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The 52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

By  · Published on January 1st, 2015

Like refreshing your bank statement on the first Friday morning of the month or watching the last bit of whip cream being added to your milkshake, the beginning of the year offers a brief moment for anticipation to take control of our feelings. We stop, reflect on the prior year’s stumbles and triumphs, and then turn to the sparkly potential for a new cinematic year to thrill us. We want the stuff that looks good to be great and the stuff that looks lousy to pleasantly surprise, and all of that is possible today because the lights haven’t dimmed in the theater just yet.

We’ll suffer some disappointments, and more than a few movies that seem terrible will prove just how bad they can be, but with so many films coming out, the sheer amount of amazing work out there is enough to overwhelm the dung pile. Or at least enough to tip the scales to the side of the angels.

Which is why we’ve chosen 52 as the number to look forward to with each annual exploration of potential. It’s as arbitrary as a top ten or twenty or one hundred, but it at least represents the hope (on average) that we’ll have one great movie per week to enjoy.

For 2015, we had to do more whittling down than normal, which hopefully means that the Law of Large Numbers has our back this January to December. Eleven FSR staffers offered a total of 97 movies for the list, votes were tallied, and the top 52 remain.

Grab your dance card, and let the anticipation begin.

52. ‘71

Roadside Attractions

Release: 2/27/2015

The Pitch: The feature debut from Yann Demange has garnered praise at film festivals all over the world since its premiere at the Berlinale in 2014. A year later, it’ll see a limited release in US theaters, offering us a glimpse at Jack O’Connell playing a British soldier who is left behind by his unit during a riot in Belfast (a year before Bloody Sunday). It looks to be a thrilling drama concealing a deeper (and deeply resonate) modern history lesson.

Read our review

51. Don’t Mess With Texas/Hot Pursuit

Reese Witherspoon Instagram/Warner Bros.

Release: 5/8/2015

The Pitch: The appeal of this story where a cop and a prisoner go on the lam in the Lone Star State is undoubtedly the pairing of director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) with Reese Witherspoon, who is getting a bit rootsy with an action comedy after having re-emerged as a prestige contender with Wild. That’s always been a balance she’s managed well. It will be fun to see her charisma back on the screen, and it’ll add something fresh for the early summer.

50. Regression

The Weinstein Company

Release: 8/28/2015

The Pitch: Alejandro Amenábar broke out when people curious about Abre los ojos watched it after digging Vanilla Sky. He’s done strong but sporadic work, and he returns here with a potential barn burner. Ethan Hawke stars as a detective investigating a case where a father (David Dencik from Tinker Tailor) is arrested for sexually abusing his daughter (Emma Watson). It’s potentially incendiary subject matter paired with an innovative filmmaker who doesn’t grace us with his presence near enough.

49. Jane Got a Gun

Relativity Media

Release: 9/4/2015

The Pitch: Wasn’t this on last year’s list? We just can’t shake it. Despite a tumultuous production history (to say the least, considering Lynne Ramsay quit the day they were supposed to start filming in 2013), cast changes, and the September release date, our staff is undaunted in its enthusiasm for this tale of Western justice.

Natalie Portman plays Jane, a homesteader who has to turn to a man from her romantic past to help save her husband from a band of outlaws. It’s been a tough road to see this get into theaters, and we’ve got our fingers crossed tight.

48. Maps to the Stars

Release: 2/27/2015

The Pitch: David Cronenberg taking a bite out of Hollywood culture is a welcome puncture wound. Now in his fourth or fifth or sixth creative incarnation, the director has recently been aggressive in lampooning modernity (see Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method). He pairs here with Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack and more.

47. Me Before You

HBO

Release: 8/21/2015

The Pitch: The first names to jump out here are Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the writing team that delivered 500 Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now and last year’s weepy hit The Fault in Our Stars. They’re staying in a similar romantic rainstorm by adapting the Jojo Moyes’ novel about a small town girl taking care of a young paralyzed man. Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin are taking those roles, so expect some difficult scenes and a large amount of romantic tension between two attractive people.

