The 40 Indie Films Indiewire is Most Excited to See in 2015

The 40 Indie Films Indiewire is Most Excited to See in 2015

“45 Years”
Director: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay
Release Date: TBD; February premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: It’s been four years since Andrew Haigh blew us away with his SXSW award-winning love story “Weekend.” He’s since helped launch the HBO show “Looking,” which is also fantastic, so anticipation is high for his follow-up feature “45 Years” to deliver. The filmmaker is tackling a very different type of story in “45 Years,” by adapting a short story by poet David Constantine about a long-married couple’s relationship that’s put under severe stress by the discovery of the body of the husband’s long lost first love. With Charlotte Rampling headlining his cast, Haigh is in good hands. This has the makings of something special.
“A Hologram for the King”

Director: Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Skeritt, Sarita Choudhury
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: After two back-to-back films in which he played characters from real-life, in “A Hologram for the King,” Tom Hanks will, in a change of pace, inhabit an entirely fictional character 

— which is a welcome challenge for audiences and critics alike. The actor pairs up with Tom Tykwer, who directed him in “Cloud Atlas,” to play a washed-up salesman in the upcoming film adaptation of the Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name. Hanks’ character travels to Saudi Arabia to try and lock an IT contract for a new business complex being built in the desert.

“Call Me Lucky”

Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Cast: Barry Crimmins, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Margaret Cho, Tom Kenny
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: Although stand-up comedian Bobcat Goldthwait has transitioned into directing with features such as “World’s Greatest Dad” and last year’s underrated horror flick “Willow Creek,” he has yet to lose his biting knack for acerbic black comedy and satire, which bodes well for his upcoming Barry Crimmins documentary. Crimmins, a longtime friend of the director, was a titan of the stand-up scene in 1980’s Boston thanks to his politically charged routines, and he founded the Ding-Ho comedy club in Cambridge in 1979, launching the careers of Dennis Leary, Steve Sweeney, Lenny Clarke and more in the process. Following Crimmins at events in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, Goldthwait’s documentary explores the left-wing comic inside and out, while allowing comedy favorites like Patton Oswalt and Margaret Cho to sing his praises. If anyone can get to the core of this Boston comedy legend, it’s Goldthwait, so count us very much intrigued.
“Carol” 
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: The involvement of Todd Haynes or Cate Blanchett in anything warrants a must-see status, but for them to come together again nine years after “I’m Not There” for a 1950s-set lesbian drama co-starring Rooney Mara as Blanchett’s love interest? It’s almost too much for us to handle. Based on the 1952 novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith (whose books “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” also resulted in fantastic queer-interest films — the latter notably also starring Cate Blanchett), the film follows Therese (Mara), a young New York department store clerk who falls for Carol (Blanchett), an older, married woman.
“Dark Places”

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Chloe Grace Moretz
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: Gillian Flynn turned her novel “Gone Girl” into a fantastic screenplay and, with the help of David Fincher, into a hit of a movie. Though Flynn isn’t the screenwriter on this one, we’re excited enough just to see another of her novels turned into a film. This one follows a woman who survived the brutal murder of her entire family as a child and has to revisit the memories because of a secret society obsessed with solving old crimes. 
“Digging for Fire”

Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Jenny Slate, Orlando Bloom, Jake Johnson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Mike Birbiglia, Brie Larsen
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: That star-studded cast is enough to excite us, but add to that the fact that Swanberg co-wrote the script with Jake Johnson and we can barely contain our enthusiasm. The relationship drama about what happens when a husband (Johnson) and wife (DeWitt) discover a bone and a gun sounds darkly hilarious. And to top it all off, the film, which will premiere at Sundance, was shot by Ben Richardson (DP of the gorgeous “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) on 35mm. Consider us curious.
“Entertainment”

Director: Rick Alverson
Cast: Gregg Turkington, John C. Reilly, Tye Sheridan, Michael Cera, Amy Seimetz, Lotte Verbeek
Release Date:  TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: “The Comedy,” Rick Alverson’s provocative 2012 portrait of a bored, privileged Brooklynite, was one of the more memorably divisive Sundance Film Festival premieres. Its fans and detractors both had strong reactions to the abhorrent protagonist (Tim Heidecker), whose unruly antics Alverson portrayed in a series of unnerving vignettes. Now Alverson is back with a reportedly even more challenging character study revolving around an aging comedian (Turkington) attempting to revive his career with a series of shows in the middle of the desert. Alverson’s ability to probe the depths of American losers reached some remarkable extremes with “The Comedy,” but here’s hoping “Entertainment” goes even further as the director continues to push beyond his audiences’ comfort zones. Bring it on.
“Ex Machina”

Director: Alex Garland  
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac
Release Date: April 10
Why We’re Excited: Because we’re really, really aching for some excellent sci-fi and Garland has the ability to give it to us, having written “28 Days Later,” “Sunshine” and “Never Let Me Go.” The story involves a young coder (Gleeson) who participates in an experiment involving a new brand of artificial intelligence. Before Isaac and Gleeson hit screen in the upcoming “Star Wars” sequel, here’s the potential for them to grab us in some sci-fi with an earthly touch. 

