The 20 Must See Movies of 2015
American Sniper – January 16
With 160 kills, Navy Seal Chris Kyle is said to be the deadliest sniper in US history. His 2012 memoir presented a dramatic account of his missions, including service in Iraq. Clint Eastwood takes charge of the big-screen treatment, chronicling Kyle’s journey from Texas rodeo cowboy to conflicted marksman, all while his wife (Sienna Miller) struggles to cope back home.
Whiplash – January 16
Written and directed by little-known Harvard graduate Damien Chazelle, this is already one of the most anticipated films of 2015. An aspiring drummer (Miles Teller) is scouted by a tutor (JK Simmons) whose mentoring style includes mental and physical abuse. Worth seeing for Simmons’ Oscar-bait performance alone.
The space epic from the Wachowskis that has been trailed for months finally arrives. Mila Kunis is the titular Jupiter who discovers that she’s the heir to an intergalactic throne and the now ubiquitous Channing Tatum is sent to help. Described as a cross between The Matrix and Star Wars it’ll be pretty to look at both in terms of actress and special effects.
The Gunman – February 20
Based on Jean-Patrick Manchette’s thriller about an assassin on the run, this is the latest grown-up action movie from Pierre Morel, the French director who gave us Liam Neeson in Taken (2008). It’s hard to imagine a more manly cast, with Sean Penn taking lead sharpshooter duties, ably supported by Javier Bardem, Idris Elba and Ray Winstone.
Beset by ill fortune and endless delays, director George Miller’s return to the character that made him famous is at long last set to arrive in cinemas, with Tom Hardy replacing original Max Mel Gibson, plus Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in support. Shot in Namibia, it promises to be the thinking-man’s Aussie punk western.
Untitled Cameron Crowe project - May 29
Writer/director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, 2000; Jerry Maguire, 1996) makes his much anticipated return after a lengthy absence and has rounded up a team that includes Bill Murray, Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. A US weapons analyst is deployed to Hawaii to oversee the launch of a spy satellite, and winds up on a journey of self-discovery.
Paper Towns – August 13
British model of the moment Cara Delevingne has a number of films in the can for 2015, but this is her first as a lead. Paper Towns is an adaptation of John Green’s bestselling thriller about a teenager, Q (Nat Wolff), searching for his missing childhood friend (Delevingne). If this is anything like the novel, expect a darkly comic take on the young adult genre.
Icelander Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband, 2012) directs this thriller in 3D, based on a real-life 1996 mountaineering tragedy in which eight climbers trying to conquer Mount Everest perished in a sudden blizzard. The cast is as starry as a Himalayan night — Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington — so expectations are, well, high.
Black Mass – September 25
Johnny Depp stars in the true story of the vicious Boston gangster, Whitey Bulger, who turned FBI informant when the Mafia invaded his turf. Writer/director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, 2009; Out of the Furnace, 2013) has assembled a stellar supporting cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller and Juno Temple.
St James Place (tbc) - October 9
Written by the Coen brothers and directed by Steven Spielberg, this Cold War thriller is based on the story of Gary Powers, the CIA pilot shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960. Tom Hanks (reunited with the director for the first time since The Terminal, 2004) is the lawyer recruited to spearhead the rescue mission. Look out, Oscars 2016.
Grossing over $1bn, Skyfall is the most successful Bond film ever. So it’s no surprise director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig have been offered another roll of the dice. The project is shrouded in secrecy, of course. We can only tell you that Léa Seydoux is a Bond girl, Christoph Waltz may or may not be playing a baddie and Sam Smith is current front-runner for the theme tune.
The Hateful Eight – October TBC
The eighth film from Quentin Tarantino should be out in the latter part of the year. If the final version is anything like the leaked first-draft script then we can expect Reservoir Dogs in the Wild West as bounty hunters in post-Civil War Wyoming try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Cast includes his regulars Tim Roth, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Madsen.
The Martian - November 27
The huge success of Gravity in 2013 and this year’s Interstellar has made big-budget, cerebral space movies a hot genre in Hollywood. Here, sci-fi master Ridley Scott (Alien, 1979; Blade Runner, 1982) tackles Andy Weir’s novel of a Nasa expedition to Mars gone wrong, with Matt Damon as a stranded astronaut, plus Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kristen Wiig.
High-Rise - November TBC
Veteran producer Jeremy Thomas has been trying to bring JG Ballard’s magnificent 1975 dystopian novel to the screen for 30 years. At last he’s made it, with brilliant young British director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, 2011; Sightseers, 2012) putting Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston and Sienna Miller through their paces in the terrifying tale of a luxury apartment block in meltdown.
A long time ago (1977), in a galaxy far, far away (your childhood bedroom) a creaky space movie changed films forever. Now JJ Abrams (Star Trek, 2009) reunites Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in a continuation of the saga, set three decades after Return of the Jedi (1983). Remember: the force will be with you, always.
The Revenant – December 26
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu makes films about people in extreme situations: see 21 Grams (2003) and Babel (2006). In The Revenant, a 19th-century frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) is robbed and left for dead after being mauled by a bear. Then he takes his revenge. Tom Hardy and Will Poulter co-star. We’re guessing the reviews will feature the word “dark”.
Sea of Trees – Autumn
Gus Van Sant (Milk, 2008) is one of the US’s consistently interesting and unpredictable directors. Here, he casts Matthew McConaughey as a man who travels to Japan’s Sea of Trees — a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji — in order to take his own life. There he meets a fellow would-be suicide (Ken Watanabe), but the friendship they forge becomes their salvation.
The rock-photographer-turned-acclaimed-director Anton Corbijn focuses his lens on the life story of a fellow snapper: Magnum’s Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson),and specifically his friendship with his great subject, James Dean (Dane DeHaan). Stock shot the now-iconic Life magazine images of Dean prior to the release of East of Eden (1955).
London Fields – TBC
Both David Cronenberg and Michael Winterbottom tried and failed to bring Martin Amis’ black comedy to the screen. But first-timer Mathew Cullen has succeeded, casting Jim Sturgess as petty criminal and pub darts legend Keith Talent, and the lovely Amber Heard as femme fatale Nicola Six. Look out for a cameo by Heard’s real-life love, Johnny Depp.
Mr Holmes – TBC
Following Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen is the latest marquee name to don the Sherlock cape. This time — clearly — the film-makers are focussing on the great detective’s later years, when he comes out of retirement to take on (you guessed it) one last mystery. Bill Condon (The Fifth Estate, 2013) directs.