Do you know how many films came out in the UK last year? Twelve. A week.
Obviously, that's far too many to see them all, unless you happen to work in the projection room at your local Odeon.
And so, leave it to us, people with nothing more important to be getting on with, to round up twelve of the most promising-looking from the long year ahead, taking in blockbusters, Oscar-botherers and everything in-between.
Whether fighting a bear finally wins Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar is the big story surrounding this much talked about revenge drama from Alejandro Ińárritu (Birdman), based around the true story of fur trappers on a 1823 expedition into the uncharted American wilderness. Tom Hardy also stars, which is never a bad thing.
This comedy-drama about two old boys – one a retired conductor (Michael Caine) and the other a film director (Harvey Keitel) – reflecting on the end of their days has the potential to be this year’s Boyhood if writer and director Paolo Sorrentino manages to swerve the saccharine. Early signs are good, with positives noises coming out of Cannes about the performances of the two leads in particular.
The ludicrous world of male fashion (seriously, who’d work in that?!) is once again the target of writer Justin Theroux's screenplay as Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson reprise their roles as the vainest men in the world (now a little past their sell-by-date). Expect a silly plot revolving around mysterious assassinations of beautiful people (involving a cameo from Just in Bieber) and, of course, plenty of ‘blue steel’, the gag that launched a thousand ill-advised Tinder profile pictures.
We can’t quite decide whether this looks like a genuine crime thriller classic or just utterly preposterous good fun, but the trailer to John Hilcoat’s Triple Nine is more entertaining than some feature length films we’ve sat through this year. An excellent cast including Woody Harrleson, Aaron Paul and Chiwetel Ejiofor inhabit a world of corrupt cops and gangsters in an unnamed US city that looks as though Michael Mann himself would find it all ‘a bit much’.
I Saw The Light
This year’s ‘music biopic that promises to show the bits when the icon was a bit of git’ is about American country legend Hank Williams, played with an impressive accent (and singing voice) by Englishman Tom Hiddleston. The Alabama songwriter’s hugely successful career and faultering private life will be covered in what promises to be a solid – if a little by-numbers – drama.
Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) turns his hand to sci-fi in this story of a father and his supernaturally gifted son, being pursued by a religious cult and the government. From the trailer it looks suitably creepy and atmospheric and in Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, boasts two of best character actors in the business. We can’t shake off the idea that the title sounds like a particularly unpleasant euphemism, but otherwise, this one looks good to go.
Oliver Stone doing politics is rarely an exercise in balanced nuance (JFK, Nixon, W.) and this enigmatic trailer for his new film about whistleblower Edward Snowden – complete with an upturned American flag – suggests this time will be no different. Expect Stone to come down firmly on the side of the former CIA employee (played, perhaps a little worryingly, by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in telling one of the most infamous stories in modern American history. It will be nothing if not entertaining.
Everybody Wants Some
After being robbed at the Oscars for his ambitious, brilliant Boyhood in 2014, writer / director Richard Linklater returns on more familiar ground with a spiritual sequel to his much-loved 1993 stoner comedy Dazed And Confused. Following a set college baseball players, so far little is known about Everybody Wants Some beyond its soundtrack which includes Blondie, Talking Heads and Devo. If its even a fifth as funny as Dazed we’ll be happy.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Like the music of Oasis and footballing prowess of Philippe Albert, it is hard to know whether the original Independence Day was actually all that good 20 years ago or if you just feel nostalgic for it. In any case, this long-mooted sequel sees Roland Emmerich return with Jeff Goldblum but not, sadly, Will Smith, who is replaced by Liam ‘Brad Pitt minus the charm’ Hemsworth. Let’s face it: you’re going to watch this whatever.
A reboot that has already upset man babies in some of the more fetid corners of the internet by replacing the original Men You’re Gonna Call with an all-female team (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones), Ghostbusters looks promising with Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directing, Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation) penning the script and Peter Dinklage on baddie duties. Personally we’d take something fresh over the risk of seeing a grizzled Murray / Aykroyd ruin their legacy any day (although are both reportedly going to make a cameo).
Yeah, we couldn’t be more over the superhero thing either. But Suicide Squad has just enough of a twist to get us interested again, as a crew of bad guys are assembled to do the work of good guys. In ensemble is Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne, Will Smith and Jared Leto, who has the daunting job of being the next actor to portray the Joker since the late Heath Ledger, which is almost enough to justify the price of a ticket on its own.
Martin Scorsese has been threatening to make this film about two Jesuit Portuguese Catholic priests trying to spread Christianity in Japan on and off since 2011, but will finally arrive this year with Adam Driver – arguably the most interesting young male actor working today – in one of the lead roles (Andrew Garfield, pictured, is the other). Not classic Marty territory, perhaps, but as ever you can back him to fall somewhere between very good and truly great.