“Far From the Madding Crowd”

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts
Release Date: May 1
Why We’re Excited: “A Celebration” director Thomas Vinterberg made quite the comeback at Cannes a couple years back with “The Hunt,” and he follows it up with this promising adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 19th century classic headlined by the ever-reliable Carey Mulligan as a woman who inherits a large farm and becomes romantically entangled with three men (Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts). Vinterberg has proven adept at drawing out career best performances from his cast (Mads Mikkelsen took home top acting honors at Cannes for his showstopping turn in “The Hunt”), so signs point to this being a heated character study.
“Freeheld”

Director: Peter Sollett
Cast: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell, Michael Shannon, Luke Grimes
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Julianne Moore once again embodies a woman with a terminal illness, but this time she’s surrounded by a rock-solid supporting cast. The story, which follows Moore’s character through a struggle to secure pension benefits, is based on an Oscar-winning short documentary of the same name. Sollett, who previously directed “Raising Victor Vargas” and “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” should be able to bring some light-hearted subtlety to heavy subject matter.


“Green Room”
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Anton Yelchin, Mark Webber, Alia Shawkat, Macon Blair, Joe Cole
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Jeremy Saulnier first made waves on the festival circuit with his enjoyably goofy horror-comedy “Murder Party” in 2007, but 2013’s “Blue Ruin” marked a huge step up for the cinematographer-turned-filmmaker: The tense, elegantly crafted thriller was one of the sleeper hits of that year, and showed a sophistication for genre directing rarely found in modern American cinema. With “Green Room,” Saulnier gets the chance to build on that talent with bigger names, more resources, and the opportunity to be more ambitious than ever. The movie revolves around a punk band unexpectedly trapped in a remote venue and facing down a group of skinheads. Word on the street is that Saulnier upped the gore quotient for his latest suspense-laden drama, but director’s history with artful storytelling — his cinematography credits include such delicate tone poems as “Putty Hill” — suggest another welcome marriage of a classy visual style and unnerving storytelling. Plus, Patrick Stewart as a meth dealer. We can’t wait.

“I Am Michael”

Director: Justin Kelly
Cast: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts.
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: After writing and directing music videos, Kelly makes the transition to feature with the help of mentor Gus Van Sant. Written and directed by Kelly and based on Benoit Denizen-Lewis’ New York Times Magazine article “My Ex-Gay Friend,” the film, set to premiere at Sundance, tells the controversial story of a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor. And who else but James Franco could play such a part? We’re expecting nothing less than a gripping exploration of love, desire, religion and betrayal.

“Jane Got a Gun”

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton
Release Date: September 4
Why We’re Excited: Natalie Portman hasn’t had a substantial role since 2010’s “Black Swan,” which won her the Oscar for Best Actress. So even despite all the problems that have plagued “Jane Got a Gun,” we’re still excited to see Portman do her thing. The film was initially set to be directed by Lynne Ramsay. After she bailed on the first day of production, causing a lot of the supporting cast to change, Gavin O’Connor of “Warrior” fame came on board to save the project, with actor support from Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton. The Western stars Portman as a woman forced to protect her crooked husband from the gang that betrayed him. While we were more excited to see Ramsay’s vision brought to life, O’Connor surprised with “Warrior,” turning in one of the best sports dramas in recent memory. Here’s hoping he can work his magic again on this troubled film.

“Joy”

Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro
Release Date: December 25
Why We’re Excited: Yet another team-up between director David O. Russell and actors Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro… need we say more? After the charismatic foursome made the hit that became “Silver Linings Playbook,” Lawrence and Cooper joined Russell once again for “American Hustle.” Those two have another love story match-up coming out soon with March’s “Serena,” but after being plagued with production issues, the film isn’t getting good word of mouth out of international festivals. Perhaps Russell is the key that holds the duo together.

