There’s an awful lot to look forward to over the coming 12 months, from Hollywood and beyond. As such, compiling a list of 2015’s most exciting films is extremely difficult. In an attempt to limit the number of sequels which can fill up a list such as this, we’ve left out something like Fast & Furious 7, even though we’re fairly sure it’ll be a lot of fun. With but two significant exceptions, we’ve excluded some of the films from this list that we’re looking forward to in 2014 that have been delayed until this, such as Kingsman: The Secret Service and Frankenstein.
10. Crimson Peak
Following the giant robots-versus-kaiju smackdown Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro is set to return to the smaller-scale, more macabre territory of his earlier films such as Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone. A gothic haunted house film that sounds like del Toro’s love letter to such directors as William Castle and Robert Wise, and the classic output of Hammer (Mia Wasikowska plays a writer named Edith Cushing)Crimson Peak also stars Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. Although Pacific Rim proved how adept the Mexican director is at bringing larger-than-life action to the screen, it’s when he concentrates his energies on more ominous subject matters that his talent really shines: del Toro’s suggested that Crimson Peak will be a full-blooded horror, too, so this could be a welcome return to the horror genre which made his name in the first place. And who knows, if Crimson Peak’s a hit, maybe we’ll finally get that At The Mountains Of Madness adaptation soon.
9. Inside Out
After a Pixar drought that stretches back to summer 2013’s Monsters University, 2015 will see a pair of features from the studio. The Good Dinosaur, delayed from last year (and with the Pixar brain trust effectively co-directing) is one of them. But the one that’s got us particularly interested is Inside Out. It’s the new film from Pete Docter, the director of Up and Monsters, Inc, and it’s a movie that focuses on the emotions that live inside us. Not for nothing was this one originally known as ‘Pixar Movie Set Inside The Mind’, and Docter’s lateral, original storytelling has been key to his films to date. Amongst the voice talent are Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader and Amy Poehler. Pixar has scheduled this for a big summer release. Expect big things.
Read More: Top 10 Best Action Movies 2014
8. Midnight Special
A filmmaker who continues, unfairly, to fly under a few peoples’ radars, Jeff Nichols’ two most recent features – Mud and Take Shelter – are both gems in their own right. And his next one looks a bit of a gem, too. Midnight Special sees Nichols tackling science fiction, as a father and son head off on the run, when they realise the former has special powers. Michael Shannon, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton lead the cast, all working from Nichols’ screenplay. It’s the first time, interestingly, that Nichols has worked within the studio system, and Warner Bros describes the movie as a “government chase film”. Nichols cites John Carpenter as an inspiration for the project, and that’s no bad sign.
A few films that we put on out 2014 preview list subsequently got delayed to 2015, and as a rule, we’ve left them off this time. Tomorrowland is the one exception to that rule. It’s helmed, for a start, by one of our favourite directors, Brad Bird (who hopefully can get us an Iron Giant Blu-ray in 2015 too), and features George Clooney, with a script from Bird and Damon Lindelof. Given that the film has been known about for some time, it’s impressive how much of it remains under wraps. We know that it’s been filming in Walt Disney World, and we know that it features a former boy genius inventor teaming up with a young boy bursting with ideas. But secrets are at the heart of Tomorrowland, and for the time being, secrets they remain. It looks, in the surface, like a big, ambitious, intelligent piece of science fiction for a blockbuster family audience. If Bird can pull that off, then we might just buy him a few biscuits.
6. Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Such is the embarrassment of riches that 2015 potentially offers us that Joss Whedon’s Avengers sequel sits outside the top five. But still: this is an absolute must see for many, ourselves included. Whedon reunites Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, Nick Fury, Iron Man and Hulk, whilst introducing James Spader as the villainous Ultron. Intriguingly, we may get a few of the ongoing Marvel mysteries resolved in this one too, as well as some teases for future films. But it’s the here and now of this movie that’s the most exciting part. It was a near miracle that Whedon managed to blend the ingredients last time into such a strong piece of big screen entertainment, one that DC and Warner executives continues to look at and wonder how it was done. With the sequel? We’re promised more of the Avengers together, and one hell of a threat to fight. Can’t wait…
5. Jurassic World
After making a bold debut with the wonderful romantic comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, director Colin Trevorrow’s making an equally bold leap into blockbuster filmmaking with this belated third sequel to Jurassic Park. At the time of writing, we haven’t seen any official footage from Jurassic World yet, but Trevorrow’s concept alone sounds promising: with the standard-issue T-rexes and other dinosaurs at the infamous theme park deemed too familiar and passe by an easily distracted, mobile-phone obsessed public, the park’s scientists breed a new, more eye-catching variety of prehistoric lizards. We’re guessing that things don’t exactly go according to plan. If Trevorrow can match his clear talent for capturing drama and comedy with a lightness of touch with the requirements of an effects-heavy summer movie, this could be one sequel well worth waiting for.
Read More: Top Ten Summer 2015 Box Office Predictions
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Things looked worryingly difficult for George Miller’s belated Mad Max sequel, with the production beset by all kinds of problems, from bad weather to protracted reshoots. The first trailer for Fury Road, which landed a few months ago, showed no signs of behind-the-scenes problems: if anything, it turned out to be one of the most unexpectedly exciting promos we’ve seen all year. The new Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) drives his ramshackle vehicle through swirling desert sands and surreal curls of coloured smoke, and you can almost smell the engine oil and smouldering brakes. Among the supporting cast are Charlize Theron as Furiosa and Nicholas Hoult as a character named Nux, but it’s the vehicular stunts we’re most excited to see: and by the looks of things, we’re in for one heck of a thrill-ride. It’ll be a full 30 years since the release of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome when Fury Road comes out next summer, but Miler’s brand of automotive mayhem looks as fresh as ever.
Back when Neill Blomkamp’s second film Elysium came out, we learned that this third feature would be a much lighter, comic affair loosely based on one of his shorts called Tetra Vaal. Chappie’s about a childlike robot – voiced by Sharlto Copley – who’s snatched by a dysfunctional criminal family and pressed into a life of theft. Even from that brief synopsis, we’re guessing that Chappie’s still going to be quite dark (he reunites with District 9 co-writer Terri Tatchell here), if not quite as grisly as Blomkamp’s previous films. We thoroughly enjoyed the expensive, explosive Elysium – particularly Sharlto Copley’s villainous performance – but we’re also excited to see Blomkamp head into smaller-scale territory. With his long-term collaborator Copley once again playing a part (he’s the voice of the robot), Chappie promises to be another rich and witty sci-fi film from one of the best directors working in the genre.
Any film by Michael Mann’s worth looking forward to, and it’s exciting to see him back in thriller territory with Blackhat. Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted computer hacker who’s hauled out of prison when an anonymous group of computer experts start threatening America’s financial infrastructure. The premise might lead you to think we’re in for about 120 minutes of watching Hemsworth sitting at a screen and typing, but the recent trailer for Blackhat hinted at a globe-trotting affair with a smattering of gun-blazing action straight out of Mann’s classic Heat. Going by the director’s earlier movies, we’re guessing this’ll be a tense, brooding affair with very occasional flashes of violence, but given that Mann does tense and brooding better than just about any director currently working, this is all the more reason to look forward to Blackhat’s release next year.
1. Star Wars: Episode VII
It had to be on the list somewhere, didn’t it? Anticipation for Episode VII may not be quite at Phantom Menace pre-release levels (well, at least not yet), but the team behind the Star Wars sequel are certainly making all the right noises. Director JJ Abrams has been vocal about an emphasis on physical effects and sets rather than the slightly numb digital backlot approach of the prequels.