Next week I have an article coming out about the most anticipated movies of 2017. In the spirit of search engine optimization and getting paid, I necessarily stuck to movies starring your Rocks, Diesels, and Downeys, Jr. But those movies are far from the whole story. The next 12 months promise a variety of intriguing cinematic choices that have probably flown under your radar, so in the interest of (sort of) equal time, and as something of a palate cleanser before you read about Transformers: Anthony Hopkins Wants A Helicopter, here’s a list of the 25-ish most anticipated movies of 2017 you might not have heard of yet.
Wind River (January 21 - Sundance Film Festival)
Taylor Sheridan has written or directed two of the best movies in the last two years (Sicario and Hell or High Water), so we’ll be there for anthing he does. Even if this FBI agent/tracker team-up sounds suspiciously like Thunderheart.
Wilson (March 24)
Woody Harrelson is in four movies this year (including that ape movie that gets mentioned on the other list). This looks to be a lower-key effort, based on a Daniel Clowes graphic novel, produced by Alexander Payne (Sideways), and directed by Craig Johnson (The Skeleton Twins).
I know, I know: lower key than a War for the Planet of the Apes? Pull the other one.
The Circle (April 28)
Emma Watson plays a woman recently employed by a mysterious tech company. The script is written by Dave Eggers and it's directed by James Ponsoldt, coming off The End of the Tour and The Spectacular Now. Throw in John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, and Tom Hanks, adding his genial credibility.
The Dinner (May 5)
Imagine your teenage son commits a crime. Also imagine it was captured on security cameras and broadcast on TV, but no one had identified him yet. What would you do? That’s the dilemma two couples face in the new film by Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Love and Mercy).
What, *another* boxing movie? Yes, but this one stars and is directed by Paddy Considine (who co-starred in Cinderella Man, now that I think about it), who’s been on our must-watch list since In America.
Rock That Body (June 16)
The plot – male stripper winds up dead at bachelorette party – sounds like a gender-swapped Very Bad Things. I’m still interested because it’s the directorial debut of Broad City’s Lucia Aniello and stars Scarlett Johannson, Kate McKinnon, and Ilana Glazer. Here’s hoping for a Magic Mike crossover.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (July 21)
Okay, you probably *have* heard of this one (or at least seen the batshit trailer). Luc Besson returns to far-out outer space nuttiness after years of writing Transporter and Taken movies (and 20 years after The Fifth Element).
The Coldest City (July 28)
Charlize Theron plays an MI6 agent on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall in a thriller helmed by John Wick second-unit director David Leitch. Yes, please.
Dark River (Unknown)
Lots of "river" movies this year. Ruth Wilson (The Affair) stars with perpetual dead guy Sean Bean in a thriller-ish movie directed by Clio Barnard, who you may remember from the gripping The Arbor.
It Comes At Night (unknown)
We’re on board for anything from A24, who just this year released The Witch, The Lobster, Swiss Army Man, American Honey, and Moonlight. It’s a horror movie (did I mention A24 also released Green Room?), starring Joel Edgerton and Riley Keough. Sold.
Baby Driver (August 11)This will be Edgar Wright's first movie in four years, and also the first since he unceremoniously left the Ant-Man director's chair. It’s the story of a getaway driver who runs afoul of his various bank robber employers somehow. Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, uh, the Divergent movies) is joined by Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, and Lily James.
Mary Magdalene (unknown)
Rooney Mara stars in what promises to be a not at all controversial film about directed by Garth Davis (Lion). With Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter.
The Death of Stalin (unknown)
Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, Veep) directs Jeffrey Tambour, Steve Buscemi, and Michael Palin in a period comedy about, well, the death of Joseph Stalin. I predict a great deal of profanity.
Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing, Missouri (unknown)
We haven’t seen Fargo’s Frances McDormand in a lead role in a while, and Martin McDonough of In Bruges fame is here to fix that.
The Shape of Water (unknown)
After the near-miss of Crimson Peak, Guillermo Del Toro is back with a love story between a woman and a … merman? Maybe it’s the same one that killed Bradley Whitford and the end of Cabin in the Woods.
How to Talk to Girls At Parties (unknown)
John Cameron Mitchell returns to Hedwig-y roots with a sci-fi story set in 1970s London, and based on a Neil Gaiman short story.
Natalie Portman joins an expedition into an environmental disaster zone in order to find her husband, or something. I don’t really care, because this is written and directed by Alex Garland, who’s more than earned my trust after 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Ex Machina.
Korean master Bong Joon-Ho (The Host, Memories of Murder) gives us the story of a young girl trying to keep a multinational corporation from kidnapping her giant monster buddy. Tilda Swinton stars, along with Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, and Steven Teun. Hopefully Swinton doesn’t play the girl. That didn’t work out so well last time.
Logan Lucky (October 13)
Guess Steven Soderbergh isn’t retiring after all, and he’s chosen to return to the big screen for the first time since 2013’s Side Effects with a NASCAR heist movie. Ocean’s 14 (A.J. Foyt represent)? Stars Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes, and Sebastian Stan, among others.
The Snowman (October 13)
Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) plus Michael Fassbender (Magneto, etc) in what I think is a Norwegian serial killer movie. Expect lots of sympathetic shivering.
Molly’s Game (unknown)
I’m not Aaron Sorkin’s biggest fan, but even I have to admit being intrigued at the cast he’s assembled for his directorial effort: Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd, and Jessica Chastain as the titular former skier who sets up an international poker game that puts her on the FBI’s radar.
Darkest Hour (November 24)
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, John Hurt as Neville Chamberlain. Shut up, etc. Take my money, etc.
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Downsizing (December 22)
After the subdued yet still decently received The Descendants and Nebraska, Alexander Payne returns to black(er) comedy with a movie about an incredibly(?) shrinking Matt Damon. Kristen Wiig and Christoph Waltz are also along for the ride.
Untitled Dick Cheney biopic (late 2017?)
After the last year's events, we can almost fool ourselves into thinking Cheney was not terrible. Don't be fooled.
The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (unknown)
New Spielberg is always worth mentioning, especially when the subject matter (Jewish boy is seized from his family by the Papal States after he’s baptized) is as … timely as it is now. Spielberg brings back Bridge of Spies’ Mark Rylance, who joins Oscar Isaac. It will win all the Academy Awards.
The Glass Castle (unknown)
Oscar-winner Brie Larson reunites with Destin Daniel Cretton (who directed Short Term 12, Larson’s breakout film) for this adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ best-selling memoir.