Given the research and only having so much to work with, this is always a tough list to put together. I see over a hundred movies a year theatrically and a lot of those films are ones I’ve been anticipating to some degree, while many others are smaller films that randomly arrive on the calendar months after the start of the year. There are many films in production and being completed in time for Cannes and other film festivals to keep in account, but I’ve provided a month by month look at what I’m looking forward to seeing (links for trailers where available). I am also curious to hear what others have to say as well, so feel free to add thoughts in the comments.
The Founder (1/20)
January is a tricky month, as it is a mix of franchise releases I don’t care about (Resident Evil, Underworld), films dumped into this month and the expansion of a lot of smaller films and awards contenders into wide release. I’ve seen a majority of those smaller films (and they are well worth watching), along with Shyamalan’s new film as well, but I have yet to see The Founder. This biopic surrounding Ray Kroc, the man who acquired McDonald’s and turned it into the incredibly popular fast food chain that it is has a lot going for it. Michael Keaton is her in the lead, with plenty of support from Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Patrick Wilson and Laura Dern. That’s enough to hold my interest and I can only hope that it’s better than the clear runner-up for January that is Monster Trucks.
The Lego Batman Movie (2/10)
This one is tricky, as February has an original thriller from director Gore Verbinski (A Cure for Wellness), a sequel to John Wick, and a satirical, racially-charged horror film from Jordan Peele (Get Out). But Batman! Given just how fantastic I found The Lego Movie and just how unsatisfying films involving Batman were in 2016, I want to put my hopes into the spin-off film that is The Lego Batman Movie. Will Arnett has crafted a hilarious take on the Dark Knight and given what I’ve seen in all the previews and the other actors involved, there’s a real chance for another irreverent and clever 90 minutes of fun here. I will of course see the other films mentioned, but at the end of the day, Batman rules all.
Kong: Skull Island (3/10)
So March is a packed month. There’s a promising Wolverine sequel, another Disney remake, a pretty good-looking war drama and a couple wild genre entries. All of that in mind, King Kong once again has my attention. Thanks to some solid trailers and the presence of a lot of good talent, this next entry into Legendary’s giant monsters universe has my attention for sure. I’ve been a fan of the various takes on King Kong and Legendary delivered big for me with their take on Godzilla. The concept for Kong: Skull Island is a fun idea, given the mix of over-the-top thrills with Apocalypse Now, of all things. Here’s hoping director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) acquits himself well with this big budget production.
The Lost City of Z (4/21)
Sure, I could go on and on about how much I am looking forward to The F8te of the Furious. It’s a ridiculous franchise that I have a vested interest in. The “Vin Diesel goes bad” twist is better than anything in the trailers for xXx 3. Holding onto that super fun cast will surely make for a fun movie. Still, The Lost City of Z has my attention, because James Gray is a very interesting director. He’s taken on a variety of films, but this seems like a big departure from his more intimate dramas. I can only hope that Charlie Hunnam is able to deliver in a way that I haven’t seen in a while from him when it comes to film, as this story of a British explorer who disappears in the Amazon could be really interesting to watch. I’m also pretty curious about James Ponsoldt’s latest film, The Circle, featuring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega, so that makes two films from indie directors I can get behind.
May is actually pretty simple. While I look forward to what Ridley Scott comes up with for his Prometheus sequel/Alien prequel, Marvel Studios is basically guaranteeing me a lot of good, solid fun with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While it appears to be going the bigger, better route that can throw off a lot of sequels, I also have plenty of confidence in writer/director James Gunn, who doesn’t tend to shoot from the hip with these things. The core cast is already great and the additions of Kurt Russell and others, along with the general sense of humor blended with space opera elements means this should be a great kick off to the summer movie season.
Alien: Covenant, The Dinner
The Book of Henry (6/16)
Putting Jack Reacher: Never Go Back aside, Tom Cruise has generally put out really strong action films in recent years, so The Mummy is certainly intriguing. There’s also a chance that Wonder Woman can pull DC films out of the giant hole they’ve created. All of that said, I putting the June spotlight on The Book of Henry. Director Colin Trevorrow is coming down from the mega blockbuster that was Jurassic World and holding off on diving into Star Wars IX in order to release a film much more on the level with his indie breakout Safety Not Guaranteed. This drama has a great cast, a neat little premise and the promise of seeing more from what Trevorrow can offer on a pure dramatic level.
