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.
90. Child 44 (Daniel Espinosa; April 17th)
After directing the fairly fun, but forgettable Safe House for his English-language debut, Daniel Espinosa is getting into more serious, promising territory with the World War II drama Child 44. Starring Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Noomi Rapace, the adaptation of the Tom Rob Smith novel (from The Wire writer Richard Price), Child 44 features Tom Hardy portraying Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a Soviet police officer investigating a child killer run amok in the last days of Stalin‘s reign. Also starring Joel Kinnaman, itll arrive this spring. – Jack C.
89. Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur (June 19th and Nov. 15th)
First of all, I love dinosaurs. Second of all, two Pixar films in one year. Third of all, these two Pixar films are brand-new, not based off of any previously made effort. Why would I need to write more? OK, well one of them involves the personifications of a little girl’s emotions in a wild adventure as she transitions from childhood into young adulthood, which is fertile ground for the kind of tear-inducing Pixar magic we all know and love. The other involves a dinosaur befriending a little boy, which means that I and millions of my similarly aspirational former dino-crazed kids will finally be able to see our childhood dreams made full on the big screen. – Brian R.
88. In The Heart of the Sea (Ron Howard; Dec. 11th)
The tragedy of the whaling ship Essex was a staple of American folklore and the event that inspired the literary classic Moby Dick. As time has gone on this harrowing tale of a whaling ship from Nantucket which was stove by a sperm whale in the Pacific and the lengths the men had to go to in order to survive has slipped from the collective memory. Now, though, it seems that a stellar cast and sometimes-great director Ron Howard are set to bring it back. The trailer was amazing, with spellbinding and horrifying scenes of danger and action on the high seas, and the later part of the movie when the men slip into survival mode post-sinking should be harrowing. This is assuming they stick to the real story, which I presume they will. If they do, be prepared for one of the most thrilling and haunting films this year. – Brian R.
87. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson)
As is usually the welcome case with films by Guy Maddin, we’re not quite sure what to expect from his latest, The Forbidden Room, which premieres shortly at Sundance and stars Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Rampling, and Udo Kier. As described by the festival, “One might never guess what’s in store from Canadian auteur’s Guy Maddin’s ode to the lost movies of the silent era, honoring classic cinema while electrocuting it with energy. Bursting with playful cacophony, Maddin’s opus takes us high into the air, under the sea, around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia, captivity, deception, and murder.” – Jordan R.
86. My Mother (Nanni Moretti)
Following 2011’s acclaimed We Have a Pope, Italy’s Nanni Moretti will be returning with a new drama this year on the festival circuit, My Mother. Led by John Turturro and Margherita Buy, it’s a somewhat meta-tale following a director who is going through both a personal and a professional criss in his life. A Palme d’Or winner for The Son’s Room, we imagine he’ll be invited back to Cannes this May. – Jordan R.
85. Demolition (Jean-Marc Vallée)
Jake Gyllenhaal had a stellar year thanks to Enemy and Nightcrawler, and we’re hoping the trend will continue this year. While we’ll touch on a few more of his films later in this feature, he’ll be leading the next drama from Wild helmer Jean-Marc Vallée. Demolition follows “an investment banker struggling to understand his emotional disconnect after the tragic death of his wife begins to tear apart his life in a effort to see where he went wrong and is ultimately rescued by a woman he meets in a chance encounter.” Also starring Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper, hopefully this is another step up for the director. – Jordan R.
84. Truth (James Vanderbilt)
After writing Zodiac and some Sony tentpoles that are best left unnamed, James Vanderbilt recently embarked on his directorial debut. Truth will follow Robert Redford as CBS anchor Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as producer Mary Mapes in the adaptation of the true 60 Minutes II scandal surrounding the Killian documents. Adapted from Mapes’ 2005 memoir, it will track their flimsy story that George W. Bush got the upper hand from his father to avoid the draft. With compelling source material, we imagine it’ll show up in the fall. – Jordan R.
83. The Little Prince (Mark Osborne)
Last year was a great year for animation both on the studio side (The Lego Movie, The Boxtrolls) and on the foreign circuit (The Tale of Princess Kaguya), and this year is looking promising. Near the top of our radar is The Little Prince, a new animated feature that comes from Mark Osborne, the director behind Kung Fu Panda. Based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s famous 1943 novel and adapted by The Boxtrolls‘ Irena Brignull, the story follows a pilot who lands in the desert, but that’s seemingly only one aspect of the story. Featuring a voice cast of Rachel McAdams, Mackenzie Foy, James Franco, Jeff Bridges, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, and Paul Giamatti, hopefully the full film lives up to the enticing trailer. – Jordan R.
82. Men & Chicken (Anders Thomas Jensen)
After scripting In a Better World, The Salvation, and more, Anders Thomas Jensen recently embarked on his latest directorial effort, a black comedy titled Men & Chicken. The involvement of Mads Mikkelsen is reason enough for our anticipation, but the plot is equally intriguing: “two outcast brothers, who by getting to know their unknown family also discover a horrible truth about themselves and their relatives.” – Jordan R.
81. Aloha (Cameron Crowe; May 29th)
Cameron Crowe‘s untitled film was initially scheduled to warm all our hearts this past Christmas, but, unfortunately, Sony pushed the film back to this summer. It was a busy holiday season, so perhaps his latest has a greater chance of finding an audience come summer time. The writer-director assembled a helluva cast for this Hawaii set project: Bradley Cooper, Bill Murray, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin, and more. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be excited for another Cameron Crowe film. Few filmmakers today make movies as warm, honest and funny as the guy behind Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, and Jerry Maguire. – Jack G.