46. Run All Night

Warner Bros.

Release: 4/17/2015

The Pitch: If I told you that this movie was about a professional killer with graying hair forced to target his former boss in order to protect a broken family, who would you guess is starring? Directing? Right on both counts!

Liam Neeson and his skills are re-teaming with Jaume Collet-Serra to kick people in the face and then shoot those faces off. While the Taken franchise shows up for a third time this January, Collet-Serra is keeping the formula alive by putting different names on Neeson’s script. First it was Non-Stop, now it’s Run All Night. If it ain’t broke…

Interestingly, the script is from Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace), so there’s a chance that this outing will be more brooding than adrenaline-soaked.

45. The Walk

Release: 10/2/2015

The Pitch: It’s rare that a documentary makes such an impact that it enables a biopic to move forward on the same subject. This project, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as daredevil Philippe Petit, seeks to be a worthy double feature companion to Man on Wire. It’s especially encouraging to see Robert Zemeckis taking on this subject matter after reproving his mature drama chops with Flight. Had this followed his rubber-faced animation version of “A Christmas Carol,” enthusiasm might not be as high.

44. Sisters

Universal Pictures

Release: 12/18/2015

The Pitch: From an SNL veteran writer and the director of Pitch Perfect comes the story of two sisters who decide to have one last bash before their parents sell the family home. Here’s where you an widen your eyes: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are the sisters.

43. That’s What I’m Talking About

Release: TBA 2015

The Pitch: Richard Linklater is calling this a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, which would be fantastic even if he weren’t coming off the success of Boyhood. Little is known about the specifics, but it focuses on the college freshman members of a baseball team in the 1980s. Hopefully they don’t get caught by Ben Affleck and his paddle.

42. Everest

Universal Pictures

Release: 9/18/2015

The Pitch: We’re coming off a stretch where both real-life stories and Jake Gyllenhaal have become more popular. He stars alongside Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Jason Clarke and more for a film based on the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest where two expeditions were caught in a punishing snow storm. The only variable is director Baltasar Kormákur, who’s excelled more at straightforward action. Hopefully we’ll get dynamism alongside the disaster.

41. Escobar: Paradise Lost

Release: 1/16/2015

The Pitch: Pablo Escobar has been a white whale for several producers and actors, and it’s insane that we haven’t seen Benicio del Toro play the cocaine king until now. As it turns out, the way to get a story about Escobar made is to make the story about a young man who falls in love with a young woman whose uncle is the wealthiest criminal of all time. Until we get a full-on biopic with del Toro in the lead, this will more than suffice.

Click here to continue reading >>

40. Faults

Screen Media Entertainment

Release: 3/6/2015

The Pitch: Riley Stearns is an emerging talent who’s done a handful of interesting, stirring things with short films (particularly sending a little girl to live with wolves). His feature debut sends Mary Elizabeth Winstead into the clutches of a cult called Faults. In order to save their daughter, her parents enlist the help of a world renowned expert on mind control.

Read our review

39. Kitchen Sink

Orion Pictures

Release: 9/4/2015

The Pitch: Admittedly, the list has been a bit heavy up to this point, so it’s the perfect time to talk about a horror comedy where a small town comprised of vampires, humans and zombies stops getting along and starts biting each other to death. Not sure how the humans fare in that scenario. Maybe they have Vincent Price with them. Vanessa Hudgens and Ed Westwick are involved, which might be a turn off, but so are Bob Odenkirk, Keegan-Michael Key, Patton Oswalt, Pat Healy and Halt and Catch Fire star Mackenzie Davis.

38. Mission: Impossible 5

Paramount Pictures

Release: 12/25/2015

The Pitch: Let’s all take a moment to praise the relationship between Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie that was solidified on Jack Reacher. That movie was underseen and underappreciated, but now they’ve got a bigger sandbox to play in, one anchored by a franchise that’s thrived despite a few wonky detours. The only question: can they top a name like Ghotocol?

