We are half way through the year, a year that many have been waiting a long time for and we have so far enjoyed the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and Ex Machina and endured the likes of Jurassic World and 50 Shades of Grey. But with six months left of the year film fans have a lot to look forward to, so here are the fifteen films I can't wait to see for the rest of the year. Sorry again Star Wars fans.
Midnight Special: If you see the name Jeff Nichols, get excited. Of all the American indie directors that have emerged in the last few years, Nichols has been one of the most interesting and intriguing, don't believe me just look at his sublime Take Shelter. This time around the director has opted for what he has described as a science fiction inspired by John Carpenter, that sentence should already have you hooked. Midnight Special follows Michael Shannon's Roy, a father desperate to protect his gifted son, he decides to go on the run from an extreme religious sect led by Sam Shepherd and Adam Driver's government task force. It sounds incredibly promising, a little bit Looper, a little bit Mercury Rising with the best cast a Nichols' film has had so far.
In The Heat of the Sea: When Chris Hemsworth isn't saving the galaxy with his hammer, he fights monster sperm whales apparently. Ron Howard teams up with his Rush star once again with the story that inspired Moby Dick. The film follows the crew of whaling ship Essex which is rammed and sunk by a massive sperm whale with a major anger problem. With no ship left, the crew comprimising of Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland and Ben Wishaw, they have to survive ninety, thousands of miles from land wit the only food source being each other. If it sounds familiar that's because the BBC adapted it in 2013 with the likes of Martin Sheen, John Boyega and Paul Kaye. While not not the power house of talent Howard has at his disposal, they have a lot to live up to. Thanks to Herman Melville making the Moby Dick novel so dense, this is pretty much the closest a director can get to making Moby Dick without actually making Moby Dick.
Jane Got a Gun: Natalie Portman's latest film has had it's fair share of development hell. First Michael Fassbender was set to star but walked out to work on Days of Future Past, then director Lynne Ramsey left the film on the first day of shooting and was replaced by Warrior director Gavin O'Connor. As a result Jude Law left the film, than Bradley Cooper who came onto replace him left and was replaced by Ewan McGregor. Fair share indeed. The final film centres around Portman's Jane who has to turn to her ex-fiance, Joel Edgerton, to protect her new husband from McGregor's Bishop Boys Gang. The last few years have cooked up some interesting Westerns and I'm hoping Jane Got A Gun can sit comfortably next to the likes of The Propsition and True Grit.
The beginning of 2015 saw the world go mental for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman it racked in all the awards and was pretty much universally loved by critics but I was less smitten by it's self-indulgence and jarring satire. But I am excited for Inarritu's next film, The Revenant. Starring Leonardo D'Caprio as Hugh Glass, a fur trapper, who survives being mauled by a bear and seeks revenge on his companions played by Tom hardy, Brendan Gleeson, Lukas Haas and Will Poulter, who left him for dead. Many are crossing their fingers that this could be D'Caprio's best chance to get his hands on an Oscar and it certainly looks like he has a good shot.
14. PAPER TOWNS
The massively successful adaptation of John Green's The Fault in the Stars made pretty much the whole of the Western world sob uncontrollably but you might not need Kleenex this time round. John Green's 2008 novel Paper Towns is getting the big screen treatment which centres around the life of geek Quentin (Nat Wolff) who falls in love with the hot girl across the road, Margo (Cara Delevinge) but as you expect she's too busy making out with the high school quarter back to realise Quentin even exists. But on one fateful night Quentin helps Margo to reek revenge on her cheating boyfriend. Yet come next norming Margo has gone missing, leaving Quentin a trail of breadcrumbs to find her. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound wholly original but who doesn't have guilty pleasures?
13. THE MARTIAN
Whether you are a fan of the director or not, it's difficult to say you loved any of Ridley Scott's recent films but it looks like Scott could be on to a winner with his latest, The Martian. Based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir sees Matt Damon's astronaut Mark Watney abandoned on Mars after a storm on the red planet. With only his intelligence and spirit to keep him alive, Watney has to "science the shit out of it" to survive despite knowing that the chances of a rescue are slim. With a cast that boasts the likes of Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejofor, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean and an Autumn release, which proved successful for the likes of Gravity and Interstellar, this could be Scott's best film for a decade.
We all thought we had seen the last of Sylvester Stallone's beloved boxer, Rocky Balboa. Back in 2006 we saw Stallone put the gloves on, for what we thought would be, the last time but he's back. But before you start sighing this time it won't revolve around Balboa getting back in the ring. This time around Stallone will be playing the trainer who helps Apollo Creed's son, Adonis Creed, prepare for the ring. While I have enjoyed the Rocky films, I wouldn't say I love them but what really interests me about this spin-off is the reunion of Michael B. Jordan, who stars as Creed, and director Ryan Coogler who both created the harrowing, excellent Fruitvale Station. Word from the set is good too with Jordan assuring fans that Coogler has nailed the film's grit. Exciting stuff.
