80. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
Given her evident strengths as a writer and performer, it should (should) only follow that Greta Gerwig has a knack for directing — or, worst comes to worst, writing a strong role for her performers (Saoirse Ronan and Tracy Letts among them) and directing them with an eye for their talents. Lady Bird’s description is as generic as it gets (“[the] adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year”), which is fine: I’m not expecting some plot-heavy work here, but rather a bit of character work that befits the helmer’s talents. If we get that, well, great. – Nick N.
79. Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman)
Loving Vincent, a Vincent Van Gogh biopic, caught our eye for telling its story entirely through interviews with those depicted in his art. The ambitious-sounding effort becomes only more amazing when you understand that it required around 100 artists to create more than 56,000 paintings that then formed “the world’s first fully painted film.” With a trailer that impresses in visual scale, depth, and pure beauty, there exists the possibility that this will have yielded no more than eye candy, but even so it should be some of the sweetest in recent memory. With the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner, and Helen McCrory in its cast and Clint Mansell on scoring duties, though, an extra something will almost surely break through. – Nick N.
78. The Other Side of Hope (Aki Kaurismäki)
Finnish cinema is back in a major this year as Aki Kaurismäki will soon debut his first feature since 2001’s Le Havre. Set for a world premiere at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival in early February, we’ve been anticipating The Other Side of Hope for some time now. Starring Sakari Kuosmanen and Sherwan Haji, the story follows a poker-playing restauranteur and former traveling salesman who befriends a group of refugees newly arrived from Finland. The first trailer sells the same dry humor and impeccable design the director is known for, and hopefully it’ll get a release by the end of the year. – Jordan R.
77. American Made and The Wall (Doug Liman; Sept. 29 and March 10)
Doug Liman is a very busy man. The eccentric director, fresh off the heels of the sleeper hit Edge of Tomorrow, is releasing two films in 2017. The first is The Wall, an Iraqi War film about two American soldiers (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and, in an interesting casting choice, John Cena) who get pinned down by a sniper. Sounding a bit like Hurt Locker-meets-Phone Booth on paper, it will be interesting to see how scaled-down this movie ends up being compared to some of Liman’s recent work, which has veered much more into the sprawling, mega-budget blockbuster territory. Then there’s American Made, a reunion of director and star Tom Cruise, based upon the true story of a pilot named Barry Seal, who became a drug smuggler in the 1980s before being tasked with providing intelligence for the DEA. The movie is exciting for two reasons, but I can’t make up my mind on which is more noteworthy: the fact that Cruise and Liman’s last film together was exhilarating and this is a potential recapturing of that chemistry — or the realization that this may be the blockbuster-friendly Cruise’s first dramatic role in years. – John U.
76. Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda)
After last coming to Sundance Film Festival with Experimenter — a formally daring drama which unfortunately went overlooked — Michael Almereyda is back with quite the intriguing prospect: a sci-fi film starring Jon Hamm and scored by Mica Levi (Under the Skin, Jackie). Marjorie Prime, adapted from Jordan Harrison‘s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, follows Lois Smith‘s character as she utilizes a service to create a hologram of her deceased husband, played by Hamm. If that doesn’t sound like one of the most compelling prospects of the year, I can’t help you with that. – Jordan R.
75. Atomic Blonde (David Leitch; July 28)
After co-directing John Wick, David Leitch is helming his own film — one with quite the impressive background. Set in Berlin during the Cold War, a female agent (Charlize Theron) is sent to investigate the murder of a fellow MI6 agent and find a list of double agents he was helping. Written by Kurt Johnstad, the film is based on a graphic novel of the same name by Antony Johnston that released in 2012. While details remain slim, James McAvoy and John Goodman will fill out the cast alongside hot commodity Sophia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond). Theron alone makes this a film to keep an eye on and I look forward to seeing what Leitch can achieve on his own. – Bill G.
74. Darkest Hour (Joe Wright; Nov. 24)
One of two big-budget British filmmakers tackling British World War II stories, Joe Wright moves the battle from the coast of France to the halls of power. With Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, it is an actors’ powerhouse. Wright has previously show an aptitude for both period dramas (Pride and Prejudice) and strong character pieces (Anna Karenina), and his visual style is constantly evolving. God only knows what Darkest Hour will end up looking or feeling like, but I can’t wait to find out. – Brian R.
73. Mektoub is Mektoub (Abdellatif Kechiche)
It’s been over three years since Abdellatif Kechiche’s romantic drama Blue is the Warmest Color premiered at Cannes, where the Palme d’Or was not only awarded to the director, but, for the first time ever, shared between its actors, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. Last fall it was revealed he was secretly shooting a new drama going by the title Mektoub is Mektoub. It’s based on La blessure, la vraie, a novel from François Bégaudeau, an author who’s already earned some cinematic cachet for penning The Class, the main source for 2008’s Palme d’Or winner. Could Kechiche have another winner in his hands? We’ll likely find out at Cannes. – Jordan R.
72. Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin)
Achieving the rare mark of a screenwriter whose attachment to a project is enough to invite anticipation, this year we’ll see if Aaron Sorkin can translate his command of language behind the camera with his directorial debut. Led by Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game tells the true story of the woman who ran underground poker games for Hollywood elite. We’d be there just to see The Tree of Life actor exclaim the words of Sorkin, but considering Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, and Michael Cera are all doing so as well, consider us intrigued. – Jordan R.
71. The Racer and the Jailbird (Michaël R. Roskam)
Even though I seemed to be in the minority when it comes to being disappointed by his Bullhead follow-up The Drop, I still remain curious for Michaël R. Roskam‘s next project, The Racer and the Jailbird. Once again starring Matthias Schoenaerts, the drama finds his character as part of a gang in Brussels who falls for a racing driver (Adele Exarchopoulos). With the film in post-production, expect to see at fall festivals or perhaps Cannes. – Jordan R.
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