2015's Most Anticipated: Warm Up

50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1 |
Runner-Ups |
This guy is psyched for 2015
2015 can’t come fast enough. I’ve been talking about 2015 for over a year now and I can’t believe we’re almost here. This is the year of the fanboy. There’s just so much to get through next year – the list runs the gamut of sequels, reboots and franchise movies and there’s something in 2015 for everyone – and I mean everyone. While the past two years have been ho-hum, 2015 is sure going to make up for it.

Movies from long dormant franchises return (Jurassic Park! Mad Max!), dead franchises get rebooted (Terminator! Fantastic Four!) and plenty of sequels all demand our attention. There’s also a lot of really interesting, new, original movies that seem like winners. Whether this translates to the biggest year at the box office is up to how well these movies are made.

It’s one thing to slap a recognizable name on a movie and call it a day, it’s another to seek out the best talent and creative minds to revitalize a franchise or keep the same spark going from the original movie(s). I plan on really delving deeply into next year, I hope you’re as excited as I am.

I usually try to find balance in my list – making sure that original titles get the same love as sequels and franchise movies. But this year is a little different. I’m embracing the sequel and going with how excited I am about some of these movies. I certainly hope that all of these movies are awesome, but I’m sure I’ll be let down more than once.

But before I get to the actual 50, here are 10 runner-ups (in alphabetical order) that I think deserve some attention. While they may not be worthy of opening day ticket stubs, they certainly have the potential be fun distractions next year.


Water Cooler Prep: November 17

Making sure you don't look dumb or out of the loop in front of your co-workers and friends when you are chit-chatting in the break room.

Dumb and Dumber To Rules the Box Office
Twenty years in the making, the Farrelly brothers capitalize on 90s nostalgia to take first place ahead of that cute robot movie.

The Fast and Furious Franchise is Hot and Cold
After telling us it's over after two more go-arounds, producers of the F&F series tell us they're never letting us go - kind of an epic Rick Roll there, fellas.

50 Shades of Grey - I'm with John Oliver, Jamie Dornan is #NotMyChristian:

Insurgent - Possibly the worst live-action adaptation of Up I've seen:

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 - Kevin James tries to recreate 2009 by bringing us the same jokes from the first movie:

The Cobbler - Adam Sandler tries to stay relevant with a depressing version of Freaky Friday:

Christoph Waltz Cast as Villain for Next Bond Film
You can't get any better villain casting than Waltz, the man who played a Nazi war criminal AND Green Hornet's nemesis.


Most Anticipated 2014: Muppets Most Wanted

16. Muppets Most Wanted (PG) - Runtime: 107 minutes
Starring: Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell
Director: James Bobin
Writers: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller
With Jason Segal gone, there were some pretty big shoes to fill in this Muppet sequel. But thankfully, James Bobin came back to direct and Nicholas Stoller, one of the co-writers from the original is back as well. And while maybe somewhat of a disappointment, Muppets Most Wanted still hits the mark when it comes to an entertaining Muppets movie.

While the Muppets "reboot" movie had its fair share of awesome music numbers, I can't recall any of the songs from the new movie. So the music numbers aren't the best here, but I remember liking them while I was watching. Maybe just not as memorable as "Man or Muppet." But the plot is pretty good - better than I expected with lots of running jokes and gags that surprisingly don't wear out their welcome (Ricky Gervais' character, Dominic Badguy as the number two criminal in world - the Lemur, Ty Burrell's weird bromance with Sam Eagle are both pretty great).

There's really not much else to say! It's hard to not like the Muppets in this movie. It's not as flashy as the previous movie, but it's still fun and really funny. Kermit and the gang are hopefully back for good this time and I am looking forward to seeing more of them in the future.



