The 38 films to see in 2017
AS 2017 gets underway, we run through the 38 films we feel you should have in your cinema-going diary over the next 12 months – from obvious blockbusters such as Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming to the not-so obvious likes of The Snowman, Loving, American Made and Moonlight.
If you feel strongly about anything we may have missed, then feel free to let us know. But there will be some surprise omissions, with some higher profile films not included (Justice League anyone). So, kick back and see if you agree with our selections…
La La Land
Damien Chazelle’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to Whiplash has already impressed at festivals around the world, garnered heapfuls of awards nominations and is taking America by storm, so it’s little wonder we can’t wait to see it when it arrives here. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play the lovers attempting to overcome adversity in this musical homage to the golden era of Hollywood musicals.
Release date January 13
Manchester By The Sea
The latest from Kenneth Lonergan looks to be a nailed down awards contender – if not for best film but almost certainly for leading man Casey Affleck and supporting lady Michelle Williams. Affleck stars as Lee, a man whose sparse existence is suddenly ruptured when the death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) forces him to return to the hometown he abandoned years before. Affleck is supposed to be on career-best form, with Williams handful of scenes reportedly heart-breaking. Reviews have thus far been red hot. What’s not to like?
Release date: January 13
Natalie Portman back on awards form should be enough of a reason to see any film. But this one also has the benefit of boasting a genuinely intriguing historical premise. Pablo Larraín’s film is described as a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. It is said to be raw and unflinching with a powerhouse performance from Portman. Larrain has already been praised for his previous film, No, and seems to have brought a unique sensibility and style to this landmark event and character in history.
Release date January 20
Hacksaw Ridge is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss [Andrew Garfield] who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. Mel Gibson directs in his customary unflinching style, while Garfield is said to be on excellent form as conscientious objector Doss, whose exploits saw him being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Reviews have already been fulsome in praise of both director and star, with many seeing this as a redemption of sorts for the man behind the camera. And no matter what you may think of some of his past misdemeanours, Gibson is the type of director whose work – whether controversial as in The Passion of the Christ or exhilarating, as in Apocalypto – demands to be seen.
Release date: January 27
We’ve seen Sing and can heartily recommend it. A new animated title from the creators of Despicable Me and Minions, the film follows a dapper koala bear named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) as he attempts to save his ailing theatre by putting on a talent show for animals. The ensuing contest is a blast, featuring great songs, inspired visual gags and set pieces and terrific vocal turns from the likes of Seth MacFarlane, Taron Egerton and Scarlett Johansson. And it’s written and directed by Britain’s own Garth Jennings (of Son of Rambow fame). What’s more, it has emotional depth to offset the sillier elements. Kids of all ages will absolutely adore it.
Release date: January 27
Danny Boyle reunites Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and Ewen Bremner for this keenly-anticipated sequel to Trainspotting. Set 20 years after the events of the seminal original, T2 follows former heroin addict Mark ‘Rent’ Renton as he reconnects with his former drug pals: Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie. The movie borrows elements from author Irvine Welsh’s follow-up book, Porno, which was set 10 years after the original, but is also being described as very much its own beast. The trailer makes it look as though Boyle has recaptured the energy of the original, while quite possibly bringing something fresh to the mix too.
Release date: January 27
Any new film from Jeff Nicholls is worth taking the time to see (he was responsible for last year’s gem Midnight Special as well as Mud and Take Shelter) but Loving, his latest, promises to be one of his best and most important yet. The film celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star, with support from Michael Shannon. Reviews have been extremely positive, while the themes remain highly resonant. This should be on everyone’s must-see.
Release date February 3
Adapted from August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, Fences marks the latest film to be directed by Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington. He stars in it too, playing retired baseball player named Troy Maxson, now working as a Pittsburgh garbage man, who’s regretful about how his life turned out. Given that Washington has already won awards for his performance on-stage (along with co-star Viola Davis), it’s a safe bet to assume that both leads will feature in this year’s awards conversation. They are said to make a powerhouse couple – and acting of that magnitude just has to be savoured on the big screen.
