2016 has come to a close and while a number of anticipated Summer blockbusters might have flopped, I think that this has still overall been an excellent year for movies. Smaller films like Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight have done well at the indie box office while Damien Chazelle’s La La Land appears to be on course to break some box office records and could easily dance its way to future glory. And while I hope to be able to get a Top 10 of 2016 list up as soon as I can, before the year ends here are the 50 films that I am most looking forward to for 2017. While I have my own particular sense of taste I hope that there are plenty of movies across a wide range of genres and sizes that everyone can look forward to for the coming year. Starting with number 50:
50. Victoria and Abdul
Another traditional-sounding historical biopic from Stephen Frears, the director behind films like High Fidelity, The Queen, Philomena, and this year’s Florence Foster Jenkins. The film follows Queen Victoria, played by Judi Dench, and her relationship with Indian Muslim attendant Abdul Karim, played by Ali Fazal. Dench is always dependable for an excellent performance, while Fazal has mostly starred in Bollywood films until he was in last year’s Furious 7. The film will also star Eddie Izzard as the Prince of Wales and will be written by the Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lee Hall, the man behind Billy Elliot. Look out for this one September 22, 2017.
49. The Book of Henry
Colin Trevorrow has had an interesting career so far: he made a big splash in the indie world with 2o12’s Safety Not Guaranteed and now after directing the financially successful Jurassic World is scheduled to direct Star Wars Episode IX and a Flight of the Navigator remake. In the meantime he’ll be directing The Book of Henry, starring Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay, who made an excellent debut in 2015’s Room. Based off of a script by comic book writer Gregg Hurwitz, it’ll be nice to see Trevorrow return to his roots with a smaller picture before moving right back into the blockbuster spotlight, and especially with such a wonderful cast. Look for this one on June 16, 2017.
48. It Comes at Night
Trey Edward Shults has received rave reviews and some smaller awards for his latest film Krisha, winning a number of breakout awards. He’ll be seeking to follow it up with It Comes at Night, a horror mystery starring Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough from Mad Max: Fury Road, and Carmen Ejego. The film has already been picked up by A24, whose recent indie slates have been very well-received, so the pressure is on for this film.
47. The Discovery
Just about anything that Rooney Mara is in now I’ll see, and there will be more coming up in that realm. The Discovery is a sci-fi romance film that will be premiering at Sundance on January 20th, and stars Mara as well as Jason Segel and Jesse Plemons in a world where the existence of the afterlife has been proven. Charlie McDowell, the director of The One I Love, is an up-and-coming voice in the world of heavy sci-fi movies, and the fact that this film has already been picked up by Netflix is very intriguing.
46. War Machine
I had hoped that War Machine would be coming out in 2016 as was originally planned. Another film being distributed by Netflix, this film is directed by David Michod and based off of the book The Operators by the late Michael Hastings. If the film seeks to follow the book it’ll be a scathing satire of American military presence in Afghanistan, starring Brad Pitt as Gen. Dan McMahon, a thinly-veiled representation of Stanley McChrystal. Pitt is also producing the film and starring alongside Ben Kingsley and Emory Cohen, as well as Tilda Swinton and Meg Tilly. It’s also a mid-budget picture so expect a mix of solid storytelling that Michod is known for as well as solid battle sequences.
45. The Coldest City
David Leitch began his career as a stunt coordinator prior to his 2014 breakout hit John Wick, and now he’s taking another step forward with The Coldest City. This one is a Cold War spy thriller starring Charlize Theron as a top MI6 agent who partners with James McAvoy as the station chief in Berlin to take down a spy ring. Combining an under-represented genre, and not to mention the always lovable John Goodman, this one just sounds delightful. The film will be shot by Jonathan Sela who did great and stylish work on John Wick and music by Tyler Bates, who coordinated the music for Guardians of the Galaxy. Make sure to see this on July 28, 2017.
