2015 is boasting a promising list of films to be released throughout the year, and I have compiled a list of the 10 that I am most looking forward to seeing (in no particular order as some of the films have not had much information or promotional material released yet).
Surprisingly no film has ever really been made about some of the most inspirational and important women in history. The Suffragettes made a name for themselves as fighters and supporters of a woman’s right to vote kicking off in 1792 when Mary Wollstonecraft helped to launch the campaign through to the early 20th Century, when they were most active. They were the voice of a generation, and Suffragettes, due to be released by Pathé in September, focuses on the early 20th Century suffragette movement and stars notable British stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw and Meryl Streep. Suffragettes focuses on a generation’s struggle for gender equality in a time where women only held value as being the wife of a man, and how the suffragettes launched the early feminist movement, but fought in a cat and mouse struggle against the state who were eager to silence them. It is set to become a memorable British drama in a long line of British classics, and from what I have heard, they will be re-enacting Emily Davison’s Derby tragedy along with many other iconic moments of the suffragettes’ fight. Personally I have always been very interested in the suffragettes as they paved the way in increasing equality for women (although there is still a long way to go!). The wide release of a film focusing on these inspirational women will highlight a piece of history that many people, even young women, have no knowledge of, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it, especially due to the success of Pathé’s last film Pride (2014), and the critical acclaim of their upcoming film Selma.
Into the Woods
Merging together an array of classic and well-loved fairytales into a colourful, spirited and fantasy-filled family film makes this adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical a promising addition to the fairytale genre. From Little Red Riding Hood, to Rapunzel, through to Jack and the Beanstalk and even references to Rumpelstiltskin, Disney have created a big budget live action homage to the tales we have all grown up with. I have always been a huge fan of fairytales, and I love the increasing popularity of adaptations since Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010) as it means there is always a new fairytale adaptation for me to look forward to (there are 3, arguably 4 adaptations (if you include The Little Prince) that make this list). Into the Woods boasts an established and talented cast including Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine, memorable and catchy songs, and an original plot that makes this film stand out among its fellow films in the fantasy genre. The costumes are also worth noting for their unique interpretations of how we imagine the classic fairytale characters to look. I’m exceptionally excited to see Into the Woods this January and believe it will be worthy of all the critical acclaim it has already received.
The Theory of Everything
The story behind science genius Stephen Hawking will come to life in this film focusing on his relationship with his first wife Jane Wilde from the start of Hawking emerging on his PhD, through his struggle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (A.L.S.), right up to his later life when they divorced. Arguably one of the most famous and important scientists of all time, Hawking’s ingenious mind paved the way for modern physics. The Theory of Everything, based on Wilde’s book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, is directed by James Marsh and scored by Jóhann Jóhannsson. It stars Eddie Redmayne as Hawking, and Felicity Jones as Jane, and with this promising cast, there is no doubt that this will be one of the most critically-acclaimed dramas of the year, with all the attention it has already received from its early release in the states. I am not too familiar with Hawking’s work, but I am sure I will love this film and will soon after go and study more of his theories. It has already been nominated for several Golden Globes and will also, I’m sure, be nominated for BAFTAs and Oscars too and is definitely a film to watch out for in 2015.
Cinderella is undoubtedly one of the most well-known fairytales of all time, and this new live action adaptation from Disney is worth watching for the big name stars alone The cast includes Lily James as the princess herself, Helena Bonham Carter as the quirky fairy Godmother, Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother, and Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera as the wicked stepsisters. Although the film adaptation appears to stay very loyal to the plot of the well-known Disney animation (1950), I am hoping for some of the brutality of the Grimm tale, although in a Disney film, that is unlikely. There are sure to be sparks of original twists in the film however as is always present in recent fairytale adaptations (Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Maleficent (2014)). With a super star cast though and the trailer boosting its popularity, Cinderella looks set to be a must-see Disney film, bringing the old tale to a new generation.
Pan is a twist on the classic tale of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Rather than being an adaptation of Barrie’s book much like Disney’s animated or the 2003 live action versions are, it focuses on the story of Peter Pan himself, rather than the Darling family and their encounter with him. Essentially the plot of the film is, according to IMDb, ‘an orphan is spirited away to the realm of Neverland, where he fulfils his destiny as Peter Pan’. As Peter Pan is one of my favourite fairytales, I am very much looking forward to watching this adaptation, released in the UK on 17th July as it will be an original take on the story and will provide depth and a back story to Peter Pan himself. The film is directed by Atonement (2007) and Anna Karenina (2012) director Joe Wright, and stars big names Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, and Rooney Mara. Released just in time for the summer holidays, Pan will be a film for families and audiences of any age, and it will, I hope, do the book justice.
