Todd’s 15 Most Anticipated 2015 Summer Movies: Nos. 15-11

In less than one month, the Summer 2015 Movie Season will be upon us! That means studios will be bringing out their big wannabe blockbusters with sequels, reboots, animated tales, comic book heroes, and a surprisingly robust group of potentially intriguing comedies.

Therefore, I am bringing you my personal 15 most anticipated summer movies for the year. Let me talk briefly about some pictures that didn’t quite make the cut. I left off animated fare such as Pixar’s Inside Out and Despicable Me spin-off Minions. Same goes for Pitch Perfect 2, Magic Mike XXL and the film version of HBO’s Entourage. And then there’s a film I figured would make the cut: Terminator: Genisys that marks Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to his iconic role after 12 years. Why? Quite frankly, I wasn’t crazy about the trailer. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still highly curious to watch it.

I will be breaking up my list in three installments and we begin this evening with numbers 15-11. Subsequent posts covering the top ten will arrive Friday and Saturday.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

15. Spy

Release Date: June 5

Originally, I probably wouldn’t have figured Melissa McCarthy’s new comedy would make the cut. That’s until reviews from screenings at South by Southwest came out and they indicate this is the star’s best feature so far. It doesn’t hurt that Paul Feig, director of McCarthy’s Bridesmaids and The Heat is behind the camera. Jude Law, Rose Byrne, and Jason Statham co-star.

14. Masterminds

Release Date: August 14

From the director of Napoleon Dynamite comes this heist comedy with a killer cast: Zach Galifianakis, Kristin Wiig, Owen Wilson, and Jason Sudeikis. The trailer inspires hope.

13. Vacation

Release Date: July 31

Yes, they’re rebooting the Vacation franchise with Ed Helms and Leslie Mann as grown-up Rusty and Audrey and Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back as Clark and Ellen. Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlie Day round out the cast. Here’s to hoping this is more like the original and Christmas Vacation than Vegas Vacation. No trailer has been released at press time.

12. Southpaw

Release Date: July 24

Jake Gyllenhall has been on a roll lately choosing his projects, including last year’s terrific Nightcrawler. This sports drama sees him playing a boxer with serious family issues. It also sees him heavily bulked up in a pic that could get awards attention, like 2010’s The Fighter. Antoine Fuqua directs (he made Training Day and The Equalizer) and Rachel McAdams and Forest Whitaker co-star.

11. Fantastic Four

Released Date: August 7

The first two installments of the famed Marvel comic books (the ones with Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis) were decent size hits, however critics didn’t approve. This reboot comes from Chronicle director Josh Trank with a cast that includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, and Michael B. Jordan and it will attempt to begin the franchise anew.

And that’s all for now! Numbers 10-6 coming at you tomorrow…

15 for ’15: Todd’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

For movie lovers, the year 2015 has been eagerly awaited for a number of reasons. As you’ll see, tonight I am listing my 15 most anticipated pictures of the upcoming year. In order to prove how big next year could be (it’s widely expected to set records in terms of box office), here’s just some of what I left off:

The reboot of the Terminator series (Genisys) that returns Schwarzenegger

A big-budget Peter Pan reboot (Pan) starring Hugh Jackman

Iron Man director Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book

Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

The latest films from notable directors like Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak), Michael Mann (Blackhat), the Wachowskis (Jupiter Ascending), Neill Blomkamp (Chappie), and Ron Howard (In the Heart of the Sea)

The film version of HBO’s Entourage

The seventh Fast and Furious entry which features Paul Walker’s final work

The Peanuts Movie where Charlie Brown and company finally come to the silver screen

So… what did make the cut? Read on:

15. The Fantastic Four

Release Date: August 7

20th Century Fox had solid box office results but a mediocre product with their two Fantastic Four pics that featured Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and company. There is hope here with the reboot – Chronicle director Josh Trank is behind the camera with a cast that includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell.

14. Mad Max: Fury Road

Release Date: May 15

Director George Miller’s return to the series that made Mel Gibson a star puts Tom Hardy in the title role with Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult supporting. I’ve always been curious about this one, but its inclusion in the list is much due to the fabulous trailer that was recently released.

13. Ted 2

Release Date: June 26

Seth MacFarlane’s 2012 original made a huge splash. It was one of the better comedies in recent years and earned $218 million domestically. Mark Wahlberg is back with MacFarlane voicing the vulgar bear.

12. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

Release Date: November 20

I was a bit disappointed in Part 1, but hope still springs eternal for the finale of the franchise in which we’ll bid farewell to Katniss and company.

