My first blog of the New Year was all about how I’m feeling optimistic about big franchise movies this year, so this ‘most anticipated’ list is inevitably going to cover some of the same ground; I hope you’ll forgive me for that, I generally avoided including any overlap if I can, with a couple of exceptions I couldn’t resist.
One of the reasons I enjoy making lists like this at the beginning of the year is that I can look back on them a year later and see how well they compare to my eventual top ten list. Looking at last year’s lists, I had 5 films appear on both, which is the highest hit rate yet for me, and no films that turned out to be terrible, so maybe my powers of predictability are improving? Anyhow, there is still a bit of an issue with my 2016 anticipated list as three of the ten films didn’t get released (at least not where I live) that year, those being Daniel Clowes adaptation Wilson ,Martin Scorsese’s Silence, and War on Everyone from Calvary/The Guard director John Michael McDonough. I should be able to see Silence and War on Everyone quite soon, and Wilson has a March release date in the US, so I imagine it’ll be available to me by the end of this year, but as such I’m declaring all three of these films exempt from my 2017 list. I’m still eagerly anticipating them, but there’s little point in putting them on now for a second year. On we go then…
10. Raw (Julia Ducournau)
I’ll be honest, my anticipation for this French-Belgian cannibal-themed horror movie is based pretty much entirely on what I’ve heard from critics who’ve seen it in festivals. But like The Witch last year, I like to be hopeful that we might get a really good, original horror movie this year, which this sounds like it very much could be.
09. Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo)
One of two unconventional sounding, internationally produced monster movies involving South Korea on this list, Colossal comes from Nacho Vigalondo, director of ingenious low-budget sci-fi Timecrimes. The film stars Anne Hathaway as a American woman who after going through a bad break-up discovers that she is somehow connected mentally to a giant monster that’s destroying Seoul…….and I’m sold.
08. Mute (Duncan Jones)
I had really hoped Duncan Jones could have been the guy to finally make a good videogame movie with Warcraft, but it sadly did not happen. He looks to be in quick turnaround though, returning to the lower-budget sci-fi that made his name with Mute, a long-in-development film he’s described as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to his debut Moon. I hope it’s a return to form for him, and expect it to hit Netflix sometime later in the year.
07. Mother (Darren Aronofsky)
I was both rather baffled and disappointed by Darren Aronofsky’s last film Noah, but it was still an interesting misstep for the otherwise consistently fascinating filmmaker (I named The Fountain as one of the best films of the 21st century so far and stick by it). Other than the cast, which includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem and Michelle Pfeiffer I know very little about his new film Mother, but Aronofsky’s worked in different genres and styles enough over his relatively short career to leave me highly intrigued to wherever he goes next.
06. T2: Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)
I don’t think I’m fully aware of whether Trainspotting had quite the impact outside of the UK that it did in its home country, but when I was growing up, the film went from being a controversial hot-discussion topic to one of the most acclaimed and iconic films of the decade in a very short space of time. It’s the quintessential movie of the Britpop era, and as I discussed in the franchise post, I’m very interested to see if Danny Boyle and his cast and crew can recapture any of the magic. It’s out very soon in the UK but I’m unsure when the rest of the world is going to see it, hopefully the wait won’t be too long.
05. Annihilation (Alex Garland)
After turning out sci-fi tinged screenplays as varied as Dredd and Never Let me Go, Alex Garland showed that he was quite the talent behind the camera as well with his astonishing 2015 debut Ex Machina. He’s sticking with the genre for this new film, an adaptation of the Nebula-award winning novel by Jeff VanderMeer. The impressive, female-centric cast includes Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tessa Thompson.
04. Okja (Bong Joon-ho)
Bong Joon-ho’s las movie Snowpiercer was one of the best of 2013, and despite being amoung the all-time highest grossers in Korea has still disgracefully never seen a proper UK release. Thankfully, it looks like that won’t be the case with his new film Okja, as Netflix have already picked up the rights. The Korean-American co-production boasts a number of international stars, and a screenplay co-written by author Jon Ronson. Like his breakout hit The Host, expect another skillful subversion of a monster movie when this hits streaming sometime in the year.
03. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan)
Christopher Nolan has never made a film that wasn’t excellent. I think he’s possibly the most consistent director working in large-scale studio films and I truly believe Interstellar is a masterpiece that will be subject to a serious critical reassessment in a decade or so’s time. Every time he makes a new film it’s going to be an event, and while I wish there were more directors able to get massive, challenging films financed as readily as he seems to, I’m still very glad that he does. This year, he turns his hand to a new genre with this fact-based World War II drama. Expect epic battles, grand visuals, and hopefully another score for the ages, (as Nolan tends to draw out the absolute best from Hans Zimmer). Due for worldwide release in July, this may well prove to be a landmark war film, and might see Nolan finally get some Oscar recognition to boot.
02. Baby Driver (Edgar Wright)
We were denied what could have been a new Edgar Wright movie in 2015 when he sadly fell out with Marvel over Ant-Man, and though it meant a longer wait, I am at least very pleased that he’s gone for an original project with this self-written crime/action movie. I’m particularly looking forward to see how he approaches a car chases given his wonderfully precise style of comedy. Baby Driver is currently due to arrive in August.
01. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve)
As I mentioned in my franchises post, though I would in principle think a Blade Runner sequel is a terrible idea, the people involved in this, in particular director Denis Villeneuve, whose incredible run of movies this decade just gave us Arrival (my number one film of last year) have really turned me around on the idea. His group of collaborators on this film, along with the stunning first trailer only give me more and more confidence that maybe, just maybe this could actually be a sequel worthy of the original.
There are of course many more movies to look forward to this year, all the ones I mentioned on my previous post, along with new movies from Terrence Malick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Soderbergh, Tomas Alfredson, Armando Iannucci, David Robert Mitchell, Todd Haynes, and probably a bunch I’ve not even heard about yet. Here’s hoping it’s set to be a good year for cinema.