Saturday 21 January 2017

2017: The Year Ahead

So, 2017 is upon us and it is already shaping up to be a very promising year. At least as far as movies go that is, as for the rest of the world then I’m afraid I can’t really help you there. But even if the world tears itself apart around us at least we’ll have some amazing movies to watch while it is happening. Bearing that in mind here are my choices of what to look out for in 2017. This is not a definitive list of all the films that are coming out, just the ones that I am most intrigued by, excited for and eager to see.



When Hugh Jackman announced he would be stepping down from the role of Wolverine we knew he would be bowing out with a swansong of some kind. What we did not expect was something as brutally poignant as ‘Logan’ is shaping up to be. Looking less like a superhero film and more like a classic western that pits weary warriors against their own morality, ‘Logan’ joins ‘Deadpool’ as an R-rated edition to the X-Men franchise, promising something unique and strikingly ruthless. The first trailer is a haunting peak at what is to come and if the film can deliver then we could be looking at the first superhero film since ‘The Dark Knight’ to truly transcend its genre.

Ghost in the Shell

White-washing controversies aside, I still find myself intrigued by the upcoming remake of ‘Ghost in the Shell’. The anime classic left a lasting influence on science fiction cinema, it was unique, artful and deeply philosophical as well as thrilling and viscerally haunting. Translating that to live action was never going to be an easy task, but for better or worse Rupert Sanders’ film looks unique in its visual style and distinct in its themes, so it has my attention.

Alien: Covenant

Remember when Neil Blomkamp was going to direct the next ‘Alien’ movie? It seems remarkable that in little over a year Ridley Scott made his triumphant return to form, Blomkamp went down in a burst of flames and we can look forward to this strikingly composed feature. Scott’s film promises to reconnect with what made the original ‘Alien’ the masterpiece that it was, doing away with the philosophical jargon that bogged down ‘Prometheus’ in favour of a tighter, character driven script which combined with Scott’s brilliant direction (because for all its faults ‘Prometheus’ was stunningly made on a technical level) could deliver something very special.

War of the Planet of the Apes

How did Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis make an ape one of the most endearing characters of modern cinema? With ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ rebooting the franchise with bold intentions and ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ developing those ideas further, it sets the stage for the third instalment to be the best one yet with Reeves and Serkis returning and newcomers like Woody Harrelson looking very promising. Will it stick the landing and make it a great trilogy, or will it fall under the curse of dreaded threequels like ‘Alien 3’, ‘X-Men 3’, ‘Godfather Part 3’ ‘Spider-Man 3’, ‘The Matrix Revolutions’, ‘Blade Trinity’, ‘Terminator 3’, ‘Jurassic Park 3’, ‘Superman 3’ yeah I think I’ve made my point.


Christopher Nolan, and that basically covers why I’m excited for ‘Dunkirk’. But if I have to elaborate then the fact that Nolan is now reaching out with a very different genre of film shows that his ambition as a storyteller goes far beyond complicated, time bending, reality altering epics.  When a director makes a film like ‘Dunkirk’ that is where his true greatness shines through, the ability to tell a more conventional story but use your skills as a filmmaker to create something endearing and remarkable. The man who brought us ‘Memento’, ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Inception’ now wants to venture into new territory and I can’t wait to see how it goes.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

With three upcoming MCU films I could not bring myself to choose only one, so I went for all three. After his brilliant debut in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Tom Holland is looking to make a big impression as the web-slinger in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, the fact that they brought Michael Keaton along for the ride only makes it even better. James Gunn looks set to continue his character driven space saga with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2’, for which the soundtrack alone is making me excited. Finally I don’t know what to expect from ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, especially with Taika Waititi in the director’s chair. But it’s for that very reason that I’m eager to see it.

Star Wars Episode 8

No trailers, no clips, not even a title and yet you’d still struggle to find someone who is not excited for this film. That is the unique power of ‘Star Wars’ at its best. But what we do know is that Rian Johnson is set to take up the directing duties of this instalment, continuing what JJ Abrams started with ‘The Force Awakens’. Johnson is a filmmaker who takes risks, goes in new directions and challenges his audience. Having directed ‘Brick’, ‘Looper’ and the finale of ‘Breaking Bad’ I’m excited to see where he will take the galaxy far, far away.


