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The Top Ten Movies of 2015 – And They’re Full of Actors And Directors in Their 50s
January 5, 2015 | By:

From Monica Bellucci as the first 50-year-old Bond Girl to Emma Thompson (55) featuring in three movies this year, actors and directors in their 50s will rule 2015's film scene, says Tony Griffiths

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Monica Bellucci is the first 50-year-old Bond girl, starring in Spectre alongside Daniel Craig. Let’s hope there are more to come

Spectre: the new James Bond film

A new James Bond film needs little fanfare but after the astronomical success of 2012’s Skyfall the press call for the latest entry, Spectre, was perhaps the most eagerly awaited to date.

Amidst the clamour, glamour and speculation, little was made of a new series first: Monica Belluci’s casting as a 50-year-old Bond girl: an encouraging sign of the times, if not the Italian actress/model’s undoubted qualifications. Bond is back (if you needed reminding) in October via the reliable hands of returning director Sam Mendes, who will himself be 50 this year.

Spectre is released on 23 October.

Birdman

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, in movie theaters this week, should get 2015 off (if you’ll pardon the pun) to a flying start. The Mexican director’s black comedy – with Michael Keaton as a washed-up actor haunted by his past success as an iconic superhero – is expected to prove box office gold.

No stranger to the awards circuit thanks to Babel and 21 Grams, González Iñárritu, 51, should be celebrating a host of Oscar nominations next week, if not more come February.       

Birdman is out now.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Sam Taylor-Johnson first felt the heat of the cinematic spotlight in 2009 following her directorial debut, John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy. Next month, the English filmmaker and artist will be getting everyone hot and bothered with her adaptation of bestselling novel-cum-S&M manual Fifty Shades of Grey.

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The film’s trailer – to no one’s surprise – quickly became one of last year’s most viewed and is likely to have a similar effect on the movie-going public. Taylor-Johnson, 48 in March, will be out to ensure there’s some substance to the titillation.  

Fifty Shades of Grey is released on 13 February.

Cinderella

For those that prefer their drama in tights and a corset, director Kenneth Branagh’s live-action production of Disney animated classic Cinderella may well be worth a bibbidi-bob or two.

Branagh, 54, has enjoyed plenty of box office success – both in front of and behind the camera – during his career, most recently thanks to a very Shakespearean take on superhero Thor. Cinderella, which stars Lily James in the title role and Cate Blanchett as her dastardly stepmother, however, could yet prove the theatreland stalwart’s biggest hit to date.    

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Cinderella is released on 27 March.

The Water Diviner

Russell Crowe (50) doesn’t seem like a man to take a back seat, which is probably why he also has the lead role in The Water Diviner, his debut as director. The film is about an Australian farmer who, after the battle of Gallipoli, travels to Turkey to search for his three missing sons.

Early word of mouth is strong and, though awards glory is now unlikely (as the film’s release was pushed back from January), it could yet, with its release one week before Kiwi Crowe turns 51, provide a belter of a birthday present.

The Water Diviner is released on 3 April.

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Clouds of Sils Maria

Premiering at Cannes in 2014, Clouds of Sils Maria has been going down a storm with festival-goers and critics alike, picking up French cinema’s coveted Louis Delluc Prize just last month. It also provides a welcome return to center stage, and change of pace, for Juliette Binoche after last year’s Godzilla.

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The Parisian thespian, and recent addition to the 50 club, stars as an actress called upon to join a revival of the play that made her famous – only this time opposite a younger star (Kristen Stewart) in her former role.

Clouds of Sils Maria is released on 15 May.

Tomorrowland

They don’t come much bigger than George Clooney (53), and after several years focused on supporting roles (Gravity) and directing duties (Monuments Men, Ides of March), Mr Nespresso is back in blockbuster territory with sci-fi epic Tomorrowland.

Details about the film, which also boasts the talents of fellow quinguagenarians Hugh Laurie (co-star) and Brad Bird (director), have long been under lock and key. Until, that is, the film’s new trailer provided a glimpse – and little more – of, as George purrs, “a secret place where nothing is impossible”.

Tomorrowland is released on 22 May.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

If Star Wars isn’t your cup of tea you may want to hibernate through 2015’s festive period. If it is, you’re likely one step ahead of us already. The saga’s seventh episode, The Force Awakens, is due out the week before Christmas, and after the disappointment of the prequel trilogy, there are several reasons (well, four) to be optimistic.

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First, director JJ Abrams, 48, is a safe pair of hands, and second, there are starring roles for the original trilogy trio: yes, Carrie Fisher (58), Mark Hamill (63) and Harrison Ford (72), are back as Leia, Luke and Han.   

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released on 18 December.

A Walk in the Woods    

Emma Thompson, a barely believable 56 this year, is set for a busy 2015 with supporting roles in several films, most notably A Walk in the Woods, the adaptation of Bill Bryson’s memoir/novel.

Starring Robert Redford, the film – about Bryson’s hike along the longest continuous footpath in the world, the Appalachian Trail on the US East Coast – premieres at this month’s Sundance with a wider release due in the summer. Thompson’s other likely 2015 hits include terrorism thriller Survivor and black comedy The Legend of Barney Thomson.

A Walk in the Woods is due to be released in the summer.

Crimson Peak

When it comes to contemporary gothic horror, one man has the coffin lid nailed shut on consistent quality: Guillermo del Toro. It’s been five years since his last dalliance with the genre, which probably explains why his upcoming haunted house flick Crimson Peak, starring Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, has expectant critics foaming at the mouth.  

Crimson Peak is released on 16 October.

Don’t miss these film festival hits to come

Knight of Cups, the latest from American director Terrance Malick, is a star attraction at next month’s Berlin Film Festival. The film, about “celebrity and excess”, boasts an ensemble cast including Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett.

Another Berlin debutant is Eisenstein in Guanajuato, British auteur Peter Greenaway’s take on a 1931 trip taken by Russian director Sergei Eisenstein to Mexico.

Also on the festival circuit are, at Sundance, Racing Extinction, a new documentary from the team behind eco-shocker The Cove following a group of scientists determined to preserve some of the world’s most endangered species, and, at Rotterdam’s International Film Festival, The Sky Above Us, a Dutch production about three Serbian nationals living through the 1999 NATO bombing of Belgrade.

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Elsewhere, Oscar nominations are on the cards for: Wild Tales, an Argentinean film combining six unrelated short stories on the subject of social grievances gone wrong; Mommy, a French Canadian production about a mother struggling to raise her violent son that shared the Grand Jury prize at last year’s Cannes; and Force Majure, in which a Swedish family is torn apart by the father’s reaction to a mid-holiday avalanche.  

Others worth looking out for include: The Forbidden Room, an ode to the movies of the silent era from Canadian director Guy Maddin, whose My Winnipeg was included among critic Roger Ebert’s best films of the past decade; 45 years, English director Andrew Haigh’s follow-up to Weekend in which a couple (Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) discover a shocking secret while preparing for their 45th wedding anniversary; and Eden, a well-received drama focused on the French house music scene of the 1990s.