Friday, 9 January 2015

Top Ten Films to see in 2015

It's that time of year again where cinephiles and movie lovers start looking forward to the new year and assembling lists and lists of all the films we simply cannot wait to see, so I thought I would share with you my top ten films I cannot wait to see. So, get prepared for probably the only top ten list on the internet that doesn't include Avengers or Star Wars.

Honorable mentions:

The Fantastic Four- Despite all the negative whispers we have heard from the set of this superhero remake but I am optimistic about what Trank can do with the likes of Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan.

The Martian- It really has been a while since Ridley Scott made a truly good film but this looks like it could be a return to form for the Gladiator director. Starring Matt Damon as an astronaut trapped on Mars, lets hope its more Alien than Prometheus.

The Samurai- This art-house horror was the talk of the town at Frightfest last year. The film sees a small town sheriff track a man wearing a dress who wrecks havoc with his samurai sword. While the synopsis may be thin on the ground, I am expecting great things from this foreign fever dream.

Everest- Typically films about trekking up mountains are pretty throw away but Everest sounds like the real deal. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke as real life adventurers Scott Fischer and Rob Hall. From director Baltasar Kormakur, who hasn't has the best luck in America just look at Contraband and 2 Guns but take a look at his 2012 survival film, The Deep and you will see why I am excited.

10. Norfolk

By far the smallest film on this list comes in at number ten. Written and directed by BAFTA nominated Martin Radich, Norfolk is the first film Radich has made since his 2011 film, The Conundrum. The film centres around a father who has tried to escape his past, having moved to a quiet, rural village but soon enough it catches up with him and he must deal with it one more time. But this has terrible ramifications for his son who is left to deal with the consequences.

The film is being backed by Creative England under their iFeatures umbrella; an initiative set up to support micro-budget filmmakers who have a mission to reflect representations of English culture in cinema. And it is these sort of films that I love, small, quiet films that probably aren't on your radar but have the ability to break out and surprise everyone.

9. Son of a Gun

Ewan McGregor is one of those actors for me who promised so much in his early career with the likes of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting and than failed to live up to it. Just take a look at his last few outings in the cinema, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Jack the Giant Slayer and A Million Ways to Die in the West. But Son of a Gun looks promising. From writer/director, Julius Avery, this Aussie crime thriller sees Brenton Thwaites' JR, a nineteen year old locked up in prison, is taken under the wing of McGregor's Brendan Lynch, Australia's public enemy numero uno. But soon JR has to start paying the price for Lynch's protection as Lynche's crew have plans for their newest member.

Avery one the Cannes Jury Prize in 2009 with his short Jerrycan but the young director's debut feature is more than just fiction. When Avery was a youth he had many run ins with the law in the in Western Australia and he started to work for a Fagin-like criminal who was a father figure to the young boy. No doubt the director funneled this real life experience into what looks to be like a mix of Starred Up, Animal Kingdom and Oliver Twist.

8. Southpaw
Jake Gyllenhaal has transformed himself in the last few years. Gone is the actor who bored us all to tears in Love and Other Drugs and that awful Prince of Persia film and now we have an actor who is taking on interesting and diverse roles. Southpaw sees Gyllenhaal transforms into a muscular behemoth as he takes on the role of a boxer, Billy 'The Great Hope', a left handed boxer who stages a comeback after a personal tragedy. While this sounds pretty familiar expect an amazing performance from Gyllenhaal who trained twice a day for seven days a week to give himself the physique.

The film is being directed by Antone Fuqua, a director who if we are all honest needs a hit film pretty badly after the likes of Olympus has Fallen and last year's The Equalizer which were mediocre films compared to his 2001 hit, Training Day. Gyllenhaal is joint by the likes of Rachel McAdams Forest Whittaker and Naomie Harris but the cast list also includes 50 Cent and Rita Ora. While Ora's only acting credentials so far consist of dropping a flag in the last Fast and Furious film, I am skeptical about her inclusion and we know what 50 Cent is like in front of the camera. So fingers crossed if Gyllenhaal brings his best everyone else can keep up.

7. Jurassic World

The biggest film on this list is the film I have been waiting the longest for. The first Jurassic Park comes a close third in my all time favorite films ever and the two sequels were pale imitations of the original. So when the trailer for the fourth installment was released a few months ago there was a worldwide sigh of relief because this new installment finally looks like they are doing something different.

Set thirty years after the original, John Hammond's vision of a fully functioning park has been realised with people flocking to Isla Nublar to enjoy of the prehistoric equivalent to Thorpe Park. This time around Chris Pratt stars as a dinosaur behavior expert and Bryce Dallas Howard as the scientist who creates a new hybrid dinosaur that soon escapes and reeks havoc on the park's tourists. Expect to be awe struck and amazed with trained velociraptors, shark devouring Mosoaaurs and enough dinosaur action to give a paleontologist a heart attack.

6. It Follows

Horror films have been given a bad wrap over the last few years with franchises being built around the likes of The Conjuring, the painfully dull Paranormal Activity and Sinister. But there are a few horror gems out there for you to enjoy and It Follows looks like it could be the best of these. It Follows stars Maika Monroe (you might recognise her from last year's cult film in the making, The Guest) who discovers that she has a monster after an innocent sexual encounter. This 'it' can take the form of just about anything it wants and in classic Michael Myers fashion you can run but you can't hide.

