Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A boxer fights his way to the top, only to find his life falling apart around him.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Naomie Harris , Forest Whitaker, 50 Cent
What Could Go Right: After the year Jake Gyllenhall had in 2014 I’m obliged to see pretty much anything he is in. He gave a career defying performance in Nightcrawler and one wonders how he will be able to follow that up. For whatever reason boxing tends to translate well to the big screen so hopefully that is a good sign for the future.
What Could Go Wrong: Antoine Fuqua is as inconsistent as they get for a director. He has never quite returned to the level of his breakout hit Training Day. His last two films Olympus has Fallen and The Equalizer where over the top action films, and it seemed like he finally found his niche. He clearly needs a good script behind hom so hopefully he has it. Kurt Sutter has never written a film before, but his work on shows like The Shield and Sons of Anarchy does bold well.
79. The Fantastic Four
Release Date: August 7th
Synopsis: Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan , Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell
What Could Go Right: Josh Trank’s last film Chronicle was a movie that should have been awful but ended up being a great deal of fun. He used a limited budget well especially in the climatic finale that had some of the best superhero action we have ever seen. The cast here is also full of some of today’s best young talent–including Toby Kebbell who had one of the best supporting performance last year with his work as Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Now he gets the chance to play one of the most iconic villains of all time in Dr. Doom.
What Could Go Wrong: I cannot think of a movie that has gotten more hate before even a poster was released than this project. Many question the casting of such young talent to play characters that are typically older. Not to mention the racial issue that has led to a lot of fiery conversations. At this point I may be one of the few who holds out hope that this could be good.
78. Untitled Woody Allen Project
Release Date: Summer
Synopsis: On a small town college campus, a philosophy professor in existential crisis gives his life new purpose when he enters into a relationship with his student.
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Starring: Emma Stone, Joaquin Phoenix, Jamie Blackley, Parker Posey
What Could Go Right: Another year and another Woody Allen movie. You have to at least give the man credit for consistency. Even if he is past his prime every so often a gem comes along. Two years ago we had Blue Jasmine which won Cate Blanchett the Oscar for Best Leading Actress and in 2011 Midnight in Paris was one of my favorite films of that year. I feel like Emma Stone should work wonderfully in Woody Allen’s style, and although it did not work last year I could see a second go around having better results.
What Could Go Wrong: As stated when you have a director that pumps out movies like Woody Allen you never know what you are going to get. You could be getting one of the best movies of the year or perhaps one of the worst. Time will tell.
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A photographer for Life Magazine is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean.
Director: Anton Corbijn
Writer: Luke Davies
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Dane DeHaan, Robert Pattinson, Ben Kingsley, Dane DeHaan
What Could Go Right: Anton Corbijn has a style that does not go over well with many. The man who gave us The American and last year’s A Most Wanted Man likes to take his sweet time when telling a story. He has removed himself from the spy genre and entered into quite the concept. I really look forward to see what Dane DeHaan can do in a role where he plays James Dean. It could be the role that finally gets him some award buzz.
What Could Go Wrong: Movies that center around past real life stars can be tough. You can end up feeling like you are just watching someone do a crappy impression for two hours. As mentioned Corbijn tends to favor a slow pace and I wonder if that would work with this type of story.
76. Scouts vs. Zombies
Release Date: October 30th
Synopsis: Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak.
Director: Christopher Landon
Writer: Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Lee Wilson
Starring: Halston Sage, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Tye Sheridan
What Could Go Right: I probably would have passed right over this project if it was not for Tye Sheridan’s name attached. His work in Mud, Tree of Life, and Joe has impressed me a great deal. He has worked with an impressive pedigree of directors who have shaped him into a strong actor.
What Could Go Wrong: The movie is called Scouts vs. Zombies so pretty much anything could go wrong. There is a good chance that someone came up with the title and they began filming the next day just to capitalize on the idea.
Release Date: October 1st
Synopsis: Identical twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray terrorize London during the 1950s and 1960s.
Director: Brian Helgeland
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Colin Morgan
What Could Go Right: Tom Hardy is the type of actor that likes to challenge himself. Last year in Locke he proved he could make driving in a car and talking exciting. With Legend he has a new challenge of playing his own twin. If history means anything my assumption is he will live up to the challenge.
What Could Go Wrong: Director Brian Helgeland does not have the greatest track record in the world. He gave us A Night’s Tale and The Order, which are not films I enjoy a great deal. Although I feel Tom Hardy can play the role of two twins a lot of it relies on strong editing and direction. Without it things can quickly become overly cheesy and take you out of the movie.
74. Jupiter Ascending
Release Date: February 6th
Synopsis: In the future, a young destitute human woman gets targeted for assassination by the Queen of the Universe, and begins her destiny to finish the Queen’s reign.
