1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This might be the most transparent choice on the list but it’s also the most cloaked in secrecy. No footage of the original cast so far, the new cast is full of asterisks, the plotline is kept under wraps and the amount of lens flare by J.J. Abrams is also a mystery. But those very quandaries make it the most alluring. Plus the initial trailer gave me goosebumps when I thought I was done with a galaxy far, far away.
Finally Bond will have a proper robust henchman to tussle with in the form of Dave Bautista. Not since Robert Shaw in ‘From Russia With Love’ has Bond been pitted against such a formidable physical foe. And the eagerly anticipated introduction of the Spectre organization and possibly Blofeld is the final piece to the 007 canon.
Were it not for the fresh blood of Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler, this would be lower on the list despite my adulation of all things Italian Stallion. However, with the Balboa saga culminating at a beautifully elegiac juncture and Stallone as a sage supporting character, I think this stands a chance of being the rare spin-off that justifies existence.
4. Inside Out
Pixar is the undisputed juggernaut of animation and with a two-year hiatus from the foray, everyone is anxious to see what they’ve been ruminating on in the meantime. ‘Inside Out’ looks to be a mature step forward for the studio as it’s conceptual ambition might be too grandiose for youngsters. The notion of cerebral personification is ripe with psychoanalytical satire and it shows Pixar isn’t daunted by the prospect of catering more towards adults than children.
5. Steve Jobs
The scheduling and delay process behind ‘Steve Jobs’ has been well-publicized. Yet it’s impossible to resist the combination of the effervescent visionary Danny Boyle joining forces with the eloquent mastermind Aaron Sorkin. The three-scene structure might sound a bit stagebound but as Boyle displayed in ‘127 Hours’, he can effortlessly open up the most claustrophobic of settings with aesthetic verve.
6. St. James Place
In terms of actors who usually delivers on a regular basis, Tom Hanks is not someone to be scoffed at. He never picks projects frivolously (less said about the Dan Brown adaptations the better) and fact-based dramas are the wheelhouse in which he thrives. As of late, his frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg has been erratic (in lieu of the masterpiece ‘Lincoln’) but Hanks has a knack for not bankrolling the wrong enterprise.
7. Hateful Eight
It’s no secret that Tarantino is one of my cinematic deities and anything that spills from his inkwell is worth checking out. He collates genres and blends them into a flavorful concoction. Agatha Christie murder-mystery against an acid western with a powerhouse cast is about as seamless a pitch as one could offer. The only misstep in the casting for me is Jennifer Jason Leigh who I’ve always found to be grating.
8. Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s been nearly two decades since we last entered the anarchic arena of Mad Max and I never suspected I would be so homesick for desert marauders. The first trailer alone ensures that the practical car stunts will be jaw-dropping in their intricacy and Tom Hardy is a superbly stoic heir-apparent to Mel Gibson. Long live post-apocalyptic furor.
People can snicker at the absurdity of the title but Marvel has a Midas touch with superhero properties. Paul Rudd is ambidextrous with both pathos and laughs and despite the somewhat restrained tone of the trailer, the movie should be a flippant parody of the genre while being a rip-roaring yarn at the same time.
10. Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence
Yes, the journey that spanned many anuses has come to its heart-stopping conclusion that will send a shiver down the spine of every biped. But seriously, Tom Six is some sort of deranged genius. I adored his vile imagination in the first two entries and number three sounds like the most outrageous, meta installment yet. I can’t say that these movies are pleasant viewing experiences but they are certainly the most unbridled.
HONORABLE MENTIONS- THE REVENANT, ANARCHY, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5, EX MACHINA, SOUTHPAW
LEAST ANTICIPATED- PAN, FANTASTIC FOUR, CHAPPIE, CRIMSON PEAK, THE MARTIAN
1. Jurassic World – June 12
If you know me, it’s not surprising that this tops my list. Jurassic Park is my favorite film, a formative adventure that has not lessened with its first two sequels. Add Chris Pratt, Judy Greer, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfhan Khan and I’m even more excited. The only thing I’m wary about is the obvious main plot point that the park owners have simply created their own dinosaur. It veers dangerously close to the old John Sayles’ Dinosaurs With Guns script. I’m still willing to give it a chance though, to watch Pratt ride a motorcycle with raptors in tow. Nothing can stop me from seeing this.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – December 18
Speaking of franchises long thought dead, Star Wars was never supposed to have a sequel trilogy. True believers never gave up hope, however, and our bitter fanbase was delighted to hear George Lucas would be handing the reins off to perfectly capable directors like JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson. Even better is that this is not only first of a trilogy, but there will be additional movies almost all the time until we die. Truly a great time to live, and I didn’t even say a word about what this film is actually about. Of course, we’ve only had a teaser, but still…John Boyega, the return of the three main cast members (plus my favorite, C-3PO) and Oscar Isaac are just some of the shots that have already thrilled me.
