60. Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
With their work finished on the forthcoming The Red Turtle, Studio Ghibli currently aren’t active (at least until Hayao Miyazaki’s next film gets the green light), but it hasn’t stopped some of the team from working. Former producer at the animation company, Yoshiaki Nishimura, founded Studio Ponoc last year and recruited many of his past co-workers to join him on their first feature-length project, Mary and the Witch’s Flower. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There), the film is an adaptation of Mary Stewart‘s The Little Broomstick, as scripted by the director and Riko Sakaguchi (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya), which follows a girl who goes an an enchanting adventure after being exiled to her great aunt’s house. It’s delightful to see Ghibli is back, albeit in a different form, and hopefully this one makes it to the U.S. soon after a summer debut in Japan. – Jordan R.
59. Mother (Darren Aronofsky; Fall TBD)
The Wrestler and Black Swan saw Darren Aronofsky operating on a grittier level than his previous work. Noah was a return to the weird, epic scope of The Fountain. Now, on the heels of that commercial misfire and creative gambit, we have Mother, which, aside from its stellar cast, represents an unknown quantity from a filmmaker who has proven himself capable of anything. Domhnall Gleeson, Jennifer Lawrence, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Javier Bardem all feature prominently in the cast list, and each is a recommendation unto themselves. – Brian R.
58. Get Out (Jordan Peele; Feb. 24)
It’s always a thrill for an excellent preview to bring about our learning of a film’s existence. After Key & Peele hit the big screen with last year’s Keanu, one-half of the duo is back with his directorial debut and it looks to be unlike anything we would’ve expected. With the first trailer for Get Out, Jordan Peele seems to be taking his comedic insights on race relations and turning them into a horror satire the likes of which Spike Lee would be proud of. Hopefully the film follows through on its promise. – Jordan R.
57. Based on a True Story (Roman Polanski)
Roman Polanski‘s last few films are as well-organized on a shot-by-shot level as anything in his filmography, and Olivier Assayas’ recent foray into thriller territory, Personal Shopper, is one of 2017’s best films – so one can understand the excitement that surrounds Based on a True Story, in which a novelist (Emmanuelle Seigner) is stalked by an obsessive fan (Eva Green). It doesn’t hurt that Assayas’ recent Clouds of Sils Maria was a well-wrought portrait of female-female relationships. Nothing about this seems to have any bad omens surrounding it, which is all the more opportunity for it to be a disappointment – but the cards really are in its favor. – Nick N.
56. A Futile and Stupid Gesture (David Wain)
For those wondering how a comedic voice can stay remarkably funny after many years, look no further than David Wain. Coming off perhaps the funniest film of his career, They Came Together, he’s back this year with two more projects for Netflix. One is the TV sequel Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later and the other is a feature film, A Futile and Stupid Gesture, which depicts the rise and fall of National Lampoon. Led by Will Forte and also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Thomas Lennon, Joel McHale, Matt Walsh, Paul Scheer, and many more, Wain certainly knows this history well and we’re immensely curious about his portrayal of Billy Murray, John Belushi, Christopher Guest, Chevy Chase, Ivan Reitman, Gilda Radner, Lorne Michaels, and more. – Jordan R.
55. Lover for a Day (Phillipe Garrel)
If his supreme In the Shadow of Women is a signal of what’s to come, bring on as many of Philippe Garrel‘s wispy, mysterious, sad, and (most likely) black-and-white dramas as we can get. Know even a bit of his work, and Lover for a Day‘s set-up (“the story of a father and his 23-year-old daughter – who comes home one day because she has just been jilted – and the father’s new partner, who is also 23 years old and lives with him”) sounds like ideal territory for the writer-director. – Nick N.
54. The Trip to Spain (Michael Winterbottom)
Having grown up in the U.K., I have been a fan of Steve Coogan since the days of Alan Partridge, and Rob Brydon was one of those prevalent faces recognized from various programs (err, programmes). One of the great delights of the streaming era is how easy it is for movies like The Trip (which was edited into a film for U.S. audiences, but had originally been broadcast as a series in the U.K.) to find an audience abroad, and how much exposure international audiences now have to films and series like these that typically wouldn’t have made an easy transition across the pond even a decade ago via traditional distribution. The Trip to Spain will ostensibly pick up exactly where the previous two adventures left off, with the two actors (playing grossly-exaggerated versions of themselves) doing their best impressions of Michael Caine or Tom Hardy while exploring what Spain has to offer them. It is a testament to the fact that the two actors’ chemistry is so effortless and inherently funny that I’d be happy for them to continue making these every couple years for the rest of their lives. – John U.
53. Dark River (Clio Barnard)
After a three-year gap, director Clio Barnard (behind the excellent dramas The Arbor and The Selfish Giant) recently completed work on Dark River. The story follows Alice (Ruth Wilson) who, after 15-years, returns to her home village to claim tenancy over her now-passed father’s home. However, her brother (Mark Stanley), rugged from years of tending their farm, isn’t so keen on the idea. Their clash causes old trauma to surface for Alice, threatening both their lives in the process. Along with Sean Bean taking part, Barnard is re-teaming with multiple behind-the-scenes collaborators including production designer Helen Scott, who worked on both of Barnard’s previous features, and editor Nick Fenton (The Double, Submarine). – Mike M.
52. Untitled Hirokazu Kore-eda Film
He already directed one of the best films of 2017 with After the Storm and now Hirokazu Kore-eda will continue his prolific streak, preparing to shoot a currently untitled drama that will be ready for a Japanese release by September. Starring Masaharu Fukuyama and Koji Yakusho, Cinema Today reports (via a not-so-great Google translation) that the film will center on a crime trial about a homicide 30 years ago in which a president of a factory was killed, but now a lawyer has doubts about his client. While this most certainly won’t get a U.S. release this year, fingers crossed we see it early in 2018. – Jordan R.
51. Star Wars: Episode VIII (Rian Johnson; Dec. 15)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a rare contemporary blockbuster whose pleasures don’t wholly diminish upon considerations and revisits, especially as it inevitably becomes a cable staple, but the thing is rather problematic in its attempts to balance the old and the new. With that film’s intriguing ending (presumably) this next installment’s launching point, Star Wars: Episode VIII – [Title Pending] is in prime position to be the series’ best — also thanks in large to the presence of writer-director Rian Johnson, who’s all the more intriguing because I can’t quite match his oeuvre’s sensibilities with the franchise’s well-worn (and I do mean well-worn) fabric. That could, of course, lead to his being swallowed by the machine and delivering some watered-down product with so many fingerprints that it can’t rightfully be called the work of any single person… but I’ll wait, and with great anticipation as to how this comes together. And, yes, I guess there’ll be twists and turns, but the movie’s cinematographer doesn’t think we should focus on that too much for now. – Nick N.
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