Release date: February 10
The Lego Batman Movie
Having won widespread acclaim with the original LEGO Movie, The Dark Knight now gets the treatment for The LEGO Batman Movie. Will Arnett reprises his vocal role from The LEGO Movie by playing Batman, who must raise a young boy while battling Gotham’s criminals. Chris McKay – who worked as an animation co-director on the 2014 animated movie – directs, while Jenny Slate, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Mariah Carey and Billy Dee Williams are among the voice cast. The trailers already make this film look like a blast.
Release date: February 10
John Wick: Chapter 2
Keanu Reeves found yet another action franchise in which to prosper with surprise box office smash John Wick back in 2014. His return for this Rome-set sequel looks every bit as fun, with plenty of gun-play, martial arts mayhem and shady character exposition. Chad Stahelski, who was also at the helm of the 2014 original, is back in the director’s chair, while Ian McShane reprises his role as one of Wick’s associates. Newcomers include Common, Ruby Rose and (in a nice touch) Laurence Fishburne, reuniting with Reeves for the first time since The Matrix trilogy. What’s not to look forward to?
Release date February 17
Barry Jenkins story of a gay black teenager’s struggle with his sexuality has been lauded for its beauty and performances by critics on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s already been showered with awards and looks set to feature prominently at this year’s Oscars (with Mahershala Ali a shoe-in for best supporting actor). And despite being an American story, it is a film that should resonate with audiences across the world. If it’s even half as good as reviews suggest, then we’re in for something pretty special.
Release date: February 17
Hidden Figures is the untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The film is being described as inspirational and life-affirming with a trio of terrific performances at its centre, as well as a typically reliable supporting turn from Kevin Costner. On word of mouth alone, this looks worth seeing. But its impact is likely to be even greater for the way in which it uncovers an important chapter in black American history.
Release date: February 17
Mark Wahlberg reunites with director Peter Berg for a third movie in this respectful recreation of the events of leading up to and following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Wahlberg plays one of the cops leading the investigation into the terror attack, which left three dead and 260 injured. Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, JK Simmons and Michelle Monaghan round out an impressive cast. Word from America is already strong, with Berg looking set to build on the formidable reputation he has already garnered off the back of the critical and commercial success of both Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon – two more true stories he recreated with Wahlberg.
Release date February 24
Hugh Jackman’s third and final solo Wolverine movie looks to be a fittingly brilliant send-off if what’s suggested in the trailer can be maintained in the finished film. Directed by James Mangold (who previously directed The Wolverine), the gritty follow-up to that film takes place in the future, with Logan suffering from a diminished healing factor but forced to protect an equally ageing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and a young girl who may well hold the key to the Mutants’ future. The trailer looks brilliant, an R-rating is promised (and arguably deserved) and high emotional kickback feels fully warranted. Can Mangold and Jackman pull it off?
Release Date March 3
Kong: Skull Island
This one could, admittedly, go either way. But a killer cast – Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson – and a promising premise suggest Warner Bros could be onto a good thing here. The film, which is being devised as part of a wider monster universe – finds an expedition of scientists and soldiers discovering a new island in the South Pacific in the 1970s, where they find King Kong as well as a host of other beasts (and a very hairy John C Reilluy). The trailer looks impressive but then we’ve said that before about this kind of thing. Nevertheless, we’re hopeful…
Release date: March 10
Beauty & The Beast
Disney seem to be onto yet another sure thing with their decision to update their classic animated titles into live action features. The likes of Cinderella and Maleficent did well but last year’s The Jungle Book was among the year’s highest grossers. You can expect the same from Beauty & The Beast, which finds Emma Watson as Belle and Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens as the cold, cursed Beast. The trailer looks good, the support cast (Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci) is enough to make mouths water, and the whole endeavour looks to have been done with love. It may well be difficult to resist, no matter how sceptically you enter.
Release date: March 17
Sci-fi appears to be one of the trends of 2017 following the success of Star Wars. Daniel Espinosa’s Life stands out because it’s actually one of the few films in its genre to boast an original premise. It follows the members of the International Space Station as they are tasked with studying a sample from Mars that may be the first proof of extra-terrestrial life. Of course, things appear to go wrong pretty quickly. But a top-notch cast – including Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson – and a solid director (Espinosa did Safe House) make this an intriguing proposition. And the trailer is suitably creepy.
