Every once in a while the stars align and a stellar year in the entertainment industry lies ahead. 2015 promises to be one of those years for the movie industry, with a lineup of new material from big directors, continued franchises and under-the-radar independents all set for release this year. From Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited The Hateful Eight, to the even more anticipated next Star Wars installment, this year offers a mixed bag of interesting original scripts and continuing storylines.
It seems to be the year of the reboot, with no less than nine franchise returns or film adaptations of television series, many of which have finally seen the light of day after extended periods in “development hell” or film limbo. Other trending themes include the spy genre and a return to solid science-fiction, likely spurred on by the big return of Star Wars. Whatever your bag, there’s something for everyone in this year’s lineup of films. Here are the ones to watch out for.
The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino’s long awaited eighth film has had a rather checkered history. From a leaked script that spurred the director to call the whole thing off, The Hateful Eight has brought nothing but anticipation and intrigue. The Western completes the “rewritten history” trilogy and features a plot that weaves racial tensions in post-Civil War Wyoming, and is slated for a November 13 release.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass, a frontiersmen who enacts revenge on those who left him for dead after a bear mauling. Set in the 1820s, the Western thriller is based on a novel by Michael Punke and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It has a limited release at the end of the year, followed by international theaters at the beginning of 2016.
Known for his dark fantasy films, Guillermo del Toro returns with a gothic horror romance starring Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam and Mia Wasikowska. Taking place in Cumbria, in Northern England, the film revolves around an aspiring author, a charming mysterious man, and a house that bleeds. The supernatural horror releases October 16.
The Sea of Trees
Taking it’s title from Japan’s notorious suicide forest Aokigahara, The Sea of Trees tells the story of an American man looking to end his life, when he runs into a Japanese man also in the forest. Together the unlikely pairing work to find their way out. Directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe, the film drops this year at a date yet to be advised.
Series creator Doug Ellin takes on directing responsibilities for the long-awaited film, which has Vincent Chase and his crew reprise their roles. Set not long after the series left off, the film sees Vince direct his first film, while Ari deals with the trouble of running his own movie studio. As expected, a massive lineup of cameos includes Emily Ratajkowski, Tom Brady and Liam Neeson among others, while Kid Cudi takes on the iconic role of Ari’s new assistant. It releases June 5.
Having spent over a decade in “development hell,” the long-awaited fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World, is finally coming to life. Taking place 22 years after the events of the original, John Hammond’s original vision of a fully functioning dinosaur theme park called Jurassic World has come to life on the island of Isla Nublar. Soon enough the new creation Indominus Rex runs wild and mayhem ensues. This could be a potential sequel-that-never-should-have-been, but either way we’re willing to give it a go when it releases June 12.
A film adaptation about French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s attempt to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role, and is directed by Robert Zemeckis. The Walk releases in cinemas on October 2.
The 24th Bond film to date, Spectre sees Daniel Craig reprise his role for the fourth time, while director Sam Mendes follows up his second Bond directorial outing, after the success of 2012’s Skyfall. The film revolves around a sinister organization known as SPECTRE, while the future of MI6 is threatened by political pressures. No word yet on who will sing the theme song, but it will no doubt be hard to top Adele’s Oscar-winning effort for Skyfall. Spectre releases on November 6.
Mad Max: Fury Road
30 years since the last film in the franchise was released, Australian director George Miller has finally continued on the post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise with a fourth installment. Tom Hardy takes on the role of Max, while Charlize Theron plays Furiosa, a woman he meets who wishes to cross the desert wasteland. Having been stuck in “development hell” for close to 25 years, and with Mel Gibson originally planning to reprise his role until he lost interest in 2000, Mad Max: Fury Road is indeed a very long-awaited sequel. It finally hits cinemas May 15.
The Wachowski’s return bigger than ever with a space opera starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, in a universe that has been described as “a cross between The Matrix and Star Wars.” Unknown to its residents, Earth and countless other planets have been seeded by families of alien royalty for harvest. Jupiter Jones, played by Kunis, discovers she is heir to the throne, and with the help of a questionably-outfitted interplanetary warrior, a space saga ensues. With a plot that is quite possibly as ridiculous as Channing Tatum’s hair and makeup, Jupiter Ascending will either join the ranks of other classic, absurdist sci-fi epics, or fall miserably on its head. We wait with bated breath for February 6.
