60. A Hologram for the King
Release Date: November 25th
Synopsis: A failed American businessman looks to recoup his losses by traveling to Saudi Arabia and selling his idea to a wealthy monarch.
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Dave Eggers (novel), Tom Tykwer (screenplay)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tom Skerritt, Sarita Choudhury
What Could Go Right: When you have Tom Hanks in your movie a lot can go right. He usually makes good choices so if he has picked a project there is something to look forward to. He worked previously with Tom Tykwer on Cloud Atlas as well so there is some familiarity.
What Could Go Wrong: Tom Tykwer has had a hit and miss career. His best film Run Lola Run is long behind him, and one wonders if he has fully lost his touch. This could be the beginning of his comeback or more of the end.
59. Mistress America
Release Date: January 24th
Synopsis: A lonely college freshman’s life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister.
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Lola Kirke, Greta Gerwig, Michael Chernus |
What Could Go Right: Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach make a fantastic pair. Gerwig was near perfect in Francis Ha so one hopes that success could continue.
What Could Go Wrong: This is the second Noah Baumbach film on this list, and he is not the type of director to pump out multiple movies in the same year. I am always nervous when directors make so many movies close together as it could be too much of a good thing.
58. Pitch Perfect 2
Release Date: May 15th
Synopsis: Collegiate a cappella group the Barden Bellas enter into an international competition that no American team has ever won.
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Kay Cannon
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow
What Could Go Right: When I first saw the trailer for the first Pitch Perfect I thought it looked like an awful Glee rip-off, which makes you wonder why anyone would ever want to rip-off Glee. I was wrong and it turned out to be quite the fun movie thanks in large part to today’s Hollywood darling Anna Kendrick.
What Could Go Wrong: Pitch Perfect is not a movie that needs a sequel so this could be nothing more than a cheap cash in. It is novelty of an idea and novelties don’t tend to work the second time around.
57. Queen of the Desert
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A chronicle of Gertrude Bell’s life, a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Director: Werner Herzog
Writer: Werner Herzog
Starring: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis
What Could Go Right: Werner Herzog is the type of person that could read the instructional manual to a hairdryer and make it sound like a life reaffirming event that makes you view our societal structural in an entirely new light. So I am always excited when he creates a new film. I know some will scoff when they see the name Robert Pattinson, but he is slowly removing the Twilight stigma with roles in movies like The Rover and Cosmopolis.
What Could Go Wrong: Although I admire Herzog I tend to enjoy his documentary work much more than his standard films. When his vision is brought through the lens of other actors some things can get lost.
56. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Release Date: November 20th
Synopsis: After being symbolized as the ‘Mockingjay’ Katniss Everdeen and District 13 engage in an all-out revolution against the autocratic Capitol.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Danny Strong, Peter Craig
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson
What Could Go Right: The Hunger Games franchise is one of the most successful of all time, and we are hoping it can go out with an epic conclusion. With much of the plot transitions covered in the last installment it is clear the big battle many have been waiting for is finally coming.
What Could Go Wrong: The last installment was the first one of the series I had very strong issues with. This recent trend of splitting the final film of a franchise into two films has really hurt the quality of some of these movies. I fear the last film will be less of a movie and more of one gigantic extended action sequence.
55. Triple Nine
Release Date: November 11th
Synopsis: A group of corrupt police officers are blackmailed into pulling off a seemingly impossible heist. They plot the murder of a rookie police officer in order to orchestrate a “999”, code for ‘officer down’, to pull off the heist across town.
Director: John Hillcoat
Writer: Matt Cook
Starring: Norman Reedus, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot
What Could Go Right: Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul are two people behind two of the most iconic TV characters of today. Watching them together in the same movie should be a lot of fun. I am a fan of John Hillcoat as well as I felt his adaptation of The Road was fantastic, and that is a book I hold in extremely high regard.
What Could Go Wrong: There is nothing glaring that indicates Triple Nine will be a failure. The only big question lies with Matt Cook who is an unproven screenwriter. At this point this is the highest profile project he has worked on.
54. Mississippi Grind
Release Date: January 24th
Synopsis: Down on his luck and facing financial hardship, Gerry teams up with younger charismatic poker player, Curtis, in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what’s been lost.
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Sienna Miller, Ryan Reynolds, Analeigh Tipton
What Could Go Right: I know the name Ryan Reynolds can turn some people off. Some claim he plays the same character in every movie. Personally I do not believe that is true, but I hope that Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck can do what they did for Ryan Gosling with Reynolds. Gosling gained a lot of notoriety in their film Half Nelson. They give him some meaty material that allowed him to show his true acting chops. Hopefully Ryan Reynolds will get the same opportunity.
What Could Go Wrong: A road trip movie that centers on gambling is not the most unique idea on this list. People have used that concept many times so at this point is there anything new that can be added to this common trope?
