Top 30 Best Movies Of 2017 – Preview Guide25.11.16 # Top Ten # 4 Comments
Let’s explore what might be the best movies 2017 has to offer. Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese have releases but most of the other old masters are laying low, leaving it clear for lower profile but brilliant up and comers. There’s a ton of highly anticipated sequels and reboots. It’s going to be a great year for sci-fi, and a good one for Stephen King. Plus it sees the start of some enormous Marvel-style shared universes. What do you think will be the best movies of 2017? What have I missed completely? Let me know in the comments.
30th – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Geoffrey Rush
Directors: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Out: May 26, 2017 (U.S. Release Dates)
Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is pursued by old rival and deadly ghost pirate, Captain Salazar (Bardem), who along with his ethereal crew has escaped from the Devil’s Triangle and is determined to kill every pirate at sea. Jack seeks the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that grants its possessor total control over the seas, in order to defeat him… The new young leads are a female astronomer (Scodelario, ‘Maze Runner’), who’s fighting for the right to study at university and making her own way to the trident, and a young man (Thwaites, ‘Maleficent’), who’s struggling to break the curse preventing him from connecting with his father, Will Turner (Bloom). Turner, who returns to the series after 10 years, was last seen becoming new Davy Jones, down at the bottom of the ocean, and will now be looking decidedly more fishy. Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Hector Barbossa, who will probably switch sides again. Paul McCartney appears in an undisclosed scene. After two big name directors on the previous installments, this one’s being helmed by the fairly obscure pair who made ‘Kon-Tiki’, an impressive Norwegian sea adventure… It’s hard to believe it’ll be 6 years since ‘On Stranger Tides’. The series felt like it came to a natural end with the third film, and here is another angry/strange/inhuman/mostly-dead captain with an immortal pirate crew who wants to kill Jack Sparrow. Bardem is a great villain, but may have played too many. Still, early word is that this fresh directing pair have captured something closer to the spirit of the first film.
29th – Jumanji
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas
Director: Jake Kasdan
Out: December 22, 2017
Four teens in detention (‘Breakfast Club’-style) get sucked into the Jumanji game, where they take on new “avatar” forms (played by Johnson, Hart, Black and Gillan) to locate a jewel… With two girls and two boys, one girl is rumoured to be controlling Jack Black’s character (named Prof. Shelly Oberon). There are also conflicting reports on whether it is still a board game at all, or entirely a video game. Johnson says the movie isn’t a reboot or a remake, but rather a sequel to the original film and a tribute to Robin Williams, which is odd because, either way, the game works completely differently. Probably it’s a reboot in disguise and Sony are trying to fend off the growing internet anger (see: ‘Ghostbusters’) because (a) it’s being made, and (b) only a couple of years after Robin Williams’ death. I loved the original and it still holds up wonderfully well, but when did it achieve untouchable status? The internet’s fear of a dumb cash-in may not be helped by having the director of the decent ‘Bad Teacher’ and the awful iPad-sponsored ‘Sex Tape’. But controversy aside, ‘Jumanji’ remains a really fun concept however they do it and any one of Johnson, Hart or Black could carry this film on their own, but all three – it’s going to stampede the box office, despite the online negativity. The last time Jack Black hit the jungle in this way (‘Tropic Thunder’) it was priceless, let’s hang onto that.
28th – Ghost In The Shell
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Chin Han, Michael Pitt
Director: Rupert Sanders
Out: March 31, 2017
In a near cyberpunk future, cyber-enhanced brains and prosthetic-enhanced bodies are common, but vulnerable to skilled hackers. Cyborg policewoman The Major (Johansson) and her elite force are tasked with thwarting cyber criminals, and technological threats. Now they face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage the A.I. tech firm on which she also relies… Live action remake of the seminal 1995 manga animation, from the director of ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. The producer has said, “We’re not doing Puppetmaster. It’s not Laughing Man. It involves the Kuze story. We’re not necessarily doing an origins backstory, but we are addressing her sense of self and resolving how she defines herself in terms of memories. That’s one of the main thrusts in the story, inspired by the ‘Affection’ [episode of the animated series].” The original animated movie has been highly influential, most famously on ‘The Matrix’ (they showed it in their pitch meeting, paired VR with martial arts/gunplay, and borrowed many details – from a plug in the head, to the digital rain of green numbers). Johansson has looked stilted in the trailers, but the original still plays like a modern mainstream action-thriller so all they have to do is convert-to-live what’s already there and it’ll be compelling sci-fi cinema. It’ll be a shame if it ends up where other manga properties have, like ‘Dragonball’.