T2: Trainspotting 2

More than twenty years after Danny Boyle broke into the mainstream with his 1996 masterpiece ‘Trainspotting’ he and the original cast return for the long awaited sequel. It may be unprecedented for an independent film like ‘Trainspotting’ to receive the sequel treatment this long after its release and I can understand that there may be fears of it falling short of its predecessor, but with a wide range of source material to borrow from and its cast and director still as strong as ever, one should be ready for anything.

Get Out

Following their 2016 film ‘Keanu’, the comedy due Key and Peele went their separate ways on different cinematic ventures. Key starred in the critically acclaimed ‘Don’t Think Twice’ while Jordan Peele wrote and directed what looks to be a bold and socially relevant horror film. Described by Peele as “a horror movie” with “a satirical premise” it stands as an intriguing entry in this year’s movie line up.

Free Fire

If there was one premise that singlehandedly sold me on a film that was coming up in 2017 it was this one. It’s the 1970s, a bunch of gangsters meet up in a warehouse for an arms deal, things go askew and everyone spends the rest of the movie fighting for their lives in a feature length, self-contained, ensemble gun fight. But then you take into account that it is directed by ben Wheatly one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers working today, a terrific cast that includes Brie Larson (yes, academy award winner soon to be Captain Marvel, Brie Larson) and Cillian Murphy, then it’s something to look forward to.

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright has finally returned to direct another movie. That’s all there really is to say about why I’m looking forward to this.


Todd Haynes has always possessed a great ability to balance the experimental with the prestige. From his unconventional Bob Dylan biopic ‘I’m Not There’ to his convention pushing love story ‘Carol’, he’s never been one to sacrifice artistic integrity to get on the good side of an awards jury. His next offering looks to be very much the same, telling two intertwined stories of different time periods (one of which is completely silent) and re-teaming the director with Juliane Moore.  


Following the acclaim he received for his directorial debut, ‘Ex Machina’ it is no surprise that Alex Garland has swiftly moved into production on his next project. Like his previous effort it a small scale work of science fiction that promises to be as impactful as it is innovative, one that raises deep thinking themes and disturbing insights into human nature.

The Detroit Riots

It’s been too long since Kathryn Bigelow lent her talents to creating another culturally relevant, impeccably directed, viscerally thrilling piece of cinema. But 2017 sees her make a welcome return to helm a historical crime drama about the 1967 Detroit Riots, with John Boyega in the lead role.

Untitled PT Anderson Project

I know next to nothing about this apart from three distinct aspects. The first is (as you may have guessed) it is written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson who with ‘Boogie Nights’, ‘Magnolia’, ‘Punch Drunk Love’, ‘There Will Be Blood’ and ‘The Master’ has directed five of the greatest films of the last 25 years. The second is that it is set in the 1950s fashion industry but that factor is almost irrelevant when you learn what the third aspect is. It stars Daniel Day Lewis in the lead role. Given that this marks his first on screen role since his Oscar winning turn in 2012’s ‘Lincoln’ as well as the fact that the last time Anderson and Lewis were paired together they produced the undisputed masterpiece that is ‘There Will be Blood’ there’s good reason to be excited for this movie that is yet to even receive a title.

Blade Runner 2049

This is the big one, the one film that I would sacrifice an entire year’s worth of cinema in exchange for seeing it. While it is easy to be nervous over a sequel to one of the greatest films in the history of cinema the creative team behind it is formidable enough to give me confidence. A cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto and the returning Harrison Ford with the always great Roger Deakins on hand as cinematographer. But all of this pales in comparison to its director, Denis Villeneuve. The director of ‘Polytechnique’, ‘Incendies’, ‘Prisoners’, ‘Enemy’, ‘Sicario’ and ‘Arrival’ has yet to make a film that cannot be labelled as a masterwork but nothing will be a greater test of his filmmaking ability than living up to Ridley Scott’s milestone of cinema. It is a bold venture that I would trust to very few filmmakers. Villeneuve is, for my money, the finest director of this decade and if anyone can succeed here, he might.

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