With this year coming to a close, let’s look forward to what’s in store this early 2015 in terms of awesome films. Featuring intense drumming action, whales, and mustaches.

2014 is coming to a close. We had a lot of fun in this year’s filmscape rollercoaster ride, right? We saved the galaxy with a talking tree and sociopathic raccoon. We got to witness Tom Cruise relive countless deaths, much to the joy of the audience. We endured sequels, sequels split into two parts for some silly reason, pretentiousness, reboots, unnecessary origin stories and retellings that shake up established canon. Whether good or bad, 2014 was memorable for big-screen entertainment pieces.

So let’s get hyped with these upcoming film selections that will be showing in early 2015. No, we don’t mean the obvious blockbusters like that one film with the giant dinosaur park that comes with that lovely piano rendition of a famous John Williams theme. Nor do we mean the other big comic book movie with a giant robot voiced by that guy from Stargate, because both of them are in the middle of next year and you already know about them from the perfectly-timed marketing campaigns.

Chances are you may not have heard about these films on this list. We suggest you plan your months around them because they look hella sweet based on just their premises, star power and direction alone.

 Whiplash

Whiplash

We Asians have it rough back in the day when we were forced to learn classical instruments from stern taskmasters for teachers who were hard to please.

Whiplash is essentially that concept taken to the extreme. Andrew (played by Miles Teller) is an aspiring drummer who enrolls at a music conservatory which is mentored by a tough-as-nails & driven instructor named Fletcher (played by J.Jonah Jameson J.K. Simmons). When we mean “driven”, we mean the kind of person who will make his students realize their potential by hurling verbal/physical abuse at them and also making them stay up all night hitting the right notes.

So we get to see Andrew go from regular drummer boy to tortured soul pushed into the brink of insanity and obsession. We also get to witness J.K. Simmons go all-out with his rage acting in a drama setting; a great change of pace from his jolly & comically angry on-screen personas. Expect to see this film in Singapore cinemas on January 15.

 Birdman

Birdman

Michael Keaton’s prominence in big-screen acting continues, and he’s headlining this possible gem of a flick. He plays a washed-up actor who must get past his ego and personal troubles to reclaim his former glory as an iconic superhero called Birdman. And yes, it’s THAT Birdman we’re talking about here.

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is no stranger to doing drama (see Babel, 21 Grams and Biutiful), so it’ll be nice to see him add a tinge of comedy into his style of film-making. Reviews have been positive, as Keaton’s panache of balancing absurdist comedy and subtlety is the driving force of the film. We’ll see this eagle soar into Singapore soon on January 22.

 American sniper

American Sniper

Remember how bad you felt when you played Spec Ops: The Line back in 2012? Wait, you didn’t play that gem on your PS3, PC or Xbox 360? No worries; we’ll wait.

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(After 8 hours of soul-searching and life-questioning…)

All good? This next movie is following that tone. American Sniper (based on the autobiography of the same name) is about one guy named Chris Kyle who recollects his time serving the U.S army in Afghanistan and all the morally-questionable things he’s done. The man himself is played by Bradley “CGI Raccoon” Cooper and he’s known to be rather versatile whether he’s doing comedy or drama.

As with any film adaptation of a biography, the show will portray how far he’s willing to go to do protect and serve as well as the repercussions of war he will bring home to his wife and kid. This one may gel with the National Service crowd. Film opens in January 22.

 

escobar

Escobar: Paradise Lost

What would you do if you found out that girl or guy you’re planning on settling romantically with is the nephew or niece of an infamous Columbian drug lord? You’d run the flying [expletive] away of course. Sadly, a surfer by the name of Nick did not heed that advice, as he hooks up with a girl named Maria who is the niece to one Pablo Escobar.

If you’re born past 1993, Pablo Escobar was a notorious Colombian drug lord who was dubbed “The King of Cocaine” and poster child for drug wars. Of course, he had the “Robin Hood” going on too since he donated his ill-gotten gains to the poor, meaning he had supporters who would protect him at any cost.

