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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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‘The Fate of the Furious’ (Apr. 14)

Sure, the latest in this venerable cars+family-divided-by-Vin-Diesel action franchise could have just gone with Furious 8. But no, they choose what is either the most ridiculous or brilliant title ever – two adjectives that would describe almost every entry in this increasingly nonsensical, physics-defying series. In a shocking plot twist, Diesel's Dom gets lured to the dark side by a criminal mastermind (Charlize Theron, rocking some choice blonde dreads). So the crew calls on newfound ally Deckard (Jason Statham) – previously the big bad guy – to help stop their old friend. And yes, the Rock is back to deal with any candy-asses who get in his way. KYK

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‘The Lost City of Z’ (Apr. 14)

James Gray (The Immigrant) returns with this adaptation of David Grann's 2009 nonfiction book about British explorer Percy Fawcett (Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam), who was obsessed with uncovering a lost city in the Amazon. Expect a thought-provoking deep dive into the jungle's heart of darkness, one that eschews cheap CG spectacle for an immersive, old-school portrait of a man willing to risk everything – even his sanity and his life – in search of a prize he may never find. TG

A Quiet Passion

Courtesy of the BFI London Film Festival

‘A Quiet Passion’ (Apr. 14)

If anyone could turn a potentially staid biopic about Emily Dickinson into a catty, compelling, creatively fulfilling and cathartic movie, it's British filmmaker Terence Davies – a man intimately familiar with the more lyrical uses of his medium. His take on the younger years (and final months) of the "so we must meet apart" poet is not only filled with enough witty banter and cutting epigrams to make Oscar Wilde do a Rudy-clap; it's also a showcase for actress Cynthia Nixon, who plays the melancholy writer as teasing, tormented and totally at odds with her stuffy father and brother. (We had no idea that Dickinson was really a Miranda.) DF

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‘The Circle’ (Apr. 28)

Need even more reasons to be fearful of social media and the lack of privacy in the digital age? How about this upcoming thriller that James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) has adapted from Dave Eggers' novel of the same name? Emma Watson plays a tech-wunderkind at a large Internet company who slowly realize that both the company and her charismatic boss (Tom Hanks) – the kind of Steve Jobs-ish Silicon Valley capitalist who promises things like "the perfectibility of human being" – are not as altruistic and user-friendly as they seem. Cue many shots of surveillance cameras and sinister motives at work (literally). KYK

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (May 5)

One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most unlikely successes now gets to take a victory lap, via a sequel which sees Chris Pratt's self-appointed "Star-Lord" Peter Quill and his team of intergalactic misfits enjoying the fruits of their newfound fame. Naturally, some unresolved issues from their respective pasts rear their ugly heads and cause cosmic chaos. The big addition to the cast is Kurt Russell as Quill's father – a literal planet in human form named Ego. But for superhero connossieurs, what's even more exciting is that the Guardians series will reportedly begin intersecting more with the larger MCU, bringing the group closer to an inevitable team-up with the Avengers in some far-off summer blockbuster. NM

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‘The Lovers’ (May 5)

In deftly observed indie character studies as Momma's Man (2008) and Terri (2011), filmmaker Azazel Jacobs told tender, brutally funny stories about outcasts trying to figure themselves out. He now turns his eye to a married couple (Debra Winger and Tracy Letts) having affairs on the side. When they decide to end their marriage, however, they find themselves unexpectedly falling back in love. This could genuinely be Jacobs' breakthrough moment. TG

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‘Snatched’ (May 12)

Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer are a mother-and-daughter combo who are kidnapped while on vacation in Ecuador. Family dysfunction and action-comedy escapism look to be equal selling points, and we're curious to see where Schumer's screen career goes post-Trainwreck. But don’t overlook the fact that this is Hawn's biggest starring vehicle since the 1999 remake of The Out-of-Towners. She is one of the all-time great comediennes; her big-screen return automatically puts this on the must-see list. TG

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‘Alien: Covenant’ (May 19)

More facehuggers and xenomorphs, a reprise of that famous chest-bursting scene (only through a dude's spinal column), an even creepier Michael Fassbender android, the usual chases down dripping dark corridors – the latest Alien movie looks like both a return to the original's "haunted house in space" thrill ride and a steroidal update of the franchise as a whole. Ridley Scott has said this is the second part of a proposed "prequel quadrilogy" after Prometheus, while star Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice) has mentioned the story involves a colony of couples sent to repopulate a world filled with you-know-what. If this is half as terrifying as the movie's poster, we may need adult diapers. DF

