Best Movies Of 2017
The Top 20 Movies List of 2017 – (So Far)
While 2016 was a year split between earth-shattering blockbusters like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War and acclaimed indies like Hell or High Water and La La Land, 2017 is shaping up to provide a decidedly more balanced string of releases. Sequels galore (Transformers, John Wick) once more, but there are also a plethora of pictures that cater to true events (Patriots Day, Dunkirk) and industry reboots (Spider-Man, Kong). 2017 will also mark the end of many seminal movies franchises, as Underworld, Wolverine, and Resident Evil are having their last hurrah before receding into the realm of commercial history. Marvel is slated to continue their domination, while DC Studios is prepped to steal some of their thunder with an overdue adaptation of Wonder Woman. These are the 20 that have us most excited, and heading into the new year, should be essential for any hardcore movie fans to mark on their calendars.
UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS
At fourteen years and five installments, the Underworld series has little else to prove. The horror-action saga was last seen with 2012’s Awakening, where vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) took down Lycans with typically proficient speed. This time, the isolated heroine, along with allies David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), must ward off the vicious species while simultaneously stopping the eternal war between Vampires and Lycans. Rookie director Anna Foerster will take the reins this time out– a move that looks to be wise given the former second unit’s work on CGI affairs like The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Aeon Flux (2005). Plus, given that series producer Len Wiseman has already confirmed a sixth Underworld film, all fans need to worry about is having a good time.
Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg have been on a winning streak as of late. First with grueling Lone Survivor (2013), and more recently with the harrowing Deepwater Horizon (2016), the duo clearly have a knack for capturing the everyman in extraordinary situations. And, as most great partnerships are prone to do, Wahlberg and Berg are reuniting for yet another true story: Patriots Day. Based on the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, Wahlberg stars as Sergeant Tommy Saunders, a local (and composite) cop leading the investigation in the days that followed. Controversy has stirred during production, particularly from the families of the deceased; but Berg’s track record of respectful accounts leave this story in very capable hands.
Documenting the rise of the McDonald’s fast food empire, The Founder takes viewers into the world of businessman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton). A middle-aged salesman with little to show for it, Kroc stumbles upon Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) in their humble burger joint circa 1950. Friendship is struck between the siblings and the slickster, who sees potential is a national chain and begins assuming control of the company behind their backs. The story is rarely spoken of today, but director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) looks to bring a technicolor slash to this crackling biopic. Having Oscar nominee Keaton anchor the show doesn’t hurt either– especially with a role that could allow him to take the award next.
RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER
Like Underworld, the Resident Evil series has spanned far and wide over the last decade. Milla Jovovich’s Alice has fended off the world’s undead population for five whole films, but here, with mankind on it’s last legs, the end is near. Aptly titled The Final Chapter, the concluding piece to Paul W.S. Anderson’s zombie adventure is promised to deliver some truly awe-inspired visuals. “We’re bringing it full circle,” Anderson explained at New York Comic-Con, “all of the questions that have been hanging over it are going to be answered by this movie.” Based on the continued box office success of each installment, and the die-hards who will finally learn the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation, The Final Chapter sounds like an altogether safe bet.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
Few films were more pleasantly surprising than 2014’s John Wick. The action thriller cast Keanu Reeves as the world’s most lethal assassin, while stuntmen-turned-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch churned out an eye candy display of shootouts and fistfights. While the premise was predictable, it was the panache that each talent brought to the table that made Wick a sleeper hit– and will hopefully translate into Chapter 2. Reuniting Reeves and Stahelski (Leitch will serve as producer), the anticipated sequel finds Wick traveling to Rome to stop unseen forces from taking control of the international assassins’ guild. New faces Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane, and Laurence Fishburne certainly elevate the fun, but it is unmistakably Reeves who will make or break this February release.