44. The Greatest Showman
I’m actually somewhat surprised that this film is so low on my list. It’s another original musical with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who have done the lyrics for La La Land, as well as for the recent Broadway smash Dear Evan Hansen. The film also stars Hugh Jackman, perfectly cast as P. T. Barnum, alongside Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, and Michelle Williams. The film is set for a Christmas 2017 release and is being shot by Oscar-nominee Seamus McGarvey, so why is it so low? I love musicals but I just have reservations about the director, Michael Gracey, who has only previously been a special effects artist. As well as the fact that it’s been under production for six years, through three writers, and a few different stars. We’ll just have to wait and see.
43. The Meyerowitz Stories
Noah Baumbach is the wonderful comedy director behind films such as Frances Ha, Greenberg, and Mistress America. Baumbach is directing and writing this film as with his previous successes, and does so in a way that combines Wes Anderson with Woody Allen in a wholly unique way. Although I am very suspicious about any movie with Adam Sandler in a leading role, it does also have Emma Thompson, Ben Stiller, and Dustin Hoffman. I could see this film sinking lower on this list but I am excited to see what Baumbach does with this cast and usually every movie he directs is something new and refreshing.
42. Beauty and the Beast
As I said above, I am a fan of musicals, movie musicals especially. Beauty and the Beast is one of, if not the best, 1990’s Disney animated musical, and the stage show is also just wonderful. I have been anticipating this one for a while, a live-action remake starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Wow, that’s a lot but this film deserves it. Also Disney’s recent slew of live-action movies like Cinderella and The Jungle Book have been well-received and arguably made from lesser material. Expect this one in theaters on March 17, 2017.
David Gordon Green has had an interesting and varied career between George Washington, Pineapple Express, Joe, and Our Brand Is Crisis. Now he’s adapting the story of Jeff Bauman, a man who loses his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing and has to learn to walk again. The film will star Jake Gyllenhaal as Bauman, as well as Tatiana Maslany and Miranda Richardson. I think that Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the greatest actors working in Hollywood today and if anyone can pull off a role like this it’s him. The film will also be shot by DP Sean Bobbitt who has done wonderful work on 12 Years a Slave and Queen of Katwe. So expect a well-directed, well-acted, and well-shot uplifting story sometime in 2017.
40. The Mercy
The Mercy is based off of the real-life story of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur sailor and yacht-racer who tries to complete a single-man, around-the-world yacht race. The film is directed by James Marsh, the Academy Award-winning director behind Man on Wire and The Theory of Everything, working with a number of wonderful actors like Colin Firth as Crowhurst, Rachel Weisz as his wife Clare, and David Thewlis as Rodney Hallworth, Crowhurst’s press agent. The film is being written by Scott Z. Burns, writer of The Informant! and Contagion, with music by Johann Johannsson, whose music for The Theory of Everything was wonderful and whose score for Arrival has been dully praised. The film has yet to get a release date but expect it likely in the Fall of 2017.
39. Lady Bird
The last few years have seen some wonderful performances by younger actors like Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea and Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn. Both Hedges and Ronan are set to star opposite Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts in Lady Bird, the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, whose acting and writing work for Frances Ha have me very excited to see what she can do in the director’s chair. The acting, directing, and writing talent alone has me excited, and expect this film probably some time in the late Spring or early Fall.
38. The Circle
The Circle was originally slated to come out sometime in 2016 before being moved back to 2017. The film is based off of Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name and stars Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in a sci-fi thriller where Watson is hired by a mysterious Internet company that seeks to know everything about everyone. The subject is an interesting and topical one, with John Boyega, Karen Gillan, and Patton Oswalt also joining the cast. The director, James Ponsoldt, has done good films like The Spectacular Now and The End of the Tour. The film also has music done by Danny Elfman and shot by Matthew Libatique, known for his great work on Darren Aronofsky’s films Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. The film is set to be released on April 28, 2017.
37. The Current War
As if 2017 couldn’t be any more full of great indie directors taking on bigger and bolder projects, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon the director behind Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is now directing The Current War. This is a biopic and historical drama about the battle between Thomas Edison, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and George Westinghouse, played by Michael Shannon, for control of America’s electric standard. The film will also star Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla, as well as roles for Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, and Sienna Miller. The film is also being distributed by The Weinstein Company who has had a pretty off year in 2016, but hopefully this will resurrect their chances in the coming year. Expect this film likely sometime in the Fall or Winter because of this.
