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Best movies of 2015 that you don't know about yet: John's list

Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 11:58 AM Central
Last updated Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 4:58 PM Central

by John Couture

We all know that 2015 is going to be huge at the box office. You only have to look at American Sniper's success right out of the gate to know that this year is going to reverse the downward trend that 2014 set.

Of course, it also helps when you've got an Avengers, a Star Wars and not one, but two Pixar films coming out this year. So, in the midst of all this awesomeness, was it difficult to pick out sleepers?

Yes and no.

As Tim, Dannette and I sat down to divvy up the list of sleepers among us, we realized that this year is missing something that most years are teaming with and that's a great middle. Every year it seems, most films end up in that $50-$80 million range which is also known as the sweet spot for home entertainment.

These are the films that did well enough commercially that most people will recognize them, but they didn't perform so well that "everyone" has seen it. This year, by contrast, seems to be a year of haves versus have nots. As I've already reported, I'm expecting 41 films to surpass $100 million which is an insanely high number.

At the other end of the spectrum, we think that a lot of films will fall far short of their expectations, much like Blackhat this past weekend. So, from that vast pile of forgotten films, Tim, Dannette and I each pulled out ten films that we think will surprise or that you should seek out over the next year.

Over the next three days, we will highlight those 30 films and we hope that you continue to refer back to these lists as the year progresses. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we do have to at least take a look back our 2014 lists and see how we did.

Overall, I think I made out 50/50 with hits on Interstellar, Gone Girl and Into the Woods. I take a pass on The Interview (for obvious reasons) and Jane Got a Gun, since it got pushed back to 2015. I was really off my mark with Knights of Badassdom and Sex Tape.

Without further ado, here is my list. Make sure and let me know what you think and when all of the lists are revealed, let us know which films we missed. Oh, and make sure that you check out Dannette's and Tim's lists.

Kill Me Three Times

Here's what I know. Simon Pegg is hilarious. Teresa Palmer isn't hard to look at. And there's apparently another Hemsworth brother.

If that wasn't enough to sell you on the film, there's always this.

Why it might fail: This film is being released in mid-April amid a murderer's row of big films, a week after Fast 7 and a week before Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. I don't know how I made it through the entire title without laughing.

Opens in theaters on: April 10, 2015

Trainwreck

You may have heard of its director. He's a dude named Judd Apatow and he's responsible for some funny stuff such as The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People. Well, two out of three ain't bad.

The film is written and stars the terribly underrated Amy Schumer, who is just now starting to find her audience. There's a good bet that she'll be a household name come July. The cast is rounded out by vets Daniel Radcliffe, Brie Larson and Tilda Swinton, we're big fans of each of them.

Why it might fail: Well, if the film follows too closely to its title, then it won't take much to derail it. This Summer is loaded with huge sequels and blockbusters, so this little comedy will need above average marketing and trailers to raise its awareness. Also, Judd Apatow has been ruffling feathers on social media in regards to the ongoing Bill Cosby allegations.

Opens in theaters on: July 17, 2015

Yoga Hosers

Death, taxes and a film by Kevin Smith showing up on my sleeper list are about the only guaranteed absolutes that you will find in this world. A spin-off from last year's sleeper list alum Tusk, this film follows the adorable Colleens from Eh-2-Zed who have to battle supernatural forces that are keeping the teens from a school dance one yoga pose at a time.

Those two teens are Kevin's daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Johnny Depp's daughter Lily-Rose Melody Depp. Oh, and Depp's Guy LaPointe is back in action on the case as you can see above.

Why it might fail: There are days when I think I'm the only Kevin Smith fan left in the world. But I know that's not true. It's a small-budget film with supernatural beings, so there might be a bit of pushback if the special effects are cringeworthy. Speaking of cringeworthy, there's no real evidence if the famous progeny can act let alone carry an entire film by themselves.

Opens in theaters on: Fall, 2015

Masterminds

The guy behind Napoleon Dynamite is back and this time he's bringing an all-star cast of comedians with him. The interesting thing is that this is a bank heist film, but with Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson in charge, I'm sure there will be plenty of bumbling exploits.

Why it might fail: This is also the guy who brought us Gentlemen Broncos. It is possible that fatigue might set in from all of the Summer blockbusters and people simply avoid theaters in August.