Filmmaker Julius Onah debuted with 2015’s The Girl Is is Trouble, a stylish little neo-noir that called to mind the early, neighborhood friendly work of Spike Lee. And like the iconic New Yorker, who served as executive producer on Trouble, Onah is poised to have a commercial breakthrough with the project God Particle. Chronicling a team of astronauts who witness the disappearance of Earth, the multicultural crew (Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Ortiz) must determine whether the subsequent appearance of a space shuttle is either friend or foe. Needless to say, Particle is a massive step in scale, but Onah and producer J.J. Abrams look to be spearheading one of the year’s strongest sci-fi outings.
WOLVERINE 3: LOGAN
Comic book fans have had two specific desires when it comes to Wolverine: one, to saddle the infamously violent hero with an R-rating, and two, to adapt the universally lauded Old Man Logan storyline to the big screen. After six X-Men movies and two solo projects, 20th Century Fox has finally seen fit to grant these wishes. The third and final installment in the Wolverine trilogy finds the clawed mutant (Hugh Jackman) decades in the future; where heroes and most of mankind have been decimated. Producer Simon Kinberg has likened the project to the works of Clint Eastwood, saying “it’s violent, it’s kind of like a western in it’s tone. It’s just a very cool, different film.” Logan also marks the final time Jackman will play the titular role.
Screenwriter Stuart Hazeldine has long shown a propensity towards belief. Whether it be in the existence of extraterrestrials (The Day The Earth Stood Still) or an impending Judgement Day (Knowing), it’s a theme that’s appeared time and time again in his works. Which makes The Shack, a faith-based Christian drama, all the more understandable in his oeuvre. Hazeldine will ascend to director this time around, as the story deals with a man (Sam Worthington) who loses hope in the wake of a tragic accident. Upon receiving a mysterious letter, however, the man journeys to an abandoned shack, where he encounters a trio of strangers (Octavia Spencer, Graham Greene, and Radha Mitchell) who help him cope with his turmoil.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Granted, Peter Jackson remade King Kong in 2005, but in this day and age, the statute of limitations on sequels is out the door. Now, sophomore director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is being given the reins to the world’s biggest gorilla, and he is bringing with him a stellar cast in the process. Technically a reboot of the Kong myth, Skull Island will follow a 1970s expedition taken by Capt. James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), photojournalist Weaver (Brie Larson), U.S. Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), and government official Bill Randa (John Goodman). Venturing into uncharted territory, the group unwittingly enter the domain of Kong himself– and will face the presumably harrowing actions that result.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
The tale as old as time has been everyone’s favorite Disney film for over two decades. Now, on the heels of The Jungle Book’s massive success, the studio is poised to reboot almost all of their animated classics in live-action form. Beauty and the Beast ranks among the highest in anticipation, as Academy Award winning director Bill Condon spearheads what is sure to be a nuanced retelling. Emma Watson stars as Belle, while her supporting vocal players consist of Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Josh Gad, and Condon collaborator Ian McKellen. Composer Alan Menken, the mastermind behind the original 1991 score, also returns, ensuring this is one remake that’s poised to sweep viewers off their feet.
The only question worth asking with each Fast & Furious flick is how can they top themselves this time? The franchise has hit paydirt as a commercial juggernaut, drawing international crowds, musical stars, and high-caliber actors to join in on the fun. Fast 8, the latest in this thrilling series, pits Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew against Cipher (Charlize Theron), an enigmatic figure who forces DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Covert Ops leader Frank Petty (Kurt Russell) to suit up in addition. F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator, Straight Outta Compton) will direct what is sure to be yet another summer smash of fast cars and fun quips.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
With each addition to the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, audiences yearn for the simplistic fun of the original. 2011’s On Stranger Tides was somewhat of a correction course in scope, but there is still hope that Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) will return to the wheelhouse that first captured our hearts in 2003. As for Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth Pirates adventure, Sparrow will be pursued by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), an old rival who escaped from the Devil’s Triangle. In response, the wily swashbuckler must locate the Trident of Poseidon and defeat Salazar before he kills every pirate at sea. Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush will also return as Will Turner and Captain Barbossa, respectively.
