List season is among us people! Yes, this month, which I am appropriately naming 'list season', I will be counting down the best of 2016 as well as my hopes for the year ahead. Later on in the month I will be sharing my picks for the best TV shows and films of the year just gone, but today I'm talking 2017. Honestly, it looks like an astonishing year to come. What I find the most odd though is just how much my cinematic preferences have changed over the past year. Where last year's most anticipated list consisted largely of superhero films and franchise fodder, I hope that this list is, slightly, more diverse. So without further ado, let's get on with it.
Now, whilst there is less of it on the actual list, I do have to mention the big hollywood blockbusters that are coming. Marvel Studios in particular have three films coming out, which include both the return of the Guardians in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the introduction of Spiderman into the MCU with the Sony collaboration project of Spiderman: Homecoming. I personally really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014. I thought it was an absolutely joyous movie from start to finish and I'm a huge fan of the Spiderman character, who looks to be on top from from the Homecoming trailer, so I'll definitely be looking out for those. On the other side of the coin though we have the productions of DC Comics, which I'm slightly more skeptical about the direction of due to some not great efforts so far. That being said, Wonder Woman has a fantastic female director helming the film in Patty Jenkins, who directed Monster back in 2003, and the Justice League trailer made it look legitimately entertaining, so I'm still going to be going in with an open mind. Other notable blockbusters include Kingsman sequel, The Golden Circle (I thought the first Kingsman was a really fun time), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (looks promising; Luc Besson hopefully back on Fifth Element form) and Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower (great cast and seemingly lot's of passion behind the film). In terms of films that are flying more under the radar at this point, I'm really looking forward to The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which is the new film from The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos, which will star Nicole Kidman and, once again, Colin Farrell, and going purely off what I saw in The Lobster, I'm hoping this will be wildly original and wonderfully surreal but still as emotionally involving as that film was. There's also Molly's Game, which is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, who I absolutely adore as a screenwriter (I think he's one of the best out there), and that'll be starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, so I'm extremely excited to see how that turns out. On top of that, there's Kenneth Branagh's take on Murder on the Orient Express, which has an exciting cast including Branagh as Poirot, as well as Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz and Judi Dench, and The Glass Castle, which sees the reunion of Short Term 12 director and writer Destin Daniel Cretton with his star Brie Larson, and also adds Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson to the mix. I adored Short Term 12 for it's realism and deep relatability, so I'm really hoping Cretton does the same with this. But anyway, enough about what films didn't make it, let's talk about the ones that did.
10) Okja (Dir. Bong-Joon Ho)
If, like me, you loved Bong-Joon Ho's Snowpiercer back in 2014, you should be looking forward to this one. I thought Snowpiercer was some really truly smart, intense, gripping and immersive Sci-Fi, and whilst it does look like he will be tackling the same themes here, the film otherwise looks like a completely different project, so I'm hoping he'll be able to show his versatility here. Okja apparently follows a girl named Mija, who tries to stop this massive corporation from kidnapping her friend. That's all that is really known about the plot, but we do know that the cast will include the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Giancarlo Esposito, and apparently Paul Dano and The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun. That, to me, is a fairly talented cast, and with Bong-Joon Ho taking the 'attacking the system' idea into a more grounded setting, I'm sure this will be one the year's biggest indie hits.
9) Baby Driver (Dir. Edgar Wright)
Baby Driver sees the return of writer/ director Edgar Wright for the first time in 7 years. Yes, Edgar Wright, one of the greatest comedy filmmakers of our generation, helming such fantastic films as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World's End and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. I am a huge fan of his work, believing it to be both marvellously original and visually exquisite. His visual storytelling and comedy is second to none, and none of his films have ever disappointed me. This time, it follows a getaway driver as he gets himself wrapped up in a job that spirals out of control. With a stellar cast including Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Jon Bernthal and Kevin Spacey (yes, Kevin fucking Spacey), this sounds like an absolute recipe for success and something truly interesting and fitting for Wright to direct. I'll be looking forward to this as an off the wall action comedy this August.
8) Thor: Ragnarok (Dir. Taika Waititi)
I'm really not a fan of the previous two Thor films; I actually think they're some of the most lacklustre Marvel has offered up over the past ten years, so why am I so excited for this instalment in the franchise. Well, it's being directed by Taika Waititi, and that gets me absolutely bouncing up and down with joy. Taika is such a fresh, original and staggeringly hilarious modern filmmaker, helming some of the best and most engaging comedies of recent years, such as 2010's emotionally poignant and wonderfully funny Boy, 2014's laugh-a-minute mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows and one of my personal favourite films of 2016, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He's an odd choice to helm a big budget superhero film, but if Marvel give him the creative control he deserves, it could be something quite unique for the superhero genre.
7) War for the Planet of the Apes (Dir. Matt Reeves)
I actually really quite like the Planet of the Apes reboot/prequel films, Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but I'm most excited for this final chapter as it will see all the pieces being put in place to create the world of the 1968 film and it's sequels. That being said, this wasn't really on my radar until a couple of weeks ago when the first trailer was released. This thing looks spectacular, but also extremely rich in commentary. The war movie tone and atmosphere it looks as if Reeves and co are going for could make for some more surprisingly poignant drama to follow up what was done in 2014's Dawn. Hopefully, this could be the one to creep in and blow us all away in a spectacular manner this summer.
