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The 25 Most Anticipated Movies of The Rest of 2015

By  · Published on September 3rd, 2015

As we look back to our original list of the most anticipated movies of 2015, published in January, we see that quite a bit has changed over the last 8 months. Movies that we thought would be very relevant at this time of year – such as Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special or Terrence Malik’s Knight of Cups – have been pushed out of the 2015 release window entirely. And of our top 10 from the beginning of the year, we found ourselves fairly disappointed several times (we’re looking at you, Self/Less, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World). But we did get Ex Machina right, which came in at #3 on our list and has since been one of the best reviewed films we’ve seen in 2015.

As we enter the final movie season of the year – one that involves a mix of end of the year blockbusters and prestige pics chasing awards – it’s clear that the Film School Rejects braintrust has evolved a bit. Some of the movies you’ll find on this list were nowhere near our big list at the beginning of the year. Some were ranked lower and have since moved up the charts. Others have seemingly come out of nowhere. It’s true that our excitement can evolve over time, especially when we are given more information, usually in the form of trailers. With that in mind, we’re pleased to present our list of the most anticipated movies hitting theaters between now and the end of 2015. Get ready for action, drama, comedy and whatever the hell Vin Diesel is doing in a movie about hunting witches…

25. The Last Witch Hunter

In Theaters: October 23

A predictive list of this nature is bound to make mistakes. We’re using trailers, guesswork and marketing machine-generated hype to determine what will or won’t be good enough to earn our hard-earned money. Movies like The Last Witch Hunter present the greatest risk, but also the greatest potential for reward. Vin Diesel plays a witch hunter in modern day New York. It involves him doing more than just the grunting and growling required in the Fast & Furious movies. That could be a disaster. But the trailer looks… interesting. And the movie also features Elijah Wood and Michael Caine. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a Vin-sane surprise.

24. Sleeping with Other People

In Theaters: September 11

Here’s a movie that we can confirm, without a doubt, will be one of the better movies of the fall and winter seasons. We know this because it made our Best of Sundance list back in January after we reviewed its debut. It’s a somewhat raunchy romantic comedy that is anchored by two splendid performances from Alison Brie and Jason Sudekis. As our own Kate Erbland pointed out at the time, “Chemistry is hard, but it’s worth it – and you know it when you see it.” Sudekis and Brie have that kind of chemistry. That alone makes their movie worth seeing.

23. Macbeth

In Theaters: December 4

Have you seen this trailer? Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, two of today’s finest working actors, play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively in what appears to be a wild vision of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy. It’s going to have plenty of action, a feast of gorgeous visuals and based on the cast alone, some strong performances. Finally, a costume drama with a little death and destruction.

22. Creed

In Theaters: November 25

The Rocky franchise, even more so than Stallone’s Rambo franchise, has found a good rhythm in continuing to churn out new ideas to keep the story alive. And even though it’s been almost a decade since Stallone last played the beloved boxer from Philly, there’s still some cache left. Only this time the story turns toward the son of Apollo Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan. The film, which is directed by Ryan Coogler, with whom Jordan gained acclaim with their 2013 film Fruitvale Station, puts Balboa in the background and brings Creed to the center of the ring. It’s a fascinating spin and if the trailer is any indication, it will be a fresh story with that familiar, inspirational Rocky vibe.

21. The Walk

In Theaters: October 2

Robert Zemeckis’ remake of the story behind the documentary Man on Wire promises to be a visual onslaught, that we know from the trailer. We were huge fans of Man on Wire and the mad man that is Philippe Petit, the tightrope walker who in 1974 strung a cable between the two towers of The World Trade Center and walked between them for the better part of an hour. We know how this movie ends because we’ve seen the documentary, but that’s not the draw here. It will be eerie to see a recreation of The World Trade Center’s towers, just as it is when you see it in archival footage. Also, the fact that it’s going to be an IMAX 3D extravaganza has my fear of heights kicked into high gear. Maybe you guys should all go see this one without me…

20. Legend

In Theaters: October 2

There are few absolutes in the world of film. People will go see Tom Cruise movies. That’s one. Another is that Tom Hardy will bring his A-game, no matter what. Did you see This Means War in which he and Chris Pine battled for the love of Reese Witherspoon? If Hardy can give a full-force performance in something like that (ie. a McG movie), he can do just about everything. Legend promises to give us double the Hardy, double the drama, as he plays a pair of twin gangsters who were two of the most notorious criminals in British history. If this is anything like the time he starred as the most notorious British prisoner in history in Bronson, we’re in for a treat. Two Tom Hardys!

