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The 20 Most Anticipated Films of 2015

Over the next 12 months, we will be bombarded with all manner of proposed cinematic spectacle. Here are the 20 films we are most looking forward to.

While the stars are brushing off their formal wear and brushing up on their acceptance speeches, we bid a fond farewell to 2014... and almost immediately focus on the films that will have us giddy with anticipation between now, the dog days of cinema, and December, when we'll play "What's the Best?" all over again. There are literally hundreds of offerings up for grabs, from unknown works of independent art to big, brawny, wannabe blockbusters. Each one hopes to tap into that tricky well of public appreciation. Some will succeed in billion dollar designs; others will open and never be heard from again.

In this regard, here are the 20 films we are most looking forward to in the next 12 months. Most are well publicized titles; Hollywood has been advertising them relentlessly since... well, since the movie this sequel is based on was still in theaters. A few are new entries. Of course, there's almost a guarantee that, like Avatar 2, more than a couple will disappear from the schedule only to show up on the 2016/2017/2018 lists of anticipated films.

By the way, that a film is on the list below doesn't mean that it will necessarily be good. Instead, given their pedigree and, in the case of sequels, previous performance, we sense these might end up the names still discussed come New Year's Eve.

Here are the flicks to keep on your cinema radar in 2015, in alphabetical order:

This is it. This is the test for Marvel Cinemas and its expanding Cinematic Universe. While Marvel has all the Avengers money it can spend and a backing studio, Disney, capable of generating billions more, this is the movie that will either confirm or complicate the comic book company's big screen legacy. Considering Marvel's track record, the huge PR hit this property took when Edgar Wright was "fired", and the need for fringe titles like Ant-Man to be Guardians of the Galaxy big, director Peyton Reed has his work cut out for him.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron
If you're Joss Whedon, you must be wondering how lucky and unlucky you are. When given the struggling Avengers franchise to "fix", many just wanted a decent film. What they got instead was a two billion dollar dynamo. Now, everyone expects more: more excitement, more geek goodness, and more boffo box office returns. So far, the trailers for Age of Ultron have argued for said repeat. On the other hand, don't be surprised if 2015 provides the chink in Marvel's armor that many have been waiting for. Between this and Ant-Man, there's more than one chance it will happen.

Crimson Peak
It's Guillermo Del Toro, who we love. It's a horror film, which we are also quite fond of. It is an old school Victorian-era haunted house tale, or so we are told, so there's lots of possibilities present and the cast is top notch. Still, Del Toro loves to undermine his terror by bringing in oddball elements, from romance to the fantastical, that don't always mesh with his vision. We'll reserve judgment until we see more of what he has up his always imaginative sleeve.

Furious 7
For those of us who have followed his career over the years, it's clear that there is a lot more to James Wan than Saw, The Conjuring, and the rest of his horror-inspired canon. Death Sentence, for example, is a brilliantly dark revenge thriller, better than it has a right to be. For that reason, we come to his contribution to the franchise focused on muscle car mayhem with anticipation, not dread. As long as he plays to his obvious strengths, this will be another early Summer season treat.

Hail Caesar
We're putting this title on the list with a series of serious reservations. While it's the Coen Brothers, meaning it will be highly anticipated no matter what the result, and it also features the kind of all-star cast (George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton) that we love, the studio has announced a February 2016 release date. No Oscar run in LA or NYC; instead, just the second month of next year. So we're keeping our fingers crossed that Universal likes what it sees and sends it out earlier than announced.

The Hateful Eight
In the pantheon of on-again, off-again projects, this highly anticipated Western from Quentin Tarantino is one of the most notorious. We almost didn't get to see this script produced, as the angry auteur threatened to balk when it was released o the media without permission. Since then, Tarantino has embraced the controversy and hired a cast. He's also "rewritten" the last act to conform to some last minute inspiration. Whatever the case, if it's Tarantino, we're automatically interested.

Inside Out
If you don't count Brave, Pixar hasn't made an original movie, that is, a film that's not a sequel or a prequel, since 2009. That's nearly six years (or three, putting the excellent girl power adventure back into the mix). For that reason, this latest entry into the company's creative legacy has a lot to live up to. If it fails, get ready for more redux; if it doesn't, then we may see a slowdown in all those planned updates.

Jupiter Ascending
While they'll always have The Matrix, it looks like The Wachowskis (Lana and Andy) can't catch a contemporary break. Speed Racer was CG Pixie Sticks pleasure, and their collaboration on Cloud Atlas remains one of 2012's most underappreciated films. With Jupiter Ascending, they've teamed up on an original science fiction epic centering on a young woman who may or may not be Queen of the Earth. While Warners has shuffled around the release date, we're sticking with the dynamic duo on this one, hoping they deliver.

Jurassic World
Chris Pratt had a fantastic 2014. He's part of Marvel's future strategy as one of the popular Guardians of the Galaxy, and now he gets to ride the reinvention of the famed Spielberg franchise all the way to new box office glory. We've been hearing about a return to Jurassic Park ever since Part III failed to fulfill fans' wishes. Now, we're getting the Michael Crichton speculative subject matter as filtered through the indie ideals of Safety Not Guaranteed's Colin Trevorrow -- sounds intriguing.

Knight of Cups
While he's suffered a bit from the Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon as of late (Tree of Life? Yes! To the Wonder? Erm...), anytime Terrence Malick announces a new movie, cinephiles get excited. This time around, we have Christian Bale as a celebrity facing a kind of moral/professional/personal crisis... or, at least, that's what the preview below suggests. As long as Malick steers clear of the stream of consciousness shtick that plagued his last two efforts, we'll be there.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Two words: the trailer. Sure, we can argue George Miller, the entire Max mythology, or the lack of Mel Gibson, but the two plus minutes of mayhem on display here is enough to have us eagerly anticipating this wonder from Down Under. (Besides, if we were looking for a new madman for our movie, we'd pick Thomas Hardy as well.) Miller's been exploring the lighter side of entertainment for the last couple of decades (those Happy Feet films... *shudder*), so we're praying for a real return to form here.

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