2014 was a pretty good year for British stars at the box office, from James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart in X-Men, to Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, to Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game. But that’s all nothing compared to 2015, with the coming year seeing a veritable explosion of Brit talent in some of the biggest Hollywood productions of the year, in addition to a huge array of exciting-looking U.K.-produced movies. So read on for our pick of fifteen films to watch out for in this jam-packed year…
The long-awaited live-action/CGI adaptation of Michael Bond‘s beloved series of children’s books has already had a hugely successful release in its homeland, topping the U.K. box office in the first two weeks of December and attracting rave reviews. Ben Whishaw is the voice of Paddington Bear, while the human cast includes Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent and — with an uncharacteristic Cockney accent! — the Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi. U.S. audiences will get to see the film on January 16, and we heartily recommend you do just that.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey
Love it or loathe it, it’s going to be impossible to escape the Twilight fan-fiction turned steamy series of novels turned movie in 2015. But our interest in it has at least been slightly piqued by the casting of Jamie Dornan, so good in the recent BBC drama The Fall, in the titular role of Christian Grey. Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, the film will also feature her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson (in an as-yet unspecified role), Jennifer Ehle and singer-songwriter Rita Ora. On the non-Brit side, the lead role of Ana Steele is taken by Dakota Johnson. The film is set for a February 13 release in time for Valentine’s Day.
3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
After the runaway sleeper success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel film — a $10m-budgeted flick that eventually took around $136m at the box office — a sequel seemed somewhat inevitable, at least assuming the all-star cast of veteran actors could be reunited. Happily, almost all of them could be: so Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel and Ronald Pickup all return, with Richard Gere thrown into the mix to boot. The film comes out March 6.
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service
The dream team of director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman, who previously brought us excellent adaptations Stardust and Kick-Ass, return again with another adaptation of a comic book by Scots writer Mark Millar, out February 13. And this time they’ve managed to snag Colin Firth to head up a cast that also includes Michael Caine, Jack Davenport and Mark Strong. Welsh actor Taron Egerton, so far best known for Sky One drama The Smoke, will play Firth’s young protégé in the spy drama, which — as well as attempting to out-Bond the new Bond — will also feature cameos from Adele, Elton John and, er, David Beckham…
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s no mean feat to take on a role established to such iconic effect by Mel Gibson in the 1980s, but if anyone’s up to the task, it’s going to be Tom Hardy. Rather than being a reboot or remake, as seems the fashion these days, this is actually a straight-up sequel to the previous four films — and astonishingly, it’s actually been in development for nearly 25 years. Nobody quite knows how it’ll turn out as a result, but Hardy is likely to be compelling in any lead role. The supporting cast also includes Nicholas Hoult and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. The film hits screens in May.
6. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
In something of a reversal of the original TV show, the movie adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will see a Brit (Henry Cavill) playing American spy Napoleon Solo, with his Russian opposite number Illya Kuryakin played by Armie Hammer. Somewhat unusually, Guy Ritchie‘s film will be a period piece, retaining its early 1960s Cold War setting rather than updating to the present day. Hugh Grant and Jared Harris are among the supporting cast. The film is currently set to come out August 14.
7. Terminator Genisys
In contrast to Mad Max, this addition to a film series that originated in the ’80s is serving as a reboot of the franchise. And as well as starring Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke as the latest incarnation of the series’ lead character Sarah Connor, perhaps the most intriguing element is former Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. We’ve been told that Smith is playing a “significant” role not just in this film, but in all three parts of a planned new trilogy — and yet, just half a year away from its planned release day, the name of his character still hasn’t been announced. Speculation is mounting that he could either be playing a future son of John Connor, or perhaps even a new Terminator model, but we may have to wait until July to find out the answer.
A live-action adaptation of Disney’s classic animated take on the original fairy tale, this could be one of the biggest hits of the year if it turns out right. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, it stars Downton Abbey‘s Lily James as the titular princess and Richard Madden of Game of Thrones as the Prince (here named Kit). Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell, Ben Chaplin and Sir Derek Jacobi also make appearances in this March 13 release.
Well, this is the British film event of the year, really. The revitalized James Bond series continues on from Skyfall with the new team of Daniel Craig (Bond), Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomie Harris (Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q) and Rory Kinnear (Tanner) all present and correct, and once again under the auspices of director Sam Mendes. And what’s more, the MI6 gang has been joined by Andrew Scott — although you’ll forgive us if, given his past form in Sherlock, we can’t help but feel suspicious of his mysterious new character from the outset. Out November 6.
Very little is actually known about this film, in theaters May 22, save that it’s based in some way around the Disney theme park land of the same name, and was originally produced under the working title 1952. But it’s largely of interest to us for the presence of Hugh Laurie as the villain, David Nix. It’s been two years since Laurie’s run as the star of House ended, and it’s perhaps surprising that since then he’s yet to take on a major role elsewhere. This suggests a certain level of care when it comes to choosing his projects, and for that reason, this could be a very exciting one.
The Borat and Ali G star Sacha Baron Cohen hasn’t written a film since 2012’s somewhat underwhelming The Dictator, so despite his success as an actor elsewhere (notably in Hugo and Les Miserables) there’s a decent amount riding on his latest effort. The “Grimsby” of the title, if you didn’t know, is a seaport town on the east coast of England, and its residents have already expressed dismay about its possible negative portrayal in this film, in which Cohen plays a soccer hooligan alongside Mark Strong as his brother, a Black Ops spy with whom he’s forced to go on the run. The film is set for a July 31 bow.
After a relatively quiet 2014, it’s promising to be a much livelier year ahead for Tom Hiddleston. He’s still expected to appear (if not in a major role) as Loki in the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron; and he’s also got the lead role in the Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light. But potentially the most fascinating is his heading up of this adaptation of J.G. Ballard‘s 1975 dystopian novel. It’s another one that’s been in development of sorts for several decades, but in the brilliant Ben Wheatley it may just have found the perfect director. Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans also appear.
13. Crimson Peak
Hiddleston’s year will also take in the latest film from Guillermo del Toro: a gothic, horror/romance set in Cumbria in the 19th century. Two of del Toro’s British stars from Pacific Rim, Charlie Hunnam and Burn Gorman, are also reunited here.
14. The Jungle Book
There are actually two Jungle Book adaptations in production at the moment — but while you’ll have to wait until 2017 to hear Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the tiger Shere Khan in Warners’ Jungle Book: Origins, in 2015 the Disney production sees Idris Elba in the role. A mixture of live-action and CGI, the film also features Sir Ben Kingsley as the panther Bagheera.
15. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Mark your calendars for December 18: the seventh installment in a certain slightly popular sci-fi series, The Force Awakens is undoubtedly the most anticipated movie of 2015. Filmed at the U.K.’s Pinewood Studios, it’s attracted attention for its casting of two relatively unknown British actors in the main lead roles. John Boyega has been tapped for superstardom ever since his headline-grabbing turn in 2011’s Attack the Block, while Daisy Ridley so far only has a few roles in U.K. dramas (including Casualty, Silent Witness and Mr. Selfridge) to her name. Chances are you’ll be seeing their names on here a lot more in the months and years to come, however…
Which films are you most looking forward to seeing your favorite British stars in?Read More