Snowpiercer (R) - Runtime: 126 minutes
Starring: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writers: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
I had heard a lot of really good things about this movie. And I like Chris Evans. And I like the director, Joon-ho Bong who was responsible for the amazing monster movie The Host (not that awful alien invasion movie). However, I was still hesitant to watch this movie, because, c'mon, it's a movie shot entirely on a train. How can this possibly be that good? I was so wrong. This movie was awesome. From the look and feel of the movie, to the bonkers-plot - Snowpiercer is just a fun action movie.

The movie is set in the future where the Earth has had a second ice age because the government wanted to combat climate change by putting chemicals in the air. What's left of the human race is surviving on a train that travels around the world. And this train is special - there's a whole ecosystem in place to keep everyone alive. But there's also a cruel ruling class that hangs out in the front of the train while the lower class tries to survive. Chris Evans plays Curtis, a man destined to lead a rebellion to get to the front of the train and take over the engine. His journey takes him through each car and along the way things become clear that things aren't quite normal.

I won't spoil anything else in this movie - it's just a joy to find out what lies behind the next car door that they open up. It's a neat set up that pays off so well in the end when all the different characters and plots come to collide in the climax. And speaking of characters, this movie has them in spades - from the weirdly pan sexual Mason (played brilliantly by Tilda Swinton), to the drug addict Namgoong and his daughter, Yona.

The movie does take a while to get going - there's a lot to set up in a movie like this - but once the rebellion actually starts - the movie finishes at a frantic pace. From the story, to the characters to the intense action, Snowpiercer is so much fun. This is by far one of the best movies this year.



Water Cooler Prep: November 10

Making sure you don't look dumb or out of the loop in front of your co-workers and friends when you are chit-chatting in the break room.

The Disney animated flick benefited from a dearth of family fare at the theater to take out the kinda, not really controversial Interstellar. with $56.2 million. Robots are cool, but inflatable robots? Way cooler.

Not to be outdone with the mediocrity of the Bourne Legacy, Damon is looking to cash in on Hollywood's favorite amnesia-ridden assassin with the tentatively-titled Bourne Betrayal. Set to film in 2015 and released in 2016, the movie will see director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon reunite once more to give us the most headache-inducing action scenes ever.

J.J. Abrams will quickly go to work on getting lens flare into as many shots as possible in the newly christened "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Following his Oscar-winning turn as a transgender in Dallas Buyers Club, Leto is in talks to take on the Joker in the Suicide Squad movie announced earlier last month by Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Finally we'll get the answer to who was the better 90s teenage heartthrob: Heath Ledger or Jared Leto.

In more casting news, Tarantino's new western, The Hateful Eight has revealed it's eight titular anti-heros: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Walton Goggins (TV's Justified), Demian Bichir (The Heat), Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction), Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and Channing Tatum. Dayum, that is some good casting.

Because Toy Story apparently did not have the most perfect ending and because no one was asking for this sequel, we'll be seeing more of Woody and Buzz.

Scheduled for a 2016 release and directed by Moon's Duncan Jones, Warcraft has got an impressive cast including Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster and Clancy Brown. Now the studio just has to make a compelling case as to why fans of the game should abandon their computers to see all of their favorite characters get ruined on the big screen.


John Wick

John Wick (R) - Runtime: 101 minutes
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist
Director: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Well this came out of nowhere. What looked like a silly B-level action movie for a struggling star turns out to be one of the best movies this year. No jokes. Keanu Reeves as the titular hero, John Wick, blasts through thousands of bad guys at a blistering pace. And it is awesome.

Normally I am not a fan of these types of action movies - where there's a razor thin plot that is there just to provide an excuse for explosions, guns and lots of fighting. I have not even bothered to check out any of the Expendables movies simply because I don't think I could tolerate it. Not to say that those movies aren't awesome or something to be loved, I just cannot get into them. John Wick, however, held my attention throughout and was simply amazing.

Part of it has to do with the simplicity of the plot and characters: Wick's puppy from his dead fiance gets killed by some punk mafia kid and he's out for revenge and to serve justice to the people he once worked for. It's enough for the movie to keep churning. The movie kind of builds up to its first action scene and just becomes this nice fun rollercoaster of ups and downs. The pacing is perfect - there's nice "breathers" in between the action so that the audience never gets tired of it.

