Presented in no particular order, with brief commentary
Star Wars Episode VIII (Directed by Rian Johnson) – This is a pretty obvious one. I loved The Force Awakens but am interested to see the new ideas that Johnson has teased. Johnson also has a tremendous track record: Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper. I expect some interesting takes on the criminal elements of the galaxy.
Alien: Covenant (Directed by Ridley Scott) – I was pretty disappointed with Prometheus and I think it goes beyond simply expecting an Alien film. My hope is that of the inconsistencies present in Prometheus have been addressed. The Alien universe has the potential to be a great horror sci-fi landscape again and crossing my fingers that this will do it.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos) – The Lobster was a wonderful film that did fall apart in its second half. Despite that, I really love Lanthimos’ work. Dogtooth remains a powerfully disturbing film that had something to say. My hope is that Lanthimos finds a way to retain his incredibly dry sense of humor and pair it with something a bit tonally different from his previous work.
Mute (Directed by Duncan Jones) – I tend to view 2016’s Warcraft as a weird misstep in an otherwise interesting career. Jones returns to his science fiction roots with this “spiritual” sequel to Moon. Forty years from now in Berlin, a mute bartender (Alexander Skarsgård) searches for the woman he loves and two strange American surgeons (Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux) seem to be tied to her whereabouts.
Blade Runner 2049 (Directed by Denis Villeneuve) – Villeneuve is arguably the best working director we have at the moment. Prisoners. Enemy. Sicario. Arrival. (I haven’t seen Incendies yet). He hasn’t made a bad film. As long as the studio allows him to have the majority of creative control I suspect this sequel will turn out to be one of 2017’s best.
Thor: Ragnarok (Directed by Taika Waititi) – My hope is that Marvel learned some lessons by pushing Edgar Wright out of the Ant-Man film and will allow Waititi to have fun with this film. The strongest aspect of the Marvel films, IMO, is that each franchise has its own tone and style. The news of this film’s connections to the Planet Hulk story arc makes me even more excited for it.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (Directed by Jon Watts) – This is one where the director doesn’t get me too excited, but the incorporation of Spider-Man into the MCU has me expecting great things. Tom Holland demoed his Spider-Man in Civil War and sold me on it. I’m not expecting a film masterpiece but just an enjoyable, comprehensible Spider-Man film.
It’s Only the End of the World and The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Directed by Xavier Dolan) – I devoured Dolan’s filmography in 2016 and am excited that we have two films coming to American screens in 2017. End of the World pairs the director with some French acting giants (Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux). John F. Donovan will be his first English-language film and has him working with Jessica Chastain among others in the story of the media bringing down a famous actor.
Baby Driver (Directed by Edgar Wright) – Wright is probably the best comedic director we have working right now. Baby Driver will be his second non-UK film and is set in New York City centered around a young man who becomes involved in a bank robbery. This premise in another director’s hands would have me luke warm but I know Wright will deliver something amazing.
Logan (Directed by James Mangold) – The first trailer we’ve seen of this film has me more excited than I expected. I haven’t seen The Wolverine and don’t really feel a need to. But the tone evoked in the Logan trailer has me on board. If the film lives up to the strength of the trailer then we have a very powerful, moving film on our hands.
Annihilation (Directed by Alex Garland) – I have read 2/3 of Jeff VanDeMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy and this has the potential to be a deeply disturbing and visually interesting film. It’s being helmed by Garland who delivered one of 2015’s best with Ex Machina. He definitely knows how to create science fiction cinema that plays with ideas rather than spectacle which is what this story needs.
The Shape of Water (Directed by Guillermo del Toro) – Not much is known about this film except that it’s set during World War II in America. Michael Shannon is in the cast which has me sold, plus Doug Jones is back likely to play some sort of creature. I wasn’t a huge fan of Crimson Peak but del Toro is always an interesting director.
Blossoms (Directed by Wong-Kar Wai) – Wong-Kari Wai is a director who can be frustratingly aloof in his work but always produces something that is hypnotic. This film is based on the novel by Jin Yucheng and tells the story of a hundred every day people living in Shanghai in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. How the director will choose to adapt this work should be fascinating.
Okja (Directed by Bong-Joon Ho) – Most people would probably cite The Host or Snowpiercer as their favorite Bong-Joon Ho work, but his Hitchcock-ain thriller Mother will always be my favorite. This latest flick is billed as an action-adventure about a little girl protecting her giant monster friend from an evil multi-national corporation. Possibly a twist on The Host?
The Trap (Directed by Harmony Korine) – Nashville native Korine delivered one of the strangest and most enjoyable IMO films of 2012, Spring Breakers. This will be him moving towards a more mainstream audience with a very violent, revenge film. The cast includes Idris Elba, Al Pacino, Benicio del Toro and more.
Under the Silver Lake (Directed by David Robert Mitchell) – It Follows is one of the best horror films to come out in decades and director Mitchell’s next project will be tackling a classic L.A. Noir story. Plot details are sparse but his minimalist tone and strong visuals will be an interesting match with the genre.
The Nightingale (Directed by Jennifer Kent) – Coming off the critical acclaim of The Babadook, Kent takes on Australia’s dark colonial past. Set in Tasmania, the film follows a woman determined to get revenge on a soldier for a terrible act of violence he committed on her family. She enlists an Indigenous tracker to help her and through these characters, the horrors of the British Empire are explored.
The Death of Stalin (Directed by Armando Iannucci) – No one writes political satire as biting and funny as Armando Iannucci. The creator of The Thick of It and Veep adapts a graphic novel about the finals days of Stalin and the chaos of his regime after he passes. If his previous work is any indication this film will be absolutely hilarious and clever.
Nosferatu (Directed by Robert Eggers) – The Witch was one of my favorite films of 2016 and Eggers seemed like a veteran filmmaker. His next project is a remake of the first vampire film. Like with The Witch, I expect a lot of sincere period accuracy that helps immerse us in the world and horror elements that aren’t overt and paced very meticulously.
A Cure for Wellness (Directed by Gore Verbinski) – Verbinski is most known for his work on Pirates of the Caribbean but I always think of him as the director behind films like The Ring and The Weatherman. I suspect this film could be quite a great big budget horror film, a rare thing these days.