11. Jurassic World

Release Date: June 12

Colin Trevorrow takes over Universal’s dino franchise that Spielberg started. Star Lord himself, Chris Pratt, headlines the cast that includes Bryce Dallas Howard and Vincent D’Onofrio. Expect young moviegoers and those nostalgic for the original from over 20 years ago to RSVP.

10. Joy

Release Date: December 25

Jennifer Lawrence could find herself once again in awards conversations playing real life Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop. Joy is easily included because of its director – David O. Russell, whose last three efforts (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) have all been Best Picture nominees.

9. Mission: Impossible 5

Release Date: December 25

This Tom Cruise franchise was completely reinvigorated with Brad Bird’s fourth flick, Ghost Protocol. Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg are back assisting Ethan Hunt with Jack Reacher‘s Christopher McQuarrie taking over directorial duties.

8. Ant-Man

Release Date: July 17

Never. Doubt. Marvel. Ever. They doubted that Iron Man could be a successful franchise. Same with Guardians of the Galaxy. So… if a picture called Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd sounds like a gamble, my guess is just wait. Peyton Reed directs with Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas costarring.

7. The Revenant

Release Date: December 25

Set in the 1800s, this drama finds Leonardo DiCaprio seeking revenge on thieves who left him to die. Tom Hardy costars with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (maker of Birdman) directing.

6. Tomorrowland

Release Date: May 22

As mentioned earlier, Brad Bird infused life into the Mission: Impossible series recently. He also made classic Pixar titles The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Here he’s back with Disney making a secretive fantasy adventure that stars George Clooney and Hugh Laurie.

5. St. James Place

Release Date: October 16

It’s a Cold War thriller… directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by the Coen Brothers. Starring Tom Hanks. Enough said.

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release Date: May 1

The follow-up to 2012’s mega blockbuster finds the gang all returning (including director Joss Whedon) with James Spader voicing the title character bad guy.

3. Spectre

Release Date: November 6

After the billion dollar worldwide gross of Skyfall, Daniel Craig is back for his fourth go round as 007 with double Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as the main villain. Sam Mendes returns to direct after the smashing Skyfall success.

2. The Hateful Eight

Release Date: Fall

For those who are familiar with this blog, you know that (in my mind) Quentin Tarantino has never made a movie that isn’t terrific. Let’s hope the trend continues here with this Western starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Channing Tatum.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Release Date: December 18

I mean… what else could possibly top new Tarantino? I’ve written plenty about it already so I won’t go on. Needless to say, the film world is breathlessly anticipating what JJ Abrams does with the most famous franchise in movie history.

And that’s all for now, folks! Here’s to a great 2015 and the pictures that populate it!

Todd’s Top Ten Most Eagerly Awaited Fall 2014 Movies

The summer of 2014 is heading towards its closure and that means school, football, and the Fall Movie Season is ahead of us! As many know, the months of September through December is when studios typically save up their major Oscar contenders and that is certainly the case this year. As for what’s been released pre-fall, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is the only shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination (it could win too) while Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel currently has a decent shot.

This brings us to my personal top ten most anticipated films being released in the final four months of the year. Some of my choices are Oscar hopefuls while others are not. I’ll get to my first round of inappropriately early Academy Award nomination predictions very soon on the blog. In the meantime, here’s the pics that this blogger is most looking forward to:

10. St. Vincent

Release Date: October 24

This comedy/drama had me at the actor headlining the cast: Bill Murray. He plays an irresponsible war veteran who befriends a young boy. Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts costar. If it’s good, expect Oscar buzz for Mr. Murray and Ms. Watts in the Supporting Actress race.

9. The Interview

Release Date: December 25

When Seth Rogen and James Franco have teamed up, it’s led to two hilarious comedies: Pineapple Express and This is the End. Here’s hoping the trend continues where they play two journalists given the task of assassinating Kim Jong-Un.

8. Big Eyes

Release Date: December 25

Tim Burton has seemed to be on autopilot lately with lackluster pics like Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows. This could change that in the true life tale of a man (Christoph Waltz) who fraudulently claims credit for his wife’s (Amy Adams) bestselling paintings. Oscar buzz could follow if this one if it delivers.

**No trailer released at press time

7. Birdman

Release Date: October 17

Not a biography of the tattooed Miami Heat player – rather Birdman stars Michael Keaton in what could be a huge comeback role. He plays an actor most known for playing an iconic superhero, which shouldn’t be much of a stretch. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifinakis round out the ensemble and it’s directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who brought us 21 Grams and Babel.

6. Dumb and Dumber To

Release Date: November 14

Whether or not the return of Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) nearly 20 years after the iconic original works is an open question, but you can be damn sure I’ll be in the theater to find out.