Part drama and part character study on Escobar and the justification of his methods, it’s hard to say whether the film will be in good hands since it’s under first-time director Andrea Di Stefano. Then again, it’s been a while since there’s a historical film about a drug lord right now, so we should take what we can get.

There’s no set date yet, but it’s coming soon to Singapore in early 2015.

 

Chappie

I think Sharlto Copley is legally binded to star in every Neill Blomkamp film, almost like a devil’s pact. It doesn’t matter, because Mr. Copley performs just fine and dandy in any film he’s in, whether he’s a desk clerk infected with alien prawn juice or a sociopathic bounty hunter beating the crap out of Matt Damon in an exosuit.

In this upcoming film of what we believe is the 2015 Blomkamp version of Short Circuit, Copley provides the voice of Chappie, a prodigy of a robot who is somehow under the care of a dysfunctional family through extraneous circumstances. The film descriptions harps on how in this world, Chappie’s the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself, as well as be influenced by his surroundings good or bad.

Big Hero 6 proved in the realm of make-believe that robots can show semblance of a soul without actually having one, so it’ll be fun to see how Blomkamp handles this aspect of science fiction. Prepare to be awed (or disappointed) by an assembly of bolts, gears and A.I developed by an Indian scientist played by Dev Patel (it always has to be an Indian scientist played by Dev Patel, right?) on March 2015.

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mortdecai

Mortdecai

Heya David Koepp, the guy who gave us ‘marvellous’ screenplay dialogue from classics like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Spider-Man and the Lost World: Jurassic Park. I do hope you do a better job directing that screenplay-writing, because your upcoming film Mortdecai looks promising.

It’s got Johnny Depp playing as an eccentric art dealer (so basically it’s just him playing a less awkward Willy Wonka with a ‘stache) who is searching for a stolen painting that is linked to a lost bank account filled with lots of gold from World War II. Granted, it’s going to be one of those comedies that rely on British people (or American actors trying hard to be British) playing off their personality quirks onto one another.

Based on the cast list, it sure as hell will work since there’s also Ewan McGregor, Aubrey Plaza, Gwyneth Paltrow and Olivia Munn, who redeemed herself acting-wise thanks her stellar work in the HBO show The Newsroom. There’s no set date for this part time rogue of a film, but early 2015 seems like a safe bet.

 

intheheartofthesea

In The Heart Of The Sea

Want to see Thor pull off a Moby Dick with spears the size of ? Director Ron Howard had that same thought as he casts Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and a few other guys to be whalers who are preyed upon by a presumably psychotic and vengeful sperm whale (joining the ranks of Jaws and Orca). The film depicts the crew as they do their damnest to survive while miles away from home and stranded at sea.

Leave it to Richie Cunningham to depict the hazardous era of the whaling industry back in the 1820s in the most historically and dramatic light. We’ve seen Hemsworth carry a drama thanks to another of Howard’s films Rush, so there’s a lot to look forward to in this whale of a tale coming March 12.

mcfarland_usa

McFarland USA

Missed the Mighty Ducks sequels and zero-to-hero inspirational sports films of that ilk back in the 80s and 90s? Disney’s got you covered as it’s producing McFarland USA.

It’s hitting all the right notes: you’ve got the tough coach with a heart of gold, your likeable motley crew of soon-to-be-athletes including the obligatory fat kid, and your awesome montages and wide shots of the countryside subtly depicting the vastness and odds stacked against the underdogs.

The fact that it’s set in a rather bleak era of the 80s where racial tensions involving the Latino community were high means that it has an interesting story angle to it. It’s also got that famous U2 song which (we hope) plays in the actual film during expected montages. What’s not to love despite the film possibly following the usual inspirational sports film tropes?

McFarland USA will be out in Singapore on March 26.

Those are my pick of films to look out for early next year. There are a lot more films to mention, but these are the ones most likely not to suck and blow, due to the talent involved and how promising they look.

Got your own personal film list of early 2015 you like to share? Tell us on the comments box below.


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Jonathan Leo

Jonathan Leo

Jonathan is an avid self-proclaimed connoisseur of films, video games, music & comics. Prefers screwdrivers over martinis. Fears oblivion.