Friday, July 7, 2017

Josh Martin's Top 15 Most Anticipated Films for the Rest of 2017

Half of 2017 is in the books, and it's already looking like we're going to have one of the more complete cinematic years in recent memory. The first half of the year has already given us some of the best superhero films of all time (Logan, Guardians 2, Wonder Woman), a car chase musical for the ages (Baby Driver), and a low-budget horror movie that captured the attention of America (Get Out). But the second half of the year is just as promising, with a wide variety of Oscar favorites, genre movies, and big blockbusters to feast our eyes on. For the purposes of this list, I've excluded the films that will be premiering in the next few weeks during the month of July, which means that movies I'm really excited for such as Dunkirk, War for the Planet of the Apes, Atomic Blonde, and The Big Sick will not be mentioned. But with that said, check out my list of the 15 movies I can't wait to see in the rest of 2017, along with five honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

MOTHER!- The new film from acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky sounds chilling and fascinating, and that poster is a real eye-catcher. Plus, the cast led by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem is nothing short of terrific. OCTOBER 13

JUSTICE LEAGUE- Wonder Woman did a great job of getting the DCEU back on track, but can Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon build on that momentum? Judging by that first trailer, no, but there's always reason to hope. Especially when it comes to one of the biggest superhero movies of all time. NOVEMBER 17

COCO- Pixar makes great original movies, and despite its similarities to The Book of Life, Coco looks like another dynamite addition to the Pixar canon. The trailer was truly gorgeous, and I can't wait to see what director Lee Unkrich has cooked up here. NOVEMBER 22

THE PAPERS- It's a new Steven Spielberg movie. I mean, come on. Wait, scratch that. It's a new Steven Spielberg movie starring Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jesse Plemons, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, Zach Woods, David Cross, Tracy Letts, Matthew Rhys, and Bruce Greenwood. Yeah, I'm pretty excited. DECEMBER 22

UNTITLED PTA- Like The Papers, this film is being sold on the basis of its talent alone. It's the new film from director Paul Thomas Anderson, and it is supposedly the swan song for acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis. Anderson is one of the most famous American auteurs working today, and this project set in the fashion world of 1950s London sounds intriguing and provocative. DECEMBER 25

And now, here are my top 15 most anticipated films for the latter half of 2017.


Tommy Wiseau's The Room is one of the most famous bad movies of all time, and this year, James Franco is giving him the Ed Wood treatment with The Disaster Artist. While I can't claim to have seen Wiseau's disasterpiece in its entirety, the mere thought of Franco creating a sort of companion piece to Tim Burton's 1994 classic is exciting. And in addition to that conceptual intrigue, The Disaster Artist premiered at South by Southwest as a work-in-progress to rapturous reviews, with critics praising Franco's performance while also stating that this is his best work yet from behind the camera. Throw in a supporting cast that includes Dave Franco, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Lizzy Caplan, Zoey Deutch, Bryan Cranston, Seth Rogen, and a whole bunch of other Hollywood stars, and this A24 release undoubtedly becomes one of the hottest films of the fall season. DECEMBER 1

14. IT

The trailer for It practically broke the internet, receiving almost 200 million views in a span of 24 hours. Does this mean that Warner Bros. and New Line have the biggest movie of all time on their hands? No, but it certainly means that Andres Muschietti's adaptation of Stephen King's horror opus is one of the most promising releases of the fall. After Cary Fukunaga's ambitious version of King's story failed to get the green light, many horror aficionados were disappointed, thinking that Warner Bros. had no interest in capturing the heart of the story. But the trailers have done away with many concerns, displaying beautifully terrifying images and an easy-going chemistry between the kids. It'll be interesting to see how It works in the aftermath of Stranger Things (which takes heavy inspiration from King), but there's no doubt in my mind that this is one of the biggest movie events of the fall. SEPTEMBER 8


Image courtesy of Bleecker Street

After completing both Side Effects and HBO movie Behind the Candelabra in 2013, director Steven Soderbergh claimed to be retiring from the film industry. Well, that certainly didn't last long. While Soderbergh has been working in the TV realm with The Knick for the past few years, this August's Logan Lucky represents his return to big-screen filmmaking after just a four-year hiatus. And this one looks like a hell of a good time. Billed by the director himself as the "anti-Ocean's Eleven," Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, and Riley Keough (among others) as a group of dimwitted southerners who decide to take on a heist at NASCAR's Charlotte Motor Speedway. As a Charlotte resident, the basic concept of this movie is absolutely hysterical, but with Soderbergh behind the camera, this seems like a surefire smash. AUGUST 18


