Time for the top 25. These are must-sees for me. These next five movie are kind of a mix of every genre - drama, comedy, thriller, action.
25. The Founder
Starring: Michael Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Robert D. Siegel
Release Date: November 25
Sure to be an Oscar contender, The Founder is about the true story of Ray Kroc, the 'founder' of the modern incarnation of McDonald's. Michael Keaton stars as the lead role who partnered with the McDonald brothers to open up more of their stores and eventually taking over the franchise and starting the whole fast-food chain craze that is only now beginning to see cracks. Hopefully this will be a more critical look at Kroc and it sounds like most of what he did to secure the rights to McDonald's sounds a bit shady. Michael Keaton is continuing his renaissance as the go-to guy for buzz-worthy performances and it'd be nice to see him win the Oscar he was due for Birdman. The rest of the cast sounds fantastic and John Lee Hancock is familiar with true stories, having directed The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. I hope this isn't a feel-good movie like those, but rather a realistic portrayal of how things shook out. I'm interested in this story simply because McDonald's is an American institution and to hear about it's not-so-humble beginnings sounds like a perfect fit for an Oscar-contending drama.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Bryan Sipe
Release Date: April 8
Speaking of renaissances, Jake Gyllenhaal has been on a bit of a streak lately. Ever since he made that mess of a movie, Prince of Persia, he's been on a tear. Source Code, End of Watch, Prisoners, Nightcrawler, Southpaw. And while Demolition has not gotten strong reviews from the critics who've seen it, this one sounds like it should be a good dramedy. I love these bittersweet movies where the lead character finds redemption through tragedy (Reign Over Me, Everything Must Go, Dallas Buyers Club). From the looks of the trailer, this one looks to have the laughs and the tears. It's about finding the right balance - you don't want to go too extreme with the funny or the tears, otherwise it'll feel wrong and sappy or just absurd. John Lee Hancock, the director, who also did Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, two very good movies, is behind this one and I feel like this could be one of those movies that sticks around in your head long after the credits roll. While this probably won't win any awards, the story and the cast seems to be the reason to check this one out.
23. The Jungle Book
Starring: Neel Sethi, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks
Release Date: April 15
I'm not a huge fan of the original Disney animated movie. It was one of those movies where the pacing felt slow and awkward and I just could never get into a story about talking animals raising a kid. It just felt silly to me, even when I was a kid. But I will give Disney and their marketing team credit, they've got me hooked here. This just looks dark and sinister justenough to reel me in. I am no fan of pretty much any live action Disney movie lately (Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Oz the Great and Powerful) so I should be more weary of this movie than I am. But I don't know, maybe I'm hoping the sum of the movie (the look and feel, plus the cast) exceeds its story. Jon Favreau is still a great director despite making Cowboys & Aliens. He is familiar with kids movies, having directed the underrated Zathura. And the voice cast is fantastic - it's pretty much all A-listers so there's no need to panic there. Bill Murray as Baloo the Bear is brilliant, BTW. But the more I think and write about this movie, there a sinking, settling feeling of mediocrity. If the movie can live up to the fantastic promise of this trailer, then I will be there opening day.
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Pete Chiarelli, Ed Solomon
Release Date: June 10
Now You See Me came out of nowhere. What looked like the most douchiest of douche movies when I first saw the trailer, turned out to be a pretty fantastic, fun movie with a neat little twist. To pull that off twice is going to be tough. Luckily, they've brought in fresh blood with Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe (who hopefully doesn't make just a cameo). And the trailer looks like the movie is going to be filled with more CGI-enabled magic tricks that obviously aren't realistic, but look hella cool! So yeah, count me in, if it's as fun as the first one and there's not a forced twist at the end where it looks like everyone involved was just trying to re-write the first movie, then yeah, totally there opening weekend. Jon Chu, the director behind a lot of those Step Up sequels (which I rather like, thank you very much) and the much-maligned Jem and the Holograms movie this year, will be helming this thankless job of trying to recreate the same magic as before. As long as he lets the actors continue their charm and the magic tricks take center stage, this should be solid.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano
Director: Tim Miller
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Release Date: February 12
I don't know how I feel about this movie. On one hand, this looks refreshing and fun and completely stupid for a superhero movie. On the other hand, I can't help but think this movie will be full of dumb jokes catered for the 12-year-old boy in the audience and possibly misogynistic? I don't know! Some of the jokes work here, but some of them are pretty lame (that whole don't swallow joke is dumb and kind of offensive). But that's what Deadpool is! I guess it's okay to be offensive when it's funny, but when the jokes are dialed in like that one, I kinda have to pass. Okay - it sounds like I'm bashing this big-time but the reason it's so high on my list is that this is a tremendous risk and completely bonkers that it even got made. I mean, judging from the looks of things, this movie probably won't be making that much money, but it could be something provocative and totally take the superhero genre and flip it on its head. Hopefully the movie has a clever plot and that it's not all bang-bang, look I can talk to the camera! kind of set up. The guys who wrote Zombieland are behind the script, so I have faith. The director, Tim Miller, is a rookie here and his little short/treatment he filmed for the studio is what landed him the job - so they must have liked his vision. But there's lots of potential here!