“Knight of Cups”

Director: Terrence Malick (“The Tree of Life,” “The Thin Red Line”)
Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Jason Clarke, Imogen Poots
Release Date: TBD; February premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: The new Terrence Malick film, after being in post-production since early 2013, is finally being released this year. The trailer looks absolutely gorgeous, which is so surprise considering how beautiful Malick’s films usually look thanks to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. The question here is whether the story or plot will be coherent, or simply a nonsensical vehicle for his stunning images.
“Macbeth”
Director: Justin Kurzel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Marion Cotillard, one the of the finest actresses currently working today, as Lady Macbeth? Sign us up. The Weinstein Company has been teasing this adaptation of Shakespeare’s bloody play for quite some time. While the delay may worry others, we have faith that this cast and director Justin Kurzel’s (“Snowtown”) will deliver.
“Miles Ahead”

Director: Don Cheadle
Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Stuhlbarg 
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Biopics can be a tired and true awards-baiting formula, but the most passionately alive films in the genre have been those centering on genre-smashing musical heavyweights, mainly Ray Charles in “Ray” and James Brown in last year’s “Get On Up.” Considering the monumental contributions trumpeter Miles Davis had on the world of jazz music, there’s no reason his first biopic, “Miles Ahead,” shouldn’t join that acclaimed aforementioned group. While the subject alone is worth all the anticipation, the fact the movie represents Oscar-nominee Don Cheadle’s directorial debut has us even more intrigued. Cheadle has worked with some incredible filmmakers throughout his career, including Steven Soderbergh and Paul Thomas Anderson, so it’ll be interesting to see what stylistic traits he brings to his first outing behind the camera, as well as to how he embodies Davis in front of the camera. Will Cheadle join the actor-director A-list alongside Ben Stiller, Ben Affleck and Clint Eastwood? We’re betting on it.
“Mistress America”
Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Michael Chermus, Heather Lind
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: “Frances Ha” duo Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig are back with their second under-the-radar offering that’s soon to be unveiled in Park City. Not much is known about the comedy apart from the fact that it stars Gerwig as an outgoing young woman who invades the life of her soon-to-be stepsister (played by “Gone Girl” breakout Lola Kirke). Gerwig excels at playing larger than life personas, and she created true magic with Baumbach in “Frances Ha.” Here’s hoping lightening strikes twice.

“Queen of the Desert”
Director: Werner Herzog
Cast: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, Robert Pattinson
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Portraying British explorer and political officer Gertrude Bell in the upcoming epic biopic “Queen of the Desert” from Werner Herzog is exactly the type of challenge that actress Nicole Kidman needs after the less-than-stellar “Grace of Monaco.” What’s more is that it will be interesting to see what Robert Pattinson brings to his portrayal of the iconic T.E. Lawrence a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia 

— a character that most cinephiles associate with the late Peter O’Toole.

“Queen of Earth”

Director: Alex Ross Perry
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterson, Patrick Fugit
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Alex Ross Perry has steadily become one of the most promising young American filmmakers with the expertly awkward comedies “The Color Wheel” and last year’s “Listen Up Philip,” both of which revealed his ability to explore the lives of deeply unhappy people and uncover a surprising amount of comedic inspiration. But Perry’s cinephile-driven career goes beyond the art of the punchline, and his next project promises something completely different: A psychological thriller about a pair of women at a beach house working through their problems, the movie seems more attuned to the dreary portraits of alienated figures in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s career than the endearingly neurotic types found in Perry’s other films. No director should feel trapped by specific genres or storytelling tropes, so we’re all about watching Perry flex some different muscles while staying close to the troubled characters he knows so well.
“Regression”

Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, David Dencik
Release Date: August 28
Why We’re Excited: Helmed by Alejandro Amenábar (the director behind 2001 hit “The Others,” as well as the Academy Award-winning “The Sea Inside”), “Regression” promises to be quite the interesting horror film: It delves into the complex concept of satanic-based, nationwide incidences of abuse — incest, the supernatural and conspiracies theories all converge together in this movie. Also, if you’re a “Harry Potter” nerd, “Regression” reunites Hermione (Emma Watson) and Professor Lupin (David Thewlis).

