Ahh, lists. Fun, enjoyable reading that takes you away from productivity with just a simple click. Every year, studios saturate us with a hefty serving of theater entertainment, some more pleasurable than others, and with 2015 rolling in, there’s plenty of previews already available. Sony has Bond 24 and Chappie on its schedule. Marvel is set to release Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Disney will push Cinderella and Tomorrowland, with Terminator: Genisys and Mission Impossible 5 coming from Paramount. Warner Bros will release over twenty different titles including The Man From U.N.C.L.E and Pan, an origin story about Peter Pan and Captain Hook. And in December, among the many last minute Oscar contenders from Weinsten and others – Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits December 18 – are presale tickets available yet?
We decided to compile eight under the radar films that you might not have heard of that we’re interested in seeing ourselves. Enjoy.
Maps to the Stars
Release date: February 27, 2015
Story: Commenting on the dark inner workings of Hollywood, Maps centers around the intertwining lives of fresh-out-of-rehab child actor Benjie (Evan Bird) and has-been actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore). Benjie’s father Dr. Weiss (John Cusack) is a well-known psychologist who tries to help Segrand get her career back on track. However, Havana hires a new assistant from out of town, Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), not knowing she is Weiss’ daughter. Weiss shuns Agatha for reasons that have to do with their family’s dark past, but after Agatha tries to get in touch with Benjie, the secrets start rolling out onto the red carpet for everyone to see.
Who’s involved: Directed by David Cronenberg whose most recent films have included Eastern Promises and Cosmopolis, Maps was a long-awaited project for him to take on, but fittingly so as it returns to the mystery and deranged elements of his previous films. Cronenberg teams up again here with Peter Suschitzky as cinematographer, Ronald Sanders as editor, and Michael O’Farrell as sound supervising editor, all of whom worked on Eastern Promises together. Joining them is Jon Campfens, lending his expertise as visual effects supervisor.
Our hope: Maps did great when it made its rounds in the film festival circuit: at Cannes Julianne Moore won Best Actress and Cronenberg was nominated for the Palme d’Or. The film weaves together the lives of some seriously messed-up people, but that’s probably the same weird reason we can’t wait to see it. We hope everything in this intriguing puzzle ties together in the end; if the film is going for dark and raw, we hope this shows through in the cinematography as well. Laced with racy topics like suicide, drugs, money, and incest – and stellar actors who can carry these heavy themes – Maps has a haunting feel to it and, we imagine, a few tricks up its sleeve.
Release date: June 5, 2015
Story: Based on the novel of the same name by John Green, Paper Towns follows Quentin “Q” Jacobsen (Nat Wolff) and his ever-changing friendship with Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne). After an adventurous all-nighter reunites the two teenagers, Quentin wants to get closer to Margo. He thinks his wishes might come true after she convinces him to help get revenge on everyone who has hurt her. To his dismay however, when he returns to school the next day Margo is nowhere to be found. As the number of days that Margo is missing increases, so do the number of clues that Quentin must put together about Margo’s whereabouts. The clues suggest Margo is in these so-called “paper towns,” or towns that appear on maps but don’t actually exist. On the day of their high school graduation, everything clicks together and Quentin tries to beat the clock to find Margo and bring her back.
Who’s involved: The director is Jake Schreier, a relatively new to the scene – his one previous feature is Robot & Frank. He’s a surprising choice for such a highly anticipated movie, but even more reason to root for the film’s success. Joining him is cinematographer David Lanzenberg, who we know will add his own visual flair, as he’s no stranger to working on quirky tales of friendship (Celeste & Jesse Forever). Tracking the production audio is mixer Jeffree Bloomer, who’s worked on National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Patriot, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Our hope: After The Fault in Our Stars, we’re excited to see another John Green story come to life. Since Margo is only featured in the first quarter of the book, it will be interesting to see how the leading characters in film are cut together. We’re also curious to see how model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne will do as leading lady, but we have an inkling she might become one of our new favorite actors.
Release date: 2015 TBD
Story: After John Hollar (John Krasinski) finds out that his mother Sally (Margo Martindale) must have critical brain surgery to save her life, he returns to his hometown. John brings girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) along and together they face the roller coaster of John’s life, including seeing old friends again and facing his father (Richard Jenkins). The film also stars Sharlto Copley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Charlie Day.
Who’s involved: Following up his 2009 directorial debut Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Krasinki helms his second feature here. Joining him is cinematographer Eric Alan Edwards (Knocked Up) and editor Sarah Flash (Dan in Real Life), who should have a good feel for how to pace this story. On the production sound side, one of our friends, Shawn Holden (Nightcrawler) was the recordist along with boom operator Marc Uddo. We spoke with Sycamore Pictures, the production company behind the film in mid-December, and they mentioned they were only a few days away from locking picture.
Our hope: We’ve always been a fan of Krasinski and to see him back in the directing chair is exciting news. The story suggests Elizabethtown meets The Judge; with such an awesome cast, we hope it has both funny, quirky moments as well as moments that touch us. So basically, a good movie.
The Age of Adaline
Release date: April 24, 2015
Story: Blake Lively stars as Adaline Bowman, who for nearly eight decades has remained 29 years old. She has watched those she loves grow older than her and vows to live the rest of her existence alone. When she meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), however, she is overwhelmed with an infectious love for life again and might just let him into her heart. But just as things start to look up, Adaline is forced to make a decision that could alter the course of her existence. The film also stars Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker.
