Sometimes, you’d be led to believe that all Hollywood has to offer is reboots, remakes, rehashes, and reanimated corpses you hoped had been banished deep into the dark and dingy crypts of movie history. But, as we welcome in the New Year with awards season just around the corner, and we witness Birdman, Boyhood, and Whiplash baiting the Academy sharks for one of those famous, golden statuettes, we are reminded that mainstream cinema isn’t completely bereft of originality and creativity. 2015 isn’t all about Jurassic World, the Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the rest of Marvel’s burgeoning universe – there are plenty of other exciting new movies just waiting for us to sink our teeth into…
Inside Out // (dir. Pete Doctor and Ronaldo del Carmen)
© Courtesy of Pixar
Pixar’s 15th feature takes a new and welcome direction with an original idea from director, Pete Doctor. Inside Out focuses on five different emotions – Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust – conflicting and interacting together inside a young girl’s mind after her family are uprooted to a new town. With a whole host of familiar names from the current US comedy zeitgeist lending their vocal chords (Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader), it seems that Inside Out may reignite the old Pixar flame that its recent drab and mediocre sequels threatened to extinguish. Out July 2015.
The Hateful Eight // (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
© Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
It appears that, even after Django Unchained, Tarantino hasn’t given us all he has to offer on the western front. In post-Civil War Wyoming, a worsening storm forces a bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to take refuge in a small-town stagecoach stopover, where they happen upon a bunch of colourful characters (Samuel L Jackson, Walton Goggins, Channing Tatum). Expect The Hateful Eight to be a typically Tarantino affair: a subversive, pop-cultural tale that simultaneously satirises and pays homage to a well-loved genre. Hitting the big screen in December 2015.
Joy // (dir. David O Russell)
© Courtesy of The Film Stage
Joy will mark O Russell’s 3rd collaboration with power trio, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert de Niro. With their two previous collaborations netting eighteen Oscar nominations, including one Best Actress win for Lawrence, O Russell seems to be successfully living by the famous mantra, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Joy is based on the real life story of single mother, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), an inventor and entrepreneur renowned for creating the Miracle Mop. Now, I realise the premise isn’t initially gripping. But working with a script from Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo, Jennifer Lawrence will undoubtedly knock out a powerhouse performance bringing her unique blend of sensitivity and comedy to the table, thus further solidifying her status as an international treasure. With an end of year release, it’s likely that O Russell will tuck at least a couple more Oscar nominations under his belt.
Macbeth // (dir. Justin Kurzel)
© Courtesy of StudioCanal
Shakespeare’s 17th Century play has been a staple in the school curriculum (English GCSE anyone?!) for many years, but 2015 is the year the Scottish tragedy gets a stellar cast and big budget re-telling from Snowtown director, Justin Kurzel. After three witches foretell he will become the King of Scotland, Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), intoxicated by power and ambition, resorts to murder and deceit in order to fulfil the prophecy. However, he and his wife (Marion Cotillard) find it impossible to cope with their debilitating guilt. With the Academy’s penchant for classic, historical tales, and major movie moguls the Weinstein Company on board, Macbeth is quintessential Oscar fodder. No word on the release date yet, but with the aforementioned in mind, expect it late 2015 for next years awards run.
The Revenant // (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
© Courtesy of Indiewire
With Birdman taking the current awards season by storm, Iñárritu shows no signs of applying the brakes with his follow up film already pipped for a Christmas Day release. From the book of the same name, The Revenant is loosely based on the true story of fur-trapper and frontiersman, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who seeks vengeance upon his “friends” after they rob and leave him for dead following a severe bear attack. This western-set revenge flick has a solid supporting cast (Domhall Gleeson, Tom Hardy and Will Poulter) and an even stronger lead – could this be the film that finally secures DiCaprio that elusive golden statue?
Silence // (dir. Martin Scorsese)
© Courtesy of Swide
After the success of Wolf of Wall Street, a tale of unbridled egotism and hedonism, Scorsese takes a different tack in his latest venture. Silence follows two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson) who face persecution whilst attempting to spread Christianity across 17th Century Japan. Based upon Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 book of the same name, Silence has become somewhat of a pet project for Scorsese. After plans for the adaptation’s release in 2009 never came to fruition, Scorsese has been playing the waiting game. So it poses the questions: Will it be worth the wait? And, has Liam Neeson forgotten how to use his acting chops after spending far too many years being ‘Taken’ and ‘Unknown’? One can only hope.
Suffragette // (dir. Sarah Gavron)
© Courtesy of Ruby Films
Based upon possibly the most influential and important campaign in female history, Suffragette centres around the footsoldiers of the early-feminist and women’s rights movement, rallying and fighting for equality. Abi Morgan, whose credentials speak for themselves (Shame, The Iron Lady), is on script writing duties, whilst the all-star cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Carey Mulligan, and Ben Whishaw. However, the masterstroke comes from the casting of living legend, Meryl Streep, as the movement’s hugely influential militant leader, Emmeline Pankhurst. Is it time Streep cleared a space on the mantle for Best Actress Oscar number four?
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief // (dir. Alex Gibney)
© Courtesy of the Sundance Institute
With producers HBO lawyering up (they reportedly had 160 at the last count) in preparation for the backlash, we should expect Gibney’s upcoming documentary to be a no holds barred exposé of the infamous and highly secretive religion and its impact on Hollywood. Going Clear is based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name, and will feature new revelations about the church and its celebrity followers. With rumoured interviews from well-known defectors (Paul Haggis, Lisa Marie Presley) and affiliates of the church, it is bound to be this year’s most controversial documentary. Going Clear premièred at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, and will be shown on HBO later in 2015.
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens // (dir. J.J. Abrams)
© Courtesy of Lucas Film Ltd.
In a galaxy not too far away, new padawans join old jedis in J.J. Abrams hugely anticipated 7th installment of the Star Wars franchise. Shrouded in a veil of secrecy, very little is known about the script and story of The Force Awakens, beyond its setting approximately thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi. With the release of the teaser trailer last November, the eighty-eight second clip simultaneously whet the appetite of Star Wars fanatics, and posed innumerable questions for the super-fan conspiracists: Why does the new lightsaber makeover resemble a sword? Why does the new R2-D2-esque droid look like a snowman built out of footballs? Whatever the answers, the project is in safe hands with Abrams, who will hopefully give the franchise a much-needed facelift after the abysmal, farcical prequels and bring us the Star Wars movie we’ve all been waiting for.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the myriad of great (and not-so-great) films hitting the big screens this year.