Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight topped my list of the best movies of 2013, and the other day, I put Boyhood in the #1 slot on the 2014 list. So, yes, I’m very much looking forward to That’s What I’m Talking About, which Linklater’s referred to in the past as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused (1993). “Well, I think the word ‘spiritual’ gets me off the hook,” he told Christopher McKittrick at Creative Screenwriting a few days ago. “I just shot it and wrapped it recently, and it has nothing to do with Dazed and Confused other than it would be set four years later, when one of the younger characters went off to college. It’s a party film. It’s really about the beginning of school, not the end of the school year,” so it “overlaps with the end of Boyhood.”
Another one high on my list would be Todd Haynes‘s Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt and featuring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson and Kyle Chandler. From a fan page: “A young woman in her 20s, Therese (Mara) is working in a department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, moneyed marriage.”
The last few days have seen a good number of “most anticipated” lists roll out, so let’s pick out some of the most promising titles mentioned. At Dazed, Sam Ashurst is looking forward to Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs with Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, David Strathairn and Amy Ryan. “Plot details are vague, but we do know that Bombs centers around a war photographer’s secrets, and involves a Rashomon style structure.” Also on Ashurst’s list:
- Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, featuring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss. Logline: “Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.”
- Xavier Dolan‘s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, “with Kit Harrington, Jessica Chastain, Kathy Bates and Susan Sarandon joining forces to tell the tale of an American movie star caught up in controversy when his correspondence with a child actor is revealed.”
- Crystal Moselle‘s The Wolfpack “features six teenage brothers growing up in NYC projects, secluded from society by their father. To deal with the isolation, the boys recreate their favorite films…. [H]ere’s the twist—The Wolfpack is a documentary.”
- And Kris Swanberg’s Unexpected, headed to Sundance and featuring Elizabeth McGovern; Gaspar Noé’s Love; and a remote possibility, Harmony Korine’s “Miami-set crime drama” featuring Robert Pattinson.
Peter Hall‘s list at Movies.com is the most robust of the lot. Highlights:
- Martin Scorsese’s Silence, a “historical drama about two priests who are persecuted for their beliefs when they travel to Japan in the 1600s.” Update, 1/6: Tadanobu Asano is replacing Ken Watanabe as the “17th century interpreter accompanying [the] pair of Jesuit monks,” reports Todd Brown at Twitch.
- Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is “set in the late 1800s and follows a bunch of bounty hunters that all find themselves trapped in the same saloon during a blizzard.”
- Jonathan Demme’s Ricki and the Flash with Meryl Streep as a rock star, her real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer, as her daughter, and Kevin Kline as her ex.
- John Hillcoat’s Triple Nine. “Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus star in this crime drama about corrupt cops who plan the murder of a rookie on one side of town in order to pull off a heist on the other side of town.”
- Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees. “Matthew McConaughey stars in this drama about an American who plans to commit suicide in Japan’s infamous forest at the base of Mount Fuji. There he meets a local man (Ken Watanabe), and together the two contemplate life.”
- Jeff Nichols’s Midnight Special is about a father and son who go on the run when they discover the son’s psychic powers. With Michael Shannon, of course, plus Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton and Sam Shepard.
- Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario features Emily Blunt as “an FBI agent who goes to work for the CIA to attempt to take down a Mexican drug cartel.”
- Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant. “Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy star in this Western about murder, mystery and revenge.”
- Bill Murray, Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Jay Baruchel, John Krasinski and Danny McBride in that Untitled Cameron Crowe Project.
- Jaume Collet-Serra teams up with Liam Neeson for a third time: Run All Night.
On Tom Shone‘s list:
- Joel and Ethan Coen’s Hail Caesar! Variety‘s Leo Barraclough: “Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Alden Ehrenreich and Jonah Hill star in the film set in Hollywood in the 1950s.”
- David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis. Deadline‘s Jen Yamato: “Sandra Bullock stars in the adaptation of Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary as ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine, a retired political consultant brought in to help an unpopular Bolivian president get re-elected.”
- Anton Corbijn’s Life, based on the friendship between Life photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattison) and James Dean (Dane DeHaan).
- Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, set to premiere at the Berlinale. With Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman.
- Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest, a 3D adventure based on the 1996 climbing disaster. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley and Robin Wright.
- Warren Beatty’s Hughes, about Howard‘s affair with a younger woman. With Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Candice Bergen.
