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The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

Next year promises a barrel full of monkeys, blade runners, and killer clowns

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    With the coming of a new year, it almost feels as though the moviegoing cycle gets a chance to reset. Yet, where the early months of the year have typically been a space for refuse, 2017 is filling every corner of the release calendar with interesting, big-ticket projects. And after a year marked by cynicism and skepticism and way, way too much debate about the remake of a movie about comedians battling ghosts, we’re looking forward to moving on and starting fresh and getting excited about the movies yet to come.

    And on paper, 2017 is going to be quite a thing. We’ll get DC’s best attempt at The Avengers, an actual Blade Runner sequel, and the return of everyone’s favorite Guardians. We’ll get new films from Darren Aronofsky, Kathryn Bigelow, and Paul Thomas Anderson. Sure, things will continue on as they have; the year’s full of franchises and sequels again, and America will buy Michael Bay more houses and cars with a new Transformers. But it’s looking like 2017 will have a lot to offer for any kind of moviegoer, from the casual admirers to the thrillseekers to the snobs. That’s worth getting excited about.

    Plus, come on. How bad can a year featuring xXx: the Return of Xander Cage really be? Dude’s riding a dirtbike through the ocean. If that’s not a great omen for 2017, we don’t know what is.
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    Split

    split The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: January 20th via Universal

    Ever since M. Night Shyamalan decided to scale back on his storytelling, he’s been in better company. His 2015 feature film, The Visit, wasn’t without its share of faults — the found-footage angle was unnecessary and hampered his strengths, which has always been his shot selection behind the camera — but it was thrilling, cohesive, and digestible enough that it didn’t seem too silly or outlandish. Now, he’s back with another tiny thriller called Split. James McAvoy stars as a man with 23 different personalities who abducts three teenage girls, one of them being The Witch‘s breakout rookie Anya Taylor-Joy. Our own critic Marten Carlson caught the film during a surprise screening at last year’s Fantastic Fest, praising McAvoy for his range and ultimately dubbing the film “one further step for Shyamalan on the road to cinematic redemption.” We believe it. –Michael Roffman

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    XX

    xx poster The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2017 via Magnet

    Horror films scare much more when they play back to back, and that’s exactly what XX plans to do. It’s a powerhouse of a release that sees four tales strung together, each tackled by a different woman. Karyn Kusama directs Her Only Living Son, which we can only imagine will be as memorable as The Invitation, her most recent movie and one of the best films of 2016. Zombie-loving and creepy creature-creating Jovanka Vuckovic will direct The Box. Annie Clark, the total powerhouse otherwise known as St. Vincent, makes her directorial debut with The Birthday Party, a title that already sounds as haunting and distorted as “The Strangers”. Lastly, there’s Don’t Fall, a film by Roxanne Benjamin, the producer behind the original V/H/S, meaning she’s a pro in short-form horror filmmaking already. In short: This anthology is already priming our goosebumps. –Nina Corcoran
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    Landline

    Landline - Still 1

    Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2017

    Distributor: TBA

    Three years after Obvious Child was sent to Sundance on the strength of a Kickstarter campaign and ended up as one of the festival’s breakout hits of this year, writer/director Gillian Robespierre will return with Landline. The story of a teenager in 1995 Manhattan who discovers that her father is having an affair, the film looks to continue Robespierre’s emergence as a keenly observant filmmaker of notice. Landline will re-team her with Child‘s Jenny Slate, in addition to Edie Falco, John Turturro, and Finn Wittrock. Keep an eye on this one, because there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be hearing a lot about it soon enough. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
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    John Wick Chapter 2

    wick The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: February 10th via Summit

    John Wick arrived out of nowhere in 2014, and returned Keanu Reeves to prominence as the titular ex-assassin, who drops the “ex-” when a kingpin breaks into his house and ends up killing his dog. It’s a remarkably well-made action thriller, particularly given its goofy-on-paper premise, and it also took the time to do the kind of world-building that doesn’t figure prominently into enough action series in this day and age. That world, of secret assassin hotels and clubs and currencies and rules, will form the spine of Chapter 2, in which Wick finds himself the target of a worldwide contract that brings out the best of the criminal underworld to try and take him down for good. But they’re up against a lot, because shit, he’s John Wick. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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    The LEGO Batman Movie

    LEGO Batman

    Release Date: February 10th via Warner Bros.

