Here are the movies we're most excited to see this year.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Many fans are approaching this reboot with an expectation cocktail of equal parts excitement and dread. And with good reason: Blade Runner is one of the most cherished sci-fi films of all time, and that’s largely due to the original's active disregard for the opinion of “the mainstream,” a crucial ingredient of the cyberpunk genre. If anyone can pull this off, though, it’s Denis Villeneuve, whose Arrival was a hopeful sign of good things to come. He’s also got Ridley Scott on his side, whose contributions to the script mark the first time he’s worked on a screenplay for over 50 years. As for the plot, it's simple: Ryan Gosling, a "blade runner" tasked with retiring android "replicants," must find Rick Dekard (Harrison Ford), who's been missing since the end of the first film. —Jon Fusco
Director: Duncan Jones
Director Duncan Jones' first effort, Moon, is nearly the perfect sci-fi. Rather than rely on CGI and galactic armies to propagate action, it's a one-man show; the drama stems from the existential struggles that plague the protagonist (Sam Rockwell, playing the only inhabitant of a mining station on the moon) as he loses his sanity in the service of utilitarian ideals. Jones, otherwise known as David Bowie's son, knows that the key to good science fiction lies not in the outer limits of space, but in the self-contained conflict between the human heart and mind. That's why we're confident that his upcoming film will be worth the wait. Mute, which Jones describes as a "spiritual sequel" to Moon, stars Alexander Skarsgård as a mute bartender in 2052 Berlin who must scour the seedy underbelly of the city in order to locate his missing girlfriend. Jones co-wrote the script with Michael Robert Johnson (Sherlock Holmes). Clint Mansell, who also scored Moon, is signed on to the project. Netflix will release Mute later in 2017.
Director: Danny Boyle
Pretty much everyone who worked on the original Trainspotting is returning for this sequel, which is kind of awesome, considering Danny Boyle and Ewan MacGregor had to squash a decades-long beef over The Beach in order to do so. (Apparently, the two had a falling out when McGregor was passed over for Leonardo DiCaprio back in 2000.) Irvine Welsh, who wrote both the Trainspotting novel and adapted screenplay, is also coming back; he also wrote the source material for T2, originally (and perhaps better) titled Porno. It’ll be the first sequel that Boyle has ever directed, taking place 20 years after the original film. T2 premieres at Berlinale in February and will be released on March 3. —Jon Fusco
4. Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele, one-half of the comedy genius that was Key & Peele, is a die-hard horror fanatic. His debut feature Get Out, which he also wrote, is at once a comedy, horror, and satire. When an African-American young man visits his white girlfriend's parents in suburbia, he senses something sinister at play—and when another black man furtively warns him to "get out," his fears are confirmed. Judging from the trailer, Peele seems to have applied his dark and thought-provoking brand of humor to a genuinely scary film; the horror chops are enhanced by the involvement of Jason Blum (Insidious). In theaters February 24.
5. Song to Song
Director: Terrence Malick
Terrence Malick has slowly become one of the most proficient working directors today. Since 2011's The Tree of Life, he has made four films (albeit, their critical reception was uneven). Malick's upcoming Song to Song, previously known as Weightless, sounds like a who's who of early-2000s indie rock. With appearances from Lykke Li, Black Lips, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Florence and the Machine, Iron & Wine, and more, the film follows a pair of romances in the Austin music scene as the couples experience success, seduction, and betrayal. The cast, meanwhile, is a who's who of the Hollywood A-list: Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Val Kilmer, and Benicio del Toro will star.
Director: Sean Baker (Tangerine)
After Sean Baker made headlines in 2015 for his innovative iPhone cinematography on Tangerine, a raucous and heartwarming story of transgender prostitutes, the indie film world held its breath for what he might do next. Baker traded in that lo-fi aesthetic for anamorphic 35mm on his sophomore feature, The Florida Project, which stars Willem Dafoe as one of two unhappy parents grappling with serious hardships while their children enjoy a carefree time at Disney World. Baker brought the subculture of downtown Los Angeles to vivid life in Tangerine, exposing the dichotomy between the street walkers' self-presentations and their tumultuous inner lives with more than an ounce of comedy. We know he can give the same colorful treatment for the parents' and children's conflicting experiences of Disney World.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Dunkirk is based on Operation Dynamo, a month-long evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and other Allied troops from a French seaport during World War II. But that’s not the only campaign being fought. Continuing his advocacy for film over digital formats, Christopher Nolan chose to shoot the movie in a combination of 15/70mm IMAX film and Super Panavision 65mm film in order to achieve the maximum possible image quality. Following The Master and The Hateful Eight, Dunkirk will be the third major motion picture of the current decade to be primarily shot and shown theatrically in 70mm. —Jon Fusco
8. The Beguiled
Director: Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola is one of the finest female filmmakers of her generation, and she's never better than when she's mining the dark abysses of the female soul. (Case in point: The Virgin Suicides.) She's back at it again with The Beguiled, an adaptation of a fantastically strange Southern Gothic novel by Thomas Cullinan of the same name, which Clint Eastwood previously adapted back in 1971. The story revolves around a sheltered girls' school in the Civil War-era South, where the pupils are oblivious to the world around them until a wounded Union soldier shows up at their doorstep. Given the strong cast—Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Kirsten Dunst—and Coppola's proven track record of subverting period film tropes (case in point: Marie Antoinette), we can't wait for this one to hit theaters on June 23.