37. The Good Dinosaur

Disney Pixar

Release: 11/25/2015

The Pitch: The first Pixar film to make the list in a year where we’re all happy to see them return. Last year was Pixar-less, but this story of a Apatosauraus named Arlo making best buds with a tiny human named Spot marks the third non-franchise outing for the studio in 5 years. Hopefully it marks the beginning of a new era where Disney lets Pixar be Pixar again.

It’s also great to see the inspiration for Russell in Up (Peter Sohn) get to direct (especially after 15 years of animation experience (but mostly the Russell thing)).

36. The Voices

Lionsgate

Release: 2/6/2015

The Pitch: You know who needs a comeback? Ryan Reynolds. Green Lantern helped overexpose him (falsely) as a one-trick actor, but here he gets to play a nice guy who starts listening to the homicidal suggestions of his house pets. It’s also a step in a new director for director Marjane Satrapi, who broke through with Persepolis and is doing something definitively different with this story.

35. Knight of Cups

Release: TBA 2015

The Pitch: The great thing about an entry like this is that you’re either on board with Terrence Malick or you aren’t. Either you’ll glaze right past this with a smirk or you’ll delight at the prospect of exploring more with a unique and thoughtful filmmaker. Obviously our staff maintains the faith. If you don’t, maybe you can at least have fun betting on which actors will survive the editing room.

34. Silence

IM Global

Release: TBA 2015

The Pitch: You have to appreciate that Martin Scorsese is following up The Wolf of Wall Street with a historical drama set in 1600s Japan where Jesuit priests get into trouble telling people about Jesus. The subject matter range on this guy is astounding. Along for the journey are Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. Plus, as if you need a reminder, where there’s Scorsese, there’s also Thelma Schoonmaker.

33. Child 44

Release: 4/17/2015

The Pitch: The fact that Summit gave the director of Safe House and Easy Money $50M to make a historical thriller about child murders in Stalin’s Soviet Union starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman should signal at least a teaspoon of hope that some studios are still interested in investing money in movies for adults. Beyond that philosophical note, all of those elements sound excellent. Daniel Espinosa has shown great talent and has remained the rare foreign director not to get muddied by the studio system.

32. Trainwreck

Comedy Central

Release: 7/17/2015

The Pitch: Emerging from the historical dramatics, there’s a bright spot where the worlds of Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer collide. She wrote, he’s directing, and maybe that will rein in some of his self-indulgence. The plot is being kept close to Universal’s chest, but it’s guaranteed to be the only movie in 2015 featuring LeBron James and Tilda Swinton.

31. In the Heart of the Sea

Release: 3/13/2015

The Pitch: Apparently sperm whales are assholes. Instead of making yet another Moby Dick, Ron Howard is going back to the real-life events (trend!) that inspired the novel everyone reads half of, and he’s going with Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and a pissed off cachalot. Judging by the destruction in the trailer, we may not get to see someone wear a whale penis as a rain coat (thanks, Moby Dick), but it still looks beautifully grueling.

Click here to continue reading >>

30. Chappie

Release: 3/6/2015

The Pitch: It’s safe to say that everyone is hoping Neill Blomkamp can pull up from Elysium. The talented promise of District 9 needs to be fulfilled. What looks like a slightly goofy, mostly thrilling adventure riff on Johnny Five may just do the trick.

29. It Follows

Release: TBA 2015

The Pitch: This fresh parable featuring a sexually transmitted monster showed off at Cannes, a flurry of other festivals like Fantastic Fest, and will play at Sundance soon. The hype is well-earned, but hopefully TWC tosses enough money at it to clean up one wonky CGI scene. If they do, it’s a festival favorite that would be ready to play on the big stages. If they don’t, it’s still an intimate, relentless film that proves we want plenty more from writer/director David Robert Mitchell.

