Westerns and Sci-fi films still dominate the original film top ten
After such a blockbuster year, it’s hard not to think about the big titles coming out in 2015. But it’s looking to be yet another bumper line-up, almost entirely dominated by sequels, so why not split the lists into blockbuster titles and more independent offerings?Here we check out the top smaller titles we’ve got to look forward to in 2015; not necessarily all indie flicks, but certainly not the big guns. You never know though, they may well be some of the best received films of the year. There are plenty of others out there, some of them finished but with release dates yet to be finalised, like Michael Fassbender’s Slow West (which made my top list of Westerns to look forward to), and others which look interesting but don’t quite make the cut, like the Natalie Portman-led Jane Got a Gun (which also made the same list, but may have imploded because of its messy production history); Gibson’s latest action-thriller and not-quite-comeback, Blood Father; and the potentially good DeNiro (yeah, I don’t really believe it either) flick Hands of Stone. There’s also Ron Howard’s Moby Dick-esque In the Heart of the Sea. And Malick’s latest, Knight of Cups, which could be another masterpiece. Or could be another To the Wonder. All could be good, but the following 10 (or 11!) are hopefully going to be must-see gems.
10. Child 44 / Jupiter Ascending
Both made my 2013 list, and we’re still waiting for them another year on, so I refuse to give them separate entries two years in a row. Child 44 is the first of two Tom Hardy films to make the list (three if you count my blockbuster list) but can he pull off a trifecta? Indeed, if he pulls it off – and with a great cast including Gary Oldman, Vincent Cassel, Paddy Considine, Noomi Rapace and Jason Clarke, and directed by Safe House’s Daniel Espinosa, there’s a good chance – it could be the start of a franchise featuring the Stalin-era anti-hero investigator Leo Demidov, who is the star of three novels so far. On the other hand, the Wachowski’s latest, Jupiter Ascending (which was probably pushed back to get more Channing Tatum in it!) sports some ridiculous costumes, makeup and trailer shots, but could still well be another visually impressive offering from the guys who haven’t really nailed it since 1999.2015 may be another year of blockbuster franchise flicks but there are some interesting original movies to take a chance on too.9. Crimson Peak
It’s hard not to get excited about Guillermo Del Toro returning to his favourite genre – horror – and after almost a decade in the making, it looks like we’re finally going to get our wish. Written around the time of Pan’s Labyrinth, this may well be another little gem, and the cast – including Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hiddleston – looks interesting, but it’s the fact that Jessica Chastain had to have a full body cast made for the film which has really piqued my interest. Imagine what craziness Del Toro has in mind for that. Is that an eye coming out of your palm?
8. American Sniper - Official AVF Review now HERE
Clint Eastwood has been a little disappointing of late – from J. Edgar to Jersey Boys – but his latest, starring Bradley Cooper as the long shot with the most amount of kills in US history, looks quite promising. Indeed, with early stateside reviews sounding quite positive, I’m actually looking forward to an Eastwood film for the first time in quite a while, and perhaps it’s no surprise when you realise that this was once a Spielberg project which Eastwood later adopted.
7. Triple Nine
Lawless’s John Hillcoat returns to the present to deliver a heist thriller about a group of corrupt cops blackmailed into performing an impossible heist. With Hillcoat on board this isn’t going to be pleasant stuff, and given how great Woody Harrelson has been of late (seen Out of the Furnace yet?), I’ve got my hopes that this will be the film that Ayer’s Sabotage could have been.
With George Clooney going to a futuristic theme park, this latest sci-fi mystery effort from Brad Bird is undoubtedly going to be an impressive ride; he certainly knows how to deliver incredible jaw-dropping moments. Sure, I’m a little concerned about anything with Lindlehof’s name attached to it, but hopefully Bird will have ironed out anything frustratingly stupid in pre-production.
5. St James Place
Spielberg finally completes a project, with a script written by the reliably great Coen Brothers, no less. With his favourite actor Tom Hanks leading the way, this 60s Cold War thriller – about a lawyer drafted in to help negotiate the release of a US pilot shot down over Russia – could be one of the best films of 2015.
Given that director Michael Mann has made two films which have hit my personal Top 10, it’s hard for me not to give him the benefit of the doubt with whatever project he comes up with. The long-gestating Cyber, now retitled Blackhat, has got a lot going against it – including Chris Hemsworth playing the most implausible super-hacker since Hugh Jackman in Swordfish – but between the prescient story (considering the North Korea / Sony debacle) and the fact that I’ve loved almost everything Mann has done (even the likes of Ali and Miami Vice) I still have faith that he can pull off something both distinctive and special.
3. Ex Machina - Official AVF Review now HERE
Dredd. Alex Garland. Enough said? The screenwriter behind the definitive interpretation of the ultimate peacekeeping, law-spouting, death-dealing Sheriff in the West, Judge Dredd, may not get a chance to be involved in the fan-craved sequel anytime soon (although we’re all still hoping he does) but we still get to see his directorial debut in Ex Machina, an A.I.-flavoured sci-fi thriller. Who knows, if it does well, maybe they’ll give him a sequel to Dredd to write and direct. Fingers crossed. And, whilst it may well be a great year for Westerns, we’ve had a superb run of sci-fi efforts recently; and 2015 doesn’t look like it’s slowing up either.
2. The Revenant
Tom Hardy again, but this time not leading the way. No, this baby is a Leonardo DiCaprio film. And despite the fact that the director is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (who did 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful and the recent Birdman); despite the fact that it’s yet another great western in the Year of The Western, the biggest thing that has caught my attention about this production is DiCaprio’s name. A reason to watch anything, the man took a break from making movies arguably at the peak of his career, so it’ll be good – no, great – to have him back.
1. The Hateful Eight
Tarantino worked magic with Django Unchained, and the all-star cast that participated in his much-publicised read-through are almost all intact for this adaptation of his latest script, with the likes of Kurt Russell (who is also doing the intriguing horror-western Bone Tomahawk), Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern all resuming their roles. It’s hard to see how this won’t be a sharp, brutal, punchy and provocative entry in 2015. With some of the most memorable lines of the year. It's being shot in 70mm and it’s another Western too! Now do you see why it’s the Year of the Western?
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