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2017

And… we’re back! Here’s the second batch of movies that may or may not have us jumping for joy at having seen them in 2017. There’s a pleasing mix of genres, some movies have really great casts, and some that may go on to win copious awards. Whatever happens these are all – at this moment in time – movies that are capable of finding a place in our hearts and in our Top 10 lists for the year – or maybe not. We’ll just have to wait and see.

26 – Hidden Figures – The tagline is clever – “Meet the women you don’t know, behind the mission you do.” – and perfectly sums up the true story of the African-American women who were pivotal in ensuring that NASA were able to launch their space programme in the Sixties. It’s one of those inspiring true life tales that will no doubt pick up some Oscar buzz, but with a cast that includes Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Costner and Mahershala Ali, this should be a fascinating look behind the scenes of an equally fascinating period in NASA’s history.

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27 – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Luc Besson has wanted to make this adaptation of the French comic series by Pierre Cristin and Jean-Claude Mézières for a very long time. With Dane DeHaan in the title role, and the city in question providing a home to thousands of different species from across the universe, this could well be a riotous, visually spectacular movie replete with Besson’s quirky humour and operatic leanings. Like so many other movies in this list, there’s a great cast that includes Cara Delevingne, John Goodman, Clive Owen and Rihanna, and at €197 million, it’s also the most expensive French movie ever made.

28 – Despicable Me 3 – Steve Carell has stated that this will be his last feature outing as the not-quite-so-villainous Gru. If so, then it’ll be a shame as Carell’s vocal performance has been one of the series’ several high spots. Perhaps knowing this, the producers and writers have come up with a storyline that gives Carell twice as much to do as he plays both Gru and his long-lost brother Dru. Add to the mix the inclusion of Trey Parker as definitely villainous Balthazar Bratt, alongside the usual madcap humour of the Minions, and you have a second sequel that might just be better than expected.

29 – Tully – An original screenplay by Diablo Cody is brought to the screen by Jason Reitman for the third time – after Juno (2007) and Young Adult (2011) – and reteams them with Charlize Theron in a tale of a single mother with three kids who’s “gifted” a night nanny (the Tully of the title and played by Mackenzie Davis) by her brother. If Cody’s script is sharper than some of her more recent efforts then this could be a winning combination of comedy and drama that tugs at the heartstrings while also keeping audiences highly amused.

30 – Untitled Darren Aronofsky Project – This isn’t due for release until the very end of 2017, and Aronofsky is keeping details about his latest movie very close to his chest, but what we do know is that it features Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence, and concerns a couple whose relationship is put to the test by some uninvited guests. With extensive special effects still to be completed, just how the couple’s relationship is tested is an intriguing question, but in Aronofsky’s hands this is unlikely to be a standard home invasion thriller.

31 – The Dark Tower – Stephen King’s sprawling eight-volume tale set in Mid-World concerns the pursuit of a mysterious Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) by an equally mysterious Gunslinger (Idris Elba). An adaptation has been on the cards in various forms since 2007, but this production has been somewhat rushed, which may not prove to be a good thing. Still it’s highly anticipated by fans, and the main casting shows a willingness on the producers’ part to add some weight to proceedings, but it will be the strength of the adaptation that will decide if this succeeds or fails.

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32 – Dunkirk – The latest from Christopher Nolan recounts the evacuation of British, Canadian, French and Belgian troops from the beaches of Dunkerque in Northern France, and in the midst of an intense onslaught from surrounding German forces. This promises to be suitably epic, but whether Nolan has opted for Saving Private Ryan-style realism, or something a little less hard-hitting remains to be seen, but what will need to be seen is the movie in its IMAX 65mm format, which should make the movie look as spectacular as Nolan is probably intending.

33 – Baby Driver – Having departed from Ant-Man (2015), director Edgar Wright moved on to this comedy-action-thriller about a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who works for various bank robbers and finds himself in deep trouble when a heist goes badly wrong. Wright directs his own script so expect the humour to be spot on, and he’s assembled a great cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Lily James. However it all turns out, one thing is for sure: it’ll look and sound completely different from any other movie out there.

