2017 is upon us! What will this year bring — new hope or fresh misery? Only time will tell! But through the road to come there will remain one constant: movies! Movies will always be around, until the end of the world (which might be this year, what with the way things are going…). In anticipation of the new year, I’ve outlined the Most Anticipated Movies of 2017 in order of release, for your pleasure. Let’s get crackin’.
Synopsis: Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp (Lucas Till), a high school senior, builds a monster truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town with a most unlikely friend.
“Are you joking?” you might be thinking. “Monster Trucks?” Listen — I have no illusions here. Monster Trucks looks all-kinds of silly, but there’s a gonzo charm radiating off this film that I can’t shake. I will happily see Monster Trucks. and
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
Synopsis: After coming out of self-imposed exile, daredevil operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) must race against time to recover a sinister weapon known as Pandora’s Box, a device that controls every military satellite in the world. Recruiting a new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of government.
I barely remember the first xXx film, and I’m fairly certain no one saw the sequel xXx: State of the Union. So why care about yet another one of these films? One need only take a look at the trailer for the film to learn that answer: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage has Vin Diesel and Donnie Yen riding magic dirt bikes across the ocean. Don’t even pretend that doesn’t excite you.
Synopsis: While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.
I’m an unapologetic defender of M. Night Shyamalan. While others got tired of the filmmakers work sometime around the release of Signs, I’ve remained an admirer of (most of) his output. He seemed to turn a new corner and get his groove back with his most-recent film The Visit, and Split looks like another weird but potentially wonderful offering. Throw in James McAvoy hamming it up with multiple personalities and The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy putting those giant, expressive eyes of hers to good use, and you’ve got some potential.
John Wick: Chapter 2
Synopsis: In this next chapter following the 2014 hit, legendary hitman John Wick [Keanu Reeves] is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.
Do I really need to say anything more about John Wick: Chapter 2? The first film was an absolute blast, and this sequel looks to continue on the promise of the first. I would gladly trade the entire Fast and Furious franchise for an endless amount of John Wick sequels.
Synopsis: XX is a new all-female helmed horror anthology featuring four dark tales written and directed by fiercely talented women: Annie Clark (St. Vincent) rocks her directorial debut with THE BIRTHDAY PARTY; Karyn Kusama (THE INVITATION, GIRLFIGHT) exorcises HER ONLY LIVING SON; Roxanne Benjamin (V/H/S trilogy, SOUTHBOUND) screams DON’T FALL; and Jovanka Vuckovic (THE CAPTURED BIRD, former editor of Rue Morgue Magazine) dares to open THE BOX. Award-winning animator Sofia Carrillo (LA CASA TRISTE) wraps together stories of terror, blood and mayhem featuring a cast including Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool, Angela Trimbur, Sheila Vand and Christina Kirk.
An all-female directed horror anthology sounds like exactly what the genre needs right now, and things only get better when you throw in names like Karyn Kusama, Annie “St. Vincent” Clark and Melanie Lynskey. XX will debut at the Sundance Film Festival before hitting theaters and VOD in February.
Synopsis: In Universal Pictures’ Get Out, a speculative thriller from Blumhouse (producers of The Visit, Insidious series and The Gift) and the mind of Jordan Peele, when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation.
Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams, Girls), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy (Catherine Keener, Captain Phillips) and Dean (Bradley Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods).
At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.
There’s something incredibly exciting about a horror film that has ideas — that is, a film that isn’t just going through the motions or following the trends. Jordan Peele’s Get Out looks like a twisted blend of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. What’s more, it looks like the first great horror film of what will (sadly) be the tumultuous, fear-driven era of President Donald Trump.
Synopsis: Following the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, an aging Logan has his healing factor starting to fail while taking care of an ailing Professor Xavier and protecting a young girl named Laura from a organization called Transigen. With both lives in peril, Logan ventures into one more battle.
The X-Men film franchise has been notoriously wobbly, and I was in no rush to see yet another Wolverine-spin-off flick. Then the trailer for Logan hit and changed everything. That said, trailers can be notoriously misleading. Remember how amazing the trailers for Man of Steel were, and how disappointing that movie ended up being? There’s still a good chance that Logan will fall into that territory, but for now, let’s hope for the best.
Kong: Skull Island
Synopsis: In the 1970s, a team of explorers and soldiers are brought together to venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean – as beautiful as it is treacherous – unaware that they are crossing into the domain of monsters, as well as the mythic Kong, the “king” of the island.
Shaping up to be Apocalypse Now meets King Kong, Kong: Skull Island looks to be a big, fun monster movie that will hopefully deliver. It also features Brie Larson looking very serious as she takes photos and John C. Reilly channeling Dennis Hopper.
Synopsis: A young American in Paris works as a personal shopper for a celebrity. She seems to have the ability to communicate with spirits, like her recently deceased twin brother. Soon, she starts to receive ambiguous messages from an unknown source.
I was lucky enough to see Personal Shopper back in 2016 at TIFF, but I’m including it on this Most Anticipated list to help keep the film on your radar. In Olivier Assayas’ weirdo ghost story/voyeurism thriller, Kristen Stewart tries on sexy shoes, bites her thumbnails a lot, text messages with a possible ghost and gets wrapped-up in a murder mystery. It’s incredible — see it.
