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2015 Highlights: Film

From arthouse to multiplex, The List previews the must-see cinema of 2015

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2015 Highlights: Film

Romance gets salacious, Julianne Moore vies for an Oscar, Marvel enters the age of Ultron and, well, Star Wars does its thing – 2015 promises to be a bumper year for movie-goers. Emma Simmonds previews the cream of the cinematic crop...

Fifty Shades of Grey
Love them or loathe the very idea of reading them, EL James' novels are an undeniable sensation. And with the Turner Prize-nominated artist / director of Nowhere Boy, Sam Taylor-Johnson, on board for the first adaptation, alongside The Fall's Jamie Dornan, this may even intrigue serious film enthusiasts. If nothing else, the release date makes it an enjoyably unconventional Valentine's weekend date movie.
General release from Fri 13 Feb.

Mommy
We were lucky enough to catch French-Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan's latest at the London Film Festival. Anne Dorval and Antoine-Olivier Pilon are heartbreaking and hilarious as they play a joyfully anarchic mother and son. We awarded it the full complement of stars and it really is that special.
Selected release from Mar.

Still Alice
Many of the year's Academy Award contenders are covered in this very magazine but one of the frontrunners for 2015's Best Actress Oscar is Julianne Moore in Still Alice (eligible due to a mini-release in the US this month, just ahead of the cut-off). We've seen this one and Moore – playing a linguistics professor diagnosed with Alzheimer's – is indeed extraordinary.
General release from Fri 6 Mar.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
With Avengers Assemble's box-office haul standing at a staggering £1.5b, expectations couldn't be higher for the sequel, the 11th instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fan favourite Joss Whedon returns as writer-director and so, hopefully, does his brand of pomposity-pricking humour. This time, our heroes battle Ultron, a bad-ass AI. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are the new recruits.
General release from Fri 24 Apr.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
The Star Wars franchise is back, this time under the creative control of one a modern sci-fi master, JJ Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8, Lost). Set approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi, the seventh film brings the original trilogy's stars together with Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Lupita Nyong'o. Will the force still be strong?
General release from Fri 18 Dec.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • 5 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 136 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: JJ Abrams
  • Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
  • Cast: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker
  • UK release: 17 December 2015

From the ashes of the Empire, the villainous First Order rises up to destroy Luke Skywalker (Hamill) – but where is he? Fans can rejoice: Episode VII is sensational and surprisingly emotional, with a finely-crafted script and effects that never overpower the performances. Star Wars is back in a big way.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 141 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Joss Whedon
  • Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson
  • UK release: 23 April 2015

Ultron, an artificial intelligence created by Tony Stark (Downey Jr) to keep the peace, goes rogue and decides to kill off the Avengers. Barely logical but impressively entertaining superhero fun; Johansson and Olsen are central to the action and Whedon's script is strong, snappy and irreverent, but it doesn't have much…

Fifty Shades of Grey

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 125 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
  • Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Jennifer Ehle
  • UK release: 13 February 2015

Despite its troubling gender politics and distinct lack of plot, the likeable Johnson brings nuance and charm to a paper-thin character; Dornan manages to offer a hint of humanity; and given the many constraints, this sleek, fairly trim and occasionally sensual adaptation is the best imaginable outcome.

Mommy

  • 5 stars
  • 2014
  • Canada
  • 139 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Xavier Dolan
  • Cast: Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clément

Die (Dorval) is a gutsy single mother struggling to cope with her ADHD-diagnosed son Steve (Pilon); then they befriend tongue-tied neighbour Kyla (Clément). Die and Steve's relationship is tempestuous and howlingly inappropriate, but frequently hilarious; the cast excels, with Dorval astonishing and Pilon charismatic and…

Still Alice

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 101 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
  • Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart
  • UK release: 6 March 2015

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested.

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