Release Date: July 24th
Synopsis: Legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi and director Gil Kenan reimagine and contemporize the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is invaded by angry spirits. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and take the youngest daughter, the family must come together to rescue her.
Director: Gil Kenan
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris, Rosemarie DeWitt
What Could Go Right: Poltergeist is one of my all-time favorite horror films, but admittedly horror is not a genre I am extremely well versed in. It surprisingly holds up well, and I could see how the concept could work even better with improved special effects. Sam Rockwell’s name also has me hoping for greatness a little more than I should.
What Could Go Wrong: Many horror classics have tried to reboot themselves and most have failed. What Poltergeist did for its time was revolutionary, but it is pretty standard for today. Can it stay true to the source material while offering something new for the genre?
52. The Light Between Oceans
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat.
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writer: M.L. Stedman
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz
What Could Go Right: I feel like I could create a list of the top 50 movies of 2015 that Michael Fassbender is in. Director Derek Cianfrance who directed A Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine is the type of director that likes to give his actors a lot of room, and with actors like Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz that could yield some great results.
What Could Go Wrong: Sometimes with Derek Cianfrance’s style you can get some pretentious sequences which feel like nothing more than acting fodder. Although I overall enjoyed Blue Valentine it was guilty of this cinematic sin. Michael Fassbender is unquestionably one of today’s best actors, but even the best can fall without the proper direction.
51. The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A documentary about the proposed 1998 Superman Lives feature film that would have starred Nicolas Cage.
Director: Jon Schnepp
Writer: Jon Schnepp
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tim Burton, Kevin Smith
What Could Go Right: This is a story that has existed in the ethos of geek culture forever. Every so often new information trickles out sparking new discussion and debate over what could have been. We have heard from many that were part of the debacle tell their side so it is exciting to see it all broken down to one overall film.
What Could Go Wrong: There have been plenty of good films about movies that were never made. Last year we had a great one with Jodorowsky’s Dune. The key is having a great story behind the debacle. Sometimes that great story we all thought existed isn’t there and you are left with a documentary that covers a lot of nothing. Is there something actually interesting to tell here or is it one of those stories that has been blow out of proportion?
50. Bone Tomahawk
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: Four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers.
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Lili Simmons, and Matthew Fox
What Could Go Right: As stated previously I am always excited to see a new take on a western, and when Kurt Russell’s name is attached my intrigue goes up even higher. The concept sounds intriguing and could be throwback shlock genre mash-up that leads to a lot of fun.
What Could Go Wrong: When you have a story that includes cannibalistic cave dwellers you do run the risk of some overly gratuitous violence that can be a huge turnoff to some. Will it just be violence for violence sake or will there be some actual substance?
49. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Release Date: February 13th
Synopsis: A veteran secret agent takes a young upstart under his wing.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar (Comic Book), Dave Gibbons (Comic Book)
Starring: Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson
What Could Go Right: Matthew Vaughn has yet to let me down as director, and I feel he has made the best Marvel movie ever with X-Men: First Class. He knows how to handle comic book style with a serious twist.
What Could Go Wrong: I asked myself if I would be anticipating this movie at all based on the trailer if Matthew Vaughn’s name was not attached. I have to say I am not sure. This could be something full of crazy fun like Wanted or something extremely dull like Jumper.
48. Money Monster
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: Lee Gates is a TV personality whose insider tips have made him the money guru of Wall Street. When Kyle loses all of his family’s money on a bad tip, he holds Lee and his entire show hostage on air threatening to kill Lee if he does not get the stock up 24 and a half points before the bell. Ratings soar as the entire country tunes in to this media frenzy to find out just how much a man’s life is worth. Meanwhile, the hostage situation sheds light on a possible scandal involving the company in question. With elements of Dog Day Afternoon and Network, Money Monster is a very timely piece in these economic times.
Director: Jodie Foster
Writer: Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf,
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Julia Roberts, George Clooney
What Could Go Right: Last year I became a huge fan of Jack O’Connell and said I would make sure I would watch whatever he does next so here I am. When you have the acting talent of George Clooney and Julia Roberts with him as well there is a lot to look forward to.
What Could Go Wrong: I have not been a particular fan of Jodie Foster as a director. Her last film The Beaver had some interesting ideas but never fully formed as a complete movie. Also when your official synopsis tries to evoke feelings by comparing it to movies like Dog Day Afternoon and Network you are setting yourself up for failure.
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A young female FBI agent joins a secret CIA operation to take down a Mexican cartel boss, a job that ends up pushing her ethical and moral values to the limit.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Jon Bernthal, Benicio Del Toro
What Could Go Right: Denis Villeneuve has created some of the most provocative and interesting films in the last few years. He is on quite the roll with movies like Incendies, Prisoners, and last year’s Enemy. What is the most fascinating thing about his career so far is how vastly different those films all are. Each has their own unique subject matter and design. There are not many elements that clue you in that each was made by the same director.