Neill Blomkamp brought South African cinema to the forefront with District 9, while Die Antwoord brought attention to it musically, so it’s no surprise (or maybe it is) that the two have come together for CHAPPiE. Weighing in on the artificial intelligence debate that continues to rage across the film world, we’re still unsure how to take Yolandi and Ninja as adopted parents to a prodigious robot. Or Hugh Jackman’s accent for that matter. It hits theaters on March 6.
Currently premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, True Story looks to be one of those rare indie films that bridges the Hollywood divide. Starring James Franco and Jonah Hill, it’s based on the memoir by Michael Finkel, which tells the story of how Christian Longo, an FBI-wanted murderer, lived outside the United States under Finkel’s name, and the relationship between the two men. True Story hits regular theaters April 10.
Ridley Scott keeps things interplanetary with his follow up to Prometheus, a film adaptation of The Martian by Andy Weir. Matt Damon plays an astronaut who after being left behind, attempts to continue his existence on an alien planet, in the hopes of one day being rescued. The book’s success, coupled with Scott’s previous sci-fi hits, suggests The Martian will be a big one when it drops November 25.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Based on the 1960s TV series of the same name, Guy Ritchie takes on remake duties for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Bringing his usual wit and humor, as well as some very stylish production design, the film looks like a fun foray into the spy genre. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer take on the lead roles, proving to be a very dapper affair indeed. Look out for it to hit theaters on August 14.
After filming was delayed due to Paul Walker’s tragic death halfway through shooting in 2013, the seventh installment in the Fast & Furious franchise will finally release. Taking place after the events of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the plot follows Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham, as he seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family for the death of his brother. With the original actors all reprising their roles, as well as it being Paul Walker’s final film, Furious 7 will be one to look out for come April 3.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
Having just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, The Stanford Prison Experiment tells the story of the so-called experiment in which students of the famed university were given the role of either prisoner or prison guard in a study conducted in 1971. The psychological indie thriller stars Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, and Olivia Thirlby, and is yet to receive a general release date.
English director Stephen Frears takes on the story of Lance Armstrong’s shocking fall from grace, with a story that is based on Irish journalist David Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong. The story follows Walsh as he becomes convinced that Armstrong’s Tour de France wins are fueled by doping. It releases in August, however an exact date is yet to be announced.
Knight of Cups
Terrence Malick brings us yet another life-questioning modern drama with Knight of Cups. Christian Bale plays an LA screenwriter who is struggling to make sense of the bizarre events happening around him, in what looks like another take on the dark twisted Hollywood fantasy. A solid lineup of actors including Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett also star in the film, which has it’s world premier at next month’s Berlin Film Festival, and a general release on December 11, ready for next year’s Oscar season.
Straight Outta Compton
Chronicling the rise and fall of seminal West Coast rap group N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton is a biographical film by director F. Gary Gray, with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre on board as producers. With such close ties to the group, including Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. playing his father in the film, Straight Outta Compton is set to offer some real insight in to the history of West Coast rap. It releases on August 14.
Seth MacFarlane is back with a sequel to the R-rated comedy Ted, once again starring himself as the titular voice, Mark Wahlberg, and with Amanda Seyfried added to the lineup. Not much is known about the plot, however, it’ll surely be as rude and vulgar as ever. It lands in cinemas June 26.
Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller (aka St. James Place)
Power duo Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are back together for what looks like one of the big Hollywood releases of the year. With a plot that concerns the 1960 U-2 incident during the Cold War, an original script by Matt Charman was revised by the Coen brothers, while a definite title is yet to be confirmed. Look out for it in cinemas October 16.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
A no-brainer, the seventh installment of one of the most epic franchises in film history, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is perhaps hands down the most anticipated film of the year. Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the film features original cast members reprising their roles, and is the beginning of another trilogy within the series. Fanboys will no doubt approve of J.J.Abrams as director, however, they’ll have to wait all year, as the next episode drops December 18.
Animated film wiz Brad Bird drops sci-fi adventure film Tomorrowland, named after the futuristic-themed land at Disney theme parks. Revolving around a place that exists in time and space, a teenage girl and inventor travel to Tomorrowland, where their actions directly affect the world and themselves. Starring George Clooney, the film releases May 22.
A strong cast led by Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Sienna Miller features in Black Mass, which tells the true story of Irish-American crime figure Whitey Bulger. Set in South Boston, the film looks to be the under-the-radar action film for the year. It releases in theaters September 18.
After his long-awaited promise of “being back,” the fifth installment of the Terminator franchise heralds the return of the man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Acting as a sequel, prequel, and a reboot to the series, the next film promises a lot and hopefully delivers. Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor, who along with Kyle Reese and an aging terminator, must try and prevent Judgement Day. It lands in cinemas July 1.