So 2017, a year I’m sure many people see as a shining pillar of decency and hope, actually stokes the fire of anticipation for many reasons (least of which is the presidential inauguration). But the landscape for upcoming films at this point is fantastic and reassuring. And, while yes I am extremely excited for Rian Johnson to crack the bat at this year’s Star Wars (insert the unknown subtitle here) and Christopher Nolan’s epic Dunkirk, I am hoping to highlight a few smaller and under the radar films here. Oh, and yes Alien Covenant is looking eerily promising.
Dir. Bong Joon-Ho
A monster film centred on a little girl protecting her giant friend from a no-good corporation by the guy who made 2013’s Snowpiercer? And it co-stars Jake Ghyllenhaal and the always interesting Tilda Swinton? Yes, that does sound fantastic. But beyond that simple synopsis Joon-Ho has been on a hot streak since the beginning of his career and has already shown a prowess for destruction and intensity with 2006’s The Host, so here’s hoping he can amplify the genre film once more.
9. Under the Silver Lake
Dir. David Robert Mitchell
Having crafted the single strongest horror film of the past five years through a confident use of the medium (bolstered by a fantastic soundtrack) with It Follows, Under the Silver Lake is set to be a modern day Noir, set amongst LA and starring Andrew Garfield. This team up seems to continue his ever expanding repertoire of interesting characters and with a premise that hopefully leans towards the look and feel of Nightcrawler. This could be one of the sleeper hits of the year.
Dir. Duncan Jones
While I did miss his supposed flop of Warcraft last year, Duncan Jones’s first two films nestled firmly in the darker sci-fi themes and his newest film seems to continue this theme. Set in a near future Berlin, as a mute man looks to find out where his partner has gone missing. Distributed by Netflix, it is set to debut later in the year as it has recently wrapped filming.
Dir. James Mangold
Wow. That first trailer really sets an interesting tone for Fox’s superhero film. While many are starting to feel fatigue when it comes to the genre, this film looks to bring a new energy to the formula. The success of Deadpool has opened up the idea chamber at the studio and I think that Logan itself can only benefit from its increased freedom.
6. Get Out
Dir. Jordan Peele
One half of the killer comedy duo Key and Peele, this horror film looks to tackle the real horrors of racism within the confines of a semi-psychedelic genre piece. An avid horror aficionado, Peele looks to broaden his career and the exciting first trailer looks to assure his new direction.
5. Logan Lucky
Dir. Steven Soderbergh
Well, that wasn’t a very long retirement. In the four years he took off between films Soderbergh directed, shot and edited two seasons of the amazing period drama The Knick, while producing last year’s underrated The Girlfriend Experience. His anticipated return sees the story of a heist that takes place during a NASCAR race and sees him reunite with Channing Tatum and new collaborator Adam Driver.
4. Free Fire
Dir. Ben Wheatley
While having already premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival to fantastic reviews, Ben Wheatley’s Shoot Em-Up officially doesn’t release until March and it’s hard to be more excited. Taking place in a Boston warehouse, as a gun purchase goes awry, it looks to feature buckets of bullets being fired with a supposed pretty hilarious turn from Shallot Copley and Jack Reynor. Plus, it also has future Ms. Marvel Brie Larson, which automatically gives it an edge among many films.
3. Baby Driver
Dir. Edgar Wright
It’s been too long since Wright has gotten the spotlight. After his work on Ant Man was cut short, it has taken years for him to get back into the game. And with his previous spotless record directing, he seems ready to strike with another genre gem. Almost seeming like a riff on the spectacular Drive from 2012, Ansel Elgort of The Fault in Our Stars fame plays a professional driver with a young face who is sucked into a robbery gone wrong.
2. War of the Planet of the Apes
Dir. Matt Reeves
While trying not to put many big films on this list, it is hard to keep the one big franchise that is keeping itself relevant with improving itself on each entry, expanding its politics and the storytelling through the most impressive motion capture technology ever used. Reeves created an intimately intricate character when he expanded the mythos of Caesar and his troop and the ultimate test will come as they become engulfed in an all out war with a crazy bug eyed Woody Harrelson.
1. Blade Runner 2049
Dir. Denis Villeneuve
The single hardest working director out there is finally being shown the recognition he has been deserving for years now. After pumping out Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and finally last year’s devastating Arrival, Denis Villeneuve is re-teaming with cinematographer Roger Deakins and Harrison Ford for this long awaited sequel to one of the greatest films ever made. Following a new Blade Runner, played by Ryan Gosling, as he tries to track down Ford’s Deckard, the stars seem to be aligning in order to create this team-up, that with pedigree alone, will sure be among the most interesting prospects of the decade.