40. The Peanuts Movie
Release Date: November 6th
Synopsis: Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home.
Director: Steve Martino
Writer: Bryan Schulz, Charles M. Schulz (characters)
Starring: Francesca Capaldi, Noah Schnapp, Venus Schultheis
What Could Go Right: The Peanuts consist of some of the most iconic characters of all time so it is no wonder they are trying to reboot them for a new generation. Going from hand drawn animation to computer graphics does seem sacrilegious, but the images so far appear to pay true homage to the past style. It is staying true to the original without seeming out of touch.
What Could Go Wrong: While the look of The Peanuts has transferred over nicely, will everything else about them fair just as well? Will a lot of their trademark gags work on kids today, or will updates be made to fit today’s sensibilities? Will this just be Peanuts in name only?
39. The Revenant
Release Date: Winter
Synopsis: The frontiersman, Hugh Glass, who in the 1820s set out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Michael Punke (novel)
Starring: Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson
What Could Go Right: Last year Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman garnered praise from many and hatred for some. He is the type of director that does not mind irking you. Iñárritu also knows how to get great performances out of actors and with Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCarprio on the cast list that should not be hard.
What Could Go Wrong: While I enjoyed Birdman Alejandro González Iñárritu can bother me with some of his directorial choices. He is the type of director that loves to berate you with misery over and over again. Something like 21 Grams is misery personified to its purest form. With Birdman he stepped away from that, and I hope he does not return to his old ways with The Revenant.
Release Date: July 17th
Synopsis: No Plot at this Time
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Amy Schumer
Starring: Amy Schumer, Brie Larson, Daniel Radcliffe, Tilda Swinton
What Could Go Right: Amy Schumer has slowly been building her name in the world of comedy. She entered a new level with the debut of her Comedy Central show that has garnered some great reviews. It makes perfect sense that one of the hottest names in comedy would team up with arguably the biggest comedy director of today Judd Apatow.
What Could Go Wrong: I am still not sure how I feel about Amy Schumer’s comedy. She certainty is talented, but at times I feel her crassness can become tiresome. I enjoy most of Apatow’s movies, but his style has become so duplicated over the years his jokes are far too familiar. His last film This Is 40 was his first misstep for me so hopefully he can have a turnaround with Trainwreck.
37. Digging For Fire
Release Date: January 26th
Synopsis: The discovery of a bone and a gun send a husband and wife on separate adventures over the course of a weekend.
Director: Joe Swanberg
Writer: Jake Johnson, Joe Swanberg
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Jake Johnson, Sam Rockwell
What Could Go Right: Joe Swanberg’s movies are like the lazy Saturday afternoon equivalent of storytelling. That may sound like a slight but it is not meant to. Just his movies are told in such a laid back way at times you forget you are watching a movie. Drinking Buddies was a romantic comedy done right and made me respect Olivia Wilde as a legit actress. Swanberg is bringing back most of his favorite actors once again, and also adding Sam Rockwell to the mix.
What Could Go Wrong: I know Swanberg’s style turns a great deal of people off. The mumblecore dialog is a little too raw for some. Chances are that style will not be going away so it is doubtful he will be gaining any new fans with this film.
36. The Sea of Trees
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: A suicidal American befriends a Japanese man lost in a forest near Mt. Fuji and the two search for a way out.
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Chris Sparling
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, Katie Aselton
What Could Go Right: As of late anything Matthew McConaughey touches has turned to gold. He followed up winning an Academy Award by acting in one of the most well regarded television shows of all time. Gus Van Sant is a director who is capable of brilliance when he is working with strong material.
What Could Go Wrong: I wonder how great the material is that Gus Van Sant is working with. The screen writer Chris Sparling wrote such gems as Buried and ATM that both centered on people stuck in an isolated situation. As a person who did not enjoy either of those movies it worries me that The Sea of Trees appears to be covering similar material.
35. Victor Frankenstein
Release Date: October 2nd
Synopsis: Told from Igor’s perspective, we see the troubled young assistant’s dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man – and the legend – we know today.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writer: Max Landis (screenplay), Mary Shelley (novel)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy. Jessica Brown Findlay, , Andrew Scott
What Could Go Right: I have not read the book that Victor Frankenstein is based on, but the idea of seeing the story of Frankenstein through the eyes of Igor does sound intriguing. I also appreciate the fact that Daniel Radcliffe is making a lot of unique decisions. I am curious to see how he portrays the character of Igor.
What Could Go Wrong: Paul McGuigan has had more success with television than movies, and I cannot help but wonder if this will be along the same lines of the horror comedy Daniel Radcliffe starred in last year Horns. That also had an intriguing concept but it ended up being a disappointment.
34. The Good Dinosaur
Release Date: November 25th
Synopsis: Arlo, a 70-foot-tall teenage Apatosaurus, befriends a young human boy named Spot.
Director: Peter Sohn
Writer: Peter Sohn
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, Frances McDormand
What Could Go Right: Pixar took 2014 off, but they are making up for it by giving us two films in 2015. (You can assume the other is sure to follow) I hope the year off will allow them to get back to the Pixar of old. They are at least starting off on the right foot back getting back to original material and not spewing out just another sequel.
