With Hollywood and the film industry having lifted it’s game in the last few years, 2017 is set to be a big one. Here, we’ve rounded up the 40 biggest and best movies to look out for this year.
Aaahhh, 2016: Disease, violence born out of our inability to tolerate difference and – as if that wasn’t enough – death upon death of revered icons of better times. In such circumstances, Leonard Cohen was always our go-to guy. But then, he shuffled off this mortal coil too – just after Donald Trump’s election win.
At last year’s lowest point, we decided to acknowledge that the best of times, worst of times thing depends heavily on what you’re looking at. At least on the film side of things, 2016 was a flourishing and forward-looking year, not least because of brave new films like Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and Fences sharing some of the limelight and doing good things for diversity in Hollywood.
And, with the exception of Emojimovie: Express Yourself, 2017 looks to be a great year for films, too. (It’s also a brave new world for film’s best accompaniment, pizza, and we’re hopeful that 2017 will see the delivery drone phenomenon go mainstream.) In fact, the thriving movie world has produced so much for us to look forward to in 2017, that we only just scraped the surface with this list (but don’t worry, we’ll be updating as new information comes in).
Apparently, creativity thrives when we resist the urge to give up. So, with that in mind, here are 40 of our most anticipated films of 2017 – and 40 damn good reasons to go forth into 2017 slightly more cheerful.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Release Date: January 20
A good film from M. Night? What is this, the ’90s? Shyamalan’s new thriller stars James McAvoy as a guy with more than 20 personalities, some of which are particularly threatening to the three young women that he kidnaps and locks in his dark basement. The girls must figure out some of his different personalities in order to help them stay alive.
Split is definitely another step in the right direction for Shyamalan, who – years ago – was on top of the world, touted as the next Spielberg. Since then, his career woes have been compounded by scathing press reports and his ego seems to have outgrown his work. No surprise, then, that this return to form from the director has caught our attention.
John Wick: Chapter 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Release Date: February 10
The thriller about a vengeful assassin coming out of retirement gave Keanu Reeves’ career new life – and he’s now returning for a sequel along with John Wick’s directors. We were as surprised as everyone else when the first movie actually became kind of a thing – we’re putting it down to the artful violence delivered with a cheeky sideways wink. Here’s hoping John Wick: Chapter 2 comes up with the decent ending that the first one lacked.
The LEGO Batman Movie
Director: Chris McKay
Release Date: February 10
Although we all had “Everything is Awesome” tattooed onto our brains after the 2014 Lego Movie, it was nevertheless an unexpected joy – and the perfect union of film and marijuana: It didn’t think outside the box so much as operate in some completely different multiverse altogether. In the latest installation, Bruce Wayne must deal with the criminals of Gotham City and the responsibility of raising the boy he adopted.
Director: Jordan Peele
Release Date: February 24
Get Out is a horror film that follows a young African American man who visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s cursed family estate. Being one of the few horror movies that does jump off of racial fears, we’re looking forward to some entertaining honesty and subjective insight we’re not often shown within the horror genre.
I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore
Director: Macon Blair
Release Date: February 24
When a depressed woman is burgled, she decides to track down the thieves alongside her annoying neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals.
Given that first-time director Blair produced Green Room (the jaw-droppingly gruesome neo-Nazi story) and Blue Ruin (the callously violent revenge thriller), we’re expecting another viscerally smart and satisfyingly distressing thriller.
Director: James Ponsoldt
Release Date: April 28
Dave Eggers’ novel (upon which this movie is based) is a pertinent and cautionary tale against the power of giant tech companies. This adaptation sees Tom Hanks as one of the founders of the The Circle – an internet monopoly that touches everything in a person’s life – from social media, to email, to online shopping. Emma Watson plays the central protagonist.
Director: James Mangold
Release Date: March 3
Logan is the third in the standalone series of Wolverine films (preceded by X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine) and is set a year after the time-travelling X-Men: Days of Future Past. We’re excited about the R-rating of this comic book movie installation; it was utterly nonsensical having the others suitable for kids, when this is about a guy who fights with knives coming out of his hands.
Director: Danny Boyle
Release Date: March 3
Back in 1996, Irvine Welsh’s cult novel about heroin subculture in ’80s Scotland was given a screen presence with painful imagery, obsidian humor, insane surrealism, a messed-up soundtrack, and gob-smacking performances from Renton (Ewan McGregor), Begbie, (Robert Carlyle), Spud (Ewan Bremner) and Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller). Is it any wonder that T2 Trainspotting made this list?