    As DC Comic’s expanded universe continues to fall into darkness, there’s one superhero who may save them before it’s too late: LEGO Batman. On February 10th, The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters and save the box office, if not America, as we know it. Will Arnett once again voices the titular hero who is loved by the public but whose only family is Alfred the butler (Ralph Fiennes) and adopted orphan Robin (Michael Cera). This time around, The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) rallies up a group of Batman’s biggest enemies to threaten the city of Gotham and its police department, led by police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), who wants to aid Batman. If the film’s anything like its trailer or like the crowd-pleasing film before it, The LEGO Movie, then we’re due for a film that balances action, comedy, and pure fun with the ease of a director who has it all figured out. After all, the trailer jabs at Robin the way viewers — namely the fans who voted he should be killed off — inevitably will, it mocks The Joker’s lovesick phase, and it reminds us that children’s toys elevate satire to a whole new level, one building block at a time. –Nina Corcoran

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    Get Out

    get out The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: February 24th via Universal

    While promoting his very funny cat movie Keanu earlier this year, Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele fame) mentioned in some interviews that he wanted his next project to be a horror movie. Few people took him very seriously at the time — he’s a comedian, after all — but lo and behold, in October we got the trailer for Get Out, Peele’s gleefully demented, racially charged take on Meet the Parents. The Jason Blum production seems to revel in uncomfortable truths, following what happens when Rose (Allison Williams) invites her boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) to return to her white-bread hometown to meet her parents, who may or may not be racist demons. It’s an insane, exciting premise that’s bound to ruffle some feathers in the early days of Trump’s America, and we can’t wait to see how it all shakes out. –Collin Brennan

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    Logan

    logan 2017 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: March 3rd via 20th Century Fox

    After the disappointing experience that was X-Men: Apocalypse, the jury was pretty mixed on another go-around with Wolverine. Then came the trailer for Logan, complete with Johnny Cash’s somber cover of “Hurt” and all the tear-jerking speeches that could win over any cynic’s soul. Sure, we’ve been burned over the years by epic previews, but there’s no denying that director and screenwriter James Mangold has found a fresh spin on an old story. Based on Mark Millar and Steve McKiven’s outstanding eight-part series Old Man Logan, the film looks to pare down the worldwide scope of the last two X-Men films into a simpler and more palpable experience. If that weren’t enough, the film also marks Hugh Jackman’s last outing as the titular immortal bastard, which should only add to the drama and make for a poignant finale to arguably the most chiseled character in the on-screen X-Men universe. What do you say to that, bub? –Michael Roffman

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    T2: Trainspotting

    t2 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: March 3rd via TriStar

    A little over 20 years ago, now, Renton and Sick Boy and Begbie and Spud became icons of a certain era of alternative culture when Trainspotting turned Irvine Welsh’s tale of Scottish heroin addicts into one of the great, kinetic films of the 1990s. It also made a name for all of its stars and for Danny Boyle as a filmmaker of great talent, which might be why all of the film’s principal names have returned for T2: Trainspotting, which we’re so happy to see that we’ll stop wishing that it wasn’t named as such. Word has varied on how much the film will resemble Porno, Welsh’s literary sequel, but it’ll follow Renton (Ewan McGregor) as he returns home to reconnect with the friends he left behind so many years ago. After stealing all of their money. That second one will probably cause some trouble. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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    Kong: Skull Island

    kong The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: March 10th via Warner Bros.

    Cinematic universes are all the rage, so of course the upcoming Kong: Skull Island is part of a bigger picture. 2014’s Godzilla reboot was the first in the series and we know they are building to an over-the-top, city-destroying battle royale between the two. For Kong’s part, he gets a stellar cast of humans (Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly) and creatures (giant spiders, giant lizards, a giant yak), all just opening acts for the film’s true star: the chest-pounding gorilla that’s been enthralling audiences since the Great Depression. With every reboot, there’s the sense that we’ve never seen Kong like this, with another generation of special effects anchoring the production. But if Godzilla is any indicator, this film series isn’t skimping on story or characters, hopefully giving fans of Kong something to cheer for. –Philip Cosores

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    Beauty and the Beast

    beauty and the beast The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: March 17th via Disney

    When you can’t make a new Disney princess, revive an old one in true 3D: live action. Beauty and the Beast invites you to be their guest once again, this time with Belle (Emma Watson), Beast (Dan Stevens), Gaston (Luke Evans), and the rest of the French folk taking literal human form. If your heart feels weary about a remake, watch the trailer and let the magic whisk you away. Ewan McGregor as Lumière? Ian McKellen as Cogsworth? Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts? Yes, we would like to play dress-up and slip into the village during Belle’s theme song. It seems we’re not the only ones. Disney’s trailer set a new record with 127.6 million views in its first 24 hours — beating out previous record-holders Fifty Shades Darker (114 million views) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (112 million views). –Nina Corcoran

