While I’m nowhere near done discussing the films of 2016 (Oscars, baby!), it’s time to creak the door open to 2017. It’s always tough to look at the crystal ball this early in the year, as many of the truly great films are so unknown. There’s no shortage of mainstream goodness to get excited about though. Having said that, after what I just went through this past year, I’m going to be a lot stingier about my picks. Whereas in year’s past, I may have put movies like Kong: Skull Island, The Mummy, or even been seduced by the cast of Thor: Ragnarok, not this time. I’m making a consorted effort to avoid the crap. War of the Planet of the Apes also disqualified itself when it used this line the trailer: “If we lose…it will be a planet of apes.” Like I said, I’m approaching this list with little patience and a very grumpy, arms folded attitude.
If my cynicism hasn’t scared you off, let’s get excited!
IT’S MY TOP 10 MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIES OF 2017!
10. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Release Date: July 7th
Director: Jon Watts (Cop Car)
If you’re upset at where this landed, you should be thankful it made the list at all. I put this on here kicking and screaming. I have a laundry list of concerns, but let’s start with the positives. Tom Holland. Out of everything I didn’t like about Captain America: Civil War, he wasn’t one of them. He’s already my second favorite Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire blows bags). It’s also never a bad idea to get Donald Glover in your movie, even if it is a mystery role (I’m predicting Eddie Brock). Michael Keaton as Vulture both excites and concerns me. If Michael Keaton is wasted as another one-dimensional MCU villain, that to me is unforgivable. Here’s what else concerns me – the screenwriters. While some of them have been involved with solid projects that include episodes of Community, two of them were writers on the Vacation reboot and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. I’ll repeat that: Vacation (2015) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. That isn’t even my primary concern though. That honor goes to Tony Stark. I’m already turned off by RDJ from the trailer. Do we really need our 800th Iron Man appearance in a Spider-Man film? COME ON! Look, my expectations are bottom of the barrel, so if it’s a nice surprise, it’s all gravy. If you’re a hardcore Spider-Man fan though, I’d go in with cautious optimism.
Release Date: March 24th
Director: Craig Johnson (The Skeleton Twins)
I freely admit putting this movie on the list is more of a middle finger to a lot of big blockbusters I chose to leave off. Having said that, it looks pretty funny. I’m a big Woody Harrelson fan, and this looks like a great vehicle for him playing a jackass, Billy Bob Thornton/Bad Santa-esque character who reconnects with his ex-wife and teenage daughter he never knew. This will be good for a few laughs, and maybe something more. The screenwriter is Daniel Clowes, who you’ll remember from Ghost World, so he’s a bit of a wild card. The remaining films on the list are all big market movies, so relax. I thought I’d sneak this one in, alright!
8. Alien: Covenant
Release Date: May 19th
Director: Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator, Alien)
While this movie makes the list, I want to be very clear: I have no expectations. There is no way in hell I’m making the same mistake I did with Prometheus, where my hype level was at an all-time high. Even though Ridley Scott got some mojo back with The Martian, my blinders are on full blast. There’s definitely some notable improvements though. First of all, the Damon Lindelof factor is gone, as is Jon Spaihts, who just crapped all over the screen with Passengers. We’re also not playing the unnecessary “Is this actually an Alien movie?” card like last time. It’s an Alien movie. There’s no confusion. The trailer is solid. It feels like an Alien movie once again. The cast concerns me a tad (shudder James Franco shudder), but a huge focus on Michael Fassbender is never a bad idea. The attitude you should have for this movie is hope for the best, expect the worst.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Release Date: May 5th
Director: James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)
I’ve accepted the fact that everyone has already made up their minds about this movie. No one is walking into this objectively. You all love it already. Whatever, that’s fine. As Guardians of the Galaxy is the one MCU film I passionately like, I’m very much looking forward to this as well. My expectations have been lowered drastically due to some warning flags though. I can’t deal with Baby Groot. He’s going to derail the entire film for me. He’ll be overplayed and shoved in my face to the point where I’ll end up hating the film. I want to be wrong. I really do. But he’s already over saturated, and when the movie comes out, I’ll be off social media for two months to let the memes and #OMGILOVEBABYGROOT crap to subside. Aside from that, the trailer looked “eh.” The Rocket/tape bit was funny, but the Drax stuff felt very “let’s over play the stuff people loved from last time.” That’s usually a sequel trap. As the cast now includes Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone, I’m still very excited, but my MCU blinders will be fully charged with a back-up battery when I enter the theater.
6. Justice League
Release Date: November 17th
Director: Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel)
If I thought Zack Snyder was in full control, as I believe he was for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this movie would be #2 on my list. After what I just saw with Suicide Squad though, I’m completely shaken. Warner Bros. clearly made drastic changes late in the game after the bad reaction to the serious, heavy BvS. I have no doubt there’s a studio executive standing behind Zack Snyder on the set saying “add a joke here” after every cut. I really have no idea what to expect with this film. The Comic-Con trailer was a step in the right direction. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman looks awesome, and Affleck continues to look like a great Batman. I live in constant fear of the studio forcing Marvel-isms into this movie, but as a DC fan, I’ll remain optimistic. The next trailer will tell a lot about where this film is going. Justice League is without a doubt 2017’s biggest wild card.