“Results”
Director: Andrew Bujalski
Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: A few years ago, when the term “mumblecore” was rampant, many of the filmmakers looped into this loosely defined American indie movement were left out of the Sundance equation. That included Andrew Bujalski, whose perceptive dramedies “Funny Ha Ha,” “Mutual Appreciation” and “Beeswax” played elsewhere. The festival accommodated the director’s delightfully offbeat “Computer Chess” two years back, and now he’s made his way into the U.S. competition at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. “Results,” which revolves around a pair of personal trainers who land an affluent client, stars Kevin Corrigan and Guy Pearce — marking the biggest name talent in a Bujalski production to date. We’ve been tracking Bujalski’s unique penchant for observational comedy for years; here’s hoping “Results” provides an excuse for the rest of the world to take notice, too. 

“Ricki and the Flash”
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Meryl Streep, Sebastian Stan, Mamie Gummer
Release Date: August 6
Why We’re Excited: For those who remember Meryl Streep’s dynamic performance in Mike Nichols’ adaptation of Carrie Fisher’s semi-autobiogrpahical novel, “Postcards from the Edge,” Streep’s role in Jonathan Demme’s upcoming film, “Ricki and the Flash,” in which she plays an aging rock star attempting to reconnect with her estranged children, represents a fascinating reversal. In “Postcards from the Edge,” Streep’s character, Suzanne Vale, is both an actress and the daughter of a famous actress, played by Shirley MacClaine. It’s a mother-daughter relationship that mirrored Fisher’s own life, as she was the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds. Fast-forward to 2015 where Streep once again enters into a similar narrative with “Ricki and the Flash,” but this time, she plays the character of the mother and her real-life daughter, actress Mamie Gummer, plays her estranged daughter. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, this background factors in.

“Room”
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Cast: Brie Larson, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Megan Park
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Emma Donoghue’s novel about a boy raised in a single room by his mother became a bestseller. The screenplay for this sounds promising because, like this year’s “Gone Girl,” the author has adapted it herself. The film also sounds like it will be a great vehicle for Larson, whose resume could use a potentially awards-worthy performance. 
“Sleeping With Other People”

Director: Leslye Headland
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Natasha Lyonne, Amanda Peet, Adam Scott
Release Date: TBD January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 
Why We’re Excited: A story about the will-they-won’t-they platonic relationship between a charming womanizer (Sudeikis) and a serial cheater (Brie) may sound like a giant rom-com cliché, but you should never underestimate the edgy charms of former playwright Leslye Headland. The writer-director’s 2012 debut, “Bachelorette,” had the misfortune of following in the footsteps of the similarly themed blockbuster “Bridesmaids,” but the NYU Tisch graduate showed a promising comic spirit that was feistier and more fearless than any Melissa McCarthy poop-in-the-sink joke. Last February, her raunchy screenplay for the Kevin Hart-starring “About Last Night” was a delightful surprise as it confidently walked the line between naughty and crude without ever indulging in crass immaturity. Given the talented ensemble and the starry Sundance premiere the director has lined up for “Sleeping With Other People,” this rom-com will be Headland’s biggest break yet and we can’t wait to see how she pulls it off. Luckily for Headland, the lovely Alison Brie (“Community”) is poised for a star-making turn of her own, and we’re hopeful these two ladies will be a match made in comedy heaven. 
“Slow West’

Director: John Maclean
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: We’d watch Michael Fassbender read the dictionary, so you can imagine how excited we are to see him play a rough and mysterious traveler in the American West at the end of the 19th century. Fassbender’s character teams up with a lovelorn 17-year-old Scottish aristocrat to track down his former lover whose life is threatened by an outlaw (Mendelssohn). Fassbender previously worked with Maclean on two short films, “Man on a Motorcycle” and the 2012 BAFTA-winning “Pitch Black Heist” and we’re dying to see what their latest collaboration holds in store. The film will have its premiere at Sundance later this month in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition where we’ll be sure to check out Maclean’s take on a classic American Western.

“Southpaw”
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Naomie Harris
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Jake Gyllenhaal hasn’t disappointed since bombing hard with “Love and Other Drugs” a few years back, wowing in “Prisoners,” “Enemy,” “End of Watch” and last year’s “Nightcrawler.” In Antoine Fuqua’s latest, the actor seems to have undergone his most startling transformation yet to play a professional boxer who’s struggling to win back the love of his daughter. Denzel Washington won an Oscar under Fuqua’s watch in “Training Day.” Could Gyllenhaal follow suit with this project?

“Suffragette”

Director: Sarah Gavron
Cast: Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Whishaw
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Holy awesome female cast, Wonder Woman. Could there be any better feminist power than Streep, Bonham Carter, and Mulligan tackling the late 19th and early 20th century suffragette movement? With a screenplay from Abi Morgan, the Emmy-winning writer behind “The Hour,” we’re betting this will be a better film that that unfortunate Hilary Swank HBO spectacle that attempted the same subject. 