3. Spectre – November 6
Another film for late this year, another film we don’t know much about. This is all fine by me, as I am not a huge fan of knowing literally everything about a film going in. I’ll elaborate more on that later, but my point here is that Daniel Craig’s Bond is at an all-time high coming off of Skyfall. To have the old criminal empire Spectre thrust back into the mix is more than enough to excite any casual Bond fan, let alone this obsessed one. Add in Christoph Waltz and I’m already more excited for this than any previous Bond film. Have you noticed a theme? People keep taking a meal I like, and add in someone I like. Good cooks, these Hollywood types.
4. The Hateful Eight – November 13
In any other year, I would have a new Tarantino film at the top of my list. This year, of course, includes a Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Bond film, so it’s not a typical year. Tarantino is on a brilliantly violent roll with Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds, so I expect this to be just as bloody and just as whip-smart with its dialogue. He’s also assembled the greatest ensemble this year, with Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Channing Tatum, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir and Michael Madsen. I have to say there’s nothing more exciting that a new Tarantino film, unless you’re one of the three above.
5. Tomorrowland – May 22
Oh, look another movie we don’t know much about! Of course this time, it’s based on a Disney ride. Safe to say they’re either hit or miss (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion) but this one seems like a surefire hit. I love Clooney, he seems to be at the top of his game here, and the visual look absolutely stunning. As close as we can get to original blockbuster these days.
6. St. James Place – October 16
Cory and I were just discussing last night whether or not Steven Spielberg would make another good film, at least a very acclaimed film because it was made by him. His last film, Lincoln, was more noticed for its remarkable performance from Daniel Day-Lewis than anything else, and before this, it could be considered that Spielberg hasn’t made a great film since 1998’s Saving Private Ryan. Not only that, but Spielberg passed on Interstellar and American Sniper to other directors to great acclaim. That’s a discussion I’d like to have with Cory on here another time, but this film – coming in September – looks to herald at least one last hurrah from Spielberg. All we know from this (they barely just named it) is that Tom Hanks plays a lawyer recruited to rescue a pilot stranded in the Cold War Soviet Union. Hanks is still on a roll from Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks, so reuniting with his Ryan director could mean great things.
7. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – August 14
My mother loved this show as a child and would tell me how fantastic the chemistry between Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo and David McCallum’s Ilya Kuryakin was. At the height of the Cold War, Americans and Russians coming together to stop mutual enemies was a marvel. Here, Guy Ritchie attempts to find that same chemistry between Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, two actors I think deserve more credit for the roles they’ve pursued so far. I’m excited for this to be an under the radar hit, but even if it isn’t, I really just hope it isn’t a disaster. This is the film I’m most wary to see.
8. Ted 2 – June 26
Ted was a success, A Million Ways to Die in the West was not. Seth MacFarlane wisely steps back behind the teddy bear for his next venture, and the trailer has at least convinced me this will be more like the former. I don’t think he was god awful in the latter film as most critics did, but maybe we just don’t need to see his smug face. Mark Wahlberg also seems to have more chemistry with a green screen than actual humans, so whether that says more about Zooey Deschanel or not, I don’t know. Ted 2 should at least provide a few laughs during the summer season, because the rest of the summer slate does look god awful.
9. Joy – December 25
Joy Mangano built an empire in Long Island with cleaning products sold over the television. She was alone to raise three children and still became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in America. This is her story, and it does sound a little dull at first glance. However, David O. Russell returns to direct Jennifer Lawrence, with appearances from Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper. A Silver Linings Playbook reunion could be the best thing to happen this Christmas in cinemas.
10. The Good Dinosaur – November 25
I do like my animated films, and Pixar is putting out one with dinosaurs. I bet this will get overshadowed with the equally interesting Inside Out (June 19) but I am most excited because that simply means I will be getting two Judy Greer dinosaur films this year. One has to be good, right? Hopefully both films will continue Pixar’s sparkling track record….ignoring recent sequels…
Honorable Mentions: Kingsman: The Secret Service; Mad Max: Fury Road; Inside Out; Focus; Minions; The Revenant; Ant-Man
Least Anticipated: Chappie; Home; McFarland, USA; Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip; Fantastic Four; Entourage; Hot Pursuit; Fifty Shades of Grey