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‘Lady Macbeth’ (Jun. 2)

The buzz you've heard about this British import is indeed true: Theater director William Oldroyd's adaptation of a Russian novella about a "sold" young bride (played by the incredible Florence Pugh) who begins to take control of her destiny – and her desires, via a hot stablehand – is quite possibly the best historical potboiler you'll see this year. By the time this rigorous tale of adultery, feminism, vengeance, violence and in-house power-jockeying is over, you'll feel like you've been hit by a truck. It's Masterpiece Theater with blood-stained fangs. DF

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‘Wonder Woman’ (Jun. 2)

The D.C. Comics movies of the past few years have been decidedly drearier than their Marvel counterparts, but this summer's retro take on Wonder Woman promises to bring some brightness back into an oppressively dark superhero universe. With charismatic actress Gal Gadot front-and-center as the Amazonian princess Diana, and confident blockbuster veteran Chris Pine playing WWI fighter pilot Steve Trevor, this new movie looks to recapture some of the throwback kicks of the first Captain America film, but with the burnished look and outsized heroism of D.C.'s recent Justice League run-ups. NM

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‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (Jul. 7)

Had you asked us a year ago whether we were so psyched for the gajillionth new iteration of a big-screen Spider-Man, you'd have been met by the world's loudest yawn. And then we saw what Tom Holland could do with the friendly neighborhood webslinger – more specifically, how the young British actor could nail the kid behind the mask so convincingly – in Captain America: Civil War, and everything changed. He's the reason we're curious to see how this third reboot of the iconic superhero, in which he takes on Michael Keaton's techo-crook Vulture, plays out, and whether director Jon Watts (Cop Car) can capture the Spidey comics' eternal appeal. We have our web-covered fingers crossed. DF

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‘The Mummy’ (Jun. 9)

It's just not summertime without an action tentpole featuring Tom Cruise urgently running somewhere. The ageless hero takes the lead for this installment in Universal's emerging monster-flick universe, crossing paths with a malevolent, ancient Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella) who doesn't appreciate being disturbed from her eternal slumber. And as a signal of spookier things to come, Russell Crowe co-stars as one highly temperamental physician who goes by the name of Dr. Jekyll. Here's hoping it's a walloping good time, because the studio is already prepping a whole lot more where this came from. CB

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‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ (Jul. 14)

The rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise has been one of the stronger pro-arguments for recycled properties, and after two strong entries, director Matt Reeves will attempt to stick the landing with a climactic post-apocalyptic showdown of man vs. chimp. Woody Harrelson joins the cast as a cueball-headed despot intent on wiping out the simian survivors once and for all, pushing the otherwise-peaceable primates to a battle that will decide the fate of Earth. Fur will most assuredly fly. CB

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‘Dunkirk’ (Jul. 21)

It was 10 days of intense fighting that claimed the lives of thousands of troops, saved hundreds of thousands of others and eventually helped turn the tide of WWII – and now Christopher Nolan has made a movie out of it. The Interstellar director tackles the Battle of Dunkirk with his customary thoroughness, chilled-to-Kubrickian-subzero stylistics and an extraordinary sense of the visceral, violent nature of 20th century warfare. Kenneth Brannagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and One Direction's Harry Styles (!) are among the fighting men trapped by Axis forces. The trailer hints at a bit of ecstasy and whole lotta agony. DF

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‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ (Jul. 21)

French action maestro Luc Besson turns the Gallic comic series Valerian into a big-budget brouhaha and, in the process, delivers what may be his most expensive, ambitious and batshit blockbuster since 1997's The Fifth Element. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne are "spatio-temporal agents" who go hopping from era to era, encountering memorable friends and foes played by the likes of John Goodman, Ethan Hawke, and a mega-blonde-meets-Cabaret-chic Rihanna. Who cares if the material risks being too unfamiliar (and too European) to connect with summer-movie audiences? For Besson, freakier is always better. NM

50 Movies We Can't Wait to See in 2017

Ian Gavan/Getty

‘Atomic Blonde’ (Jul. 28)