Opens in theaters on: August 14, 2015

Southpaw

Boxing films seem to be in vogue lately and director Antoine Fuqua is no stranger to elevating films from their mediocre beginnings. That and man, did Jake Gyllenhaal get jacked up for this film or what?

It also doesn't hurt that the script was written by Kurt Sutter of Sons of Anarchy.

Why it might fail: The last Jake Gyllenhaal film didn't set the box office on fire. This film might end up getting repositioned as an awards contender or pushed into 2016 altogether.

Opens in theaters on: Fall, 2015

Solace

Here's a trivia question. Which film was originally conceived as a sequel to Seven? The answer is this one. The cast is solid and the early buzz on the film has been really positive.

The film follows a psychic, played by Anthony Hopkins, who works with an FBI agent in his search for a serial killer. You can see the seeds of the Seven sequel, can't ya?

Why it might fail: With his casting in True Detective, Colin Farrell is having a bit of a career resurgence, but this is still Colin Farrell that we're talking about. Will people actually buy Anthony Hopkins as a psychic? This film has been sitting on the shelf for a couple years, is it getting moldy?

Opens in theaters on: Fall, 2015

Knight of Cups

It seems like everyone in Hollywood is clamoring to get into the next Terrence Malick film. Luckily for Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman, they are among the chosen few that will be in this film from Malick

From the trailer, it seems that Bale's character is in some sort of mid-life crisis and is transitioning from his past in the form of Blanchett to his future with Portman. Of course, this being Terrence Malick, I could have that all wrong and it could change a million times between now and the film's release. Either way, the film looks visually stunning as per usual and will no doubt stir the pot when awards season comes around.

Why it might fail: There is a real love/hate relationship when it comes to Terrence Malick. To the Wonder and The Tree of Life weren't exactly box office titans. People still blame Christian Bale for the "Batman voice."

Opens in theaters on: Fall, 2015

The Visit

What if I told you that there was a new film coming out this year from M. Night Shyamalan? What if I further told you that this time you might want to care? I get it, he's not exactly the name that he once was and the whole "twist" ending that spawned a deplorable fad in Hollywood is only now receding, but I'm telling you it might be time to give him a chance.

He's back in his comfort zone telling a smaller story with a smaller budget and to that end he's working with the king of low-budget horror Jason Blum. But this isn't a straight horror film and The Visit promises a healthy dose of comedy to go with the chills. This film was shot secretly and one only hopes that the veil of secrecy will do wonders for reinvigorating his once promising film career.

Why it might fail: It's M. Night Shyamalan. He once convinced us that the wind is evil and that aliens allergic to water would try and conquer a planet that is mostly covered in water. So yeah, this is a risk.

Opens in theaters on: September 11, 2015

Black Mass

When you have Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller and Joel Edgerton in the cast, there's really no chance a film will flop, right? Well, never say never as they say.

I will say though that it seems that the deck is stacked for them in this case. This film is the long awaited true story about Whitey Bulger, the Boston crime boss. Bulger was a long-time informant to the FBI who bugged out of town when the Feds came calling with arrest warrants. While on the lam, Bulger rose to #2 on the FBI's Most Wanted List, right behind Osama bin Laden. He is also one of eleven former Alcatraz inmates that are still alive.

Why it might fail: Did you see The Departed? What about Gone Baby Gone? Mystic River? Boston crime films are hot, but are they played out? Doubtful, but unless this film is a total dumpster fire, I'm pretty sure that it will be a huge hit.

Opens in theaters on: September 18, 2015

Mr. Holmes

If there was a true reach on my list, then this one might be it. The fact is that I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and considering the success of TV shows Elementary and Sherlock, it seems that there's a pretty good chance that you are as well.

The take on this story is that we see a version of Holmes that we don't usually get to see, an elderly Sherlock Holmes. Ian McKellen is re-teaming with his Gods And Monsters director Bill Condon to tell the tale of Sherlock Holmes being haunted in old age by that one unsolved case from his youth.

Why it might fail: Have we reached the Sherlock Holmes saturation point? Do we really want to see our virile hero in old age? People might just sit there and scream Magneto the whole time.

Opens in theaters on: Fall 2015