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2015 Movies Preview

movies 2015
It’s another new year, which means we get a full year of new movies to suss out – this year’s selections include sci-fi, adventure epics, animation ranging from bears to ‘bots, and even dinosaurs. In honour of 2015, we’ve picked the 15 new films that we think are going to be the best of the year – if you think we’ve missed any, let us know in the comments – and happy cinema-going!

15 | Jupiter Ascending | Directed by The Wachowskis | Starring Sean Bean, Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne | in theatres 6 February
We have uneven hopes for this one. The interesting element is the uniqueness of the sci-fi/space opera storyline, in which a girl named Jupiter’s genetic signature marks her as next in line for a royal cosmic inheritance. The question marks are the weak acting skills of Tatum and Kunis, best known so far for throwaway fare. But the inclusions of Bean as a character named Stinger (his character’s human DNA was fused with bee DNA) and The Theory of Everything’s Redmayne as alien royalty might tip the balance for the better.

14 | Everest | Directed by Baltasar Kormakur  | Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Robin Wright, Josh Brolin | in theatres 18 September
Mount Everest remains a source of fascination for many of us, even as it claims the lives of the mountain climbers brave enough to attempt to summit it. This film, based on the real-life 1996 Everest disaster, features Gyllenhaal and Clarke as Everest expedition leaders Scott Fischer and Rob Hall in a more ensemble version of the event. Shot in Italy, Iceland, and Nepal in freezing temperatures, this was not an easy shoot nor an easy subject, but the stunning setting and thrill of adventure should bring some hope to the otherwise cautionary tale.

13 | Jurassic World | Directed by Colin Trevarrow | Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio,  Judy Greer | in theatres 12 June
We like Pratt more now that he showed off his range in the fantastically fun Guardians of the Galaxy, so the latest in the Jurassic franchise is at least starting off on the right clawed foot. The subject matter seems a little trodden over at this point, the plot sounds like yet another retread (hey, look, a new park attraction is unveiled, and chaos ensues!), and Trevarrow’s directing experience is minimal at best, but special effects have grown by leaps and bounds since the first Jurassic Park film showed off those impressive dinosaur vistas back in 1993, so at least this should be even more pretty to look at, right?

12 | Pan | Directed by Joe Wright | Starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Amanda Seyfried, Rooney Mara | in theatres 24 July
Peter Pan is another who’s had his story told in a myriad of ways, from book to stage to screens both big and small. The latest to tackle this tale is director Wright, best known for his helming of the Keira Knightley versions of Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina. But Jackman’s not Hook, as might be expected (that’s Garrett Hedlund) – instead, he’s a wily Blackbeard, chewing up the scenery and approaching this version of Pan’s history from an entirely different angle.

11 | A Little Chaos | Directed by Alan Rickman | Starring Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci | in theatres 27 March
Famous architect Le Notre (Schoenaerts) hires the unlikely Sabine De Barra (Winslet) to design the gardens at Versailles, a small storyline that unfolds into an epic as intricate and complicated as the gardens themselves. But the various rivalries, royal court traditions, social gossip and romance play second fiddle to the colourful landscapes, period fashions, and perfect capture of the time of The Sun King Louis XIV and his lush surroundings.

10 | The Martian | Directed by Ridley Scott | Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean | in theatres 25 November
We may be less than enthused about the choice of Damon as solo stranded astronaut Mark Watney – we don’t really see him as capable of the emotional depth exuded by, for excellent example, Tom Hanks in Cast Away – but the source material (the book by Andy Weir) is so good, we’ll give the film a chance. And will director Scott bring the mythology of Gladiator, the futurism of Bladerunner, or the faith of Kingdom of Heaven to the story? We’ll just have to wait and see.

9 | Chappie | Directed by Neill Blomkamp | Starring Hugh Jackman, Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel | in theatres 6 March
Working on Stargate SG-1, District 9, and Elysium have probably set Blomkamp up pretty well for this potential sci-fi blockbuster, which stars Maleficent/Europa Report actor Copley as the title character, a gifted being that’s billed as “the first robot to think and feel for himself.” Adding on some star power are Jackman and Slumdog Millionaire’s Patel, but we have the feeling it’s the robot himself who will really take centre stage.