I couldn't make my mind up on Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster when I saw it last year, and it's a film that I still feel uncertain about. However, it has stuck in my mind for well over a year now, and I think that's a testament to Lanthimos' skill as a director. He's back with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a clinical horror drama that reunites him with Lobster star Colin Farrell. This one premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to rapturous reviews, with critics praising a dark, cynical experience that puts the unsettling nature of his last film to shame. Lanthimos is provocative and brilliant, and while I can't guarantee that I like his latest effort, I know it'll certainly be a fascinating watch. NOVEMBER 3


George Clooney proved his directorial chops a long time ago, but he seriously needs a hit right now. While The Ides of March received some praise back in 2011, two out of Clooney's last three features have been critical flops. With the sting of The Monuments Men still felt by myself and others, Clooney is finally returning behind the camera for Suburbicon, a small town crime comedy that doubles (obviously) as a suburban satire. Clooney's best features seem to come when he isn't also acting in his own work, so the good news is that he won't be starring in this one, leaving the acting to a talented cast that includes Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac. This one received quite the buzz at CinemaCon in April, and Paramount is giving it a prime November release. Could this be the movie that brings Clooney back to the top of his game? I certainly hope so. NOVEMBER 3


Detroit is the rare Oscar favorite to be opening in August, but that hasn't dimmed my anticipation for this project one bit. I haven't always been the biggest fan of Kathryn Bigelow's work (The Hurt Locker just doesn't do it for me), but after creating perhaps the most measured procedural of the post 9/11 era with Zero Dark Thirty, it excites me to see Bigelow tackling a film about one of America's most disturbing racial conflicts. The trailer for Detroit is viscerally intense- John Boyega looks tremendous, Will Poulter seems to be truly terrifying, and the handheld work by Bigelow seems as gripping as ever. It won't be long before we start hearing the buzz on this one, but thanks to Annapurna's unusual release strategy, I have a feeling we're in for a late summer treat. AUGUST 4


Josh and Ben Safdie's Good Time first caught my attention with a strange poster that seemed to indicate a fun, wacky crime comedy. The trailer sold a vastly different film with a much higher level of intensity, but it's a movie that I'm no less excited to see. After his infamous run with the Twilight series, Robert Pattinson is slowly emerging as a fascinating actor, working with acclaimed filmmakers such as David Cronenberg, James Gray, and Claire Denis, and his performance in Good Time is supposedly his best yet by a good margin. The film was almost universally acclaimed at Cannes, receiving extremely positive reviews for the performances and the direction by the Safdies. This lightning-quick thriller also doubles as an A24 release, only furthering my anticipation for the project. And while I doubt it'll break into the Oscar race, Good Time's NYC-bound genre thrills could make for one of the year's most entertaining films. AUGUST 11


Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri was a film that seemed intriguing based on its title and story alone, but then the trailer came along and blew us all away. After being absent from the cinematic world for nearly half a decade, Martin McDonagh is returning with a black comedy that appears to feature a tour-de-force performance from Frances McDormand. On the surface, this doesn't immediately seem like the type of movie that would be generating Oscar buzz, as it's the kind of dark material that the Academy tends to shy away from. But Three Billboards is one of the hottest commodities of the fall season, with Fox Searchlight primed and ready to debut it in November, the thick of the Oscar race. The film looks vicious, disturbing, and downright hilarious, and I can't wait to see what McDonagh has cooked up with that wild concoction. NOVEMBER 10


It's the new film from Guillermo del Toro. What more really needs to be said? Not much is known about The Shape of Water beyond that it's a Cold War thriller with a mystery element. We should know more about the film next week when the trailer premieres in front of War for the Planet of the Apes, but del Toro is one of those filmmakers who can sell a movie based on his name alone. This is his first feature since 2015's Crimson Peak, and he has assembled quite the cast for the film. Octavia Spencer, Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon, and del Toro favorite Doug Jones lead the ensemble for this drama, which is quite the talented group of people. I can't wait to see what del Toro has in store for us. DECEMBER 8