If the premise alone isn't enough to get wet your appetite, It Follows was included at the Cannes Film Festival's prestigious Critic's week with one critic saying "the most exciting film in Cannes has landed". Not many horror films can boast this feat. So if like me you are bored with pointless remakes of once beloved horror films and the cattle prodding fodder from James Wan and whoever has the unfortunate job of directing those Paranormal Activities films, than put the 27th of February in your diary.

5. 400 Days

I have a real soft spot for independent science fiction films, whether it is the complex Primer or the excellently written Another Earth, these films always have so much scope and imagination. So when I heard about science fiction thriller, 400 Days, I knew it had to feature somewhere on my top ten list. The Ghost of the Machine director, Matt Osterman writes and directs this science fiction film based around astronauts sent on a simulated mission to a distant planet to see the psychological effects of deep space travel. Yet, when they loose communication with the outside world their mental state starts to deteriorate causing them to leave their space ship only to find out a horrifying truth.

While I must admit I have never seen The Ghost of the Machine, after seeing the trailer I wasn't completley sold on it, this film sounds excellent to me. It sounds like a concoction of Moon and Interstellar and who can honestly say they wouldn't want a piece of that sci-fi pie. Starring the likes of Brandon Routh (yes that guy from Superman), Dane Cook and Ben Feldman, it doesn't boast the best cast on this list but the synopsis alone is enough for me to feature this fifth on my top ten list of films to see this year.

4. Crimson Peak

Before the busiest man in Hollywood, Guillermo Del Toro brought Hellboy to life and pitted inter-dimensional aliens against impossibly large robots, he made some excellent, small budget horror films such as Cronos and The Devil's Backbone. And it looks like Del Toro is going back to his roots just with a little bit more money in the bank this time. Crimson Peak marks the return of on of the best horror directors ever to a genre he has been absent from for a while. Tom Hiddleston stars as Sir Thomas Sharpe the husband of Mia Wasikowska's Edith Cushing, a man whose charming hero like qualities, hide a mysterious and dark past. This soon becomes apparent when Cushing soon realises her husband isn't everything he seems to be.

With a supporting cast that boasts the likes of Charlie Hunnam and Jessica Chastain, this film looks set to be one of the best casted horror films in the last few years. If Del Toro can capture the magic and mystery of his early films Crimson Peak could be a breath of fresh air in the polluted atmosphere of the horror genre. My fingers are firmly crossed.

3. Enemy
Enemy is the second (third if you count my honorable mentions) Jake Gyllenhaal film on this list and it looks like the most bizarre entry as well. Enemy sees Gyllenhaal team up with Prisoners director, Denis Villeneuve, although this was filmed before the 2013 film. Gyllenhaal stars as Adam Bell, a history professor who rents a film recommended to him by a colleague only to find out an actor starring in the film is his exact double. Soon Adam is searching down Anthony Claire, also played by Gyllenhaal, but his search opens up spider-web of problems. The early buzz on this films says its more than a little bit weird with many critics drawing comparisons to David Lynch's work.  Expect my review very soon, if I manage to make sense of it.

2. High Rise

Ben Wheatley is, unarguably, one of the best British directors working in the business at the moment. He broke onto the scene with the Brighton based micro-budget film Down Terrace and continued to wow everyone with slow burner, Kill List and black comedy Sightseers. High Rise is set to be Wheatley's biggest film yet. Adapted from J.G. Ballard's book of the same name, which has long been eyed up for a big screen adaptation yet few directors seemed brave enough to tackle the book's incredibly grim violence. The film is set in London in 1975 on the eve of Thatcher's appointment to Prime Minister, Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a luxury tower block having been seduced by the high rise lifestyle. Although everything starts to go down hill after tribes begin to break out in this fragile microcosm, cue the grim violence.

Wheatley's fifth film sounds like a mash up of Cronenberg's Shiver, The Raid and Dredd, come on and tell me that isn't a film you want to see. With a supporting cast made up of the likes of Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller, High Rise looks set to launch Wheatley into the stratosphere. And if past Ballard adaptations are anything to go by, I am looking at you David Cronenberg, than this could split people down the middle.

1. Ex Machina

And in at number one is...Ex Machina, Alex Garland (Writer of Dredd, 28 Days Later and The Beach) makes his directorial debut with the thinking man's I, Robot. Ex Machina was born out of a ten year discussion Garland had with one of his friends who differed on Garland's view of artificial intelligence. The director tackles this argument in his first film behind the camera and deals with artificial intelligence, human behaviour and consciousness. Wow, talk about big themes. The film stars Domnhall Gleeson stars as Caleb, the lucky winner of a competition to visit his reclusive boss Nathan, the creator of Google-like search engine Bluebook, in his lodge. Gleeson's boss played by beefed up, bearded Oscar Isaac who presents Gleeson with his latest project, Ava, an robot built by Nathan and played by Alicia Vikiander. Soon Caleb begins to realise the real reason he was brought to the lodge.

This film deals with some big questions, if something is conscious does it have a right to live? Should humans imitate God? The list goes on but Garland's debut feature's premise sounds like, for me anyway, the most intriguing and interesting of any film this year. With a cast set to hit it big in 2015, this could be the film to buck the January trend.

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