My Most Highly Anticipated Films of 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049, starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, is set to release on October 6, 2017. After watching its recent teaser trailer, the sequel to Blade Runner (1982) became the 2017 film for which I am most excited. The mood established in the trailer captures exactly what a Blade Runner film should be. The original Blade Runner evoked dark and brooding tones while simultaneously giving off a sense of beauty and wonder. The trailer for Blade Runner 2049 replicates that aura, particularly through the images of Ryan Gosling’s character in a vast, orange desert and shots of a dystopian city that are reminiscent of the original.

The film’s cast and crew have also raised my expectations. Denis Villeneuve — fresh off Arrival (2016), one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory — has never directed a film poorly received by critics. Blade Runner’s original writer, Hampton Fancher, is back as a screenwriter for 2049. Ridley Scott is heavily involved as a producer, and the cast is fantastic. Ryan Gosling just landed his second Oscar nomination for La La Land (2016), and Harrison Ford is back as Rick Deckard — the complex lead character from Blade Runner. Other well-respected actors such as Robin Wright, Oscar-winner Jared Leto, and Oscar-nominee Barkhad Abdi are appearing in unknown roles. The bottom line is that you couldn’t ask for a more competent team to create a sequel to the science fiction classic.

But what can be expected from the new installment in terms of continuity? (spoilers below for the original Blade Runner)

Recently, Villeneuve stated that Blade Runner 2049 would not provide a definitive answer to the question that Blade Runner fans have asked for decades: is Rick Deckard a human or a replicant? (Yeah, I know Ridley Scott has his own interpretation, but even his ideal “Final Cut” is inconclusive on the matter.) Part of the appeal and brilliance of Blade Runner is that it encourages viewers to examine Rick’s character to decide what they think Rick is. I am very happy that this question will not be answered, as it’s important to not ruin the ambiguity of the first film.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

The Force Awakens was my most highly anticipated film of 2015, and for the most part, it lived up to the hype. Granted, there are valid criticisms of Episode VII, particularly the complaint that it oversteps the boundary between homage and replication of A New Hope (1977). Nevertheless, the film still effectively set up Episode VIII by developing interesting relationships between the characters and setting the stage for some compelling dynamics in Episode VIII. Also, who isn’t looking forward to seeing more of Luke after his brief appearance at the end of The Force Awakens?

Another element that makes the upcoming Episode VIII exciting is writer/director Rian Johnson. He wrote and directed critical hits Brick (2005) and Looper (2012) and also directed three episodes of Breaking Bad, including “Ozymandias” — the consensus favorite episode amongst fans with its perfect ten out of ten score on IMDb. The bottom line: Johnson has a terrific track record as a filmmaker and has continually proved his competence; this bodes well for Episode VIII.

Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Project

What do we currently know about this film?

  • It is “described as a drama in the fashion world of London in the 1950s”, per IMDb.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson is directing the film and writing the screenplay.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis is slated to star.
  • As of now, it is set to be released in 2017.

Although the total public knowledge of this film boils down to four bullet points, it is an early Oscar favorite solely in reaction to the reunion of Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis. Their first collaboration on There Will Be Blood in 2007— arguably one of the greatest films of the 21st century — has set the bar high for this pairing. The highly selective Day-Lewis will make his first film appearance since 2012’s Lincoln for which he won his third Academy Award for best actor. It is hard to imagine that this will not be a serious Oscar contender with Day-Lewis in the lead role and with the oft-nominated Paul Thomas Anderson writing and directing. At this point, of course, this all speculative, but it is hard to not be excited for this collaboration, especially since we have seen the type of film that Anderson and Day-Lewis can create together.

Honorable Mentions

Alien: Covenant

This will be Ridley Scott’s first directorial effort since the popular The Martian (2015). Although Prometheus (2012) was generally well-received critically, most would agree that we have not had a terrific Alien film since Aliens (1986). I am hoping that Scott can craft something thrilling with Alien: Covenant.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is my favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by far. I am hoping that its sequel will capture the same spirit of fun and excitement that the first one had. The trailer was very good, which is heartening.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

The appearance of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was one of my favorite parts of Captain America: Civil War (2016). With Michael Keaton and Marisa Tomei on board to co-star with Holland in this solo film, my hopes are high for this upcoming Spider-Man installment.

Dunkirk

I am hesitantly looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s next movie. Nolan directed Memento (2000), one of my favorite films ever, in addition to several other well-made films. Unfortunately, his last two films, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014), are his two weakest. I am worried that Dunkirk will be too grand-scale, a shared failing of his two previous efforts. I truly hope that Dunkirk is fantastic and proves my reservations wrong.

Darkest Hour

Believe it or not, the man portraying Winston Churchill in the image above is Gary Oldman. Remarkable physical transformations can indicate a high devotion to a role which could ultimately result in a terrific performance (e.g., Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull). I hope this is the case for Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour. It is probably a safe bet to say that both Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis will appear in the Best Actor category for the 2018 Academy Awards.

And finally, my most highly anticipated film of 2017 is…

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

Just kidding. I will never see this movie.


Check out the Movie Musing podcast for more analysis. Edited by Mark Febrizio, Demetrios Festa, and Quentin Hoffman.

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