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HOLLYWOOD — 2015 is a year movie buffs have had on their radar since Disney made that $4 billion Lucasfilm purchase back in 2012.
Since then, announcements of new “Star Wars,” more “Avengers” and a genetically altered dinosaur have been piled into the schedule, causing some moviegoers to wonder, will 2015 be the best year for movies since 1984?
But 2015 isn’t all sequels and adaptations. Intriguing titles like “Tomorrowland,” “Chappie” and “Inside Out” are also being worked into the lineup. And in fact, there are so many potentially great movies in this year’s pipeline, John Clyde and I decided not to do our annual, unified list.
Instead, we’ve split our 2015 list into two individual articles. I’ll be tackling January through June, in this Part I article. And Clyde will follow up tomorrow with July through December in Part II.
"Selma" – Jan. 9
It’s true, “Selma” is already in theaters, and in fact, my review for it was published last week as well.
However, I’m including it here as a reminder of the kind of movies we’re getting this year. Leading 2015 with a picture like “Slema” is a good omen. Also, I didn’t really want the first movie on my list to be about a 3D sponge and his less-than-intelligent starfish buddy.
You did too laugh at the trailers. And even if you didn’t, there’s not much by way of family entertainment this early in the year, so pack up the little ones and go huddle together with a summer beach movie in February.
OK, I admit, the superhero route was a terrible way to go with this property, but “Out of Water” may just include Antonio Banderas’ best performance since “Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular.” Don’t underestimate the sponge.
"Focus" — Feb. 27
Before Will Smith and Margot Robbie team up in DC’s “Suicide Squad,” they’re acting like “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in this early 2015 heist film. Normally, I’d say a February release marks this project as suspect, but with the year being as crowded as it is, all bets are off. Maybe “Focus” does for February what “Winter Soldier” did for April in 2014.
"Chappie" — March 6
Director Neill Blomkamp nailed “District 9” before fumbling a bit with “Elysium,” so sci-fi geeks are cautiously hopeful for this “Short Circuit” reboot. At least, I think it’s a “Short Circuit” reboot.
While interesting to see Hugh Jackman deliver his first villain of 2015 (check out tomorrow’s list for the Blackbeard details), perhaps the most curious performance to watch for will be Sharlto Copley’s motion-captured Chappie. Is anyone other than Andy Serkis even allowed to play a central motion-capture character?
"In the Heart of the Sea" — March 13
Director Ron Howard teamed up with Hemsworth back in 2013 with the critically well-received “Rush,” so it’s fun to see the duo back, tackling another mode of transportation. Unlike “Focus,” the early release for “Heart” is concerning because everything about it screams award bait, so Howard fans are hoping this isn’t another “The Monuments Men.” But again, traditional Hollywood rules may not apply for 2015.
"Insurgent" — March 20
This follow-up to 2014’s “Divergent” has a lot to prove as the year’s first big sequel.
Commercially, “Divergent” proved fans are eager to see Tris and Four fight to save the world from Kate Winslet’s tyrannical rule. Critically however, the response to “Divergent” was divided, leaving “Insurgent” with the task of uniting critics and fans for the final chapters of the series. At the very least, fans of “The Fault in our Stars” will be happy to see Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort sharing screen time again.
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" — May 1
Promising to take the fight out of New York City, the Avengers will scale the globe trying to stop one of comic book history’s most threatening and successful villains. If Whedon is borrowing from the 10-issue comic crossover, this will not be the fun-time adventure audiences enjoyed back in 2012. Don’t expect the Avengers to be the same characters walking out of this story as they are going in.
"Tomorrowland" — May 22
If rumors are to be believed, Brad Bird turned down directing the next “Star Wars” film because of this project.
For those of you sick of sequels and adaptations, hopefully “Tomorrowland” is that shining light you’re searching for. Conceptually interesting, written and directed by the creator of “The Incredibles,” and co-written by one of those out-there brains behind “Lost” — forget the ending, and remember how captivated you were for the first three seasons.
“Tomorrowland” is actually my No. 1 most anticipated movie for 2015.
"Jurassic World" — June 12
The series is kind of on thin ice, as the original movies got progressively worse throughout the trilogy. But you and I both know, the Jurassic sequels didn’t have Chris Pratt, so, we have to pretend those other movies never happened.
The genetically altered super dinosaur they’re selling here is either going to be brilliant or laughably bad. If it’s the latter, well, who would you rather see lead a laughably bad dinosaur movie than Chris Pratt? On the other hand, if it’s brilliant, who doesn’t want to see a brilliant dinosaur movie led by Chris Pratt?
Clyde gets to have this same conversation with you tomorrow when you’ll be discussing “Ant-Man.”
"Inside Out" — June 19 and "The Good Dinosaur" — Nov. 25
Oh, how I’ve missed you, original Pixar movie.
As far as animated sequels go, Pixar has done pretty well with “Monsters University” and the “Toy Story” series — and here’s hoping for “The Incredibles 2” and “Finding Dori” — but we Pixar fans miss the good ol’ days, when Pixar titles included some crazy concept involving a man flying his house with balloons or monsters powering cities with the screams of children.
Well, 2015 has us fans covered with two such titles. The first is a story about the voices in your head, “Inside Out,” and the second (which I stole from Clyde’s list) is a movie about a world where dinosaurs never went extinct, “The Good Dinosaur.”
Welcome back, Pixar! Not even Chris Pratt in your dinosaur movie could make me happier. Though, seriously, have you considered him as one of your future voices?
Travis Poppleton has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and KSL.com since 2010 and co-hosts the FlixJunkies podcast. You can contact him at email@example.com.