Luca Guadagnino came onto my radar last year with A Bigger Splash, an imperfect film that still displayed an incredibly high degree of directorial confidence and bravado. Guadagnino's follow-up, Call Me By Your Name, was one of the most highly anticipated titles at this year's Sundance, and the director's latest film managed to exceed all expectations. Billed as a gay romance with a trio of powerhouse performances from Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, and Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name is already one of the favorites going into this year's Oscar race. The rapturous reviews were almost overwhelming, with some going as far as to call this one of the best films of the decade thus far. So yeah, I'm excited to see if this lives up to the hype. NOVEMBER 24


Marvel kicked 2017 off with a bang with James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, and if the hype is to be believed, this weekend's Spider-Man: Homecoming is another incredibly fun installment in the Marvel universe. The studio has a chance to go 3 for 3 this year with November's Thor: Ragnarok, the third film starring Chris Hemsworth's titular Norse god. This one is particularly interesting because of who's sitting in the director's chair- Hunt for the Wilderpeople filmmaker Taika Waititi. The director has promised a much funnier, stranger Thor film, a tone that was on display in the spectacular first trailer. If anyone can deliver a great Thor film, it's Waititi. This looks great, and I have no doubt that the filmmaker will make good on his promise. NOVEMBER 3


Image courtesy of Fox

Consider this my guilty pleasure pick, but I could not be more excited for Matthew Vaughn's follow-up to the incredible Kingsman: The Secret Service. The ultraviolent spy film was a gleeful blast of stylized fun back in 2015, and it successfully took shots at the James Bond series while also being distinctly its own thing. The Golden Circle looks to up the ante even further, taking newly minted Kingsman Eggsy (Taron Egerton) around the globe and joining forces with the Statesmen, the American equivalent of the Kingsmen. Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, and Pedro Pascal all join the cast, and if the first trailer is any indication, we're in for a ride. This looks positively bonkers, and I can't wait to see what Matthew Vaughn has created this time. He claims that there are multiple action scenes in this sequel that rival the infamous church scene in the original, and that thought alone has me giddy. SEPTEMBER 22


I was excited for Downsizing at the start of the year simply due to the fact that it's the latest film from acclaimed director Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Nebraska), but the buzz at CinemaCon solidified the fact that this is one of the must-see movies of the fall season. Bloggers and exhibitors alike went nuts for the 10 minute clip of the film, which depicts a man who shrinks himself to a smaller size in order to maximize his purchasing power. It's the kind of clever idea that also feels ripe for plenty of social commentary, and Payne has shown to be an astute observer of ordinary Americans with his previous features. This time around, he's working with a great cast that includes Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, and Margo Martindale, an incredible collection of A-list talent. And if the buzz is to be believed, we could be in for a Kubrickian masterpiece that gives us something we've never seen before. DECEMBER 22


Denis Villeneuve has gone from little-known director to household name in just over four years, and with one more smash hit, he'll probably be worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Nolan, Tarantino, and other masterful auteurs. After jumping into sci-fi with the shockingly emotional Arrival, Villeneuve is moving up to the big leagues with Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 classic. Scott is back in executive producer fashion, Harrison Ford is reprising his role as Rick Deckard, and screenwriter Hampton Fancher, who penned the script to the original film, will also be back. Joining the crew are Ryan Gosling and cinematographer Roger Deakins, who look to entice skeptical cinephiles. We don't know much about the story yet, but this looks like another gorgeous piece of work from Villeneuve, a more action-oriented trip into the Blade Runner universe that will answer old questions and leave us with new ones. If Villeneuve pulls it off, it'll be a truly impressive feat. OCTOBER 6


It's the predictable choice, but did you think anything else would top the list? Star Wars: The Last Jedi has the potential to be the best film yet in the post-George Lucas era of the franchise. After J.J. Abrams laid the groundwork with the highly entertaining Force Awakens, Rian Johnson is here to give us the Empire Strikes Back of this new trilogy. The first trailer didn't give us much, but I think it solidified that Johnson is gonna subvert our expectations, take us to new places, and give our characters quite a bit to deal with. Throughout all the drama at Lucasfilm that has gone on in regards to Rogue One, the Han Solo movie, and even the internet controversy over Colin Trevorrow's involvement with Episode IX, one thing has remained certain- The Last Jedi is going to absolutely rock. Kathleen Kennedy loves it, the geek community loves Johnson, and the pieces are all in place. I can't wait. DECEMBER 15

And that's it. Here's to a great second half of 2017!

Images: IMDB/Various Sources

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