And speaking of the action - it's near perfect. Keanu is a badass in this movie and the things he does with the gun and choreography are simply stunning. It doesn't hurt that the directors are longtime stuntmen who know their way around a fight. The fighting is beautiful and honestly, there's never a dull moment in this film. On top of the action, there's this really cool layer of a fleshed out world that just gets touched upon by the movie. There's a kind of a league of assassins in the movie and they have a neutral site at a hotel that they all commune at. They have their rules they all abide by and their own currency. It never gets fully explained and the movie is better off for it, which leaves a little bit of mystery and fleshes out the background a little more.

I can't wait to see this movie again - I feel like I didn't expect the action to be so good - so I feel like I missed a lot of the intricacies in all the carnage on screen. Which is an amazing feat for a movie - to make the audience feel like they need to see it again to catch everything. This is a phenomenal film and I'll be catching this one again soon!



Most Anticipated 2014: Pompeii

29. Pompeii (PG-13) - Runtime: 105 minutes
Starring: Kit Harington, Emily Brown, Kiefer Sutherland
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson
"I'm not expecting much else from this movie except for there to be some hot lava action" That was what I wrote when talking about this movie. It was listed as number 29, ahead of Godzilla! What was I thinking? Well, to be fair, this movie wasn't all that much and there really seemed very little to care about in this movie. I think I just need to come to terms with these historical, epic movies. I didn't like Gladiator or Troy or any other handful of sandal and sword drama/action flicks.

Pompeii plays out almost exactly like Titanic. Just without a crazy old lady with some million dollar jewel and Bill Paxton. Seriously - Kit Harington plays a Celtic slave Milo (I KNOW!) who, after wasting the first 15 minutes of the movie, finally gets sold down to Pompeii where we can finally see him fall in love with Emily Browning's character, Cassia, the daughter of the mayor of Pompeii (I know full well that's not his official title, but I'm too lazy to look up Roman political jargon). He woos her at first sight by snapping a horses neck (no joke! She practically fainted from her lady parts jolting her senses after that). But it's not to be! That dick Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) comes from Rome to force his marriage to Cassia. All the while Milo gets beat up and beats people up.

If this sounds boring, well, it is. There's no real build up to the actual eruption and when it happens, it's so drawn out and dull. I mean, the goddamn volcano exploded and half the town is going nutballs, while the other half is just like, sweet, now I can take advantage of killing and looting this place. I'll be safe even though I've probably never witnessed something this horrific in my life.

But the movie never really accomplishes much - there's supposed to be a really strong bro-out between Milo and his slave-in-arms comrade, Atticus. In fact, he gets a fitting, epic death scene where he literally pumps his fist into the air and shouts "For those about to die, I salute you!" Didn't know the dude was an AC/DC fan.

And you would think after all this the actual city becoming ash and all the chaos it would make for some tense action, but it never really felt satisfying. A fairly disappointing movie that has a lot of bad acting (Kiefer Sutherland really hams it up here) and never any real good payoff, even at the end, Pompeii's worst crime is that it's just mediocre. This could have been fun and epic, but it's too slow and the characters are just so dull.



Water Cooler Prep for November 3

Making sure you don't look dumb or out of the loop in front of your co-workers and friends when you are chit-chatting in the break room.

