Every year there comes a time when we look back at what we are leaving behind and reflect on what we loved or hated, but we also like to look towards what is yet to come and speculate. As easy as it is to look back and say whether you loved or hated a particular film it is a little more difficult to determine whether you will love or hate something before you see it. Last year we saw Marvel and DC go head to head for the first time with a duo of films from each but nobody could have expected Marvel to take the win with such little effort (well, they didn't try any harder than they usually do). While DC's stumble with BVS and the better-left-forgotten Suicide Squad we also got Fox's biggest superhero hit in years with Deadpool which took audiences by storm. Rogue One didn't suck, Ghostbusters kind of did, not very people cared where they could find a Fantastic Beast and Independence Day: Resurgence failed to re-surge. But now we look forward to what 2017 has in store for us and there is quite a bit to get excited about.
So that's what this is, a list of films due out next year (or this year depending on when you read this) that I am looking forward to the most. While there will certainly be some of these that let me down and others that I have either overlooked or haven't been announced yet that may surprise me, the fact of the matter is that these are the films I see the most potential in for one reason or another and hope that they deliver on that potential. So don't look at this list as feeling negative towards anything not listed, see it more as a wish list for hoping these particular films don't suck ass, which sadly is always a possibility whether we like to admit it or not. Regardless though, with this many unknowns it will be interesting to see how 2017 turns out.
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterson, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride
Release date: May 19, 2017
If not for the technically beautiful but narrative mess that was Prometheus, this Ridley Scott directed follow up to the Alien prequel would rank much higher on this list. Scott is a formidable filmmaker and can make amazing experiences when all the pieces come together properly, but he is far from perfect and can make a dud just like anyone else in Hollywood. Have you seen A Good Year? I didn't think so. Thankfully this one looks closer in tone and structure to the original Alien enough to warrant some cautious optimism but there is always the possibility for this one to go off the rails as well which is all to likely unfortunately.
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer and Cillian Murphy
Release date: March 31, 2017
There was a trailer released for Free Fire and it has done a few film festivals but there is still no real way to gauge what to expect from it other than its very minimalist premise which is about a deal meet up gone bad. What makes this one unique and something to look out for however isn't so much the premise as it is the setting which is focused on a single location during and extended shootout. It looks to have a dark comedic edge to it that will likely help balance the action heavy film and with the talent involved including our soon to be Captain Marvel Brie Larson and the always entertaining Sharlto Copely there is little reason to not get excited for this potentially explosive little indie flick.
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill
Release date: November 17, 2017
Warner Bros. and DC have a lot of riding on their Justice League film. The question isn't whether Justice League will make money or not as both Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad made a buck or two despite not being very well received. The question is whether it will be just another BVS where it fails to catch on or if it becomes DC's answer to the Avengers and jumpstarts the DC cinematic universe. Some would argue that their Wonder Woman movie is more capable of making this happen but the fact of the matter is that Justice League is Warner Bros. and DC putting all their eggs in one basket and giving it everything they got. If they have learned from their mistakes and take into account every misstep along the way, DC could potentially give those guys at Marvel some real competition...or we could just be looking at an entire reboot of all DC properties in the distant future.
BLADE RUNNER 2049
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas
Release date: October 6, 2017
You can add this one to the list of sequels we didn't need but there are still a couple reasons to get excited for the potential this film has. First of all it is being directed by Denis Villeneuve, the man responsible for a trio of fantastic films with Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival. For a sequel to one of the most influential and visually iconic films ever made, Villenueve has the right pedigree to deliver something just as good if not better than the first. Second is that star Harrison Ford is back to reprise his role as Deckard which may seem inconclusive when it comes to quality (Ford returning as Indiana Jones didn't turn out so well) but at the very least indicates that the filmmakers are making an attempt to stay true to the original. The only lingering question at this point is what kind of film will it be? The teaser trailer is similar in tone and visual style to the original which is a good sign but if the final product is just an excuse for a bunch of action sequences this may end up being not only a missed opportunity but a huge waste of time for all of us.
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya and Robert Downey Jr.
Release date: July 7. 2017
I know what you're thinking...another Spider-man movie? Why should I be anticipating it? Shouldn't I be shrugging my shoulders? Aren't they just going to reboot it again? Well, any other time and any other Spider-man movie I would agree with those sentiments. However, this is the first time ever (not counting Civil War) where we are getting a Spider-man movie made by Marvel. Not many knew or even understood the convoluted nature of who owned the rights to the property or why Marvel just couldn't include Spider-man in their stuff earlier, but none of that matters anymore. It has happened, we are going to see what Marvel can do with the webslinger for once and all indications so far is that we are in for something special. Did you see Iron Man flying with Spider-man in that trailer? I mean, come on!