8 | In the Heart of the Sea | Directed by Ron Howard | Starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Riley | in theatres 13 March
We might be a bit biased, as we’ve been watching the production of this film unfold via Howard’s Twitter account, but this based-on-a-true-story 1800s tale of a whaling ship preyed upon by a whale is both deceptively simple and dramatically compelling – so much though that it inspired Moby Dick as penned by Herman Melville (Melville being portrayed here by Ben Whishaw.) It’s not light fare, though – be prepared to watch shipwrecked sailors including Hemsworth and Murphy struggle through 90 days afloat – but given Howard’s track record, it’s certain to have both heft and heart.

7 | Cinderella | Directed by Kenneth Branagh | Starring Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Madden, Lily James, Sophie McShera | In Theatres 13 March
The original Disney version and Drew Barrymore/Dougray Scott’s Ever After are our favourite two versions of the Cinderella tale to date, but this one looks to be a definite contender given the inclusion of Downton Abbey’s James and McShera (Lady Rose and Daisy, respectively) as the title character and one of the evil stepsisters. The trailer shows a delightfully over-the-top Blanchett as stepmother Lady Tremaine and a wry Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother – and what Cinderella story is complete without a Prince Charming? Game of Thrones’ Madden (Robb Stark) sticks with his honourable side to fit the bill perfectly.

6 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Directed by Joss Whedon | Starring Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany | in theatres 16 January
Tony Stark is at it again in the latest Avengers installment, bringing his confident approach to an old peacekeeping program that naturally runs amok. Call in the troops – Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow – and Stark and crew will attempt to put things to rights (again.) Might be a little tougher against this Ultron fellow, who seems to have a pretty solid plan – but if the Avengers don’t win, that means no more Avengers films, so while this one’s definitely predictable, it’ll also likely be just as much fun to watch as always.

5 | Tomorrowland | Director Brad Bird | Starring George Clooney, Judy Greer, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson | in theatres 22 May
Bird’s transitioned from successful Pixar animated films to live action (most notably with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) and continues his film quest with this George Clooney vehicle, which features Clooney as a jaded “grizzled inventor” and Robertson as the idealistic teen who assists him during a time-travel mystery-adventure journey set partially in the 1950s. Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof co-wrote the screenplay with Bird, so expect plenty of twists and turns in a futuristic, sci-fi setting.

4 | Paddington | Directed by Paul King | Starring Ben Whishaw, Michael Gambon, Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi | in theatres 16 January
Based on the series of youth books by Michael Bond, the duffle coat-wearing bear lost at Paddington Station is being brought into live-action mode by comedy director Paul King, and we really, truly hope that King doesn’t destroy the inherent British politeness that made Paddington a favourite of our own youth (please, no fart jokes, m’kay?) If the film’s done correctly, it could become an instant classic, especially with Bonneville as Mr. Brown and Broadbent as awesome Portobello Road shop owner Mr. Gruber – we’re not sure about Kidman as an “evil museum owner,” but we’ve got one of Paddington’s patented withering stares all ready to go.

3 | The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 | Directed by Francis Lawrence | Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks | in theatres 20 November
The first half of the third part of the Hunger Games saga (Mockingjay Part 1) was much slower and darker in tone than most expected, and disappointing for those who had read the books, as it eliminated both key characters and plot points. But we’re hoping Part 1 was all a setup to more fully delve into the motives of Everdeen and her friends and followers in Part 2 as the revolution against the autocratic Capitol continues, with the weary Katniss, reprogrammed Peeta, steadfast Gale, diminished Effie Trinket, and subdued but determined Haymitch making their last stand.

2 | Kingsman: The Secret Service | Directed by Matthew Vaughn | Starring Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill, Samuel L. Jackson | In Theatres 13 February
Pulled directly from comic book pages, this action-adventure with a twist of comedy follows the recruiting of a street kid into the Service’s training program, just in time to combat (what else?) a global technological threat. Fast planes swooping over snow-capped mountains, posh accents, super-secret spy gadgets, holographic agent meetings, and David Bowie soundtracking the trailer all seem pretty cool to us.

1 | Star Wars: The Force Awakens | Director JJ Abrams | Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Warwick Davis, Kenny Baker, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver | in theatres 18 December
That first giddy trailer! Rolling droids, zipping transport sleds, desert vistas, new lightsabers, and the Millennium Falcon – if this doesn’t look like classic Star Wars of yore, we don’t know what does. With a new cast of characters drawn from a new ‘verse and the return of favorites Solo, Skywalker, and Leia, this has so much potential we’d be tempted to buy stock in it… or it could crash a la Jar Jar Binks. We’re truly hoping for greatness. Especially since there are two more of these things already in the pipeline. JJ, we’re counting on you.