All it takes is compiling a list of the films I'm anticipating most this new year to make me feel like a crotchety old man (I'm only 34) yelling from his front porch at the upcoming blockbusters to stop making so much goddamn racket and to get off his lawn ("You kids and your lightning sabers and Hungry Games!"). Maybe I should just invite Tommy Lee Jones over to watch some John Mack Brown westerns and talk about the weather and be done with it. Alas, even this early on, 2015's movie lineup looks impressive, especially on the nonfiction front. Now, I'm not going to include the countless remakes/sequels/prequels/reboots that will hit theaters in the next 12 months (they'll get enough ink from everywhere else anyway), so if Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: Episode VII are the only things that excite you, forgive me in advance. While there are plenty of films still in development, here's a look at a few of them currently on my radar that studios will probably release this year (unless North Korea tells them not to).
The true story of Boston criminal Whitey Bulger gets its first official feature film (Jack Nicholson's character in The Departed was loosely based on him) with Johnny Depp stepping in to fill the role of the FBI informant and convicted murderer. Directed by Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace), this biopic, which also stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Joel Edgerton, left director Ben Affleck and main man Matt Damon a bit envious since they also had plans to make a movie based on Bulger's life. September 18
Actor Ben Foster (Lone Survivor) portrays disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France championships when he finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career after years of denial. Directed by Stephen Frears (Philomena), the film also stars Chris O'Dowd (Calvary) as David Walsh, an Irish sports journalist who exposed Armstrong and the doping scandal that ended his career. TBA 2015
Coming off his universally acclaimed dark comedy Birdman, filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu takes on a true-life Western thriller, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a 19th-century frontiersman and fur trapper who is mauled by a grizzly bear, only to survive and seek revenge against the men who left him to die (Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson). The film is adapted by Iñárritu from the 2003 novel of the same name by author Michael Punke. December 25 (limited)
In their fourth collaboration, three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg and two-time winner Tom Hanks tell the true story of American lawyer James Donovan (Hanks), who is sent into the Soviet Union during the Cold War to negotiate the release of a U-2 spy plane pilot imprisoned by the KGB in 1960 for espionage. October 16
Directed by Gus Van Sant (Milk), Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) stars as Arthur Brennan, an American who travels to the forest at the base of Mt. Fuji to kill himself. There he meets a Japanese man (Ken Watanabe) who wants to do the same. Although this isn't a true story, per se, the "Suicide Forest" is a real-life popular destination in Japan where 50 to 100 people commit suicide annually—ranked second in these types of fatalities only to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. TBA 2015
Returning to the subject of religion for the first time since his controversial 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ, Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese (The Departed) ventures into this dark, 17th-century historical drama about two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) sent to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson) who may have renounced his religion under the country's last feudal military government. TBA 2015
This journalism-based drama by director Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor) tells the story of the Boston Globe's award-winning coverage of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the city's archdiocese in 2002. The film stars Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) as Michael Rezendes, the Globe's investigative reporter and lead writer on their "Spotlight" team who helped break the story of the decades of molestation taking place in the church and the archdiocese's attempt to keep it secret. TBA 2015
Although the incredible story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit was already masterfully told in the Oscar-winning 2008 documentary Man on Wire, the feature film looks intriguing, to say the least. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Lincoln) as Petit, who attempted to walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on a single cable more than 1,300 feet above the ground. The biographical film is directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump). October 2
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