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Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2017

Written by on January 11, 2017 

10. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)

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It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since the last feature from Lynne Ramsay, the haunting We Need to Talk About Kevin. After departing Jane Got a Gun, we’ve been waiting to hear what the director would take on next, and, today, the answer has finally arrived. She recently shot her new thriller, You Were Never Really Here, which follows Joaquin Phoenix as a tormented war veteran with a troubled past who now takes it upon himself to rescue women trafficked into the sex trade. However, “when the extraction of a girl from a Manhattan brothel goes wrong, a storm of violence and corrupt power is unleashed against him, stirring a vengeance that may be his awakening.” Based on Jonathan Ames‘ novel, we imagine this one — which sounds like Ramsay’s take on Taxi Driver — will show up at Cannes. – Jordan R.

9. Widows (Steven McQueen)

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HBO was struggling last year in the wake of Vinyl failing to catch on with viewers and Westworld going dangerously over-budget. In the wake of these failures and in an attempt to cut costs, the premium cable outlet canceled a promising series by director Steve McQueen called Codes of Conduct. Hopefully the pilot he directed will one day be released, but the good news for fans of the gifted director, especially those who may have been disappointed by this news, is that 2017 will feature another full-length effort: the aptly titled Widows, about a group of widows (makes sense!) who attempt to complete a previously botched heist that resulted in the deaths of their husbands. From the plot synopsis, this sounds like relatively lighter fare for McQueen than his last few motion pictures; but with a script by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and its story rooted in a 1983 UK miniseries, plus Viola Davis cast in one of the lead roles, this is one of the more intriguing projects likely coming out before year’s end. – John U.

8. Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh; Aug. 18)

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When Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from filmmaking just a few years ago, it seemed about as likely to stick as when Jay-Z claimed The Black Album was going to be his swan song. As it turns out, it took Soderbergh even less time to work on new projects than it did for Jay-Z to begin new material – he was soon directing an entire season of a premium cable series (The Knick), editing and handling cinematography on a Magic Mike sequel, editing a new version of 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc. So the fact that Logan Lucky — which depicts a heist at a NASCAR race, with a cast including Adam Driver, Channing Tatum, Seth MacFarlane, Daniel Craig, Katherine Heigl, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, and Sebastian Stan — is his first film back in the director’s seat since 2013 might not exactly inspire Terrence Malick levels of hype, but it will be interesting to see what it was about this story that convinced him to abandon his quasi-retirement. – John U.

7. The Snowman (Tomas Alfredson; Oct. 13)

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It was in 2011 when Tomas Alfredson debuted his stellar follow-up to Let the Right One InTinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He’ll finally return this year with The Snowman, an adaptation of Jo Nesbø‘s novel. It’s led by Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, featuring a detective’s investigation into tracking down a resurfacing serial killer. It’s also said to have some dark comedy, and the combination of Alfredson and Fassbender is almost too enticing to bear. – Jordan R.

6. Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)

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It’s not the Claire Denis movie we hoped for, but still a Claire Denis movie we absolutely can’t wait to see. As movement on her Robert Pattinson-led sci-fi feature High Life hits pause, and hopefully not for long, one of our greatest filmmakers will handle something presumably much smaller and, by virtue of her involvement, no less interesting. The pairing of Denis, Juliette Binoche, Gerard Depardieu, and material from Roland Barthes is, of course, enough for now, though notice that the source text, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, “deconstructs the language of love” is head-turning in its own way. How does a master visual storyteller bring that into a cinematic fold? Well, two great actors in front of the camera is a good start. Better yet that it should be before (festival-attending) eyes by year’s end. – Nick N.

5. The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola; June 23)

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Beyond the immensely intriguing notion of director Sofia Coppola helming a western-of-sorts, albeit a remake of a lesser-known Don Siegel / Clint Eastwood picture, The Beguiled contains a plethora of reasons to entice curious audiences. As per usual, Coppola has assembled a stellar cast, including Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, and Angourie Rice, who we recently saw as Ryan Gosling’s daughter in The Nice Guys. On the opposite side of the gender scale, Colin Farrell is taking on the Eastwood role: a wounded Union soldier imprisoned at a Confederate girls’ boarding school. This marks Coppola’s first big-scale directorial effort since The Bling Ring, unless you count A Very Murray Christmas. Thankfully, we’ve only got to wait until June to see it. – Tony H.

4. Happy End (Michael Haneke)

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Michael Haneke could accurately be described as a provocateur were it not for the fact that his films, dark and twisted as they may be, contain a deep vein of humanism. Of course, that humanism is often focused on the worst possible tendencies of human behavior. With a cast that involves the incomparable Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, there is every reason to believe that this will be another devastating, maddening feature from one of cinema’s masters. – Brian R.

3. Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes)

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Being that he usually takes as much as five years in between projects, it seems like we don’t deserve another film from Todd Haynes this soon. However, after making perhaps the best work of his career with Carol, he quickly segued to Wonderstruck, an adaptation by Hugo author Brian Selznick, which tells a story that oscillates between two deaf children: Ben, a boy in Minnesota, circa 1977, dealing with the death of his mother; and Rose, a girl in New Jersey, circa 1927, who ventures to New York to meet her idol, an actress named Lillian Mayhew. An ambitious undertaking, as half of the movie plays out like a silent film, we imagine Amazon Studios will return to Cannes with this one, which features the cast of Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, as well as newcomers Millicent Simmonds and Jaden Michael. — Jordan R.

2. Song to Song (Terrence Malick; March 17)

Asking whether or not we’re excited about a new Terrence Malick film is precisely the sort of question that would elicit something along the lines of “you must be new here.” Assuming you’re not a newcomer (but if you are: hello!), let’s just say the promise of a break from his still-arresting late-career style – per producer Ken Kao, “Knight of Cups is more of a stream-of-consciousness type of film, where I think that our upcoming film is very much ingrained in the zeitgeist. It’s going to be very edgy. [It’s] not a musical, but a film grounded in the Austin music scene” – is only one atop many, and the fact that it’s about two months away doesn’t dilute the prospect, but heightens our itch to see the thing, oh, now. – Nick N.

1. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film (December 25)

There Will Be Blood

We learned late last year that Focus Features had picked up the distribution rights to Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis’ first collaboration in the decade since There Will Be Blood. Since then, we’ve also learned that the film we once thought was set in the ‘50s New York fashion scene is, in fact, primarily set in London. Plot details remain elusive, despite a piece suggesting the film could be inspired by the storied life of fashion designer Charles James. Without confirmation, all we do is speculate and hope that we actually see the film before 2018, as Focus has stated. Regardless, any collaboration between these two towering figures will make for the most essential cinematic experience of the year. – Tony H.

Honorable Mentions

Even with this list at one-hundred films, there are many more selections that could have made the cut. They include Jan Svankmajer‘s Insects (which was on last year’s list, but no release date is confirmed), a handful of Sundance films — Mudbound, Landline, The Big Sick, Wilson, and Manifesto come to mind — as well as David Michôd‘s War Machine, James Ponsoldt‘s The Circle, Gloria director Sebastián Lelio‘s A Fantastic Woman, Battle of the Sexes starring Steve Carrell and Emma StoneHaifaa al-Mansour‘s A Storm in the Stars, and Paddy Considine‘s boxing drama Journeyman.

There’s also longtime stunt man Nash Edgerton‘s untitled feature starring his brother Joel Edgerton, as well as Charlize Theron, Thandie Newton, and Amanda Seyfried, Scott Cooper‘s Hostiles with Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike, Fatih Akin‘s In the Fade starring Diane Kruger, the Chekhov adaptation The Seagull starring Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening, and Elisabeth Moss, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead‘s Spring follow-up The Endless, John SaylesFranco Nero-led Django Lives!, and the sure-to-be-adorable Paddington 2.

As for films that we imagine won’t be ready for 2017, they include Damien Chazelle‘s recently announced First Man, Terry Gilliam‘s long-gestating The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which never did go into production as planned recently, Claire DenisHigh Life, which she delayed to focus on the film on the actual list, Leos Carax‘s musical Annette starring Adam Driver and Rooney Mara, and Steven Spielberg‘s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (which is rumored for late 2017, but we’ll be surprised if it makes that date).

Also unlikely to make a 2017 premiere include Jacques Audiard‘s The Sisters Brothers, Abel Ferrara‘s Siberia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Le Poirier sauvage, Luxembourg, from The Tribe‘s Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi, Shane Carruth‘s The Modern Ocean, which still never got off the ground, Olivier Assayas‘ resurrected Idol’s Eye, which begins shooting this spring, Andrew Dominik‘s delayed Blonde, Kirsten Dunst‘s ambitious first feature The Bell Jar, Asghar Farhadi’s Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem-led new drama, which may not start production until this summer, and lastly, we may finally see Orson Welles The Other Side of the Wind, but we won’t believe it until we are sitting in the theater.

Lastly: there may be one thing we’re looking forward to more than any single film mentioned above, and that is this summer’s Twin Peaks revival. While David Lynch sees it as a film, there’s no announcement that a theater is screening all of it, and so we’ve decided not include it on the official list but still let it have the final word of this feature.

Listen to our discussion of our most-anticipated films below or here.

What are your most-anticipated films of 2017?

Read MoreThe 50 Best 2017 Films We’ve Already Seen

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