What Could Go Wrong: The big reason Pixar took 2014 off was due to the production issues of this movie. Last summer both the directing and producing team was changed and new people were brought on board. The last time something like that happened with Pixar was with Brave and that too did not hit the quality we expect from Pixar. Pixar has given new directors big opportunities before and it has paid off. Could Peter Sohn be the next Brad Bird?
33. Child 44
Release Date: April 17th
Synopsis: Set in Stalin-era Soviet Union, a disgraced MGB agent is dispatched to investigate a series of child murders — a case that begins to connect with the very top of party leadership.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writer: Richard Price (screenplay), Tom Rob Smith(novel)
Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman
What Could Go Right: I really enjoyed Daniel Espinosa’s last film Safe House. It was not a cinematic masterpiece but it felt reminiscent of Tony Scott with a new age twist. With Child 44 he also has a lot of great acting talent with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and Gary Oldman attached.
What Could Go Wrong: Nothing about it indicates trouble is brewing. The material does seem rather serious, and Daniel Espinosa’s last film was more on the goofy side so it may be a major transition in sensibilities.
32. Mr. Holmes
Release Date: TBD
Synopsis: An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes looks back on his life, and grapples with an unsolved case involving a beautiful woman.
Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Jeffrey Hatcher, Mitch Cullin (Novel)
Starring: Ian McKellen, Milo Parker, Laura Linney
What Could Go Right: Ian McKellen playing is playing Sherlock Holmes? What’s not to like. One of the best actors of our day playing one of the most iconic characters of all time. Even if the movie itself is a failure we should at least get a good performance.
What Could Go Wrong: It is hard to blame Bill Condon for the failures that were Twilight Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and 2, but he did decide to direct them and they both are extremely horrid. In 2013 he tried to redeem himself with The Fifth Estate, but that also ended up being a disappointment. There is also a ton of Sherlock Holmes material out already. You have the BBC show, the NBC show, and the Guy Ritchie movies. Do we really need another movie covering Sherlock?
31. In the Heart of the Sea
Release Date: March 13th
Synopsis: Ron Howard
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Charles Leavitt (screenplay), Charles Leavitt(story)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson
What Could Go Right: I am surpised we have not seen more movies that have covered this story. We all know the story of Moby Dick, but that does not mean Ron Howard cannot put his own spin on it. Plus Ron Howard has shown with movies like Apollo 13 that he can create drama and suspense even when we know the outcome.
What Could Go Wrong: At first glance you may think that In the Heart of the Sea is a movie adaptation of Moby Dick, but that is not the case. It is not even based on the book that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick. It is another book written more recently that covers the story of the ship that inspired the original story. When it is this convoluted just to explain where the source material comes from it is not a good sign.
30. Furious 7
Release Date: April 3rd
Synopsis: Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (characters)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson , Jason Statham
What Could Go Right: I will admit that I hated the Fast and the Furious franchise when it first came out. However, when Justin Lin took the franchise over my opinion changed as he made it more than car porn on display. Sure the dialog is awful, the characters are cartoonish, and the plots are ridiculous–but the action is inventive and insanely fun. Now add in the fact that the Transporter himself Jason Statham has joined the cast and I’m super psyched. I cannot wait for the forthcoming Statham, Rock, and Diesel punch and kick fest.
What Could Go Wrong: Justin Lin has left the franchise and has handed it over to James Wan. I have major respect for James Wan as a director…well a horror director that is. Can the guy who gave us Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring make a kick-ass action movie? Will the franchise take a step back without the person who made it respectable?
29. Straight Outta Compton
Release Date: August 14th
Synopsis: The group NWA emerges from the streets of Compton, California in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes pop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Keith Stanfield, Rebecca Olejniczak
What Could Go Right: I have watched many documenters and television specials about NWA and their story is fascinating. I long wondered why there was never a movie, and now finally we are going to see the adaptation happen.
What Could Go Wrong: Great stories do no always make great movies. Trying to breakdown an entire musical group’s career into two hours is nearly impossible to do right. While having names like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube attached as producers does allow a writer and director to gain some personal insight into the situation, it can also lessen the possibility of being objective.
28. True Story
Release Date: January 23rd
Synopsis: The relationship between journalist Michael Finkel and Christian Longo, an FBI Most Wanted List murderer who for years lived outside the U.S. under Finkel’s name.
Director: Rupert Goold
Writer: Rupert Goold, Michael Finkel
Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones
What Could Go Right: James Franco and Jonah Hill have been making a lot of interesting career choices as of late. They will still do the standard comedy here and there, but they will follow it up with a role and a movie that is outside their normal territory. The concept of True Story sounds like a cross between Silence of the Lambs and In Cold Blood. I am intrigued to see how Hill and Franco will handle this material. Not to mentioned Felicity Jones is also starring, and after her work in The Theory of Everything she has proven her power as an actress.
What Could Go Wrong: This is Rupert Goold’s first major project, and I have already put too much pressure on him by evoking such classics as Silence of the Lambs and In Cold Blood. Also will Franco and Hill be able to handle this hefty material or will it be too much of a departure?
