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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

15 Non-Blockbuster Films to Watch in 2015

So we all know 2015 is going to be a huge year for movies....particularly blockbusters  Not only are franchises like The Avengers, Star Wars, Mad Max, Jurassic Park, and The Terminator returning to the big screen, but a number of huge animated movies will be making their debut throughout the year (including 2 from Pixar!).  With so many of these blockbusters to be excited for, it's easy to forget the smaller films which will be making their way to movie theaters during 2015.

With this in mind, I have decided to come up with 15 non-blockbusters which could be worth your time this year.  As blockbuster can also denote a movie which makes a ton of money, I reduced the definition of blockbuster to a movie which was made with a budget of over $100 million for the purposes of this list.  Some of this films could very well end up being blockbusters, but, as of writing this, they do not appear that way.  So, without further ado, enjoy 15 films that aren't Star Wars or The Avengers to look forward to.

Shaun the Sheep

The first month of 2015, unsurprisingly, does not have a ton of offerings, forcing us to look to February for something really worth seeing.  First up is something you might not expect, but I could not be more excited.  Shaun the Sheep comes from the same studio that made Chicken Run and The Pirates! Band of Misfits.  This film, based on a television spin-off of Aardman's popular Wallace and Gromit, sees a flock of sheep losing their caretaker and having to go to the big city to track him down.  Aardman's films are usually top notch and we seriously do not get enough stop-motion animated films these days.

Release Date: February 6
Written and Directed by: Richard Starzak and Mark Burton
Trailer: Here


The Last 5 Years

Fresh off starring in the Sondheim adaptation Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick will start off 2015 with yet another musical.  This one is more of a cult favorite.  The Last 5 Years tells the story of Cathy (Kendrick) and Jamie (Jeremy Jordon) and chronicles the couple's five year relationship.  What makes this musical unique?  Cathy's side of the story is told in reverse chronological order, while Jamie's is told chronologically.  The whole thing is from the director of Freedom Writers and P.S. I Love You.  TIFF reaction was mixed, but the unique perspective alone could make this worth it.

Release Date: February 13
Written and Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
Trailer: Here


Chappie

While Neill Blomkamp's Elysium was met with heavily mixed reviews, most leaning on the negative side, there's still plenty of reason to look forward to his future output.  His latest, Chappie, comes off as a bit too inspired by Short Circuit with its story about a robot learning to act more human.  That being said, Blomkamp's use of a more dirty, unpolished science fiction world in his films is one which still makes him a unique filmmaker among others in his field  This one could end up being a surprise in 2015.  The film is co-written by Blomkamp's wife, who also co-wrote District 9 to possibly ease the fears of those who preferred that Blomkamp production.  It stars Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackman, and Dev Patel.

Release Date: March 6
Written by: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Trailer: Here


Ex Machina

2015 is set to be a landmark year for the sci-fi genre...and that's well before Star Wars has a chance to come out.  Ex Machina is a science fiction thriller which the Brits will be getting in January, but we have to wait until April.  The film takes some of the ideas about artificial intelligence and love as previously seen in Her, and takes them to a completely new and twisted level.  A film which will seek to make us constantly question whether our interactions with A.I. are real or as artificial as the beings we have created.  Coming from the mind of the guy who gave us 28 Days Later, this could be a lot of fun.  Stars Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, who can both be seen in Star Wars The Force Awakens.

Release Date: April 10
Written and Directed by: Alex Garland
Trailer: Here


Child 44

Our first true drama on the list, as well as our first period piece.  Child 44 is based on the novel of the same name and takes place in Stalin's Russia.  The story centers around a MGB agent (Tom Hardy), who investigates a series of child murders by a serial killer known as the Butcher of Rostov.  The novel explores several aspects of life in Russia at the time including homosexuality, orphanages, mental hospitals, and how crime occurs in a place where "there is no crime."  Also starring Noomia Rapace and Gary Oldman, this could be a fascinating watch.

Release Date: April 17
Written by: Richard Price
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Trailer: N/A


Paper Towns

2014's The Fault in Our Stars was a big hit, especially among the teen crowd.  The Young Adult novel adaptation also marked a nice change from the typical dystopian science fiction stories we normally see from such films.  This summer will see another John Green novel adapted.  Paper Towns tells the story of Q (Nat Wolff), a teenage boy who becomes obsessed with odd schoolmate Margo (Cara Delevingne), who leads him on a cross-country road trip after she goes missing.  The story features the quirky humor Green is known for, and features the same writing team that brought us Fault in Our Stars.  A surefire hit.

Release Date: June 5
Written by: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Directed by: Jake Schreier
Trailer: N/A


Poltergeist

Our first horror film on the list.  This one may get a bit of backlash, but there is at least SOME reason to think this might be okay.  A remake of the classic 1980's horror film Poltergeist tells the story of a family dealing with a ghostly attack on their home.  This remake is intended to be a reboot of the film series, although one would not want to bank on that happening unless this Poltergeist really surprises.  Casting includes Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, making one want to hope this could be watchable.  

