Here are THE TOP 10 Most Anticipated Dramas and Indie Films of the upcoming year.
A lot of these might grab your attention come Award Season, so consider this a sneak peek. Some of these selection might seem like obvious Oscar bait, while some are dark horses – the little indies versus the big Hollywood machine. Hopefully, I focus on some movies you haven’t even heard of.
Enjoy the list…
Stay tuned for another article of Honourable Mentions and another list for the BLOCKBUSTERS – action and adventure films.
10. SICARIO // Director: Denis VILLENEUVE (INCENDINIES, PRISONERS, ENEMY) // Starring: Emily BLUNT, Josh BROLIN, Benicio DEL TORO, Jon Bernthal
An idealistic FBI agent (Blunt) works on the USA/Mexico border. She’s enlisted by a government task force to kill a Mexican Drug Cartel Boss.
Blunt is gaining traction in Hollywood. She was quite good as a badass in EDGE OF TOMORROW. It will be interesting to watch her ethical character get conflicted as she dives into the savage world of drug trafficking. Canadian director, Villeneuve, has impressed me with each of his features so far. PRISONERS was an intense film examining the morals of revenge. And ENEMY was one of the best TWILIGHT ZONE episodes never made. A real headscratcher that fully engulfs you.
9. DARK PLACES // Director: Scott Cooper (CRAZY HEART, OUT OF THE FURNACE) // Starring: Charlize THERON, Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tye Sheridan
Based on a book by Gillian Flynn (GONE GIRL). A child survives the brutal killing of her family. As an adult, she’s forced to confront the tragic events of her past by a secret society obsessed with solving notorious crimes.
This concept is so strong, and I loved Flynn’s GIRL. Theron could have quite a year, balancing art with popcorn (the new MAD MAX). Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of movies split between flashbacks, but with the stellar young cast I’m on board for sure.
8. TRUE STORY // Director: Rupert Gool (from the theatre) // Starring: James FRANCO, Jonah HILL, Felicity JONES
Three Oscar Nominated Actors lead the way in this true crime story. A murderer living in Mexico under the assumed identity of a NY Times Journalist is caught and brought to the USA to stand trial. The hook is he will only tell his story to the Times reporter.
The killer murdered his whole family, earning a spot on the 10 Most Wanted List. Early buzz calls TRUE STORY this year’s FOXCATCHER. The main draw here is the acting. I love how Franco and Hill bounce from sophmoric comedies to intelligent dramas with complex characters. It will also be exciting to see Felicity Jones in a contemporary set movie.
7. EVEREST // Director: Baltasar Kormakur (CONTRABAND, 2 GUNS) // Starring: Jake GYLLENHAAL, Josh Brolin, Kiera Knightley, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington
Mountain climbing in 3D! With a great cast too.
I’m hoping this is akin to one of my favourite survive-the-elements movies ALIVE, and the amazing documentary TOUCHING THE VOID. This movie promises spectacle and intensity. But I wonder how complex will the story and character be? I’m thinking this will be a cross-over Oscar-type movie like CASTAWAY. I’m really excited just to see adventurers try and conquer Mount Everest.
6. CHILD 44 // Director: Daniel Espinosa; Writer: Richard PRICE (adapting the novel) // Starring: Tom HARDY, Gary OLDMAN, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel
A disgraced MGB Agent tracks down a serial killer of children, while keeping his wife safe from authorities.
Hardy is in several highly anticipated films this year. Jason Clarke’s name is poppin up in a lot of these too. With a great cast and a great writer, I’m really looking forward to this dark crime story set in Stalin-era USSR. This movie is mentioned in the same breath as CHINATOWN. Sign me up.
5. SOUTHPAW // Director: Antoine FUQUA; Writer: Kurt SUTTER // Starring: Jake GYLLENHAAL, Rachel McADAMS, Naomie Harris, Forest Whitaker
A boxer fights his way to the top, while his life falls apart around him.
