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50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017: ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Star Wars’ and More

From superhero blockbusters and high-profile sequels to docs, director passion-projects and some downright weird stuff

You do not need a crystal ball to look at the movies slated to drop over the next 12 months to know that 2017 should be an interesting year regardless of whether you prefer popcorn-littered multiplexes or your local hoity-toity art-house. You’ve got your usual round-up of sequel, prequels and threequels, in addition to the requisite superhero blockbusters (in both original-recipe Marvel and extra-crispy DC flavors), revisionist reboots, the beginning of a brand new Universal Monsters-verse and your now-annual next-gen Star Wars movie.

But you’ve also got intriguing projects coming from brand-name filmmakers like Alexander Payne, M. Night Shyamalan, Luc Besson, Denis Villeneuve, Christopher Nolan, Edgar Wright, James Gray and Terrence Malick, as well as the return of Steven Soderbergh to bona fide moviemaking. There are not one but two Ridley Scott sci-fi classics getting the executive 2.0 treatment, one of which he’s directing, and not one but two Stephen King novels getting big-screen blowouts. Social-justice docs, both the earnest and the gonzo kind, are on the menu, with a serving of rockumentaries on the side. All-star Agatha Christie mysteries, gritty-gory horror flicks, big-budget WWII epics, Kristen Stewart talking to ghosts in France and a Polish cult-musical about mermaids? Yup, those are coming soon to a theater near you as well.

So after looking at the cinematic landscape and looking past, say, Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers fan servicing, we’ve singled out 50 movies we’re anxious to get our eyeballs on. Keep in mind, we’re focusing on movies that have release dates at the moment (even if, of course, said dates are subject to change). We may or may not be getting a new Paul Thomas Anderson collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis this year; it’s also highly possible that new projects from Spielberg, Haneke, Polanski, Noah Baumbach and Harmony Korine, as well as Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut and Trey Edwards Shults’ follow-up to Krisha, are going to drop before we start tallying those best-of-2017 lists. But these are the ones you should be looking out for between now and next December. Start marking your calendars.

'The Red Turtle' (Jan. 20)

‘The Red Turtle’ (Jan. 20)

A castaway develops a strange relationship with a giant reptile in this beautiful-looking, critically acclaimed animated feature, directed by European artist Michaël Dudok de Wit with a little help from Japan's Studio Ghibli. Stranded on a beautiful-but-hostile island, the hero relies on his wits, his guts, and the help of a mysterious sea creature, in an exciting, wondrous fantasy-adventure told almost completely without dialogue. It's a must for cartoon buffs, Ghibli-heads, fans of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales and anyone who likes pretty pictures and elemental tales of survival. NM

'Split' (Jan. 20)

‘Split’ (Jan. 20)

It's nightmarish enough to be kidnapped and held in a basement against your will; when the man who has abducted you happens to have 23 separate personalities, ranging from a prepubescent to something called "the Beast," you have officially entered the seventh circle of horror-movie hell. Say what you will about the ups and down of M. Night Shyamalan's career and output – the director and his star James McAvoy have taken an intriguing premise for a thriller and run with it straight into some genuine WTF territory. Jessica Sula (TV's Skins), Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen) and rising scream queen Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) make up the trio of young women who have to find a way out of the madman's clutches. DF

'The Salesman' (Jan. 27)

‘The Salesman’ (Jan. 27)

The title refers obliquely to Death of a Salesman, the play that the movie's husband-and-wife thespians are performing in Tehran; what you're really being sold here, however, is a template for how a story of life v. art, fate, violence, vengeance and the choices you make after a tragedy can be transformed in to a profound work of art. The latest movie from master Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) sets up its premise – a woman is assaulted and her spouse is determined to find out who the mystery assailant is – and then starts slowly turning the thumbscrews. But the director never forgets that he's telling a moral tale here, and that every action has its equal, opposite reaction. Do not let this one slip away. DF

'The Lure' (Feb. 1)

‘The Lure’ (Feb. 1)

If you're only going to plunk down cash for one Polish horror-fantasy-musical about lovestruck teenage mermaids in 2017, make it this one. Director Agnieszka Smoczynska's cracked fable takes an age-old story – Girl meets Boy, Girl is part fish, Girl forgets she sometimes has to devour human flesh per ancient mythology – and turns into a delirious riot involving pop-punk singalongs, perversity, plenty of 1980s Eastern European nostalgia and pure adrenaline. (We dare NBC to do a live Broadway-style broadcast of this.) You have never really seen anything like this. No, really. DF