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Writer: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean
What Could Go Right: The Wachowski gave us one of the great action/science fiction films of all time with The Matrix…and cough…its sequels. Their last film Cloud Atlas was an ambitious venture that got them back on the right track. Plus we need another great science fiction epic that is not called Star Wars so hopefully this could be it.
What Could Go Wrong: This was slated to come out last year but got pushed back to this February, which is never a good sign. The trailers have not impressed me a great deal and I wonder if this could be another flop by the Wachowskis.
73. Slow West
Release Date: January 24th
Synopsis: ‘Slow West’ follows a 16-year-old boy on a journey across 19th Century frontier America in search of the woman he loves, while accompanied by mysterious traveler Silas.
Director: John Maclean
Writer: John Maclean
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Mendelsohn
What Could Go Right: I am putting this on the list partially in my hope of seeing Westerns make a comeback, and in a small way they are on the verge of a comeback as this is the first of three to be on this list. My major interest in this comes from Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn being attached.
What Could Go Wrong: This is John Maclean first feature film so there are a lot of unknowns. He did previously win a BAFTA for one of his short films so he has shown some talent. We have seen many try to bring back the Western genre and many have failed. Sometimes the stories just don’t translate to today’s audience.
72. While We’re Young
Release Date: March 27th
Synopsis: A middle-aged couple’s career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives.
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver
What Could Go Right: It is great to see Noah Baumbach and Ben Stiller teaming up once again. I was a fan of their last film together Greenberg. It had that classic Baumbach style that has the right amount of comedy and drama.
What Could Go Wrong: With a Baumbach movie you are typically safe, but everyone has their bad days. The synopsis does appear to cover ground he has done previously so hopefully it will not be more of the same.
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A behind-the-scenes look at news anchor Dan Rather during his final days at C.B.S. News when he broadcast a damaging report about how President Bush relied on privilege and family connections to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War.
Director: James Vanderbilt
Writer: Mary Mapes (memoir), James Vanderbilt (screenplay)
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Elisabeth Moss, Dennis Quaid
What Could Go Right: I tend to enjoy movies that center around the news in some way. Network, Good Nigh and Good Luck, Broadcast News, and All the President’s Men are some of my favorites. Now I am not putting Truth into that company yet, but it does have the potential to be-especially with Robert Redord playing Dan Rather.
What Could Go Wrong: Based on the synopsis this could easily become a politically motivated piece that is more focused on proving a point than making a good movie. One of those films that pushes an agenda so hard you cannot help but find it off putting even if you agree with what they are trying to say.
70. The Last Face
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A director (Charlize Theron) of an international aid agency in Africa meets a relief aid doctor (Javier Bardem) amidst a political/social revolution, and together face tough choices surrounding humanitarianism and life through civil unrest
Director: Sean Penn
Writer: Erin Dignam
Starring: Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Jean Reno
What Could Go Right: After the success that was Into the Wild I am surprised it has taken Sean Penn this long to go back to directing. Knowing the type of person Sean Penn is I can see why this story would be one he wants to tell.
What Could Go Wrong: Sean Penn reminds me of Bono as they are people who do a lot of good and are clearly talented but there is something about them I just can’t stomach. I could see this being an extremely melodramatic drama that enjoys expanding upon its own self importance. Perhaps I am just being too cynical though.
69. Our Kind of Traitor
Release Date: April 30th
Synopsis: A couple find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.
Director: Susanna White
Writer: Hossein Amini (screenplay), John le Carré (novel)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård
What Could Go Right: Much of my anticipation relies on the concept. An ordinary couple stuck in a foreign land with no one to turn to. When you have a cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naimie Harris, and Stellan Skarsgard I can see them making that concept really work.
What Could Go Wrong: Susanna White is unproven as a movie director. At this point her only feature film is Nany McPhee Returns and that is not the type of movie that will instill confidence in anyone. She has done a great deal of television work including Generation Kill and Boardwalk Empire, but it is still hard to tell how she will fair with a movie of this nature.
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: An investment banker struggling to understand his emotional disconnect after the tragic death of his wife begins to tear apart his life in a effort to see where he went wrong, is ultimately rescued by a woman he meets in a chance encounter.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Bryan Sipe
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper
What Could Go Right: Jean-Marc Vallée has become a director known for getting quality performances out of actors. Dallas Buyers Club landed two Academy Awards and Wild was also noted for giving Reese Whitherspoon a chance to truly act again. Now when you team him up with someone like Jake Gyllenhaal it is hard not to assume more awards will follow.
What Could Go Wrong: While Jean-Marc Vallée has gotten great performances out of actors the movies themselves have left a lot to be desired. He is the type of director that tends to belabor a point. With a story about a man dealing with a tragic death the opportunity for overkill is abundant.