36. Mary Magdalene
Hollywood has tended to have an interesting relationships with movies about Jesus or even Christianity. However, with Silence and now Mary Magdalene more serious directors are taking to the subject, in this case Lion director Garth Davis. The film is being written by two relative newcomers and stars Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus Christ, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter, and Tahar Rahim as Judas. Davis is also bringing back cinematographer Greig Fraser, who has had a banner year DPing for Lion and Rogue One. I would normally not be very excited about a movie like this but the talent behind of and in front of the camera makes me pretty excited for this.
35. How to Talk to Girls at Parties
It’s been quite a while since John Cameron Mitchell directed a movie, 2010’s Rabbit Hole, but in the meantime his Hedwig and the Anrgy Inch has achieved success on screen and in its stage adaptation. This has many excited for his next project, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, a sci-fi romantic-comedy about a young man, played by newcomer Abraham Jack Lewis, who meets a girl at a party and becomes involved in an alien ritual in London. The girl is played by Elle Fanning who has had a wonderful year in 2016 and also stars Alex Sharp, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, and Jessica Plummer. The film has also been picked up by A24 and due to the acting talent, the director’s wonderful style, and the distributor I am excited to see this one.
34. Untitled Dick Cheney Project
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and success of Adam McKay’s The Big Short, a well-crafted and incisive telling of the Mortgage crisis from three interesting perspectives. Now he seems to be sticking to that direction with an Untitled Dick Cheney Project about one of America’s more divisive Vice Presidents. Little is known about the project as of right now, but Paramount reports that it’ll be released sometime in late 2017. I also can’t wait to see who McKay casts as Cheney and George W. Bush.
33. John Wick: Chapter Two
Talking about surprises, John Wick sounded like the kind of washed-up actor action vehicle that could have flopped spectacularly. Instead thanks to the direction and stunt work of Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, it was a pitch-perfect action thriller that delivered in a number of great ways thanks to the sleek shooting style, awesome action, and solid Keanu Reeves performance. The film’s trailer promises it will be bigger and a cast that includes Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, and Peter Stormare, and moving the setting to Rome with a bigger plot has me all kinds of excited. John Wick: Chapter Two will be premiering on February 10, 2017.
32. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol: 2
Keeping with the talk of surprises, Guardians of the Galaxy went from something I was dreading to one of my favorite Marvel and superhero movies ever made. It delivered on action, comedy, and great characters, as well as an amazing soundtrack. James Gunn and the whole cast of the last movie are returning with the addition of Elizabeth Debicki and Kurt Russell. This will probably continue the turn of the franchise towards the Infinity War arc that we’ll see in a few more years, while also mixing in Peter Quill’s search for his parents. The trailers promise to keep the tone of the previous film and hopefully delve deeper into the characters. Also Baby Groot! Guardians of the Galaxy Vol: 2 is set to premiere on May 5, 2017.
31. Wind River
Taylor Sheridan has had a wonderful couple of years as a writer, penning the tight and solid script for Sicario and this years’ soon-to-be-Oscar-nominated film Hell or High Water. Now he is both writing and directing Wind River, a thriller starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as a veteran game trapper and FBI agent who investigate a murder on a Native American reservation. In addition to Renner and Olsen, Jon Bernthal and Gil Birmingham, who’ve worked with Sheridan on Sicario and Hell or High Water, respectively, are also joining the cast. The film will be shot by Ben Richardson, who did amazing work for 2012’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, so we know that his work fits into the destitute oeuvre of Taylor Sheridan. Sheridan will also be working with Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated editor Gary D. Roach and the film will be premiering at Sundance on January 21, so it won’t be too long before we get to see it. Sheridan has done a wonderful job at bringing the darker and more forgotten stories of America’s modern West to the big screen and hopefully this’ll be go the same way.
30. Red Sparrow
Another highly-anticipated spy thriller, this one stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, and Jeremy Irons, with Lawrence as a Russian spy who falls for a CIA officer and considers becoming a double agent. The film is to be directed by Francis Lawrence, who’s worked with Lawrence before on the last three Hunger Games movies, and now returns to his less-franchise-oriented works like Constantine and Water for Elephants. Lawrence has undeniable star-power and Edgerton’s rising profile has also been wonderful to see as a big fan of his. It’s also always nice to see Jeremy Irons, especially when his schedule is so full of Batman movies now. I feel that this could also easily flop like Passengers but with the acting and directing talent I am very interested to see how it does.