Testament of Youth
Based on the memoir of Vera Brittain, the film focuses on her time embarking on studying at Oxford which is shortly after disrupted by World War One. Vera quickly puts aside her studies and becomes a nurse to the wounded veterans (including the German soldiers). A fiercely compassionate, intelligent, and independent individual, Vera’s memoir became the voice of a generation, and has become a hugely popular and important piece of work since its reprint in the late 1970s (followed by a TV dramatisation in 1979). I am very much looking forward to seeing Testament of Youth and will be watching the preview of the film on Monday 12th January before its public release the following Friday. The preview will be livestreamed at over 300 cinemas across the UK straight from the BFI, and will have an introduction and be followed by a Q+A with the director, producer, select cast members, and Vera Brittain’s daughter Baroness Shirley Williams. The preview is part of the BFI’s new programme ‘BFI Presents’ which will lead similar previews and Q+As to promote and raise awareness of British films to British audiences.
Far From the Madding Crowd
As a huge Hardy fan, and indeed fan of Victorian literature, I always watch adaptations of notable classic novels. Most of these adaptations appear in the form of TV dramas however, and there aren’t many Hardy film adaptations, the most notable of which are arguably Roman Polanski’s Tess (1979) and Jude (1996). Far From the Madding Crowd is another of Hardy’s classic novels focusing on the independent Bathsheba Everdene who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor. Some big name British actors have signed up to star in the film, including Carey Mulligan in the lead role, and co-stars Juno Temple, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, and Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts.
Since starring in the Harry Potter films, Daniel Radcliffe has launched himself into new projects in an attempt to establish himself as an actor that isn’t just known as “that boy who played Harry Potter”. Although he remains thankful for his Harry Potter role which made him a multi-millionaire actor, he has successfully become known for other films such as The Woman in Black and Kill Your Darlings. Victor Frankenstein, based on the classic Mary Shelley horror story, will provide him with another chance to move away into more challenging roles, and he will, I am sure, do a great job of it. There have been many adaptations of the book over the past Century, but what will make this one stand out, is that it is told from Igor’s (Radcliffe) perspective, focusing on the young man who became assistant to the great scientist Victor Frankenstein. I’m hoping this will be more than just a horror film but incorporate the Burtonesque element of adding a back story and depth to the characters, giving the ‘monsters’ a very human quality. Either way it will be interesting to see how Radcliffe further develops his career, and as a fan of the book, I am looking forward to this original adaptation.
Starring Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke and David Thewlis, Regression promises a high quality film based on its actors alone. Regression focuses on the story of a young girl who is sexually abused by her father and how they are torn apart, thrown into a conspiracy that shocks the nation. Emma Watson has proven that she can tackle a diverse range of challenging and complex characters and roles and make them believable. From Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series to Pauline Fossil in Ballet Shoes, from Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower to Nicki in The Bling Ring. Emma Watson has become a name that young women and girls everywhere are aware of, and in fact the world after she became a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador and gave a powerful speech for her He For She campaign, promoting gender equality. With talented co-stars David Thewlis and Ethan Hawke by her side, there is no doubt that Emma Watson will tackle an even more challenging role with ease, and Regression will be another brilliant film that she can add to her credits.
The Little Prince
Based on the classic fantasy fairytale from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, this film adaptation has cast famous stars James Franco, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard and will be accompanied by a score composed by Hans Zimmer. This animation tells the very touching and human story of a little girl whose mother is preparing her to grow up (much like the story of Wendy in Peter Pan). However, The Little Girl’s neighbour introduces her to a world he has already embarked upon through his friend The Little Prince, a world where anything can happen. The Little Girl ultimately learns that what is most important are the lessons we learn during childhood – imagination and hope and the ability to have faith in the important things, and that the most important things are those that can only be felt by the heart. Very similar to the lessons of other fairytales, in particular Peter Pan and its adaptation Finding Neverland (2005), The Little Prince promises a magical journey that reminds us what we should cherish most in the world.