6) Alien: Covenant (Dir. Ridley Scott)
Suspense-horror classic Alien is in my top ten favourite films of all time, and it really looks like Ridley Scott is going back to his roots here. I thought Prometheus felt largely like an unnecessary detour for the Alien franchise, so I was pleased to see the that the trailer for Covenant felt like it was recapturing the tone of the 1979 original in glorious fashion, whilst still accounting for what was set up in Prometheus. Whilst I wasn't a fan of some of the shaky cam horror and action the trailer seemed to show, I was definitely a fan of the tone that was being set up and the story ideas that were being revealed. Katherine Waterston is an immense talent, as she has shown in Steve Jobs and Inherent Vice, and Michael Fassbender, although he has made some questionable film choices in the past year, is still one of the best hollywood actors around and his character and performance were still my absolute favourite things Prometheus had to offer, so it definitely looks like the cast are all going to fall into place, and we just have to hope that Scott shows why he is such a respected director with this one.
5) T2: Trainspotting (Dir. Danny Boyle)
I, like many others, think Trainspotting is director Danny Boyle's magnum opus, and one of the most interesting, funny, touching and versatile dark comedies ever made. Therefore, I can't wait for it's sequel, T2: Trainspotting. It not only sees the return of the original cast, as the promotional material promises, but also the return of Danny Boyle in the director's seat, fresh off of the brilliantly engaging Steve Jobs a year and a bit ago, as well as the return of writer John Hodge, who has continued to work with Boyle since the original film in 1996 on films such as Trance and The Beach. So, my hopes are extremely high for this, I thought the trailer made it look excellent in it's use of interesting and unique camerawork and editing, and it feels like the original cast are going to fit right back into their characters from 21 years ago. I have my fingers crossed here; let's hope Danny Boyle can recapture the magic of the first film.
4) Dunkirk (Dir. Christopher Nolan)
Dunkirk will mark the tenth film from modern master of filmmaking Christopher Nolan, and whilst I did have issues with Interstellar, I have adored some of his other films, especially Memento, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and The Prestige. I think his intelligence as writer matched with his unique visionary style of direction can make for extraordinary work, and I'm hoping that that's exactly what Dunkirk is. Not only that but he has got some of the best British actors of today starring in this, with a cast that boasts the likes Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance. The casting of One Direction's Harry Styles is an odd choice, but I'm sure that he wouldn't be hired to star in a Nolan film just to make more money; there must be something more to it than that. However, what has gotten me most excited for this is the 5 minutes of it that I got to see before Rogue One last month in IMAX. The building of tension matched with the stunning scale of the shots on the IMAX screen made me frankly giddy with excitement, instantly boosting it to the number 4 spot on this top 10 list.
3) Logan (Dir. James Mangold)
Looking at this trailer, this really doesn't look like a hollywood superhero movie, which is strange seeing as the past two Wolverine films have been so flawed in the fact that they felt so much like hollywood superhero movies. That being said, I think The Wolverine is actually quite an underrated comic book film. I think the first two acts are intense and exciting and the elements of Western and Noir are much appreciated, but the third is where it falls to cliche and formula. But the reason I mention The Wolverine is because it was James Mangold's first directorial effort in the X Men universe and this will see his return. And where he teased at doing something different in Logan's predeccessor, it looks as if he is going to follow through in Logan. From the looks of things, this is going to be a personal, contained and deeply emotional goodbye to Hugh Jackman as he steps down as Wolverine and makes way for new mutants and stories in the future. The trailer made it look grounded and wonderfully human, so I'm hoping it will give us something like we've never seen in a superhero film before.
2) Star Wars Episode VIII (Dir. Rian Johnson)
When talking about the original Star Wars trilogy, I am a huge fan. And when talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I am also a huge fan. So, when looking at Star Wars Episode VIII, I am expecting to be a huge fan. In all seriousness, I thought the 2015 revival of the Star Wars franchise, despite being fairly explicitly derivative of the 1977 original, reinvigorated Star Wars in a magnificent way, with characters that we could both understand and truly like, and direction and action that really managed to bring back the glory of the 1980s sequences whilst still feeling modern and new. And seeing where they left the story in the last film, I'm really quite intrigued and anticipant of the events that are going to play out in this sequel. We will be able to see return of the loveable characters of The Force Awakens whilst being able to see if Mark Hamill can act better than his older co stars in the last film, as well as seeing how franchise newcomers Benicio Del Toro and director Rian Johnson fare. I am a fan of both, loving Johnson's direction on Brick, Looper and several episodes of Breaking Bad, and Del Toro's acting in films like 21 Grams and more recently, Denis Villeneueve's Sicario. And speaking of Denis Villeneuve....
1) Blade Runner 2049 (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Yes, that's right, my most anticipated film of 2017 is, in fact, Blade Runner 2049. But why? Well, because it's not only the return of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott's masterpiece and one of my favourite films, but it's also the return of Blade Runner, directed by Denis Villeneuve. Villeneuve has directed, in my opinion, some of the best and most thought provoking films of recent years, giving us such films as Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and most recently, Arrival, which is currently my favourite film of 2016, and considering the direction of those films, it seems as if he is absolutely perfect for this material. Also, it's starring Ryan Gosling, who I'm a huge fan of from films like Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines. Plus it brings the return of Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard, one of Ford's best characters and performances in my opinion. And the visuals of the trailer were just gorgeous, showing us Villeneuve's unique visual style, whilst still managing to feel in the same vein as the original film in terms of colours and shot composition. I can't help but think of the fact that this could actually be a sequel that lives up to the quality of the original, and that's why it's my most anticipated film of the year ahead.
So there it is. Those are the films I am most looking forward to in 2017, but now I want to know what you think. Do you agree with my list? What would your picks be? Make sure to let me know down in the comments and don't forget to come back later this month for my top 10 TV shows of 2016 and my top 25 (yes, 25) films of 2016. You can catch that later this month on creators.co/@garwoodreviews, where you will also find more articles like this one, as well as a range of movie reviews. So check that out, and I'll see you in the next one.