We’d bet that this return to the scene of his finest hour might give Danny Boyle a chance to flex his directorial muscles with more force than in the likes of Steve Jobs. Trainspotting’s original scriptwriter, John Hodges, is also on board. Let’s hope this one is both nostalgic and new.
Director: Oliver Assayas
Release Date: March 10
Having run the 2016 film festival circuits, Assayas’ weirdly ambiguous drama follows a fashion PA called Maureen trying to exorcise herself of her dead twin. Judging from the audience boos at the Cannes screening, this is not a movie whose disorienting horror works on everyone.
That said, Kristen Stewart has come a long, long way since terrible teen vampire movies involving musical montage and slow-motion handsomeness. Her performance in Personal Shopper has been called incredible: she is calm and blank in the self-assured way of someone very competent, yet her displays of emotion are real and touching.
Song to Song
Director: Terrence Malick
Release Date: March 17
Given Terrence Malick’s last three films – Voyage of Time, To the Wonder, Knight of Cups – it’s something of a surprise that we’re still optimistic about Song to Song. Maybe it’s the killer cast; maybe it’s the fact it’s more rooted in a recognizable present… Nevertheless, it’s Terrence Malick we’re talking about, so the anticipation is enough to kill us.
In the modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two different couples – songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and musician Cook (Michael Fassbender) and his waitress girlfriend (Natalie Portman) – chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape. Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, and Benicio del Toro also star, and Patti Smith, Lykke Li, Iggy Pop feature on the soundtrack.
Director: Craig Johnson
Release Date: March 24
Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel comedy about a moody Oakland resident gets the film treatment, with Woody Harrelson in the lead role, and Laura Dern as his estranged wife. We’re praying that Clowes and his posse can return to the cinematic heights he reached with Ghost World. That movie earned Clowes an Oscar nod and helped to launch Scarlett Johansson’s career; as far as legacies go, you could do a lot worse.
Ghost in the Shell
Director: Rupert Sanders
Release Date: March 31
We love animated Japanese sci-fi about as much as we love a good Hollywood controversy: Ghost in the Shell has therefore earned its place on this list.
Fans of the iconic 1995 animated flick have been excited for a live-action remake for years. But now, instead of casting an Asian actress, Dreamworks has selected Scarlett Johansson for the film, which follows a cyborg policewoman’s attempts to bring down a nefarious computer hacker. It had better be good.
Director: Charlie McDowell
Release Date: March 31
The One I Love director McDowell’s new film sounds absolutely nuts: It’s a fantastical love story set one year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified, in which Jason Segel’s character falls in love with Rooney Mara’s character while millions of people kill themselves. That’s really all the info we require for our curiosity to be piqued.
Director: Ridley Scott
Release Date: May 19
Despite Ridley Scott being back behind the camera, Prometheus turned out to be a bit naff, really. Its sequel looks way better already, following the crew of the Covenant spaceship. They’re bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy when they discover what they think is an uncharted paradise (surprise, surprise! It’s actually a dark, dangerous world).
Rock That Body
Director: Lucia Aniello
Release Date: June 16
This one should excite the Broad City fans among us, the cult hit Comedy Central series following the lives of loveable, bumbling potheads Abbi and Ilana. Aniello was one of the show’s directors; now she’s gone and directed Rock That Body – the story of a bachelorette party which goes very wrong indeed when a male stripper ends up dead. It stars Kate McKinnon, Scarlett Johansson and Zoe Kravitz.
Director: Sofia Coppola
Release Date: June 23
While we doubt anyone, including Bill Murray, has an inclination to watch A Very Murray Christmas again in 2017, we’re excited about Coppola’s upcoming project. The Oscar-winning auteur behind The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation has turned her attention to this remake of a 1971 drama that starred Clint Eastwood.
Set during the Civil War, the original film followed a Union soldier imprisoned in a Confederate girls’ boarding school who disrupts the environment and slowly turns the women against each other. The remake stars Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst, among others.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Release Date: July 21
Nolan has never been a fan of digital projection. Instead, he prefers the medium that movies were originally stored on: good old-fashioned film. Combine that with his penchant for dark, feisty filmmaking and his yet-to-disappoint director status, and this should be one to please action film as well as history buffs.
Dunkirk will tell the true story of Operation Dynamo, a daring plan to rescue 300,000 Allied troops who were surrounded by Nazis soldiers in Dunkirk during the Second World War. It stars Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Fionn Whitehead and One Direction singer Harry Styles. Yes, you did read that last bit correctly…
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Director: Luc Besson
Release Date: July 21
Dane DeHaan, Rihanna and Cara Delevingne star in this French sci-fi epic, helmed by Leon: The Professional writer-director, Luc Besson. Time-traveling agent Valerian is sent to investigate a galactic empire, along with his partner Laureline.