Director: James Mangold
The X-Men franchise has one of the deepest story wells to draw from among the Marvel Universe, with over 1,000 X-Men related comic books having emerged since the first issue in 1963. Perhaps the most beloved character from this series about genetically-advantaged “mutants” is Wolverine, a tough-yet-sensitive man with adamantium bones, played brilliantly by Hugh Jackman in all of the franchise films. The first film dedicated to its eponymous Wolverine was less well-received, but Logan, which takes place in a future after most mutants have been wiped from Earth, looks like it will take advantage of Jackman’s best qualities as an actor. It will be premiering at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival, and a recently-released trailer featuring almost no audio but a haunting Johnny Cash "Hurt" soundtrack is already giving fans the chills. —Liz Nord
Director: Alex Garland
Alex Garland stole the show at SXSW 2015 with Ex Machina, proving he could twist a tried and true sci-fi premise into an evocative, cerebral thriller. He's back in the game with Annihilation, an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach novel about a biologist who ventures into an environmental disaster zone termed "Area X" that defies physics. The book is reminiscent of Stalker, and we know that Garland can deliver the atmospheric intrigue that makes both Andrei Tarkovsky's movie and VanderMeer's book tick. What's more, the movie has a fantastic cast: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson will star.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
A young couple receives some uninvited guests in Darren Aronofsky's upcoming psychological thriller, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Domhnall Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ed Harris. Beyond that, Aronofsky has been cagey; all we know is that the film was shot on 16mm. In our wildest dreams, it's a hybrid of Black Swan and Pi.
12. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Movie
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Very little is known about this project, but what we do know is that it takes place in the world of fashion during the 1950’s. But really, all you really need to know is a simple math equation: Daniel Day-Lewis + Paul Thomas Anderson. This will mark the duo’s second collaboration, their first being 2007’s masterful There Will Be Blood, for which Day-Lewis won an Oscar. It’s safe to say he'll probably be up for an Oscar in 2018, too. —Jon Fusco
13. Wonder Woman
Director: Patty Jenkins
The general critical (and internet) consensus was that the only salvageable moments from last year’s tragic Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were the few that featured Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Accordingly, Gadot will get her turn as the titular lead in this epic film, an origin story focusing on Diana Prince’s emergence from an Amazonian island to traveling the world and becoming the heroine we know and love. Fans are eager to see not only Gadot’s kickass turn as Wonder Woman, but also what Patty Jenkins will bring to the table as the first female director to helm a live-action movie with a $100 million budget. And fans aren’t the only ones; DC is hoping that Wonder Woman will save not only the world, but also rescue them from Batman v Superman and the universally panned Suicide Squad. —Liz Nord
14. You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Following in her tradition of helming movies with direct phrases as titles (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here will star Joaquin Phoenix as a man who attempts to save a young girl from a sex trafficking ring, only to see his efforts go horribly awry. (Note: Liam Neeson is nowhere in sight.) Ramsay's penchant for verisimilitude and grit are a good match for this dark noir, based on a novel by Bored to Death author Jonathan Ames. And if you haven't seen Ratcatcher, her debut feature film, it's time.
Director: Bong Joon-ho
After a successful crossover to American audiences with Snowpiercer, The Host director returns to his monster roots with Okja. Interestingly enough, Bong Joon-ho will make another leap with the release of this film, this time straight to a streaming service. Netflix will not only be distributing the film, but has a hand in its production as well. The plot follows a young girl named Mija who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend, a massive “animal” named Okja. Just what kind of animal Okja is, remains to be seen. We can’t wait. —Jon Fusco
16. Untitled Detroit Riots Movie
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriting partner Mark Boal have previously collaborated on American foreign affairs thrillers The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Now, they are focusing their attention toward conflicts stateside. Their now-untitled film dramatizes the Detroit riots that ensued in the summer of 1967 after police raided a bar and arrested 82 black men. The duo's careful attention to journalistic detail and mastery of suspense always make for a compelling watch, and the cast—John Boyega, Jack Reynor, Anthony Mackie, Kaitlyn Dever, and Jason Mitchell—and sure to raise the bar. 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the riots; hopefully, this film will do its victims justice.
