As you just saw from Cory’s top ten most anticipated films for 2017, there’s a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to. There’s also a lot to drudge through, but to compare, here’s my own list:
Honorable Mentions: Dunkirk, Star Wars: Episode VIII, A Cure for Wellness, Molly’s Game, Logan Lucky
- Holmes and Watson (TBD)
Hot damn am I excited for this one – a reunion of Step Brothers stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly finds the charismatic comedic duo attempting the impossible: a humorous take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective Sherlock Holmes. Ferrell plays the titular detective will Reilly will be the sidekick. It seems like a natural fit for the two, and the only thing that worries me is that Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) has only ever directed one other feature: Get Hard. It intrigues me that Kelly Macdonald, Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie have all signed on, however. Hopefully this is more Without a Clue than Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.
- The Beguiled (TBD)
This pseudo-remake of the classic 1971 western has Sofia Coppola hopping in the director’s chair in lieu of the original’s Clint Eastwood. Certainly the auteur is up to the challenge of improving upon her fellow actor-director’s attempt at political allegory, and suitably so: the plot tells of a Union soldier (Colin Farrell) who must rest up from injury at a Confederate boarding school and decides to play each of his caretakers on one another in order to escape. The girls? Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, and Coppola mainstay Kirsten Dunst. After some plodding plot lines from The Bling Ring and that weird Bill Murray Christmas thing, I’m beyond excited to see Coppola feast her indie teeth into something juicy.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (TBD)
Much like Coppola, I have other directors I love enough to be in the seat just by recognition alone. This film is the next from Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) who has made a name for himself on stage and screen as the go-to rapscallion in charge of black comedy indies. He has his own mainstay in Sam Rockwell, who co-stars as a violent mama’s boy that tries to defend the haphazard way his police department attempted to solve the murder case of a young girl. In retaliation for their failure, the girl’s mother (Frances McDormand) puts up three scathing billboards in their town to protest the police’s efforts. The shining star police chief (Woody Harrelson) has a slightly more deft hand at handling the situation than his deputy, but suffice it to say there will be some dark political satire here, especially in light of what’s happened in America the past few years.
- Wonder Woman (June 2)
Despite their best efforts, DC Films has spectacularly failed at producing great movies – living deep in the shadow of their contemporary Marvel. Each time a new blockbuster has come out, and they’ve been a tad rushed and bloated, we’ve been tricked into belieiving we’re getting something beautiful. Count me fooled a third time, as this looks like the vehicle for Gal Gadot to truly shine as Wonder Woman, especially after her unnecessary cameo in Batman v Superman. Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine join Gadot in this finally realized masterpiece that actually takes a conceit that I appreciate greatly – setting the plot in World War I. By making the thing a period piece, I believe the atmosphere will help the quality greatly, like Marvel did with Captain America. The idea was more obvious there, given that character came out of war, but I still believe this will somehow right the DC superhero ship.
- Ferdinand (December 22)
Blue Sky Studios knocked it out of the park two years ago when the revamped the Peanuts franchise with a soft-spoken yet touching tale that captured many of the storylines from that comic’s many years. Now the studio and director (Carlos Saldanha) are attempting to revive the children’s story of Ferdinand the Bull. The original 1938 book, by Munro Leaf, shows a pacifist bull who would rather sit in fields and appreciate the simplicity of life rather than take part in the ghoulish bullfights. I absolutely adore the Disney cartoon that came out two years after the book, so I’m wary of a feature-length cartoon ruining the good feelings that came from that original. I have faith in Saldanha after Peanuts, however, and despite being pushed back twice already, this could be my family’s Christmas viewing.
- Baby Driver (August 11)
When Edgar Wright was removed from the Marvel adaptation of Ant-Man, I was very disappointed. I love his ersatz style and impulsive direction of films in the Cornetto Trilogy – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. So it goes without saying that I have high anticipation for his next original film, which sees standout actor Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) work as a getaway driver for several different bank robbers. The rest of the cast includes Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jon Hamm. Oh, did I mention this is a comedy? If only Wright had convinced Ryan Gosling to star, it would have been like a comedic version of his films Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines, two of my recent favorites.
- Coco (November 22)
As usual, I had to pick one of the impressive looking animated films coming out (and yes, I have Ferdinand on here too) – but Coco has been on my radar for over a decade. Long before Pixar knew their stock would begin falling because of crappy sequels, they had this original gem on their list to make. The story follows young Miguel, who lives in a family that has banned music because of a strange tragic affair that ripped his great-grandfather away from the homestead. However, Miguel is obsessed with late singer Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) and accidentally unleashes a chain of events that coincides with the Day of the Dead celebration in town. Ghosts and hilarity ensue. Surely Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and Adrian Molina will find the right balance between comedy and sentimentalism that Pixar is known for worldwide.
- Thor: Ragnarok (November 3)
I haven’t really loved the Thor editions of the Marvel universe, so this may come as a surprise to our loyal followers. However, I’ve always enjoyed Chris Hemsworth’s performances in the Avengers films, and the caliber behind the cast and the idea for the plot is genius this go-around. While the events of last year’s Captain America: Civil War were unfolding, Thor and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) were conspicuously missing. Turns out they were tracking down another piece of the device that master villain Thanos is trying to assemble – and first the pair will have to battle each other on a gladiator planet. The film, helmed by Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) adapts parts of Planet Hulk and Ragnarok, and has been said to be much like a buddy cop story in the vein of Shane Black. Add in several character actors I love – Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson and Jeff Goldblum – and you have my most anticipated Marvel film ever. A lot is riding on this.
- Logan (March 3)
The first of my most anticipated films to be released, this is one of the most hotly debated superhero films in recent memory. It looks like an arthouse classic, and it also might turn devoted audiences away. On top of that, it will be the supposed final time Hugh Jackman dons his claws as the X-man Wolverine. In a post-apocalyptic future, Logan finds himself traveling alongside a mysterious young girl and an Alzheimer’s-riddled Professor X (Patrick Stewart) to escape some sort of corporation that may have evolved from Mr. Sinister’s Essex Group. Boyd Holbrook, the company’s head of security, stalks him across the Mad Max style landscape.
- Kong: Skull Island (March 10)
Remember when I mentioned how much I like the idea of using a vintage time period in a genre film back in Wonder Woman’s paragraph? In the follow-up to 2014’s Godzilla, the monster universe is going to expand when Vietnam veterans Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson head to a strange primordial island at the behest of shady government official John Goodman. What they find there will change the world as we know it, because…well, it’s King Kong. The cinematography and acting talent alone is what will send me racing to cinemas a week after the equally enticing Logan.
Life – A waste of a decent sci-fi idea (scientists develop life in space, resulting in disaster) could have gone a more Ex Machina sort of way, but is more likely going a third-act of Sunshine sort of way. Ryan Reynolds also slings petty quips and Jake Gyllenhaal mugs behind glass doors.
Split – To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m going to love this, because the premise is just evil male version of Toni Collette in The United States of Tara decides to imprison young Anya Taylor-Joy. Of course, the man with the split personality is always reliable James McAvoy, who could elevate this above obvious schlock.
War with Grandpa – A perfect waste of talent, Robert DeNiro is a grandfather beset upon by being forced to move in with his kid. That kid’s kid doesn’t like that very much, setting up…a war with Grandpa. Christopher Walken and Eugene Levy also continue to waste their – and our – time.