“Alex Ross Perry follows up this year’s tremendous Listen Up Philip with Queen of Earth, a psychological thriller produced by indie veteran Joe Swanberg,” writes Calum Marsh in the Voice. “Described by the director as his ‘miserable women’ counterpoint to Philip’s story of volatile men, Queen of Earth stars Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss and Inherent Vice’s Katherine Waterston as two beach-bound vacationers whose cottage idyll soon becomes a flashpoint of anxiety and paranoia. Perry has cited Roman Polanski as an influence; the premise, irresistibly, suggests Knife in the Water by way of Bergman’s Persona.”
Ryan Gilbey in the New Statesman: “Early footage from Tomorrowland, a science-fiction adventure from Brad Bird (The Incredibles), suggests that this will be both thrilling and decidedly oddball. George Clooney plays the weary scientist who journeys with a bad-apple teen delinquent (Britt Robertson) to a hidden world.” Also:
- “Just when you thought Tilda Swinton couldn’t get any more fabulous, she pops up in a dazzling wig and a mahogany tan in Judd Apatow’s summer romcom Trainwreck.”
- “Whether or not we’ll see Michael Haneke’s Flashmob, which brings together various characters who meet via the internet, is another matter. It was revealed last summer that he was ‘waiting in line’ for the lead actress he wanted; other than that, he’s been keeping shtum.”
The BBC’s Nicholas Barber: “HBO has employed 160 lawyers to scrutinize Alex Gibney’s new documentary, but they should be finished in time for its Sundance Festival premiere in January. The reason for their caution? Gibney, who won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, has turned his attention to the Church of Scientology.” Also on Barber’s list:
- Steven Spielberg’s St. James Place (working title) with Tom Hanks “as the real-life lawyer who had to secure an American pilot’s return from the USSR after he was shot down in 1960.”
- The Early Years, Paolo Sorrentino‘s second film in English with “Michael Caine and Paul Dano as a composer and a film-maker who are on holiday in the Alps. Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel and Jane Fonda co-star.”
- Thomas Vinterberg’s Thomas Hardy adaptation, Far from the Madding Crowd, with Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts.
- Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Umimachi Diary, adapted from Akimi Yoshida’s manga series “about four sisters sharing their late grandmother’s house.”
- Daniel Espinosa’s Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Vincent Cassel and Paddy Considine: It’s “a grueling conspiracy thriller follows a Russian intelligence agent as he investigates a spate of child murders: to make matters murkier, the Communist authorities refuse to accept that such crimes could possibly occur under their regime.”
In Michael Mann’s Blackhat, Chris Hemsworth is “sprung from jail by U.S. and Chinese authorities to help them catch a mysterious cyber-criminal,” notes David Sims for the Atlantic. “Crisp digital photography, perfectly orchestrated shootouts, and lots of techno-babble will ensue.” Sims also writes up Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie; Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, “about the Essex, a ship that sunk in 1820 chasing a big whale”; James Wan’s Furious 7; Louis Leterrier’s Grimsby with Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong; F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton with Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube; Scott Cooper’s Black Mass with Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch; Nancy Meyers’s The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro; Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe “Man on Wire” Petit; and Jason Moore’s Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
Daniel D’Addario for Time on Mad Max: Fury Road: “Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron team up for the latest iteration of the post-apocalyptic action franchise. The zaniness of director George Miller’s vision would, by all indications, be staying intact: Theron’s bald-headed character is named Imperator Furiosa.” More from D’Addario:
- Andy and Lana Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, about “an alien dynasty seeking to harvest the population of Earth.” With Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum.
- Ridley Scott’s The Martian, and “adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel about an astronaut left behind on the red planet.” With Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara and Kristen Wiig.
- Paul Feig’s Spy with Melissa McCarthy as “a CIA paper-pusher who ends up thrust into international espionage.”
Supervised by Roger Allers, Michal Socha, Gaëtan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, Joan C. Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore, Nina Paley, Bill Plympton and Joann Sfar are directed sequences in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Three more of the animated features C. Edwards has notes on at Cartoon Brew: Pixar and Pete Docter’s Inside Out (“The emotions of a young girl, Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, help guide her through life after she relocates to a new city and school”), Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda’s Minions, a prequel to the Despicable Me‘s, and Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s Kung Fu Panda 3.
