Top 10 most promising films of 2017

Another year has come and passed. Surely, as far cinema is concerned, 2016 wasn’t the best year, but it gave us some pretty good movies nonetheless. The question now is what should we be expecting for the next year? It is already clear that 2017 seems like a quite promising year and there are lots of films that are already highly anticipated.

10. The Dark Tower

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures' THE DARK TOWER.

Stephen King has written more than 50 books that led to almost 100 adaptations in cinema and television. Still, one of his most acclaimed works and the one he himself called his “magnum opus” hasn’t had its chance in the big screen…until now. Yes, after almost 10 years since the first rumours about a film adaptation, the epic fantasy series is set to be released in late 2017 starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. The film’s director is Nikolaj Arcel, the man who also directed a Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s crime thriller “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” in 2009. The series consists of 8 books and draws inspiration from J.R.R.Tolkien’s masterpieces and Sergio Leone’s western films. What material exactly the film is based on is yet unknown. Although one would assume that the film will be an adaptation of the first or maybe first two books, there are several sources and rumours that deny this. It is even possible that the film will be more of a sequel to the books than an adaptation. In any case, this is probably going to be one of the highlights of the next year for the series fans and cinema lovers alike.

9. The Lego Batman Movie

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In 2008, some guys at Warner Bros. thought it would be cool to make a Lego-based movie and the rest is history. Six years later, The Lego Movie hit the theatres exciting the audience worldwide. Critics praised the animation, the witty humour and the voice cast and upon its release the film was the most commercially successful animation of Warner Bros.

It is therefore no surprise that a spin-off created by the same team is highly anticipated. This time the main character is the world’s most popular super hero, Batman who has to face his arch enemy, the Joker, while struggling to build a family model for the young orphan he recently adopted. The voice cast consists of Will Arnet, Zach Galifianakis and Ralph Fiennes among others and the director is Chris McKay who also took part in the development of The Lego Movie. Hilarious one-liners and countless cult references are to be expected along with a story that aims to deliver a deeper message. Morgan Freeman, who lent his voice to Vitruvius in The Lego Movie and also took part in The Dark Knight trilogy, has gone so far as to declare the Lego Batman as his favourite incarnation of the character ever. Another spin-off titled The Lego Ninjago Movie is currently in the filming process and is to be released later in 2017, but right now The Lego Batman Movie coming in February is the most anticipated animation film of the year.

8. Weightless

2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival - Day 3

Weightless is the upcoming film of acclaimed director Terrence Malick set for release in March. Now, unless you’re one of Malick fans, you’re probably reading this with some skepticism. Terrence Malick seems out of form after the Tree of Life. His two feature films released since then received mixed reviews and had disappointing figures in the box office. However, one could argue that this is the good thing about this director, that he sticks to his artistic visions instead of trying to create the next blockbuster. As Roger Ebert stated in his review of The Tree of Life, “There were once several directors who yearned to make no less than a masterpiece, but now there are only a few. Malick has stayed true to that hope ever since his first feature in 1973”.

Weightless is going to be a drama revolving around two intersecting love triangles. It features one of the greatest ensembles we will see next year including Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender and Rooney Mara. It is set, and was filmed, in Austin, Texas and producer Ken Kao said that it is grounded in the city’s music scene. Whether it will be another masterpiece remains to be seen. Considering the potential of both the director and the actors though, Weightless is not a movie to be missed.

7. The Snowman

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Jo Nesbø had been a footballer, soldier, economist and charts-topping musician before becoming a writer. Commissioned by a publisher to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first novel, The Bat. This was the first book of a series of crime thrillers with the brilliant, but troubled detective Harry Hole as the main character. By 2016, after 9 more books were published, the series had been translated in 40 languages and sold more than 23 million copies. One of the best books of the series and the one that was most successful is now in the post-production stage and set for release in October 2017.

Martin Scorsese was for a time involved with the direction of The Snowman, but eventually Thomas Alfredson, whose last work was the spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, was hired for the job. The film stars Michael Fassbender as Harry Hole with Rebecca Ferguson, J.K.Simmons and Charlotte Gainsbourg co-starring. The story revolves around a serial killer who abducts and kills women leaving snowmen behind and if it’s anywhere near the book, it’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. This is the first time a Jo Nesbø novel is adapted in an English language film (an adaptation of Headhunters became the highest grossing Norwegian film of all time in 2011). The long wait is over for Harry Hole fans and even if you’re a stranger to the series, the film is expected to be one of the most exciting thrillers of the year.

6. Star Wars: Episode VIII

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I believe I was not the only one who was doubtful about the success of yet another Star Wars film when the first reports about Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in 2012. It didn’t really work with the prequels and the news that George Lucas would not take part in the film’s development made things even less encouraging. I couldn’t be more wrong. Unlike the prequels, the 7th installment of the series remained faithful to the scope and vision of Star Wars. Figures speak by themselves. The film was the third highest-grossing film of all time and received universal acclaim. Specifically, in Metacritic it has the highest rating of a Star Wars film since 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. A spin-off prequel (Rogue One) has just hit the theatres as we wait for the next film of the sequels trilogy to be released.

