3 films to watch in 2015

Ex Machina 

Alex Garland was a novelist before he took up screenwriting. He then scripted Danny Boyle’s Sunshine and 28 Days Later, along with the film of Kazuo Ishiguro’s dystopian novel, Never Let Me Go. And now he delivers yet more philosophically knotty science fiction with his writer-directorial debut. Set in the very near future, Ex Machina stars Domhnall Gleeson as a naive computer programmer who visits a reclusive IT mogul, Oscar Isaac, and meets a walking, talking experiment in artificial intelligence: a gorgeous robot played by Alicia Vikander. But which is more human, the machine or its maker? Vikander, who also stars in Testament of Youth, should be an international star in a few months’ time. (UPI)

Far from the Madding Crowd

For nearly 50 years, John Schlesinger’s Far from the Madding Crowd has stood as the definitive big-screen treatment of Thomas Hardy’s passionate novel. But not, perhaps, for much longer. This new version is directed by Dogme 95 co-founder Thomas Vinterberg, whose last film, The Hunt, had a Hardy-ish air of grinding injustice. And it’s scripted by David Nicholls, whose best-selling novel, One Day, was inspired by a line from Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Carey Mulligan plays the proudly independent Bathsheba Everdene. Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) are the three men in her life. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

St James Place

At the moment it’s officially called Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller, and St James Place is just its working title. But whatever name it ends up with, Steven Spielberg’s new film should be a treat. It stars Tom Hanks as the real-life lawyer who had to secure an American pilot’s return from the USSR after he was shot down in 1960. More excitingly, it’s the first film that Spielberg has directed since 2012’s Lincoln, and it’s scripted by the Coen brothers (whose Hollywood satire, Hail Caesar, is also in the pipeline). With any luck, it should combine the dapper 1960s globe-trotting of Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can with the espionage hijinks of the Coens’ Burn After Reading. (Getty)



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