80. Desierto (Jonas Cuaron)
Continuing a relationship that began with 2001’s Y Tu Mamá También, Gael García Bernal and Alfonso Cuarón are expected to collaborate once more in Desierto, a Spanish-language drama helmed by Jonás Cuarón, son of the Gravity director. The noted connections don’t stop with familial ties: after co-writing his father’s upcoming film, the elder will return a favor, having agreed to produce alongside Lucas Akoskin and Alex Garcia. Cuarón‘s second feature — following 2007’s Year of the Nail — as penned alongside Mateo Garcia, follows a pair of illegal immigrants whose attempts to cross the U.S.-Mexico border are impeded by “a drunk American citizen who has taken border patrol into his own hands.” A bond forms, naturally, all of which is much easier when one of them happens to be played by the ever-charismatic Bernal. – Nick N.
79. Everest (Baltasar Kormákur; Sept. 18th)
After having a fair amount of fun with films like 2 Guns and Contraband, Baltasar Kormákur will take a more serious, Mark Wahlberg-less route for his next film, Everest. Based on Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer‘s true account, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke and John Hawkes take on the journey to conquer the world’s highest mountain. With a script is by Mark Medoff (Children of a Lesser God) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), this will hopefully kick off the fall season the proper way. – Jordan R.
78. The Last Face (Sean Penn)
This may not be the most popular opinion, but, in my book, Sean Penn is a better director than he is an actor. His work on The Pledge bests any performance of his ever nominated for an Oscar; it’s an incredible film containing one of Jack Nicholson‘s most powerful performances. The last time the actor was behind the camera was over 7 years ago with Into the Wild and Penn returns with The Last Face, a drama about the AIDS crisis in Africa, starring Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Jean Reno, and Jared Harris. – Jack G.
77. Selfless (Tarsem; July 10th)
A consistently underrated expert of the visual medium, Tarsem might not always have the material to back up his story, but The Fall, Immortals, and, yes, even Mirror Mirror showed he can defy expectations. His latest film teams him with Ryan Reynolds (who with The Voices has shown he’s looking for something a bit different) in the sci-fi story of an a wealthy dying man who transfers his consciousness to a younger, fit man through a medical procedure and complications ensue. Set for the middle of summer, we’re hoping it can be this year’s Lucy, and we mean that in the best way possible. – Jordan R.
76. Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs; July 1st)
If we shouldn’t expect the same experience offered by Soderbergh’s original — Channing Tatum’s promised something a little more outlandish (read: skin-revealing) — another turn with Florida’s most affable set of male strippers is far preferable to whatever gets pushed out by studios during the same summer season. Give it even half the brain of the first go-round while playing things louder — with a retention of the original helmer’s cinematography and editing — and we should be in good shape. – Nick N.
75. Suffragette (Sarah Gavron; Oct. 23rd)
This year will certainly see the debut of Suffragette, a new drama directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane). Led by Carey Mulligan playing a foot soldier of the early feminist movement who quickly turns to violence to solve the issue, she stars alongside Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Romola Garai, Samuel West, and Meryl Streep. Scripted by Abi Morgan (reteaming with Streep after The Iron Lady and Mulligan after Shame), hopefully it’s a rights film with something genuine to say. – Jordan R.
74. Southpaw (Antoine Fuqua; July 31st)
Director Antoine Fuqua‘s career has had its ups and downs, but with Southpaw, he’s hot off the success of The Equalizer. That action film has its share of problems, but Fuqua’s controlled, surprisingly brutal direction was not one of them. His violence often packs an unexpected punch, and we should expect a similar response with his boxing pic, which stars the ripped and immensely versatile Jake Gyllenhaal. Seeing a Fuqua movie without a gun sure will be refreshing. – Jack G.
73. Slow West (John Maclean; May 15th)
With at least five (maybe six, if Terrence Malick gets his act together) films arriving for Michael Fassbender this year, the first out of the gate will be at Sundance this year with Slow West. From up-and-coming director John Maclean, the nineteenth century-set drama follows a “16-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas (Fassbender), a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw along the way.” With a cast also including Ben Mendelsohn, here’s hoping Fassbender kicks off 2015 in a major way. – Jordan R.
72. The Walk (Robert Zemeckis; Oct. 2nd)
Robert Zemeckis’ Flight took off in a way that must have been surprising to Paramount Pictures when it made $161 million off of a $30 million budget. While I was not enthralled by the dramatics of the film, I found the crash sequence to be a wonderfully directed set piece that showcased many of the wonderful special effects that Zemeckis had honed during his time away from live-action filmmaking. Man on Wire is one of my favorite documentaries of all time (as reflected by its perfect Rotten Tomatoes score) so I wasn’t enthralled by the idea of remaking an already masterful film. Then I saw the trailer for The Walk and I understood the appeal of the remake immediately. When I experienced terrifying vertigo, just from the trailer alone, I knew immediately that Zemeckis was the perfect choice to retell the story of high-wire artist Philippe Petit in glorious, stomach-churning 3D. – Dan G.
71. Run All Night (Jaume Collett-Serra; April 17th)
What do you mean, “Just another Liam Neeson action vehicle”? What about Non-Stop, though? Jaume Collet-Serra’s predilection for gussying-up standard genre fare vis-a-vis consistent, elastic formalism is always welcome around here, and Run All Night’s first preview points toward more of the fare that separates the prime cuts from the Takens. – Nick N.
70. Legend (Brian Helgeland)
Brian Helgeland found himself out of directors jail thanks to 42. While the Jackie Robinson biopic isn’t his finest work, it’s good to see the screenwriter behind L.A. Confidential following up that film so soon. His classic James Ellroy adaptation isn’t his only achievement; he also directed the terrifically fun Payback (in a director’s cut form) and the very, very charming medieval romantic rock comedyA Knight’s Tale. Helgeland returns to the crime genre with Legend, a movie about the notorious Kray twins (Tom Hardy). Tom Hardy in dual roles as gangsters is another reason to raise your expectations for this one. – Jack G.
69. Three Memories of Childhood (Arnaud Desplechin)
It was revealed last year that Arnaud Desplechin‘s Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian follow-up will be Three Memories of Childhood, which is led by collaborator Mathieu Amalric. Described as “a portrait of a man as he looks back over three periods in his childhood and adolescence that shaped his life,” we wouldn’t be surprised if the duo return to Cannes. – Jordan R.
