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Thursday, January 12, 2017

25 Films to Look Forward to in 2017

It's that time of the year again, where our team highlights 25 films forthcoming over the next 12 months. 2016 was a great year for the indie and prestige drama, while quality blockbusters were few and far between. Given what's coming below, we've got an exciting slate of films coming our way that could buck that trend this time around - along with releases by some of our most exciting filmmakers.

These are our picks for the 25 Films to Look Forward to in 2017!

The Discovery
dir. Charlie McDowell
Release Date: January 20

Some of my favorite movies (and stories in general) take an odd, absurdist idea for a world, then introduce some characters to that world and just see what happens. The Lobster is a great example of this, as is The One I Love, the last film that Charlie McDowell directed. That film was a weird, funny exploration of love and relationships in an unexplainable situation, and The Discovery sounds like it will continue the theme: it examines a love story that occurs in a world where the afterlife has been recently proven to exist. Add to that an interesting cast including Rooney Mara, Jason Segal, and Robert Redford, and I’m 100% on board. (Harper)

The Lego Batman Movie
dir. Chris McKay
Release Date: February 10

Three years ago, The Lego Movie took everyone by surprise.  What could have been a dull children's film meant to cash in on the obvious toys ended up being a delightful time and possible one of the best animated films of this decade.  Banking on that success, Will Arnett returns to the role of Batman in The Lego Batman Movie, a spinoff of the 2014 film.  Zach Galifiankis plays the Joker, who brings with him a cavalcade of Batman's greatest and lamest villains.  Everyone from Two-Face to the Eraser are coming for the Dark Knight, but Michael Cera's Robin and Rosario Dawson's Batgirl are here to help.  The trailers so far have all been a blast.  What also seems like a mindless cash-in on paper just may turn out to be as special as the film it spins off from. (Shane)

John Wick: Chapter Two
dir. Chad Stahelski
Release Date: February 10

John Wick was a weird action movie, but a very, very good one, giving us a tight story about a legendary hitman (Keanu Reeves) who comes out of retirement after mob kid attacks him. What could have been a too-simple premise was elevated by some of the year's finest action choreography and odd, interesting world-building that came out of left field but made a more fun film. John Wick: Chapter Two finds one of the two directors returning, and if it offers more depth to those two core strengths, this could easily grow into a truly great action franchise. (Alexander)

A Cure for Wellness
dir. Gore Verbinski
Release date: February 17

Horror films are usually a dicey proposition, and this one could certainly go either way. But I'm really curious about A Cure for Wellness - a film that sees its protagonist tracking down his company's CEO at a "wellness facility" with some creepy-looking treatments - because it marks director Gore Verbinski's return to the horror genre. Whenever I'm asked about my favorite scary movies, The Ring is right up there - Verbinski was the director of that surprising hit, but he moved on to Pirates of the Caribbean franchise shortly after. I can't wait to see if The Ring was a fluke or if he can reproduce that success here. (Hannah)

Get Out
dir. Jordan Peele
Release Date: February 24

I'm always intrigued when comedians dip their toes into other genres, and every trailer I've seen for Get Out has me hyped to check out the directorial debut of Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame). The film is a satirical horror film in the vein of The Stepford Wivesin which a young black man goes to visit his white girlfriend's family in Connecticut for the first time and finds a psychadelic, nightmarish conspiracy hiding just under the polite surface. (Alexander)

dir. Julia Ducournau
Release Date: March 10

Festival reviews of Julia Ducournau's directorial debut, Raw, promise a brutal, harrowing new horror film. The film follows a young vegetarian who becomes a cannibal after a hazing incident gone terribly awry, and early reports suggest a quiet, methodical horror film focused heavily on the acting talents of Garance Marillier, a longtime collaborator of Ducournau's. The premise and early reaction remind me a bit of Claire Denis' Trouble Every Day, which made our list of Best Horror Films Since 2000, and thextreme reactions from some people to the film have me intrigued, even if I'd bet they're wildly overblown. (Alexander)

Their Finest
dir. Lone Scherfig
Release Date: March 24

Lone Scherfig's An Education helped put Carey Mulligan on the map, and was one of the strongest coming-of-age films of the 2000s. While she has made a couple more movies since then, none have sounded quite as intriguing as Their Finest, a romantic comedy about a film crew trying to put together a morale-boosting propaganda film about the Miracle of Dunkirk. Scherfig has a keen eye for period drama, but the various elements of Their Finest seem to be coming together in unpredictable, interesting waysI love a good romantic comedy, but they're becoming increasingly rare. Seeing a talent like Scherfig make an ambitious romantic comedy like this definitely has me excited. (Alexander)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
dir. James Gunn
Release date: May 5

You've seen the footage of Baby Groot, right? There's almost no need to say more, but I will anyway. Marvel always has a pretty consistent baseline of quality for their films, and Guardians is one I look forward to even moreso because the last film colored outside the lines of the typical MCU tone. It'll also be nice to see Chris Pratt return to form after being miscast in a few duds this year. (Hannah)

