Once again, sequels will rule the box office this winter and spring. From superhero and action flicks to comedies and dramas, no movie was safe from the proven path to big bucks. Take heart, many promise to surpass their originals and, if you look carefully, there are several documentaries and new movies that deserve to be seen:
Spare Parts – January 16
This promises to be the feel good movie of the season: With the help of their new teacher, George Lopez, four poor Hispanic students form a robotics club. Pulling together $800 and parts scavenged from old cars, the hopeful teens build their robot and enter a national competition. Spoiler alert: They’re gonna win.
Mortdecai – January 23
Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as a handsome and resourceful art dealer who travels the world to find a stolen painting that is rumored to contain clues to a bank account filled with Nazi Gold. This role offers Depp the opportunity to redeem himself after an unfortunate performance as the Big, Bad Wolf in “Into the Woods.”
Ballet 422 – February 6
From first rehearsal to world premiere, “Ballet 422” takes the audience backstage at New York City Ballet as up-and-coming choreographer Justin Peck creates a new work. This documentary is worth checking out because Miami City Ballet will be premiering their own new work from Peck later this spring.
Fifty Shades of Gray – February 13
When the gays want to experiment with a little BDSM we head to Leatherwerks or Ramrod. But for the past five years, undersexed housewives have gotten their lessons from a mediocre novel. Finally, that book comes to life on the big screen. Sure it’s straight sex—and probably campy as hell—but good for a few laughs, too.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – March 6
Hunky Richard Gere joins the all-star ensemble cast—Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Dev Patel—in this sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit comedy/drama about a hotel for the elderly and beautiful and its quirky residents and staff. Look for another breakout performance from the maturing Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”).
Insurgent – March 20
The sequel to the futuristic girl power movie, “Divergent,” finds Tris and her companions returning to the city where people are divided into different societal factions, based on their personalities and aptitudes. The elitist Erudites are afraid of Tris and she must discover why they seek to eliminate non-conforming divergents.
Beyond the Brick: The LEGO Brickumentary – April 24
For generations, LEGO bricks have captured the imaginations of young and old alike, amateurs and artists. “Beyond the Brick” explores the ongoing popularity of the colorful building blocks and interviews many of the pros who display their masterpieces at “Brick Conventions.” This promises to be a fun film.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1
What guy doesn’t love an action-packed, smash-em-up superhero flick? Joss Whedon (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Serenity,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) helms this highly-anticipated sequel, featuring the return of Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, hunky Australian Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk.
Pitch Perfect 2 – May 15
You didn’t have to be a choir geek to enjoy the original “Pitch Perfect.” Sure, sequels rarely live up to their originals. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow return, and this time, the Barden Bellas go for an international title that no American team has ever won. Spoiler alert: They’re gonna win.
Mad Max: Fury Road – May 15
(Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, George Miller, dir.) Gay men of a certain generation first discovered a young Mel Gibson in the first “Mad Max” movie nearly 40 years ago. The post-apocalyptic saga gets a reboot thanks to director George Miller and starring allegedly bisexual actor Tom Hardy. He’s no Mel—even if he’s not bigoted—but expect lots of action.
The gays collectively breathed a sigh of relief as the PBS period drama “Downton Abbey” and HBO’s gay millennial comedy, “Looking,” returned for further installments after the holidays. Here are a few of the most promising series either debuting or returning to the airwaves this winter and spring:
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore – Comedy Central, Jan. 19
Larry Wilmore has big shoes to fill—his new topical comedy show replaces the incredibly popular and smart “The Colbert Report.” Obviously he’ll be introducing some much-needed diversity to late-night television, but given recent events in the news, we’ll see how it goes over with Comedy Central audiences.
The Americans – FX, Jan. 28
“The Americans” is simply one of the best shows on TV, a thriller about KGB agents embedded in suburban Washington, D.C. at the height of the Cold War. This season, Frank Langella replaces Margo Martindale as the Jennings’ handler. Ironically, NBC is launching a series, “Allegiance,” about more covert Russian spies. Bet it’s not as good.
Fresh Off the Boat – ABC, Feb. 4
Cultures clash for a Chinese-American family adjusting to life in mid-‘90s Florida. Based on the life and memoirs of restaurateur and food show host Eddie Huang, “Fresh Off the Boat” sounds much funnier—at least right now—than that 1994 misfire from comedian Margaret Cho, “All-American Girl.”
Vikings – History, Feb. 19
“Game of Thrones” may have made bloody sword fights cool, but “Vikings” and the saga of Ragnar Lothbrok actually looks and feels real. Life was hard a millennium ago, but men were men and so were the women! Season 3 follows the farmer-turned-explorer as he finally takes the throne as king and must now rule.
House of Cards – Netflix, Feb. 27
Just block off the entire for a binge watching session of Netflix’s hit straight-to-streaming series about the intrigues of Washington, D.C. Sure, the storyline got a little melodramatic in Season 2, but show runner Beau Willimon isn’t reining it in – two members of Russian girl band Pussy Riot make a guest appearance.
Broadchurch – BBC America, March 4
David Tennant (“Doctor Who”) returns for the second season of the evocative British murder mystery. Producers have been tightlipped about the show’s top secret storyline, but told a British magazine, “It’s not another crime case.” Regardless, it’s bound to be one of the smartest shows of the spring season.
Wolf Hall – PBS, April 5
Roll back the clock just a few centuries: Damian Lewis (“Homeland”) stars as Henry VIII and Tony Award-winner Mark Rylance is Thomas Cromwell in this “Masterpiece” series based on the historical novels of Hilary Mantel. Expect a lot more than the quasi-historic melodrama “The Tudors” dished up on King Henry.
Game of Thrones – HBO, April TBA
Winter is coming and so is Season 5 of HBO’s hit fantasy series. Seemingly no one is safe, except maybe for John Snow, and this season will certainly reveal the fate of Tyrion Lannister, who has been sentenced to death for the poisoning death of his sadistic nephew, young King Joffrey. Tune in this April to find out.
Silicon Valley – HBO, April TBA
What’s the next big thing after Facebook, Twitter and Google? This comedy from HBO provides a hilarious look at the machinations in California’s Silicon Valley and the next would-be tech start-up billionaires. We think it is safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg is not tuning in for Season 2 in April. Or maybe he is….
Mad Men – AMC, July 19
It’s going to be difficult to say goodbye to Don Draper and the staff of Sterling Cooper Draper Price. And we’re not bitter the producers and network pulled a petty stunt by splitting the final season and broadcasting it over two years—obviously vying for more shots at ever more elusive awards. We’ll see what happens this time.