Synopsis: It’s all guns, no control in the electrifying first trailer for Ben Wheatley’s FREE FIRE, starring Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor.
Two Brie Larson movies in one year? What have we done to deserve such a gift? Free Fire is yet another film from Ben Wheatley, and like all Wheatley films it will likely have some declaring it to be an unsung masterpiece while others want to banish it into the fires of hell. Either way, it’s not to be missed.
The Lost City of Z
Synopsis: Based on author David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, THE LOST CITY OF Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as “savages,” the determined Fawcett – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide de camp (Robert Pattinson) – returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925. An epically-scaled tale of courage and obsession, told in Gray’s classic filmmaking style, THE LOST CITY OF Z is a stirring tribute to the exploratory spirit and those individuals driven to achieve greatness at any cost.
James Gray, the director behind films like We Own the Night and The Immigrant, is one of those filmmakers who should be a household name, but he seems to remain on the fringes of things (except with film nerd types like myself). A new James Gray film should always be cause for excitement, and The Lost City of Z looks like no exception.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Synopsis: Set two months after the first film, the Guardians of the Galaxy travel throughout the cosmos and struggle to keep their newfound family together, while helping Peter Quill learn more about his true parentage.
James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy remains the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (don’t @ me), so it’s only natural that the sequel generate buzz and excitement. Add Kurt Russell into the mix as a character named “Ego the Living Planet”, and and you’ve got all the makings of popcorn entertainment at its finest.
Synopsis: In the early 20th century, the Amazon princess Diana, who is living on the island of Themyscira, meets American military pilot Steve Trevor when he is washed ashore. After learning from him about the ongoing events of World War I, she leaves her home to bring an early end to the war.
After the disappointments of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, it sure would be nice for Warner Brothers and DC to get their shit together with Wonder Woman. The film shows promise: this is the first time the classic character will be front-and-center in her own film, and talented director Patty Jenkins is at the helm. But Gal Gadot’s performance in Batman v Superman was bordering on lackluster, and rumors continue to abound that WB and DC are jumping into this films without any real sense of direction. Here’s hoping come June 2 things change for the better.
Synopsis: While imprisoned in a Confederate girls’ boarding school, an injured Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women’s hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him.
Sofia Coppola is back with The Beguiled, a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood-starring film. Coppola has assembled one hell of a cast, including Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell.
Synopsis: A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.
Finally! A movie about Spider-Man!
War for the Planet of the Apes
Synopsis: In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.
The rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise has turned out to be some of the more-enjoyable modern blockbusters, and this new entry looks like no exception. On top of that, it has apes riding horses and firing machine guns. And also Woody Harrelson saying “If we lose, this will be a planet of APES!” Who says cinema is dead?
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Synopsis: Rooted in the classic graphic novel series, Valerian and Laureline- visionary writer/director Luc Besson advances this iconic source material into a contemporary, unique and epic science fiction saga.
Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe.
Under directive from their Commander (Clive Owen), Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.
Luc Besson looks to be back in full-blown Fifth Element mode, and that’s something to celebrate. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets features the trippy comic-book infused visuals Besson is quite adept at creating, and it also features Rihanna. In space! As a space cabaret singer! Sign me the hell up.
Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Britain, Belgium, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German Army on the beaches on Dunkirk and evacuated in Operation Dynamo between May 26 and June 4, 1940, during the early stages of the Second World War.
Christopher Nolan is back with Dunkirk, a grand-scale World War II drama with a cast featuring Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Harry Styles. Nolan has his detractors, and some are warranted in their criticisms — please, Mr. Nolan, stop making movies about men haunted by the memory of their dead wives — but the filmmaker is also in a class of his own, responsible for some of the most thoughtful blockbusters of the last decade.
Synopsis: A talented, young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. When he meets the girl of his dreams (Lily James), Baby sees a chance to ditch his criminal life and make a clean getaway. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.
Edgar Wright’s first film since 2013’s The World’s End, Baby Driver is described by the filmmaker as “an action movie…powered by music.” “It’s something that’s very much a part of my previous films,” Wright told EW, “and I thought of this idea of how to take that a stage further by having a character who listens to music the entire time. So, you have this young getaway driver who has to soundtrack his entire existence, particularly the bank robberies and fast getaways that come afterwards.”
Synopsis: In a small town in Maine, seven children known as The Losers Club come face to face with life problems, bullies and a monster that takes the shape of a clown called Pennywise.
The big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It (previously adapted as a TV mini-series) has had a bumpy road. Cary Fukunaga had been developing the project since 2009, and seemed determined to deliver a truly terrifying horror film with the material. But Fukunaga and the studio did not see eye-to-eye, causing Fukunaga to exit the project and Mama director Andrés Muschietti to take over in 2015. Ever since then, the positive hype around the project has dwindled, through no fault of Muschietti. Promotion images of Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Clown have been met with a less-than-enthusiastic response, but it’s still far too early to tell how the film will turn out since the public has yet to see any real footage (although early test screenings have begun in Los Angeles).