Release Date: July 24
Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by: Gil Kenan
Trailer: N/A


Victor Frankenstein

Another horror film, and, like Pan before it, another 2015 movie which takes a classic story and approaches it from a new angle.  This story is told from the perspective of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) and how he met Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy), and how the latter went on to create his infamous monster.  An interesting new take, and one which could prove to be quite the watch considering its surprising amount of talent in the cast.  This film is directed by Paul McGuigan, who directed several episodes of Sherlock and the pilot of Scandal.  It is written by Max Landis, most known for Chronicle.

Release Date: October 2
Written by: Max Landis
Directed by: Paul McGuigan
Trailer: N/A


Crimson Peak

Guillermo del Toro is still in the good graces of most fans, but Pacific Rim was definitely met with a lot of mixed reactions.  Like many directors in 2015, perhaps Crimson Peak will be the film that helps change the mind of those who doubt del Toro's talent.  Set in 19th Century England, Edith (Mia Wasikowska) finds out that her husband (Tom Hiddleston) is not the man he claims to be.  Del Toro returns to his horror roots with this Victorian ghost story.  Perhaps the more scaled back film will help del Toro's charm shine through once again.  It also stars Charlie Hunnam, Jessica Chastain, and Doug Jones.

Release Date: October 16
Written by: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins, and Lucinda Coxon
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Trailer: N/A


The Martian

Ridley Scott is another director looking to make movie goers and critics love him again in 2015.  The director has arguably not had a good film in quite some time, though Prometheus certainly had a few good moments.  Another example of how strong sci-fi will be this year, The Martian tells the story of an astronaut (Matt Damon) stranded on Mars after his fellow astronauts fear him left for dead.  Described as Cast Away meets Apollo 13, could this be this year's Gravity?  That may be shooting a bit too high, but it can't be too much to at least hope this movie is good.  It also features Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, and the writer of Cabin in the Woods

Release Date: November 25
Written by: Drew Goddard
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Trailer: N/A


Midnight Special

Coming off his highly acclaimed film Mud, Jeff Nichols is also contributing to 2015's wide breadth of science fiction films.  The film stars Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, and Sam Shepard.  Despite being sci-fi, Nichols describes the film as being more grounded than Mud, which should be welcome news to those who may be tired of sci-fi by the time November rolls around.  Another reason to be excited for this?  According to Nichols, Midnight Special is heavily inspired by the films of John Carpenter.

Release Date: November 25
Written and Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Trailer: N/A


[Untitled Christmas Eve Film]


Our only as of yet untitled film of the list!  This is also one of the few true comedies on the list as well.  Directed by 50/50's Jonathan Levine, the film tells the story of three friends that reunite in New York City on Christmas Eve for a night on the town.  50/50 was a bit of a critical darling, and a solid comedy/drama, and this film will see its stars Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon Levitt reunite...as well as adding Anthony Mackie to the group.

Release Date: November 25
Written and Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Trailer: N/A


Krampus


If you aren't familiar with Michael Dougherty's horror film Trick 'R Treat, you are seriously missing out on one of the greatest horror films of the past decade.  If you aren't familiar with Krampus...you are missing out on one of the greatest Christmas traditions.  Krampus is basically the anti-Santa Claus...he takes the naughty children and beats them with sticks.  Dougherty is taking on the European legend and delivering what is being dubbed as a horror-comedy.  Not much is known about the film, but Dougherty's resume is enough of a reason to give it a watch.

Release Date: December 4
Written by: Michael Dougherty, Emjay Anthony, and Allison Tolman
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Trailer: N/A


Joy

Our last director on this list looking for a bit of redemption this year.  Though American Hustle got a lot of awards attention, it was met with some very mixed reviews.  Joy reunites director David O. Russell with his favorite actress, Jennifer Lawrence, playing the role of Joy Mangano, an American inventor and single mother who lives in New Jersey.  Not much known about the film other than that, but one can hope this one makes a bigger splash, although some awards attention is almost certain for this one.

Release Date: December 25
Written and Directed by: David O. Russell
Trailer: N/A


The Revenant

Another film which is likely to get some awards attention this time next year.  The Revenant is from director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who you would better know as the man who brought us Birdman, a film almost certainly getting a Best Picture nod.  Based on the Michael Punke novel of the same name, the film tells the story of a fur trapper (Leonardo DiCaprio) mauled by a bear and seeking revenge on the men who robbed him and left him to die.  Also starring Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, and Domhnall Gleeson, this film is surely to be a lot more grisly than Birdman.

Release Date: December 25
Written by:  Alejandro González Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith
Directed by:  Alejandro González Iñárritu
Trailer: N/A


So there you have it.  15 non-blockbuster films that are also worth your time in 2015.  Which of these films are you excited for?  Let us know in the comments below!

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