At least we have this: 38 of our most anticipated movies of 2017

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At least we have this: 38 of our most anticipated movies of 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Photo: Lionsgate)
John Wick: Chapter 2 (Photo: Lionsgate)

As preamble to our list of the best films of 2016, we held up movies as the one bright spot in a very dark year. Well, guess what? The A.V. Club is still chasing that feeling. Spiking our overwhelming dread about the 12 months to come is a thick dollop of cinephiliac excitement; we may be totally terrified of perishing in a nuclear apocalypse, but at least there are a few silver linings in the mushroom clouds. We’ve identified 38 of them below, singling out the most tantalizing movies likely to open in American theaters sometime between now and December 31, assuming the human species survives until then. This isn’t a comprehensive list—in part because we tried to stick to stuff almost guaranteed to actually see a 2017 release, which meant excluding new movies by Jean-Luc Godard, Joachim Trier, Arnaud Desplechin, Ruben Östlund, Aki Kaurismäki, Lucrecia Martel, and more. But there’s probably enough promising fare in the sampling below to distract us from imminent annihilation. It’s the end of the world as we know it and we feel fine about a Prometheus sequel.

Split (January 20)

Apparently emboldened by the success of The Visit, M. Night Shyamalan enlisted a group of indie up-and-comers (including The Witch star Anya Taylor-Joy and It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis) for another self-financed low-budget project; the result is his purest B-movie to date. Split takes the hokey trope of “multiple personalities” and plays it completely straight, casting Taylor-Joy as one of several teens kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy, never better) whose body has been taken over by his long-suppressed alter egos. The rare January release to be screened for critics way ahead of time (we saw it last fall), this is Shyamalan at his most freewheeling and pulpy, from the goofball humor to the ingenious camerawork. And no, you haven’t guessed the twist. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

John Wick: Chapter 2 (February 10) and The Coldest City (August 11)

With its deft close-quarters shoot-outs and eccentric take on a criminal underworld, John Wick turned out to be one of most memorable American action movies in recent years. The film’s directors, former stuntmen Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, have gone solo for their follow-ups. The Stahelski-helmed John Wick: Chapter 2 lands first, promising more adventures in the Wick-verse of tailored suits and hitman-only hotels. Later in the year brings Leitch’s The Coldest City, a Cold War spy thriller starring Charlize Theron as an MI6 agent. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

A Cure For Wellness (February 17)

Before The Lone Ranger, before Rango, before Pirates Of The Caribbean, Gore Verbinski made a name for himself with The Ring, the best thing to come out of Hollywood’s brief obsession with J-horror and one of our favorite contemporary horror films. And while there’s another sequel to that early hit set to be released in theaters, we’re more looking forward to Verbinski’s own return to the genre, which will come to theaters exactly two weeks later. Dane DeHaan, who seems dead-set on becoming the 2010s’ answer to Anthony Perkins, stars as an executive who travels to a Swiss sanitarium in search of his company’s CEO. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Get Out (February 24)

Jordan Peele made a name for himself as half of the comedy duo Key & Peele, but he’s trying a completely different approach for Get Out, his solo writing and directing debut. A lifelong horror fan, Peele took inspiration from killer-yuppie classics for the story of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young black man who uncovers a sinister conspiracy when he goes to meet the parents of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). With Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford as said parents and a freaky first trailer that teases an unholy union between Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? and The Stepford Wives, we’re ready to be impressed by Peele’s new creative direction. [Katie Rife]

Song To Song (March 17)

Photo: Broad Green Pictures

Once about as rare as cicada emergences, Terrence Malick movies are now arriving at a clip of roughly two a year. The famously reclusive director chases his recent Knight Of Cups and Voyage Of Time with this long-gestating drama—shot half a decade ago, and previously titled Weightless—set against the Austin music scene. Malick’s increased productivity has inched his signature whispered-prayers style closer to self-parody, but every new project still feels like a must-see, if only to find out which famous faces (the cast list this time includes Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, and a music festival’s worth of rock stars) actually made the final cut. [A.A. Dowd]

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (March 31)

Some 18 months after it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival under the title February, the debut feature of Oz Perkins, son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins, is finally creeping its way into theaters. Those who caught his underrated second feature, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, on Netflix this past autumn have a sense of what to expect from Perkins’ mood-heavy approach to genre. But The Blackcoat’s Daughter, starring Emma Roberts and Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka, is a more intense slice of atmospheric horror, like some wintry, nonlinear cousin to Suspiria. See what we’ve been crowing about for a year-and-a-half. [A.A. Dowd]

The Lost City Of Z (April 14)