5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Release Date: November 21

Catching Fire improved upon an already first-rate original in the franchise so I’m pumped to see the series continue. It also serves as one of our final opportunities to see the great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

4. Inherent Vice

Release Date: December 12

Anytime Paul Thomas Anderson makes a film, it’s noteworthy given his filmography includes Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, and The Master. This private detective tale stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon.

**No trailer released at press time

3. Foxcatcher

Release Date: November 14

Director Bennett Miller has seen both his features, Capote and Moneyball, earn Best Picture nominations. Advance word is that this will as well. The true story of John du Pont’s (Steve Carell) obsession with a pair of wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) is generating Academy Award chatter for all three actors.

2. Gone Girl

Release Date: October 3

One of the very best directors working today David Fincher adapts Gillian Flynn’s bestselling murder mystery novel. Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike (in a role likely to earn Oscar buzz), Tyler Perry, and Neil Patrick Harris star.

1. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan has given us the acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. In his latest, recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey is tasked with no less than saving the world. Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and (of course) Michael Caine costar. Expect amazing visuals at the very least.

And that’s my top ten, folks. See you at the movies!

14 For ’14: Todd’s Most Anticipated 2014 Summer Movies

This coming Friday – the 2014 Summer Movie Season will officially swing into action with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and for the next four months, we’ll be treated to dozens of high-profile product from the studios. Per usual, there’s plenty of sequels – in addition to a rather high helping of comedies looking to break through.

This leads me to my personal Top 14 for ’14 of the Summer Movie Season. Let’s count them down from 14 to my #1, shall we?

14. Get On Up (August 1)

Chadwick Boseman found success last year playing Jackie Robinson in 42 and he’s got another historical figure on his plate here – R&B legend James Brown. Directing duties are handled by Tate Taylor, who helmed the sleeper hit The Help in 2011.

13. Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

This could well end up the highest grossing film of the summer, but it’s a little low here because I frankly haven’t been impressed with this franchise. Michael Bay is still behind the camera, but Shia LeBeouf is out and Mark Wahlberg is in as the star.

12. Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)

Science fiction and Tom Cruise can work really well (Minority Report) or just OK (Oblivion). We’ll see how this one fares from Mr. and Mrs. Smith director Doug Liman. Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton costar.

11. Maleficent (May 30)

Angelina Jolie stars in the live action retelling of the Sleeping Beauty villainess title character with Elle Fanning as Cinderella. Two summers back, Snow White and the Huntsman scored with audiences and this one probably will, too.

10. Jupiter Ascending (July 18)

Since the Wachowskis made The Matrix fifteen years ago, it’s been a bit downhill with that weak third Matrix entry and Speed Racer. Their last feature, Cloud Atlas, was a commercial disappointment though I quite liked it. The $150 million sci-fi saga starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum certainly has my attention.

9. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 22)

I’m a huge fan of Robert Rodgriguez’s 2005 original based on the Frank Miller graphic novel and I’ve been waiting a long time for this sequel. The impressive cast includes Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, and Eva Green.

8. 22 Jump Street (June 13)

Double Oscar nominee Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return to reprise their roles from the 2012 comedy that earned $138 million domestically. I felt the original worked very well and hopefully they’ll keep it up here.

7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)

This is probably higher on other’s lists, but it’s not top five material for me solely because I thought the first one was rather mediocre. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return alongside Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti as villains.

6. Neighbors (May 9)

Advance word is that this Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy is really funny and I see big box office results for this one. The trailer is a riot.

5. A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 3o)

However, my top anticipated comedy edge goes to this – the second comedic feature from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane. You may have heard of his first – a little summer blockbuster from two years back called Ted. MacFarlane stars alongside Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, and Sarah Silverman.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)

A Marvel Studios production based on characters that aren’t near as well known as other comic book heroes is looked at as a slight gamble box office wise. That can said of Guardians of the Galaxy, which stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Benicio del Toro. It was also said for 2008’s Iron Man and that turned out, um, pretty well.

3. Godzilla (May 16)

Yes, the Roland Emmerich directed tale of the giant green monster was a massive letdown. However, this one’s got some truly awesome trailers and it stars Bryan Cranston – AKA Walter Freakin White.

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes debuted three years back, it marked one of the greatest popcorn flicks in recent memory so I’m all in to see how they follow it up. Andy Serkis returns for his brilliant motion capture performance as Caesar with Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke also in the mix.

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)

Maker of the first two rock solid X-Men flicks Bryan Singer (let’s just leave his personal issues aside for now, shall we?) is back as the casts of the original franchise and the new First Class franchise mix together in this time travel tale. That means Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, and Jennifer Lawrence herself are all back and that’s enough to make this #1 on my must see list.

