Alejandro González Iňárritu’s Birdman tells the story of a washed-up actor who used to play an iconic superhero, now wanting to reclaim his past glory. So he went and hired Michael Keaton. This inspired – and bold – piece of casting merely paves the way for what is an audacious, creative, and ultimately, hilarious piece of cinema that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Out on New Year’s Day – it’s fair to say that it’s a rather promising start for 2015.
When creating a dark, bleak and morbid drama, it’s fair to say that Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell would not be the first three names that spring to mind when it comes to casting the lead characters. However that’s exactly the gamble that director Bennett Miller took – and it’s certainly paid off, in this film based on the incredible real life events surrounding Foxcatcher farm, and it’s sadistic, unpredictable owner John du Pont. For Miller, whose only previous two endeavours Capote and Moneyball have racked up a grand total of 11 Academy Award nominations between them, will certainly be hoping to add to that tally again.
Not only is Whiplash one of the must-see films of January, but of the whole of 2015. This remarkable picture by newcomer Damien Chazelle is about as intense and exhilarating a film you’ll ever witness. It may not sound particularly exciting, given it’s about a young music student who dreams of being a jazz drummer, and the relationship he has with his stern teacher – but thanks to two powerhouse performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, it helps to elevate this film to another level. Not to be missed.
Alex Garland has made a name for himself as an accomplished screenwriter in cinema, penning the scripts for films such as 28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go and Dredd. However Ex_Machina marks his first deviation into the world of directing, and it’s safe to say that it’s a triumphant one. This immensely ambitious project is grounded by its distinct simplicity, with just one setting, three characters – and an awful amount of suspense to go along with it. Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander all shine in their respective roles.
There are few dates on the cinematic calender that are as exciting as the latest Paul Thomas Anderson production. Following on from The Master, again Joaquin Phoenix takes on the lead role, with a starring turn in the playful, exuberant and downright absurd drama Inherent Vice. Based on Thomas Pynchon’s popular novel, Phoenix is joined by the likes of Josh Brolin, Reece Witherspoon and Owen Wilson in this madcap, 70s set, head trip of a movie. Predictable to say so, but it seems that Anderson has gone and done it again.