20. Mother (TBD)
Darren Aronofsky returns with this drama about a couple who have their relationship tested when uninvited guests arrive in their home. Based on the title, which may be a working title, this sounds like a family drama, but Aronofsky films are rarely so straightforward, so I’m guessing there’s a lot more to this basic plotline. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Domnhall Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, and Javier Bardem.
19. Beauty and the Beast (Mar 17)
Disney’s string of live-action adaptations of their classic animation films continues with the best of their 90s renaissance period, Beauty and the Beast. Directed by Bill Condon, the film stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Josh Gad, and Kevin Kline. Regardless of the quality, it will be a massive hit. Let’s hope it can at least come close to the original animated feature in terms of quality.
18. Thor: Ragnarok (Nov 3)
Thor was a surprise hit, Thor: The Dark World was a muddled mess. I have confidence that Thor: Ragnarok will be closer to the former than the latter. A synopsis was just published recently, which says “Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.” The director is Taika Waititi, who made What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I’ve read there are aspect of a Thor/Hulk road trip movie in here as well as Thor and Loki buddy comedy. All of the ingredients for a great blockbuster film are here, I’m confident in Waititi to put them all together. Cast includes many of the folks from the first two films, minus Natalie Portman, with additions in the form of Cate Blanchett (as the villain), Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum.
17. Logan (Mar 3)
Many Wolverine fans have been clamoring for the “Old Man Logan” storyline to find its way into movie form. It looks like they will be rewarded somewhat with this Wolverine movie, which is reportedly Hugh Jackman’s last time portraying the character. It’s set in a future where many of the mutants are dead, Logan is older and his healing power is diminished, and Professor X calls upon him to protect a young girl from evil forces. James Mangold, who directed The Wolverine, returns to direct. Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard Grant, and Dafne Keen help round out the cast. It’s also got maybe the best trailer of year.
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
The Spider-Man franchise has been on uncertain ground ever since the misfire that was Spider-Man 3. More than a decade later, after the largely forgettable The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, in which Sony nearly killed the golden goose, Marvel negotiated with them to bring Spidey under the Marvel Studios umbrella, leading to a reboot of the franchise, which started in Captain America: Civil War when they introduced Tom Holland as the new Peter Parker. That glimpse into the new Spidey showed promise, promise that was built upon with the trailer for the upcoming movie. Seems that there will be more Tony Stark involved. The cast features Michael Keaton as The Vulture, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Logan Marshall-Green, and Anjourie Rice. I’m not going to lie, my guard is still up a bit, but this is the most excited I’ve been for a Spidey movie in over a decade.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
Guardians of the Galaxy was a massive surprise hit a few years ago. They nailed the cast, nailed the director, and nailed the soundtrack. The sequel promises to expand the Marvel universe, introducing new characters and alliances. I haven’t seen much in the way of plot specifics yet, but the trailer seems to have maintained the same spirit of the first movie. Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, and Elizabeth Debicki have been added to the cast. I know where I’ll be on my birthday (May 4th).
14. Song to Song (Mar 17)
After a quartet of superhero films, this next film can be a palette cleanser of sorts. Terrence Malick is responsible for some of the most profound, elegiac films of modern cinema. The Tree of Life is among my personal favorites and the best film of this decade, in my humble opinion. Since then, though, he has stumbled with To the Wonder and Knight of Cups. Both of which felt like a director repeating himself with not as much to say as before. Those films felt like an athlete losing the thread and becoming a bit more erratic after being in the zone and doing something amazing. Still, it’s Malick, which means the potential alone is enough to place it this high. The film is about he music scene in Austin, TX and features a cast of Christian Bale, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Hayley Bennett and many more.
13. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Feb 10)
I haven’t been this excited for an action sequel since The Raid 2. John Wick was a glorious piece of action back in 2014. Keanu Reeves, in the title role, is back as the un-retired hitman that just can’t seem to be left alone. Apparently there are plans for a trilogy of John Wick films. The second installment shows no signs of slowing down from the momentum of the first. Laurence Fishburne, Peter Stormare, and Ruby Rose join the cast.
12. Baby Driver (Aug 11)
When I did an initial perusal of movies slated for release in 2017, I saw this film directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and for some reason my brain registered it as Joe Wright (Atonement, Pan, Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina). I’ve liked some of Joe Wright’s films, but love Edgar Wright’s, so this film got bumped up from the mid-40s all the way up to here. This film is a crime thriller about a young getaway driver for a crime boss who is forced to participate in a doomed heist. Ansel Elgort is the driver, nicknamed Baby, and the film also stars Kevin Spacey, Jaime Foxx, Jon Hamm, Lily James, and Jon Bernthal.
11. Under the Silver Lake (TBD)
One of my favorite films from 2015 was It Follows, a terrific horror film that full of tension and atmosphere. The director of that film, David Robert Mitchell, is the writer and director of this film, a modern noir set in Los Angeles. Based on how much I loved It Follows, I’m very much interested in what Mitchell makes next with a bigger cast and budget, and I love a good crime thriller. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Jimmi Simpson, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, and Zosia Mamet.