“Suite Francaise”
Director: Saul Dibb
Cast: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Based on the powerful novel of the same name set in 1940s France, the source material has an equally dramatic backstory: the Jewish-Russian born author Irene Nemirovsky planned a five-novel cycle beginning in 1940, just as forces overran northern France. In the summer of 1942, Nemirovsky, who had converted to Catholicism, was shipped to Auschwitz and the two completed parts of Nemirovsky’s planned cycle were discovered only six decades later. Though a film based on Nemirovsky’s story sounds compelling, so does the book which Nemirovsky finished, on which the film is based. “Suite Francaise” tells the story of a woman in 1940s France who falls for a German officer posted in the town as she awaits her POW husband’s return. The cast, with Michelle Williams playing the woman opposite Matthias Schoenaerts as her lover, should bring this strong material to life.
“That’s What I’m Talking About”

Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Luiz Guzman,  Zoey Deutch, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Blake Jenner
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: Linklater earned a lot of goodwill with last year’s “Boyhood,” so the stakes are high for his next project… an ’80s-set movie about college baseball? That might not make much sense on paper, even after you add in Linklater’s references to “That’s What I’m Talking About” being a spiritual sort of sequel to “Dazed and Confused.” But that just makes us all the more intrigued.  
“The End of the Tour”

Director: James Ponsoldt
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack, Mamie Gummer, Mickey Sumner
Release Date: TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited:  The sure to be controversial film, which will premiere at Sundance, stars Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky, the reporter who wrote the book “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace.” The film tells the story of the intense five-day 1996 interview between Lipsky and the late Wallace and explores the relationship between journalist and subject as they discuss women, depression and fame. The David Foster Wallace Literary Estate is not wholly supportive of the film, saying that the writer would not be happy with the cinematic portrayal. But, to be honest, that makes us want to see the film even more.

“The Hateful Eight”
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Channing Tatum
Release Date: November 13
Why We’re Excited: The eighth movie by Quentin Tarantino. Need we say more?
“The Revenant”

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio,Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson
Release Date: December 25
Why We’re Excited: This revenge Western, about a 19th century frontiersman who is robbed and left for dead, has encountered quite a few obstacles coming to fruition. After being dropped by two consecutive production companies, Iñárritu announced that he would be following up his ostensibly single-long-take “Birdman” with a film shot entirely in sequence. This unique production request saw the budget increase by $7 million, further complicating its potential to secure funding. Ultimately, indie cinema fairy godmother Megan Ellison came to the rescue, and “The Revenant” now has a release date. We’re just excited to see what Iñárritu will deliver next.
“The Tale of Tales”

Director: Matteo Garrone
Cast: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, John C. Reilly, Toby Jones, Stacy Martin
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: With the one-two punch of powerhouse Cannes-winning features “Gomorrah” and “Reality,” Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone has become one of the most intuitive fiction-bending foreign directors currently working. For a director who constantly challenges himself with new genres, his next project is without question his most ambitious film yet. Adapted from three of the Neapolitan fairy tales in Giambattista Basile’s book of the same name, “The Tale of Tales” features a star-studded international cast that is definitely one of the more intriguing ensembles this year. Not much is known about the project, but with Garrone behind the lens and Salma Hayek and Vincent Cassel squaring off in front of it, expect an extravagant drama that should bring some surefire prestige to the foreign festival circuit this year. 
“Triple Nine”

Director: John Hillcoat
Cast: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie
Release Date: September 11
Why We’re Excited: It’s movie about a bunch of corrupt cops who end up plotting the murder of a rookie officer in order to pull off blackmail-induced bank heist — so it already has just about the best premise ever. Add in quite the cast of award-winning/nominated actors, and we’re really cooking.

“True Story”
Director: Rupert Goold
Cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones
Release Date: April 10; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: This Brad Pitt-produced, James Franco and Jonah Hill drama looks like it’s going to be the head scratcher of 2015. Based on the memoir of New York Times journalist Michael Finkel, played here by Hill. After being fired from the paper for questionable ethics, he is contacted by a main in jail named Christian Longo, who was wanted for killing his entire family and had been captured in Mexico, where he’d taken on a new identity: Michael Finkel of the New York Times. Sounds trippy, no?