What Could Go Wrong: With that said streaks do end, and sometimes creating one film after the other can lead to creative fatigue. Also we have gotten our fair share of movies and television shows that have focused on the Mexican cartel recently so I wonder if there is anything new to bring to this topic.
46. Black Mass
Release Date: September 18th
Synopsis: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Director: Scott Cooper
Writer: Scott Cooper (screenplay), Dick Lehr (book)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Depp, Sienna Miller, Adam Scott
What Could Go Right: I personally love mafia crime dramas, and I have quite the fascination with the Whitey Bulger story. If anything it is odd it took this long to see his story tackled on this scale. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the most respected actors at the moment, and now he is teaming up with the director that helped to finally get Jeff Bridges his long awaited Oscar.
What Could Go Wrong: The last time Johnny Depp starred in a mafia film that focused on a notorious real life gangster it was big disappointment. Black Mass does not appear to have much in common with Public Enemies, but it is hard not to make that correlation. Johnny Depp has gone from one of the most respected actors to one of the most disappointing in just a few short years. Hopefully Black Mass can help restore his previous status.
Release Date: December 18th
Synopsis: Two sisters decide to throw one last house party before their parents sell their family home.
Director: Jason Moore
Writer: Paula Pell
Starring: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo
What Could Go Right: It is hard not to love Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. They are two of the funniest people in Hollywood right now, and have made the Golden Globes watchable-a feat no one thought would be possible. Poehler and Fey clearly have great chemistry so it be no issue buying them as sisters.
What Could Go Wrong: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have made a movie together previously with Baby Mama, and it was not very good at all. Sometimes with comedies there is a great deal of focus on getting the right cast, but not nearly enough attention on creating good material. With neither Poehler or Fey being part of the writing or directing I wonder if their talents will be properly used.
Release Date: July 17th
Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Adam McKay
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, Michael Douglas
What Could Go Right: For Marvel when you ask the question, “What can go right?” the answer has been—EVERYTHING. Last year they had two of the top three grossing films of the year including the biggest film of the year which featured a talking raccoon and houseplant. A movie like Ant-Man should bold no troubles for them.
What Could Go Wrong: A lot of wind came out of the sales when Edgar Wright dropped out as director, and when the trailer debuted some of the biggest worries appeared to be legitimized. Many have mentioned the Comic-Con footage from a few years ago did a better job selling the film than the entire trailer, and I have to agree with that statement.
Release Date: July 24th
Synopsis: Video game experts are recruited by the military to fight 1980s-era video game characters who’ve attacked New York.
Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Timothy Dowling, Tim Herlihy
Starring: Michelle Monaghan, Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad
What Could Go Right: I feel odd putting this much faith into a Chris Columbus – Adam Sandler vehicle, but the concept does really sell me. Mostly I am curious to see how they can make this idea work. Oddly even the posters have gone a long way in making me believe this could actually work. Plus with Peter Dinklage playing a part you are at least going to get one fun performance.
What Could Go Wrong: Chris Columbus has not had the most impressive career as of late. The last time he made a film that was worth watching was when he directed the second Harry Potter film. Considering the fact that most of those kids can legally drink now you can see how long his slump has been. Adam Sandler’s fall has also been largely discussed so it is always a risk when you put your faith into one of his projects.
42. Miles Ahead
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: An exploration of the life and music of Miles Davis.
Director: Don Cheadle
Writer: Steven Baigelman, Don Cheadle
Starring: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg
What Could Go Right: I love it when an actor takes the leap to behind the camera. It’s like seeing an all-time great player try their hands at coaching. Typically the first attempt comes from a very personal place, and I could see why telling the story of Miles Davis would attract Cheadle.
What Could Go Wrong: Biopics are hard to do right. Often they devolve to bullet point story telling that just highlight key moments of a person’s life. So Cheadle did not make things easy for himself when he choose this as his first directorial project. Not to mention there has been an abundance of biopics—especially music biopics that have come out in the last few years. Will this just be another mediocre effort to add to the forgotten pile?
41. Far From the Madding Crowd
Release Date: May 1st
Synopsis: In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writer: Thomas Hardy (novel), David Nicholls(screenplay)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
What Could Go Right: Thomas Vinterberg was one of the early proponents of dogma filmmaking in the 90’s, which was all about taking gigantic risk with filmmaking. Sometimes those risks paid off and sometimes they didn’t. His work has certainty changed since then and his most recent film The Hunt was a phenomenal piece. Vinterberg clearly enjoys still taking risks as he attempts to adapt a classic Thomas Hardy novel, who is an author many hold in extreme high regard.
What Could Go Wrong: Foreign directors with American actors sometimes mix like oil and water. Sometimes a director may not be able to fully explain what he is looking for in his characters. Also Thomas Hardy’s novels are not for the novice. You have to be willing to dive into some deep material and hope not to drown in it.