2015 is undoubtedly set to be the year of the blockbuster. From superhero films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fantastic Four and Ant-Man to franchise reboots and sequels including Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens – it’s clear that these films are going to be raking it in at the box-office. However, the popularity of such films has the possibility to overshadow other brilliant looking releases. Below is a list of 12 films that offer somewhat of an alternative take on this year’s cinema.
Following the success of 2009’s District 9 and 2013’s Elysium comes South African director Neill Blomkamp’s latest project, Chappie. The film tells the story of the eponymous character, a child prodigy adopted by two criminals. The only thing is – he’s a robot. Challenging society’s attitudes towards the relationships between humans and technology, Chappie is due for release in March. The film stars Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman and frequent Blomkamp collaborator Sharlto Copley.
Produced by Walt Disney, Tomorrowland is the studio’s latest release, a sci-fi adventure named after the theme land found at several of Disney’s theme parks. George Clooney takes on the role of a former child prodigy turned inventor and Britt Robertson stars as the young girl he shares a destiny with. Tomorrowland is the place that exists in their collective memories, and the two team up to discover its secrets. The film is expected to be released on May 22nd.
Set for a Cannes release, Brit director Ben Wheatley’s dystopian film is based on the 1975 novel by J.G Ballard. With an impressive cast including Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller and Jeremy Irons, the film tells the story of the lives of a group of residents stuck in a tower block in 1970s England. Hiddleston plays the new tenant that moves into the block, who discovers very quickly that the lives of the other residents are far from normal.
Lila and Eve
Since her critically acclaimed success in 2011’s The Help, Viola Davis’s career has gone from strength to strength. In her latest film Lila and Eve she stars alongside Jennifer Lopez to portray two mothers grieving for their sons killed in a drive-by shooting. When the law fails to bring their killers to justice, the women decide to seek it themselves. With a subject matter highly relevant in today’s society, the film was set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
The End of the Tour
Another film that premiered at Sundance, The End of The Tour is based on an interview given by acclaimed author David Foster Wallace to a Rolling Stone reporter over several days in 1996. Jesse Eisenberg takes on the role of reporter David Lipsky, opposite Jason Segel as Foster Wallace. Little has been told in the film world of Foster Wallace or his works – a notion it seems director James Ponsoldt is set to change.
Swedish director Daniel Espinosa’s latest film is set in Stalin-era Soviet Russia and tells the story of a disgraced young member of the military police whose investigation into a series of child murders puts his own life in jeopardy in a country rife with social and political turmoil. The thriller stars Tom Hardy – who’s been making his name in a number of crime thriller dramas in the past few years – with support from Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman.
The first of the list’s period dramas stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the highly anticipated adaptation of Shakespeare’s drama. From the on-set pictures and posters released, the film has a dark look, with its stars getting most of the attention for the film. With production by Film 4 and See-Saw films, Macbeth is directed by Justin Kurzel, whose name is also attached to the upcoming Assassins Creed project. There’s no release date for the film yet, but it’s expected sometime in December.
The next film on the list is the dark comedy The Lobster. The synopsis for the film is more than slightly bizarre – single people are transported to a remote hotel where they have 45 days to find a partner before they’re transformed…into animals. The movie is directed by renowned Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, famous in his native country in both film and theatre. The Lobster is his first English language film, with an impressive cast including Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell, Ben Whishaw and Lea Seydoux.
Far From the Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy’s novel of the same name draws the inspiration for director Thomas Vinterberg’s latest project. It tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene, a young woman in Victorian England who attracts three vastly different suitors; Gabriel Oak – a sheep farmer, Frank Troy – an army sergeant, and William Boldwood – a mature bachelor. The film tells the story of the choices Bathsheba makes, and the consequences those choices have on those around her. Carey Mulligan takes on the lead role, with Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenarts and Michael Sheen as her suitors. With lavish costume designs and settings, as well as an impressive cast, the film has already garnered attention and is due to be released in May.
As the next film in the Bond franchise, Spectre is pretty much already a sure fire hit. However, without falling into the superhero or franchise reboot categories, there is, arguably, some space on this list for it. The film marks Daniel Craig’s fourth foray as Bond, who encounters a cryptic message from his past involving a secret organisation named – you guessed it – SPECTRE. Bond is once again joined by M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw). The film also stars Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux and Andrew Scott. Directed by the Oscar winning Sam Mendes, Spectre opens in cinemas here on October 23rd.
The next film on the list comes from director Sarah Gavron, andwriter Abi Morgan, with a strong female led cast including Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan. The film tells the story of the early feminist movement in 20th Century Britain, portraying the lives and struggles of women from all social classes. Sarah Gavron is the winner of three Baftas including Best Director and Most Promising Newcomer whilst Abi Morgan is known for writing for films including Shame, The Iron Lady and the BBC dramas Birdsong and The Hour. Suffragette is due for release in September.
Last, but certainly not least, is The Revenant – the next project of Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu – responsible for one of this year’s most critically acclaimed films, Birdman. With Golden Globe wins and Oscar nominations, Innaritu is one of Hollywood’s directors of the moment, and it seems like The Revenant will only continue the Mexican director’s success. The film, set in the 1820s, tells the story of explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) who, on one of his quests is attacked by a bear and left for dead. The film follows his search for vengeance on those who left him behind. With a supporting cast that includes Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter it’s easy to see why the film is so highly anticipated. It’s set for release at the end of this year.