68. James White (Josh Mond)
After working together to create some of the most gripping character studies of the last few years with Afterschool, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Simon Killer, the Borderline Film guys return at this year’s Sundance with James White. Led by Christopher Abbott, the wildly promising drama follows “a young New Yorker who struggles to take control of his reckless, self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges.” – Jordan R.
67. War on Everyone (John Michael McDonagh)
Following the acclaimed Calvary, John Michael McDonagh will likely return this year with War on Everyone, starring Guy Pearce, Garret Hedlund and Michael Peña. With the latter two playing southern cops whose scheme of blackmailing criminals goes awry when a tough-headed British sort gets in their way, it’s said to be a — you guessed it — dark comedy. If the last two sentences weren’t enough to get you on board, we can’t imagine what else will. – Jordan R.
66. Galveston (Janus Metz Pedersen)
This film is based on a book written by Nic Pizzolatto, the writer behind True Detective, and adapted for the screen by the same. Galveston deserves to be perched on any most-anticipated list for those reasons alone. It only gets better when you learn that the story is about a New Orleans hitman who is betrayed and goes on the run to Galveston, Texas — a town just as old and storied as New Orleans in its own way — to plot his revenge. Throw in a starring role filled by Rust and Bone’s Matthias Schoenaerts, and you have a recipe for what could be one of the darkest, most riveting thrillers to come to the big screen in a long time. – Brian R.
65. Sierra Nevada (Cristi Puiu)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu director Cristi Puiu is currently in production on his next film, Sierra Nevada. The story follows a prestigious neurologist who returns from a work trip to Paris to attend a dinner party in Bucharest, in which they discuss 9/11 and whether or not it was an inside job. Being one of Romania’s finest directors, we’re looking forward to the results, which should perhaps prove to be controversial. – Jordan R.
64. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller; May 15th)
The first Mad Max movie in 30 years will feature a familiar face in writer/director George Miller, and a fresh star in Tom Hardy, who inherited the iconic role from Mel Gibson. The return to Miller’s post-apocalyptic universe will find our reluctant, taciturn hero (Hardy) battling desert marauders with a convoy of survivors (played by an ensemble that includes Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). And unlike previous installments, the action will start from the beginning and continue throughout the entire film. That’s around 110 minutes of non-stop explosions, stylized car crashes, and other high-speed craziness – in other words, hopefully the perfect summer blockbuster. – Amanda W.
63. Z for Zachariah (Craig Zobel)
Z for Zachariah marks Craig Zobel‘s newest feature film, following Compliance, an almost unbearably intense film that milked a single fast food location for maximum horror. The director gets great performances, and we should expect a similar result with his next directorial effort, considering this Robert C. O’Brien adaptation stars Chris Pine, Margot Robbie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in this post-apocalyptic love triangle. – Jack G.
62. The Treasure (Corneliu Porumboiu)
His latest film, When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism, just got a limited release here in the United States, but Romania’s Corneliu Porumboiu has already wrapped his follow-up, The Treasure. Following “two men as they face a series of misadventures in their quest to find a treasure,” it’s said to have dark humor and it’ll be ready by the end of the year. – Jordan R.
61. Snowden (Oliver Stone; Dec. 25th)
Following up the disappointing Savages, Oliver Stone is heading back into political territory with a biopic on Edward Snowden and his major leaking of government documents. While we can’t imagine it will reach the the great heights found in Laura Poitras‘ Citizenfour of actually witnessing the events, the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt has us particularly intrigued. If anything, it’s bound to be better than The Fifth Estate. With production kicking off shortly, expect it to arrive on the fall festival circuit. – Jordan R.
60. Viena and the Fantomes (Gerardo Naranjo)
After crafting one of the best-directed films of the last few years with Miss Bala, helmer Gerardo Naranjo will finally be returning this year with a new film. The English-language Viena and the Fantomes follows a roadie who travels across North America with a punk band during the 1980s. Starring Dakota Fanning, Joe Bernthal, Zoë Kravitz, Evan Rachel Wood, and Caleb Landry Jones, perhaps Naranjo will return to Cannes to debut the project. – Jordan R.
59. Results (Andrew Bujalski; May 29th)
Despite how one may feel about the term, Andrew Bujalski was indeed one of the talents to bring “mumblecore” to the forefront. Following the lo-fi Computer Chess, our curiosity abounds when it comes to his next project, hopefully melding that approach with his highest-profile ensemble yet, featuring Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker, Constance Zimmer, and Kevin Corrigan. Following a pair of mismatched personal trainers’ lives that are upended by the actions of a new, wealthy client, it’ll premiere at Sundance. – Jordan R.
58. Ex Machina (Alex Garland; April 10th)
One is no doubt familiar with a certain sci-fi feature arriving next year starring Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, but it won’t be the only one. After working closely with Danny Boyle on films such as Sunshine, 28 Days Later, and The Beach, Alex Garland expanded his resume, scripting Never Let Me Go and Dredd. Now next year will mark the debut of his first helming effort, the sci-fi drama Ex Machina, which centers on a love triangle of sorts with Alicia Vikander as a robot woman in the middle, who is the world’s first true artificial intelligence. – Jordan R.
57. The Shadow Women (Philippe Garrel)
After naming his latest film, Jealousy, one of the best of 2014 (and 2013, in fact), Philippe Garrel‘s next film L’Ombre des femmes (loosely translated to The Shadow Women) will likely see a premiere this year. Coming partly from Luis Buñuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, the story follows “Pierre and Manon, a couple of poverty-stricken documentary makers who are set to weather a storm of love and romance in modern-day Paris.” We’re not sure if it’ll be ready for Cannes, but whenever it arrives, we can’t wait to see it. – Jordan R.