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    Free Fire

    free fire trailer The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: March 17th via A24

    “Armed with guns, explosives, insults, and an endless array of improvised weapons and armor made from whatever refuse is lying around the warehouse, all of the players engage in a riotous and bloody battle for their lives – and the money, if they can get their hands on it.” So says our own Sarah Kurchak in her review of Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, the English filmmaker’s spirited follow-up to 2016’s High-Rise. It’s essentially a feature-length shootout, and your propensity for raucous, boggling action will likely be an indicator of whether or not this one’s for you. Wheatley’s films are divisive to be sure, but like High Rise, Free Fire boasts a deep well of talent — Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy, among others — to entice the noobs. –Randall Colburn

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    Ghost in the Shell

    ghost shell The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: March 31st via Paramount

    Ha, yeah, this thing’s already going through the ringer with its bad publicity. Did you hear that Paramount allegedly did secret CGI tests to make the film’s actors appear more Asian? Bad idea jeans, Ghost in the Shell. So yes, the white-washing of a nearly 30-year-old cyberpunk manga has left a sour taste in many mouths, but you know … that trailer? It looks kinda cool. Everybody’s been chasing that Blade Runner neo-Tokyo alley vibe for decades; it’s why we have Blade Runner 2049 coming out next October. Sometimes that aura has been presented successfully, with great stories, like in Akira or Batman Begins. Sometimes it’s been embarrassing and cheap-looking, like Highlander 2 or Johnny Mnemonic. Where Ghost in the Shell lands, we shall see. But the mix of high octane action and state-of-the-art visuals should provide an ample distraction for the sci-fi set. Scarlett Johansson looks bad to the bone, and the art direction seems ambitious enough. We can only hope that will be enough to offset the awkwardness of Caucasian actors in Asian roles. –Blake Goble

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    The Fate of the Furious

    fate furious The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: April 14th via Universal

    Only a franchise as goddamn ludacris (pun intended) as the Fast and Furious series could name a movie The Fate of the Furious, but that kind of comically earnest grandstanding has been part and parcel of the series since it shifted its focus from drag racing to carjacking (and general heistin’) with Fast Five. It was the best reinvention of a franchise ever; with the help of a reinvigorated cast and a slew of glorious supporting players including Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, the series’ fifth, sixth, and seventh entries achieved an absurd, extravagant, and giddy brand of action that’s also aggressively good-natured. The overriding themes are those of family and community.

    So, when the trailer for The Fate of the Furious revealed that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto had turned on his family and was working on behalf of a villain played by Charlize Theron, fans were understandably apoplectic. It wouldn’t be beyond the franchise to chalk up Dom’s betrayal to some loony kind of mind control, just as it isn’t too far a stretch to bring back Statham’s character as an ally to the gang (he killed Han, you idiots!). In a franchise where each entry has gotten bigger and battier, veteran director but first-time Fast-er F. Gary Gray has his work cut out for him. –Randall Colburn

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    The Circle

    screen shot 2016 12 23 at 10 59 16 am The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: April 28th via EuropaCorp

    Over the past few years, James Ponsoldt has turned out a series of quiet gems, films as empathetic and humane as those by any director working today: The Spectacular NowSmashedThe End of the TourWhile his films have garnered no shortage of critical support, he’s still waiting for the breakthrough project that makes him a well-justified household name. Hopefully The Circle, based on Dave Eggers’ devastating novel about a tech company slowly rising to monolithic status, will be that breakthrough. And with Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and a host of other notable performers emerging to tell Eggers’ eerie, too-close-to-real story, The Circle has the potential to be one of the more interesting sleeper features of 2017. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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    The Trip to Spain

    screen shot 2016 12 21 at 9 14 51 am The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: Summer 2017 via Sky Atlantic

    Here’s a little piece of advice: Anytime there’s an opportunity to watch Steve Coogan do his thing, take it, hold it, hug it. That goes tenfold on the rare occasion he’s paired with Rob Brydon, which is exactly what’s going down with Michael Winterbottom’s forthcoming comedy, The Trip to Spain. The third fling between the two comics will showcase more of Europe’s finest restaurants and feature gaggles of glorious impersonations. Our first taste from the film surfaced recently and found Coogan and Brydon sharing anecdotes about The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, which prompted their own twist on the iconic frontman. (Spoiler: It’s hilarious.) Sadly, we’ll have to wait until it first airs overseas, but if we’re judging from past jaunts, your first class ticket to Spain will arrive this Summer. Now, if only we knew who will be suffering from existential angst during this vacay. Come to think of it, probably us. –Michael Roffman

