13. Starred Up
Reason to be excited: Gritty British drama has been mysteriously thin on the ground recently and its good to see a return to the kind of harrowing geezer smash ups we demand. The rising talent of Jack O’Connel stars as a hard as nails young convict transferred to a prison where his own psychotic father is incarcerated.
Reason to be wary: The plot sounds like it may be laying the hard man shtick on a little too thickly but by all accounts this is going to be a classic.
12. The Double
Reason to be excited: Richard Ayoade finally follows up his cracking directorial debut Submarine with this update of some old Russian novel. Jessie Eisenberg stars as a looser driven insane by the appearance of his charismatic doppelganger.
Reason to be wary: Submarine was small budget and set in an obscure part of Britain. Will Ayoade’s move Yank-side prove as difficult to crack as it has for many talented Brits.
11. Jupiter Ascending
Reason to be excited: Despite its glaring flaws the Wachowskis previous effort Cloud Atlas at least tried something different and more or less pulled it off. Their next project sees a toilet cleaner targeted for execution by the Queen of the Universe.
Reason to be wary: The plot sounds like it was scribbled down on a napkin after 10 pints. This will either be the birth of a new franchise or will fail dramatically.
10. The Imitation Game
Reason to be excited: Benedict Cumberbatch continues his unstoppable climb to the top with this WW2 drama based on some posh English egg heads trying to crack the enigma code. Expect tension and maths equations.
Reason to be wary: While being an interesting sub plot of the war, it is difficult to see how this will be anything other than a patriotic, stiff upper lip, glossy period drama.
Reason to be excited: Experimental director Richard Linklater’s (Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly) latest project has been shot intermittently over several years to capture his young actor growing up authentically on screen. Such a risky long term vision should produce some unique results.
Reason to be wary: None – this looks visionary as expected.
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Reason to be excited: The greatest superhero story arc of all time finally gets a big screen adaptation. Multiple time periods, mutants from the future, Apocalypse, giant Sentinel robots, Cable, Bishop – its enough to get even those of us jaded with Comic adaptations slightly excited.
Reason to be wary: Highly underrated director Michael Vaughn has moved aside despite his superior work on First Class, with Bryan Singer resuming leadership of his franchise. Given how tepid the first 3 films there are questions over how well Singer can capture the scale of the post apocalyptic future so important to the story.
7. The Trip to Italy
Reason to be excited: Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan are reason enough. BBC comedy The Trip was original in its blurring of script and reality, and its stripped down reliance on acting and improvised banter.
Reason to be wary: Coogan has proven he can handle the translation of TV to film but this is a much more difficult concept than his Partridge character. A lot of the material seems to have been reused from the TV show.
6. Knight of Cups
Reason to be excited: Terrance Mallick is a true master of cinema and this supposedly less experimental film should see a return to form, with something resembling a story arch communicated through character dialogue.
Reason to be wary: Other than the awful title, Mallick’s prolific era has been a little hit and miss and the romantic angle has recently been done in To the Wonder – and quite badly. The big man seems determined to nail a romantic epic.
5. Inherent Vice
Reason to be excited: PT Anderson. Every film he makes is an instant classic and this 70s cop period piece will be a guarantee for critical acclaim and awards. Joaquin Pheonix stars as the detective investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Reason to be wary: Billed as a dark comedy, this would be new territory for a director known for his deathly serious and dense drama’s. Comedy may prove to be too strong a description.
4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Reason to be excited: Sequel to a thrilling first outing which looks to amp up the epic-ness and number of apes. The shit hurling tree swinging scamps must deal with the human survivors of an apocalypse.
Reason to be wary: Part of the first films success was the slower paced first half before things went mental. Keeping a similar character focus could prove difficult with a bigger budget and grand scale concept.
3. The Raid 2
Reason to be excited: The original exploded out of nowhere and delivered a much needed shot of adrenalin into the arm of action movies – although now we think about it nobody has managed to follow this up with anything close. The action genre needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into a new era.
Reason to be wary: Can the lightning of excellence strike twice or will this go the familiar way of a sequel with a bloated budget and a reference-fest of a script.
2. The Reprisalizer
Reason to be excited: Matthew Holness could have been one of British comedies finest had he not gone underground following the unfair politics which brought his genius Garth Marenghi character to an end. Finally he has a new character in Terry Finch – the author of ultra violent 70s cop fiction.
Reason to be wary: The short preview film A Gun for George (above) was brilliant. The only real fear is the uncertainty of whether this will eventually materialise.
Reason to be excited: The latest mysterious project from the ever reliable Chris Nolan. The scarce plot details suggest a space mission through a worm hole and perhaps some time travel paradox shenanigans, and the born again career of Matthew McConaughey. Thats enough for us.
Reason to be wary: None – Nolan’s track record suggests this will be the undisputed event of the year.