17. Happy End
Director: Michael Haneke
Never take a Michael Haneke movie title at face value. In Funny Games, the games were deadly and sadistic, and The White Ribbon had nothing to do with innocence and everything to do with perversity and transgression. Haneke has once again cast long-time collaborator Isabelle Huppert in his newest, Happy End, about a burgeois European family set against the backdrop of the refugee crisis (with part of the film shooting at a refugee camp in Calais). If we know anything about Haneke, he will be sure to probe the deep wells of hypocrisy and colonial guilt that characterize modern European values—and he'll do it in a provocative, gut-wrenching way. According to Huppert, the film is similar to Code: Unknown, which is one of Haneke's masterpieces.
18. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
First with Dogtooth and then with The Lobster, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos showcased his irreverent virtuoso, capable of applying absurd satire to the most sacred of human conventions. He brings back Colin Farrell to star in his new film, about a charismatic surgeon forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behaviour of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister. Joining Farrell are Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone.
19. Movie No. 1
Director: Josephine Decker
From her inventive short film Me The Terrible, to her record double turn with two features at Berlinale 2014, to her participation in the groundbreaking omnibus collective:unconscious, Josephine Decker has become one of the most promising directors of her generation. This track record makes us all the more eager to see her forthcoming feature, Movie No. 1, starring fellow indie darling Miranda July and Emmy nominee Molly Parker (House Of Cards) as a theater director who begins to incorporate the troubled emotional life of her young star into her new play. —Liz Nord
20. Dark Tower
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Throw us a Stephen King adaptation and we will watch it, no holds barred. But this one is perhaps the most anticipated of all in the history of King adaptations. Following a decade of failed attempts to translate the eight genre-defying Dark Tower books into a film (some even dubbed the series unfilmable), Nikolaj Arcel, who directed A Royal Affair and wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, has conquered its mythical Wild West universe. Idris Elba stars as the Gunslinger, while Matthew McConaughey plays the film’s villain. (Nope, not Westworld.) Whatever happens, this will be undoubtedly interesting.
21. Good Time
Directors: Josh and Benny Safdie
Watching the Safdie brothers' blistering 2014 film Heaven Knows What was the epitome of cinematic rubbernecking; it starred a real-life junkie as she plunged to the depths of heroin addiction and homelessness. Their new film, Good Time, promises to deliver something a bit different. Starring Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Jason Leigh as bank robbers on the run, it's been "described as ‘neo-grindhouse.'" We're in.
22. The Glass Castle
Director: Destin Cretton
Not only was Destin Cretton's Short Term 12 one of our favorite films of 2013, but it was also solely responsible for launching Brie Larson to stardom. Creston has once again tapped Larson to star in his new drama, based on the true story of Jeanette Walls' poverty-stricken, nomadic childhood with her alcoholic and mentally troubled parents. With Short Term 12, Cretton showed an ability to infuse rough subject matter with grace, heart, and humility, and we know he will do the same with the material from Walls' memoir. Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts star as the parents.
23. It Comes at Night
Director: Trey Edward Shults
With last year's Krisha, 27-year-old director Trey Edward Shults displayed more cinematic mastery than most hope for in a lifetime. The harrowing film, made on a $30,000 budget, played like a grotesque, operatic comedy of manners. Now, he's making a horror mystery starring Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, and Christopher Abbott, about a man trying to protect his wife and child from a dangerous presence outside their home. Like Krisha, which was based on an alcoholic family member's decline, It Comes at Night will be based on Shults' experience of his father's death from cancer. But don't expect a saccharine story; if it's anything like Krisha, this film will have a bite.
Director: Paul Dano
Paul Dano co-wrote his upcoming directorial debut, an adaptation of a brilliant Richard Ford novel, with girlfriend Zoe Kazan. Wildlife stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan as parents who move their family to Montana, only to watch everything fall apart through the eyes of their teenager. Oren Moverman, who wrote Love & Mercy and I'm Not There., is producing the film.
25. Mektoub is Mektoub
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
The Cannes-winning director of Blue is the Warmest Color has kept his new project shrouded in secrecy, even though it's already begun filming in France. The cast has not been announced, but here's what we do know: it's based on a novel by French film critic François Bégaudeau, La Blessure, la vraie, about a burgeoning screenwriter who returns home and falls into a love triangle between a local woman and the wife of a movie producer who's financing his next film. (Awkward.) If anyone can take a melodramatic story and turn it into a vivid, true-to-life gut punch, it's Kechiche.
26. The Circle
Director: James Ponsoldt
With the End of the Tour, James Ponsoldt did what no one else dared to do: make a drama about David Foster Wallace. It's safe to say he has the requisite literary chops to adapt best-selling author and McSweeneys founder Dave Eggers' novel The Circle, about a new employee at a powerful tech company that turns out to have a dark secret agenda. It stars Emma Watson, John Boyega, Thom Hanks, and Patton Oswalt.
Director: Ryan Koo
Naturally, we at No Film School are beyond excited for the debut feature of our Founding Editor, Ryan Koo. Following a critically-acclaimed short prequel of the same name from 2013 and a turn at the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab, this story of a 14-year-old athlete in the competitive world of youth basketball—with The Good Wife's Josh Charles as his coach—is sure to be worth the wait. —Liz Nord