Wonder Woman
dir. Patty Jenkins
Release date: June 2

As far as I'm concerned, this is WB's last chance to salvage anything related to the DC Universe on film. Batman v Superman disappointed, despite its ambition and structural curiosities, while Suicide Squad was an outright disaster on every level. With Wonder Woman, a few things are working in its favor: the best received part of BvS takes center stage (Gal Gadot), a solid director whose voice seems like a great fit for the material (Patty Jenkins), and filming went down with any majorly publicized issues - unlike the previous two films. They've also roped in Chris Pine, a solid character actor in the key supporting role. If this fails, it's goodnight for a while, but we'll hope for the best from the first leading-lady superhero in the current era. (Kyle)

The Beguiled
dir. Sofia Coppola
Release Date: June 23

Look, if Sofia Coppola, one of the finest directors working today, puts out a new movie, you can be damn sure I'll be excited for it. Sure, she's a bit uneven lately - A Very Murray Christmas was abysmal, and Somewhere remains her worst feature film - but when you make The Virgin SuicidesLost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette, you get a few free passes to experiment and make mistakes. The Beguiled is a period piece that follows a young soldier in the Civil War who is injured. He is rescued by a young girl in a Southern boarding school and allowed to recuperate in the school, but his presence, both as a man and as a Union soldier, begins to cause serious problems for the school. Coppola's approach to period pieces is unlike basically any other director working right now, so I'm fascinated to see how she approaches the American Civil War. (Alexander)

Spider-Man: Homecoming
dir. Jon Watts
Release Date: July 7

For my money, Tom Holland's Spider-man was easily one of the standout aspects of Captain America: Civil War.  Holland brings a youthful energy, excitement, nervousness, and humor that combines the best of his predecessors in the role.  Spider-man existing in the MCU felt like a pipe dream not too long ago, but now Tom Holland gets the chance to really dive deep into Peter Parker with Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Said to be a combination of John Hughes and superheroes, Homecoming sees Spidey facing off against the Vulture (Michael Keaton) while dealing with school, love, family, and Tony Stark.  While I didn't love the second half of the first trailer, I have a lot of hope that Jon Watts and Holland can deliver a Spider-man movie we can all be proud of.  God knows we need it. (Shane)

War for the Planet of the Apes
dir. Matt Reeves
Release Date: July 14

Of all the franchises Hollywood has tried to reboot over the last 10 years, who would have ever guessed that Planet of the Apes would end up being the runaway success?  War for the Planet of the Apes is the third film in the reboot of the classic franchise, which continues to blow me away with its use of CGI, motion capture, and damn good writing.  This installment sees Caesar (Andy Serkis) fighting his inner demons as well as one of the last remaining groups of humans left on the planet, led by Woody Harrelson's character the Colonel.  No doubt Andy Serkis will continue to impress with his complete mastery of motion capture technology in the role of Caesar.  If this film turns out as great as the previous two, I'll be fine with seeing Planet of the Apes prequels until the end of time. (Shane)

dir. Christopher Nolan
Release date: July 21

Movies set against the backdrop of war usually aren't my thing, but Christopher Nolan is one of those directors I'll make an exception for. Interstellar and Inception were some of my favorite movies in recent years, so it'll be interesting to see Nolan tackle something more realistic. Nolan's penchant for practical effects will also most likely be well-served here. (Hannah)

The Dark Tower
dir. Nikolaj Arcel
Release date: July 28

"The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed". Finally getting to see that line on the big screen, either in text or in audible form will surely send a chill down my spine. Hopefully the rest of the movie will live up to it! This long awaited adaptation of Stephen King's renowned fantasy series finally hits theaters this summer, starring Idris Elba as the Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. A hell of an acting two-fer, and roping in A Royal Affair's Nikolaj Arcel is another promising development. This movie had the makings of some trouble on the horizon, but after getting pushed from February into the heart of the summer, it seems like the studio is excited by what they see. Fingers crossed we all are too. (Kyle)

Baby Driver
dir. Edgar Wright
Release Date: August 11

It's been four years since we have seen anything out of Edgar Wright.  While I greatly enjoyed The World's End, Wright's talent and humor is something we have desperately been needing in cinema lately.  Thankfully, Wright returns to theaters this summer with Baby Driver.  Described as an action crime thriller, the film centers around the character Baby (Ansel Elgort), who is a getaway driver for various bank robbers.  Details are a bit scarce aside from that, but the supporting cast includes Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, and Meryl Streep.  Edgar Wright is taking a huge step up in terms of his celebrity collaborators.  Should be fun to see how this one turns out. (Shane)