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: Spurred on by an eerie prophecy of the power he could gain if he were King, Macbeth, an army general, murders Duncan, the King of Scotland, and takes the throne. However, his guilt, and that of his wife, may prove to be their undoing.
Director: Justin Kurzel
Writer: Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, David Thewlis
What Could Go Right: Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard doing Shakespere? This is the type of movie you want in an early Oscar pool. Justin Kurzel also directed Snowtown Murders which is a movie that is not talked about nearly enough. Considering the material this could be his major break out film.
What Could Go Wrong: Many have tried to adapt Shakespeare for the big screen and many have failed. Even some of the best directors of our time could not quite get a handle on the hefty material. There is a lot of pressure and the question is can Justin Kurzel handle it?
66. Louder Than Bombs
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: No Synopsis at this time
Director: Joachim Trier
Writer: Joachim Trier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Rachel Brosnahan, Amy Ryan
What Could Go Right: There is literally nothing else to go one besides the names attached, but sometimes that’s all you need. Oslo, August 31st was a hidden gem so whatever Joachim Trier was going to do next I was going to see. Also Jesse Eisenberg has been making a lot of interesting acting choices as of late so him teaming up with Trier has me intrigued.
What Could Go Wrong: As I stated there is not much to go on at this point. This does mark Trier’s transition to doing an American film and we have seen that transition not bold well for directors. Sometimes things are lost in translation.
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: An Irish sports journalist becomes convinced that Lance Armstrong’s performances during the Tour de France victories are fueled by banned substances. With this conviction, he starts hunting for evidence that will expose Armstrong.
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: John Hodge
Starring: Lee Pace, Ben Foster, Dustin Hoffman
What Could Go Right: Great movies tend to start with great casting choices and Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong has the makings of being a great casting choice. Armstrong is one of the most controversial figures in sports history so there is certainly a great deal of built in drama to this story.
What Could Go Wrong: The closer you are to a story the less you know about it. With this story being relatively new does that limit how much can be explored? Will it tell us anything we do not already know, or has not been covered a great deal already?
64. Ex Machina
Release Date: April 10th
Synopsis: A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac
What Could Go Right: My intrigue for this project is mostly linked to the concept along with the promotional material that has been released so far. Based upon what has been shown so it has a unique look that can offer something new and fresh to the world of Science Fiction.
What Could Go Wrong: The synopsis does interest me, but it also sounds a great deal like a Her which was my favorite film of 2013. If the themes cover similar territory I could see it suffering from that comparison, which may limit it from forming its own identity.
63. Steve Jobs
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: His passion and ingenuity have been the driving force behind the digital age. However his drive to revolutionize technology was sacrificial. Ultimately it affected his family life and possibly his health. In this revealing film we explore the trials and triumphs of a modern day genius, Steven Paul Jobs.
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Walter Isaacson (biography), Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, Michael Fassbender
What Could Go Right: I absolutely love Aaron Sorkin’s writing style. I know he has his cliches-but I love those cliches. When jOBS starring Ashton Kutcher was released people were saying a better Steve Jobs movie is clearly on its way, and with names like Michael Fassbender and Danny Boyle attached hopefully that proclamation is true.
What Could Go Wrong: This production has faced a multitude of issues and filming hasn’t even begun yet. Christian Bale dropped out as the lead, and Danny Boyle had to pick up the project after Sony pretty much canceled it. The only reason it is not higher is because there seems to be a strong chance it does not come out this year, or perhaps does not get made at all.
Release Date: July 10th
Synopsis: Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Writer: Brian Lynch
Starring: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Michael Keaton, Sandra Bullock
What Could Go Right: The Despicable Me films have been their own little phenomenon up to this point, and clearly the breakout characters were the Minions. It was only a matter of time before they got their own movie and here it is. There is no denying their appeal, and they have a unique sense of humor that is guaranteed to garner some laughs.
What Could Go Wrong: Taking side characters and putting them in the forefront is a risky venture. Sometimes less is more and when your characters do not have an audible language you can understand will their jokes fall flat. Also last year we saw a similar concept with the Penguins of Madagascar and that was less than successful.
61. Beasts of No Nation
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A drama based on the experiences of Agu, a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country.
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Writer: Cary Fukunaga
Starring: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Opeyemi Fagbohungbe
What Could Go Right: Cary Fukunaga may not be a name you know, but you certainly have heard of his work. Last year he directed episodes of True Detective, and although it is a TV show it was one of the best cinematic experiences of the entire year. Not to mention he also wrote and directed Sin Nombre, which was quite the powerful movie.
What Could Go Wrong: Probably the biggest thing working against Beasts of No Nation is high expectations. When you help create what some are calling one of the greatest television series of all time how can you possibly do something better? Sometimes peole can be a victim of their own greatness. Hopefully it does not happen to Cary Fukunaga.