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    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    guardians groot rocket The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: May 6th via Disney

    “I’m not going to predict that we’ve got another Avengers on our hands, but that’s certainly the goal.” That’s what Disney CEO Bob Iger had to say about Guardians of the Galaxy, three months ahead of the first film’s release in 2014, where it would go on to earn $773.3 million and become one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest hits. But to call Guardians another Avengers is to shortchange the good thing that Star-Lord and his unlikely team of heroes has going. Instead of banking on the familiar, Guardians has turned a collection of largely unknown characters into a franchise full of swagger and identity. The trailer for the sequel portrays a film that knows exactly what it is: a loose, fun, and irreverent series that puts adventure at the same level of importance as it puts action. Plus, this time Groot is a baby. That’ll be neat. –Philip Cosores

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    Alien: Covenant

    screen shot 2016 12 23 at 11 02 22 am The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: May 19th via 20th Century Fox

    Make no mistake, Ridley Scott shit the bed with 2012’s Prometheus.

    But it wasn’t hit fault. After all, the film looked gorgeous, brimming with stunning visuals and inventive set pieces that gelled with everything he created back in 1979’s Alien. It was also different and unique enough to actually make a case for what prequels could and should be every time the medium’s employed. Unfortunately, Damon Lindelof’s screenplay was a fucking mess, indulging in stupidity over reason with some of the most asinine characters to ever pop up in a sci-fi film. Even worse, there were stitched-in scenes employed to expand the Alien mythology, only to make it more convoluted.

    ANYWAYS, Alien: Covenant says to hell with all that and basically submits to being a standard prequel with all the obvious Easter egg shit, which, based on the reception to Rogue One, is all anyone really wants these days anyhow. The good news is that he’s roped in a great cast with Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, and James Franco to die at the hands of nubile xenomorphs — and die they will. The trailer hints that the alien can now impregnate the body through the ears and opt to burst out through the spinal column? Can’t wait. –Michael Roffman

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    Life

    screen shot 2016 12 23 at 11 04 20 am The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: May 26th via Columbia

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a group of astronauts discover an extraterrestrial lifeform, which goes on to wreak havoc in the halls of their claustrophobic spacecraft. All we’ve seen of Life’s killer critter is a tiny, translucent thing, so the central hook of Daniel Espinosa’s movie seems to be how much it’ll end up resembling a Xenomorph. He’s got a great cast behind him, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds heading up a cast that also includes Rebecca Ferguson, Ariyon Bakare, and Hiroyuki Sanada. There’s ample buzz around Alien: Covenant and Blade Runner 2049, but hey, maybe it’ll be Life that cements 2017 as a watershed year for creepy sci-fi. –Randall Colburn

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    Wonder Woman

    wonder woman movie 2017 gal gadot images The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: June 2nd via Warner Bros.

    You can’t judge a film by its trailer but holy crap, those Wonder Woman trailers are something else, no? Helmed by female-person Patty Jenkins—that qualifier being a first for both the DCEU and the MCU—the first solo outing for Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince looks promising as hell. It’s not just the sure-to-be tremendous actions sequences, including that shot of Diana climbing out of the trenches and that cliff dive into the sea to save Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). It’s not even that it seems like this one might be honest-to-god funny—after all, Dawn from the U.K. Office is involved (Lucy Davis). No, the thing that makes us so eager to see Wonder Woman is all that light! A sunny day or two in the DCEU? That’s something to celebrate. –Allison Shoemaker

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    The Mummy

    mummy trailer The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

    Release Date: June 9th via Universal

    Last time we got Mummy films, they were campy adventure flicks you could take your parents to. Moms love Brendan Fraser, it’s a fact. And, they were largely successes that haven’t particularly aged with any sort of reverence. 20 years later and The Mummy is aiming to be something different. Moms love Tom Cruise, too, but Cruise here is looking to bring some credibility to the Egyptian monster institution. He’s tagging along Russell Crowe and Annabelle Wallis, too, while Sofia Boutella is playing the princess-turned-monster (she was memorable this year as Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond). The tone is straight-faced danger, with director Alex Kurtzman replacing the laughs with genuine thrills. If there’s anything to bank on, it’s Cruise’s remarkable success rate for his career. We could never have said the same about Fraser. –Philip Cosores

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