11. THE GOOD DINOSAUR
It's been a while since Pixar really knocked it out the park with their latest offerings which we mostly made up of pointless prequels and unnecessary sequels but maybe the creative drought is over for the company that brought us Up and Wall-e. The Good Dinosaur is set in a world where the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs missed meaning they never became extinct. The film follows young Apatasaurs Arlo, who ends up miles away from home in Clawed-Tooth Mountains and strikes up a friendship with a cave-boy. It sounds and looks like nothing Pixar have done before and with Jurassic World being such a disappointment, it could be the best dinosaur film this year. Lets hope its more Finding Nemo than Cars.
If I told you that Arnold Schwnegger was starring in a zombie film you'd probably think he would have a shot gun in hand blowing the undead to bits but think again. The former Governor has stepped out of his comfort zone in a slow, emotional piece, a while away from his return to the Terminator franchise. Set in a world plagued by a Neocroambulist virus turning people into zombies. While humans have managed to contain the virus and attempt to live normal lives, humanity has taken a serious hit. When Arnie's Wade finds out his daughter (Abigail Breslin) has been contaminated he ignores all the rules to spend the last few weeks with his daughter. Not your typical zombie film then. It will be interesting to see Arnie flex his acting muscle rather than his muscle muscles.
9.THE TALE OF TALES
If there was one scene that would stick in my mind from any trailer this year it would be Selma Hayek eating the raw heart of a sea monster. If that sentence isn't enough to get you interested in Matteo Garrone's new film than I don't know what will. The film is split into three segements with the first segment concentrated on Selma Hayek's and John C. Reilly's King and Queen who are struggling to bear an heir to the throne, left with no choice they take the advice of a necormancer which leads to some serious issues. The second segment centres on Toby Jones' King whose pet flea transforms into a massive Kafkaesque creature. The third and final segment tells the story of Vincent Cassell's lustful King is instrigued by a woman's singing, they spend the night together only to Cassell's horror when he wakes up and sees what she really looks like.
The Tale of Tales is the adaptation of the tales of Naepolitan poet Giambattista Basile which contain the earliest versions of the likes of Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. But if you think this is just another addition to the fairy tale conveyor belt think again because Garrone's film depicts the darker, weirder side of fairy tales that Disney don't have the balls to put on screen. With a cast made up of Selma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Toby Jones and Vincent Cassell The Tales of Tales is definitely one to see, if not only to see Hayek chow down on some sea monster sushi.
8. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Biographies about rappers tend not to be worth your time, I'm looking at you Get Rich or Die Trying, but we might finally have one worth watching. F.Gary Gray, director of The Italian Job and Law Abiding Citizen but don't hold that against him, directs Straight Outta Compton the story about the world's most dangerous rap group N.W.A. The film follows the rise of Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E, MC Ren and DJ Yella as they go from gang members to multi-platinum winning artists but as they start to achieve their dream the authorities start clamping down on their anti-police lyrics. While the film lacks big names, the biggest being Paul Giamatti as N.W.A's manager, it does come at an important time in America's history with the recent Ferguson shootings.
7. THE GREEN INFERNO
Eli Roth's career is a mixed bag with decent efforts like Cabin Fever and Hostel, the less said about the sequel the better. The director has taken a step back from directing in recent years, opting to produce more but even his producing work has led to some real stinkers, The Man with the Iron Fists 2 anyone? In 2015 we will be treated to two Roth films, firstly we will be able to enjoy Keanu Reeves get bunny boiled in Knock Knock and than in September we will finally be able to experience The Green Inferno.
Originally set to be released last year but held back due to financial difficulties, the film sees a group of student activists travel to the Amazon to help save a native tribe but after their plane crashes they are taken hostage by the tribe they planned on helping. Roth has said he wants the film to look like a Werner Herzog or Terrence Malick film which is a pretty big statement when you've seen Roth's back catalogue. But judging from the trailer it looks like the director really has created some stunning visuals, the shots of the rainforest looks beautiful, a word most people wouldn't associate with a horror film, let a lone a Roth film. Despite the fact the first film hasn't had an international release yet, there was news on a sequel, Beyond the Green Inferno, whether this happens or not remains to be seen but I for one can't wait to see some cannibal carnage.
Many successful child actors have a tendency to go off the rails but Emma Watson has bucked the trend with her post-Potter career going from strength to strength but Regression is the most interesting film Watson has starred in since leaving the franchise that made her name. Watson plays Angela Gray, who accuses her father of abusing her when she was young and when her father, David Dencik, admits to the horrific crime but claims he can't remember the events, David Thewlis' Professor Kenneth Raines is brought into relive the memories yet they start to uncover a mystery much bigger than them. With Ethan Hawke as the detective working alongside the professor and The Others director Alejandro Amenábar behind the camera, this could be something really special. Terrifying but special.
