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Ten Hot Movie Pairings to Look Forward to in 2015 (Trailers)

Ten Hot Movie Pairings to Look Forward to in 2015 (Trailers)

This past 12 months had its share of memorable movie pairings:  Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley touchingly sidestepping the pitfalls of cancer clichés in “The Fault With Our Stars.” Kristen Wiig and Bill Haden adding a serious note to their damaged siblings in “The Skeleton Twins.” Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker summoning the old-school magic of Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams in “Beyond the Lights.”
And let’s not forget the ongoing bro-jinks between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in “22 Jump Street.”
Looking ahead to 2015, there are plenty of opportunities for interesting big-screen blends, whether passionate, platonic or in-between. Of course, everyone wants to see Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia as a couple again in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on Dec. 18 – but there are no plot specifics to savor yet. Instead, here are 10 other movie dream teams to look forward to in the new year.
1. Fifty Shades of Grey (Feb. 13). Indulging in erotica is probably best done on an intimate scale rather than splashed on a giant screen at a cavernous suburban megaplex.  Basically, panting and popcorn don’t mix. Therefore, much depends on whether the primarily female readers of E. L. James’ S&M sensation will be able to libidinously connect with the actors cast as virginal college student Anastasia and the De Sade-like mogul Christian.  The family tree of Dakota Johnson, 25, the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson as well as granddaughter of Tippi Hendren, suggests she has the genes to pull it off. Meanwhile, Jamie Dornan, 32, who hails from Northern Ireland and is best known as the sheriff on TV’s “Once Upon a Time,” is more of a question mark. But a hint of mystery is often a plus fantasy-wise. A sign that the heat is already building: The film’s first trailer was the most-watched in 2014 with more than 93 million views.

 2. “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel(Feb. 27). Tom Wilkinson, sadly, is not returning. But Judi Dench and Billy Nighy are now an item of sorts (although a visit by his ex, Penelope Wilton, will likely prove disruptive).  And Ronald Pickup is presumably still renewing his Viagra prescription to keep Diana Hardcastle happy. But it is the arrival of the American Gigolo himself, Richard Gere, 65, who is stirring up the most excitement at the Indian retirement oasis this time out. Or as the ever hot-to-trot Celia Imrie sighs when she first spies his silver-haired fox strutting by: “Lordy, lord, have mercy on my ovaries!” Despite wrestling over the last available room at the inn with Tasmin Greig (TV’s “Episodes”), Gere manages to find time to court hotel manager Dev Patel’s mother (the returning Lillete Dubey) as she prepares for her son’s upcoming wedding celebration.

3. Cinderella (March 26). There is no business like shoe business, at least when it comes to fairy-tale fare. On the heels of “Into the Woods” arrives this more traditional take on the magical story of Ella, a beautiful girl mistreated by her stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters, who yearns to go to the royal ball. Stepping into the famous glass slippers will be Lily James, 25, best known as the flighty flapper Lady Rose MacClare on “Downton Abbey.”  As for her prince, he is played by dashing Scotsman Richard Madden, 28, who was Robb Stark on “Game of Thrones.” The twist is that the prince, posing as a palace worker named Kit, and — Ella meet long before the big bash. That at least lends some credence beyond love at first sight for their attraction and presumably gives Madden an actual personality, unlike Disney’s bland cartoon version of Prince Charming.

4. “The Longest Ride” (April 3). Based on casting alone, this 10th film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks romantic novel  might have a leg up on its recent predecessors (certainly more than last fall’s The Best of Me, which earned a mere 8% positive ranking  at Rotten Tomatoes). It’s a multi-generational story, with Alan Alda as an old man who reflects on his life with his deceased wife (Oona Chaplin, granddaughter of Charlie) while trapped after a car crash. But it is the younger cast who might prove a draw for under-25 ticket buyers.  Up-and-comer Britt Robinson, 24, who also is in “Cake” (Jan. 23) with Jennifer Aniston and time-travels with George Clooney in “Tomorrowland” (May 22), is a college student who falls for a bull-riding cowboy. That he is Scott Eastwood  — Clint’s look-alike 28-year-old son and a rising star himself after appearing “Fury” — lends the actor some pretty solid make-those-hearts-go-giddy-up cred.

