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My Most Anticipated Films of 2017 v. 1.0

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A Janus Films release; a future Criterion Collection entry, perhaps? (Source)

As we work our way through the 2016 awards season and try to wrap up the last of that contentious year, it’s only right that we also look to the future. I can’t say if 2017 will go down as good year in film or not; less than two weeks into it I don’t even have the firmest grasp on what will come out.

But we have to start somewhere, and after some research I’ve compiled a list of 80 films which I’m anticipating – or, in some cases, dreading.

Please note that not all of my analyses are as thoughtful or in-depth as might be optimal. This is just a first casting of the net to see what awaits us. I’ll put out another rendition of this list later in the year, probably either after Cannes or right around when I do my Six-Month Awards.

Very Excited For:

  • Baby Driver: It’s Edgar Wright. I trust him.
  • Blade Runner 2049: This has the potential to go wrong, espeically if the script isn’t 100% there, but Villeneuve’s track record, the cast (and the fact that Ford is returning), and the promising initial footage are enough to maintain my confidence.
  • Coco: You have to assume greatness from a Pixar original.
  • Downsizing: Alexander Payne. Need I say more?
  • Dunkirk: Christopher Nolan, shooting in 70mm, with a fine cast and compelling subject matter. I think we’re all on board.
  • Endless Poetry: The sequel to The Dance of Reality, which I absolutely adored.
  • The Girl with All the Gifts: This came out in the UK last year, but it’s opening here this year. And it’s apparently excellent.
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer: Yorgos Lanthimos and Colin Farrell reunite. Might not come out until 2018, but whenever it does…I’m fucking there.
  • The Lego Batman MovieThe Lego Movie was delightful, and this looks hilarious.
  • Logan Lucky: Steven Soderbergh returns to feature films (as we all knew he would) with a heist thriller. Sign me up.
  • The Lure: A Polish horror film about killer mermaids who become nightclub singers. This sounds like my kind of movie.
  • A Quiet Passion: Terence Davies tells the story of Emily Dickinson, starring Cynthia Nixon. At the very least, it should be beautiful.
  • The Sense of an Ending: A romantic (I think) drama starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling, which earned strong early notices. Probably won’t be in my top 10, but it should be good.
  • War for the Planet of the ApesRise was good. Dawn was really good. I expect this to be worth my while.
  • War on Everyone: John Michael McDonagh’s first two films were The Guard (really good) and Calvary (amazing). This is his third.
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Let’s pause a moment to recognize how awesome A24 is. (Source)

Excited For:

  • Alien: Covenant: Ridley Scott, coming off his best film in years, returns to the Alien well. All things considered, I really liked Prometheus, but given his recent track record I’m just a bit cautious.
  • American Made: A bio-drama about an airline pilot who became a drug smuggler. Doug Liman directs and Tom Cruise stars.Their last film together was Edge of Tomorrow, probably the most popular flop in recent memory.
  • The Book of Henry: Colin Trevorrow going back to his character-based roots, ideally coming closer to the greatness of Safety Not Guaranteed than the enjoyable but impersonal Jurassic World.
  • The Coldest City: Cold War spy drama, starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, and John Goodman, based on a graphic novel and directed by one of the directors of John Wick.
  • The Commuter: Jaume Collet-Serra made a decent modern B-movie with Non-Stop, and The Shallows was a solid sleeper hit. Here he reunites with Liam Neeson (and a solid supporting cast) to do, essentially, Non-Stop on a train. I’m quite game.
  • Darkest Hour: Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Ben Mendelsohn as George VI. John Hurt as Neville Chamberlain. Kristin Scott Thomas as Clemmie. Directed by Joe Wright, which worries me, but he might be back on track here.
  • The Dinner: Oren Moverman, coming off the underrated Time Out of Mind, doing, it would seem, a very contained character drama starring Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall, and Chloe Sevigny. We’ll see how it does at Berlin.
  • The Fate of the Furious: I never did see Furious 7 (probably should, before I see this), but I’m game to keep following this series as it approaches an event horizon of extravagance.
  • Free Fire: Ben Wheatley has so far impressed me as a very skilled director who’s not so great at telling a story. But this appears to be mostly set in one location, over the course of, quite probably, about as much time as the film itself takes. So assuming the characters aren’t detrimentally unlikable and the story doesn’t go on any dumb tangents, this should be fun.
  • The Greatest Showman: It’s a musical, produced by Disney, starring Hugh Jackman, about P.T. Barnum, opening at Christmas. There’s a lot of room for this to be great.
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Even if the film is a letdown, this is a pretty badass poster. (Source)

