We’re fully into 2017 at this point and the world has not ended, so I guess it’s safe to start looking to the future. For all its faults, 2016 was a pretty good year in film and this year looks to be fairly solid as well. Taking a look at the calendar, I noticed there are quite a few films I’m really looking forward to, too many for one list in fact. But I chopped away the loose fat and narrowed in on the 10 movies that already have me drooling. While there’s a pretty decent chance none of these will end up being my favorites of the year, at the moment these ones have me stoked.
10. Alien: Covenant
I am a big fan of Ridley Scott’s original Alien. To me, it is one of those rare perfect films and it created one of the great movie villains ever. The xenomorph is terrifying in its simplicity. It wants nothing more than to spread and kill. So I will be excited whenever the opportunity comes for them to return to the big screen, no matter how disappointed I was with Prometheus. It may be wishful thinking, but it seems Sir Scott learned his lesson with that misstep and will be tackling a true Alien tale without pretending there was something deeper there. I’m preparing for the worst, but hoping for some bloody thrills.
9. Kong: Skull Island
When this film was announced, I would never have guessed I’d be pumped up to see it. But those trailers, son! My lord, it looks like a fun ride. The marketing behind this one is applause worthy. The first trailer showed us how awesome Vietnam grunts vs. King Kong is, while the second wisely showed they aren’t taking this too seriously. I sincerely believe this one is going to catch people by surprise. The cast is unbelievable, the tone seems just right and spectacle of the whole thing just draws me in and makes me want to give it my money now. Granted, it could be VERY dumb, but I’m putting my butt out there and saying this is going to be the popcorn movie of the year.
I loved Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario. It’s a brilliant, beautiful film that made me more tense than any film in recent memory (no counting Green Room, ’cause that’s not fair). After watching it, I in no way thought to myself, “This is a movie that begs for a sequel”. And yet here me are. I was skeptical when I first heard about the project, but I find myself getting more and more excited for it as it nears. We’ve writer Taylor Sheridan back taking care of the script (he also wrote Hell or High Water) as well as Benicio Del Toro reprising one of his best roles and Josh Brolin also back. Add to that, the rumblings I’ve heard about the story are quite intriguing and this is an unexpected sequel that just might be worthwhile.
7. War for the Planet of the Apes
These Ape movies are better than they have any right to be. Remember when Mark Wahlberg and Tim Burton tried to do this? Who would ever try to do it again? But now it’s one of the most reliable franchises out there. The first film was an incredibly well made adventure film, while the second turned things up a couple notches and showed that they were willing to take some big risks with this one. Now, War looks to be even bigger and bolder. The trailer looks dark but with the same engrossing action moments and Woody Harrelson as the antagonist should be a hoot. I hope that make a dozen more of these suckers.
6. John Wick: Chapter 2
I’m not going to pretend I’m not a fan of comic book movies, but I do miss the days where action movies weren’t about flying men and cities being leveled. I like a simple story of a badass who is really good at shooting bad guys. John Wick delivered that in spades, with Keanu Reeves perfect in the title role as the dog-loving, head-shooting killer in a nice suit. The sequel looks like it’s bringing back that insane action choreography (no shaky cam here), as well as expanding the very cool world of this assassin’s guild. If the sequel is half as fun as the first film, I’ll leave the theater grinning.
5. Baby Driver
It’s been entirely too long since the world was last graced with an Edgar Wright film. The World’s End, Wright’s conclusion to his brilliant Cornetto trilogy was back in 2013, and after being teased then deprived of Wright’s version of Ant-Man, we now get an original film from him. While lacking his co-horts Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the film does have a solid roster, including Jon Hamm, Lily James, Kevin Spacey and Jon Bernthal in this tale of a doomed heist. It’s not a premise that sends me over the moon with excitement, but Wright is such a brilliant writer and has an amazing visual style that I will forever be looking forward to any film he does.
Unusual for the online film community these days, but I can’t say that I’m a Christopher Nolan fanboy. Yes, I’ve thought a few of his movies were pretty amazing, like The Dark Knight, Memento and The Prestige, but for most of his films, I’ve more respected them than enjoyed them. And yet, his name attached to a project means something and when I heard he was making a WWII drama, I knew we were in for a treat. I know little about the real-life event the film is chronicling, but the trailer is so damn effective. The fact that this is a summer release makes it all the more enticing. Knowing Nolan’s penchant for shooting in camera effects, this wartime epic will be grand in scale and yet a refreshing change of pass from the normal summer fare.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
There are three Marvel Cinematic Universe films being released this year (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming being the other two), but this is the one I’m dying to see. While I seem to enjoy the Thor films more than most people, I will admit that they lack a certain depth. However, I love Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder and have been waiting for him to get a solid solo vehicle with a talented director at the helm. Enter Taika Waititi. This is the man behind one of the funniest movies in recent memory, What We Do in the Shadows, as well as one of last year’s best film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The mere thought of a man like this getting to call the shots on a Marvel movie sends my geeky heart a-fluttering, and theere’s no doubt he’ll be doing something special with the franchise. Add to that, the film has one of the best casts in a Marvel movie. You’ve got Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbacht, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Jeff Golblum AND Sam Neil (a Jurassic Park reunion!), Cate Blanchett as the villain, and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. We’re spoiled folks.
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Certainly the smallest film on this list, but one I have big hopes for. It’s the tale of a mother of a murdered child who takes matters into her own hands when the local police force bungles the case. An alluring enough premise, but the real draw is writer-director Martin McDonagh. He has only two films to his name coming into this feature, but those films are In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. Not since the Coen Brothers or Tarantino have I so enjoyed a writer’s ear for good dialogue. It’s rhythmic and engaging, and the concepts of his film (drawing heavy from his complicated Cathoic past) speaks to me profoundly. I am happy to have found this filmmaker, and am thrilled to be able to experience more of his work this year.
1. Blade Runner 2049
Honestly, I’m surprised at how excited I am for this film. To be honest, I didn’t get Blade Runner the first time I saw it. I admired a lot about it, but it took me a few viewings to recognize its proper place as a sci-fi classic. But even then I didn’t think it needed to be updated. But there is one factor to this film that I cannot ignore, and that is Denis Villeneuve. The French-Canadian director is on a mother fucking roll, having made the effective thriller Prisoners, the mind-fuck Enemy, the incredible Sicario, and one of last year’s best films, Arrival. He is an unbelievable talent who I cannot take my eyes off of. His involvement in this project speaks volumes for what’s in store for us. With Roger Deakins shooting it, it’s guaranteed to be beautiful and while there’s a lot that can go wrong, this could be a movie we remember forever.