34 – A Cure for Wellness – If you’ve already seen the first trailer for Gore Verbinski’s first movie since The Lone Ranger (2013), then you’ll know that A Cure for Wellness is likely to be the most visually arresting movie of 2017. With a succession of stunning visuals allied to the mystery of a “wellness centre” located high in the Swiss Alps that is definitely not all that it seems, Verbinski has created a psychological mindbender of a movie that is likely to draw audiences in and then pull the rug out from under them – and not just the once.

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35 – Murder on the Orient Express – It could be argued that we don’t exactly need another version of one of Agatha Christie’s most famous stories, but with Kenneth Branagh directing and starring as Hercule Poirot, and surprisingly, with Johnny Depp as the murder victim, there’s a good possibility that it will transcend the more “stage-bound” versions we’ve seen before. A mixed supporting cast that includes Judi Dench and Daisy Ridley should lend some gravitas to proceedings, all of which leaves one last question to be asked: will Branagh lean towards Peter Ustinov or David Suchet in his interpretation of the Belgian detective, or will he find his own approach to the sleuth?

36 – How to Talk to Girls at Parties – From the title you might be expecting another teen comedy about lustful boys chasing beautiful girls, but while Neil Gaiman’s original short story starts off very much like that, where it takes you from there is another matter entirely. John Cameron Mitchell adapts and directs which should ensure that this will be one of the more interesting movies of 2017, and he’s supported by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning and Matt Lucas.

37 – Downsizing – If your life is getting you, well, down, what if you had the chance to be shrunk to a much smaller size and lead a better life; would you take the opportunity? That’s the question inherent in the latest from Alexander Payne, which sees Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as the couple granted such an opportunity, only for her to back out at the last moment and leave Damon stranded as 2017’s version of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). Payne has been working on this project for some time, so expect his trademark wry humour and heartfelt drama to shine through, and provide one of the more affecting movies of the coming year.

38 – Hostiles – A Western drama that sees Christian Bale’s army captain reluctantly escort a Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and his family through dangerous territory, Hostiles could well be a dark, brooding affair touching on racist attitudes and the concept of self-determinism in amongst more familiar Western staples (which would be good), but if it isn’t then a good old-fashioned oater with lots of gunfights, Indian attacks and galloping about on horseback will do just fine.

39 – Andorra – Veteran director Fred Schepisi returns with an adaptation of the novel by Peter Cameron, about a man, Alexander Fox (played by Clive Owen), who leaves the US and settles in Andorra, only to find himself the prime suspect in a murder case. With Toni Collette and Gillian Anderson as the two women he finds himself involved with, it remains to be seen if Schepisi and Cameron (adapting his own novel) have retained the disturbing eeriness of the novel, and the country’s reimagining as one with a coastline and several other differences.

40 – John Wick: Chapter 2John Wick was both a pleasant surprise and something of a comeback for Keanu Reeves, and it may need to be again as Reeves has returned to making sub-standard DTV movies as the main part of his “day job”. With Reeves back again, along with directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch and writer Derek Kolstad, the action is relocated to Rome as Wick agrees to combat a former associate with plans to seize control of the assassins’ guild both belong to. Expect plenty of gunplay, gratuitous headshots, and bone-cracking fight scenes as Reeves does what he does best: play a focused, hell-bent killing machine.

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41 – An Interview With God – Questions of faith and belief are challenged when a young journalist (Brenton Thwaites) finds himself interviewing a mysterious man who claims to be God (David Strathairn). Quite how much of this will be a two-hander remains to be seen but there’s something to be said for a drama where God may just be in the room, and can be asked anything at all. This puts much of the pressure on Ken Aguado’s script, but if he’s been careful and thought things through, then this could be a movie that gets people talking about faith for all the right reasons.