56. Our Brand Is Crisis (David Gordon Green)
After finding the biggest success of her career (and perhaps best performance) with Gravity, Sandra Bullock recently reteamed with both George Clooney and Warner Bros. for a new project. Produced by Clooney and Grant Heslov, Our Brand is Crisis will, interestingly, feature direction from David Gordon Green (in his first prestige drama). Based on Rachel Boynton‘s documentary chronicling the involvement of James Carville‘s political consulting firm in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, the script comes from Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Men Who Stare at Goats) and a fall release is a good bet. – Jordan R.
55. Cosmos (Andrzej Zulawski)
Recently wrapping production, Possession director Andrzej Zulawski will hopefully be on the festival circuit this year for his forthcoming ensemble film Cosmos. Described as a “metaphysical noir thriller,” the project follows a character named Wiltold who “slips away from the city with a friend in order to see different things and have new experiences in a remote part of the countryside. They end up in a guesthouse run by a retired couple who live there with their daughter and a maid. While the daughter’s mouth is beautiful and pristine, the maid’s is misshapen and unsightly. Immediately captivated by the sight of their lips, Wiltold starts to become obsessed with the two girls. He also gets drawn in by a series of strange, interlinked signs in an atmosphere that grows ever-more stifling…” – Jordan R.
54. The Light Between Oceans (Derek Cianfrance)
After crafting the rather ambitious triptych-structured The Place Beyond the Pines, director Derek Cianfrance is heading into adaptation territory for his next drama. From author M. L. Stedman The Light Between Oceans, follows a lighthouse keeper on a remote island in Australia who with his wife rescues a baby they find in a rowboat and raise it as their own. Led by Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, it’s shaping up to be one of the fall’s most promising films. – Jordan R.
52. Room (Lenny Abrahamson)
Following his well-made Sundance drama Frank, Lenny Abrahamson is staying fairly small-scale for his follow-up. Led by Brie Larson (21 Jump Street, Short Term 12) Room is adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own book. The drama follows Larson as a woman help captive with her son, inspired by the disturbing true story of Elisabeth Fritzl, an Austrian woman who finally escaped in 2008 after 24 years of captivity. It sounds like horrifying stuff and a compelling change of pace for the director. – Jordan R.
51. Trainwreck (Judd Apatow; July 17th)
Judd Apatow has written and directed every one of his films up to this point to diminishing returns. The strongest, new voice in comedy hit a low with the self-indulgent This is 40 and made some of his most ardent fans turn their backs on his work. However, things are much more promising for Trainwreck, his directorial return and with the hilarious Amy Schumer is on as the writer and lead. The provocative Inside Amy Schumer came from out of nowhere to become one of the funniest shows in Comedy Central’s already crowded line-up. Color me excited for what this new duo have up their sleeves, especially with Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, and many more co-starring. – Dan G.
50. A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
Six years later, I Am Love helmer Luca Guadagnino will finally be returning with a new film, titled A Bigger Splash. Described as a “sexy thriller” set on the island of Pantelleria, it’s a remake of 1969 French picture, La Piscine, following an uneasy triangle that forms between a couple and a younger woman during the couple’s vacation, leading to a sinister end. Starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, and Matthias Schoenaerts, we’re crossing our fingers for a Cannes debut. – Jordan R.
49. Triple Nine (John Hillcoat; Sept. 11th)
Following his crime drama Lawless, director John Hillcoat‘s long-gestating crime drama Triple Nine, will finally be arriving this year. Featuring the powerhouse cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Norman Reedus, Gal Gadot,Teresa Palmer, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, and Clifton Collins Jr., it follows “a group of crooked cops planning a major heist realize they must shoot one of their own in order to get away with it.” The early September release is a bit suspect considering the talent, but fingers are crossed it’s a strong start to the fall slate. – Jordan R.
48. Tomorrowland (Brad Bird; May 22nd)
I talked about director Brad Bird back in the Mission: Impossible 5 blurb, and while it may be sad that he isn’t back in the chair for that movie, given how great Ghost Protocol was, its heartening to know he’s still out there working. Tomorrowland promises to be a beautiful, thoughtful, and hopeful bit of futurism. The details of the plot are being kept under wraps, but the one trailer we have seen thus far offers a promising picture of a film rooted in the innate human desire for a better and more meaningful tomorrow. That is more than enough to pique my interest. – Brian R.
47. Far From the Madding Crowd and The Commune (Thomas Vinterberg; May 1st)
Following up one of the best films of last few years, The Hunt, director Thomas Vinterberg is turning to a literary classic for his next film. Far From the Madding Crowd teams Carey Mulligan with Matthias Schoenaerts and follows the former attracting three different suitors, the others being Tom Sturridge and Michael Sheen. If Vinterberg is able to conjure the same dramatic tension and top-notch performances as his other work, there’s no doubt this will be one to watch later this year. There’s also his smaller, Danish drama The Commune that we hope will get a festival bow this year. – Jordan R.
46. The Martian (Ridley Scott; Nov. 25th)
Author Andy Weir’s best-selling debut fell into capable hands when director Ridley Scott and writer Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) agreed to adapt the sci-fi thriller. The original concept, which follows a botanist who’s stranded alone on Mars after a terrible accident, should also receive a boost from Matt Damon, who seems like an ideal fit in the role of lead character, astronaut Mark Watney. With an impressive supporting cast (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kristen Wiig, to name a few), and the promise of a space adventure fortified by Weir’s science background, The Martian should make for a satisfying holiday release. – Amanda W.
45. 45 Years (Andrew Haigh)
He found success with Weekend and HBO’s Looking, and now director Andrew Haigh will debut his next drama 45 Years at Berlin Film Festival. Based on David Constantine‘s short story, it features Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a married couple whose imminent 45th anniversary is put into jeopardy when the husband’s first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. Clearly a shift from his last film, we’re greatly looking forward to the results. – Jordan R.
44. The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Xavier Dolan)
After earning acclaim with his personal, small-scale dramas out of Canada, Xavier Dolan will soon embark on this biggest project yet, his English-language debut, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. The story follows a Marlon Brando/James Dean-esque movie star (Kit Harington) who befriends an 11-year-old boy as a pen pal and their writing is exposed to the public by the editor-in-chief of a gossip magazine, played by Jessica Chastain. Also starring Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates, if Dolan keeps up the same pace as his previous films, expect it by the end of the year. – Jordan R.