July has some steep competition. Christopher Nolan is back with another IMAX epic in the form of a WWII drama. I’ll likely dig it, but not much separates it from other WWII spectacles at this time to put it over the top. Spider-Man: Homecoming finds Marvel pushing past the web head’s greatest villain, producer Avi Arad, but it’s not like I haven’t seen a Spider-Man movie before (it still looks like a lot of fun). Then you have Luc Besson diving back into Fifth Element territory, which is sure to look great. But no, I’m going with a film that will likely be among my favorites of the year. The Planet of the Apes franchise has been on a massive upswing since Rise and director Matt Reeves has only continued to push things forward with Dawn. This means the potential for War for the Planet of the Apes completing a great trilogy is quite strong, given how assured the choices for this story and these ape characters seem to be. I look forward to Andy Serkis getting it done as Caesar.
Baby Driver (8/11)
August is a no-brainer. Edgar Wright has written and directed a new film, so that makes it one of my most anticipated films of the year in general. Wright has done nothing but great films in my eyes, so anything he comes up with I am intrigued by. Baby Driver concerns a young getaway driver who constantly listens to music, because of a condition that leaves an endless ringing in his ears. Ansel Elgort is the lead, with support from Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey, among others. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this one.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Villa Capri
American Made (9/29)
As much as I may enjoy a Tom Cruise action movie, it would be nice to see the actor back in a drama. That’s exactly what we’re getting in September, as Cruise reteams with his Edge of Tomorrow director for American Made. This film tells the true story of a pilot who became a drug smuggler, only to be recruited by the CIA. There are plenty of layers to this and that will make for an interesting change of pace for the actor who once excelled the most in these sorts of drama/thrillers that didn’t involve Cruise pushing himself to physical limits.
The Lego Ninjago Movie, The Solutrean, Victoria and Abdul
Blade Runner 2049 (10/6)
October has become a pretty cool month for big films skewed towards adult audiences. Recent years have given us films like The Martian and Gone Girl. This year has a Blade Runner sequel. I’m not quite blown away by diving back into this world, but director Denis Villenueve, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and Harrison Ford being convinced to come back to a film he didn’t enjoy working on the first time is enough to suggest some confidence (not to mention producer Ridley Scott and the rest of the cast). I can only hope it works out and has some new ideas planned, rather than just retreading the same material. October also has a new Cloverfield movie, a Kingsman sequel, and the return of Steven Soderbergh, so yeah, lots to look forward to.
God Particle, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Logan Lucky, The Snowman
Thor: Ragnarok (11/3)
Pixar has a new and original movie coming, that’s great. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is heading our way in November…um yeah. Kenneth Branagh is remaking Murder on the Orient Express…okay. That’s all well and good, but somehow Thor: Ragnarok has my attention. Director Taika Waititi has made quite the name for himself with smaller films from New Zealand (including one of my top ten favorites of 2016, Hunt for the Wilderpeople). Adding him, along with a cast that now includes Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Hulk, means this latest Thor movie could be the craziest and possibly even a fun break from the greater plot-based mythology involving the MCU
Coco, Darkest Hour, Justice League, Murder on the Orient Express, Paddington 2, Red Sparrow
Star Wars: Episode VIII (12/15)
Look, there are likely a ton of movies coming out in December that I can’t even get into yet, but that won’t take away from the excitement I have for Star Wars: Episode VIII. Rian Johnson is a director I really admire and putting him in charge of this highly anticipated sequel has me very much looking forward to what this massive franchise has in store for audiences. The Force Awakens was a great start to the expansion of the Star Wars sage, Rogue One was a fun break from it, now it will be time to get back on schedule and see what else is coming for Rey, Finn, Po, Kylo Ren, Luke and Leia.
Dates Not Yet Set
As always, there are plenty of other releases that have not even been schedule for release yet, despite being set for a 2017 release date. So I’m happy to give a shout out to a number of titles I am keeping in mind. This includes new films from Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Spielberg, Aaron Sorkin, Guillermo del Toro and many more.
Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Film, Untitled Darren Aronofsky Project, Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Detroit Project, Battle of the Sexes, Colossal, Going Places, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, Death Note, The Death of Stalin, Felt, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Mute, Molly’s Game, Okja, The Shape of Water, Song to Sea, Suburbicon, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Tully, The Trip to Spain, Woody Allen’s New Movie