42 – Wonder – It’s Jacob Tremblay again, grabbing all the good pre-teen roles before it’s too late, and playing Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a facial deformity that has all sorts of effects on the children at the school he goes to. This adaptation of the novel by R.J. Palacio features Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Auggie’s parents, and sounds like the kind of feelgood, triumph-over-adversity movie that awards are made for. But Palacio’s novel isn’t as easily transferable to the screen as some might think, so director Stephen Chbosky and co-screenwriters Steve Conrad and Jack Thorne have their work cut out for them.

43 – Submergence – Another literary adaptation, this time from the novel by J.M. Ledgard, this sees Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy as separated lovers who look back over their time together while both deal with different kinds of confinement: he in a windowless room at the mercy of jihadists, she in a submersible heading for the bottom of the Greenland Sea. A heavyweight romantic drama then, and the latest from Wim Wenders, this may not set the box office alight, but it has the potential to pick up awards by the bucket load.

44 – Logan Lucky – In Hollywood, even in the independent sector, retirement is usually just a word bandied about by writers, directors and actors when they feel they’ve done enough and can sit back and relax. Steven Soderbergh hasn’t exactly relaxed since Behind the Candelabra (2013), but this is his first feature since then, and it’s good to know he’s back. Telling the tale of two brothers (Channing Tatum, Adam Driver) who decide to pull off a robbery during a NASCAR race, this should be a clever comedy where nothing goes right for the brothers, and everything goes wrong.

45 – Annihilation – Following on from the success of Ex Machina (2015), writer/director Alex Garland continues with another sci-fi drama, this time an adaptation of the first novel in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. Telling the story of an expedition to the mysterious Area X, and what happened to several previous expeditions, the movie has attracted a great cast that includes Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and if Garland is on form, should be the year’s most thought-provoking sci-fi movie.

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46 – Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Project – Details are scarce at this point in time, but what we do know is that Anderson’s latest movie is set in the London fashion world of the 1950’s and features Daniel Day-Lewis. Just the fact that Anderson and Day-Lewis are reuniting on this project is enough for now, but whatever the movie is about, it’s sure to be an intense, mesmerising drama that grabs the attention and doesn’t let go, and should include another (potentially) award-winning performance from Day-Lewis.

47 – The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara – After going all family-friendly with The BFG (2016), Steven Spielberg returns to the arena of historical drama with this true story about a young Jewish boy in Italy in 1858 who was secretly baptised and then abducted by the Papal States and trained to become a priest. A massive political and religious scandal in its day, Spielberg is working from a script by Tony Kushner, and reuniting for the fourth time in as many movies with Mark Rylance, who plays Pope Pius IX.

48 – Kingsman: The Golden Circle – An inevitable sequel for the surprise hit of 2014, this sees Matthew Vaughn returning to the director’s chair, while he and Jane Goldman collaborate on the script. Also returning are Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson, and surprisingly, Colin Firth, whose character was killed off in the first movie… or was he? This time round the Kingsmen have to team up with their US rivals the Statesmen, when their headquarters is attacked. Expect lots of action, lots of comedy, and lots of sharply tailored suits, as well as a cameo from Elton John.

49 – Untitled Woody Allen Project – With his recent movies pointing towards a kind of late-career renaissance, Woody Allen keeps things moving with this drama set in 1950’s New York. With the likes of Kate Winslet, Juno Temple and Justin Timberlake on board, there’s little doubt that whatever Allen has come up with story-wise, the movie should be further proof that late-career Allen is more than a match for most everyone else.

50 – God Particle – A sci-fi movie involving a team of astronauts who find themselves completely alone aboard a space station when the Earth disappears, this has yet another great cast – Chris O’Dowd, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, and Ziyi Zhang amongst others – and if Internet gossip/predictions are to be believed, is the third movie in the unofficial Cloverfield trilogy. Whether that’s true or not, the idea of the Earth vanishing is potent enough, and the involvement of J.J. Abrams as producer should help bring audiences into cinemas. Let’s just hope the ending isn’t as awkwardly tacked on as the one in 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).

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