27th – Get Out
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford
Director: Jordan Peele
Out: February 24, 2017
A young African American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s upper class parents on their estate. Feeling uncomfortable, and hearing that the suburb has a sinister history of young black men disappearing, he is relieved to see another at a garden party. But when that man’s mind snaps out of a hypnotic trance and he hysterically yells at him to “get out”, he’ll find that this is easier said than done… Written and directed by Jordan Peele of ‘Key & Peele’, in his directorial debut. ‘Get Out’ looks to be working both as disturbing horror and biting satire. The mixing of psychological terror with… racism, is incredibly bold and quite unique in horror cinema concepts. If, like the trailer, it can successfully tiptoe the line of amusing undertone and laughing at the absurdity, with the deep-rooted sinisterness of the racial premise then it won’t be like anything else. Horror has always been a great vehicle for allegory, whether its brainless consumerism in ‘Dawn of the Dead’ or today’s racial tensions and the fear both black and white can still have for each other. Not to mention that hypnosis as an area is underutilised in horror, where freaky results could be plentiful, the tricks in the trailer are unsettlingly creepy. Title seems a bit generic, but hey.
26th – Murder On The Orient Express
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Out: November 22, 2017
Poirot (Branagh) settles into what he hopes will be a relaxing journey home aboard the Orient Express. But when an unpopular billionaire (Depp) is murdered en route, he takes up the case and everyone on board the famous train is now a suspect… Kenneth Branagh’s directing career has shown the more studio-controlled it is, the better, with ‘Thor’ and ‘Cinderella’ well realised but ‘Frankenstein’ too melodramatic and indie ‘Sleuth’ absolutely dreadful. This production sits somewhere in the middle. As an actor too he can either be great or too stagey, and nobody else would have cast him as the little Belgian fusspot Poirot. So track records here are no real indication, but this has a terrific ensemble cast, with Johnny Depp taking on an intriguingly unglamorous role and the likes of Daisy Ridley (‘Force Awakens’) and Josh Gad (‘Pixels’) breaking interesting new ground in their careers. And it’s hard to go wrong with Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench and Michael Pena. It’s great to see Agatha Christie back on the big screen in a grand Hollywood production. This is a classic story. I envy those who don’t already know whodunit…
25th – Beauty And The Beast
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor
Director: Bill Condon
Out: March 17, 2017
Live-action adaptation of the 1991 animated fairytale. A young woman (Watson) is taken prisoner by a Beast (Stevens, ‘Downton Abbey’) in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s exterior to recognise the true heart of the enchanted Prince trapped within. Just as a hunter (Evans) closes in to take Belle for himself and eliminate the Beast at any cost… Emma Thompson is Mrs. Potts, Kevin Kline is Belle’s father. In the animated movie her father was an inventor, but here it’s Belle who’s creating devices, such as a strange washing machine that allows her to use that laundry time to sit and read. Ewan McGregor voices Lumière the candelabra, Ian McKellen is Cogsworth the Beast’s loyal butler who was cursed into a clock. Stanley Tucci voices Cadenza, a grand piano which is an original character created for the film. Josh Gad, who made his name voicing Olaf the snowman in ‘Frozen’, plays the bad sidekick this time, LeFou. The versatile director’s c.v. includes ‘Dreamgirls’ and ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’. Alan Menken, who scored the 1991 version, returns to score this, which will include new recordings of the original songs in addition to new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. Disney have been remaking their most popular animated films as live-action in recent years. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Maleficent’ were slightly shakey starts critically, but ‘Cinderella’ and ‘The Jungle Book’ have been roaring successes on all fronts. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is well placed to deliver likewise. And given that its teaser trailer is the most viewed in history (92 million times in a day, more than ‘Force Awakens’), it may be Disney’s biggest live-action adaptation at the box office yet.