A cheat: Whiplash is a film I’m looking forward to seeing again. This tense, taut study of the relationship between an exacting jazz drumming tutor (J K Simmons) and his star pupil (Miles Teller) was one of the hits of last year’s London Film Festival. 16 Jan.
The teen movie: dissected
Shards of around 270 teen movies are pieced together by first-time director (and ultraculture.co.uk founder) Charlie Lyne in Beyond Clueless to create an essay-like reflection on the genre; the original soundtrack by Summer Camp is an eerie delight. 23 January.
Well, probably. The controversial North Korea-baiting comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco has become Sony’s most downloaded film after being made available online in the US. Here’s hoping that a UK cinema release will follow the limited US one. There will also be plenty of other chances to see Franco, the London bus of American acting (not because everyone wants a ride but because if you miss one of his films, there’ll be another one along presently). Among the 14 or so films that he has either in production or ready to be released in 2015 is I Am Michael, the factually based story of a gay activist turned anti-gay pastor. The Interview is scheduled for February release; I Am Michael opens later this year.
Return to Strickland
Peter Strickland, director of the playful and creepy Berberian Sound Studio, returns with the erotically charged drama The Duke of Burgundy. 20 Feb.
The scariest film since Halloween
I saw It Follows at the London Film Festival last October. I’ve had the sleepless nights to prove it. Yet still I want to go back for more. Why? Because David Robert Mitchell’s chiller about a sexually-transmitted curse offers more than just frights: it’s also breathtakingly beautiful and casually philosophical, with the most effective use of the film frame to evoke dread since the original 1978 Halloween. 27 Feb.
After her berserk turn as a fading actress in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, Julianne Moore is on subtler but no less dazzling form as a professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice. Though it’s a performance that is sure to bring her the Oscar, there is no showboating here: there is room also for fine work from Alec Baldwin as Moore’s husband and Kristen Stewart as her daughter. 6 March.
A Very Clooney Future
Early footage from Tomorrowland, a science-fiction adventure from Brad Bird (The Incredibles), suggests that this will be both thrilling and decidedly oddball. George Clooney plays the weary scientist who journeys with a bad-apple teen delinquent (Britt Robertson) to a hidden world. May.
Into the mind of Pixar
Just when you thought Pixar had eschewed the far-out scenarios of its eccentric mid-2000s hat-trick (Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up), the studio’s new film, Inside Out, a peek into the workings of the human mind, brings a much-needed dose of oddness back to the once-innovative computer-animation stable. July.
Tilda Swinton wearing a very fetching wig
Just when you thought Tilda Swinton couldn’t get any more fabulous, she pops up in a dazzling wig and a mahogany tan in Judd Apatow’s summer romcom Trainwreck, which looks like being a return to that filmmaker’s raucous best after the moribund This is 40. The rom and most of the com is between Amy Schumer (who also wrote the screenplay) and the tremendous, clipped Bill Hader but early glimpses suggest that Swinton has the picture’s stylish side all sewn up. August.
Cue the music!
Three highly promising music-related movies are on their way. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (release date tbc) will use previously unseen footage of the Nirvana frontman in a film about his life, executive-produced by his daughter Frances Bean Cobain. Straight Outta Compton is the biopic of NWA, enfants terribles of hip-hop, with the role of Ice Cube taken by the rapper’s own son, O’Shea Jackson. Meanwhile, Oren Moverman, one of the writers of the inventive Dylan biopic I’m Not There, is also behind the screenplay of Love & Mercy (release date tbc), a portrait of the Beach Boys’ genius Brian Wilson. Paul Dano and John Cusack play Wilson as fresh-faced and addled respectively.
Revenge of the Monster Franchises
With a second Avengers instalment (Avengers Age of Ultron) arriving in April, a fourth Jurassic Park (Jurassic World) in the summer, a new James Bond movie (Spectre) out in October and J J Abrams’s addition to the Star Wars series (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens) in December, the multiplex is going to be a little on the feverish side this year…
Revenge of the Arthouse
…All the more reason to seek refuge in new films from some of international cinema’s most exciting directors, including Todd Haynes, who directs Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel Carol, and Alejandro Amenábar (The Others), who returns with Regression, a thriller starring Emma Watson and Ewan Macgregor. Whether or not we’ll see Michael Haneke’s Flashmob, which brings together various characters who meet via the internet, is another matter. It was revealed last summer that he was “waiting in line” for the lead actress he wanted; other than that, he’s been keeping shtum. “I too often say too much about the future of my projects, and I’ve never managed to keep my promises in advance. It is a nice proverb that reads ‘Do not sell the skin before the bear is shot’.” Release dates tbc.