(I asked my friend Major to do a write up about his most anticipated movies of 2017. Major is currently studying Improv and Acting at The Second City in Chicago and he knows more about movies than anyone I know.- Dane)
2016 shaped up to be the highest grossing movie year in history. Normally that’s good news. But, with streaming, and every big release in 2016 being animated, superhero, sequel, or an adaptation of something that has been done so many times before, the U.S. cinema feels like it’s lacking the juice it used to have. The convenience of at-home-viewing has made the prices at the theater go up, originality wane, and the best film options stuck in limited release with no guarantee of wide viewership.
This is not a “let’s solve this” combination of paragraphs. This is just a “let’s look at 2017 differently” combination of paragraphs. I will be previewing the year in movies, as we know so far. But, I will be dividing the interests into Blockbusteresque budgeted films, and then everything else. Here…We…Go…
Logan– Remember X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Remember Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool with a mouth sewn shut, and all that fun? Well, Hugh Jackman would like you to forget about that. He has been preparing or playing Logan/Wolverine for over 17 years. THAT’S INSANE. In the last movie, The Wolverine, James Mangold got the job and came out with one of my favorite superhero films. I think it is the best X-Men film, and with some incredible sequences of grief followed by action, it really made me care about what was happening. This is not surprising if you’ve paid attention to how good James Mangold has been over the years. Heavy, his first feature, Girl, Interrupted, won Angelina Jolie an Oscar, Walk the Line, won Reese Witherspoon an Oscar, and 3:10 to Yuma. Those four good-to-great movies dealing with a central character’s extreme suffering and trying to adhere to their family’s expectations. What else is Logan but a perfect match for what he does best? The trailer for this movie used Johnny Cash’s Hurt cover and it was impeccable. At Butt-Numb-A-Thon this past December Mangold himself premiered the first 40 minutes of Logan, followed by a standing ovation. I am pretty cynical about big budget super hero type movies, but this one has me there opening day.
Logan is scheduled for release March 3rd
Kong Skull Island– Back in 2005 Peter Jackson, coming hot off of Lord of the Rings success, made a 187 minute intended-to-be magnum opus about how big the heart really was in King Kong. It was well received, made over 500 million worldwide, and won 3 Oscars. The movie had Naomi Watts, as a perfect Ann Darrow, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, and Kyle Chandler. But, for a mix of reasons, it did not stick. Now enter Jordan Vogt-Roberts, one time director of the charming Kings of Summer, about teens living out in the woods and building a house together as a rebellious independent act. (It’s on Amazon, I say go check it out.) But, from that small movie that made very little money, to jump starting the next nature’s monster’s film is crazy, and I’m so excited. Enter Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Toby Kebbell, John Oritz, Jason Mitchell and Shea Whigham. It has posters and a trailer with Apocalypse Now vibes, and if you asked Francis Ford Coppola back in the 1970s he’d probably say they are both about finding an annoying ape in the jungle. YA BURNT 1977 BRANDO. The movie was partly written by Dan Gilroy, who wrote and directed Nightcrawler. All of this equals me being pumped for a movie doing something I would normally just not care about. Let’s cheer on the young underdogs like Vogt-Roberts, he’s been gifted the talent and money, in Skull Island, we get to see if he makes it work.
Kong: Skull Island is scheduled for release March 10th
The Fate of the Furious– Ohhhhhhh this title! Oh, oh, oh, oh, that is the kind of title to get me excited about the tongue-in-cheek fun I have watching these movies since Fast Five. Since then this franchise has been about superhuman friends getting into crazy situations and having to drive, fight, fly, jump, or catch each other in mid-air then land on cars and walk away unscathed. This is the best superhero franchise out there. The real MVP is Dwayne Johnson. Ever since he showed up as the irritable Agent Hobbs, he has injected some life into what was previously an overly serious group of movies. The newest installment has added Charlize Theron as Cipher, CIPHER, Helen Mirren, HELEN MIRREN, and it’s bringing back Eva Mendes, Lucas Black from Tokyo Drift, because everyone was asking for that, and Kurt Russell is still playing a character named Mr. Nobody. This is what dumb summer movies are supposed to be. Nicolas Cage not being in one of these is one of the biggest misses in movie history.