The perennially underappreciated James Gray (Two Lovers, The Immigrant) had so much trouble getting his adaptation of David Grann’s nonfiction book off the ground that the first long study of the writer-director’s work, Conversations With James Gray, even included an epilogue about this presumably never-to-be-made project. But make it he did. The film, which stars Charlie Hunnam as Percival Fawcett, the British explorer who disappeared while looking for a fabled ancient civilization in the Amazon, bowed to acclaim at the New York Film Festival last year. After the Weinsteins all but buried The Immigrant (one of this website’s favorite films of the 2010s), we’re hoping this film gets Gray the attention he deserves. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5) and Thor: Ragnarok (November 3)

On the baseline, Marvel films are reliably entertaining. This year, we can look forward to a sequel to one of the superhero giant’s most likable hits, the misfit planet-hopping adventure Guardians Of The Galaxy, and a chance for the most endearingly goofy of the Avengers—Chris Hemsworth’s gregarious space-god Thor—to really get his due. The follow-up to the dimly remembered Thor: The Dark World hands the reins over to What We Do In The Shadows co-director and co-star Taika Waititi, a man who knows a thing or two about old-timey supernatural beings oblivious to the ways of the human world. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Alien: Covenant (May 19)

One of the more common complaints lodged against Ridley Scott’s recent Alien prequel, Prometheus, is that it featured very little of the actual alien—the merciless, acid-bleeding, multi-mouthed raison d’être of the whole series. Judging from both its title and its bloody red-band trailer, this second installment in Scott’s promised prequel franchise won’t suffer from the same absence. In other words, even if Covenant goes heavy on the tedious mythology that weighed down Prometheus, it may still treat its cast of characters—played by the likes of Billy Crudup, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Amy Seimetz, and a returning Michael Fassbender—like piping-hot Xenomorph fodder. Quoth the awesome poster: Run. [A.A. Dowd]

The Beguiled (June 23)

Don Siegel’s 1971 rarity The Beguiled stars Clint Eastwood as a wounded Union soldier who turns an all-girls Confederate boarding school into a powder keg of jealousy and sexual tension, themes that seem like a perfect fit for the director of The Virgin Suicides. Sofia Coppola’s remake of the film—her first feature since 2013’s The Bling Ring—promises lots of dreamy atmosphere, with Colin Farrell taking over the role played by Eastwood in the original and Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst rounding out the cast. Stunning period fashions, languid sensuality, and an anachronistic pop soundtrack are expected. [Katie Rife]

Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

You’d be forgiven for rolling your eyes at the appearance of yet another Spider-Man film, especially one that again returns the webslinger to high school. But the first appearance of Tom Holland as Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War suggested a much more lively and entertaining version of Spidey than the lumpen tales offered up by the Amazing installments, and the first trailer captures a spirit of adolescent exuberance not seen since Sam Raimi’s original 2001 film. Now that Spider-Man’s back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and ably assisted by costar Robert Downey Jr.), there’s a whole preexisting world of heroes and villains for him to swing around in. Is it too much to ask for a brief scene of him sassing The Punisher? [Alex McCown-Levy]

Dunkirk (July 21)

Moving even further away from Batman, Christopher Nolan puts his stamp on the relatively less explored movie territory of World War II, telling the story of the harrowing 1940 evacuation of Allied troops trapped within the titular coastal town. The setting—simultaneously sweeping and grim, epic and claustrophobic—seems well-suited to Nolan’s talents for creating dazzling, if occasionally dour spectacles, while his commitment to maximalist film techniques (including shooting Dunkirk in IMAX and 65mm), plus practical effects at any cost (such as, if the rumors are true, spending millions on actual WWII-era ships and planes, just to blow them up), bodes well for his foray in straightforward war movies. All that may even be enough to make us forget that One Direction’s Harry Styles is in this, which would truly be Nolan’s greatest trick. [Sean O’Neal]

The Dark Tower (July 28) and It (September 8)

Photo: Sony Pictures

Unless you count Cell (and you really shouldn’t), it’s been a few years since a major Stephen King adaptation made it to the big screen. But that drought’s about to end in a big way, starting with Nikolaj Arcel’s reimagining of The Dark Tower, featuring Idris Elba as mythic gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as King’s malevolent, novel-crossing sorcerer supreme, The Man In Black. Then, just a few weeks later, Mama director Andrés Muschietti—taking over for True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga—will transport audiences to idyllic Derry, Maine, for the first of two films based on the author’s terrifying bestseller about a child-killing, shape-shifting demon clown. In 2017, it’s good to be King—or at least one of his many fans. [A.A. Dowd]

