After highlighting 40 films from 2014 we loved, it’s time to enter the unknown. While a multitude of 2015 previews simply regurgitate a list of dated releases, we’ve set out to focus on 100 films we’re genuinely looking forward to, regardless of their marketing budgets. While some might not have a release date, let alone any confirmed festival premiere, most have wrapped production and will likely debut at some point in 2015, so make sure to check back for updates over the next twelve months and beyond.
It should be noted that there are a number of films we’re greatly looking forward to but whose completion we weren’t confident about, including the next features from Andrea Arnold, Abbas Kiarostami, Jia Zhangke, Michael Haneke, Nicolas Winding Refn, Andrew Dominik, James Gray, Todd Solondz, and Lucrecia Martel. Lastly, word has it that Orson Welles‘ unseen final film The Other Side of the Wind might finally debut this year, and in that case it should certainly be at the top of this list — but, unfortunately, we don’t have enough details yet. Regardless, be sure to keep the below one-hundred films on your radar (with release dates, where applicable), and if you want to see how we did with our picks last year, head on over here.
100. Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro; Oct. 16th)
After the disappointment that was Pacific Rim, our expectations are in check for Guillermo del Toro‘s follow-up, Crimson Peak, but there are a number of factors that have us interested. Along with featuring a return to the dark arena (both thematically and literally) he knows quite well, it’s difficult to ignore the top-notch cast of Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Mia Wasikowska. Hopefully the ideal Halloween treat, the gothic horror story will follow an author who finds out her husband has some secrets — all set in a haunted house. – Jordan R.
99. Bleed For This (Ben Younger)
If 2014 proved anything, it was that Miles Teller was game for a leading-man role with some substance, not courtesy of That Awkward Moment or Two Night Stand, but Whiplash. He’ll land some major eyeballs with The Fantastic Four, but there’s a few dramas we’re anticipating much more. One is Bleed For This, which comes from Boiler Room director Ben Younger and follows the life of boxer Vinny Panzienza. He quickly shot to stardom when he dominated undefeated champion Gilbert Dele, but a near-fatal automobile accident left him with the news that he would never walk again. Aaron Eckhart plays trainer Kevin Rooner who helped him get back into the ring. With Martin Scorsese, the man who gave us Raging Bull, helping out as a producer, hopes are high for this one. – Jordan R.
98. Life (Anton Corbijn)
After premiering his latest drama, A Most Wanted Man, at Sundance last year, we thought director Anton Corbijn might return to Park City, but barring any last-minute announcements that looks to not be the case. Hopefully coming later this year, as scripted by Luke Davies, Life centers on the relationship between James Dean (Dane DeHaan) and Life Magazine‘s Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson), the latter of whom had been tasked with capturing the up-and-coming actor less than a year before his rise to stardom and tragic death. – Jordan R.
97. By Way of Helena (Kieran Darcy-Smith)
After directing the Joel Edgerton-led Wish You Were Here, Australia’s Kieran Darcy-Smith will return this year with what’s hopefully his true break-out feature. The western-tinged drama By Way of Helena teams Woody Harrelson with Liam Hemsworth, Alice Braga, William Hurt, Emory Cohen and more as we follow a Texas Ranger who seeks answers after a string of deaths. If Harrelson is in any way, shape, or form channeling his True Detective mode, this should be a sleeper hit. – Jordan R.
96. Our Kind of Traitor (Susanna White)
After the recent A Most Wanted Man and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the world of John le Carré will once again be hitting screens this year with Our Kind of Traitor. Helmed by Susanna White (who cut her teeth in the world of TV), the drama stars Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, and Stellan Skarsgård, and we’d expect it to pop on the fall festival circuit. The story follows “a couple who find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect but are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.” – Jordan R.
95. Mojave (William Monahan)
Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Monahan showed promise with his directorial debut, London Boulevard. His gangster pic was rough around the edges, but it had no shortage of style and fun performances. The writer has potential behind the camera, and he’s taking his second shot with Mojave, a great script written by Monahan himself. It’s a game of cat and mouse between two equally dangerous men, played by Oscar Isaac and Garret Hedlund. If the final result is half as interesting or exciting as Monahan’s script, then we’re in for a real treat. – Jack G.
94. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie; July 31st)
The last film in this franchise was probably the best of all of them. Directed by Brad Bird and buoyed by the still-burning charisma of Tom Cruise, Ghost Protocol showed that even in it’s fourth installment a movie series could keep surprising us with its quality. With Christopher McQuarrie (who previously directed Cruise in Jack Reacher) taking the directing duties and with Cruise being joined once more by the reluctant junior IMF agent played by Jeremy Renner, there is just as much to look forward to this time. McQuarrie may not be as well known as Bird, but with more to prove he might just bring more to the table as well. – Brian R.
93. Equals (Drake Doremus)
After a few small-scale dramas, Drake Doremus wrapped production last fall on his biggest undertaking yet, the sci-fi romantic drama Equals, which comes from a script by Moon‘s Nathan Parker. Led by Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, the Apparat-scored film finds them in a society where emotions are absent, but a “disease” will bring them back. Still seeking distribution, hopefully it’ll arrive soon. – Jordan R.
92. A Tale of Love and Darkness (Natalie Portman)
Natalie Portman is taking an ambitious leap with her upcoming feature film debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness. The content of the film, based on the Amos Oz memoir, would pose challenges for even the most vetted directors. Described as, “the story of a boy who grows up in war-torn Jerusalem, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many,” Portman has also taken on duties as the film’s screenwriter and star. Her decision to direct this film echoes another politically charged debut by an actress-turned-director, Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, and we’ll hopefully see it on the festival circuit this fall. – Zade C.
91. Regression (Alejandro Amenábar; Aug. 28th)
Although he dabbled in Hollywood with the 2001 horror drama The Others, Alejandro Amenábar has spent much of his time crafting acclaimed features in his native land of Spain, including Open Your Eyes, The Sea Inside, and, most recently, Agora. He’s now back in English-language territory for his next work, the thriller Regression. Led by Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson, the film is set in 1990 in Minnesota and follows a detective investigating a girl that has accused her father of an unspeakable crime. The father doesn’t remember what happened, but when a renowned psychologist joins the case, the conspiracy is unraveled. Also starring David Thewlis, David Dencik, Lothaire Bluteau, and Devon Bostick, it’ll land later this summer. – Jordan R.
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