre (Alien, Blade Runner) and then finally returned to it in 2012 with the immaculately designed yet disappointing Prometheus. His other recent movies haven’t been particularly good either. Cept The Counselor. That’s a hot mess. His last truly good one’s being Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down but neither come close to his first two films legendary status. With great source material, Matt Damon as the lead and a supporting cast of Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean, I think this could be Scott’s best in years. If nothing else it will have incredible production design.
14. Macbeth– Shakespeare, Michael Fassbender, and arguably the greatest actress alive is playing Lady Macbeth.…Marion Cotillard.
13. Silence– It’s a Martin Scorsese picture about two jesuit priests that face persecution when they go to Japan. This is a long awaited passion project for Scorsese so you can expect he’ll bring the goods. Starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver. It may be released in 2016, but I’m hoping it’ll be a Christmas or expanded release.
12. War on Everyone– It’s John Michael McDonagh at it again. After The Guard and last years fantastic existential black comedy Calvary, I have officially put him on my up and coming directors watch list. It’s about two corrupt cops in New Mexico blackmailing criminals until they meet a dangerous man. Sounds like it could be his best yet. Hoping he figures out those tonal issues, but regardless It’ll be one of the years best if he keeps growing as a director.
11. Knight of Cups– Really there’s only one reason needed to be excited: Mr. Terrence Malick, one of the most influential filmmakers of all time after making only two movies in the 1970’s. The reclusive and legendary director still making movies is reason to be happy. Malick has transformed an old tale about a son who goes down to the kingdom to fetch water and he becomes entranced in the lifestyle and loses sight of who he is. Starring Christian Bale as a Hollywood screenwriter it explores the pitfalls of fame. The trailer for this is goose bump inducing. Regardless of whether you like his latter movies or not, you have to be happy that the guy is still making beautiful and personal works. I’m personally a little mixed with his recent stuff. I think The New World is at times excellent, The Tree of Life is one of the decades very best and To the Wonder was a slight miss. Early reviews for this are expectedly mixed, but with Malick it doesn’t matter. He offers personal spiritual experiences and every time you watch one of his films you know that you’re going to see a movie made with passion. Sadly that’s something fairly rare these days.
10. Mad Max: Fury Road- Director George Miller returns to live action filmmaking with his baby. MAD MAX, the apocalyptic future western anti-hero. The Road Warrior stands as one of the greatest action movies ever, and it also boasts the best car chase ever. If only there were more movies like it. With Gibson out of his prime there are few that could ever fill this iconic role. Luckily there is a human being named Tom Hardy who is worthy to be called Mad Max. Let the vehicular cinematic warfare begin!
9. Inside Out/The Good Dinosaur- I’m one of those people that thinks Pixar hasn’t made a great or even really good movie since Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010), and those aren’t even among Pixar’s best. But this year we get two original works and all signs point to a return to glorious form. I LOVE dinosaurs (not as much as my friend KUBAL. Hi Kubal!) and the idea of Pixar making a film about “what if” the asteroid missed earth is exciting. There is no trailer and I haven’t heard much on it either but expect something special. Inside Out seems to be on another level creatively though and they have their best director on the job. It’s about the feelings as characters inside a little girls head. One look at the trailer and I was sold with the inventive animation designs, plot, emotion, and jokes. Pixar’s back baby!
8. Hail Caesar– Any time the Coen’s make a movie you can expect a potential masterpiece. I mean, they did make the greatest movie of all time, The Big Lebowski. Here they leave Inside Llewyn Davis’ melancholic atmosphere and head back to existential bonkers comedy. Starring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Ralph Fiennes, it’s about a 1950’s Hollywood fixer who is trying to manage his stars. One thing I’ve noticed in their work is that they go back and forth between protagonists that question their existence and then back to men that just go with the flow a la The Dude. The Coen’s LOVE odyssey tales and a movie about Hollywood making a sword and sandals movie intertwined with crime has the makings of an odyssey filled existential crisis. I can’t wait.
7. The Revenant- Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu endured the poisonous awards season. Seriously what a terrible thing that entire process is… I liked Birdman quite a bit, though I don’t quite count it among last years top films. His earlier films are depressing but undoubtedly interesting and impressive films that I really enjoy. Particularly 21 Grams, which I still consider his best. The Revenant has the makings of being the culmination of Innaritu’s works. From IMDB “The frontiersman, Hugh Glass, who in the 1820s set out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.” Leonardo Dicaprio stars are Glass and the villain is played by none other than Tom Hardy. Back to Back Oscar winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is shooting this in all natural light. It’s a western revenge film and it has all the ingredients to be legendary.
