Every New Year comes with new hopes and aspirations, resolutions, dreams and big plans… as well as a lengthy list of newly announced movies that are going to be released that year. I remember heading back to University in January 2012 with a long list of films that I needed to make sure I saw. It featured the likes of Django Unchained, Avengers Assemble, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Dark Knight Rises and Silver Linings Playbook. The list was long, and by December that year I had made a brand new one, and did it all over again.

This year promises to be no different, with some exciting things happening within the movie industry.  There is a fresh lineup of new material from big directors, continued franchises and under-the-radar independents all set for release. Let me introduce you to some of the big films that should be on your radar for this year...

 

JURASSIC WORLD

Dir. Colin Trevorrow. Starring Chris Pratt and Judy Greer.

I remember being introduced to the world of Dinosaurs through watching the first Jurassic Park film on video when I was five, and then again through The Lost World a few years later. I became obsessed with the world that this franchise presented to me, filling my room with posters, toys and books. When Jurassic World was announced, I was skeptical. The third film was enjoyable, but it didn't have the same classic edge of the first two, and I feared this film would be the same, just another money-making addition to the once great franchise. The trailer changed my mind. The trailer takes the magic of the original films and makes it bigger. The tag-line 'The Park Is Now Open' suggests that this is made for lovers of the original films and the down-tempo re-curation of the classic theme tune adds to that, provoking the idea that this film takes quite a sinister twist on the children's classic. Finger's crossed that it does just that. JUN 12.

 

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Dir. Quentin Tarantino. Starring Channing Tatum and Samuel L. Jackson.

This is a film by Quentin Tarantino. And that is enough reason to be excited by it. The first time I watched a Tarantino movie was when my Dad sat me down to watch Pulp Fiction and it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Although at one point this film was called off due to a leaked script, we've been lucky enough for it to be re-announced. The Western completes the “rewritten history” trilogy and features a plot that weaves racial tensions in post-Civil War Wyoming. So far this trilogy has provided us with Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained, so I'm confident Tarantino won't disappoint with this closing episode. Despite the surprising casting of Channing Tatum... NOV 13.

SPECTRE

Dir. Sam Mendes. Starring Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz.

Casino Royale remains one of my favourite action films to date, re-introducing one of Britain's most popular heroes of the genre. It maintained all of the franchises distinctive allures but modernised them, and Craig impressed with his sharper, rougher, grittier Bond. He worked his British charm once again with the acclaimed release of Skyfall in 2012 and I'm sure, with the talent of Christoph Waltz on board as his supposed adversary, we're onto another winner. Spectre refers to an ominous organisation that have a past with Bond and dark plans to destroy the MI5 for good. NOV 6.

TRUE STORY

Dir. Rupert Goold. Starring James Franco and Jonah Hill. 

Currently premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, True Story looks to be one of those rare indie films that bridges the Hollywood divide. The film stars Jonah Hill as a New York Times writer Michael Finkle, who suddenly comes to the knowledge that a Most Wanted List murderer Christian Longo (Franco) has been living out of the U.S. under his identity. The two develop an odd and disconcerting relationship that is set to spiral out of control as Longo's intentions become apparent. APR 10. 

THE REVENANT

Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

The first thing I saw about this film was a twitter picture a friend of mine uploaded commenting on Leo's scruffy new look. He stars as Hugh Glass, a frontiersmen who enacts revenge on those who left him for dead after a bear mauling. Ah, that must explain the scruffy look. The film, so far, seems like a classic revenge tale, however, with Leo at the helm, alongside Tom Hardy, I'm sure this will be one to watch. TBC.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Dir. Joss Whedon. Starring Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.

Okay. Where do we begin with Avengers: Age of Ultron. The first instalment to this much anticipated super-hero team up was pulled off well, with some laugh out loud gags, incredible fight choreographies, and strong action/hero genre spectaculars. There were however, quite a few negatives too. The film was very light-hearted and it felt that the heroes were never really under much serious pressure from their adversary Loki. Through the trailer of Age of Ultron, it seems that problem has been resolved. The introduction of the antagonist, Ultron, was truly sinister and surprisingly chilling, especially alongside the slowed down and eerie rendition of 'I've Got No Strings' from Disney's Pinocchio. The worlds favourite super-hero team seem to have met there match, and with the plotline being kept under wraps, this film has me thirsty to find out more. MAY 1.

 

THE SEA OF TREES

Dir. Gus Van Sant. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts.

Not too much light has been shed on this film as of yet. The title takes its name from a notorious suicide forest in Japan called Aokigahara. The Sea of Trees tells the story of an American looking to end his life, until he runs into a Japanese man, also in Aokigahara. The two form an unlikely bond and work to find their way out. The plot is intriguing, and with McConaughey's recent stand out performances with the likes of Dallas Buyers Club, Intersteller and True Detective it seems his acting potential is heading in a very good direction. I'm hoping for the film to be an intimate depiction of human vulnerability through a two-man cast with strong performances and a well-written script.  TBC.

PARTISAN

Dir. Ariel Kleiman. Starring Vincent Kassel and Jeremy Chabriel. 

When I first read of this film, I immediately rekindled with my appreciation for both Leon (1994) and Emperor of the Sun (1987). Both films feature young and brilliant characters that are living in very violent worlds, and through Kleinman's story we are re-introduced to that narrative, through Alexander. Playful, curious and naive, just like every other kid. Except he is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise, Alexander has grown up seeing the world filtered through his father, Gregori. Vincent Cassell always delivers performances of an epic scale and I have enjoyed his work since first seeing him in the incredible French film La Haine. The film received a lot of positive hype at the recent Sundance Film Festival. JAN 25

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

Dir. Jeff Nichols. Starring Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton.

Midnight Special is an upcoming american science fiction film which was written and directed by Jeff Nichols. With Mud, Shotgun Stories and Take Shelterunder his belt, Nichols is being renowed as one of most promising and exciting new directors in Hollywood. More so though it's the unconventional plot that appealed to me, and the mystery around it. The film seems to follow similar tones of the chase film, which we've seen in No Country For Old Men and Catch Me If You Can, a popular genre of action films. The twist comes with the films sci-fi elements, as the plot is centered around a young boy who finds out his is supernaturally gifted and suddenly, being hunted. Along with the interesting story-line, the film is graced with performances from Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton who in recent years have really impressed. NOV 25.

STAR WARS: EPISODE VII - THE FORCE AWAKENS

Dir. J. J. Abrams. Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

As usual, Abrams has kept this film very quiet. Which, as usual, has got the world talking about it. Regardless, this is the seventh instalment to one of the most epic franchises in film history. We don't know much, but what we do know is that the saga's original heroes are back on board, that the film is set 30-or-so years after the Return of the Jedi, and that there is a new line of Sith who are entering the field of play. And they have a cool new lightsaber. Widely considered as the most anticipated film of the year. Stay tuned for updates on this film throughout the year. DEC 18.

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