Baby Driver (August 11)

Photo: Sony Pictures

Given that all four of Edgar Wright’s previous movies made our list of the best comedies since the turn of the millennium, the Shaun Of The Dead director could announce an adaptation of the phone book and we’d still be pumped. (Cue lightning-fast montage of flipping yellow pages.) Not that Baby Driver requires any benefit of the doubt; Wright’s first feature since walking away from Ant-Man sounds like a blast, revolving as it does around a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who floods his tinnitus-afflicted ears with a constant stream of music—a premise that allows Wright to sync his action scenes to an eclectic playlist of soundtrack cuts. Your move, Marvel. [A.A. Dowd]

Blade Runner 2049 (October 6)

As a rule, decades-later sequels to beloved Harrison Ford films are a gamble—and arguably even more so when that film has taken on a cult following as protective as the one that surrounds Blade Runner. Add to that the fact that any follow-up automatically threatens the original’s lingering aura of mystery, add potentially distracting casting choices like Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto, and it’s understandable why fans might preemptively consider this Replicant a hazard, not a benefit. Still, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic, thanks to the presence of Arrival director Denis Villeneuve, who seems committed to the noirish spirit of the original, to the point where he’s relied on Ford, Ridley Scott, and original screenwriter Hampton Fancher as a brain trust. All this suggests that 2049 won’t merely ape Blade Runner’s oft-copied aesthetics while feeling wholly artificial inside. [Sean O’Neal]

Logan Lucky (October 13)

Since announcing his “retirement” from film at the age of 50, the multi-faceted Steven Soderbergh has made two TV movies (Behind The Candelabra and the upcoming Mosaic), worked as a cinematographer and editor (on Magic Mike XXL), and shot and directed every episode of a TV series (The Knick), in addition to executive-producing half a dozen film and TV projects for others. Now he’s dropping any pretense of retirement and returning to the big screen with a caper comedy that casts Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers who plan a heist at a NASCAR race. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

The Commuter (October 13)

An action film that casts Liam Neeson as a middle-aged businessman who has to duke it out with bad guys on his daily commute home? Why, it must be a new movie by Jaume Collet-Serra, director of Non-Stop, Unknown, and Run All Night. The filmmaker has a knack for subverting Neeson’s latter-day ass-kicker persona while still delivering the goods, and in this case, it helps that he’s already shown that he can make the most of a confined space. And this one’s even got Sam Neill, who’s got to be the most inspired counterpart to Neeson since, well, Ed Harris in Run All Night. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

The Snowman (October 13)

Based on Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s series about Detective Harry Hole (Norwegians pronounce it “Hoo-leh,” by the by), The Snowman finds Michael Fassbender tracking a serial killer who only murders women in the dead of winter, leaving behind the cold and grisly titular calling card. Nesbo’s book—first optioned in 2011, when Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sparked international mania for Scandinavian thrillers—was originally linked to Martin Scorsese, who inevitably set it aside when other things caught his fancy. But it’s now safely in the hands of director Tomas Alfredson, who proved with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let The Right One In that he has a knack for both methodical crime stories and beautifully blood-spattered snow. [Sean O’Neal]

Star Wars: Episode VIII (December 15)

If J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens was an overly cautious step back into the franchise that hewed closely to beaten paths, Episode VIII has the potential to be the revitalized saga’s first step toward fulfilling its own destiny. Like Rogue One’s Gareth Edwards, director Rian Johnson brings a unique vision to the Star Wars world (“He’s going to make some weird thing,” franchise vet Lawrence Kasdan enthused to the Los Angeles Times). Meanwhile, Adam Driver’s praise of the script’s “nuance and ambiguity”—something borne out in Johnson’s previous work on things like Looper and Breaking Bad—hints that, much like Empire Strikes Back, this could be the chapter that darkens and deepens the trilogy into something a whole generation will obsess over for 40 years. Granted, even if it were terrible, we’d probably still see it twice, just to make sure. [Sean O’Neal]

Annihilation (TBD)

This is one of those projects you can only imagine succeeding by jettisoning much of what made its source material work. Jeff VanderMeer’s sci-fi novel followed a biologist (played here by Natalie Portman) with a missing husband as she joins a team of researchers traveling into a mysterious environmental disaster zone, where things quickly become very different from what the group was expecting. It’s a story, in large part, about the mysterious power of language, and it drew much of its force from both the written format and some bizarre, difficult-to-picture imagery. Fortunately, writer-director Alex Garland is on the case; we’d be hard-pressed to envision a talent better suited to such an audacious genre adaptation than the creator of Ex Machina. [Alex McCown-Levy]