In Details, Calum Marsh writes about a few “shamelessly reanimated” franchises: “A few weeks ago the internet stifled a collective guffaw while watching the trailer for Terminator Genisys, with its neon-fuchsia lasers and chintzy CGI. The week before that was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and before that Jurassic World. These trailers share much in common, other than that their respective properties were conceived in the throes of Reaganism. Listen closely to the music. In each case it’s the same: We begin with a flurry of stock blockbuster sounds—sweeping, swelling. We settle into a moment of silence. And then, finally, comes the familiar rush of the franchise theme song, our contemporary madeleines. It’s a shrewd cue, and for a lot of people the appeal is no doubt irresistible. This is what it looks like when millennial nostalgia is monetized.”
More returning franchises: Spectre, the 24th James Bond movie, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.
Updates: David Davidson reminds us that we can also look forward to Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper. From Deadline: “An investment banker struggling to understand his emotional disconnect after the tragic death of his wife begins to tear apart his life in a effort to see where he went wrong, is ultimately rescued by a woman he meets in a chance encounter.”
What else? Suggestions are welcome!
Excellent additions from Lukal in the comments below:
- Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s
Cemetery of Kings, which “tells of a lonesome middle-age housewife who tends a soldier with sleeping sickness and falls into a hallucination that triggers strange dreams, phantoms, and romance.” Update, 1/5: We’ve got a name change, a site and more info: Love in Khon Kaen.
- Yorgos Lanthimos‘s The Lobster is, as Wikipedia has it, “set in a dystopian near future where lonely people are obliged to find a matching mate within a 45-day period in a hotel. If they fail, they are transformed into animals and sent off into the woods. In that setting, one man escapes and finds love, despite the rules of the City.” With Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Olivia Colman, Léa Seydoux and John C. Reilly.
- Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s The Assassin. David Bordwell: “I venture this guess: this will be a Hou film first, and a wuxia film a distant second. It will likely be a wuxia film unlike any other.”
- Andrew Bujalski‘s Results. From Sundance: “Recently divorced, newly rich, and utterly miserable, Danny (Kevin Corrigan) would seem to be the perfect test subject for a definitive look at the relationship between money and happiness. Danny’s well-funded ennui is interrupted by a momentous trip to the local gym, where he meets self-styled guru/owner Trevor (Guy Pearce) and irresistibly acerbic trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders). Soon, their three lives are inextricably knotted, both professionally and personally.”
- Werner Herzog‘s Queen of the Desert. Robert Pattinson plays T.E. Lawrence, who, Herzog says, “is a supporting character. He meets the main character in my film, Gertrude Bell, an adventurous geographer of the early 20th century performed by Nicole Kidman. This is an epic film with much happening in the Arabian desert.”
- Miguel Gomes‘s Arabian Nights. “In our movie, Scheherazade’s stories happen in Portugal. Not in a Portugal of the age of the book, but in present day Portugal with its economic crisis and social ebullition.”
Update, 1/3: Three excellent tips from Adrian Martin in the comments below:
- Philippe Grandrieux’s Malgré la nuit. Very little seems to be known about it so far, but it is one of Cahiers du Cinéma‘s most anticipated films of 2015. And you can see several photos at Grandrieux’s site and on the film’s Facebook page.
- Philippe Garrel’s Shadow of Women (L’ombre des femmes). From Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: “Written by the legendary Jean-Claude Carrière, Caroline Deruas and Arlette Langmann, the story revolves around Pierre and Manon, a couple of poverty-stricken documentary makers who are set to weather a storm of love and romance in modern-day Paris.” With Stanislas Merhar, Clotilde Courau and Lena Paugam. Olivier Père recently posted a report from the set.
- Nanni Moretti’s Mia madre. Back in February, when the film was shooting in Rome, Screen Daily reported that Margherita Buy “plays a successful film director whose powerful on-set persona is at odds with her private self. On set, Buy’s character takes command. Back home, she is at the mercy of her ailing mother and taciturn adolescent son. John Turturro plays an American actor in a film she is shooting. Moretti is also in the cast in the role of the filmmaker’s brother.”
And from Edward Smith:
- Terence Davies‘s Sunset Song. Posting the first images back in May, the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth noted that this is “an adapation of the classic Scottish novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, centering on Chris Guthrie, a farmer’s daughter who struggles to find love amidst hardship and family dysfunction, with WWI looming in the background. Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan and Kevin Guthrie feature in the film, and if it’s half as ravishing to look at and moving as Davies’ last effort, the underrated <