Read our review

28. Inside Out

Release: 6/19/2015

The Pitch: Pixar strikes again. Pete Docter’s latest hopes to send us inside the emotional mind of a little girl and her parents. Yes, your Good Dinosaur math is right. Since it’s the third original in 5 years, that makes this the second original in as many. In a way, that makes 2015 a crucial turning point year for the studio to see whether they can fully recapture the magic that put them on the map.

27. Wild Tales

Release: 2/20/2015

The Pitch: This Argentine anthology film from Damián Szifrón has captured the imagination of festival audiences all year, and it will finally land in theaters Stateside this February. The name US audiences will most recognize is Ricardo Darin, but he’s just one element in a series of six stories focused on violence and revenge. A ten-minute standing ovation at Cannes is a nice feather in the cap, and the movie has been a massive hit in its home country.

One of the best from TIFF 2014

26. Untitled Spielberg/Tom Hanks Cold War Spy Thriller

Disney

Release: 10/16/2015

The Pitch: Much like Untitled Steven Spielberg Abraham Lincoln Project, there’s a lot of reasons to get excited about this film that needs a name. Fortunately, it already has some solid ones: like Tom Hanks, the Coen Brothers, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda. The premise involves a lawyer tapped by the CIA to bring back a pilot detained by the Soviet Union, and if there’s anyone who does modern historical missions mixed with empathy, it’s Spielberg. If it’s even half as good as Munich, it’ll be worth the wait.

25. Mommy

Release: TBA 2015

The Pitch: If we’re psychoanalyzing the FSR staff based on this list so far, we’re longing for challenging, uncomfortable stories next year. Technically Xavier Dolan’s latest played LA in 2014, but it’s likely to see a larger (if limited) release in 2015. It features a struggling single mother with a violent son and a new neighbor who gets inserted into their lives. Another festival favorite, it boasts three stellar performances and masterful filmmaking from a (sorry) 25-year-old writer/director.

Read our review

24. Spectre

Columbia Pictures

Release: 11/6/2015

The Pitch: It’s easy to get all tingly for James Bond vs Christophe Waltz, especially since Sam Mendes decided to stick with the franchise. There’s also Léa Seydoux and Monica Belluci to consider (a perfect pair for Bond if there ever were one), and Dave Bautista, who won’t let anything go over his head. Some haven’t been thrilled with the Bourne-ification of Bond, but more than anything, the Craig years have been a much needed trip into modern times. The goal with this outing is to bring an infamous, signature organization into that fold.

23. Pitch Perfect 2

Release: 5/15/2015

The Pitch: It was adorably badass to see the first film get so much love, and it’s equally fun to see Fat Amy and company back for more aca-action. No, I don’t regret that phrase. Elizabeth Banks making this her first feature as director adds another element to that excitement.

22. Mad Max: Fury Road

Release: 5/15/2015

The Pitch: On the same weekend, we’ll get to see a movie that may have been on our Most Anticipated list back in 2003. Development hell has finally spit something back out that we can rave about, even while knowing how rare it is to hold out hope for a decades-later sequel. Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and some flaming mad trailers have only added gas to that fire.

21. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Release: 2/13/2015

The Pitch: The triumvirate of Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Mark Millar yielded something special with Kick-Ass, and they’re back again with something bursting with promise. The comics (written by Millar, drawn by the legendary Dave Gibbons) open with the abduction of Mark Hamill and heads into the kind of wacky territory you’d expect from Millar (think madman bent on killing everyone except celebrities). The movie won’t follow the comics all that closely, but casting Hamill is a keen stroke of genius.

Click here to continue reading >>

20. Jupiter Ascending

Release: 2/6/2015

The Pitch: Whew. We’ve waited a while for this one. It’s scary thinking how little faith Warner Bros. seems to have in this gigantic scale space opera from the Wachowskis, but it’s clear that we hold out hope. Charming Potato with elf ears can have that effect.

