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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.

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‘Justice League’ (Nov. 17)

Yes, it's perfectly reasonable to be nervous about this D.C. all-star team-up, given that director Zack Snyder was the man behind the overblown Batman v Superman. And yet, the prospect of those two caped heroes alongside Wonder Woman, Aquaman and other big-league superheroes is simply too tempting to resist. This is Warner Brothers' all-chips-in, make-or-break challenge to Marvel's comic-book-movie dominance, and the anticipation of what stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot come up with may be even more suspenseful than whatever the Justice League will face in this action-packed blockbuster. TG

Gary Oldman

Jack English/Focus Features

‘Darkest Hour’ (Nov. 22)

In 2011, The King's Speech won the Oscar by telling the true story of a British leader, King George VI, who stood up to Hitler during World War II. This year, Joe Wright's drama recounts a similar tale, focusing on Winston Churchill (played by Gary Oldman) as he tries to rally the country against the encroaching threat of the Nazis. Set for release around Thanksgiving, this movie looks like the kind of highly-acclaimed biopic that’s catnip for Academy members. Even better, it could be the movie that brings the criminally underappreciated Oldman his second Oscar nomination after Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. TG

Kenneth Brannagh

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‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (Nov. 22)

Agatha Christie's train-set mystery featuring redoubtable detective Hercule Poirot has already been made into a movie once. (Sidney Lumet's 1974 adaptation starred, among others, Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Ingrid Bergman.) This time around, Kenneth Branagh, enjoying a commercial rebirth as a director after helming Thor and Cinderella, both directs and plays Poirot, squaring off with an equally formidable A-list ensemble that includes Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad and Daisy Ridley. Amidst a sea of serious, awards-bait dramas, this movable feast of a mystery could be a perfect bit of smart, escapist counterprogramming. TG

Star Wars: Episode VIII

‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ (Dec. 15)

Here's what we know so far about this year's Star Wars film: Looper's Rian Johnson is behind the camera for this next chapter, which bodes very well; per Johnson, this won't be a dark Empire Strikes Back-style tragedy but something more "fun"; per The Force Awakens' last scene, Luke Skywalker is back in a big way; Carrie Fisher had finished all of her scenes before her death this past December; Benicio Del Toro will play an unspecified role; and you will almost assuredly be there in line on the first day, waiting to see it while dressed as either Rey, Poe Dameron or a next-gen stormtrooper. DF

Matt Damon

Elizabeth Weinberg/The NY Times/Redux

‘Downsizing’ (Dec. 22)

You hear that a collaboration between Matt Damon and director Alexander Payne (Nebraska) is called Downsizing, and you assume this is their earnest drama about workers trying to keep their jobs in today's tough economy – a sort of wry, poignant Up in the Air. But no: It's a comedy-drama about a man who voluntarily decides to shrink himself to Lilliputian size and joins a community of like-minded teeny, tiny people. The title is literal, you see. It should be interesting to see what Payne will do with this detour into Charlie Kaufman-esque absurdism territory, and finally, we get the chance to use that "The Incredible Shrinking Matt" joke we've been sitting on for years. DF

Pitch Perfect 3

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‘Pitch Perfect 3’ (Dec. 22)

To quote Rebel Wilson's Twitter feed: "We're back, Pitches!" The Barden Bellas return for Round 3, in what will probably be the last original-cast outing for this bubbly comedy franchise (how they can still afford Anna Kendrick and Wilson, much less all those extravagant music rights, is a mystery). Word is mum on what, exactly, everyone's favorite collegiate a capella group will be doing in this new movie, but we can guess that it will involve some sort of competition; that there will be a sort of evil-Bellas-twin group involved that will give the troupe a run for their money; and that we're going to hear a whole helluva lotta pop songs sung sans backing instruments. DF

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