27. The Martian
Release Date: November 25th
Synopsis: An astronaut, stranded on Mars, struggles to survive.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard (screenplay), Andy Weir (book)
Starring: Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig
What Could Go Right: Ridley Scott has given us some of the greatest science fiction films of all time with Alien and Blade Runner. I know a lot of people really hated his last venture into science fiction with Prometheus, but I enjoyed it despite its flaws. So I am looking forward to him getting back to this genre.
What Could Go Wrong: I do wonder though if Ridley Scott has simply lost it. His last two films, Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counselor, were two gigantic failures critically and finically. Will this just be another failure to add to the ever growing list?
Release Date: September 18th
Synopsis: A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Simon Beaufoy, Lem Dobbs
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright , Josh Brolin
What Could Go Right: It has been awhile since we have gotten a great survival action adventure tale. I enjoy a barebones story that centers on man vs nature and explores what it is like to truly fight against the harsh elements. Baltasar Kormákur also has a strong cast to work with.
What Could Go Wrong: I have much more faith in the cast than I do in the director. Baltasar Kormákur directed Contraband, which I panned, and 2 Guns, which was fine but ultimately forgettable. He seems like a paint by numbers director and I wonder if this will be another one of his lackluster movies.
25. Jurassic World
Release Date: June 12th
Synopsis: Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993), Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor’s interest, which backfires horribly.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer: Derek Connolly (screenplay), Colin Trevorrow, Michael Crichton (characters)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Judy Greer, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Bryce Dallas Howard
What Could Go Right: Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I even have a soft spot for the book. So whenever a new Jurassic Park movie comes out I am interested. I like how this is not a complete reboot and stays within the established universe of the previous films. This story also appears to be on a larger scale than the previous films. That may help set it apart from its predecessors.
What Could Go Wrong: The trailer had some intriguing ideas, but overall it did not nearly wow me as much as I was hoping. Introducing genetically altered dinosaurs is also a risk. You could end up with something like Jaws Revenge that set the bar for corniness. Seeing Chris Pratt with a supposed raptor army alongside him is odd to take in. It could end up working, or it could end up being an unintentional joke.
Release Date: August 7th
Synopsis: A Texas-set story of a locksmith in a small town who never got over the love of his life.
Director: David Gordon Green
Writer: Paul Logan
Starring: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Chris Messina
What Could Go Right: David Gordon Green started out as an indie darling than turn to big Hollywood films. His success there was mixed at best so his return back to indie projects has been welcome. Prince Avalanche and Joe showed he still has it and have me excited for what he does next.
What Could Go Wrong: With Joe David Gordon Green reminded us that Nicholas Cage can be a good actor. Can he do the same thing with Al Pacino in Manglehorn? Both are notorious for their uncanny ability to go from zero to sixty in no time at all, but I worry Pacino is too hard of a shell to crack. Will he listen to Green’s direction or just do his own thing, because his own thing has been awful as of late?
Release Date: December 25th
Synopsis: A story based on the life of a struggling Long Island single mom who became one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: Annie Mumolo , David O. Russell
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro , Édgar Ramírez
What Could Go Right: After The Hangover who would have thought that Bradley Cooper would become one of today’s best actors? Now he is teaming up once again with the director that made people standup and recognize his acting talent. Not to mention Jennifer Lawrence is also starring and she simply cannot do wrong as of late. Can the team that gave us Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle do it again?
What Could Go Wrong: I understand the acclaim for David O. Russell’s movies, but I do not tend to enjoy them nearly as much as everyone else. I feel like he takes on difficult topics, but handles them in a rather safe way. Knowing he is teaming up with the same actors once again makes me question if that will change at all.
22. Inside Out
Release Date: June 19th
Synopsis: Told from the perspective of the emotions inside the mind of a little girl.
Director: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Writer: Michael Arndt (screenplay), Pete Docter (story)
Starring: Diane Lane, Amy Poehler, Kyle MacLachlan, Bill Hader
What Could Go Right: Pete Docter gave us one of the best Pixar movies in Up, and another solid entry with Monsters Inc. On paper Up is a crazy movie that should not work, but through the power of storytelling they made a touching story. It does appear with Inside Out that Pixar is taking risks again.
What Can Go Wrong: Sadly Pixar has lost their mojo. They did not make a movie last year, and honestly they were not missed. I still have faith they can put out great movies, but they are going to have to prove it.
Release Date: March 6th
Synopsis: After being kidnapped by two criminals during birth, Chappie becomes the adopted son in a strange and dysfunctional family. Chappie is preternaturally gifted, one of a kind, a prodigy. He also happens to be a robot.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley , Dev Patel
What Could Go Right: With District 9 Neill Blomkamp made a film that surprised everyone. With a limited budget he crafted an original film with some amazing special effects. When you watch a Blomkamp movie you know you are going to get some incredible visuals, and when you have a story about a prodigy robot I cannot wait to see what ideas he has in store.
What Could Go Wrong: I did enjoy Blomkamp’s last film Elysium more than most, but still felt it was a big step down from District 9. I hope the success of District 9 was not just a happy accident. He appears to also be sticking within the same realm as his last two movies so will there be anything new here?