43. Hitchcock/Truffaut (Kent Jones)
Kent Jones’ position as an essential critical voice is reason enough to consider this new take on a key cinematic text, particularly when he’s assembled a list of contributors that includes (but is not limited to) Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, Olivier Assayas, and Brian De Palma. But his work in the documentary field, from collaborations with Scorsese to his own Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, has amassed into an impressive slate, and makes the case for more than just another bit of fawning hagiography. – Nick N.
42. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
Finally returning with a new film this year, Paul Verhoeven‘s Elle features Isabelle Huppert as the CEO of a gaming software company who gets repeatedly harassed by a stalker after an initial rape. In return, the tables are flipped and a cat-and-mouse game occurs. Not much else is known about the project, but considering it finds the director in territory he’s long since been in, count us greatly intrigued. – Jordan R.
41. The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu; Dec. 25th)
As westerns go, the big screen adaptation of Michael Punke‘s 2003 true story-based novel reads like a Clint Eastwood classic. But since Eastwood is decades past playing Hugh Glass, the frontiersman who takes revenge on the men who left him to die after he becomes mortally wounded in a bear attack, Leonardo DiCaprio will do just fine. It should be interesting to see how what Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu does with the harrowing survival tale, which also stars Tom Hardy, Will Poulter (The Maze Runner), and Domhnall Gleeson (Frank). – Amanda W.
40. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
Writer/director Damien Chazelle was on fire in 2014 with his hit Whiplash and his smaller writing effort Grand Piano. The tremendous escalation in talent and craftsmanship from his first film Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench to Whiplash is equivalent to a complete reinvention, while maintaining his ability to dynamically capture musical performance on film. With La La Land Chazelle is set to go one step further than Whiplash with a film that is a full-on musical. Both returning Miles Teller and Emma Watson will get to flex their pipes for the first time onscreen in what has been described as a “modern-day Los Angeles musical” where “the city pushes its residents all the way: it pushes them into song.” – Dan G.
39. Spotlight (Thomas McCarthy)
Thomas McCarthy‘s latest project is a compelling one: a Catholic sex scandal drama Spotlight led by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Aaron Eckhart, which takes an All the President’s Men-like, fact-based look at the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-awarded efforts to uncover a widespread sexual abuse scandal in Massachusetts’ Catholic Church. Scripted by McCarthy and The West Wing‘s Josh Singer, Open Road Films already has distribution rights, and this sounds like an ideal fit for a TIFF premiere followed by a fall release. – Jordan R.
38. Irrational Man (Woody Allen; July 24th)
However dodgy his late-era work can be, Woody Allen remains one of the most prolific writer-directors in the history of the medium, creating films that move and excite audiences for over forty years. This yet-untitled comedy was shot in Rhode Island last summer and stars Joaquin Phoenix as a professor who falls in love with his student, played Emma Stone in her second collaboration with the helmer. – Dan G.
37. Ricki and the Flash (Jonathan Demme; Aug. 7th)
A movie written by Diablo Cody and Jonathan Demme‘s first narrative feature since 2008? We’re in. There’s no reason not to be excited about Ricki and the Flash, which stars Meryl Streep as a rocker who attempts to reconnect with her family. With production recently wrapped and a release date set, this should be something special later in the summer. – Jack G.
36. Love (Gaspar Noé)
It’s been more than five years since Gaspar Noé‘s last film, Enter the Void, hit theaters, and he’ll finally be returning this year with a follow-up, Love. Described as “a sexual melodrama about a boy and a girl and another girl,” producers have said, “It’s a love story, which celebrates sex in a joyous way. Gaspar feels that most films that touch on sex in traditional cinema are dark and dramatic, this will be really joyous… He says it’s a film that will give guys ‘a hard-on and make girls cry.’” So, it sounds like there’s something for everyone. – Jordan R.
35. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
After breaking out with one of the finest independent features of last year, the thriller Blue Ruin, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier will return with his follow-up. Green Room. Patrick Stewart is leading the cast as Darcy Banker, “the unflinching and industrial leader of a ferocious white supremacist fiefdom based in the Pacific Northwest.” Also in the cast is Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Mark Webber, Kai Lennox, Eric Edelstein and, reteaming with Saulnier, Blue Ruin star Macon Blair. The official logline of the crime thriller states the story follows “a young punk rock band who find themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence, fighting for their lives against a gang of white power skinheads intent on eliminating all witnesses.” If it’s as gripping and controlled as his break-out, it could be one of the year’s best films. – Jordan R.
34. Mistress America (Noah Baumbach)
Immediately after the completion of Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig jumped right into shooting another film together called Mistress America. Like Frances Ha, the film’s creation and subject were kept a secret, so much so that Baumbach shot another film, While We’re Young, which is set for release at the beginning of this year. Mistress America resurfaced when it appeared on the Sundance Film Festival 2015 list and was quickly bought by Fox Searchlight for distribution. The film follows Greta Gerwig again and sounds very similar to Frances Ha — hardly a bad thing — and is about “dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing.” The team-up between Gerwig and Baumbach was electric before and I’m hopeful they will do it again. – Dan G.
33. Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)
Much of the praise surrounding HBO’s True Detective was centered around creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto. The unsung hero of the series (besides Matthew McConaughey’s “big hug mug”), however, was director Cary Fukunaga. Fukunaga, who helmed all eight episodes of the series, brought the visceral style of his first two feature Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre, and wrangled great performances out of McConaughey and Harrelson. Unlike some cable shows, Fukunaga’s skillful directorial presence was felt throughout the series. Naturally, we’re excited for his return to cinema, Beasts of No Nation, which is centered around a child fighter caught up in the struggle of “an unnamed african country.” Though details are scarce, we do know Idris Elba will take the lead and the marriage of Fukunaga and Elba with this subject matter has the potential to be something dynamic. – Zade C.