The Fate of the Furious is scheduled for release April 14th
Alien: Covenant– Ridley Scott is old, 79 years old in fact. He is also a hard worker. He has made 13 films since 2000. His last movie The Martian was a huge success, and shows that he still has the ability to appeal to a wide audience, and even somehow get the Golden Globes to think The Martian is a comedy. That was something many thought was lacking after his two previous films, Exodus: Gods and Kings, with a clunky no-fun- to-be-had here title accompanied by a cast whiter than what American’s think God actually looks like, and The Counselor, a movie that featured a long scene of Cameron Diaz rubbing herself on the windshield of a car written by the even older Cormac McCarthy. Those, while endlessly able to be talked about, are not “good” movies. But the last one that got more positive than negative reactions was Prometheus. The supposed-to-be-but-studios-asked-it-not-to-be-prequel to the Alien series. Instead we got a kind of stand-alone movie in the Alien universe. Now he returns to the ideas he created almost 40 years ago. A cast that includes Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, James Franco, Noomi Rapace, Billy Crudup, Guy Pearce, Danny McBride, and Demián Bichir will make this a memorable movie no doubt.
Alien: Covenant is scheduled for release May 19th
Dunkirk- DUNKIRK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The modern day king of meshing art-film & blockbuster is back with his first war film. Christopher Nolan made his version of 2001: A Space Odyssey in 2014 with Interstellar, but by replacing mystery with wide-eyed monologues about love, he alienated some. I really liked that movie. I liked how long it was, 169 minutes to be exact, and I liked that it was practically executed with all the conviction of an earnest soapbox preacher. I’m a Nolan apologist. He’s the only large-scale director of his generation that tries and succeeds to make honest movies. He tries, oh man, is he trying! He puts his heart, guts, and last year’s blood test results on screen. You may be put off by some of it. Like the embellishment, or his love of obvious characters and astonishing imagery that adds up to nothing you are interested in, but I can watch it all day. Dunkirk is about the allied soldiers of Belgium, Britian, Canada, and France surrounded in the town of Dunkirk and the battle that ensues. It’s got Tom Hardy, Cillain Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and Harry Styles. The trailer dropped in the middle of December, and it was gorgeous. I hope it’s 269 minutes. I will let Christopher Nolan yell at me about survival and the will of men in battle. Fly that British fighter plane right into my heart Tom Hardy.
Dunkirk is scheduled for release July 21st
Blade Runner 2049– Speaking of Ridley Scott, he gets a sequel to another movie he helped become a cult classic back in the 80’s, Blade Runner, and now gets a better director to make it for him. Denis Villeneuve, director of Enemy, Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, has the job to make the replicants even more human like he does to everyone in all his movies. Originally based on a Philip K. Dick novel called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott created an entire beautiful world of human or robot mystery. Harrison Ford returns to his role from that 1982 film, and adds Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis (!), and Robin Wright.
Blade Runner 2049 is scheduled for release October 6th
Other blockbusters I’m excited/interested in to some extent.
Life - March 24th
Ghost in the Shell - March 31st
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - May 5th
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - May 12th
Baywatch - May 26th
Wonder Woman - June 2nd
The Mummy - June 9th
Spider-man: Homecoming - July 7th
War for the Planet of the Apes - July 14th
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - July 21st
The Dark Tower - July 28th
Kingsmen: The Golden Circle - October 6th
Thor: Ragnarok - November 3rd
Now onto the movies I truly care about. The usually adult dramas that get me to cry, sit up, put my hand over my mouth, or just be happy I saw them. There’s no guarantee here, but these are the ones I’ll be most looking forward to seeing how they turn out in 2017
Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film- PTA, as he is lovingly called by his fans, has made his mark as one of the most respected filmmakers in the last 50 years. Only 8 movies, including a 50 minute documentary about Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood making an album in India, and to me, he has 5 essentially perfect movies. Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and The Master. His worst movie is better than the best film of almost anyone else. He creates viciously emotional characters, lived in worlds, and stunning visuals. His next movie is scheduled to start filming in January. It’s rumored to be taking place in the fashion industry in London around the 1950’s, and it’s starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s their first reteaming since his Oscar with There Will Be Blood. PTA is my favorite filmmaker, and it really means a lot that he writes his own movies. I’ll be keeping an eye on how this one develops.
Release is TBA
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Martin McDonaugh is a fantastic playwright, and in the last 10 years has been successful as a fantastic writer/director. In 2008 he made In Bruges, a dark comic tale about sin, forgiveness, morals, and Belguim sightseeing. It stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes as hit men dealing with the aftermath of a killing gone wrong. It’s a very conversational film. He is like Irish Tarantino on film in that respect. I could listen to his characters talk for hours and hours. Just like in 2012’s Seven Psychopaths, which is a movie about what it’s like to write a movie that knows it’s a movie, with Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson. It is that same brand of dark humor, but told in a more silly way. He really creates absurd situations with the seamless directing style that usually only comes from experience. He will have his third movie, the one this whole paragraph is about, at some point in 2017. It’s supposed to be about a mother who is tired of the police not putting towards the effort to find her daughter’s murderer leading to a battle between the grieving mother and the police. It stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes, and Lucas Hedges. It’s a crime movie most likely, and it will be funny just like his others. The way he makes these has made him one of my favorite recent filmmakers.