Blade Runner 2049
dir. Denis Villeneuve
Release date: October 6

A sequel to one of my favorite films of all time. A director hot off his biggest critical success in Arrival. A star coming off multiple award nods for La La Land. The best cinematographer alive taking part. And Harrison Ford returning to his best role. There's no real reason to have a Blade Runner sequel, I don't need to know if Deckard is a replicant or not, or what happens after they drove off. But if you're going to offer it to me with all these wonderful additions, I can't say no. If nothing else, it will be visually sumptuous, and sometimes, that's all I need. (Kyle)

Thor: Ragnarok
dir. Taika Waititi
Release Date: November 3

Captain America: Civil War was one of my favorite superhero films in an era where I’m getting real tired of superhero films, and a large part of that was the way it brought lots of characters together in an organic way rather than as if it was a team building exercise. Thor: Ragnarok looks be taking the same approach, folding in The Hulk and Dr. Strange into the Norse god’s world. What makes this especially tantalizing, though, is the addition of Taika Waititi in the director’s chair, who has traditionally tackled comedic films. Here’s to hoping Waititi can breathe some humor and life into Thor’s world–if you’re unsure, just check out the short film he created last year and I think you’ll be sold. (Harper)

Star Wars: Episode VIII
dir. Rian Johnson
Release date: December 15th

Rogue One was fine, but for me, a return to the characters we met in The Force Awakens is a far more exciting proposition. The next entry in the Star Wars universe is directed by Rian Johnson, best known for his film Looper. It'll be a bittersweet affair after the sudden loss of Carrie Fisher, but I can't wait to see where this next chapter takes the story. (Hannah)

dir. Alexander Payne
Release Date: December 22nd

One of my favorite movies of all time and recent years is The Descendants.  I can't really explain why I love the film so much, but something about it touched me and has remained in my memory ever since.  I also enjoyed 2013's Nebraska, but to a lesser extent.  Now the director of those two films, Alexander Payne, brings us his next film at the end of this year: Downsizing.  Here's all we know about the movie's plot: a husband and wife decide to have themselves shrunk down after feeling like their lives are out of hand.  The cast is as wild as the premise: Matt Damon, Kristin Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, and more are all here for this.  Sci-fi seems a little out of character for Alexander Payne, but the man has earned my trust.  I'll be there opening night. (Shane)

dir. Duncan Jones
Release date: TBD

I have to admit that I skipped out on Warcraft, but I was a big fan of director Duncan Jones' Moon, so I'm interested to see what he has in store for us with his next film. Mute is already drawing comparisons to Blade Runner based on recently released images, and the film stars Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux in a noir-ish quest set in Berlin circa 2052. Rather than a traditional theatrical release, Mute will release on Netflix. (Hannah)

Paul Thomas Anderson's untitled new film
dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
Release date: Fall 

This film has no name as of yet, but when PTA has something on the horizon, I'll drop everything to make it my movie-going priority. All we know thus far, he and There Will Be Blood star Daniel Day Lewis are reuniting for a drama about the 1950's London fashion industry. Every PTA effort is an event, and I've loved each and every one in different ways. This will likely be a seismic player in my year end list. (Kyle)

dir. Alex Garland
Release date: TBD

Between Dredd, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and his directorial debut Ex Machina, Alex Garland is basically the best genre writer in film right now. This adaptation of the Jeff VanderMeer novel looks to follow suit, starring Natalie Portman as a biologist joining a team that will explore an environmental disaster zone after her husband disappears in the same. Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Oscar Isaac provide some exciting-sounding support in what looks to be more of a science fiction art film than your typical fare - if the source material is anything to go by. (Kyle)

Under the Silver Lake
dir. David Robert Mitchell
Release Date: TBD

2015's It Follows was one of the most inventive and satisfying forays into horror in a decade, so it stands to reason that Mitchell's newest film, a neo-noir set in modern day Los Angeles, will be interesting at the very least. It's got a solid cast too, including Jimmi Simpson (hot off his acclaimed run on West World), Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, and more. Given all that, I'm certain this is one to watch for! (Harper)

dir. George Clooney
Release Date: TBD

First, take a script by the Coen Bros originally written just after Blood Simple in 1986, a 1950s period piece that explores the dark underbelly of suburban life. Second, add Coen regular and fairly accomplished director George Clooney. Lastly, add a great cast including Matt Damon, Oscar Isaac, Julianne Moore, and Josh Brolin and you've got a movie you couldn't pay me to skip. While Clooney has had a misstep or two in his directorial career, he's proven that he is up to the task of adding the right amount of style to augment a writer's style, and I'm super excited to check it out! (Harper)

The Killing of a Sacred Deer
dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Release Date: TBD

Lanthimos' The Lobster was my favorite movie of 2016, so it's no surprise that I'm all in on his next outing. The Killing of a Sacred Deer follows a dysfunctional family as a teenager tries to bring a revered surgeon into the fold, a premise that is sure to play to Lanthimos' strengths as an absurdist. He will also be reunited with The Lobster's Colin Farrell and some very intriguing other cast members including Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone, thus possibly fulfilling one of our most hoped for comebacks...(Harper)

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