Star Wars: Episode VIII continues where the previous film ended with Rey, Finn and Poe going on with their adventures now joined by Luke Skywalker. J.J. Abrams will be an executive producer this time with Rian Johnson taking charge of the direction. The previous film’s cast will return with some new names including Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern. Good or bad, every single Star Wars film since 1977’s A new Hope has been highly anticipated by people all over the world and of course Episode VIII  is no exception.

5. T2 Trainspotting

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Yes, after more than 20 years, Trainspotting will be back and guess what, the original cast returns. The Scottish masterpiece that explores the youth subculture with all its power, energy and rawness during the Britpop era is finally getting a long sought sequel. Irvine Welsh, the author of the novel that inspired Trainspotting, had published a sequel of her novel back in 2002. The book was titled Porno and involves the same characters 10 years older continuing to lead pretty much the same life, only focusing on pornography instead of drugs.

Reportedly, Danny Boyle expressed his interest in adapting Porno about 10 years ago, but said he was waiting for the actors to “age visibly enough to portray the same characters, ravaged by time”. Disputes with lead actor Ewan McGregor, who was reluctant to the idea of a sequel, further delayed the project. Finally, in 2016 the film was given the green light and filming started in Scotland with the feature set for release in March. Considering the success of the first film and the cult following it build, delivering an equally successful film won’t be an easy task, but both Danny Boyle and Irvine Welsh have said that they want to protect the legacy of Trainspotting. Let’s hope that T2 will indeed prove to be another dark comedy masterpiece that will inspire people for years to come.

4. Blade Runner 2049

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2017 will be a year filled with movie sequels that seem out of place. Fast and Furious 8, Cars 3 and Pirates of the Carribean 5 are just some of the titles. There are also several cases of films that attempted to resurrect older classics (hoping to resurrect their box-office success too) with no success. So why should someone be expecting anything great of a Blade Runner sequel 35 years after the Ridley Scott science fiction masterpiece was released? Well, first of all, unlike cases such as Psycho or Jaws where the original director didn’t take part in the making of the sequels, Ridley Scott will be involved in the film, only as a producer. Then who will direct the film? Denis Villeneuve, the Canadian auteur who gave us Prisoners, Enemy and the more recent Arrival. Suddenly, the idea of a Blade Runner sequel doesn’t sound so bad after all, does it?

The film is set in 2049, as the title implies, thirty years after the events of the first film. Ryan Gosling will star as an LAPD officer who sets to find the long missing Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Reportedly, a sequel (or prequel) to Blade Runner was long sought by Ridley Scott, but financial reasons among others denied him the chance. Well, the long wait is over and considering the huge cult following the film has build over the last 35 years, next October will see theatres flooding with fans.

3. Dunkirk

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In May 1940, during the battle of France, almost 400.000 French, British and Belgian troops were surrounded by the Germans in the northern coast of France. Defeat seemed inevitable and it was decided that the best option the Allies had was to attempt to save the forces by sending ships to carry them to England. Dunkirk, a small village, was chosen as the best location for the evacuation plan. In the course of 8 days, Allied navy ships, joined by a significant amount of unarmed civilian-sailed boats and small ships, managed to rescue 338.000 soldiers while the last remaining French forces kept their defensive lines in a fierce battle with the Germans, allowing enough time for the evacuation plan to be carried out. The significance of the battle has been the subject of numerous discussions, books, documentaries and films including the 6 Academy Awards winner Mrs. Miniver. Now, a new film focusing on these events is being created by none other than Christopher Nolan.

The acclaimed director’s first feature film since 2014’s Interstellar seems a colossal project with filming taking place in the original location of the battle and production reconditioning actual warships. Nolan is also the writer of the screenplay and co-producer of the film that stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh among others. Surprisingly, the lead role was given to the largely unknown, 19 year-old, British actor Fionn Whitehead. A 21st of July release has been announced and now all we have to do is wait.

2. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film

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Paul Thomas Anderson, one of my favourite directors,  is about to start filming his untitled as of yet film with Daniel Day-Lewis in the main role. The duo behind the stunning There Will Be Blood reunited after almost ten years for a new film that marks the multiple award winning actor’s first role since Lincoln in 2012. The plot is unknown, but it is reported that the film is set in London in the 1950s and focuses on the fashion industry. The project seems an ambitious one with Deadline reporting that after a ferocious battle, Focus beat Fox on acquiring the rights of the film which has an estimated budget of $35 million. This makes it more expensive than There Will Be Blood by $10 million. In fact, it is Paul Thomas Anderson’s biggest budget film since 1999’s Magnolia. You should expect more information arriving over the next months, although the fact that Paul Thomas Anderson directs a film starring Daniel Day-Lewis alone should be enough to get you pumped up.

1. Silence

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When one of the greatest directors of our time finally delivers a film he supposedly wanted to make since 1990, it is definitely something to expect. Martin Scorsese’s historical drama has actually premiered in 2016, but only for a limited release. Most people will have to wait until early January to watch Silence, which makes it eligible to be on this list. Martin Scorsese has said that the film has been an obsession and since the first time he thought of making it, he has given us Casino, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street among others.

The film is set in Japan and stars Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuit priests on a religious mission in 17th century. The events are an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s film of the same title. The film has already received praise and has been flirting with awards. However, the fact alone that it constitutes Scorsese’s 25 year-old obsession, has built a hype which is almost impossible to resist. Let’s hope that Silence lives up to our expectations and makes for the perfect opening of the upcoming cinematic year.

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