19. I Saw The Light

Sony Pictures Classics

In Theaters: November 27

We don’t yet have a trailer for I Saw The Light, the Tom Hiddleston led biopic of Hank Williams. But we do know this: Hiddleston is top notch and the film’s release date in late November suggests that Sony Pictures has confidence that this could put him in the Oscar conversation. He certainly does look dapper in that 10-gallon hat.

18. Bone Tomahawk

RLJ Entertainment

In Theaters: September 25

In preparation for our upcoming coverage of Fantastic Fest at the end of this month, our chief critic Rob Hunter has, on several occasions, typed Bone Tomahawk in all caps (out of excitement). As well he should. It’s a western about four men who try to rescue captives from cave dwelling cannibals. And it’s got Kurt Russell sporting what might be the greatest mustache of all-time (see above).

17. Sisters

In Theaters: December 18

The world is always in need of more Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, preferably together on screen. And while the first trailer for Sisters is a little rough, it’s hard not to have some faith that this duo is going to give us something at which we can easily laugh. Based on its release date, Sisters is meant to be counter-programming for one of the other, much bigger and far, far, away movies coming later in this list. Because who needs Star Wars when you can have some John Cena with neck tattoos, right? … Right?

16. The Final Girls

In Theaters: October 9

Here’s another film that we can confirm with first-hand knowledge is very good. Todd Strauss-Schulson’s send-up of campfire slasher movies is, as the trailer says, “Brilliant.” That’s our own Rob Hunter with the big quote, so I suppose we’re pot-commuted on this one. Don’t worry though, it’s not hyperbole. This movie is a lot of fun. It plays around with some classic horror tropes, is unafraid to get weird and features a strong ensemble cast. Come for the sex and death, stay for the hyper-meta jokes that will please horror fans of any ilk.

15. Black Mass

In Theaters: September 18

Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch and violent crime. Whitey Bulger was one of the most infamous gangsters in the history of the United States. Johnny Depp is one of the most notorious chameleons in modern film. The two were meant to collide at some point. The rest of us are just along for the ride.

14. Carol

In Theaters: October 9

This is the Oscar chaser for both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. A romance between an older woman and a young store clerk set against glamorous 1950s New York. A prestige drama from director Todd Haynes (I’m Not There) that won two awards at Cannes, including Best Actress for Rooney Mara. As always, we expect only the best from Blanchett this time of year.

13. Bridge of Spies

In Theaters: October 16

Steven Spielberg hasn’t directed a movie since 2012’s Lincoln. He hasn’t collaborated with Tom Hanks since 2004’s The Terminal. This Cold War spy drama, Bridge of Spies, also finds these two titans collaborating with The Coen Brothers. It’s part legal drama, part espionage thriller, and all stylish period piece. Let’s see if Spielberg and Hanks still have that special collaborative magic, shall we?

12. The Revenant

In Theaters: December 25

As you can see from the trailer for The Revenant, director Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman, Babel) is once again pushing the visual envelope. And he’s once again brought along a fierce cast of performers, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson. If the trailer is this exhausting to behold, the movie is going to be intense. Sounds like a fun movie to see on Christmas.

11. The Danish Girl

In Theaters: November 27

The King’s Speech and Les Miserables director Tom Hooper brings the story of Lili Elbe, a transgender pioneer who lived in the early 1900s, to life. It’s the kind of movie that is also chasing awards with its release date, but as far as we can tell from the trailer, the performance from Eddie Redmayne should warrant significant attention. He is flanked by 2015’s It girl Alicia Vikander and some splendid costume and set design. The film will undoubtedly continue to drive one of 2015’s biggest social conversations, that of equality and acceptance of transgender people. It also looks like it might be a good movie. Which is just as important.

10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

In Theaters: November 20

One of the biggest franchises of the past half-decade looks to finish strong. And with this big finish, we say goodbye to Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire in the final part of the final adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ epic series. As young adult adaptations go, The Hunger Games has garnered perhaps the most crossover appeal due to its larger action sequences and a strong, towering performance from Lawrence. Despite the fact that all of these characters have ridiculous names, there’s something fun about this post-apocalyptic tale of revolution. I’m more excited to see it reach its conclusion than I ever thought I’d be.

9. Steve Jobs

In Theaters: October 9

Aaron Sorkin, Danny Boyle, Michael Fassbender and the story of the man who was instrumental in creating the device upon which this article was written and most likely upon which you are reading this article. Steve Jobs was a complicated, larger-than-life genius who changed the way we interact with technology and each other. But he was also not without his demons. It appears as if Sorkin and Boyle, working from Walter Isaacson’s biography, aim to give us an unapologetic look at one of the most influential men of the 21st century.

