I didn’t have time to finish it before I posted my end-of-year blog, but here is my list of the movies I’m most looking forward to in 2015, and to some of you, I’m sure very few of these will be a surprise.
Viva La Resistance!
1. “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens” (12/18)- Of course it is. Ten years after “Episode III” concluded the maligned prequel trilogy, it still feels like a pipe dream that we are getting more “Star Wars” films. But a deal with Disney is making it happen, as director J.J. Abrams and co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasden hope to recapture the magic with the original cast and some exciting new actors to the universe.
2. “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” (5/1)- If it weren’t for a certain galaxy far, far away, Joss Whedon’s follow-up to one of the biggest films of all-time would be the easy #1 choice for me next year. Marvel has really hit their stride since the first “Avengers” movie; now, their band of superheroes faces a profound danger in Ultron, an artificial intelligence bent on destruction. The big question is, can it possibly be less than 2 1/2 hours? Not that I’d mind if it isn’t, but there are a lot of new characters in the mix for Whedon to play with.
3. “Jurassic World” (6/12)- After the problematic continuations of this dino-franchise with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic Park III,” a long-in-development fourth entry in the series feels dubious, at best. (I mean, did executive producer Steven Spielberg learn NOTHING from “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?”) But every move this new film has made, from the proposed storyline to the cast (including “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) to the behind the scenes talent (led by co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow, and including composer Michael Giacchino) and including the just-released trailer has been spot-on. I’m on board for more prehistoric mayhem.
4. “Untitled Cold War Drama” (October)- That’s a riveting title, is it not? Actually, it’s just an “in-progress” title for an upcoming thriller Steven Spielberg has about a CIA agent in the ’60s starring Tom Hanks. Now does it have your attention?
5. “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” (2/13)- Spike Lee’s Kickstarter campaign film, which will be properly released in 2015 after some screenings, and make it’s start with screenings online. I’ve become a bigger fan of Lee over the years, and proudly contributed to the campaign for him to get this film made. I can’t wait to see the film when I get a chance to. Of the films being released this Valentine’s Day, this one definitely has my attention more than the big one that weekend.
6. “Mad Max Fury Road” (5/15)- Mel Gibson is out, Tom Hardy is in as George Miller’s leather-bound loner in a desolate wasteland. Also joining the mayhem are Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult for what looks like a wild fourth film in the quintessentially Australian action franchise.
7. “Inside Out” (6/19)- Pixar and “Up” director Pete Doctor return after a year off with an original creation, about the emotions inside of humans, and how they work. It feels cerebral, with the glimpses we’ve seen of the film also making us hope that they’ve managed to blend the humor with the heart in a way we haven’t seen since “Toy Story 3.” They have another original film out this year in October’s “The Good Dinosaur,” but this one has been on the must-see list since it was first announced.
8. “Ant-Man” (7/15)- I’m not gonna lie– the loss of director Edgar Wright on this long-gestating Marvel project still stings. But as the studio was able to hold on to Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas as the men who will be wearing the Ant-Man costume, and bring in talent like Adam McKay and director Peyton Reed to help guide it to the finish line, I’m definitely interested to see if there are long-term effects of trading a visionary for the director of “Bring It On” and “Down With Love.” We’ll find out come July.
9. “Pitch Perfect 2” (5/15)- The Bellas are back, and that first trailer sold me on their return to the big screen. Fingers crossed it’s a worthy sequel to one of the most geniuine surprises of 2012.
10. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2” (11/20)- Another young adult franchise comes an end in two-part fashion with the second half of Francis Lawrence’s “Mockingjay” adaptation in November. I’m going to miss Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, who has established herself as one of the great female characters in genre filmmaking.
11. “Tomorrowland” (5/22)- Animated maestro Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol”) continues to work in live-action with this science-fiction drama from Disney starring George Clooney. Even with two trailers out, I’m still not sure about this film, but I’m definitely going to watch it and find out.
12. “SPECTRE” (11/6)- Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes try to match, if not surpass, their brilliant success with 2012’s James Bond adventure, “Skyfall,” but bringing back a beloved villain from 007’s past in Blofeld, played in this film by Christophe Waltz. Will this be another obvious villain by Waltz, or an instantly beloved nemesis? Whatever the case, I will be there to find out.