19. Far From the Madding Crowd

Release: 5/1/2015

The Pitch: This isn’t nearly the first adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s tale of people doing madding things despite being far from the crowd, and it won’t be the last, but it comes with a renewed sense of prestige. Thomas Vinterberg, coming off the bleary eyed acclaim of The Hunt tackles this epic love story where Bathsheba Everdene contends between three suitors and her independence. Carey Mulligan has the ridiculously named main role, and she’ll be fending off/inviting courtship from Michael Sheen, Matthias Shoenaerts and Tom Sturridge.

18. Triple Nine

The Proposition/First Look International

Release: 9/11/2015

The Pitch: John Hillcoat taking on a heist film where corrupt policemen are blackmailed into stealing the impossible? That’ll do just fine. Plus, there’s still time to add Nick Cave to the credits as a composer. That’ll get announced soon, right? Right?

As always, another Hillcoat outing is another chance to force your friends to see The Proposition. Why haven’t they already?

17. Blackhat

Release: 1/16/2015

The Pitch: At age 71, it’s at least a little surprising that we’re getting another film from Michael Mann (he completes this list’s fearsome threesome of septuagenarians alongside Scorsese and Cronenberg). It’s been six years since Public Enemies, and he returns now with a film about a prisoner (Chris Hemsworth) released by the government to help stop a hacker. Timely, to say the least, but it’s from Universal, not Sony. That would have been too perfect.

The cast isn’t front loaded with big names; there’s Viola Davis, who is always a thrill to watch, and character actors like William Mapother as well as Lust, Caution star Wei Tang to round things out. It’s high concept with serious action potential, but even if it weren’t, Mann is the kind of name that gets the blood pumping.

16. The Look of Silence

Release: July 2015

The Pitch: I’ve already called this the most important film of 2015, and that won’t feel like premature hyperbole by the time summer comes. Joshua Oppenheimer and Anonymous’ follow-up to The Act of Killing sees a young man whose brother was killed during the Indonesian genocide of ‘65-’66 confront the very men who murdered him. After killing thousands, those men are also the ones still running the country.

It features an unthinkable premise that has the unfortunate privilege of being real and more than a few brave moments of restraint from a young man seeking understanding. It will also be a serious awards contender, but it’s too challenging to actually win the Oscar.

15. The Hateful Eight

The Weinstein Company

Release: 11/13/2015

The Pitch: There are a handful of names that garner instant attention for releasing a new movie, and Quentin Tarantino is somewhere near the very top of that list. Teetering on the edge of remaining literature, the script about blizzards and betrayal was famously leaked, lawsuits were filed, live readings were done, enthusiasm continued, and Tarantino decided to shoot the damned thing anyway. On that front, Robert Richardson returns for a fourth collaboration to make Wyoming come to life, and we all anxiously await the moment where Tarantino ruins his own movie for a few minutes by cameoing with an absurd accent.

Prepare yourself for the many “But I haven’t seen The Hateful 1–7!” jokes.

14. Furious 7

Release: 4/3/2015

The Pitch: No longer fast, the series has succeeded in capturing fan imagination far beyond the typical shelf life of a franchise. By this point, most are going to the moon or to hell or doing crossovers, but you don’t have to do that when you’ve got fast cars and warring factions.

Obviously the film itself carries a lot of energy, but it will also be worth the ride to see it as a tribute of sorts to Paul Walker’s memory. It also offers another solid opportunity to watch 6 movies about cars going real fast in preparation. Remember when the world was learning about NOS? Were we ever so young?

13. Magic Mike XXL

Release: 7/1/2015

The Pitch: Still in the midst of retirement, Steven Soderbergh was the DP and editor for this project, the sequel to our introduction to Channing Tatum as a stripper (without elf ears). It’s being directed by Gregory Jacobs, a long-time first AD and producer for Soderbergh’s films. This isn’t his feature debut, though, and he grabbed a lot of attention last year as EP on The Knick.

We’re a long way away from the years where sequels were things to dread. Serialized storytelling is infiltrating movies again, and, despite some growing pains, the results are enough to make us see IIs in a positive light. That light just happens to be concentrated on greased up dudes shaking banana hammocks.

12. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Release: 12/18/2015

The Pitch: Without a doubt this is #1 (and probably #2, #3 and #4) on the personal list of all 3 billion Star Wars fans, and the production has done everything right to intensify the happy side of the anticipation (while minimizing the unease). The latest move was a nostalgia-fueled trailer with a friendly soccer ball droid.

George Lucas is no longer involved, there have been plenty of pictures of non-CGI sets, and J.J. Abrams appears to be doing everything possible to bridge the gap between the teenage fans of ’77 and the teenage fans of ’15. This is going to be a massive, global event that brings together generations, and it’s still almost a full year away. Try not to let your brain boil over until then.

11. Ant-Man

Marvel/Disney

Release: 7/17/2015

The Pitch: This is the power of Marvel. Even without Edgar Wright – a misfire that would have knocked out other productions – there are a lot of reasons to get energized about the next, next phase in their omnibus storytelling. Guardians of the Galaxy was connected enough to fill in the gaps, disconnected enough to feel like a break and cool enough to act as a counterpoint to the espionage of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Now we get to see if Marvel can stick the landing on introducing yet another new (to the screen) hero.

Paul Rudd will help a lot with that task, and tying this story back into the Howard Stark/Peggy Carter days is the kind of smart, sticky maneuver we’ve come to expect from Marvel.

Click here to continue reading >>

10. Aloha

Columbia Pictures

Release: 5/29/2015

The Pitch: Deep Tiki? Volcano Romance? We’re not sure what to call this yet, but we’re looking forward to another chance at the kind of magic that Cameron Crowe can deliver. He’s returning to romantic comedy with this story of a military contractor (Bradley Cooper) who returns to the site of a prior triumph (and prior love, played by Rachel McAdams) where he falls for a brassy Air Force liaison played by Emma Stone. Add in Bill Murray as the villain, and you’ve got the makings of a great new work from a feel-good master.

It was unfortunately but wisely pulled from its original Christmas 2014 slot – where it would have been up against a dozen other movies. The fact that the studio didn’t shove it under the rug is a good sign, and it should make for a breath of fresh air right around the time the spandex explosions really start going.

9. The Revenant

The Weinstein Company

Release: 12/25/2015

The Pitch: Alejandro González Iñárritu grabbed everyone by the ears last year with Birdman. Now he’s leaving the theater and heading into the 19th century wilderness where Leonardo DiCaprio plays a trapper looking to have a polite chat with the men who robbed him and left him for dead after a bear attack. Those bastards? Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson.

This is another project that’s taken a long time to make happen. Originally developed in 2001, it’s gone through several incarnations, including stints with Park Chan-wook and John Hillcoat at the helm. It’s finally a reality, and it’s slated (with a limited release Christmas 2015, expanding January 2016) for an award season push. Forgetting the hardware potential, though, it looks like a raw, aggressive bit of filmmaking.

8. Selfless

Focus Features

Release: 7/31/2015

The Pitch: In Tarsem Singh’s latest, a wealthy, dying man has his mind inserted into the brain of a younger man. Mysteries ensue (particularly where they got a totally healthy body), he starts getting flashbacks from a mind that isn’t his (or technically is partially his now?) and chaos reigns.

This promises to be a pairing of Singh’s stunning visual style and the unusual sci-fi thrills from the writers of Carriers. Maybe it can be what Transcendence couldn’t.

7. Jurassic World

Release: 6/12/2015

The Pitch: It took them over two decades, but the theme park at Isla Nublar with giant dinosaurs is finally functional. Apparently they didn’t list to the chaotician. No one ever does.

Put another way, this movie has Star-Lord riding a motorcycle with a pack of raptors. Awesome incarnate.