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson
Release date: March 10, 2017
I am one of the few it seems who actually liked Peter Jackson's King Kong. It has a lot of problems and was way longer than it needed to be, but I still really love that film. But this King Kong is a whole other beast, ditching the whole "Tis beauty killed the beast" motif and going with full on action, Kong: Skull Island just looks kind of insane...but in good way. The cast is way better than it has any right to be (Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman!) and the action set pieces look incredible. This has the potential to be the Aliens/Predator style film we have been waiting for with its premise of soldiers invading Skull Island and going to war with its inhabitants. Who knows if the actual film can live up to everything it is selling us on but even if it fails it will likely be a very entertaining failure.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel
Release date: May 5, 2017
There are a few no-brainers on this list and this is one of them. Not much really has to be said about it, we have tons of insane (and expensive looking) special effects, lots of great action, comedy gold and of course baby Groot who will steal our hearts as well as our dollars with all the merchandising likely happening. James Gunn made something special the first time around by giving us a comic book/superhero movie that didn't feel like either which was refreshing and very fun. But now he has a chance to connect the world he created to the greater MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) which will only make us love it even more. The soundtrack will likely be just as killer as the first one and with Chris Pratt a bonefide film star now there is no way this doesn't blow the doors off the previous film's box office record.
STAR WARS: EPISODE 8
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Issac
Release date: December 17, 2017
No matter what your thoughts are on Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens or Star Wars in general, Episode 8 (which is still untitled at this point) is one of the most anticipated films of 2017. As good as Episode 7 was, it was shackled to the events and characters from Episode 6 which left J.J. Abrams and Disney in a tight spot as they not only had to mend the wounds left by the prequels but also create a new story that had new characters and a new direction but was still beholden to everything that came before it. With Episode 8 the shackles are broken and they are free to tell a story with those new characters that doesn't need to follow tradition. It will be a huge hit either way but to be truly successful it needs to be something we have never seen before and something we were never expecting. A tall order indeed but for a new Star Wars film it should be held to such high standards.
VALERIAN: THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Dane Dehaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen and John Goodman
Release date: July 21, 2017
Hands down the most visually striking film coming out 2017. The only question is whether or not the story can match those visuals. But with director Luc Besson at the helm who knows his way around visual effects (he made The Fifth Element) we have a good chance that it will at the very least be a lot of fun with a lot of well choreographed action. It helps that Besson has recruited Dane Dehaan as the lead who has yet to deliver a bad performance (even in his not so great films) as well as up and coming starlet Cara Delevingne in the prerequisite vulnerable yet dangerous femme fatal role (Besson has always excelled in providing powerful female characters), both of whom look like they are having a lot of fun in the trailer. This is one to look out for as it could come out of nowhere and steal the summer.
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong and Jeff Bridges
Release date: September 29, 2017
The first Kingsman film came out of nowhere. It wasn't that anyone expected it to be bad, it was that no one expected it to be so dam good. But director Matthew Vaughn has a way to taking something that is on nobody's radar and turning into gold (just look at Kickass, X-Men: First Class and the vastly underappreciated Stardust as examples of his work). The follow up entitled Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the very first time Vaughn is making a direct sequel to one of his films (sequels to his other films he just produced) so it is unknown what to expect from this one aside from the fact that we are likely in store for one hell of a ride the likes of which none of us are prepared for.
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Kenneth Brannagh, Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance
Release date: July 21, 2017
A new Christopher Nolan film is something of a special treat. Much like the late 70's and early to mid 80's with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, a new Nolan film regardless of how you may judge quality is guaranteed to be a unique and spectacular experience. One of the only filmmakers left who still films his movies on actual film, Nolan is renowned for his attention to detail and delivering a technically perfect production. Now for the first time in his career he has decided to tackle a historic event and if you know of the Battle of Dunkirk (or at least have seen the trailer for the film) this could be Nolan's best film to date (yes, even better than The Dark Knight). Nolan has been attacked in past for how his films often contradict his attention to detail with rather severe lapses in logic but those films were always based in some sort of fantasy or science fiction, with a story grounded in a harsh reality like this one has to wonder what his critics will sling at him this time?
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES COMING IN 2017
XXX: Return of Xander Cage
The Girl with All the Gifts
John Wick: Chapter 2
The LEGO Batman movie
Fifty Shades Darker
A Cure for Wellness
Beauty and the Beast
The Belko Experiment
Ghost in the Shell
The Fate of the Furious
The Lost City of Z
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Transformers: The Last Knight
War for the Planet of the Apes
The Dark Tower
Untitled Cloverfield movie (formly God Particle)
Murder on the Orient Express
The Six Billion Dollar Man
Unknown release dates:
PREDICTION FAILURES AND SUCCESSES FROM LAST YEAR'S LIST
The Nice Guys - MODEST FAILURE - Critics liked it but audiences shrugged it off.
Independence Day: Resurgence - FAILURE - Surprise! Nobody cared for a sequel to a 20 year old movie.
Captain America: Civil War - SUCCESS - Come on, do I really need to say anything here?
The Magnificent Seven - MODEST FAILURE - Even star power can't break the curse of the western.
Suicide Squad - MODEST SUCCESS - It made money, but that's about it.
Deadpool - SUCCESS - We knew it was going to be good, but this was just insane.
Doctor Strange - MODEST SUCCESS - On par with most new MCU origin stories.
Ghostbusters - FAILURE - This did not fail because it was all women, it failed because it wasn't very good.
Rogue One - SUCCESS - The biggest surprise isn't that it made money but how many people actually liked it.
Batman V Superman - FAILURE - It made money but plagued all forthcoming DC feature films.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - MODEST SUCCESS - The magic folk embraced it but most muggles shied away for some reason.