Untitled Woody Allen Movie

Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Emma Stone, Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey 
Release Date: TBD
Why We’re Excited: The premise 

— “a philosophy professor in existential crisis gives his life new purpose when he enters into a relationship with his student” — isn’t a new one. Stories about professors sleeping with students have been written since basically the invention of the university. But if anyone can find a fresh take on the subject, it’s Allen, and if anyone can find a unique spin on this character, it’s Phoenix. Here’s hoping that Posey shows up as the brittle voice of reason that she excels at being.

Untitled Cameron Crowe Project
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Jay Baruchel, Bill Murray, John Krasinski
Release Date: May 29
Why We’re Excited: Well, could it be as bad as those leaked Amy Pascal emails say? Who knows. But a whimsical romantic comedy with a cast like this could end up being a charming refreshment this summer. And eventually, Cameron Crowe will find his talent… Right? We still really love “Jerry Maguire” and “Say Anything.” We have faith.  
Untitled Warren Beatty Project

Director: Warren Beatty
Cast: Lily Collins, Taissa Farmiga, Haley Bennett
Release Date: May 21
Why We’re Excited: It’s been five years since the legendary Warren Beatty acted in a film. Although the film has yet to be given a title, per IMDB, the story focuses on billionaire aviation pioneer and Hollywood producer Howard Hughes and an affair he had later in life with a much-younger woman. Martin Scorsese and Leonard DiCaprio were the last people to explores Hughes’ story onscreen in “The Aviator,” which came out back in 2004. Scorsese’s film only covered a three decades of Hughes’ life, from the 1920s thru the mid-1940s. Hughes, however, lived into the 1970s, albeit in seclusion. For the most part, biopics 

— even those that focus on awful individuals — tend to depict their main subject at his or her finest moments. Beatty’s film seems to hold great promise as it flaunts the traditional conventions of a biopic, in favor of focusing on the main subject at an extreme moment of vulnerability.

“Z for Zachariah”
Director: Craig Zobel
Cast: Margot Robbie, Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Release Date:TBD; January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Why We’re Excited: Romance meets the apocalypse in Craig Zobel’s emotionally charged adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien’s 1974 award-winning novel, in which a love triangle develops between three of civilization’s last known survivors. All eyes are on the gorgeous Margot Robbie this year as she follows up her breakout role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” by playing elusive love interests in both this science-fiction drama and February’s heist thriller, “Focus.” But considering the latter is more of Will Smith’s show, “Z for Zachariah” will be the first opportunity Robbie has to front a picture all her own, and our gut feeling tells us she’ll be just as confident and sizzling as she makes the jump from supporting to lead. Also enticing is the involvement of director Zobel, whose debut “Compliance” was one of 2012’s best independent thrillers. Considering “Compliance” was also about the psychological chess game between three characters in a very specific environment, we’re confident Zobel has everything he needs for a second feature knockout. 

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Comments

D.E.P

Ex Machina, The Revenant, Macbeth, The hateful eight Tripple Nine,….All look like great throwback’s to the sic fi, western and bad cop genre by good directors.

Anthony

Why We’re Excited: The eighth movie by Quentin Tarantino. Need we say more?: Yes you need to tell us why its good since he hasn’t had a good film since Reservoir Dogs.

Maisie

So Macbeth only stars Cotillard? Hope this doesn’t represent the way TWC is pushing it.

Marty Jackitansky

Where’s "The Lobster"??

Andreas Walther

What about Jeff Nichols’ "Midnight Special"? That seems like an obvious omission. A sci-fi movie from the director of "Mud"? That’s recipe for a contemporary "Blade Runner"!

Lucette Maarleveld

w­w­w­.­W­­I­­K­­I-­­W­­O­­R­­K­­S­.­C­o­mONLY

PLEASE REMOVE THE ONLY.

Gavin Locke

This list would be better if it had the films "Green Room" and "On The Brain". They both look intensely scary.

Trung

They forgot to add MERMAID DOWN.

emma

Macbeth with two of the best actors right now, Cotillard and Fassbender

Anna

Can`t wait to see Ex machina, gonna be a big year for Alicia Vikander.

gerard kennelly

@ IGOR chastain is working on Monroe biopic

C..C.

LGBT stories, Left wing Docs, Dying cancer patient stories… Indie film scene these days has become as predictable as it is tiresome. It’s LIFETIME with a better pedigree. Ug.

scarecrow

Also missing Dan Bush’s "The Reconstruction of William Zero"?

Josh

Where’s Van Sant’s Sea of Trees with Mcconaughey, Watanabe and Watts? The script was fantastic.

Igor

The list seems a bit disappointing without a single film with Jessica Chastain. We’re kind of used to her year-defining performances.

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