Release is TBA
Baby Driver– Edgar Wright is a beloved filmmaker whose work connects with so many. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End make up the Cornetto Trilogy with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and others, has made an inerasable mark on the world of cinema. Now, to move on past this puff piece interview talk, and we can all agree Edgar Wright’s films are awesome. The amount of humor and his ridiculous situational irreverence he creates with just a few faces from his stars and quick cuts is impressively affecting. His last film was supposed to be Ant-Man. I can just imagine what that would’ve been. Essentially Ocean’s Eleven with superpowers, more eccentric and less relaxed. We got a minor league version of that in the final version by Peyton Reed, which was just fine. But, still, Wright directing Paul Rudd would’ve been fantastic. He comes into 2017 with his new movie Baby Driver, which is about a young getaway driver forced to work for a crime boss and being apart of a heist doomed to fail. Sounds like it’ll be his Snatch, but with Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, and Lily James, so it’ll be easier to understand the accents.
Baby Driver is scheduled for release August 11th
The Beguiled– This is a Civil war-era film about love and betrayal directed by the famous western director SOFIA COPPOLA. That’s right, director of Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, Bling Ring comes in hot with a romance/western starring Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Kirsten Dunst. Coppola, in my opinion, is one of the masters of tone. From her first shot, all through every turn she surrounds you in her movie. It’s a very hard thing to do, and every director tries it. She excels at this, and I am very intrigued by everything she does. This is her first foray into this time period, and the western genre. Even though I’m sure she will put her own stamp on it, it’s still considered such.
The Beguiled is scheduled for release June 30th
The Killing of a Sacred Deer– One of the top films of 2016 was The Lobster. Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos fashioned a universe in which single people have 45 days to find a mate or be turned into an animal, and not make it feel completely fantasy. He is bringing another sure-to-be unique story about a teenager’s attempt to bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family. Just like his last feature, this stars Colin Farrell as the surgeon, along with Nicole Kidman as his wife. Alicia Silverstone is also starring, so that will be nice to see her get some really interesting work. I imagine this will get more attention because of how The Lobster excited audiences last year, and I’m looking forward to Lanthimos being a household name.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer release is TBA
Logan Lucky– Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. That’s the only plot known about Steven Soderbergh’s next film. It stars Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katherine Waterston, Riley Keough, Channing Tatum, Sebastian Stan, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, and Hillary Swank. What else do you need to know? Do you need to see a photo of Driver with Craig sporting a hamburgler-esqe outfit and blonde hair?
Well there it is. Are you happy? Will you go see this movie now? I shouldn’t need to mention anything else. These are pretty great details. You don’t seem convinced. What if I showed you a picture of looking out of shape Channing Tatum, dressed like a TRUE North Carolinian? Maybe?
If those two photo’s, Soderbergh, and the plot don’t get you moving then I’m out of ideas.
Logan Lucky is scheduled for release October 13th
Here are other “PRESTIGE PICTURES” to be looking out for this year.
War On Everyone - February 4th
Mute - TBA
Okja – TBA
Annihilation – TBA
Lady Bird –TBA
Yeh Din Ka Kissa - TBA
A Ghost Story - TBA
The Discovery - TBA
Rock That Body – June 16th
The Shape of Water - TBA
Downsizing – December 22nd
You Were Never Really Here - TBA
Mother – TBA
Other movies that have a chance to be fun/good
John Wick: Chapter 2
The Great Wall
A Cure for Wellness
Song to Song
The Lost City of Z
The Current War
The Glass Castle
The Old Man and the Gun
Based on a True Story
It Comes at Night
State Like Sleep
Win It All
The Sleeping Shepard
Untitled Cloverfield Anthology Movie
The Book of Henry
The Yellow Birds
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
All I See Is You
Burn Your Maps
The Bad Batch
Salt and Fire
2017 is shaping up to have an even larger gap between the big money movies and small indie films. This is the kind of thing people notice and say, "movies are dead, I just stay in & watch TV.” I get it, I really do. But cinema isn't dead, it's just smaller. The best movies usually don't get big releases. Hopefully the success of movies like Hell or High Water, The Lobster, and The Witch will change that.
If you feel like Hollywood is giving you bad options at the theater, you aren't totally wrong. But, if you want to see truly great things, you might have to look around a bit more and pay attention. Old heads like to say "cinema is as bad as it's ever been." I disagree. It's just more niche. Just like everything else.
Major may have left Boss Baby off this list, but that doesn't mean he's forgotten that cookies are for closers. You can follow him on Twitter.