6. SPECTRE- It’s James Bond. Daniel Craig has cemented himself as the best James Bond ever. Yes, he’s the most dynamic Bond by a big margin. I also think that Casino Royale is greatest Bond film ever made. With Sam Mendes returning to direct and Christoph Waltz as Blofeld (?), Dave Bautista as a henchmen, Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux as Bond Girls, I think this has the potential to be among the franchises best. My only hesitation is that I’ve heard the early draft had issues. Likely those have been cleaned up. The plot involves Bond uncovering secrets about a secret evil organization. Here’s to a return to classic 007!
5. Midnight Special– Jeff Nichols made Take Shelter (2011), a near masterpiece of middle american psychological trauma in the face of an economic dystopia. Seriously, watch it. That film is still among the decades best, and then he made the coming of age tale Mud (2013), which captured the adventure of Huckleberry Finn. That film is among 2013’s elite. Now he heads into the studio system to create a Sci-Fi film in the vein of John Carpenter. It’s about a father and son that go on the road after they find out the son possesses powers. The government is on their tail. Nichols has cited Carpenter’s Starman as an influence. I highly recommend that 80’s underrated sci-fi gem if you haven’t seen it. The fantastic cast includes Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, and the great Sam Shepard. Chuck Yeager yo! I think this will be the best Sci-Fi film of the year probably, BUT there is another I’ll get to soon…
4. Sicario- Denis Villeneuve is another up and coming director that’s heading to A-list status. Incendies, Prisoners, and Enemy are each impressive films. The latter being one of last years best. It’s only a matter of time before he makes a masterpiece. Here Emily Blunt *swooooonnn* plays an FBI agent who joins a CIA operation to take down a drug cartel boss that pushes her ethical and moral boundaries. It also stars Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Villeneuve is becoming a master of creating mood and atmosphere and this is his next step. Then of course he’s making the Blade Runner sequel. I’ve heard rumblings that Sicario is a worthy heir to Michael Mann’s Heat, the greatest cops and robbers film of all time and one I sometimes call my favorite movie EVER. TAKE MY MONEY!!!!!
3. That’s What I’m Talking About- Richard Linklater already has another movie coming out after his magnum opus Boyhood. This is a spiritual sequel to not just my favorite film of his, but one of my top 10 films of all time, Dazed and Confused, an ecosystem of the teenage universe filled with booze, bullies, stoners, unfulfilled promise, youthful optimism, and simply having a good time before it’s all taken away from us. This spiritual sequel chronicles the first weekend at college for a freshman baseball player. It’s set in the early 80’s so it’s essentially a continuation of the Dazed and Confused characters when they go off to college. I can’t wait for that killer 80’s soundtrack and soon to be classic characters blabbering on about life. Not expecting it to be as great as Dazed and Confused because that’s just setting myself up for disappointment, but if it even comes close it could be an all timer.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I love Star Wars and everything about it. *Token prequels suck joke*. The Empire Strikes Back is a top 5 all time movie for me. They’re films that speak to what going to the movies is all about. Larger than life worlds and iconic characters and stories. They’re tales as old as time. The teaser brought me wonder and excitement that I had forgotten about. It made me giddy with excitement like a 5 year old. With all that said, I don’t think JJ Abrams has ever made a great movie and sequels usually get worse. He’s made solid/good flicks in Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, and Super 8, but they all still feel like homages rather than complete visions. The pilot of Lost is still the best thing Abrams has ever done. Hopefully he comes together with a full vision that breathes life into a franchise with potential that is miles high. Though the great thing about Star Wars is that you don’t need a great auteur director for it. You simply need someone who can bring out the best in everybody and execute a great script. I hope this is a return to the legendary status of the originals. Not a sure thing, but for pure excitement level and potential, this is the movie event of the year. However, there is a cinematic master that’s coming out with another film this year. That man is none other than…
Mr. Quentin Tarantino
1. The Hateful Eight- Tarantino chops up celluloid like a serial killer, re-orders it and then serves it to you in a dish best served cold! His hyper stylized revenge flicks are among cinema’s most entertaining movies ever. Pulp Fiction is a top 10 all timer for me. True Romance, and Inglourious Basterds are all time favorites as well. You can go into a Tarantino movie and know without a doubt that you’re going to here iconic dialogue and meet legendary characters. His handling and control of style is like watching a cinematic wizard at work. While Django Unchained was a Spaghetti Western mixed with a European fairy tale I felt like he was trying to out-Tarantino Inglourious Basterds and frankly that’s just impossible to do. Inglourious Basterds is arguably his best film. I’d go as far as calling it a perfect film. Finally, after years of pushing boundaries in his Tarantino-verse he’s doing something I’ve wanted him to do since Kill Bill Vol. 1. He’s taking a single group of characters and forcing them into a room together. He did this in sections in Inglourious Basterds and they were perfect cinema. IMDB’s synopsis says “In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?” The cast includes Samuel L. Jackson (obviously), Bruce Dern, Walton Goggans, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Channing Tatum. 2015 has tons of exciting and promising films coming out, but the one that excites me most is simply about a group of characters stuck talking in a room, and it is directed by a master.