50. The Florida Project (Sean Baker)
While it wasn’t his directorial debut, Sean Baker’s crackling, bold drama Tangerine certainly served as his break-out, offering much more than its initial shot-solely-on-an-iPhone selling point. He’s now returning this year and while it wasn’t finished in time for Sundance, we can expect The Florida Project to arrive by the year’s end. Following a group of kids who grow up around Orlando (including Willem Dafoe as one of the parents), Baker has a keen awareness of setting and personalities, which we expect to be on full display here. – Jordan R.
49. The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter (Jody Hill)
After delivering one of the best dark comedies of the last decade with Observe & Report, we’ve been waiting for many years to see when Jody Hill would finally make another film. Keeping busy on Eastbound & Down and his latest HBO show Vice Principals, he’s now finally in production on his next feature. The Legacy Of A Whitetail Deer Hunter. Scripted by John Carcieri and Danny McBride, who’ll co-star alongside Josh Brolin in the film, it’s said to father a father and a son who forge a bond through outdoorsmanship. Although no release date has been set yet, hopefully it’ll arrive later this year. – Jordan R.
48. Downsizing (Alexander Payne; Dec. 22)
Following his lo-fi, black-and-white Nebraska, Alexander Payne will be going big for his next film…by going small. Led by Matt Damon, Downsizing takes place in a future where humans have the ability to downsize themselves, and in doing so, require much less resources. Damon’s down-and-out character decides to do this with his wife so they can make their money go further, but problems when arise when they aren’t on the same page, so to speak. Also starring Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Sudeikis, it’s the sort of concept that may be better on the script than on screen, but we trust Payne to make something special out of it. – Jordan R.
47. Friday’s Child (A.J. Edwards)
After working closely with Terrence Malick in the editing room of his last few films, A.J. Edwards used this experience to great lengths with his directorial debut, the Abraham Lincoln biopic The Better Angels. He quietly finished production on his follow-up, Friday’s Child, which follows “young drifter who ages out of foster care at 18 and discovers the perils and temptations of a life apart.” Starring past Malick collaborators Tye Sheridan and Imogen Poots, hopefully it’s further proof that a protege of a legendary director can forge their own path. – Jordan R.
46. It Comes at Night (Trey Edward Shults; Aug. 25)
After crafting one of the most overlooked films of last year, Krisha, writer-director Trey Edwards Shults is sticking with A24 for his next feature. His upcoming thriller It Comes at Night stars Joel Edgerton as a father who will stop at nothing to protect his wife and son from a malevolent, mysterious presence terrorizing them right outside their doorstep. With Edgerton recently impressing in two Jeff Nichols films, to see him collaborate with Shults on a horror film sounds downright incredible. – Jordan R.
45. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler)
After his viciously gripping Bone Tomahawk largely snuck under the radar two years back, writer/director S. Craig Zahler will deliver his sophomore feature in Brawl in Cell Block 99. Vince Vaughn stars as ex-boxer whose current gig as a drug-runner lands him prison, where he must perform grisly acts to stay alive. With Zahler’s propensity toward realistic violence and memorable characters, the word “prison” already conjures gut churning images that he will surely bring to fruition, and Brawl in Cell Block 99 will hopefully put him on the map as one to continually watch out for. – Mike M.
44. Thelma (Joachim Trier)
There are few more astute up-and-coming directors working today than Joachim Trier. Following up his overlooked Louder Than Bombs, Trier finished production last year on the supernatural thriller Thelma, the Eili Harboe-led story of “a young woman unaware of the fact that she has been blessed with terrifying powers.” It sounds like a fascinating left-turn for the director and something we can’t wait to see. – Jordan R.
43. Where Life is Born (Carlos Reygadas)
Less speedy in his production than some of his contemporaries, but no less attention-catching, Carlos Reygadas is to next give us Where Life Is Born. Shot last year, according to producer Katrin Pors, “is a simple but powerful story of love and loss of love in open couple relationships set in the context of Mexico’s bull-breeding ranches.” The story follows Ester, who falls in love with another man and her husband Juan seems unable to meet the expectations he has of himself. Seeming like a lock for Cannes 2017, this may not get a release until 2018 stateside, but we’re looking forward to another formally audacious experience. – Jordan R.
42. Vox Lux (Brady Corbet)
After working with Olivier Assayas, Ruben Ostlund, Noah Baumbach, Michael Haneke, the Borderline Films directors, and more, Brady Corbet delivered his own directorial voice with last year’s harrowing, formally impeccable The Childhood of a Leader. His recently announced ambitious follow-up will be Vox Lux, a 15-year-spanning drama about the life of a pop star (Rooney Mara) with original music by Sia and shot in 65mm. With all these enticing elements coming together for a shoot in a few months, hopefully it’ll be ready in time for a premiere before the end of the year. – Jordan R.
41. Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino)
After waiting years for his follow-up to I Am Love — this past summer’s eclectic A Bigger Splash — Luca Guadagnino certainly isn’t taking as long with his next two films. The first is Call Me By Your Name, a romantic drama about a boy’s connection with his father’s friend, which is set to premiere at Sundance followed by a release from Sony Pictures Classics. Then on a bigger scale there’s his remake of Suspiria, which reunites him with Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton. Aiming for a fall premiere, we’re not entirely sure what to expect, but considering Guadagnino’s expressive style, it could very well be one of the few remakes of the year that doesn’t disappoint. – Jordan R.
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