29. The Shape of Water
I’m a little surprised that this one isn’t higher on my list, a new Guillermo del Toro film is always a treat and Pan’s Labyrinth remains my favorite work of his. Del Toro is continuing with his fantasy roots with The Shape of Water, a fantasy adventure set to the backdrop of the Cold War, similar to how Pan’s Labyrinth was set to the backdrop of World War II. The film will star Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. The film’s score will be done by my personal favorite Alexandre Desplat with cinematography by Dan Laustsen, who worked with del Toro on Crimson Peak. The film will be written by veteran Game of Thrones writer Vanessa Taylor. Expect this one to have a late Summer of Fall release date.
28. The Snowman
Tomas Alfredson has so far done two excellent and yet very different films to speak of: Let the Right One In, a Swedish romantic vampire drama, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a taut Cold War thriller. His latest film, The Snowman, is based off of a work by Jo Nesbo, adapted for the screen by The Wings of a Dove writer Hossein Amini and screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan. The film will star Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole, tasked with investigating the disappearance of a young women when her scarf is found on a mysterious snowman. Alongside Fassbender, the film stars Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J. K. Simmons, and Val Kilmer. The film will be shot by veteran DP Dion Beebe and is set to come out October 13, 2017.
27. Untitled Woody Allen Project
To be a Woody Allen fan in the late portion of his career is to know love and heartbreak in equal, or now more so unequal, measure. Allen’s latest varies between Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine, or Magic in the Moonlight and Irrational Man. Allen’s next film however, and he’s overdue for another great one I’d say, is set on Coney Island in the 1950’s and stars Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, and Juno Temple. The film will be shot by three-time Academy Award-winner Vittorio Storaro and released by Amazon likely in the Summer or early Fall.
26. A Ghost Story
This one came as a big surprise as the story broke in November 2016 that director David Lowery, whose made Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon, had secretly filmed a new drama with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck. As mentioned above I’ll see anything with Mara in it now and Affleck as well thanks to his stellar work in Manchester. A Ghost Story also stars Will Oldham and is set to premiere at Sundance on January 22, 2017. Listed on IMDB as “the story of a ghost and the house he haunts” expect something strange and new at Sundance.
25. Darkest Hour
Joe Wright has had an even more successful career than Stephen Frears adapting British history to the screen with Atonement and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Recovering from 2015’s Pan, he returns to his more traditional work with this story of Winston Churchill, played by a transformed Gary Oldman, at the outbreak of World War II in Europe. The film will also star Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, John Hurt as Neville Chamberlain, Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill, and Lily James as Elizabeth Nel, Churchill’s personal secretary. The film will be written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Theory of Everything Anthony McCarten, with music by Oscar-winner Dario Marianelli and shot by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel. Expect this one deep into awards season on November 24th.
24. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Our fourth Spider-Man movie in ten years and the third attempt at the character, now with a younger actor, Tom Holland, taking over the role. Holland’s brief screen time in Captain America: Civil War was perfect, and bringing in Michael Keaton to play the Vulture, Zendaya as his female friend Michelle, as well as Donald Glover in an unknown role, and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, this one just sounds too good to be true. Jon Watts, the man behind 2015’s Cop Car will be directing this one, and you bet I’m gonna be there on June 7th when this one hits.
23. Battle of the Sexes
Now for something completely different. Battle of the Sexes is directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband and wife pair behind Little Miss Sunshine, and written by Oscar-winner Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire. The film tells the interesting story of the tennis match between Billie Jean King, played by Emma Stone, and Bobby Riggs, played by Steve Carell. That is a wonderful pair to work on such a project together, and the addition of Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, and Alan Cumming has me even more excited. And on top of all that Nicholas Britell, the genius composer for Moonlight will be scoring the film while Linus Sandgren, the DP for La La Land, will be shooting the film. This sounds all kinds of perfect and I am very excited for this movie’s release.