8. He Named Me Malala

In Theaters: October 2

One of the most captivating real life stories of the past several years is that of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl whose fight for the rights of girls in Pakistan to be educated made her a target of the Taliban. Director David Guggenheim, who won an Academy Award for An Inconvenient Truth, paints an intimate portrait of the then 15-year old. It looks heartbreaking and hopeful. If we’re going to be mixing in a little bit of our own real world as we speed off into other worlds with the big fiction of fall and winter, it might as well be the powerful story of Malala.

7. Spectre

In Theaters: November 6

It’s hard to keep a James Bond movie off of a list like this, especially when Christoph Waltz is joining the cast as what is being billed as 007’s greatest adversary. In Sam Mendes’ follow-up to 2012’s Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s Bond will finally come face-to-face with the evil organization Spectre. And from the look of things in the trailer, he’ll also come face-to-face with some harsh truths about himself. Spectre appears to be yet another stylish, sexy, world-traveling action thriller. If we get several big chase scenes and at least one incredible Christoph “The Author of All Your Pain” Waltz monologue, we should be in for a treat.

6. Joy

In Theaters: December 25

We’re still not entirely sure what to make of Jennifer Lawrence in Joy. With David O. Russell at the helm and a cast that looks fantastic, there’s reason to believe that Joy will be interesting. The trailer, on the other hand, makes it look like things get a little abstract and strange. It’s full-force J-Law and some Bradley Cooper for good measure. To quote the official synopsis, “Betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, pave the road in this intense emotional and human comedy about becoming a true boss of family and enterprise facing a world of unforgiving commerce.” So it’s a movie about everything. Sounds fun.

5. Crimson Peak

In Theaters: October 16

Just as Jennifer Lawrence clocked in on our list twice, we also have a double dose of Tom Hiddleston. This time it’s in Guillermo del Toro’s imaginative, moody and gothic supernatural thriller Crimson Peak. Hiddleston joins Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain in a movie that looks like someone gave del Toro carte blanche to go wild and make whatever terrifying thing that lives in his wicked mind come to life. May the movie gods forever bless whomever signed off on this movie. It looks sensational.

4. The Good Dinosaur

In Theaters: November 25

Even though they recently announced a slew of upcoming sequels, 2015 has given us significant proof that the creative minds at Pixar are still very much in the original stories game. Inside Out was one of the more charming experiences of summer and The Good Dinosaur appears to be on the right track to be a similar fixture in the winter. Some of the animation in the trailer looks only 90% finished, but other bits look incredibly photo-real. After Pixar had us living inside the mind of a teenaged girl, it appears as if The Good Dinosaur is going to open up to the vast wilderness of prehistoric Earth.

3. The Hateful Eight

In Theaters: December 25

Quentin Tarantino probably could have earned a spot on this list purely on the quality of the cast he signed on for The Hateful Eight. It’s a veritable buffet of madness from his usual gallery of rogues, including Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. Then we saw the trailer and watched Jennifer Jason Leigh steal the whole thing without saying a single word. This is going to be fun. We can’t wait to see it on the biggest, loudest, widest screen we can find.

2. The Martian

In Theaters: October 2

If we can stop comparing and contrasting with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar for a moment, we can stop and enjoy the fact that Ridley Scott has returned to space and this time, he’s not going to be re-conning any of his classic works. Based on the excellent novel by Andy Weir, The Martian looks fascinating. The film’s cast is also strong, led by Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Jeff Daniels. Oh, and Kate Mara, Kristen Wiif, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Pena, Donald Glover and Sean Bean. Take that, Neil Armstrong.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

In Theaters: December 18

When we made our list of the most anticipated films of 2015 at the beginning of the year, we were somewhat bearish on the stock of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There’s always been this casual assumption that yes, everyone will probably want to see a new Star Wars film. But at the onset of 2015, there was also this sneaking suspicion in the back of the minds of movie fans that there’s still a chance that we could get something more in line with the prequels than the original trilogy. Thanks to once of the best movie trailers in recent history and an onslaught of fine details, all of that has been washed away. Star Wars has ascended to the throne of anticipation and there it will remain. Whether it goes boom or bust, The Force Awakens is clearly swinging for the fences. And the most likely scenario is that we the fans, just like Han and Chewie, will feel right at home.

What is your most anticipated movie of the remainder of 2015?

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the upcoming One Perfect Shot TV show (HBO Max, 2021) and the co-host of The Storm: A LOST Rewatch podcast. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)