It’s time for that annual list of next year’s highly anticipated Hollywood films. Here’s 2015 for ya.
* Blackhat – Michael Mann’s first directorial outing since Public Enemies (2009) is a cyber thriller starring Chris Hemsworth. Its January release makes it hard to really get excited about it.
* Escobar: Paradise Lost – Notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar reaches the big screen in the shape of Benicio Del Toro. Josh Hutcherson plays the innocent young man who becomes a witness to Escobar’s life of crime.
* Still Alice – There have been several Alzheimer dramas before (most notably Away From Her (2007)), but this one boasts an already heavily lauded performance by Julianne Moore.
* Mortdecai – David Koepp is an unreliable director, but this art-heist comedy might be worth a look. A true star vehicle for Johnny Depp, who needs a hit.
* Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowski siblings deliver another sci-fi movie, this time starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. The stars will help, but it’s doubtful that audiences will be much attracted to the film.
* Kingsman: The Secret Service – An action thriller from Matthew Vaughn that follows a veteran secret agent taking on a protégé. Starring Colin Firth and Michael Caine.
* Fifty Shades of Grey – No one expects this adaptation of the hugely successful novel to be any good; the only question is how naughty will it be? And will audiences line up to find out? Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are in the leads.
* Cinderella – Kenneth Branagh directs this movie that seems to follow in the footsteps of Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman and Maleficent. Lily James plays Cinderella in the live-action version.
* Insurgent – The sequel to Divergent (2014). It’s hard to separate this series from the Hunger Games movies and all the other dystopian youth thrillers. But the first film was a huge hit.
* Serena – Susanne Bier’s first American film since Things We Lost in the Fire (2007) is a Depression-era drama about a love affair between a girl and a millionaire. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are likely to bring star power.
* Furious 7 – There’s an anxiety to make this movie worth the effort, considering it’s Paul Walker’s last. It will no doubt be interesting to see how well the filmmakers have worked around his absence. It certainly looks wild.
* Child 44 – Daniel Espinosa directs this adaptation of an excellent hard-boiled bestseller, a serial-killer thriller set in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman are headlining.
* Avengers: Age of Ultron – Summer puts in a higher gear with this sequel that reunites some of our favorite superheroes. I hope Joss Whedon lives up to the original, and I look forward to watching James Spader as the villain.
* Mad Max: Fury Road – Perhaps few expected George Miller’s belated sequel to the 1980s franchise to be noteworthy, but the trailers that have been released so far indicate a furious thrill ride. Tom Hardy is in the lead.
* Tomorrowland – A new Brad Bird movie is always worth a look. This sci-fi adventure, that was co-authored by Damon Lindelof and stars George Clooney, looks very intriguing.
* Jurassic World – It’s been 14 years since the last Jurassic Park movie and that time difference is illustrated in the story of this sequel. Now it’s a fully operational theme park, and very busy. I’m sure everything will go wrong.
* Inside Out – The new Pixar movie is a weird concept. We follow the emotions inside a little girl, all represented by quirky characters. Co-directed by Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter.
* Ricki and the Flash – Meryl Streep plays an aging rock star who’s trying to reconnect with her kids. May sound unremarkable, but Jonathan Demme is directing and Streep is probably a hoot to watch. And there’s Kevin Kline.
* Terminator Genisys – Terminator Salvation (2007) failed to jump-start this franchise, but here comes a movie that seems to be everything – a sequel, a remake and a prequel all at once. And Arnold Schwarzenegger returns. Has to be seen.
* Ant-Man – Can’t say I’m excited about this latest superhero project, but perhaps a sense of humor will boost it, as in the case of Guardians of the Galaxy. The cast has Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly.
* The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – Guy Ritchie directs this adaptation of the 1960s spy series. I guess Warner is hoping for their own Mission: Impossible franchise. Stars Henry Cavill and Hugh Grant.
* Straight Outta Compton – The story of the legendary hiphop group N.W.A. reaches the big screen. Director F. Gary Gray’s first film in six years. Paul Giamatti is in the cast.
* Everest – A star-studded thriller about a Mount Everest expedition that is hit by a snowstorm. Starring Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright and Josh Brolin.
* Black Mass – Infamous Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger is the subject of this film that focuses on his rise. Johnny Depp plays Bulger and the cast also has Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller and Joel Edgerton.
* The Walk – Did you see the documentary Man on Wire (2008)? Well, here comes Robert Zemeckis’s fictionalized version, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The teaser is eye-popping, and I believe this is an occasion where the 3D will truly serve a purpose.
* The Jungle Book – Hard to tell what Jon Favreau might make of this adaptation, but it seems inspired by the Disney version as much as Rudyard Kipling. Bill Murray and Christopher Walken will provide the voices of Baloo and King Louie.
* Crimson Peak – Guillermo del Toro directs this ghost movie starring Charlie Hunnam and Jessica Chastain. Early footage was a hit at Comic-Con last summer.
* Spectre – The 24th James Bond movie promises to reintroduce both SPECTRE and Blofeld. Daniel Craig returns and Christoph Waltz plays the villain. Sam Mendes is back in the directing chair after the success of Skyfall (2012).
* The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – The book certainly did not need to be divided into two separate movies, but here’s the final film in this franchise.
* Midnight Special – Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols returns with a film about a man who goes on the lam with his son after discovering that the boy has special powers. Stars Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Michael Shannon.
* Star Wars: The Force Awakens – The most heavily anticipated movie of the year. The teaser trailer got everybody curious and J.J. Abrams’s take on this franchise certainly looks exciting. Now we’re waiting for a first look of the old stars…
* Mission: Impossible 5 – Both the plot and, likely, the title are unknown at this time. But Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and the other familiar faces from this franchise are returning. Christopher McQuarrie, who made Jack Reacher, is helming.
* Joy – David O. Russell is back with another vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence, who plays a Long Island single mom who becomes a wildly successful entrepreneur. Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro are also in the cast.
* The Revenant – Alejandro González Iñárritu directs this drama about a frontiersman who sets out for revenge in the 1820s. Stars Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio.