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Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2017

Written by on January 11, 2017 

30. Ex Libris: New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman)

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Is there a more consistent, inquisitive long-standing voice in cinema than Frederick Wiseman? After his many decades of landmark work in the documentary field, the director’s follow-up to the sprawling yet deeply focused In Jackson Heights takes a look at a more specific locale in New York City: its public library. Aiming to premiere this year, it will no doubt be another spectacularly exhaustive, sympathetic exploration of an iconic resource. – Jordan R.

29. A Ghost Story and The Old Man With a Gun (David Lowery)

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David Lowery proved he could navigate the prickly big-budget waters of Hollywood with his touching, sincere adaptation of Pete’s Dragon — one of the few tentpoles of last year that didn’t disappointment. His next two features will find him back in the independent realm and on two different ends of the spectrum therein. First up, at Sundance will be the premiere of A Ghost Story, a peculiar-sounding existential drama starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, which was shot in secret last summer and just acquired by A24. Then there’s another reunion with Casey Affleck for The Old Man With the Gun, which may mark the last acting role from Robert Redford. With the latter set to shoot this spring, it may just squeak into the 2017 release calendar. – Jordan R.

28. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)

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I’d be more excited about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri if it were Martin McDonagh‘s follow-up to the wise, witty, melancholic, understated, beautifully photographed In Bruges, and not Seven Psychopaths — short story: take all the adjectives applied to the former, find their antonyms, and apply those to the latter — but sophomore slumps are an awfully common thing that aren’t any easier to avoid when you veer into the self-reflexive-critique-of-Hollywood territory. That doesn’t seem to apply to his third picture, starring Frances McDormand as a woman whose crusade to find justice for her slain daughter starts a battle with the local police department, who she, among other things, accuses of being “more interested in torturing black people than getting justice.” Being that In Bruges‘ brief dialogue sequence a black vs. white war is a better race-in-our-present-moment commentary than numerous films devoted solely to the subject — and being that Seven Psychopaths still contains several laughs; primarily from Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, also aboard here — this already sounds like a return to form. – Nick N.

27. Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev)

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While we could easily see Andrey Zvyagintsev holding this one off for a premiere at Cannes 2018, thanks to the success of Leviathan there, we hope it sneaks in this calendar year. His follow-up to the acclaimed 2014 drama is Loveless, co-written with creative partner Oleg Negin (also of Elena and The Banishment), and it concerns “Zhenya and Boris, an estranged couple in the midst of a nasty divorce who have both found new partners and are eager to start again, even if it means abandoning their 12-year-old son Alyosha.” With that dramatically compelling set-up, leave the kids at home, and don’t miss this one. – Jordan R.

26. Ismaël’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin)

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Arnaud Desplechin has twice told me his new feature will mark something of a cross between the mystery of Vertigo and emotional desolation of Sabbath’s Theater, a combination that, done right, should require some sort of emotional conditioning before it can even be experienced. As one who admired My Golden Days but found its reflective tone a bit too comfortable — and, at the same time, especially relished those times when Desplechin went into more mysterious, melancholic territory — the prospect of Ismaël’s Ghosts isn’t so much a great director doing what he does best; it’s more an opportunity to be discomfited. (And, supposedly, hear a Kendrick Lamar song or two.) Rarely have I so welcomed that. – Nick N.

25. Annihilation (Alex Garland)

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For years, Alex Garland was one of the best science fiction writers working in film. Then, with Ex Machina, he suddenly became one of its most exciting new directorial voices. On the heels of that film, news came out that he was adapting an acclaimed science fiction novel for his next feature, with Natalie Portman in the lead. Having read the book, I can say that the story is at once bafflingly obtuse, deceptively simple, and also filled with the kind of inventive imagery that Garland could deploy to stunning effect. – Brian R.

24. Good Time (Joshua and Ben Safdie)

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Few recent films have had the vision and energy found within Josh and Benny Safdie‘s Heaven Knows What. They are back this year with Robert Pattinson in the thriller Good Time. Described as an “indie neo-grindhouse caper,” it follows a “bankrobber’s flailing efforts to evade the dragnet closing in on him.” Although no additional details are made available yet, we assume we’ll see this either at Cannes or the fall festival slate. – Jordan R.

23. The Square (Ruben Östlund)

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After Force Majeure proved to be a major break-out for Ruben Östlund quickly prepped his next feature, The Square, which follows an ambitious museum director (Claes Bang), who is preparing to make a major impact with a new exhibit. Elisabeth Moss is also on board as reporter who is on the beat of the exhibit, meant to provide people with “a symbolic space where only good things can happen.” Things escalate and get wildly out of hand (it is an Östlund film, after all) when the PR firm in charge come up with some far-reaching publicity plans. Also starring Dominic West, we imagine this is a likely bet for Cannes. – Jordan R.

22. Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater)

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We feel rather spoiled to be getting four Richard Linklater films in the span of five years (and the three thus far being among the best of his career). His next feature came out of nowhere, Last Flag Flying, which is adaptation of Darryl Ponsican’s sequel to his famed novel The Last Detail, itself the source for Hal Ashby’s beloved Jack Nicholson-starrer. The film features Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Laurence Fishburne, with former Naval Petty Officers Billy “Badass” Budusky and Richard “Mule” Mulhall once again partnered with Larry Meadows, the man they’d taken to a Naval prison decades prior. Meadows now needs to return the body of his son from Iraq, which “sends them back retracing their journey from Norfolk, Virginia, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.” Production quietly kicked off last November under Amazon Studios, so we can certainly expect this one to arrive by the end of the year. – Jordan R.

21. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve; Oct. 6)

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Picking up 30 years after the original, Blade Runner 2049 follows Ryan Gosling’s Officer K – a blade runner for the LAPD – who must track down Rick Deckard after uncovering a secret that could throw the remains of society into chaos. It all sounds as vague and ominous as the film’s beautifully bleak first trailer. It’s not quite a sequel anyone was clamoring for, but it’s a sequel we’re getting nonetheless. Mercifully, it’s coming to us by way of Denis Villeneuve, fresh off Arrival, one of 2016’s best films, let alone sci-fi features. Additionally, Hampton Fancher and Ridley Scott also returning to the fray, there’s certainly hope for this one yet. – Conor O.

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