32. High Rise (Ben Wheatley)
British filmmaker Ben Wheatley adds to a resume of dark, irreverent works with his take on JG Ballard‘s 1975 novel. Written by Wheatley’s frequent collaborator Amy Jump, the script centers around a luxury high-rise building where a group of affluent tenants engage in an orgy of destruction. The concept, which recalls David Cronenberg’s Shivers, should make for a violent satire of classism. The project also marks Wheatley’s move into higher profile territory, as his regular talent roster is replaced with a big name cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss. – Amanda W.
31. Spectre (Sam Mendes; Nov. 6th)
After years of stilted Oscar bait that could never find any pulse outside of a few nice shots, Sam Mendes finally found his place in, of all things, a 50-year-old franchise defined almost exclusively by the distinctly familiar. Let’s hope he can continue getting the best out of his collaborators and handle Bond with a clean eye, especially with a cast as good as this. The Craig set of films are in a nice place, exuding more promise than something this well-worn should ever offer. – Nick N.
30. Untitled Howard Hughes Film (Warren Beatty)
Warren Beatty has been developing a film on Howard Hughes since the height of his career, and considering he is a quality over quantity filmmaker, it’s taken a while for this project to come to fruition. This marks the return of Beatty both in front of and behind the camera, and his return to the big screen is more than welcomed. Let’s hope he hasn’t lost his touch since his last directorial effort, the criminally overlooked Bulworth. – Jack G.
29. Youth (Paolo Sorrentino)
Coming off the success that was The Great Beauty, director Paolo Sorrentino, with an Oscar in hand, will be jumping back to the English language for his next film, Youth. Starring Michael Caine, his supporting cast includes Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel and Paul Dano as we follow Fred and Mick, “one a long retired composer-conductor, the other a still-jobbing film director — who are vacationing together in an elegant hotel in the lap of the Alps. Sensing their time could be quickly running out, they decide to face the future together, regard with curiosity and tenderness their children’s confused lives, the enthusiasm of Mick’s young writers and the other guests at their hotel. Mick is scrambling to finish what he imagines will be his last important film. Fred gave up his music career a long time ago. But there is someone who wants at all costs to hear his compositions and to see him conduct again.” With production wrapping last summer, expect a Cannes bow. – Jordan R.
28. Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Koreeda)
Considering it came out about a year ago in the United States, many forgot Hirokazu Koreeda‘s Like Father, Like Son was one of the more accomplished films of 2014. The director will be returning this year with Kamakura Diary, a drama led by four woman (Haruka Ayase, Kaha, Masami Nagasawa and relative newcomer Suzu Hirose) and adapted from the eponymous manga series. The story folows trio of adult sisters, living in their grandmother’s Kamakura home, who are visited by a 13-year-old half-sibling. Considering a summer release is in store for Japan, we’d imagine Koreeda has his tickets to Cannes already booked. – Jordan R.
27. Manchester-by-the-Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
Kenneth Lonergan created what was one of the best films I was unable to put on a year-end list. Margaret, his much-delayed second feature, was a brilliantly conceived and executed film that examined the human life experience with a depth of understanding that is rare in modern cinema. Thus, the idea of Lonergan’s newest film finding its way in theaters this year — only a few after his last, instead of the decade-plus wait between You Can Count on Me and Margaret — is almost too good to believe. If it is even 50% as thoughtful and well made as what’s come before, it will be 100% better than 90% of films hitting theaters — and that is math you can trust. Starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, it follows a plumber who returns home after news of his brother’s passing arrives. – Brian R.
26. A Hologram for the King (Tom Tykwer)
After delivering one of his better performances in Paul Greengrass‘ Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks is gearing up for a major year. While we’ve feature another one of his films later down on the list, around the same time we imagine Tom Tykwer‘s adaptation of Dave Eggers‘ A Hologram for the King will debut. The comedic drama follows the journey of American salesman (Hanks) who ventures to Saudi Arabia to conduct business and we expect it on the fall film festival circuit. – Jordan R.
25. Blackhat (Michael Mann; Jan. 16th)
It’s a new Michael Mann film. It opens this week. Go. – Nick N.
24. The Wound (Abdellatif Kechiche)
After the Palme d’Or, the mountain of controversy, the Criterion release, and, somewhere in that whole mess of things, an actual movie, Abdellatif Kechiche has moved on from last year’s Blue Is the Warmest Color. His next project is The Wound (known as La Blessure in French), which will adapt a novel from François Bégaudeau, an author who’s already earned some cinematic cachet for penning The Class, the main source for 2008’s Palme d’Or winner. With the director once more putting a focus on youth, The Wound had, in its original form, semi-autobiographically charted the summer of 1986 for one fifteen-year-old boy of France. Although that tale had originally taken place across the author’s own Vendée, Kechiche will make an adaptation rooted in his own geographic understanding, deciding to take things to Tunisia. With production concluding last year, it wouldn’t be a shock if this one ended up at Cannes. – Nick N.
23. The Tale of Tales (Matteo Garrone)
A classic set of stories adapted by one of Italy’s few credible (living) film artists and a killer onscreen slate — Vincent Cassel, Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, and Toby Jones — is so appealing that I need not know anything else before it arrives later this year. If you do, I suggest clicking here. – Nick N.
22. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve; Sept. 18th)
Reteaming after Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins recently shot the crime drama Sicario, featuring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, and Jon Bernthal. In the story, a CIA agent (Brolin) recruits Blunt’s character, a Tucson-based female cop who escorts two rangers to apprehend a drug kingpin. The story specifically features a loophole in which mercenaries are legally allowed to cross the border of Mexico in order to bring in a drug lord. With Lionsgate on board as distributors, no release has been set yet, but a Prisoners-esque September bow wouldn’t surprise us. – Jordan R.