Who’s involved: Director Lee Toland Krieger and cinematographer David Lanzenberg of Celeste & Jesse Forever are back working together to help create the visuals for a movie filled with mystery and passion. Editor Melissa Kent (The Vow), visual effects supervisor James McQuade (Underworld) and sound designer Christopher S. Aud (Man of Steel) help round out the team, with Mark Noda recording production sound.
Our hope: We can’t wait to see Blake Lively back on the big screen. With The Town she proved to the world that she has the chops, but we haven’t seen her in a film since Savages. We hope the film finds a good balance between mystery and romance, and can’t wait to see how the sound and picture will influence that.
The End of the Tour
Release date: 2015 TBD
Story: Journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is sent on assignment to follow author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) on the last leg of his popular book tour. Lipsky records their days together, wherein Wallace muses about life, loss, and literature, but Lipsky’s article eventually gets cancelled. Years later, after finding out Wallace committed suicide, Lipsky revisits his recordings and sets out to paint an accurate picture of who Wallace really was through a series of essays.
Who’s involved: Director James Ponsoldt and editor Darrin Navarro worked on The Spectacular Now together, and they’re collaborating again on this film. They have a good feel for how a drama should be paced and the film also enlists Jakob Ihre (A Family) as cinematographer to create its look. Also on board is visual effects supervisor Matthew Bramante (TRON: Legacy) and probably one of our favorite names for a production sound mixer, Jean-Yves Munch, will be recording the dialogue on set.
Our hope: Director James Ponsoldt’s films keep getting better and better. With previous features such as Smashed and The Spectacular Now, he knows what makes a great movie. Even with that in mind, he still manages to surprise us and never falls into age-old formula. This is certainly Ponsoldt’s most daring film yet in terms of content, but we think it will be a risk worth taking. Our first chance to see The End of the Tour will be the Sundance Film Festival, a great venue for the world to discover this film and a great showcase for the talent of everyone who worked on it.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Release date: November 20, 2015
Story: This film isn’t so under the radar, but we’re fans. Mockingjay Part 1 left us wondering if Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) will ever be the same again and how District 13 will fare in the war against the Capitol. Part 2 picks up with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and the rebels launching a final attack to take down the Capitol and restore peace within the districts. Katniss and her propo team descend into the Capitol, along with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick, and Peeta to try to kill President Snow. As lives are lost and the war comes to an end, Katniss is faced with making a decision on behalf of her sister that could alter the course of her life and the future generations of those in the districts.
Who’s involved: Francis Lawrence returns to direct the final installment of The Hunger Games franchise and it looks like the whole behind-the-scenes gang is reuniting for the final film. Cinematographer Jo Willems, editors Alan Edward Bell and Mark Yoshikawa, and composer James Newton Howard are returning.
Our hope: Every November we anxiously await the next Hunger Games movie so it’s a little sad this will be the last one. Now that Katniss and her team are staging the final war against the Capitol, we know the visual and sound effects are going to be at the top of their game, and it will be exciting to see the actors play the characters we’ve come to love one last time.
The Grief of Others
Release date: January 2015
Story: Based on the book by Leah Hager Cohen, the story follows Ricky (Wendy Moniz) and John (Trevor St. John) after the loss of their newborn baby. Already with two older children, the couple try to restore normalcy back in their lives by pretending that everything is just the way it was before the baby’s death. However, ignoring their problems only seems to make things worse for the whole family. The film explores themes of isolation, love, loss, family – all of life’s complexities.
Who’s involved: Patrick Wang is the director – his 2011 film In the Family was known to some as “the little engine that could” after garnering big attention for such an independent film. Wang teamed up with cinematographer Frank Barrera (Burning Love), editor Elwaldo Baptiste (In the Family), Johnny Marshall (The Other Side of Paradise) as sound designer, and recoding the production sound is James Weidner (Love Is Strange).
Our hope: Probably the most “indie” movie on this list, Grief promises to be a seriously heavy, powerful film. Wang tackles projects with immense depth and sets out to tell moving stories in the most honest way possible. There are many unknowns in front of and behind the camera here; we’re excited for the film to debut so the world can discover the talent behind the film. In the Family was raw both in content and visuals, so if that’s any indication of what this film will be like, it should be good.
Everything Will Be Fine
Release date: TBD 2015
Story: James Franco portrays a writer named Tomas Eldan who accidentally kills a child with his car. He spends the twelve years that follow trying to make sense of the accident and how it has affected him, as well as the child’s mother (Rachel McAdams).
Who’s involved: Director Wim Wenders previously worked in 3D for the 2011 doc Pina. Also lending his talents is cinematographer Benoît Debie, who we know will make the film’s look unique given his work on such titles as Spring Breakers and The Runaways. Supervising sound editor is Christian Holm (Heart of a Lion) and also on board is visual effects supervisor Alain Lachance (X-Men: Days of Future Past). For production sound, mixer Peter Bergström teamed with boom op Tobias Rönnertz
Our hope: The film caught our attention after we learned that Wenders intends to make the film 3D. Usually a 3D film is associated with something wild and adventurous, so how a medium like that melds together with such a dramatic movie is beyond us, and exactly why want to see what happens. We’re also excited to see Franco and McAdams go out of their comfort zone and be a part of a film that’s trying to do something new in a world where everything has seemingly been done already.