22. The Glass Castle
I have never read Jeannette Walls’ 2005 memoir The Glass Castle, a story of her life growing up in poverty, but I have only heard good things about it. It’s now being brought to the screen by Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton, and stars Short Term 12’s Oscar-winning star Brie Larson, alongside Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson. The cast is great, the source material is reportedly very good, and the director sounds like the perfect person to make it all work. Expect this one deep into awards season.
21. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a pitch-perfect comic book adaptation, catapulting Taron Egerton to stardom and giving us a kind of movie we haven’t seen since Austin Powers, a great comedic spy thriller and parody, albeit one that doesn’t depend too much on James Bond. Matthew Vaughn is returning to write and direct the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, with Egerton returning and apparently Colin Firth as well. Joining them are Julianne Moore as the film’s villain, as well as Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, and even Elton John. This one will find Eggsy interacting with an American counterpart to Kingsman, and promises to be another stellar action comedy from Vaughn. Kingsman: The Golden Circle premieres October 6th.
20. The Death of Stalin
I was sad to hear of Armando Iannuci’s departure from Veep until I heard it was to make The Death of Stalin, a political comedy about the various goings-on and power-grabs in the Russian government after Stalin’s death. The film is based off of Fabien Nury’s novel of the same name and the screenplay is written by Iannuci himself, also known for In the Loop. The film stars Adrian McLoughlin as the film’s titular dictator, as well as Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Olga Kurylenko, Timothy Dalton, Michael Palin, and many more as various Russian historical figures. The material is right up Iannuci’s alley and the cast is just all kinds of great. This is the kind of film that just can’t come soon enough.
Of the many great surprises to come out of 2015, was later in 2016 when Alex Garland’s wonderful sci-fi thriller Ex Machina won Best Visual Effects at the Oscars. A deserved win, it also helped cement the film as among the year’s best, and now Garland returns with this adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Annihilation. The film stars Natalie Portman as a biologist whose husband’s disappearance means she has to trek into an environmental disaster area along with Jennifer Jason Leigh and others such as Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez. The film also stars Ex Machina‘s Oscar Isaac, with much of the same technical staff that made Ex Machina so wonderful returning with Garland for this film. Hopefully Garland can deliver with a bigger story like this one.
18. The Beguiled
Anything with a Coppola’s name on it is something to be anticipated, and Sofia Coppola has already made a great mark on American cinema with films such as Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. Her latest, The Beguiled, is based off of the Thomas Cullinan novel The Painted Devil, about a Union soldier who cons his way into a Confederate girl’s school during the Civil War and turns the girls on one another. The film stars Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst, as well as Colin Farrell and sounds like another great historical tale from Coppola mixing Marie Antoinette with The Virgin Suicides. She also brings Philippe Le Sourd, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer behind The Grandmaster in for good measure. Expect this film June 23rd.
17. Murder on the Orient Express
Kenneth Branagh is one of the original great actor-directors of our day, with films such as Henry V, Hamlet, etc. under his belt. His latest project is an historical mystery based on the classic Agatha Christie novel of the same name. Branagh is set to star as Hercule Poirot, Christie’s beloved Belgian detective, alongside Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom, Jr., Michael Pena, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley among the titular train’s many passengers. Branagh is bringing a wide variety of talent along with him including Eye in the Sky DP Haris Zambarloukos, and Harry Potter composer Patrick Doyle. Murder on the Orient Express is slated for release on November 22nd.
16. Star Wars: Episode VIII
Another year, another Star Wars movie. And there is nothing wrong with that. The huge success of The Force Awakens and now Rogue One has kept the hype train going for the next installment in the central Star Wars storyline, bringing back all of the stars of the last one, with more Mark Hamill, as well as Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern in undisclosed roles. Perhaps even more important is the film is now in the hands of Rian Johnson, director of 2012’s Looper and three of the greatest Breaking Bad episode (“The Fly,” “Fifty-One,” and “Ozymandias”). Given the leading role of both writing and directing the film, it’s in good hands and fans should expect another excellent episode in the beloved Star Wars saga on December 15th.