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2: I’m not assuming this will be as good as the first film (which I adored), but I at least expect to enjoy it.
  • How to Talk to Girls at Parties: John Cameron Mitchell’s newest film, a British-set sci-fi-rom-com starring Elle Fanning, with Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, and Matt Lucas in there somewhere. From a story by Neil Gaiman. Might well be fun.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2: As with Guardians, this might not match the original, but should be a good time regardless.
  • Kong: Skull Island: Believe me, I want this to be great. The trailer (the first one, at least) was fucking sweet. But Warner Brothers’ recent tentpole track record hasn’t been all that hot aside from Mad Max, and this has a fair amount of creative DNA in common with Godzilla (including a good cast it better not waste), which I had issues with. So this could go awry. I hope to God not.
  • Lovesong: Lesbian road-trip character piece starring Riley Keough and Jena Malone. I like both of them. Should be worthwhile.
  • Lowriders: An L.A.-set drama about a teenager, torn loyalties, and a lowriding competition. I’m at least intrigued.
  • Murder on the Orient Express: I’m not sure if we needed a new adaptation, but it’s directed by and stars Kenneth Branagh, and the cast includes Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Michael Peña, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. And it opens on my birthday.
  • Rock That Body: A dark comedy starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz, and a corpse. There’s potential here.
  • Song to SongKnight of Cups shook my confidence in Terrence Malick a bit. So his new film (set against the Austin music scene) could be another self-indulgent slog, or it could be a return to form. We’ll find out soon enough (it opens in March).
  • A United Kingdom: Amma Asante returns with another historical romance, this one starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, both of whom I like. I saw the trailer today, and it does seem promising, if a little baity.
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It probably says a lot about me that I’m so excited to see this. (Source)

  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Luc Besson in full sci-fi/fantasy mode. The trailer looks fun. I’m not huge on either Dane DeHaan or Cara Delevingne, but I can work with them.
  • Victoria and Abdul: Judi Dench assumes the role of Victoria once again, in another drama about her intimate relationship with an attendant, in this case Abdul Karim, the Munshi. Also: Eddie Izzard plays Edward VII. Directed by Stephen Frears. No way it won’t be at least solid.
  • We Are the Flesh: This looks so fucked up. I’d say just watch the trailer and see for yourself. The reviews have been kind of mixed, but this seems to be the kind of film I’m more willing than most to embrace.
  • Wilson: Oh, this looks funny as fuck. Woody Harrelson as a total asshole and Laura Dern as his ex-wife, trying to connect with their long-lost daughter. I’ll be saying more about this soon.
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife: Jessica Chastain in a piece of failed Oscar bait, co-starring Daniel Brühl. Might still be a solid historical drama (the trailer looks a little heavy-handed, but that’s not the whole story).
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Boy, does it. (Source)

Dubious About:

  • Baywatch: Why in God’s name did anyone think this needed to happen?
  • The Boss Baby: I saw a second trailer for this today that looks…less painful than before. But still, this doesn’t look good.
  • Cars 3: Why is Pixar returning to this well? Is it the merchandising? Cars 2 was a dud – it wasn’t even that much of a hit. It’ll probably at least be a step up in quality (to be fair, I haven’t seen any of these films, and may not see this one), but this is not a good choice for them, however you slice it.
  • A Dog’s Purpose: Yeah, I love dogs too, and the idea of a film narrated by a dog through its various lifetimes is interesting, but they clearly gave it the blandest, hackiest “inspirational” approach possible, and that annoys me. Tell the story and let the emotions come from that – it’s not like people aren’t inclined to care about dogs.
  • The Emoji Movie: 😡🤢😢😖
  • Fifty Shades Darker: I will be extremely disappointed if this isn’t, like its predecessor, an Oscar nominee.
  • Geostorm: They shot this two years ago. And then did massive reshoots a couple of months ago. Plus, the poster (see below) is laughably terrible. This is shaping up to be a massive shit-show.
  • Ghost in the Shell: There’s the whitewashing to consider (even if they didn’t do yellowface on Scarlett, the rumors are bad enough). There’s the fact that is probably, fundamentally, unnecessary. Toss in the March release date (not a dealbreaker, but not overly promising), and you’ve got, if not a disaster, a film that was probably a waste of everyone’s time and money.
  • The Great Wall: Matt Damon in a fantasy action film about the Great Wall of China. If that wasn’t enough, it looks pretty dumb as well.
  • Justice League: Zack Snyder. DC. Maybe they’ve got their shit together. Maybe not.

 

$3 direct-to-DVD bargain-bin trash, or big-budget blockbuster?

 

  • Monster Trucks: This was based on a concept by a 4-year-old. And they spent $125 million on it. End of story.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: This probably won’t be actively bad, but I can’t imagine it’ll make a good case for keeping this series going.
  • Rock Dog: More animated inanity. I’m sure it won’t be offensively bad, but I still don’t expect anything good from it.
  • The Shack: The trailer certainly didn’t get my hopes up. Inspirational faith-based dramas aren’t exactly my bag to begin with, but this looks especially icky.
  • Transformers: The Last Knight: The last one was hot trash, do you think this will be any better? I may not even go unless they make it even more sickeningly overlong.

Uncertain About:

  • All Eyez on Me: Tupac biopic. If they don’t let it turn into a hagiography, it could be good. If they do, I’ll probably check out.
  • Beauty and the Beast: These Disney live-action remakes are generally at least solid, but are they really any kind of improvement on the originals? Obviously Beauty and the Beast is one of their best, but can they make a film which stands on its own…or will it just be a re-enactment?
  • The Beguiled: The original film is really good, one of Clint Eastwood’s most underrated performances. Sofia Coppola is remaking it, which could be good – it has a good cast, including Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning – or it could be, as with the film above it, unnecessary.
  • CHiPs: This probably won’t be good, but Dax Shepard directed and wrote it in addition to playing the lead. So, just for the fact that this is an auteur project, I’m curious.
  • The Circle: Another Dave Eggers adaptation starring Tom Hanks. I kind of liked A Hologram for the King, though objectively it was pretty messy. This has a more promising story, however, and a better overall cast. So there’s reason to think it could be solid.
  • A Cure for Wellness: Gore Verbinski returns, with a horror thriller at least partially inspired by The Magic Mountain. It’s also 145 minutes long, supposedly. The trailer looks decent enough.
  • The Dark Tower: This is finally happening, and it’s starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey…but it’s also got a weird premise (it’s not exactly an adaptation of the series but a “quasi-sequel”), and these long-delayed projects (one which has changed directors multiple times, to boot) sometimes lose their way before they make it to the screen. I don’t know.
  • Get Out: Now, this one I really don’t know about. It’s a thriller about young black man who goes with his white girlfriend to visit her parents…and things get strange. Honestly, the trailer made me think it was going to be utterly laughable…until I saw it was written and directed by Jordan Peele. So…is there going to be a satirical edge here? Was the trailer just badly cut? I really don’t know. But I’m anxious to find out.
  • Granite Mountain: Joseph Kosinski’s first two films – Tron: Legacy and Oblivion – showed he had technical skill, but not much narrative skill. Now he tackles a real-life tragedy (the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013, which killed 19 firefighters), and maybe he’s matured as a director? One hopes.
  • It: Another Stephen King adaptation which had been gestating for quite some time under one director, which is now being completed under another (Andreas Muschetti, who made Mama, which was decent). The September release date and the design of Pennywise don’t inspire excess confidence, but we’ll see what happens.
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Guy Ritchie, man. The Sherlock Holmes series seemingly being defunct, he’s aiming for a new franchise about King Arthur…and it doesn’t necessarily look great. But for the man who made what, at least at one time, I named my all-time favorite film, I will give it a chance.
  • Life: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson in a sci-fi thriller. I would be more excited, but the trailer makes it look fairly forgettable.
  • The Lost City of Z: I want to say this was supposed to be an awards-season release, but it’s opening in the spring. It has a compelling premise (dealing with the South American exploits of Percy Fawcett) and received good reviews when it played at the New York Film Festival, but the release date and my mixed feelings about director James Gray (I really didn’t care for The Immigrant) lead me to keep my expectations tempered.
  • The Mummy: Did you see the leaked trailer with the glitchy sound? That was amusing. Anyway, this is part of Universal’s shared Monster universe (which sounds like a terrible idea), and stars Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella. Should be enjoyable in its own right, but I could see this universe going very wrong very quickly.
  • Mute: Duncan Jones does sci-fi noir, hopefully leaving Warcraft behind as a blip in an otherwise respectable career. Certainly Moon and Source Code are fine films. This has promise, to be sure; let’s hope it has a story to match its futuristic Berlin (which looks pretty nifty).
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Pretty nifty indeed. (Source)