5. INSIDE OUT
Inside Out is Pixar's second offering in 2015 and it could be challenging the animation company's back catalogue for the title of their best film. The film takes place in a young girl called Riley's mind where her five emotions-Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger-have come to life, a little like Beano's Numbskulls. When Riley and her family are relocated to San Francisco she struggles to get used to a new life causing all kinds of problems for her emotional manifestations.
Pixar are famous for making films that appeal to both children and adults, if you go back and watch Toy Story you will be surprised to see how much adult humour is in there, and it feels like their latest will have something for everyone. We all want to know what's going on in people's head especially our parents. While the likes of Dreamworks keep churning out sequel, after spin-off after spin-off sequel, its nice to see Pixar are getting over their creative drought. The film has been setting alight to the American box office, taking on the behemoth that is Jurassic World, and critics are showering Pixar's latest with endless praise, so it sounds like it could be topping everyone's top ten lists when December rolls by.
4. THE FANTASTIC FOUR
It is no secret that Marvel have been ruling the superhero roost for the last few years, DC have been trying to, and if news reports are anything to go by failing, build their own superhero universe and while Fox have made two excellent X-Men films they have done very little to the box office. So no surprise 2015 has been all about Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man but I've had my eye on Josh Trank's The Fantastic Four. Following Reeds Richards (Miles Teller), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara) who teleport to an alternate universe where they gain new abilities. The four decide to use their abilities for good but Toby Kebbell's Victor Domashev decides to use his powers to gain power as the titular villain, Doom.
Attempting to erase the two abysmal attempts in 2005 and 2007, Trank's film has taken some liberties with the original comic book, making the super group younger, making Johnny and Sue Storm adopted siblings and the casting of a black actor, the always enjoyable Michael B. Jordan, as The Human Torch which caused a lot of controversy online. People where dismissing the film before it's trailer hit Youtube but with Trank using David Cronenberg as inspiration for the film, it definitely doesn't sound like a Marvel film.
3. ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
Now here is what I believe could turn out to be a real gem. Based on the book of the same name by Jesse Andrews, the film centres around the lonely, awkward Greg (Thomas Mann) who drifts through school, disconnected from pretty much everyone he goes to school with, he learns that one of his childhood friends, Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has been diagnosed with leukaemia. While at first they don't want each others company, they soon strike up a friendship, with Greg introducing Rachel to his best friend and collegue Earl, who he makes short films parodying famous films, such as their take on A Clockwork Orange retitlting it Sockwork Orange and throw in some sock puppets because that's what Kubrick's original film was missing. As Greg grows closer to her, Rachel's cancer worsens, causing him to start engaging with the world he has disconnected himself from.
Director of last year's The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is behind the camera, a man who has worked on the likes of 21 Grams, Babel and Argo, so he has a lot of experiene working on great films. Indie comedies are pretty common these days, ever since the massive mainstream success of the likes of Juno and Napoleon Dynamite, many have given it a crack and few succeed in being memorable. Its a genre that offers up very few masterpieces but this could really be a surprise hit of 2015.
2. HIGH RISE
Ben Wheatley is Britain's hardest working director. His career started in 2009 with the micro-budget Down Terrace than came the brilliant Kill List, the hilarious Sightseers and the bizarre A Field in England with a few episodes of Doctor Who and music videos thrown in. Wheatley returns this year with the J.G. Ballard adaptation, High Rise, which sees Tom Hiddlestone star as Robert Laing, a young doctor is seduced by a luxury life in a high rise isolated community. Soon Laing discovers that everything isn't as it seems when the inhabitants start breaking out into violent tribes. It boasts Wheatley's best cast so far with Hiddlestone, Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and James Purefoy all subjecting themselves to the horror of the high rise. With a track record as strong as Wheatley's and being a big fan of Cronenberg's Ballard adaptation Crash, I am expecting big things from High Rise.
If you follow me on Twitter, than you will know just how excited I am for this Shakespeare adaptation, pretty much every other tweet is something to do with this film. Everyone knows the story by now but just in case you didn't study English Literature at school, Shakespeare's Macbeth follows a Scottish General called Macbeth who recieves a prohecy from three witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Twisted by his need for power and spurred on by his wife, Lady Macbeth, he kills King Duncan and takes the thrown for himself. Macbeth is soon riddled with paranoia and guilt, turning him into a tyrannical leader, killing and murdering more people to cover up for his crimes causing a civil war to break out. Its no surprise Macbeth is considered one of Shakespeare's darkest pieces of work.
Snowtown director Justin Kurzel is behind the camera with the always excellent Michael Fassbender, who could be eyeing up an Oscar nod, as the tyrannical Macbeth and everyone's favourite french actress, Marian Colltard takes on the role of Lady Macbeth. Not to mention the likes of Sean Harris, Paddy Considine and David Thewlis taking on supporting roles. With some amazingly stunning visuals, original Shakespeare dialogue and what feels like it could be a powerhouse performance from Fassbender, Macbeth deserves its place at the number one spot.