15. You Were Never Really Here
Scottish director Lynne Ramsay is an auteur who has teetered on the edge of Hollywood for far too long. Her 2011 work We Need to Talk About Kevin exhibited amazing performances from Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, and her latest You Were Never Really Here has similar star-power. Joaquin Phoenix will star as a war veteran who gets caught up in an underground world when he tries to save a girl from sex trafficking. The film also stars Alessandro Nivola and Ekaterina Samsonov, will be adapted by Ramsay, and edited by Kevin partner Joe Bini. Amazon Studios has had an amazing year bringing Manchester by the Sea to the forefront and expect them to work similar magic here.
14. Logan Lucky
Steven Soderbergh’s voice has been sorely missed from the big screen since 2013’s Side Effects. No need to worry as he’s now returning with a crime comedy about a pair of brothers Jimmy and Joe, played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, respectively, as they perform a heist during a NASCAR race. The film also stars Daniel Craig, Hillary Swank, Katherine Heigl, Katherine Waterston, Seth MacFarlane, and Sebastian Stan. Soderbergh will be editor and cinematographer for this film, as has become his trademark, so expect something wonderful and different in theaters on October 13th.
13. Baby Driver
Speaking of heists, drivers, and sorely missed writer-directors, Edgar Wright is returning with his first film since the end of the Cornetto Trilogy with 2013’s The Worlds End. Leaving behind Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Wright brings in Ansol Elgort as Baby, a quiet young man who serves as a getaway driver for a group of bank robbers. Lily James will star as Deborah, Baby’s girlfriend, alongside Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Elza Gonzalez, and Jon Bernthal. Wright brings his usual technical crew along with him that made the Cornetto Trilogy such amazing fun. Baby Driver hits theaters on August 11th.
12. War for the Planet of the Apes
So far the Planet of the Apes remakes have been getting better, one after another, with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014. Now Matt Reeves, director of Rise, returns along with Andy Serkis and many of the previous simian actors, as well as Woody Harrelson as The Colonel, a human military leader who refuses to let the apes live in peace. All of the new and returning talent has me very excited for the third entry in this renewed franchise, released on July 14th.
11. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh is one of our greatest living writers of stage and screen with his amazing directing and writing for In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths winning him deserving praise. His latest appears to be another crime comedy starring Frances McDormand as a woman who goes to war with her local police department after her daughter’s murder. The film will also star Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, and Lucas Hedges. Ben Davis, McDonagh’s cinematographer for Seven Psychopaths is returning as well, so whenever this film is opening expect to find me waiting in line for a ticket.
10. Molly’s Game
Like McDonagh, Aaron Sorkin has proven himself to be one of our greatest, if not our greatest, cinematic wordsmiths. He’s finally sitting in the directing chair as well for Molly’s Game, based off of the memoir of Molly Bloom, a successful entrepreneur who enters the world of underground poker, portrayed in the film by Jessica Chastain. The film will also star Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Brian d’Arcy James, and Chris O’Dowd, all of whom I can’t wait to see take a crack at Sorkinese dialogue. Along with great acting talent, Sorking is bringing in Charlotte Bruus Christensen, cinematographer for this year’s Fences, and David Rosenbloom, Oscar-winning editor f The Insider. Chastain is always proving herself in worthy roles and I expect nothing less from her here.
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody broke into the cinematic mainstream in a big way with 2007’s Juno, a well-crafted story of a young woman thrown into a terrible situation when she gets impregnated by her high school boyfriend. Now the two are teaming up once more for Tully, another tale of motherhood starring Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, and Mark Duplass. The pairing of Reitman and Cody has worked magic before, and returning their Young Adult star Theron for another film is a good move. Reitman returns his veteran cameraman Eric Steelberg and editor Dana Glauberman, so expect another well-made, hilarious character study.
Darren Aronofsky has proven himself at just about every turn in his career regardless of whether he’s making a small psychological thriller like Pi or Black Swan or a bigger epic like Noah. Aronofsky appears to be going in a new direction with Mother, a drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem where a couple’s tranquil existence is disrupted by the interference of an uninvited guest in their home. The film also stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Domnhall Gleeson, and Ed Harris. Aronofsky returns his previously-mentioned DP Libatique and Oscar-nominated editor Andrew Weisblum. Expect pitch-perfect Aronofsky regardless of the genre, and an excellent film sometime next year.