21. The Trap (Harmony Korine)
After the success of Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine is ready to dive right into his next, “most ambitious” project yet. While little is known about The Trap, we do know that it will likely star Jamie Foxx, Robert Pattinson, and Benicio del Toro in a revenge, gangster drama that follows a “multi-generational family of criminals in the South.” Korine is set to begin shooting the film in Miami in the coming months. With Spring Breakers introducing Korine to a wider audience than ever before, could The Trap be his next big step into the cultural spotlight? – Dan G.
20. Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)
The three features Miguel Gomes has produced thus far represent a major and idiosyncratic voice, one as concerned with the various effects of structural conceits as the significance of any particular image. We’re lucky to have him making films, especially when his next will take things even further: adapting one of literature’s best-known collections by conforming its core to events that occured in Portugal over the course of a single year — by the sound of it, marrying the long-established with that which is just in the distance. If all goes well, Arabian Nights will undoubtedly be one of 2014’s greatest films. – Nick N.
19. Love in Khon Kaen (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul — or, if you want to prove that you’re a real cinephile, simply “Joe” — has undeniably seen his profile rise with the surprise Palme d’Or win of his last feature, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Yet instead of succumbing to the temptation of a (comparatively) big-budget international production, he’s decided to make the latest endeavor completely in line with the resources behind all his previous features. It should come as no surprise, then, that the story concerns something completely familiar to him: dreaming, which he’ll undoubtedly make stranger than anything your sleep could ever produce. – Ethan V.
18. Erran (Jacques Audiard)
After rising in the international ranks with The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet, and more, France’s Jacques Audiard delivered his highest-profile project a few years ago with the Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts-led Rust & Bone. His next drama Erran is a bit more low-profile, following a Sri Lankan Tamil fighter who fled his country to become custodian of public housing in the suburbs of Paris. Partially inspired by Montesquieu‘s Persian Letters, it focuses on “culture shock and this refugee’s perception of modern-day French society.” If Audiard has the picture ready, it could certainly land at Cannes. – Jordan R.
17. Every Thing Will Be Fine (Wim Wenders)
This, admittedly, would probably not chart if only known as a grief-centered 3D drama starring James Franco — but context matters, and the contextual key, here, is Wim Wenders returning to a format he so amply applied only a few years back. The question of how well his technical trickery and a (from the sound of it) traditional dramatic outline will congeal — well, supposing they remotely do — is reason enough to keep our eyes peeled. – Nick N.
16. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Hou Hsiao-hsien has been working on The Assassin for more than a decade, and the anticipation that’s built in this time might leave this, his first film since 2007’s Flight of the Red Balloon, incapable of meeting expectations. But if one of our greatest living filmmakers’ — the greatest living filmmaker, if you ask more than a few respected voices — stunning oeuvre can stand as any sort of evidence, let’s not worry too much. – Nick N.
15. Sunset Song (Terence Davies)
A second film adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel, Terence Davies’ latest begins with a suicide attempt that changes the lives of two daughters forced to manage a farm. Featuring Peter Mullan, Agyness Deyn, Kevin Guthrie, Ian Pirie, the film is now deep in post-production after a shoot on 65mm, and we hope a bow is in store for Cannes. Following his extraordinary The Deep Blue Sea, Davies has prime source material to create another intensely emotional work. – John F.
14. Queen of the Desert (Werner Herzog)
With rumors that it would arrive last year, the wait continues for Werner Herzog’s first narrative feature in half-a-decade, the story of legendary cartographer Gertrude Bell may be hitting theaters this year. Led by Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, James Franco, and Damian Lewis, Queen of the Desert follows Bell, a diplomatic explorer, who negotiated with Arab nations and helped establish the countries of Iraq and Jordan. Considering that Herzog is the man who gave us such epics as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, we’re looking forward to a return with what looks to be his most visually ambitious work in some time. With fall line-ups getting announced shortly, check back for updates. – Jordan R.
13. Macbeth (Justin Kurzel)
After landing on our radar with the stellar, dark drama Snowtown, director Justin Kurzel will be returning this year for what will likely be his major break-out. In taking on Shakespeare, his Macbeth adaptation secured two of our finest working actors, Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender, a potent combination we can’t wait to see come to life. Also starring Paddy Considine, David Thewlis, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor and Elizabeth Debicki, the picture’s long since wrapped, so perhaps we could see it come to Cannes. – Jordan R.
12. Queen of Earth (Alex Ross Perry)
Of the two “narratives” one can graft onto Queen of Earth — on the one hand, that Alex Ross Perry is following the excellent Listen Up Philip so quickly; on the other, that he’s following it with what, by most accounts, is something of a tonal diversion from prior work — which is more exciting? That either feels so significant is a testament to the place this writer-director’s carving out for himself: the simple prospect of another film is as enticing as the film-by-film progression we’re witnessing. – Nick N.
11. Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier)
After financing fell apart, things were finally pieced together for the English-language debut from Joachim Trier, the Norwegian director behind the stellar Reprise and Oslo, August 31st. Co-scripted by Eskil Vogt (Blind, and frequent Trier collaborator), Louder Than Bombs stars Jesse Eisenberg, David Strathairn, Amy Ryan, Isabelle Huppert, and Gabriel Byrne, and follows a family grieving over the loss of a war photographer. If the restrained emotion found in Trier’s previous films continues here, there’s no doubt it’ll be one of the best of the year. – Jordan R.
10. The Sea of Trees (Gus Van Sant)
It would be easy to just write the words “Gus Van Sant” and then drop the mic on this movie’s inclusion, but let’s be both professional and informative by talking a little more about it. Directed by the man who gave us Elephant, Milk, Paranoid Park, and Good Will Hunting, Sea of Trees stars the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, Katie Aselton, and Naomi Watts, a cast that — aside from being hell on spell check — is so packed with talent and dramatic weight that it could make its own case. The story concerns itself with an American who goes to Japan’s Aokigahara Forest (sometimes referred to as the Suicide Forest) to end his life, and meets a Japanese man who’s come for the same purpose. Given a real-life setting that is enough to get the imagination and intellect racing — seriously, look this place up (or don’t) — and a story that bends so readily towards tragedy, this film is set well ahead of pace to be one of 2015’s more moving and thought-provoking films. Most exciting, though, is getting to see which Van Sant shows up to direct it — the crowd-pleaser, the narrative experimenter, the dark existentialist, or the moving sentimentalist. All in all, it’s a crap shoot, but one that should be rewarding. – Brian R.
9. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Based on its concept alone, The Lobster would easily be one of our most-anticipated upcoming films, but knowing that the mind of Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps) conjured this makes it safe to say we can’t wait for the results. Led by Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw, it follows a group who seek out potential partners — and the stakes are high, as they’ll turn into animals if they don’t. Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, Ashley Jensen, Michael Smiley and Jessica Barden are also in the cast, and we’d imagine a Cannes debut is in store for the film. – Jordan R.
8. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols; Nov. 25th)
While a certain fall-bound sci-fi film led by Adam Driver might top most lists of this kind, we’re far more excited for the next feature from Jeff Nichols. Midnight Special, his follow-up to Take Shelter and Mud, follows Michael Shannon as Roy, a father desperate to protect his uniquely gifted, eight-year-old son, Alton, as they race to a secret location hunted by an extreme religious sect and government task force. Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, and Sam Shepard also star in this film, and comparisons have been made to John Carpenter. With a major studio release backed by Warner Bros., we simply can’t wait for this to land wide. – Jordan R.
7. Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg; Oct. 16th)
Here is all you need to know about this drama: directed by Steven Spielberg, written by the Coen brothers, starring Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda. Spielberg returns to real-world politics, following the tremendous successes of Munich and Lincoln, to tell the story of James Donovan, an attorney sent by the CIA on the impossible mission of orchestrating the release of a downed American pilot in the Cold War. I can’t think of the last time such high-level filmmakers decided to write a script for one of their peers in this fashion, so there must be some real firepower behind this idea. – Dan G.
6. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino)
Those who were treacherous enough to read a leaked, early draft already know that The Hateful Eight is not exactly what one expects from Quentin Tarantino — not at this stage in his career, at least. Rather than continue his recent run of large-scale stories, this close-quarter whodunnit marries the narrative sensibilities of Reservoir Dogs with the iconography of Django Unchained, forming something like a missing link between Jackie Brown and Kill Bill. Or not. It’s already been well-publicized that Eight’s sudden final chapter was altered, and how that section plays out is really key to what effect the whole thing has. Curiosity and anticipation is one matter; it doesn’t hurt that an unfinished draft is one of the best things I read last year, regardless of medium. – Nick N.
5. That’s What I’m Talking About (Richard Linklater)
Richard Linklater has been on fire for the past several years, cranking out film after film to rave reviews and audience support. Boyhood is certain to net him a Best Director and Best Picture nomination (and perhaps win) at this year’s Oscars, as well as land him a place in the history books for changing the way time is portrayed in narrative features. Now he’s returning, a year later no less, to direct a spiritual sequel to the film that put him on the map, Dazed and Confused. This film picks up in the 1980s, with a young baseball player arriving at college to meet his new roommates — essentially right where Boyhood left off. In an interview with Marc Maron, Linklater said he wanted to capture the humor and camaraderie of young athletes, who he admits have often been characterized as humorless and anti-intellectual. School of Rock showed he could direct an ensemble, team-based film with a lot of heart. Combine that with his trademark dialogue and unobtrusive visual style, and That’s What I’m Talking About seems like another surefire success. – Dan G.
4. Carol (Todd Haynes)
More than four years after Mildred Pierce and some eight since I’m Not There, Todd Haynes is once again in the conversation — this time with Carol, which he told us is a “very pure and simple love story between a younger woman and older woman at the most unexpected cultural moment and place.” I think we could end things there and have that stand as enough, but when the romance is between performers as versatile as Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara — and when it allows him to mount yet another delicate recreation of a bygone period — it’s possible we’ll get something so strong that any and all lost time is made-up for. – Nick N.
3. Untitled Crime Drama (Steve McQueen)
Let’s get this out of the way first: there’s a chance we won’t see a new film from Steve McQueen this year, but we’re willing to be optimistic. If he follows the schedule of his last two features, it could arrive before year’s end, and pre-production is reportedly underway soon. The film in question is based on the British series Widows, which centered on four widows who come together to finish a robbery after their crooked husbands are killed on the job. Said to be “a contemporary, hard-hitting, very grounded gangster film” we already have images of Jean-Pierre Melville and Jules Dassin dancing in our head. – Jordan R.
2. Silence (Martin Scorsese)
The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese’s previous feature film, was a kinetic and exhausting experience that felt like the work of a filmmaker half his age. It’s a testament to the man’s career and persona that his work continues to excite and inspire. There had been discussion regarding what was next, with a list of potentials including book adaptations, a long-discussed Sinatra film, and a handful of documentaries and TV shows. Scorsese and his longstanding behind-the-camera team (screenwriter Jay Cocks, production designer Dante Ferretti, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker) have undertaken the project that most piqued our interest: an adaptation of Shûsaku Endô’s Silence. Lauded as one the one of the twentieth century’s finest novels, Silence tells the story a Jesuit, Sebastião Rodrigues, who experiences 17th-century Japan. The film promises to be a rumination on the religious ideas and images featured throughout Scorsese’s films, but held together by a young cast that includes Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. For the moment, we can only speculate on the artistic highs Silence might reach. – Zade C.
1. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)
We briefly mentioned it in our 2013 countdown, included it in our 2014 feature, and now, finally, Terrence Malick‘s Knight of Cups will officially premiere this year — and shortly. Right after a debut at the Berlin Film Festival was announced, we got the perhaps visually unexpected, but ultimately stunning first trailer for the story of a man (Christian Bale) dealing with the demons of excess. If To the Wonder marked one sort of shift for Malick, this looks like yet another by slipping into 8 1/2 territory, and it’s an experience we can’t wait to soon behold. – Jordan R.
What’s your most-anticipated film of 2015?