A Most Violent Year (Jan 9): Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain star in this neo-gangster chronicle set in 1981 NYC, one of the bloodiest in the city’s history. It is fantastic. See our review here. [Watch the trailer]
American Sniper (Jan 16): Clint Eastwood directs this intense biopic of Chris Kyle, the expert Navy SEAL marksman who returns from a tour in Iraq to face serious pressures at home and a tragic end. Bradley Cooper stars; his performance has drawn deserved raves. [Watch the trailer]
Jupiter Ascending (Feb 6): This “space opera” by the Wachowski brothers concerns a schlubby cleaning woman (Mila Kunis) who is notified by an android (Channing Tatum) that she’s genetically marked for greatness and may have to save the world. As you do. It’s the Wachowskis’ first original screenplay since The Matrix, and we’re eager to see what futuristic visions they’ve kept bottled up since then. [Watch the trailer]
Maps to the Stars (Feb 24): David Cronenberg just kills it in everything he does, having branched out from his early body-horror flicks (The Brood, Scanners, The Fly) to fantastic moral fables like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Now he turns his eye to Hollywood. This dark satire finds Julianne Moore as a depressed, aging actress who hires a burn victim as a personal assistant (Mia Wasikowska) and is seeing a TV therapist (John Cusack) whose son is a child star. Expect exquisite creepiness. [Watch the trailer]
The Gunman (Mar 20): Sean Penn enters the action-movie arena in this film from the director of Taken (which likewise gave Liam Neeson’s career a second wind). He plays an international spy who wants to come in from the cold and become a family man. Too bad, say his bosses, and he’s forced to go on the run across Europe. We’re intrigued by the mixture of commercialism and Penn’s spiky onscreen presence, along with the stellar supporting cast (Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone). [Watch the trailer]
While We’re Young (Mar 27): We loved Noah Baumbach’s quirky, tender breakout The Squid and the Whale; he’s gone on to collaborate with Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic, Fantastic Mr. Fox) and to release the stellar indies Greenberg and Frances Ha, which burnished his reputation as an expert observer of relationships. His latest finds Naomi Watts and Ben Stiller as a complacent forty something couple who get a kick in the ass from their young neighbors Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. [Watch the trailer]
Rock the Kasbah (Apr 24): The phrase “Bill Murray’s latest” is enough of a selling point for anything these days. The man is allergic to wrongheadedness. This one's the story of a burnt-out music producer who goes on a USO tour of Afghanistan, discovers a girl with a golden voice, and enters her in the Afghan version of American Idol. Zooey Deschanel, Bruce Willis and Kate Hudson co-star. (Photo: @zooeydeschanel)
Cameron Crowe Project (May): File this one under morbid interest. In emails released via the Sony hack, studio head Amy Pascal basically called this movie a mess. The premise sounds interesting enough: A socially inept military weapons expert (Bradley Cooper) working on a top-secret spy satellite falls for his ass-kicking superior (Emma Stone). As a writer and director, Cameron Crowe has created incisive modern classics (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything, Almost Famous) and total disasters (Elizabethtown, Vanilla Sky). Has he lost his touch? We’ll be watching.
Trainwreck (Jul 24): Judd Apatow’s (Knocked Up, 40-Year-Old Virgin) latest stars Amy Schumer (one of our favorite sketch comedians via her Comedy Central show) as a professionally put-together woman whose romantic life is a clusterfuck. Daniel Radcliffe co-stars. Crazily, so do Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. Can’t lose.
The Fantastic Four (Aug 7): Summer’s tentpoliest tentpole is a reboot of Marvel’s longest-running comic, about four dorks who find out they have special powers and must save the world. What makes this one stand out in a glut of comic adaptations: Director Josh Trank helmed the wonderful 2012 indie Chronicle, in which three teens gained telekenetic powers after videotaping a strange glowing object. It was innovatively shot and unusually touching; we’d be shocked if Trank doesn’t bring the same qualities to a premise that clearly inspired to him.
The Man from UNCLE (Aug 14): Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer star in the remake of the 1960s TV spy series, which was the very picture of cool. Like the show, the Guy Ritchie-directed film is set during the Cold War and contains elements of comedy. Cavill and Hammer are secret agents who must forestall nuclear obliteration. And not sully the memory of one of the most classic TV shows of all time. No pressure.
Masterminds (Aug 14) : Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson star in a bank-heist comedy—based on the true story of an armored-car driver who made off with $17.2 million in 1997—directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). With the talent involved, it will be a caper indeed.
The Walk (Oct 2): Joseph Gordon Levitt takes on the role of Phillipe Petit, the Frenchman who walked between the World Trade Center towers on a high wire in 1974. It’s based on Petit’s autobiography; Robert “Back to the Future” Zemeckis directs. We’re excited about this one because of Gordon-Levitt’s fine taste in material and the stellar supporting cast: Ben “Gandhi” Kingsley and Ben “Jean Ralphio” Schwartz.
The Hateful Eight (Nov. 13): Quentin Tarantino directs Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Channing Tatumas a group of seethers trapped indoors during a blizzard in Civil War-era Wyoming. Tarantino shelved the project when the script leaked online, then relented. Good thing, too: The script, and a live reading in L.A., were very well received, and he's is at a career peak after Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained. He's hinted it could be his last film. Will it be his magnum opus?
Spectre (Nov 26): The latest Bond flick finds Daniel Craig facing off against the shadowy terrorist organization of the title (and Ian Fleming’s novels). Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux are the Bond girls, and Ben Whishaw and Christoph Waltz co-star. The Bond franchise is, critically, on a roll, and Sam Mendes and John Logan have returned as director and screenwriter, respectively.
Sisters (Dec 15): Tina Fey and Amy Poehler star in a comedy about siblings who throw one last bash in their childhood home before it’s sold. Considering that Fey and Poehler are two of the funniest people in the modern world—witness their TV and movie triumphs such as 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Baby Mama and their impeccable Golden Globes hosting gigs—and the script is by longtime SNL and 30 Rock writer Paula Pell, this gets "can't wait" status. Ike Barinholtz and Maya Rudolph are along for the romp.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18): Steady, nerds: You have 'til the holidays to prepare for this massively anticipated sequel in the Star Wars series, directed by J.J. Abrams. The original cast (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill) returns, joined by Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong'o. What we know besides this: Not much. Although a picture of Chewbacca has been released, and in a way, that’s satisfying enough. More details as we get them.