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20 Movies to Get Excited About Before the End of 2015

Now that the end of August is winding down with some pretty uneventful new releases, it’s time to look ahead to films that are expected to do great box office and also could be nominated for a few Oscars. Beginning around mid September t0 the end of December, quite a few high profile releases are due out that could carry some significant buzz.

Although the 2015 Fall movie season brings more sober adult dramas and awards contenders, it also features big blockbuster franchise films like the long awaited new Star Wars, the final Hunger Games, and a new James Bond film.

We’ve decided to give you our picks for the 20 movies to get excited about from September to December 2015 in order of release date. There’s plenty to be excited about before the end of the year.

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BLACK MASS (Sept. 18)

Johnny Depp kind of needs this film to be good. His last 5 lead starring films have received poor reviews and box office — Mortdecai (2015) , Transcendence (2014) , The Lone Ranger (2013)Dark Shadows (2012) , and The Rum Diary (2011). However, the good news is, based off the trailers for Scott Cooper’s Black Mass, we could be seeing a comeback of sorts. Depp looks fully convincing as the real life gangster Whitey Bulger. Not only that, the film also boasts a fine ensemble including Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, and Peter Sarsgaard.

EVEREST (Sept. 25)

Survival films are very much in vogue right now and Everest looks like it will be pretty intense. The story is based on the real events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster which led to the deaths of several climbers. True stories tend to not hurt a film’s chances. Neither does a really good ensemble cast — Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

SICARIO (Sept. 25)

As the new trailer for Sicario tells us, the word is Spanish for ‘hitman.’ This intense crime drama already made waves at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film is directed by maestro Denis Villeneuve, who recently gave us two great films in Prisoners and Enemy. Both films were highly admired by not only myself, but the majority of the cinema world in general. The same can now be said for Sicario — which received positive reviews coming out of Cannes back in May.

Villeneuve has corralled a quietly impressive cast for the upcoming thriller-drama.The film stars Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin and Jon Bernthal. The plot involves an FBI agent (Blunt) from Tucson, Arizona who travels across the border to Mexico with a pair of mercenaries to track down a ruthless drug lord (aren’t they all?).

THE MARTIAN (Oct. 2)

This looks interesting, almost like Gravity meets Interstellar — especially with Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain playing NASA scientists….again. However, The Martian is directed by Ridley Scott and has a pretty stellar supporting cast alongside Damon and Chastain, including Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Hard to not see the potential upside to this science fiction film.

PAN (Oct. 9)

The 10 millionth take on Peter Pan is directed by the visually gifted director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), Anna Karenina (2012)) and stars Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard. What’s a bit different here is that it’s an invented origin story for Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Also stars Garrett Hedlund (as Captain Hook), Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried, and Levi Miller as the title character.

There’s a pretty big casting controversy over Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily — due to her being of Caucasian descent, while Tiger Lily is traditionally portrayed as a Native American. Also considered for the role of Tiger Lily were actresses Lupita Nyong’o and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The studio did not try to cast a Native American woman in the role. Critics of the casting noted that there are very few main roles for Native American women in Hollywood and that the choice not only took one away from a Native American actress but also perpetuates the invisibility of Native Americans in film. Warner Brothers claimed to be trying to create an international and multi-racial world, although the majority of main characters are Caucasian. A petition was created in response to the casting to urge Warner Brothers studios to stop casting white actors in roles for people of color.

Previous portrayals of the Piccaninny tribe in Peter Pan have also been criticized as racist. Critics of the casting in Pan suggested that Warner Bros. may have wanted to avoid repeating the racism of previous Peter Pan stories by altering the ethnicity of the Piccaninnies rather than using the stereotypical portrayal of the source material. Many also felt that native actresses and actors were never given the opportunity to make it into the mainstream movie scene, with native roles being traditionally given to non-natives.

STEVE JOBS (Oct. 9)

There’s almost no reason not to be excited about this. The biopic comes from the pen of Aaron Sorkin, with Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle behind the camera. After a casting carousel (which included Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio) for the title role of Steve Jobs, Michael Fassbender was ultimately cast to play the role. The film also has an impressive supporting cast — including Seth Rogen (as Steve Wozniak), Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Katherine Waterston, and Michael Stuhlbarg.

THE WALK (Oct. 9)

Despite a not so convincing French accent from Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit — based on the story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. The film is directed by Academy award winning director Robert Zemeckis — rounding out a cast that includes Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Steve Valentine, and Charlotte Le Bon.

BRIDGE OF SPIES (Oct. 16)

Kind of hard not to be excited about the first collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in over ten years. This will be Tom Hanks’ fourth film collaboration with Steven Spielberg. They previously worked together on Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me If You Can (2002) & The Terminal (2004). It is based on the 1960 U-2 incident, and written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen.

CRIMSON PEAK (Oct. 16)

Anything directed by maestro Guillermo del Toro I am totally 100 percent down for. Not to mention this horror film has an impressive cast including Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver. This hopefully will be the best gothic horror film in a long time.

SPECTRE (Nov. 6)

Looking back on it now, it’s pretty insane that there was such a shit storm over the casting of Daniel Craig as James Bond nearly a decade ago. Craig has grown into what many are saying is one of the best portrayals of 007 on screen. His fourth outing will be a test to see if he and director Sam Mendes can weave together plot lines from the previous three films in order to add a truly new dimension to Bond. Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux and Christoph Waltz co-star.