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘I Am Not Your Negro’ (Feb. 3)

An unfinished James Baldwin book becomes a searing look at modern American race relations in Raoul Peck's provocative, no-holds-barred documentary. Samuel L. Jackson gives voice to the late author's essays and letters, sharing ruminations on the deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, as well as articulating the alienation of African-Americans living in a country that often seems unwelcoming. Footage from the Sixties Civil Rights movement flows almost seamlessly into the modern Black Lives Matter era; it's a portrait of a struggle that feels perpetually – and frustratingly – ongoing. NM

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘Fifty Shades Darker’ (Feb. 10)

Whether you thought the first Fifty Shades movie was "so bad it's good" camp or you're actually a devoted fan of E.L. James's erotic novels, there's no way you're skipping this follow-up, as kinky young entrepreneur Christian Gray (Jamie Dornan) continuing to pursue his bedroom/boardroom protege Ana Steele (Dakota Johnson). This time out, the S&M-obsessed loverboy concedes more control to his skittish gal-pal, as the couple deals with his shady past and outside threats to his business. Expect more expensive-looking sets, semi-steamy sex, cornier-than-Iowa dialogue and another underrated performance from the ever-likable Johnson. NM

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ (Feb. 10)

Yeah, we were guessing he'd be back. Keanu Reeves returns as the dog-loving hitman in the sequel to the hyperviolent 2014 hit; this time, the gun-fu master must takes on a squadron of assassins in Rome (including Common and new boss-level badass with Ruby Rose), armed with only several dozen weapons and a new canine sidekick. As Lance Reddick's concierge character says to Wick, "Good to see you again so soon." Indeed it is. KYK

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘A Cure for Wellness’ (Feb. 17)

Gore Verbinski returns to the director's chair for the first time since his Lone Ranger debacle to helm this psychological thriller, starring Dane DeHaan as an ambitious corporate lackey who goes looking for his missing boss at a creepy European spa. The longer he stays, however, the harder it is to leave, thanks to the resort's strange hold – which is possibly pharmaceutical, potentially supernatural and definitely involves coming into close contact with writhing eels. Expect this film to be a trip, in both the "taking a journey" and "dropping acid" senses of the word. NM

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘Get Out’ (Feb. 24)

After five seasons of merciless racial satire via sketch comedy, Key & Peele's Jordan Peele brings the tensions between black and white America to the big screen via a hard left turn into surreal horror. For his directorial debut, he's crafted a darkly humorous nightmare about a young man of color going to meet his WASP-y white girlfriend's family; soon enough, he discovers a Stepford Wives-ish secret beneath the polite facade. Hypnosis, abduction, violent hallucinations and awkward white mimicry of ebonics all add up to creepy and socially incisive genre moviemaking! CB

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ (Feb. 24)

After a fungus has turned most of humanity into flesh-chomping zombies, a group of children who can keep their cannibalistic cravings at bay are being used for research at a remote Army base. One youngster in particular, named Melanie (Sennia Nanua), is a cut above the rest – see title – and develops a bond with her handler (Gemma Arterton). This relationship comes in handy once the compound is overrun and the duo must make their way to London in search of sanctuary. Word on the street is that director Colm McCarthy adaptation of M.R. Carey's popular YA novel totally and utterly delivers the angry-undead goods; judging from the trailer, this soon-to-be-subgenre-classic most definitely looks intense as hell. DF

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘Logan’ (Mar. 3)

The end is nigh for Wolverine – or, at least, the man who plays him. Hugh Jackman has said that this solo X-Men flick, which picks up the action after 2014’s Days of Future Past, will be his final film as the mutton-chopped mutant. That may account for the movie's mournful, post-apocalyptic-Western tone, with the aged mutant trying to protect a young girl with similar powers. There's an undeniable poignancy to the fact that Jackman will be hanging up his claws after 17 years; the trailer certainly suggests this will both an epic and bittersweet final chapter. TG

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘My Scientology Movie’ (Mar. 3)

Documentarian Louis Theroux wanted to make an exposé on the Church of Scientology; unsurprisingly, the organization was not into the idea. So instead, he decided to chronicle his contentious relationship with the "cult" religion, casting actors to conduct re-enactments of alleged incidents from behind closed doors. Eventually, the project attracts a Scientology surveillance crew, resulting in an absurd camera-to-camera showdown. An informative, comical and somewhat chilling portrait about one man versus a powerful institution? Praise Xenu. CB