Release date: March 24
The latest from British director Ben Wheatley has divided critics but, nevertheless, looks to be quite literally a blast. An extended gun battle, this finds a cracker-jack cast – including Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley – becoming involved in an arms deal that goes badly wrong. Think Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs done in the style of the climax of True Romance with guns well and truly blazing. The trailer looks immense fun. The question remains: can the momentum [and interest] be sustained across the course of an entire movie. It’s that point upon which critics on the festival circuit have found themselves disagreeing over.
Release date March 31
Fast & Furious 8
We were reluctant to include this eighth instalment in the fast-moving franchise but then remembered that it remains a guilty pleasure of sorts. Increasingly ridiculous but gleefully aware of it, the Fast & Furious films get by on sheer audacity alone. And while the fifth instalment was undoubtedly the high-point and a work of blockbuster genius for the way in which it rebooted the whole thing, subsequent endeavours have rather operated under the law of diminishing returns. No.8 arrives without the late Paul Walker but boasts everyone from Vin Diesel to Jason Statham via Kurt Russell and now Charlize Theron. It’s the presence of the latter actress that makes this film all the more interesting, if only to see whether she can do for this franchise what she did for the return of Mad Max.
Release date April 14
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
If Guardians of the Galaxy was a genuinely surprising slice of feel-good cinema, then the sequel could and should bring more of the same. The omens already appear to be good. James Gunn returns to the director’s chair, while Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel are all back too – the latter as the ridiculously adorable Baby Groot. The trailer retains the same infectious energy as the original’s, with more cool soundtrack choices, while Gunn has promised the same kind of anarchic genre subversion that made the first film such a breath of fresh air. Altogether now, “I am Groot!”
Release date: April 28
Ridley Scott’s Prometheus divided opinion when it opened a few years ago but his follow-up to that film, Alien: Covenant looks set to right some of the wrongs of that experience in that it seems to tie in more directly to his ground-breaking Alien franchise. The teaser trailer that launched on Christmas Eve boasts face-huggers, gross-out moments, general creepiness and the return of Michael Fassbender’s scene-stealing android David. It looks mean and nasty and the type of film that will leave you screaming in space once again. Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Katherine Waterston, Demián Bichir and Carmen Ejogo round out the cast.
UK Release: May 19
Admittedly, this one could go either way. Tom Cruise is always a pretty safe bet for a blockbuster hit but Universal’s decision to try and create a new franchise of monsters based on classic movie characters (including The Invisible Man and Dr Jekyll) could be an over-ambitious attempt to replicate the success of Marvel’s superheroes. Nevertheless, a teaser trailer suggests the modern day setting could work well, as could the decision to make it in the style of a typical Cruise-led Mission: Impossible-style action-adventure. We’re cautiously optimistic. And that’s not even commenting on the leaked Cruise trailer featuring the actor screaming hysterically, which went viral recently.
Release date: June 9
World War Z 2
So what if the zombie genre is overworked? And who cares if the first film had a lot of problems (which it surprisingly overcame for the most part)? World War Z 2 still remains an exciting prospect because of one man: David Fincher. The man responsible for some of Brad Pitt’s best films (Se7en, Fight Club) is reuniting with his leading man for a fourth time and that has to be a good thing. Plot details remain scarce, there’s no trailer in sight, and the film had – admittedly – been in pre-production for an ominously long time (going through several directors in the process). But we’re willing to bet that Fincher’s presence at least makes it full of potential.
Release date: June 9
Despicable Me 3
The first two films in this evergreen franchise have brought minions and minions of laughs combined. Hence, it goes almost without saying that the return of Gru and his minions should offer up another barrowful of them. The plot this time finds Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 1980s, hatching a scheme for world domination that Gru must inevitably thwart. But plot remains incidental. It’s the gags and the minions that quite often make this work so well and the early trailer suggests that their impact remains intact. The presence of Trey Parker among the voice cast (as Bratt) also suggests good things.
Release date: June 30
Marvel finally have Spider-Man caught in their web. What’s more, it won’t be an origins story. Rather, it will pick up in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War with that film serving as his introduction. And it’s also on the strength of that fleeting movie appearance that we’re so excited given that new leading man Tom Holland was a blast in the role. A newly released trailer featuring Michael Keaton as new villain The Vulture also promises great things, as does the presence of a fast-quipping Robert Downey Jr as Peter Parker’s mentor and potential ally. Marvel’s hot streak looks set to continue with this one.