5. “Ex Machina” (April 10). You couldn’t find two more in-demand actors than Ireland’s 31-year-old Domhnall Gleason (“Unbroken,”  “About Time”) and Denmark’s 26-year-old Alicia Vikander,  who is in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” (Aug. 10) and six other upcoming films. They have already displayed considerable onscreen chemistry as Levin the farmer and Kitty the aristocrat in 2012’s “Anna Karenina.” They switch venues from 19th-century Imperial Russia to the future in this sci-fi thriller about a computer coder who develops romantic feelings for a waifish sentient robot named Ava  while being drawn into an experiment involving artificial intelligence. If an OS can be an object of affection in “Her,” why not a humanoid machine —  especially one as cute as Vinkander.  

6. Far From the Madding Crowd (May 1). Those in the mood for a higher-brow shade of literary woo than “Grey” might appreciate this retelling of a Thomas Hardy classic. A 1967 version featured Julie Christie as tempestuous heiress Bathsheba Everdene who must choose between three suitors — including standout Terence Stamp as the smoldering Sergeant Troy. The update features “An Education’s “Carey Mulligan, who sat out 2014 on the big screen, alongside Belgium hunk Matthias Schnoenaerts (“Rust and Bone,” “The Drop”) as a sheep farmer, Michael Sheen  (TV’s “Masters of Sex”) as a wealthy older bachelor  and relative newcomer Tom Sturridge (“On the Road”) , who has the unenviable task of filling Stamp’s sexy military boots.  If this three’s a crowd, then make room for us.

7. “Don’t Mess With Texas” (May 8). Are Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon the new Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock a la “The Heat”? Or, given that Witherspoon is a cop who goes on a run with Vergara’s wife of a drug dealer with both good and bad guys (including Sean Penn and David Oyelowo) in pursuit, perhaps they are the new Thelma and Louise? In any case, we are guessing that the partnering of “Modern Family’s”  sassy Latina and  a back-on-her-game Witherspoon — who hasn’t fully displayed her comic spunk in a while — might be a welcome female duo , especially with Anne Fletcher  (“The Proposal”) in the director’s chair.  


8. Mad Max: Fury Road” (May 15).  Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron as dueling leather-clad warriors who end up crossing a post-apocalyptic  wasteland together in what amounts to a movie-length chase scene? Sounds like a fair fight to me. After pulling off his solo car stunt the much-praised art-house outing “Locke,” Hardy has more than earned the right to replace Mel Gibson in the driver’s seat of this franchise. Meanwhile, Theron as a new character named Imperator Furiosa deserves another chance to flex her muscles after her attempt at being an action heroine in 2005’s “Aeon Flux” crashed and burned.  While plot elements of this reboot of the 1979 cult classic  are few and far between – other than there is still an energy crisis going on and oil is in short supply —  the trailer reveals that Theron certainly can rock a buzz cut with bad-ass panache.

9. “Ricki and the Flash” (Aug. 7). No, this is definitely not a sequel to 1982’s “Sophie’s Choice,” but it does reunite Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in a comedy drama directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Diablo Cody. Streep is Ricki, an aging rock star now performing with a cover band in bars.  After abandoning her family long ago to pursue her music career, she reconnects with her remarried ex-husband played by Kline over a family crisis involving one of her children (Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real-life daughter).  As excited as we are to see Streep and Kline, both in their 60s, together again, it will be an even greater kick to observe Rick “Jessie’s Girl” Springfield lust over Oscar’s favorite actress as one of her bandmates.

10. “Crimson Peak” (Oct 16).  It seems only fair that after Mia Wasikowska’s naughty minx of a vampire made life difficult for Tom Hiddleston’s morose bloodsucker in “Only Lovers Left Alive” that he would turn the tables on her in this gothic horror tale with echoes of “Jane Eyre,”” Rebecca” and “The Haunting.” Director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro returns to his fright roots with this story, set in a decaying mansion in 19th-century England, of a newlywed who learns that husband is prone to odd behavior. Complicating matters is her sister-in-law, played by Jessica Chastain.  Del Toro has promised his film will be “shocking” and “kinky” – and, with this promising premise and cast, we certainly hope so. 

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