Death Note (TBD)

Blair Witch may have been a misstep for horror director Adam Wingard, but he’s already promised a return to form (or, as Wingard puts it, “something weird”) with his next project, Death Note. Picked up by Netflix and based on the blockbuster Japanese anime and manga series, Death Note stars Paper Towns’ Nat Wolff as Light Turner, a teenager who discovers a notebook that gives him God-like powers—namely, the ability to kill anyone whose name he writes in its supernatural pages. Co-starring Willem Dafoe as a demon who amuses himself by stirring up chaos in the human realm, Death Note should allow Wingard to engage in the genre-bending mischief that has become his signature. [Katie Rife]

The Death Of Stalin (TBD)

Fabien Nury’s graphic novel The Death Of Stalin is a recounting of the two days of political jockeying and power plays that ensued following the death of the Soviet dictator. Perhaps studio executives were worried about the grimness and intensity of the tale, because they handed over writing and directing duties to Veep and The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci, who assembled a sprawling cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine, Olga Kurylenko, and Andrea Riseborough, among others. Aside from the almost assuredly dark comic voice Iannucci will bring to the material, the tale of infighting and backstabbing (both metaphorical and literal) is an ideal fit for his cynical sensibility. After all, arguably no one was worse at laughing at themselves than the totalitarians. [Alex McCown-Levy]

Golden Exits (TBA)

Photo: Sundance Institute

After going upstate with the throwback psychodrama Queen Of Earth, caustic indie writer-director Alex Ross Perry returns to New York City with a film that’s being described as the story of two families thrown into disarray by a visitor. Perry handles rat-a-tat dark comedy (see: The Color Wheel) and uncomfortable relationship drama with equal ease; at his best, as in the ambitious Listen Up Philip, he finds a perfect balance between the two. Golden Exits, which reunites him with Philip star Jason Schwartzman (and also features Emily Browning, Analeigh Tipton, and Mary-Louise Parker), is set to debut at Sundance later this month. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Happy End (TBD)

It’s probably smart to be wary of a Michael Haneke movie called Happy End. Will the title be sincere, like that of his Oscar-winning Amour, or bitterly ironic, like that of the gut-wrenching audience endurance test Funny Games? Either way, we wouldn’t dream of missing the Austrian director’s latest provocation, which reunites Amour costars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant for a (doubtlessly punishing) study of bourgeois European values—this one involving the continent’s ongoing refugee crisis. Extra enticement points come courtesy of Huppert, who’s compared it to Code: Unknown, still one of Haneke’s best. [A.A. Dowd]

It Comes At Night (TBD)

“I’m dying to see what Shults does next, with or without his kin in tow,” wrote A.V. Club Film Editor A.A. Dowd of Trey Edward Shults, in describing the writer-director’s harrowing first feature, Krisha, as one of the strongest films that didn’t make our Best Of 2016 list. Now we know what Shults is doing next: a horror mystery, starring Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, and Christopher Abbott, about a man trying to protect his wife and child from a dangerous and unknown presence outside their home. In a 2015 interview, Shults mentioned his next film would be drawing inspiration from another personal family story: his father’s death from cancer. Suffice it to say, we’re not expecting a lighthearted romp. [Alex McCown-Levy]

Last Flag Flying (TBD)

Hey, did you know Boyhood director Richard Linklater is making a sequel to Hal Ashby’s New Hollywood classic The Last Detail? Last Flag Flying adapts a later novel by Last Detail author Darryl Ponicsan featuring the same characters. Given that Jack Nicholson is retired, Randy Quaid is insane, and Otis Young died in 2001, their roles have been filled by, respectively, Bryan Cranston, Steve Carrell, and Laurence Fishburne. We have no idea how this might turn out, which is why we’re excited. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

The Masterpiece (TBD)
There are few terrible stories more fascinating than The Room, Tommy Wiseau’s epic melodrama of romance, betrayal, and tuxedo football, though the behind the scenes tale of how it all came to be certainly comes close. James Franco directs and stars in this adaptation of The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero’s memoir of his strange friendship with Wiseau and their even stranger experience working on the oft-cited “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Treating The Room as intentional comedy could backfire (just see any of Wiseau’s attempts to replicate it since), but the straight facts are plenty entertaining as is, so it would take a hubristic folly of Wiseauean magnitude to bungle them. And with a loaded cast that includes (to name a few) Seth Rogen, Jacki Weaver, Hannibal Buress, Nathan Fielder, Alison Brie, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Megan Mullally, and Bryan Cranston as himself—plus a “contractually obligated” Wiseau cameo—The Masterpiece could well turn out to be the star-studded black comedy Wiseau thinks he actually made. That’s the idea. [Sean O’Neal]