Release date July 7
War For The Planet of the Apes
Thus far, this reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise has proven to be one of the more intelligent film franchises of recent times. Rise was a huge success, while Dawn built upon that film’s impressive reputation. With Matt Reeves back behind the camera and Andy Serkis undoubtedly performing motion-capture miracles as Caesar, this appears to be in safe hands. Woody Harrelson’s presence as Caesar’s nemesis also looks to be a good move, while the trailer suggests this could round things off in some emotional style. The question is: will Fox look to end on a high or drag things out across future instalments?
Release date: July 14
Any Christopher Nolan film is an event. But his first film since “Interstellar”: could well be one of the most important in his career given that it tackles the real-life events surrounding the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War. The early trailer suggests a film that is respectful in its depiction of the large loss of life that was incurred among Allied troops, as well as the bravery of the boat-men who scrambled to the survivors’ rescue. A stalwart cast includes Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy…. and, erm, Harry Styles. But this could be to UK cinema and Nolan’s own CV what Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan represented to Hollywood and the Normandy landings.
Release date July 21
Edgar Wright’s first film since The World’s End and his second American feature after Scott Pilgrim looks like a hot prospect. Ansel Elgort heads the cast as a young getaway driver who is coerced into working for a crime boss and taking part in a heist that’s doomed to fail. Support comes from Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Lily James and Sky Ferreira (among others), while Wright has proven a dab hand at combining slick dialogue with even slicker action (Hot Fuzz anyone?). If you’re a fan of his past work, you can only be excited to see what this eye-catching filmmaker conjures up next.
Release Date: August 11
The second Tom Cruise movie of 2017 finds the actor in a more serious role, playing Barry Seal, a pilot who lands work for the CIA and as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s. This true story finds the actor reuniting with Doug Liman for the first time since Edge of Tomorrow and could well serve as a timely reminder of his acting skills outside of the action blockbuster arena. A late summer slot also suggests good things given that a lot of more adult-orientated high-profile flicks are released around this time – the Bourne films, of which Liman was originally a part of, being a prime example.
Release date: August 25
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
This belated sequel to the surprise hit Kingsman: The Secret Service finds Matthew Vaughn returning to the world of super-suited spies that was inspired by the comic books of the same name by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Taron Egerton reprises his role as promising street kid turned slick assassin Eggsy for a new (as yet unspecified) mission, while Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Halle Berry provide seriously eye-catching support. What is known is that a new villain will emerge following an attack on the Kingsman HQ. The biggest question, however, concerns the return of another cast member: Colin Firth. Will it be via flashback or does Vaughn have something truly outlandish and typically subversive underneath his umbrella?
Release date: September 29
Blade Runner 2049
Where to begin? This belated sequel is being directed by Denis Villeneuve, whose track record with last year’s Arrival and drugs thriller Sicario (not forgetting Prisoners) is sublime, to say the least. Ryan Gosling takes the lead. Harrison Ford reprises his role as android hunting cop Deckard from the original. And Ridley Scott is very much overseeing things in a producer role. A teaser trailer suggests spectacular visuals, while an R-rating is promised. The story is set 30 years after the events of the first film, and finds a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearthing a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. Anticipation is already feverish.
Release date: October 6
Not a big screen version of the Raymond Briggs animated classic but rather a big screen adaptation of the Jo Nesbo novel about a detective, Harry Hole, who investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman. Michael Fassbender is the detective, while the cast includes Rebecca Ferguson and JK Simmons. Direction comes from Tomas Aldredson, whose take on John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won widespread acclaim. This could be something really, really good.
Release date: October 13
The Mountain Between Us
Kate Winslet and Idris Elba star as a pair who survive a plane crash in the mountains only to be forced to trust each other and find safety while badly injured. Based on the novel by Charles Martin, this boasts an impressive director in the twice Oscar-nominated Hany Abu-Assad, whose past credits include Omar and Paradise Now, as well as that top notch leading duo. The mid-autumn release date suggests this is a film that could be being positioned as a potential awards contender too.