5. Wonder Woman
Release Date: June 2nd
Director: Patty Jenkins (Monster)
The stars seem aligned for this to be the first DCEU film that gets strong reviews and universal fan love. When it comes to DC though, I’m not taking anything for granted. Remember how great the Suicide Squad trailers were? How did that work out? Wonder Woman has a lot going for it though out of the gate. Even though BvS was met with a crap load of negativity, the most ardent hater still loved Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. As Wonder Woman is the biggest female superhero there is, people are going to be rooting like hell for this. One of the secret weapons with this film will be Chris Pine. This guy had a great year last year, and he’s a criminally underrated actor. He really classes up the joint. Other than some bad humor at the end of both trailers, this one looks pretty damn good. As I said before though, it’s DC. We can’t take anything for granted.
4. Blade Runner 2049
Release Date: October 6th
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Barkhad Abdi
Director: Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners)
I’m all in. While I’ve been cautious and pessimistic on many movies, this is the one where I’m actively getting my hopes up. Like many people, I LOVE Blade Runner. It’s probably in my top 20-30 all-time favorite movies. When I first heard the rumblings of a sequel, I almost threw up. If there was ever a movie that should be left alone, it’s Blade Runner! Then the cast got announced. Harrison Ford is back. Okay, that’s pretty cool, but I’m still skeptical. Jared Leto. Robin Wright. Barkhad Abdi. Well, that’s a good cast, but whatever, they’ll screw it up. Ryan Gosling is the lead. Um…okay. Now I’m intrigued. The final exclamation point for why this could be the best film of 2017 stems from the best film I saw in 2016: Arrival. Denis Villeneuve is the man in charge. If you’re going to do a Blade Runner sequel, this is the director I want not named Christopher Nolan. The first trailer cemented my excitement. This could do for Blade Runner what Mad Max: Fury Road did for that franchise. I can’t believe I’m letting myself get excited, but my expectations are sky high.
Release Date: July 21st
Cast: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles
Director: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy)
It’s a World War II film directed by Christopher Nolan. Any more questions? We’re moving on.
Release Date: March 3rd
Director: James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line)
It’s a superhero movie that’s already ten steps ahead of the game. There’s no need to worry about Marvel-isms or placating to kids. It’s Rated-R. That alone has me tingly. This is it. This is Hugh Jackman’s swan song, and if the trailer is any indication, they are going to leave it all out on the field. It’s a small cast. No mega-sized mutant roster. It’s Wolverine and an old Professor X (Patrick Stewart). That’s pretty much it. The fact that the same X-Men series has been going on since 2000 doesn’t get enough credit. If there was ever going to be something close to a series finale to this franchise, this could be it. As someone who’s loved this series for seventeen years, never wavering, I’m salivating for what this has the potential to be. It looks X-ordinary. Yeah, I went there.
1. Star Wars: Episode VIII
Release Date: December 15th
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Anthony Daniels, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie
Director: Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick)
Yeah, I don’t think there was a big mystery here. Even though J.J. Abrams is gone, we got one hell of a replacement in Rian Johnson. What is there not to look forward to? Even though we all missed Luke in The Force Awakens, the suspense is amped up even more by his presence in Episode VIII. Just as Han Solo was a cornerstone in the previous film, Luke will do the same for this one. I can’t wait to see the dynamic between him and Rey. With the recent passing of Carrie Fisher, there’s certainly a bitter sweet factor added in as well, as this is the last time we’ll see General Leia Organa. This makes it hard for bad reviews, so I expect another high Rotten Tomatoes score. Even though Abrams is known for secrecy, we still got a trailer over a year out for The Force Awakens. We’re under a year for this movie, and still nothing. Not even a title. I have a feeling they are going to make us wait a long time for that first trailer, and I’m fine with it. If I had a prediction, I’m feeling Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It’s going to be a while. Regardless, there’s nothing else I can add that expresses my excitement level for this movie. The sooner Episode VIII gets here, the sooner I can wash the taste of Rogue One out of my Galactic mouth.
THE WORST MOVIE OF 2017 WILL BE…
Release Date: May 12th
Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Christopher Meloni, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes
Director: Jonathan Levine (The Night Before, Warm Bodies, 50/50)
I could just say Fifty Shades Darker and call it a day, but with the worst movie, I always like to do my due diligence. When I saw Amy Schumer’s name, I had to investigate. The trailer cemented it. This will be the worst movie of 2017. Look, I understand the appeal of Amy Schumer, okay. It may not be my cup of tea, but I get it. To be honest, Trainwreck would have been a good movie had Judd Apatow cut out thirty minutes, but he’s incapable of doing that. Even if you’re an Amy Schumer fan, this trailer commits the cardinal sin with any big comedic star on the rise: too much of a good thing. It’s too Amy Schumer, just as there are a lot of bad Will Ferrell comedies that are too Will Ferrell. Not only does the Schumer comedy look atrocious, but it turns into a weird, action drug smuggling debacle in the second half? Oh, for the love of Moses, this looks unbearable. While Fifty Shades Darker will be awful, we know what we’re getting into. This movie looks like a complete and utter trainwreck (I went there).
One wild card bad movie I also want to throw out there is Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness. Verbinski and I have never gotten along. I find him to be one of the most boring, excruciating directors to sit through. This looks absolutely painful. Keep your eye on this one.