This film has been in the works for years. It was earlier set to star EMINEM, in only his second starring role ever. Gyllenhaal steps into the lead instead. He’s on quite a roll with last year’s big-time snub NIGHTCRAWLER, as well as EVEREST and DEMOLITION this year. He’s physically transformed drastically from emaciated paparazzi, to bearded mountaineer, to ripped boxer here. Naomie Harris is also appearing in a lot of Award Contenders this year. Then there’s Fuqua (helming this film) who has been blazing his own path lately with THE EQUALIZER, and his next film a remake of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Writer, Sutter, is coming off of his recently finished adored-by-all SONS OF ANARCHY. With all this talent involved, and a straight forward underdog story, SOUTHPAW is set to knock us out.
4. BONE TOMAHAWK // Director/Writer: S. Craig ZAHLER // Starring: Kurt RUSSELL, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox, Jennifer Carpenter
A new Western with Kurt Russell in the lead as a sheriff leading a group of men to rescue their loved ones from group of cannibals.
Wow. Great concept. The writer is a big selling point here. I’ve heard the legends about his unproduced Black List script, THE BRIGANDS OF BATTLEBORGE. I’m guessing since that one has been in Development Hell for a decade, Zahler decided to take the reins on this one and direct it himself. I’m sure it will be savagely bleak, nearly opaque. I’m a fan of the Western, so I’m looking forward to a realistic revenge tale set in that period. And did I mention, Kurt Russell vs Cannibals?! Ticket sold.
3. KNIGHT OF CUPS // Director/Writer: Terrence MALLICK // Starring: Christian BALE, Cate BLANCHETT, Natalie PORTMAN, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Jason Clarke, Imogen Poots
An existential modern day fable of morales. Bale’s character goes to Hollywood and completely looses his identity. He’s drunk on fame, deep in the hedonistic celebrity lifestyle, intertwined between woman, and other relationships.
My main draw is the director: Terrence Mallick. I love his contemplative introspective visual poetry. It’s not for everyone. But I love absorbing his tales. They have so much meaning, subtext, and thematic exploration. Once again, he’s working with the best of Hollywood. I’m sure CUPS will be a piece of art. I can’t wait to participate.
2. REVENANT // Director: Alejandro Gonzalez INARRITU // Starring: Leonardo DiCAPRIO, Tom HARDY, Domnhall Gleeson
A 19th century fur trapper is mauled by a bear while hunting. His companions rob him and leave him to die. He defies the odds and survives. Then sets out for revenge.
A straight-forward concept ripe for thematic discussion. The creative talent on board this project is simply stellar. One of the hottest directors (coming off BIRDMAN), working with some of the hottest talent (DiCaprio & Hardy). I like survival dramas concerning the elements, add revenge into the picture and we have a great combination for a possible Best Picture of the Year.
1. THE HATEFUL EIGHT // Director/Writer: Quentin TARANTINO // Starring: Channing TATUM, Kurt RUSSELL, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Zoe Bell, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Demian Bichir
A Western set a few years after the Civil War. Bounty hunters battle the elements, trying to survive a nasty blizzard. Betrayals quickly turn to violence while they take shelter.
And this all happens under the perverse guidance of master cinephile / auteur extraordinaire Quentin TARANTINO. This is his 8th film. I’ve loved all seven of his previous efforts. PULP FICTION is my favourite movie of all time. DJANGO proved QT can handle the genre. The twist here is Mother Nature vs the duplicitous Nature of Man. I’m sure the writing will crackle. I’m sure the images will be truly epic and harken back to John Ford & Howard Hawks.
I very simply… cannot… wait. — There’s STAR WARS, then there’s TARANTINO. In the same year!
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
Did I leave out a film you’re looking forward to?
Do you disagree with any selections?
These lists are subject to change. You never know when a new movie will sneak in there.
Award season is still a long ways away.