  • Personal Shopper: Kristen Stewart gave a rightfully acclaimed performance under Olivier Assayas’ direction in Clouds of Sils Maria. They reunite, this time with her in the lead, for a psychological horror thriller which won Best Director at Cannes and received divisive reviews. Here’s hoping I’m one of those who likes it.
  • Sidney Hall: Three stages in the life of a prodigy-novelist, played by Logan Lerman. It plays at Sundance in a couple of weeks, so we’ll find out soon if it’s any good.
  • Sleight: A sci-fi thriller about a young magician, with solid early reviews. Might not amount to much, but the magician angle intrigues me.
  • The Space Between Us: Asa Butterfield (yay) as a Martian-born boy who travels to Earth to meet the girl he loves (Britt Robertson), but finds his life threatened by the change in gravity. Might be schlock, might be sweet.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: With Civil War, we got our first taste of the new Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and now he gets his own film, with Michael Keaton as the villain. Hopefully this will finally kick off a workable new franchise after what happened with Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which I’ve still never seen).
  • Split: This will certainly rankle people with its depiction of dissociative identity disorder (which it seems to be taking to the limits of ridiculousness), but will it be good? Early reviews aren’t bad, and James McAvoy at least seems to be giving a tour-de-force performance. So…we’ll just see.
  • Take the 10: A Netflix original film starring Andy Samberg about a day in the life of a group of characters in the L.A. area whose stories come together at a hip-hop concert. Not sure what to expect, but it might be a solid little film.
  • T2: Trainspotting: The original is awesome, but a sequel 20 years later? The trailer wasn’t overly promising either, but it is drawing from the sequel novel by the original author, rather than trying to create a sequel from scratch. So it could end up being all right.
  • Tulip Fever: This got pushed back by the Weinsteins, which is probably a pretty bad sign. It does have good credentials – it’s written by Tom Stoppard and stars Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne (that’s two films with the two of them this year!), Judi Dench, and Zach Galifianakis – but it’s also coming out in late February.
  • Wonder Woman: This has certain things going for it that make me more optimistic than I am about Justice League: the period setting, a solid choice of director, and hopefully a more focused story. But DC has to earn our trust back after 2016.

And that takes care of that (he said, after 3,000 words). Tomorrow is the Directors Guild.

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