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘T2: Trainspotting’ (Mar. 3)

That's right. The whole gang – Renton, Sickboy, Spud, Begbie, even Diane – return for this 21-years-later sequel, and we get to see what the poster kids for Nineties nihilistic-cool (U.K. division) have been up to for the past two decades. The fact that director Danny Boyle and the original cast reunited to do this adaptation of Irvine Welsh's sequel-novel Porno suggests that it's a real passion project; the melancholy feel of the trailer hints that this won't just be another nostalgia trip, even if the original's gallows humor, stylistic brio and adrenaline-rush pacing is in full effect. Choose life once more. DF

'I Am Not Your Negro' (Feb. 3)

‘Kong: Skull Island’ (Mar. 10)

Other monster movies trade in awe and gravitas; this latest reboot of the King Kong legend looks to be a supremely gonzo action film in which a group of luckless souls stumble across the gigantic primate's jungle lair. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson and John C. Reilly won't just do battle with the great ape but also an island full of giant creatures and beasts – all while delivering lots of quips, if the trailer is to be believed. You can see why filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts and co. set this in the 1970s, as the whole affair seems to be a loving throwback to old-school adventure flicks. TG

Personal Shopper

IFC Films

‘Personal Shopper’ (Mar. 10)

Kristen Stewart continues her post-Twilight ascent into the greatest-actresses-of-their-generation Hall of Fame with this woozy, wonderfully offbeat drama from Clouds of Sils Maria collaborator Olivier Assayas, in which K-Stew's fashionista begins communing with the ghost of her dead twin brother. To say things take a turn for the moody, if not the macabre, would be underselling the pleasures of watching the star finally find a filmmaker who knows how to use her talent properly. This could turn out to be one of the screen's great actor/director pairings. It's time to get in on the ground floor. DF

Raw

Courtesy of Focus World

‘Raw’ (Mar. 10)

A strong stomach is recommended for anyone who watches this witty, perverse French-Belgian horror film, about a young veterinary student who develops a taste for human flesh. (The movie that made viewers pass out at last year's Toronto Film Festival? This is the one.) First-time writer-director Julia Ducournau uses cannibalism as a coming-of-age metaphor, comparing her heroine's experiments with new food-sources to what every sheltered teen goes through when they first experience the freedom of adulthood. Clever symbolism doesn't make Raw's gory feasting any less disgusting though – or its story any less terrifying. NM

50 Movies We Can't Wait to See in 2017

‘Free Fire’ (Mar. 17)

The idea is simple: Two groups of criminals meet in a Boston warehouse to negotiate a large weaponry purchase. Things go way south once a personal grudge gets thrown in to the mix, and did we mention that everyone has a lot of loaded guns on the premise? Now put this in the hands of a director like Ben Wheatley, who has never met a genre convention he could not beautifully turn on its head (see Down Terrace, Kill List, Sightseers) and voila! You have what is basically a near-feature-length shootout that gives all those old John Woo bullet-ballets a run for their money. Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and District 9's Sharlto Copely are among the thugs on hand. DF

Song to Song

Van Redin/ Broad Green Pictures

‘Song to Song’ (Mar. 17)

In a continuation of his zero-to-60-mph late-career arc, Terrence Malick has made yet another movie (for those playing along at home, that’s five films since 2011, if you count his double-dip IMAX experiment Voyage of Time as one project). His latest, which promises to be less philosophical than The Tree of Life and less stream-of-consciousness than last year’s Knight of Cups, uses Austin’s robust music scene as the backdrop for a tale of love and betrayal. Once again, a star-studded cast – Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale – show up to ponder the meaning of it all. There will be voiceovers. KYK

50 Movies We Can't Wait to See in 2017

‘Life’ (Mar. 24)

Even in a year that sees the Alien franchise make its grand return (more on that in a minute), this take on the in-space-no-one-can-hear-you-scream horror subgenre is still more than just another sci-fi thriller about an extraterrestrial picking off a space-station crew. Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation's Rebecca Ferguson and their fellow astronauts come face to face with some sort of cosmic predator that rapidly evolves as it claims more lives. Specific details about the plot have been kept under wraps, but suffice it to say that this will undoubtedly be the deadliest A-list biology lesson of the year. CB