Release date: October 20
Thus far, we have to admit to not being overly impressed by the Thor movies to date. The original was OK, but follow-up The Dark World has to rate as one of Marvel’s few misfires to date. And yet expectation surrounding this third entry remains high. Why? Well, Taika Waititi is an eye-catching choice for director, with many hoping he brings the same comedic and subversive sensibilities to the Marvel universe as he did with his critically-acclaimed Hunt For The Wilderpeople. While the presence of Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk is always a good thing, as is Benedict Cumberbatch’s successfully launched Doctor Strange. And then there’s Cate Blanchett as the villain. A fun teaser trailer, explaining where Thor was [on holiday] during the events of Captain America: Civil War, also suggests we could be in for something a little bit different.
Release date: October 27
If the original movie proved an unlikely charmer and a massive box office hit, then there’s no reason why Paddington 2 shouldn’t be the same. Ben Whishaw reprises his vocal turn as Paddington, with support coming from a who’s who of British talent: Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, Imelda Staunton, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville and Ben Miller. The plot this time finds Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picking up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday – only for the gift to be stolen. This should offer heart-warming family fun ahead of next year’s Christmas festivities.
Release date November 10
Murder On The Orient Express
With Agatha Christie’s works enjoying something of a revival (thanks to the success of two BBC Christmas specials), it’s little wonder that some of her greatest creations are now making their way to the big screen. Kenneth Branagh directs a star-studded remake of Murder On The Orient Express, with Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michael Pena, Derek Jacobi and Miranda Raison among the suspects. Branagh himself plays renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who must investigate the murder of a wealthy American (Johnny Depp) traveling on the Orient Express, the most famous train in the world. If this derails, it will be massively disappointing.
Release date: November 24
Two words: Disney-Pixar. If Cars 3 doesn’t really excite given the underwhelming nature of that franchise so far, then Coco could well be the Disney-Pixar project to really look forward to in 2017. Arriving in December, it could also be the perfect cinematic Christmas present for all the family. The film follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who sets off a chain of events relating to a century-old mystery, leading to an extraordinary family reunion. Lee Unkrich, of Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo fame, co-directs with Adrian Molina, while voice work comes from Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renee Victor and Anthony Gonzalez. We can only expect to be enchanted.
Release date December 8
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Perhaps the most obvious inclusion given the success of the previous two films in the rejuvenated space saga, this will continue the adventures of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac in roles they’ve now made iconic in their own right following the success of The Force Awakens. Rian Johnson, the Breaking Bad luminary behind cinema hits Looper and Brick, is in the director’s chair, with a bigger role also promised for Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker and more revelations surrounding Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. There’s barely a Star Wars fan among you that can’t wait to see where this franchise goes next. The big question is: will they take more risks this time around or stick to a tried and trusted formula?
Release date December 15
Other films that have yet to be given a release date (and therefore could creep into 2017 somewhere)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Martin McDonagh looks to follow the classic In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths with what is being described as a Fargo-esque comedy crime drama set in Missouri. Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish and Woody Harrelson are among the cast.
Thank You For Your Service Amy Schumer goes serious in a film that examines how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects American servicemen and women returning home from war. Miles Teller and Haley Bennett co-star.
Suburbicon George Clooney directs a star-studded cast (Matt Damon, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Julianne Moore) in this crime mystery set in the quiet family town of Suburbicon during the 1950s. The script comes from Joel and Ethan Coen, who penned it not long after completing Blood Simple. We’re not sure why it’s taken this long to find film form but the cast suggest it could be worth the wait.
Wind River The plot finds an FBI agent teaming with the town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen star. But it’s the presence of Taylor Sheridan, who both writes and directs, that really makes this an interesting proposition given his script work on Sicario and Hell or High Water.
Untitled A.A. Milne Project A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne. An impressive cast is headed by Domhnall Gleeson as Milne and also includes Margot Robbie as Daphne Milne and Kelly Macdonald as Olive.
Stan and Ollie Steve Coogan and John C Reilly are the late-era Laurel and Hardy, bickering as they tour theatres in the north of England in 1953, trying to recapture their glory days. Jeff Pope, with whom Coogan adapted Philomena, provides the script, while Jon S Baird (best known for Filth) directs.
The Circle Based on the novel by Dave Eggers, which warned against the power of giant tech companies, this resonant adaptation boasts a heavyweight cast headed by Tom Hanks as one of the outfit’s leaders. Emma Watson is a lowly employee rising up the corporate ladder, while John Boyega plays the mysterious Kalden. The US has it opening in April. Surely, a UK release date should be set soon.