Sunday, July 5, 2015

10 Most Anticipated Films of the Second Half of 2015

I recently put out my list of the 20 best films of 2015 thus far, and it made me wonder...where will these movies land when the year ends? When I put my official best of the year list out next February before the Oscars, will Inside Out still be at #1? Will Mad Max: Fury Road be a top 10 entry? Will the box office smash Jurassic World even be included in my top 50?

I am looking forward to a lot of films released from now until the end of the year, so narrowing down the list to ten proved to be difficult. After careful consideration, here it is, the ten pictures I am hopeful will make a big splash on my favorites of 2015 list when all is said and done, listed in order of release date.

Sicario (September 18th)

The people backing Sicario financially wanted the script by writer Taylor Sheridan to be rewritten in order to change the lead role into a man. Sadly, there is a concern with many people in Hollywood that a film will disappoint financially with a woman as the face of the picture rather than a man. What I love, though, is that both Sheridan and director Denis Villeneuve refused their request. The only way Sicario was going to happen is if they were allowed to make the picture they envisioned, and because of that we have Emily Blunt collaborating with the brilliant Villeneuve. Sign me the hell up, I can't wait to see this one.

99 Homes (September 25th)

No interesting anecdotes with this one. Honestly, I have absolutely no familiarity with the director either, as I have never seen a Ramin Bahrani film. So why am I excited about it? Positive reviews from those who have seen it and the two actors pictured above, Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield, a couple of my favorites working today. The premise of the film will resonate strongly with many as it deals with the corporate greed and income inequality zeitgeist, telling a story revolving around innocent families struggling and being evicted from their homes.

The Martian (October 2nd)

I didn't even need to finish the Andy Weir novel this film is adapted from to get really, really excited about seeing it on the big screen. As I told my wife, it was written to not only be a movie, but a tremendously good one at that. Then I heard Ridley Scott would be directing, and while his overall career can be very hit or miss with me, when he dabbles in the science fiction genre I tend to fall in love with his work. Then I saw the cast....oh man the cast. Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Donald Glover, Jeff Daniels. Michael Pena, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, among others. The material is suited to be exciting, emotionally draining roller coaster, when the director wants to take me into outer space I always go on the journey and that cast to carry it...this is going to be a spectacular piece of cinema.

Crimson Peak (October 16th)

An old school haunted house style horror effort from director Guillermo del Toro? Yeah, that's all I needed to know for me to get in line for tickets to see Crimson Peak. Another terrific cast here too, with Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska starring. For what it's worth, legendary author Stephen King got a chance to see the film already at an early screening and he referred to it as "gorgeous and just fucking terrifying.".

Spectre (November 6th)

I have never been much of a James Bond fan, but I felt compelled to watch Skyfall on Blu-ray after the rave reviews and massive success it achieved. I instantly regretted not catching that outstanding film on the big screen, a mistake I refuse to repeat with the upcoming new entry Spectre. Daniel Craig returns as Bond, along with beautiful women, bad guys, gorgeous cinematography and slick direction from Sam Mendes. I watched Skyfall in my living room. Spectre will be on an IMAX screen. 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II (November 20th)

I'm sure many see The Hunger Games and cringe, citing that young adult material isn't there thing, but I am certainly a fan of the film franchise and very much looking forward to its conclusion. While still a fan of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I, it was a step back from the outstanding second film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but that was to be expected as the studio pulled the ol' split the final story into two movies to make as much money off it as possible thing. Thus, the first act was far more of a slow building of story leading into the hopefully kick ass action packed conclusion. One more chance to see Katniss Everdeen and the late, utterly brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen. Awesome.

The Good Dinosaur (November 25th)

A rare treat that we get two Pixar films in one calendar year, although the reason for this is a slight cause of concern with the upcoming The Good Dinosaur. The studio had problems with it and had to push back the release, hence this anomaly in their scheduling by having 2 films within 5 months of each other. That being said, I have faith that whatever issues were there have been solved and with the way I fell head over heels in love with Inside Out, the idea of more original work from them so soon after has me extremely excited to spend my Thanksgiving getting lost in another of their worlds. 

Midnight Special (November 25th)

*Update - Unfortunately, Midnight Special has been pushed back to 2016.

Someday, perhaps after people witness his upcoming film Midnight Special, the world will start to finally recognize that Jeff Nichols is one of the most gifted filmmakers working today. When that day comes, and it will...I get to be one of those guys who says things like "Yeah, well, I loved Jeff Nichols before it was cool to do so."

Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter (one of my 20 favorite films of all time) and Mud, the man makes accessible but lyrical pictures that on the surface don't seem to break new ground on a narrative level and yet his method of storytelling feels wholly unique and magical. I know very little about the upcoming Midnight Special beyond that it is described as being a science fiction film and it reunites Nichols with the amazing Michael Shannon yet again, along with Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver. These aren't ranked in terms of anticipation, but if they were, this would be in the top 3.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (December 18th)

Just above I said if I were to rank these, Midnight Special would be in the top 3. Well, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens would be #1. I took work off for December 18th to ensure I could see the new film at least once, likely twice by the end of that day. Not only did I take work off, I put in my request for that day in February. I asked my boss "How weird is it to ask for a day off 10 months in advance?". I had to be certain I could have that day to think of nothing but Star Wars.

As if the anticipation wasn't big enough already, the trailers that have been released thus far have me through the roof. In fact, I think I am honestly too excited. I sort of feel like the only direction this can go down, since my current expectations have be thinking anything less than my favorite film of the year would be a bummer. 

The Hateful Eight (December 25th)

I am a Tarantino super fan and he is delivering a (hopefully) wonderful Christmas present for me this year. I don't know a ton about the premise of The Hateful Eight because frankly, I don't care. I heard who was directing and I immediately wanted to see it, and nothing can lessen that desire. A Tarantino screenplay is always music to my ears.

Two films not listed are Silence by Martin Scorsese and Knight of Cups by Terrence Malick. Both would be included if not for the fact that as far as I know, neither has been guaranteed a 2015 release in the United States. 

The ten films I did choose, I hope they turn out to be as great as I want them to be. If so, this is going to be a truly tremendous year in film.

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