IT'S EASY TO SEE why film is no longer paramount in the cultural conversation: For those too lazy to look past the multiplex, Hollywood's little more than a franchise factory. That dive in creativity is highlighted by the original, outstanding work on television—and in what's hardly a coincidence, TV has proven far more accepting of women creators. With Nicole Holofcener, Lisa Cholodenko, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, and Michelle MacLaren killing it on the small screen, Hollywood's rusty BOYS ONLY sign makes movies seem even less relevant.
For those who knew where to look, though, 2014 was still an embarrassment of cinematic riches, with films like Boyhood, Citizenfour, Edge of Tomorrow, Force Majeure, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Homesman, Jodorowsky's Dune, Only Lovers Left Alive, Snowpiercer, and Under the Skin. And 2015 looks promising. Maybe don't count movies out quite yet.
Here are some of the films coming out in 2015—a few that sound great, a few that're intriguing, and at least a few that'll be shitty. Not included are some 2014 pictures that won't hit Portland for a few more weeks: Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice (Jan 9), J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year (Jan 16), Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner (Jan 23), and Ava DuVernay's Selma (Jan 9). Also not included are the films that nobody's even heard of yet, from filmmakers nobody yet knows. Sometimes it's about knowing where to look, and sometimes it's about letting yourself be surprised.
Blackhat (Jan 16)—A Michael Mann cybercrime thriller starring Thor! Presumably Thor will be hacking Dark Seoul.
Carol (TBD)—Todd Haynes directs Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Crimson Peak (Oct 16)—Guillermo del Toro does gothic horror.
The End of the Tour (TBD)—Based on Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky's book about his time on tour with David Foster Wallace. Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsky, Jason Segel plays Wallace.
Franchises: Here are the big ones, though they hardly need more attention: Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1) will hopefully be as fun as the first Avengers. Spectre (Nov 6) introduces Christoph Waltz to 007. Jurassic World (June 12) would seem like a no-go, but writer/director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) is making it look charmingly goofy—like George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15), and unlike the almost certainly soulless Point Break remake (July 31) and Terminator: Genisys (July 1), which will try to bring back a franchise no one wants brought back. (Terminator still has better odds than Fox's attempt to resurrect The Fantastic Four [Aug 7].) Furious 7 (April 3) also fits here—and if the last two Fast & Furiouses are any indication, it'll be one of the most fun movies of the year.
The Hateful Eight (TBD)—Quentin Tarantino makes another western—this time in 70mm.
High-Rise (TBD)—A J.G. Ballard adaptation from Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers), one of the sharpest filmmakers working.
A Hologram for the King (TBD)—Dave Eggers' best book—now starring Tom Hanks and directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Cloud Atlas). I have no idea how this will work as a movie. Then again, that's what I said about Cloud Atlas.
Joy (Dec 25)—The latest from American Hustle's David O. Russell stars Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Okay!
Jupiter Ascending (Feb 6)—The Wachowskis dress up Chatum as an albino space-dog for a hallucinogenic science-fict—ONE TICKET FOR JUPITER ASCENDING PLEASE
Knight of Cups (TBD)—New Terrence Malick, with Christian Bale and Natalie Portman.
Magic Mike XXL (July 1)—Steven Soderbergh isn't directing. Matthew McConaughey isn't Dallas. But Chatum is enough. Chatum is always enough.
Midnight Special (Nov 25)—"Right now I'm working on this one called Midnight Special," Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) said at Sundance in 2013. "I won't talk too much about it now, other than to say I kind of want to make a 1980s John Carpenter movie."
Money Monster (TBD)—A thriller directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15)—Okay. If there's one franchise this dumb planet does need, it's one with Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson that's directed by Elizabeth Banks.
Queen of the Desert (TBD)—Together at last: Werner Herzog and James Franco.
The Sea of Trees (TBD)—Gus Van Sant's latest, with Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, and Ken Watanabe.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec 18)—J.J. Abrams' sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi will almost certainly be better liked than the prequels—and, for better and worse, will almost certainly feel like the product of a massive corporation, not independent filmmaker George Lucas.
St. James Place (Oct 16)—Spielberg. Hanks. Coen brothers.
Straight Outta Compton (Aug 14)—The only thing everyone on earth is more excited about than Star Wars: an N.W.A. biopic!
That's What I'm Talking About (TBD)—Richard Linklater's mysterious follow-up to Boyhood has something to do with baseball. It's probably a Mr. Baseball remake.
Tomorrowland (May 22)—Brad Bird and George Clooney's Disney-approved sci-fi adventure.
Trainwreck (July 17)—Interesting: a new Judd Apatow movie. More interesting: It's written by, and stars, Amy Schumer.
A Walk in the Woods (TBD)—Robert Redford and Nick Nolte hike the Appalachian Trail. So... Harold & Kumar for old white people.
While We're Young (March 27)—Noah Baumbach's first film since Frances Ha. This one features Charles Grodin! Man, more movies should feature Charles Grodin! ATTENTION FILMMAKERS OF 2015: THERE'S STILL TIME TO ADD GRODIN.