Nightcrawler wins a tight race at the box office
  • Trying to atone for his past movie crimes, Jake Gyllenhaal terrorized the box office this weekend with the thriller Nightcrawler, taking in $10,909,000. Just nine thousand more dollars than second place finisher Ouija. This just confirms that creepy men with handheld camcorders will always outsell creepy boardgames from the nineteenth century. Always.
Fast and Furious 7 Trailer is here
  • Officially titled Furious 7 according to the trailer (don't even get me started on the naming logic of this particular franchise) - the new F&F film looks once again to make sure our yearly quota of cars skydiving out of airplanes and semis being overturned on empty highways in the desert gets filled. But honestly? I'm there opening day.
Terminator Genisys reboot details
  • Deciding to not only take just one Schwarzenegger hit movie and reboot, but include others like Kindergarten Cop - Paramount is taking a big risk on retelling the original story. Apparently Arnie's T-800 is essentially raising Sarah Connor on his own and there's two plotlines - one in the future and one in the present day. As soon as they post an amazing trailer, we'll get our hopes up only to see them die a horrible death onscreen when we realize that there really cannot ever be another good Terminator movie.
Michael Bay to get final word on Benghazi controversy
  • Keeping his promise of delivering small-scale budgeted movies after numbing our senses with too much lens flare and explosions with a Transformers movie - Michael Bay is eyeing 13 Hours - a book adaptation about the Benghazi attack in 2012. Hopefully this won't end up becoming a joke in a South Park episode like his last historical movie:

  • No this is not an Onion article. Soon we might be getting Superbad 2 starring Oscar nominees Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen. This is the reality we're facing, folks.
Oh yeah and

  • Yeah, this is old news. But Idris Elba dropped a knowledge bomb. If you don't care about spoilers and want to know more - check out this Daily Beast article. Conclusion: Marvel made every comic book fan and superhero movie fan's dream come true.

    Most Anticipated 2014: Maleficent

    24. Maleficent (PG) - Runtime: 97 minutes
    Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley
    Director: Robert Stromberg
    Writers: Too many people
    There's been a dearth of recent fairy tale-fueled movies these past few years. Some good, some bad, but mostly they've all been just okay. A very hearty "meh" really. Maleficent really doesn't buck that trend. In fact, it's probably the most blasé of all of them. Sure, it's got some great visuals and a strong female lead, but the story is not that exciting nor are the characters that well developed.

    The main problem is that Maleficent is supposed to be a cold hearted bitch. And of course when you bring more depth to an evil character like Maleficent, you're going to lose that edge. And that's fine - I like to see more nuanced characters like that. But instead of softening the edges a bit, the movie completely turns Maleficent into the hero and diminishes any sort of sense of maliciousness or fear whenever she's onscreen. Sure the music is menacing whenever she shows up to curse some people, but it's never really scary like I felt it should be. Pretty much 10 minutes (movie time) after she curses Sleeping Beauty (named Aurora) she regrets it and tries to take it back. It's pretty lame.

    The real villain is Sharlto Copley's character - the boy who fell in love with Maleficent, only to betray her and cut off her wings - a very not-so-subtle metaphor for rape. And I think where the story was going was fine - but the movie takes this weird turn half-way through where it's nothing but Maleficent and Aurora having a fun time together in the forest. It's weird and dumb and I pretty much rolled my eyes throughout. I would have rather seen a movie that showed Maleficent's rise to power than see her heart grow ten times like in The Grinch.

    There were some good things about the movie - namely the visuals and the beginning of the movie where we see Maleficent as a young fairy and her encounters with all these strange creatures in the woods. It's really awesome and the movie would have been better if they lingered more on the characters within those woods. Create a new mythology/fairy tale of their own. Instead, the film feels rushed when it fast forwards ten or so years so it can get to telling the Sleeping Beauty tale.

    I know this is a PG Disney movie, but there's more terrifying scenes in the original Sleeping Beauty than this tame adaptation. The movie felt hollow and devoid of any real fun. It looks real pretty, but that's probably the only thing going for this movie. Angelina Jolie hams it up as much as she can, but she can't save the movie from wooden dialogue and flat characters.

    Unfortunately we're not even close to seeing an end to this fairy tale trend. Maleficent is the third highest grossing movie this year worldwide and Disney has lined up a live action Cinderella for next year. Plus Warner Bros. has a Peter Pan movie too. While this may be just good enough for the kids, this one will be long forgotten - you're better off picking up the original animated Sleeping Beauty.