With 2015 fast approaching, here’s the first 25 in a list of 50 movies coming our way next year that may or may not prove to be as successful as we, or they, may hope, but which are certain to have a level of expectancy attached to them. So, in no particular order…
1) Spectre – How the series continues following the death of M (Judi Dench) in Skyfall could mean a whole new world for everyone’s favourite secret agent, but whatever returning director Sam Mendes and screenwriter John Logan have come up with, it’s sure to be a hit at the box office.
2) Cinderella – With Kenneth Branagh in the director’s chair, and a cast that includes Helena Bohnam Carter, Stellan Skarsgård, Derek Jacobi and Cate Blanchett, this fairy tale romance has all the hallmarks of being a lavish reimagining of the classic story.
3) Mad Max: Fury Road – The trailer looks like this long-awaited reboot is one long chase sequence (no bad thing), but with Tom Hardy stepping into Mel Gibson’s boots, and with support from Nicholas Hoult and Charlize Theron, this retread looks suitably gritty and dramatic.
4) Kung Fu Panda 3 – Dreamworks’ other ongoing animation franchise (the other features a dragon or two), builds on the groundwork laid in the first two movies and introduces us to Po’s biological father (Bryan Cranston). Is he villain or hero? Only Shifu knows…
5) Mortdecai – Johnny Depp? Nazi treasure? A character called Jock Strapp? However this comedy thriller turns out, it won’t be for want of trying, and may well be a pleasant surprise at the start of the year.
6) Terminator: Genisys – As promised, he’s back. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the role that made him an icon, aided and abetted by a great cast including Jason Clarke, Matt Smith and Emilia Clarke. Who wants to bet if he says, “Come with me if you want to live”?
7) The Jungle Book – A live action version of Kipling’s classic tale, directed by Jon Favreau, and featuring a top-notch voice cast including Scarlett Johansson and Ben Kingsley (not to mention Bill Murray as Baloo), this is intriguing to say the least, but will it have the warmth the animated version has?
8) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – And so we bid farewell to Katniss Everdeen and her struggle to stay alive against all the odds. As plucky heroines go, Katniss is up there with the best, but will this final instalment give viewers anything different from what readers of the book are already aware of?
9) Holland, Michigan – The feature film debut of legendary documentarian Errol Morris, this sees the ubiquitous Bryan Cranston and Naomi Watts as a married couple hiding secrets from each other. But whose secret is more dangerous than the other’s?
10) Regression – A twisty thriller from Alejandro Amenábar (The Others) about a father who’s accused of a crime he has no memory of committing, this has Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson heading up the cast, and could well be a surprise hit with audiences if it gets the right exposure.
11) Sea of Trees – It could be a case of inspired teaming, but this drama set in Japan’s Aokigahara (suicide forest) unites director Gus Van Sant and star of the moment Matthew McConaughey. If Van Sant reins in his experimental side, this could be one of the most powerful and moving movies of 2015.
12) London Has Fallen – The sequel to Olympus Has Fallen gets a sappy title but reunites Messrs. Butler, Freeman, Eckhart and Bassett for what will no doubt be another risible but hugely enjoyable action-fest that sees Butler single-handedly saving the day. It’ll be interesting to see how much of London actually gets trashed, though.
13) In a Valley of Violence – Horror director Ti West broadens his horizons with this revenge Western set in the 1880’s starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta. If it’s even half as intense as The Sacrament, then this should be compelling stuff.
14) The Minions – As promised, they’re back, with an origin story that shows how they met Gru (Steve Carell) at a villains convention in the 60’s. The little yellow guys(?) have a worldwide following, so this should be as successful at the box office as Despicable Me 2 was (but hopefully funnier).
15) Silence – The latest project from Martin Scorsese sees Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two Jesuit priests in 17th Century Japan trying to spread the gospel of Christianity against continual persecution. Oscar may like this a lot, but it may prove a tough sell at the box office. It’s Scorsese, though, and that could mean something astonishing.
16) Crimson Peak – Guillermo del Toro returns to his horror roots with this tale of a young woman, played by Mia Wasikowska, who discovers her husband is not who he appears to be. Expect startling visuals and the kind of creeping suspense few others directors pull off so well.
17) Triple Nine – With a great cast including Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson and Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Hillcoat’s crime drama about a group of corrupt cops forced to carry out an impossible heist looks set to be gritty and compelling, and setting audiences on the edge of their seats.
18) Magic Mike XXL – The sequel to Magic Mike features a story by Channing Tatum, some returning cast members (but not Matthew McConaughey), and photography and editing chores handled by a certain Steven Soderbergh. Whether this adds up to a movie that is as fun as its predecessor, only time and some slick dance moves will tell.
19) Entourage – The hit TV series transfers to the big screen with the gang all present and ready to take on Hollywood. If the movie is as funny as the series, then audiences are in for a treat, but for a shot at real success it needs to bring in enough non-fans to make it soar at the box office.
20) Mission: Impossible 5 – With locations including the Vienna Opera House and London’s Houses of Parliament (never filmed in before), this latest outing for Ethan Hunt and the M:I team has a considerable challenge in trying to top the success of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
21) Fathers and Daughters – A Pulizer Prize winning author played by Russell Crowe struggles to raise his daughter in the wake of his wife’s death, and we see the effects of that on her as an adult (played by Amanda Seyfried). A more obvious Oscar contender would be hard to find, but Crowe is ideally suited to this type of movie, and he’s supported by the likes of Aaron Paul, Quvenzhané Wallis and Jane Fonda.
22) Knight of Cups – Set against the backdrop of the music scene in Austin, Texas, this has possibly the best ensemble cast of 2015 – Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling and Cate Blanchett to name but a few – and is likely to be one of the most eagerly awaited movies of the year.
23) Jupiter Ascending – Delayed from 2014 (not usually a good sign) the Wachowskis’ latest sci-fi blockbuster features Channing Tatum with pointy ears and genre-bending visuals. Whether the story is as compelling remains to be seen but any movie by such visionary filmmakers deserves a fair chance.
24) The Martian – More sci-fi, with Matt Damon’s stranded astronaut forced to improvise a lifestyle that will enable him to survive on the Red Planet until his rescuers arrive. The book is a page-turner, let’s hope Ridley Scott’s adaptation is the filmic equivalent.
25) Fast & Furious 7 – With Parts 5 & 6 upping the action stakes and the sad loss of Paul Walker in November 2013 pushing back the release date by a year, this latest instalment needs to pull out all the stops. Vin Diesel is confident it’s the best F&F yet, and with Jason Statham, Kurt Russell and Lucas Black added to the cast (Black reprising his role from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), this promises more macho strutting than it seems possible for one movie to cope with.
Movies 26-50 will follow soon. If you have a movie that you’re looking forward to in 2015, please feel free to let me know.