This is a continuation of my list of the 2017 films I'm anticipating most. This post is for the smaller films, many of which don't have distribution yet, release dates, or even titles. There's a good chance that a few won't be released in 2017 at all. However, I remain an optimist, and I'm spotlighting all of them regardless. Films are listed alphabetically below.
"Annihilation" - This is Alex Garland's follow-up to "Ex Machina," which imagines an all-female team of scientists making an expedition into a mysterious environmental disaster zone. I'm trying to avoid as much information as I can about the particulars of the plot, but the similarities to Tarkovsky's "Stalker" stand out to me. Natalie Portman will be playing the lead, and Garland is both writing and directing. The first images from the film have been floating around online since last years, and they look fantastic.
"Dark River" - It's been difficult to find much information about the next movie from Clio Barnard, a UK drama starring Ruth Wilson and Mark Stanley. However, it's been three years since "The Selfish Giant," and I'm itching to see more work from this director. Even without Barnard at the helm, though, I'd watch Ruth Wilson in just about anything. From the synopsis, "Dark River" is firmly in the category of films about small town mysteries, family estrangements, and uncovering murky secrets from the past.
"Free Fire" - Now this is my idea of an action comedy. Ben Wheatley has gathered a tremendous cast, including Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy, to play a bunch of despicable characters, who spend the entire movie running around a warehouse trying to kill each other. Now, I've never seen Ben Wheatley do a full blown comedy before, but the trailer this gives me great confidence that he can pull it off. Unlike most of the other entries on the list, we'll be seeing this one in theaters very soon.
"Mute" - It's always nice when a talented director gets to tackle one of their dream projects. Duncan Jones, coming off of "Warcraft," is making his long-gestating science-fiction mystery film "Mute" for Netflix. Jones has described it as a spiritual sequel to his 2009 film, "Moon," which is very exciting. I'm always looking out for more of these small scale, twisty science fiction films. Netflix will also be distributing genre films "Bright," "Death Note," and "Okja" next year. I'm interested in all of them to varying degrees.
"The Death of Stalin" - After leaving "Veep," Armando Iannucci has returned to the movies. Based on the acclaimed French graphic novel by Fabien Nury, Iannucci's next political satire will look at the death of Joseph Stalin, and the Soviet bureaucrats who jockeyed for power in the aftermath. The cast in great, and includes Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Timothy Dalton, and Olga Kurylenko. This will also be the first film that Iannucci has directed himself since the excellent "In the Loop," way back in 2009.
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" - Martin McDonagh has had an interesting career, and I often forget that he's only made two films so far. His latest will star Frances McDormand as a mother who goes to war against her local police force after the death of her daughter. McDonagh's specialty is pitch black comedies, and I'm expecting that this will be one too. I'm interested to see how he'll handle a story set in the Midwest, however, as his work set in the U.S. has been uneven so far.
"Mother!" - For a long time, the details of Darren Aronofsky newest film have been sparse. We know that it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Barden as a couple who have to deal with unwanted guests. We know that Domhnall Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, and Brian Gleeson ae also in the mix. There have been hints that it's actually a home-invasion thriller. It's not a lot to go on, but the bottom line is that it's a new Darren Aronofsky film, all the right people are involved, and I'm seeing it no matter what.
Untitled Alfonso Cuaron Film - I vacillated between this one and the Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film with Daniel Day Lewis. Frankly, Cuaron wins out because I just like his work more. And after "Gravity" took up such a huge amount of his time, Cuaron films have been rarer birds. The existence of this project wasn't even confirmed until last November, when reports surfaced that members of the crew were robbed during filming in Mexico City. All we know is that it's a Mexican domestic drama, set in the 1970s.
Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Film - After being courted by every big action franchise in town, and flirting with a Bowe Bergdahl biopic, Kathryn Bigelow finally has her follow-up to "Zero Dark Thirty" in the works. Based on the 1967 Detroit riots, with an intriguing cast lead by John Boyega, this will be the third collaboration between Bigelow and writer Mark Boal. The pic is timely, ambitious, and sure to be another controversial awards contender. In short, it's everything I've come to expect from a Bigelow film in recent years.