And there you have, folks! See you at the movies this summer.

 

2013 Fall Movie Preview: Prisoners, Out of the Furnace, Labor Day

In tonight’s edition of my 2013 Fall Movie Preview, we have three drama/thrillers boasting big stars and Oscar hopes.

This Friday brings us Prisoners from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. It stars Hugh Jackman as a father whose child is abducted and when he’s frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, he takes matters into his own hands. The film raised eyebrows when it screened at the Toronto Film Festival to rave reviews. In addition to some critics saying it was Jackman’s career-best work, the same was said for costar Jake Gyllenhall. The rest of the sterling supporting casts includes Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, and Viola Davis.

Scott Cooper directed Jeff Bridges to a Best Actor Oscar for Crazy Heart and on November 27th comes his follow-up, the crime drama Out of the Furnace. This one has quite the impressive cast as well: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Shephard. This is one of two pics for Bale this fall in his post-Batman career with American Hustle coming out too. We’ll get to that one soon enough.

Jason Reitman is known for his dramedies Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult. His next feature, Labor Day, is said to be quite a departure. It stars Kate Winslet as a single mom who takes in an escaped convict played by Josh Brolin. Don’t expect too much comedy in this one, unlike Reitman’s previous work. The pic opened to a somewhat mixed reception on the film festival circuit, though Winslet and Brolin are in Oscar contention. Labor Day opens Christmas Day (naturally).

Stay tuned for my next installment of the fall movie preview coming to the blog soon!

2013 Fall Movie Preview: Insidious: Chapter 2, Carrie, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

My 2013 Fall Movie Preview continues with a trio of horror flicks. This year, so far, has been a pretty decent one box office wise for the genre with hits including The Conjuring and Mama mixed in with some duds such as You’re Next and Dark Skies.

This Friday (the 13th) brings us Insidious: Chapter 2, the follow-up to 2011’s surprise hit. Stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne return and the film looks likely to capitalize on the solid box office success of the original.

We’ve basically seen most 70s/80s horror classics remade over the past decade and the trend continues with Carrie. Instead of Sissy Spacek, we’ve got Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore plays the creepy mom in the role made famous by Piper Laurie. Like most of the recent remakes, this seems a little unnecessary but who knows? We could pleasantly surprised (I’m skeptical). It’s out October 18th.

Last and probably least is All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which was actually shot in 2006 and stars Amber Heard. It’s already been seen at a number of film festivals and received mixed reviews. This is being distributed by the Weinstein Company in limited release and it doesn’t look to scare up too much business. It’s out (if you can find out) October 11th.

Interestingly, this will be the first late October season in a decade where we haven’t seen a Saw or Paranormal Activity movie. Instead, we get a flick that will probably be scary for others reasons: Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

That’s all for now, friends! I’ll be back with plenty more autumn titles in short order.

 

2013 Fall Movie Preview: Captain Phillips, The Monuments Men, Lone Survivor

Three true stories based on military related tales. Some of Hollywood biggest names involved. Two of them are surefire Oscar contenders.

My 2013 fall movie preview soldiers on this evening. We begin with Captain Phillips. The film is based on the 2009 Somali pirate hijacking situation. Tom Hanks stars as the title character whose vessel is overtaken. Behind the camera is Paul Greengrass, who directed the second and third entries in the Bourne franchise and United 93. He seems like the perfect director to handle this material and Hanks is already generating Oscar buzz. The trailer is very effective and the pic is out October 18.

We move onto The Monuments Men (December 18) from director George Clooney and featuring an A list cast that includes Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Cate Blanchett. This World War II era pic centers on a team tasked with saving priceless cultural and artistic items before the Nazis destroy them. The producing team behind last year’s Best Picture winner Argo is shepherding this project. Could Oscar nominations follow? I’ve already written a separate blog post about that subject here:

https://toddmthatcher.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/oscar-watch-the-monuments-men/

Finally, we have Lone Survivor which tells the real-life story of a group of Navy SEALS and their experiences in Afghanistan. Peter Berg’s film stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, and Eric Bana. This seems like less of an awards contender, but you never know. Movies about our recent military conflicts have a checkered past. In fact, Captain Phillips director Greengrass and Monuments Men star Damon had a box office dud in 2010 with Green Zone. Director Berg hasn’t exactly been on a roll lately either. His last two projects, Hancock and Battleship, were not audience or critical favorites. Let’s hope for the best. Lone Survivor comes out in limited release on December 27.

That does it for this edition of the fall movie preview! I’ll be back with more titles very soon.