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprise hit in 2014– a colorful brew of action and slick espionage filtered through filmmaker Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class). The obligatory sequel, titled The Golden Circle, will have some fairly sizable shoes to fill in saving the world once more. Sans Colin Firth, who utterly stole the show last time around, Agent “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) travels abroad to meet with the Statesman, his American counterpart. The culturally mismatched agents must join forces, however, when evil mastermind Poppy (Julianne Moore) destroys the Kingsman headquarters. There’s surely a lot that will go down, but in the hands of A.D.D. expert Vaughn, it’s sure to be a delight.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
While the bulk of Marvel Studios is fully integrated, director James Gunn is holding out. His long-awaited sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) will have no Avengers cameos, and will instead focus on the development of the team itself. And frankly, no one knows the Guardians better than Mr. Gunn. Vol. 2, set for release next May, chronicles the team as they travel through the cosmos in search of Peter Quill’s true parentage. The man also known as Star Lord (Chris Pratt) is reported to be one of many character arcs in the film, especially with the addition of Kurt Russell’s Ego; an ancient cosmic being who also happens to be Quill’s father. Gunn has yet to commit to Vol. 3, but if he keeps his hot streak alive, comic books fans everywhere will be hoping he does.
Across the comic book world, DC Studios has struggled to establish a cinematic formula. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad were polarizing releases at best, leaving the immediate future of the company to Wonder Woman and director Patty Jenkins. The film will trace Diana’s roots from her Amazonian upbringing to her subsequent meeting with WWI pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Upon learning of the battle, Diana (Gal Gadot) dons her Wonder Woman attire in an effort to stop the war. Riding high on her BvS debut, Gadot is now faced with leading an entire project, while Jenkins must satisfy the critics and commercial clout that escaped prior outings. But, if anyone could do it, it’s certainly the world’s mightiest female hero.
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
While they may be the critical stomping ground for cinephiles, Michael Bay’s Transformers saga continues to make billions. There’s simply something about explosions, robots, and flashy camerawork that captures the excitement of an audience, and few can cooberate that with more experience that Bay himself. That being said, The Last Knight is said to be the director’s final Transformers despite the fact that the franchise is slated for additional sequels and spinoffs. Any sort of synopsis or plot is arbitrary– so much so that no official details on the matter have been made public. What we do know is that Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson are coming back, which is essentially all the info one could need. Autobots, Decepticons; it’s all going boom either way.
WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Few franchises have had a more improbable return that Planet of the Apes. The once laughable movies rose to it’s former glory with 2011’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and has since carved out a niche in cutting edge motion capture. War, the third and final installment in the prequel trilogy, once again stars Andy Serkis as Caesar, the leader of the ape rebellion. Fending off the attacks of the remaining humans (Woody Harrelson, Gabriel Chavarria, Chad Rock), the building resentment on both sides will ultimately lead to an attack that eradicates one of them for good. Director Matt Reeves returns for his second Apes picture, in what is poised to be a sleeper gem for 2017’s summer.
Another case of a series that’s been dusted off a few times, Homecoming will be the sixth Spider-Man movie in fifteen years. This, of course, doesn’t include Captain America: Civil War, which brought the new Peter Parker (Tom Holland) into the Marvel Universe with class and a renewed public adoration. Now, under the tutelage of fellow genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and the watchful eye of Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), Parker has to juggle high school angst with the ornery villain Vulture (Michael Keaton). Indie director Jon Watts will take the colossal pressure on this one, but given the sharpness of his 2014 gem Cop Car, it’s safe to say Spidey is officially home.
Last seen probing the outer reaches of space in Interstellar (2014), filmmaker extraordinaire Christopher Nolan is setting his sights back on Earth– in particular, the Dunkirk evacuation of WWII. A noted departure for the thriller expert, Dunkirk also marks Nolan’s first ensemble piece– a startling array of talent that includes Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and One Direction singer Harry Styles. Early reports from the secretive set include the destruction of a real WWII jet and an emphasis on practical sets that has come to be the director’s signature. Given the real life edge this summer release has to offer, Dunkirk may be Nolan’s first legitimate Oscar contender.