FANTASTIC FEST 2015: The Cinapse Crew’s ‘Most Anticipated’

We’ve already shared the astounding lineup for Fantastic Fest 2015 here, and now that the initial excitement has subsided comes the panic of “how the fuck do I get to see all of them?” Well obviously you can’t; through a combination of scheduling, ticket allocation, and the limits of the human body, choices must be made. Read on to see the Cinapse attendees’ picks that we’re making priority viewing.

David Delgado @daviddelgadoh The thing about Fantastic Fest is that my favorite movies always end up being the ones I wasn’t anticipating, so I generally just don’t pay attention to trailers or pre-release hype. So, from the little I know about the upcoming festival, my list is relatively boring. The Witch is self explanatory, and is also the only FF trailer I’ve watched. Can’t wait. Also Green Room – haven’t seen any footage but I’m 100% excited for anything Saulnier does after being blown away by Blue Ruin, and want to see what he does with this cast. The Martian is a really boring mainstream pick, but I LOVE Scott’s sci-fi, loved the book, and it’s been among my most anticipated all year anyway. For a fourth, just in case, Anomalisa – I’m a big stop motion junkie, and I really like little changes of pace during FF (like 2013’s stop motion film, O Apostolo).

Alex Williams @AlexWilliamsdtThis is my sixth Fantastic Fest, and at this point, I know that trying to catch every film I want to see is a fool’s errand – especially in a year that boasts perhaps the best line-up Fantastic Fest has ever had. However, Men & Chicken, a Danish sex comedy starring Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen, and Bone Tomahawk, a Western about Kurt Russell and Patrick Wilson hunting cannibals, are definitely near the top of my list.

But the film I’m most excited for is Anomalisa, the long-awaited next film from the greatest living screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman (sorry, Coen brothers). I know almost nothing about his stop-motion animated opus, but the early word from its other festival stops is rapturous, and I’m incredibly excited to see what heart-wrenching absurdity Kaufman’s got in store for us.

Also worth checking out is Too Late, which I reviewed at LA Film Fest. This debut feature from writer/director Dennis Hauck is wildly ambitious, taking place in five dynamic sequences, each of which unfold in a single shot. John Hawkes shines as a private detective searching for a missing girl, but the real star is Hauck, whose witty script and fluid visual style make Too Late a can’t-miss film at this year’s fest.

Ed Travis @Ed_TravisAt some point I drew a line in the sand of my movie fandom. It simply wasn’t possible for me to be a person who knew everything about every movie BEFORE it even hit a film festival. Film festivals, after all, are when a movie’s buzz largely begins. I’m astounded by fellow friends and movie folks who seem to have a line on a whole slew of titles before they’ve even played at festivals. So, for the foreseeable future, I’m the kind of movie fan who discovers movies AT the festivals I attend, and not necessarily before. Now that said, it can’t hurt to share a few titles I’m anticipating. And, much like my good buddy David mentioned, there’s a high likelihood that my top 5 films of the festival on the backend will look very different than this list. So stay tuned for whatever cinematic riches we uncover at Fantastic Fest 2015, but here’s what I can’t wait to see (mainstream as some of these picks may be), in no particular order.

Victoria: Having watched the trailer for this film (which I had previously never heard of at all), it quickly jumped to the top of the pack. A crime thriller captured entirely in a single take with a standout lead female performance? You’ll find me in line for Victoria ASAP.

Hard To Get: I have no idea if this will be good or not, but the trailer got me stoked. I don’t see much in the way of African cinema. Ever. And here you’ve got an amped up, sexy-looking, True Romance-style African crime romance, and I’m counting myself curious.

The Keeping Room: It’s possible this is my most anticipated movie of the fest. I’ve been a huge Brit Marling fan since discovering The Sound Of My Voice at SXSW a few years back. And when you put the three words “revisionist, feminist, and western” all together, combined with that cast… not to mention that Drafthouse Films is distributing? This is about as close as it gets to a sure fire hit for me.

The Martian: Sure, this is a hugely mainstream pick. But it also seems like all the right components are there for this to be a potentially great piece of science fiction. The premise is compelling, the cast is fantastic, and I’d like to believe Ridley Scott still has greatness in him.

The Witch: Last year’s Fantastic Fest offered two of the greatest horror films of my lifetime in The Babadook and It Follows. The advance buzz on The Witch didn’t escape me, even with my aforementioned “line in the sand.” This just looks absolutely horrifying, and I hope someone will hold me closely as I brave viewing this film.

Green Room: While I considered Blue Ruin, director Jeremy Saulnier’s previous feature, to be rock solid… it didn’t change my life or blow me away like it did so many other film fans I respect. That said, I have no reason to believe Green Room will NOT blow me away. Between the concept, the cast, and the strength of Blue Ruin as a stepping stone, Green Room will be heavily discussed throughout the festival and I won’t want to miss out on any of that.

Jon Partridge @Texas_JonHigh-Rise. J.G. Ballard’s book stayed with me from my youth, exploring the paper thin line between civility and the darker side of humanity. Who better to bring this to the screen than Fantastic Fest alum Ben Wheatley whose past films Kill List, Sightseers, and A Field in England, which bodes well for this dark, unsettling venture.

Love and Peace, ’cause Sion Sono. No other explanation required for this one; last year’s Tokyo Tribe was one of the most enjoyable screenings of the Fest.

Speaking of previous Fests, Blue Ruin was and remains one of the best revenge thrillers in recent years, so I’m beyond excited to see what Jeremy Saulnier has in store for us with his new film Green Room. How much do I want to see it? Well, I’m skipping one of the famous Fantastic Fest secret screenings Friday to see it instead.

Other standouts include The Witch (duh) and The Keeping Room which, if Drafthouse Pictures’ track record is anything to go by, will be amazing.

Follow the team’s initial thoughts during the fest via their Twitter handles (above) and @CinapseNews. Expect full reviews throughout the week about our most anticipated picks, and no doubt all the surprises Fantastic Fest has in store from September 24th.

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the author

Originally harkening from the British Isles, Jon was exiled to Texas back in 2007 to help conceal his identity as a love child of the Queen. Jon has both embraced and been embraced by the wonderful city of Austin, a place which has only further enhanced his interest in film. A regular at SXSW and Fantastic Fest, Jon is also a member of the Austin Film Critics Association and Online Film Critics Society. By day he is a researcher at UT Austin but he also has an involvement with (and deep appreciation for) the local brewing industry. In short, his passions are cinema, science, craft beer and writing about himself in the third person. Twitter: @Texas_Jon