Other than that, this film excites us for three main reasons: It’s based on a French comic, Valérian and Laureline, that was hailed for its humanist political ideals; it’s the highest budget French film ever produced; John Goodman is narrating.
The Dark Tower
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Release Date: July 28
This nightmarish Stephen King adaptation throws together cowboys, post-apocalyptic mutants, demons and murderers. There are seven books in the original series, with an additional eighth, published in 2012, slotting in between volumes four and five. More than 30 million books in the series have been sold in 40 countries.
Danish director Arcel (whose last movie was period romance A Royal Affair) looks like a strange choice to tackle King material… But, hey! If Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are down, then so are we.
Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Release Date: October 6
In an age where studios rifle relentlessly through past films, searching pathetically for something to bring back, few sequels have caused as much excitement as Blade Runner 2049. Three and a half decades after Ridley Scott’s original, Arrival director Villeneuve is presenting his take, which is set 30 years after the events of the first movie and stars Ryan Gosling as a new blade runner searching for a missing Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).
If anyone is qualified to pull this off, then it’s Villeneuve, who also has Prisoners and Sicario under his belt. He’s a really good director and totally solid with sci-fi. He’s also supported by Scott as executive producer (phew!) and Roger Deakins as Director of Photography… If nothing else, this movie will look the part.
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Release Date: October 13
Alfredson – director of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let the Right One In – adapts Jo Nesbo’s bestselling Scandi detective novel, following a serial killer who leaves snowmen at murder scenes. Michael Fassbender is playing Harry Hole, the idiosyncratic detective, with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Rebecca Ferguson also starring.
Director: Zack Snyder
Release Date: November 17
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was remarkably dull and the movie’s reception was borderline catastrophic: We’re awaiting this sequel with baited breath, just to see if Snyder can do any better.
This outing will see some of the more enjoyable characters from the first flick – like Aquaman and the Flash – team up with Batfleck and Superman to defeat a different brand of evil. We really want this one to succeed, so let’s hope the stops are well and truly pulled out.
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Director: Rian Johnson
Release Date: December 15
With Rogue One massively winning the Christmas movies race in ways we never thought possible, signs are strong that Johnson’s latest installment in the central Skywalker saga will overshadow every other movie off the box office this year. May the Force be with them.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Release Date: October 13
This heist movie, starring Channing Tatum, follows two brothers attempting to pull off their capers during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. We’re imagining an Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist, since Soderbergh also directed that film. In addition to Tatum, other stars include Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Hilary Swank, Katherine Heigl, Adam Driver, and Riley Keough.
Murder on the Orient Express
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Release Date: November 22
The last time this Agatha Christie mystery was en vogue was 1974, when Sidney Lumet made the classical whodunit feat. dodgy moustache fare. This time Branagh directs himself as the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and is joined by a whole host of A-list pedigree including Penelope Cruz, Michael Peña, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer and Judi Dench.
Awaiting Release Date
How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
First published a decade ago in prose form and nominated for various awards, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a short story by Neil Gaiman, following an alien touring the galaxy who breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon. Led by Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp, the cast also includes Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson and Matt Lucas.
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Sheridan – who wrote Sicario – directs the story of an FBI agent who teams up with a local game tracker to investigate a killing at a Native American reservation. Avengers co-stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star. It’s a far cry from where we’re used to seeing these two but, if nothing else, it will be fun to watch them share the screen again.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
In Bruges was a brilliant film that stands up on repeat watches (the first time around you’re too busy knowing whether or not to laugh). Seven Psychopaths wasn’t quite as groundbreaking, but was still surprisingly creative. And that’s why we’re looking forward to McDonagh’s new film, Three Billboards, which follows a grieving mother who comes face-to-face with the police in her hometown that murdered her daughter. Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage and Frances McDormand star.
Director: Vaughn Stein
Starring an unusual but intriguing mishmash of actors in Margot Robbie, Mike Myers, and Simon Pegg, Terminal follows two assassins with a sinister mission, a fatally ill teacher, an enigmatic janitor and a waitress with a double life. Murderous consequences unravel as their lives meet at the hands of a criminal mastermind wanting revenge.
Director: Austin Vesely
Perfectly ambiguous in its title, Slice is a horror film about a person who orders pizza to houses and kills the drivers. Vesely’s decision about who to cast in the film’s leading role was a no-brainer: the role of Dax was offered to everybody’s favorite human embodiment of joy, Chance the Rapper.