The Meyerowitz Stories (TBD)

Shot in secret last summer under the title Yen Din Ka Kissa, Noah Baumbach’s latest study of New York neurosis casts Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson as estranged relatives reuniting for an exhibition. Not much more is known about the plot, but Baumbach’s post-Frances Ha track record has been rock solid. Plus, we’re weirdly rooting for Sandler to add another real movie, à la Punch Drunk Love and Funny People, to his spotty resumé. [A.A. Dowd]

Mother (TBD)

Darren Aronofsky’s last film, the Biblical epic Noah, failed to catch on with either critics or audiences. We’re not sure if that’s the reason Aronofsky is going small-scale for his next film, Mother, but we’re intrigued either way. Jennifer Lawrence stars alongside Star Wars baddie Domhnall Gleeson, as a couple whose relationship is put to the test when unexpected guests arrive at their doorstep. Whether that means a relationship drama or a savage thriller remains to be seen, but we do know that, with Aronofsky at the helm, it’ll probably go somewhere intense. [Katie Rife]

Mute (TBD)

Photo: Netflix

Perhaps as punishment for Warcraft, Duncan Jones’ next movie, which returns him to his human-scaled-sci-fi roots, is debuting on Netflix. But that doesn’t diminish our curiosity about this future-set mystery involving a speechless Berlin bartender (Alexander Skarsgård) investigating the disappearance of his flame. Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, and Sam Rockwell—the last of whom presumably does some kind of funky, futuristic dance—also appear in what we’re hoping will be a neon-tinted comeback for the director of Moon and Source Code. [A.A. Dowd]

Under The Silver Lake (TBD)

Fresh off his dreamy, terrifying foray into supernatural horror, writer-director David Robert Mitchell pivots to neo-noir. His third feature is a crime thriller set not in his native Michigan but in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, and features an older and more experienced cast, including Andrew Garfield, Topher Grace, Zosia Mamet, and American Honey’s Riley Keough. It Follows is a hard act to follow, but Mitchell’s expert command of atmosphere, environment, and space should translate nicely to the gumshoe genre. [A.A. Dowd]

Wind River (TBD)

Photo: Sundance Institute

With his scripts for the crackerjack Southwest crime thrillers Sicario and Hell Or High Water, actor Taylor Sheridan (Sons Of Anarchy) successfully transitioned into a screenwriting career. But can he direct, too? We’ll know soon enough, as Sheridan’s debut behind the camera—about a bereaved game tracker (Jeremy Renner) who joins forces with a green FBI agent (fellow Avenger Elizabeth Olsen) to solve a murder on a Native American reservation—premieres at Sundance next weekend. [A.A. Dowd]

Wonderstruck (TBD)

Carol director Todd Haynes returns to both literary adaptations and period pieces with Wonderstruck, his upcoming film based on the 2011 novel by Brian Selznick. Set in both 1927 and 1977, Wonderstruck dovetails nicely with Haynes’ career-spanning obsession with outsiders, telling the overlapping tales of an orphaned boy searching for his father and a deaf girl hoping to meet her idol, glamorous actress Lillian Mayhew. Wonderstruck is a juvenile novel, and kids’ stuff is outside of Haynes’ wheelhouse, to put it mildly. But with his regular collaborators Christine Vachon and Julianne Moore on board, Wonderstruck should be at the very least a treat for the senses. [Katie Rife]

Untitled Detroit Project (TBD)

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who previously collaborated on The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, shift their attention back home with this as-of-yet-untitled film about the riots that locked down Detroit in the summer of 1967. Boal and Bigelow’s preference for treating characters and geopolitics as pathologies and addictions can make for morally cloudy filmmaking—something that might be complicated even more here by the fact that they’re taking on the unfortunately timeless subject of racist policing. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Movie (TBD)

As with any new Paul Thomas Anderson project—his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice notwithstanding—most extant info about his next project exists solely in the broadest of strokes. All we currently know is it’s set within the 1950s fashion world of London, but all we really need to know is that it finds him reteaming with There Will Be Blood star Daniel Day-Lewis (who is surely even now annoying his family by swanning about in Edwardian Teddy Boy suits). Some, like Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan, have already speculated that Anderson’s film might be inspired by volatile, megalomaniacal designer Charles James, whose tormented love affairs and debilitating personal obsessions would certainly make for the sort of careening character study that Anderson does so well. Regardless, whether Lewis plays Charles James or Ed Hardy, Anderson has yet to give us reason not to expect greatness. [Sean O’Neal]

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