Why you should care
Because your cinema dollars should be spent wisely.
If each new comic book hero movie has taught us anything, it’s that there’s quite a difference between gleefully anticipating a movie and actually watching one. But you’ll have to take our word for it: These 10 standouts from the film festival circuit, slated for release in 2015, are well worth the wait.
By the time ’71 hits theaters, Jack O’Connell’s profile will have been raised considerably by his leading role in Unbroken. He’s even better in Yann Demange’s pulse-pounding thriller set in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, and the film’s kinetic action sequences play out like a real-world Children of Men.
Black Coal, Thin Ice
Like ’71, Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2014, where it won the prestigious Golden Bear. Set in northern China, a former detective investigates why dismembered human remains are being found at a coal factory. Off-kilter and darkly comic, the dispiriting murder mystery is almost more entertaining than its bleak subject matter should allow.
Clouds of Sils Maria
Anchored by luminous performances from Juliette Binoche (as a vaunted European actress) and the underrated Kristen Stewart (as her assistant), the enigmatic Clouds of Sils Maria is characteristically excellent work from French auteur Olivier Assayas, exploring aging, acting and female relationships.
The Duke of Burgundy
Butterflies and BDSM may sound like a strange foundation for a love story, but Peter Strickland’s sapphic romance is so attuned to the tactile, visual and aural sensations of its two leads that we can practically feel every kiss and crack of the whip along with them.
The most evocative horror film in years, It Follows mines ample dread from its simple premise: A murderous entity only you can see follows you until you sleep with someone, at which point it passes on to that person.
On paper, Jauja consists of little more than Viggo Mortensen wandering across 19th-century Patagonia. On-screen, its uniquely arresting aesthetics and wonderfully strange ending infuse it with a quality that makes it unlike anything else you’ll see in 2015 (or 2016, or 2017, or …).
The umpteenth adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s novel is also the first to be directed by a woman. Mia Wasikowska is a marvel of disenchantment in the title role, and the film is much lovelier than its lukewarm reception at the Telluride Film Festival would suggest. No trailer yet, but you can watch the cast and crew discuss the film here.
Taking place entirely in untranslated sign language at a Ukrainian school for the deaf, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s brutal opus follows a familiar trajectory for festival-circuit films — slow-burning tension, more than a little depravity and a semisudden outburst of violence to cap things off — but does so with a tense clarity that’s difficult to shake off.
Le Meraviglie, or The Wonders
Winner for the Grand Prix (second place) at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Alice Rohrwacher’s intuitive, visually resplendent family drama The Wonders is great long before its hauntingly beautiful closing sequence seals the deal.