I had never seen a Todd Haynes film prior to last year’s Carol, but it has remained with me ever since as my favorite film of 2015. Haynes is returning from his wonderful work on that film with 2017’s Wonderstruck, a drama about people living fifty years apart, one in the Midwest and one in New York, as they seek a mysterious connection. The film stars Millicent Simmonds and Oakes Fegley as a girl who escapes her home and her idol, respectively, as well as Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Amy Hargreaves. Taking place in both 1927 and 1977, Haynes has proven himself adept at period dramas with Carol and Far From Heaven. Also returning are composer Carter Burwell and cinematographer Edward Lachman, both of whom did amazing work for Carol. Expect another stellar film from Haynes in 2017.
George Clooney has proven himself adept both in front of and behind the camera, and his latest Suburbicon has the potential to be his best work yet. Clooney directs and co-writes here along with friends Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as Oscar-winning cinematographer and Clooney colleague Robert Elswit and editor Stephen Mirrione. The film stars Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Josh Brolin, and Oscar Isaac in the quiet titular town when a home invasion ruins a perfect family life leading to jealousy and blackmail. The film sounds all kinds of excellent and hopefully we’ll be getting something more akin to Clooney’s work on Good Night and Good Luck and not another Monuments Men.
5. The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara
In case this hasn’t already become apparent, 2017 is going to be a BIG year for Oscar Isaac, and nothing screams big like working with Steven Spielberg. I am actually a bigger fan of Spielberg’s historical works like Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, and Lincoln, where he brings life and humanity to historical figures, than his action-adventures films. Now Spielberg returns to that kind of film with The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, the historical tale of a young Jewish Italian boy and his family. When the boy falls deathly ill, his nurse baptizes him, and when the boy is well again he is stolen by the Catholic Church in a vital part of Italian history. Starring as Pope Pius IX is recent Oscar-winner Mark Rylance, with Isaac in an undisclosed major role. Adapted for the screen with a script by Oscar-nominee and Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner, and I assume Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography and Michael Kahn’s editing, this film has prestige and excellence written all over it.
4. Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve is on one hell of a roll with 2013’s Prisoners, 2014’s Enemy, 2015’s Sicario, and 2016’s Arrival. Now he’s looking to keep it going and cement himself as a modern master of science fiction with this film set thirty years after the events of Ridley Scott’s classic. Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto, and Barkhad Abdi, the cast sounds stellar and the behind-the-scenes work sounds excellent. Roger Deakins, one of the best cinematographers working today is shooting the film, Johann Johannsson is scoring it, while Oscar-nominated editor Joe Walker is cutting the film. A stellar trailer has many excited, including myself for another stellar sci-fi adventure set to come out October 6th.
There are few directors whose very name incites such excitement in the Internet film world as Christopher Nolan. The director behind The Dark Knight, Inception, and Interstellar is returning to dazzle us once more with Dunkirk, an historical war drama about the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation that saved the British Army from destruction at the hands of Nazi Germany. The film stars Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles, and Fionn Whitehead as British citizens all caught up in the historical events of World War II. Hans Zimmer returns to provide this music with another stellar score and DP Hoyte van Hoytema returns to shoot the film. Another excellent trailer teases wonderful things in cinemas July 21st.
What could pique my interest more than new Christopher Nolan movies? The first answer is new Alexander Payne, who has proven himself as a great director of American satire in films such as Election and Nebraska. In his latest since Nebraska, Payne walks into new territory with this sci-fi comedy starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis, and Margo Martindale. I would see Payne do just about anything at this point, and the return of Nebraska cinematographer Phedon Papamichael is exciting stuff. Expect this one deep into the holiday season on December 22nd.
1. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project
Finally, there are few directors who I would call all-timers among those working today, but Paul Thomas Anderson is certainly one of them. With films like There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia, he has already cemented a place in film history. That being said PTA is returning with a new drama set in the world of fashion in London in the 1950’s, and starring There Will Be Blood star and three-time Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis in an unnamed lead role. That alone is enough to sell the movie to me, even as it remains somewhat shrouded in secrecy, which I am just fine with. Expect cinema magic of all kinds to be made with this one.