6. While We’re Young

Release: 3/27/2015

The Pitch: Obviously we’re all still jazzed about the pure joy that was Frances Ha. Noah Baumbach is back with Ben Stiller and Adam Driver, and this time he has Naomi Watts clumsily dancing hip hop and Amanda Seyfried collecting vinyl. It’s a culture clash story where an older couple makes friends with a pair of 25 year olds who change their perspective on the present and on how they acted when they were young. Most of the budget seems to have gone to fedoras, but it looks more accessible than some of Baumbach’s previous films.

5. Crimson Peak

Legendary Pictures

Release: 10/16/2015

The Pitch: Do you hear that chorus of angels? They’re singing because we’re getting an atmospheric horror film from Guillermo del Toro. It’s a haunted tale featuring a young author who struggles with her past, and the advances of a childhood friend and mysterious new stranger. (So, maybe like Far From the Madding Crowd with a bleeding house?)

Not only is it intrinsically good to see a new scare from del Toro, it’s also nice to see him actually making the films that he claims he’s going to make. It appeared for a bit there that he would be stuck in development hell on everything, but Pacific Rim seems to have shaken something loose. Good, terrifying news for everyone. October can’t come soon enough to experience more of del Toro’s monsters.

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release: 5/1/2015

The Pitch: There it is. The launch of the summer. The return of the team that captured our hearts and smashed an alien invasion. In a weird way, it doesn’t feel like they’ve been gone all that long. Probably because Avengers was in 2012, and we’ve seen Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow since then.

Joss Whedon pulled off the impossible with the first outing, and it’ll be epic to see him pull it off twice in a row (now with more Spader!).

All the information you could possibly want about this movie is online for the finding, but since we’re already hooked, we’ll sit back, tingle a little, and wait for May.

3. Ex Machina

Release: 4/10/2015

The Pitch: Talk about a spoiler. Something about the trailer must have caught the eye of most of our staff. Either that, or the appeal of seeing the writer behind 28 Days Later make his directorial debut is strong enough to push it ahead of Hulk punching people. Or maybe we’re still in love with Marvel while being just a tiny bit tired of the superhero dominance.

At any rate, the voting numbers get tight here at the end of the list, and this story of a programmer (Oscar Isaac) brought in to test and report on a female AI system is intriguing enough to launch it into a powerful position at the forefront of our minds.

2. Tomorrowland

Release: 5/22/2015

The Pitch: Bigthink sci-fi with a touch of Disney magic, this feels a bit like the Interstellar entry for this year, albeit with a different tonal slant. Coy secrecy has been a big part of their marketing plan, as Brad Bird and company released a lot of cryptic images at the onset of production that had an antique appeal and raised some curious questions.

Of course Brad Bird himself is a big part of the anticipation here. His work with Pixar is stellar (a rat can cook!), and his project here has all the ingredients for an all-ages adventure traveling through…anywhere it wants to go.

1. Midnight Special

Take Shelter/FilmNation Entertainment

Release: 11/25/2015

The Pitch: It’s high time the world learned about Jeff Nichols. After Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud, the lo-fi wizard of sepia-toned desperation has taken on his first studio assignment (and he’s brought Michael Shannon along for the ride). Honestly, it will be weird when Nichols eventually makes a movie without Shannon. They make a dynamite team.

The premise is simple enough – a man and his son have to head out on the run when they figure out that the little boy has special powers – but in a blind balloting system, nearly every single one of our staff voters included this title on their personal list. It’s captured our attention in a big way.

My guess is that it’s Nichols’ name and pedigree that has so many people this excited about a studio sci-fi drama. Not only has he never made a bad movie, he’s never a made a movie that’s below “completely fantastic” on the Completely Fantastic scale. How he’s stayed under the radar this long is baffling.

Fortunately, 2015 might be his time to come out of the shadows and shine even brighter.

What’s on your list?

Allison Loring, Landon Palmer, Kate Erbland, Rob Hunter, Matthew Monagle, Nathan Adams, Christopher Campbell, Daniel Walber, Jack Giroux, Scott Beggs and Neil Miller all nominated movies to populate this list.

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Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector [email protected] | Writing short stories at Adventitious.