While Chance lacks big screen experience outside of a role in VICE’s short film “Mr. Happy”, we think his screen presence will probably speak for itself.
The Shape of Water
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Nocturnal Animals and Take Shelter thesp Michael Shannon can do no wrong. That’s why we’re stoked to see him take the lead in genius auteur del Toro’s latest, an otherworldly story set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1963.
The rest of the film’s cast is insanely great, too – many of them Oscar nominees. And, as much as we enjoyed Pacific Rim, we’re excited to see del Toro return to smaller more personal stories of horror like this one.
Director: Duncan Jones
Eight years ago, we had Moon, a heartfelt drama of human loneliness, by first-time filmmaker Jones, formerly known as Zowie Bowie, the son of pop legend David. Jones made a bit of a cinematic splash with the flick, which followed Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a miner for Lunar Industries who was going stir crazy after three years cooped up in an isolated station.
Now we’re looking forward to Moon’s spiritual sequel, Mute, Jones’ long-simmering project that he’s been talking about making for years, which is now in production. The film will star Paul Rudd and Alexander Skarsgard in a futuristic version of Berlin, in which a mute bartender (Skarsgard) goes against a gang to figure out what happened to his missing partner. Get amped.
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Netflix invested $50m in Bong’s new film, as soon as they caught a whiff of it. No big surprises there for anyone who’s seen Snowpiercer. His latest film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Bill Nighy; the plot follows a young girl named Mija who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
The Lobster might not have gotten the recognition it deserved, but Colin Farrell got nominated for Best Actor in the Golden Globes’ “Motion Picture Musical or Comedy” category for his turn in the flick – and that has certainly upped Lanthimos’ profile in the States. Hopefully that bodes well for his next, even bleaker flick, The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
Inspired by a Euripides tragedy, it centers on a surgeon and a teenage boy who tries to integrate himself into the surgeon’s messed-up family. When the boy’s actions become increasingly sinister, the surgeon is forced to make a grim sacrifice. Farrell stars again, accompanied by Nicole Kidman and – amazingly – Alicia Silverstone.
Under the Silver Lake
Director: David Robert Mitchell
At this point, a lot of Mitchell’s modern noir crime-thriller set in Los Angeles is being kept under wraps. We do know, however, that Jimmi Simpson, Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough are all on board – filling us with total confidence about the acting side of things.
We also know that Mitchell’s last feature horror, It Follows, was a smart and terrifying modern nightmare that indulged both our art-house appetites and our need for seedy thrills. Excellent.
Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Movie
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis – the pair responsible for the incredible Their Will Be Blood – return with a story set in the fashion world of 1950s London. Even movies like The Master and Inherent Vice weren’t a patch on Anderson’s work with Daniel; as for the actor, he’s only done two movies in the 10 years since There Will Be Blood, so we are nothing if not ecstatic about this project.
Director: Aaron Sorkin
From the writer of The Social Network, Moneyball and The West Wing, Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game, follows Jessica Chastain as the young skier and former Olympic hopeful as she becomes a successful entrepreneur and the target of an FBI investigation. Idris Elba stars as Molly’s lawyer. This is a leading-roles dream come true for any filmmaker.
Director: Garth Davis
Mary Magdalene was a follower of Christ who, in the Bible, witnesses his crucifixion and resurrection. A film about her is now being helmed by Davis, director of Lion – which is currently getting awards-season play – and New Zealand TV show Top of the Lake. Rooney Mara plays the biblical figure, opposite Joaquin Phoenix’s Jesus… Expect weird things.
Director: Paul Dano
The star of War and Peace and Swiss Army Man is making his directorial debut after adapting a Richard Ford novel, in which a boy witnesses his parent’s marriage falling apart after his mother finds another guy. Jake Gyllenhaal (with whom Dano starred in Prisoners and will star alongside in this year’s Okja) and Carey Mulligan take the leading roles.
Director: Alex Garland
Based on Jeff Vandermeer’s novel of the same name, Annihilation has the potential to be an original and cerebral piece of sci-fi cinema. Paramount are apparently equally pumped; they’ve already snapped up the rights to Vandermeer’s sequel novel, Authority.
Annihilation follows a team of scientists who enter Area X, part of a coastal region that has been cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious barrier. Weird things begin to appear there, and the sequels deepen the mystery behind the region. The book was one of the best sci-fi stories to come out of the last few years, and – before Garland (Ex Machina director and writer of Sunshine, 28 Days Later, and The Beach) signed up for it – we’d have probably told you it was unfilmable.
Now that you’ve checked for the big screen, here are the biggest new releases to hit television this year.