TRUMBO (Nov. 6)

This is kind of a first test for Bryan Cranston post Breaking Bad to see if he can carry a feature film. Based on the true story of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the film is directed by Jay Roach and written by John McNamara. The film stars Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Louis C.K.,Helen Mirren and John Goodman.

BY THE SEA (Nov. 13)

Angelina Jolie (who now goes by Angelina Jolie Pitt) continues her evolution as a filmmaker with this upcoming film starring Jolie and husband Brad Pitt (for the first time since 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith). In her film, they play a husband and wife growing apart in the 1970s while traveling along the coast of France, having meetings with locals that take them in interesting directions.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY — PART 2 (Nov. 20)

The fourth and final film (maybe?) of the enormously popular Jennifer Lawrence starred franchise, The Hunger Games, is finally upon us. There was a rather muted reaction to Mockingjay — Part 1 in comparison to Catching Fire, and that’s because it probably wasn’t the best decision to split Mockingjay into two parts. Of course, the decision was made because of $$$$, but Part 2 should be more substantive.

CAROL (NOV. 20)

The new film by Todd Haynes received a rapturous response, including a standing ovation, at its Cannes Film Festival international press screening and premiere. Critics particularly lauded Haynes’ direction, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara’s performances, the cinematography, costumes and score, and deemed it a strong contender for a Cannes award.

Set in 1952 in New York City, the film tells the story of a young female clerk and her relationship with an older, married woman. The film already has an astonishing 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 22 reviews. Look for this film to be considered a strong awards contender.

CREED (Nov. 25)

While perhaps initially iffy on paper, Creed, directed by Fruitvale Station‘s Ryan Coggler, united again with star Michael B. Jordan, it actually looks like it’s come together pretty well. This could be the continuation of the Rocky franchise that it needs, instead of say another film about Rocky directly.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Dec. 18)

Come on now, it’s the first Star Wars film in 10 years, the continuation of the original trilogy with Luke, Leia, and Han returning, as well as a whole crop of new young characters, directed by J.J. Abrams!? All in.

THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Dec. 25)

This is another film that I feel needs little explanation as to why we’re excited to see it. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern. The film is set some years after the Civil War in Wyoming, and it revolves around eight westerners who seek refuge in a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass during a blizzard.

In many ways, the director’s eighth feature looks to be a greatest hits collection. Perhaps, best of all, cinematographer Robert Richardson, who also worked with Tarantino in Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained, will film The Hateful Eight on 70mm film, using Ultra Panavision 70. It is expected to be the widest release in 70mm film since Ron Howard’s Far and Away in 1992.

JOY (Dec. 25)

After a stunning first trailer, it looks as if the David O. Russell – Jennifer Lawrence – Bradley Cooper – and Robert De Niro teaming could have another big hit on their hands.

The film is about a struggling single mom of three children, Joy Mangano, who invented the “Miracle Mop” and is the President of Ingenious Designs, LLC. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as Mangano, Bradley Cooper as an executive at the Home Shopping Network, Robert De Niro as Mangano’s father, and Édgar Ramírez as Joy’s ex-husband.

SNOWDEN (Dec. 25)

Love em or hate em, both Oliver Stone and Edward Snowden will be coming to theaters this Christmas. I, for one, am a major fan of Stone (maybe my all time favorite director) and it’s exciting to see him working with a controversial and contemporary story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the titular Snowden, and the film chronicles his rise to becoming one of the world’s most controversial figures after he leaks classified government documents to The Guardian in June 2013.

THE REVENANT (Dec. 25)

This movie looks insanely awesome, and tails of the difficult and long filming process by Academy award winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu are well documented. Whatever the case, based off the trailer, Iñárritu seems to be right on the money again.

Principal photography began in October 2014 and was originally scheduled to end in March 2015, though in February 2015, Iñarritu stated that production would last “until the end of April or May”, as the crew is “shooting in such remote far-away locations that, by the time we arrive and have to return, we have already spent 40% of the day”. As of July 2015, the film had yet to complete filming (!!!).

Iñarritu said that the film was being shot using natural lighting. Crew members often complained about difficult shoots, with many quitting or getting fired. They say the behind-the-scenes drama led Iñárritu to ban producer James W. Skotchdopole, who worked with him on Birdman, from the set. Mary Parent was then brought in as a producer. Filming took place in British Columbia and Alberta including Victoria, Fortress mountain, Calgary, Alberta, at Mammoth Studios in Burnaby, British Columbia, and in southern Argentina

Iñárritu had stated that he originally wanted to shoot the film chronologically, a process that would have added $7 million to the film’s production budget. Hardy has since stated that, due to weather conditions, the film was not shot chronologically. While the initial plan was to film entirely in Canada, the weather ended up being too warm. The filmmakers went to the tip of Argentina in order to shoot the film’s ending with snow on the ground.

In July 2015, it was reported that the film’s budget had ballooned to $95 million, with some predicting that it could exceed $135 million. Iñárritu stated that some of the members of the crew had left the film, explaining that “as a director, if I identify a violin that is out of tune, I have to take that from the orchestra”. A planned two-week break from filming in December was extended to six weeks, which forced Hardy to drop out of appearing in Suicide Squad. Brad Weston, president and CEO of New Regency Pictures, opined that principal photography had been challenging due to the ambitious nature of the film. Iñárritu was insistent that computer-generated imagery not be used to enhance the film, stating “If we ended up in green screen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.”

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