Blade Runner 2049
Synopsis: Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner wasn’t in dire need of a sequel, but Blade Runner 2049 might end up delivering the goods. Harrison Ford is back, and more grumbly than ever, and he’s joined by Ryan Gosling. But the real promising element of Blade Runner 2049 is its director. Denis Villeneuve, fresh off his triumphant Arrival, is behind the camera and working with legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins to create a film that may very well end up becoming remarkable if all works out.
Synopsis: Two brothers plan a heist that takes place during a NASCAR event.
On-again/off-again retiree Steven Soderbergh is back with Logan Lucky, featuring Adam Driver, Channing Tatum, Seth MacFarlane, Daniel Craig, Katherine Heigl, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, and Sebastian Stan. For all his talk of retirement, Soderbergh kept working via projects like The Nick, but it’s still great to have his work back on the big screen.
Synopsis: A team of astronauts aboard a space station find themselves alone after a scientific experiment causes Earth to disappear. When a space shuttle appears, the space station crew must fight for survival following their horrible discovery.
God Particle is the next “secret sequel” in the ever-changing Cloverfield franchise (though, like 10 Cloverfield Lane, it was not developed as such). As is the case with most J.J. Abrams-produced films, details are scant, but we know the cast features Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Brühl, Ziyi Zhang, Aksel Hennie, and John Ortiz. “Every single day we were on that set we were agog with the inventiveness and innovation, between the technology, the story and the audacity of what we were trying to accomplish,” Oyelowo told The Wrap, adding that the film was “an incredibly exciting and innovative piece of storytelling” and “incredibly surprising.”
Synopsis: Thor: Ragnarok is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
The Thor movies are the dullest pieces of entertainment Marvel has to offer. Despite featuring Norse mythology mixed with sci-fi mumbo-jumbo and some fine performances from Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, the two Thor films have been underwhelming. So I had little to no interest in yet another Thor film. And then Marvel hired Taika Waititi, the filmmaker behind What We Do In the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, to helm the film. And then Waititi and Marvel added Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban and Jeff Goldblum to the cast, instantly skyrocketing my interest in Thor: Ragnarok through the roof.
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Synopsis: Star Wars: Episode VIII is an upcoming American epic space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson. It will be the second installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy following Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The hype for Star Wars: Episode VIII was already palpable — The Force Awakens was an incredibly entertaining starting-point, and putting director Rian Johnson in charge of a Star Wars film is damn exciting on its own. But the sudden, devastating death of Carrie Fisher — who is said to have a much bigger role in the film than in Force Awakens — has added a layer of bittersweetness to the film.
The following films are expected to be released in 2017, but no official date has been set yet.
Synopsis: Annihilation is an upcoming American science fiction drama film directed and written by Alex Garland based on the book of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer.
Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy is addictive fiction ripe for the big screen, and the fact that Ex-Machina director Alex Garland is taking on the task is incredibly exciting. Garland has assembled a cast including Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Oscar Isaac to help the story of an expedition into a mysterious uninhabited area known as Area X.
Synopsis: In the late 2000s, Molly Bloom, a twentysomething petite brunette from Loveland Colorado, ran the highest stakes, most exclusive poker game Hollywood had ever seen—she was its mistress, its lion tamer, its agent, and its oxygen. Everyone wanted in, few were invited to play.
Hundreds of millions of dollars were won and lost at her table. Molly’s game became the game for those in the know—celebrities, business moguls, and millionaires. Molly staged her games in palatial suites with beautiful views and exquisite amenities. She flew privately, dined at exclusive restaurants, hobnobbed with the heads of Hollywood studios, was courted by handsome leading men, and was privy to the world’s most delicious gossip, until it all came crashing down around her.
Aaron Sorkin often descends into hardcore “mansplaining” territory, but he’s also one hell of a writer when it comes to dialogue. Sorkin is making his directorial debut with Molly’s Game, based on the true story of poker magnate Molly Bloom. To sweeten the pot, Jessica Chastain is playing the lead, supported by a cast including Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, Chris O’Dowd, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, and Jeremy Strong.
Untitled Detroit Project
Synopsis: A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest citizen uprisings in the United States’ history.
The phenomenal Kathryn Bigelow returns with her first feature film since 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, with a film about the 1967 Detroit Riot: during a police raid of an unlicensed bar, confrontations between cops and patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest, most destructive riots in U.S. history, lasting five days. The cast includes John Boyega, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, Ben O’Toole, Hannah Murray, with a screenplay by frequent Bigelow collaborator Mark Boal.
Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Project
Synopsis: Unknown. Described as a drama in the fashion world of London in the 1950s.
I have no idea if this as-of-now untitled film from Paul Thomas Anderson will be released on 2017, but I’m certainly hopeful it will, and not just because Anderson is one of the best filmmakers working today. The truly exciting element of this project is that it will reunite Anderson with his There Will Be Blood star Daniel Day-Lewis, marking Day-Lewis’ first role since 2012’s Lincoln. Focus Features snapped up the rights to the film in September, and said then that they’re planning for a 2017 release.