On the eve of the Berlin Wall’s collapse, an MI6 spy (Charlize Theron) and the city’s intelligence station chief (James McAvoy) must figure out who’s killing undercover agents and why. Ooh, some good old-school Cold War espionage! The two leads have a proven track record with this kind of stuff; we’re curious to see how rookie director David Leitch, a.k.a. John Wick‘s co-director (and Brad Pitt’s old stuntman), handles the stylistic thrills, spills and chills, given that he’s tasked with the responsibility of making Deadpool 2 next year. KYK

The Dark Tower

Ilze Kitshoff

‘The Dark Tower’ (Jul. 28)

Stephen King's epic, multi-book tale of good, evil, gunfighters, evil sorcerers, father figures and mysterious quests has been one of those stop-start dream projects that Hollywood has been trying to make for years – the fact that there will finally be a movie version of this fantsasy-western-whatsit saga feels slightly unreal. Rumors have circulated about major characters not making the page-to-screen transition, that the film combines several volumes into one story, and that it's actually a sequel of sorts to the books have been flying fast and furious for the last six months. What we do know is that King himself was heavily involved as a consultant, and that casting Idris Elba as the hero Roland Deschain is a stroke of genius. Plus Matthew McCounaughey costars as the not-alright-alright-alright Man in Black. DF

Baby Driver

Wilson Webb

‘Baby Driver’ (Aug. 11)

A heist film in which a getaway driver signs up for one last score and settle down with his lady love, only to have the job go completely awry? We've seen that. But a crime flick in which said driver-for-hire suffers from tinnitus (!) and the action scenes are choreographed to whatever music he's listening to (!!!) … this we have not seen. The Fault in Our Stars' Ansel Elgort plays the wheelman; Lily James is the good woman trying to save him; Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm are his scummy associates; Edgar Wright, genre deconstructionist extraordinaire (see Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World's End) and one of the most exciting directors working today, is calling the shots. DF

Steven Soderbergh

Steve Sands/Getty

‘Logan Lucky’ (Aug. 18)

We were hoping that this “I’m retiring from making movies” plan was temporary, and as flat-out great as The Knick is, we really wanted Steven Soderbergh to come back to the big screen. The plot of this cryptic project has simply been described as “brothers plan a heist during a NASCAR event”; the fact that Soderbergh is doing this – and that the cast includes Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Katherine Waterston, Adam Driver, Hilary Swank, Katherine Heigl and Seth MacFarlane, among others – means this is likely to be one funny, funky, wonderfully fucked-up crime flick. We’re so happy right now. DF 

It

Brooke Palmer

‘It’ (Sep. 8)

What a great year for Stephen King fans – first the long-awaited screen adaptation of The Dark Tower, and now this. The author's 1986 bestseller about a group of kids and the world's scariest killer clown (oh, Pennywise, you fodder for endless phobias you!) had already been turned into a TV miniseries, but we imagine this new version will up the nightmarish qualities substantially. And frankly, those pictures of Bill Skarsgård as the embodiment of pancake-make-upped evil give us some serious heebie-jeebies. DF

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‘Blade Runner 2049’ (Oct. 6)

In the last 10 years, Harrison Ford's most iconic roles – Indiana Jones and Han Solo – have brought him back to the big screen for long-in-the-works, massively commercially successful sequels. So it was only a matter of time until Rick Deckard crossed our path again. This second chapter takes place 30 years after the events of the original Blade Runner, with Ryan Gosling's L.A. cop seeking out our long-lost hero as society's fate hangs in the balance. Ridley Scott has handed the reins to Arrival filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, a man with a considerable talent for intelligent, visually arresting, powerfully moody dramas. Plus, maybe we'll finally find out if Deckard was a replicant all along. TG

Michael Fassbender

Gareth Cattermole/Getty

‘The Snowman’ (Oct. 13)

It's been six years since we’ve heard from Sweden's Tomas Alfredson, the icy talent behind vampire romance Let the Right One In and espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. News of him directing another feature would be reason enough to be excited; that it stars Michael Fassbender, playing a detective hot on the trail of a serial killer that leaves snowmen at each crime scene, is even better. Rebecca Ferguson, Chloë Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg and J.K. Simmons fill out the strong supporting cast of this frost-choked mystery, adapted from Scandi-noir author Jo Nesbo's bestselling "Harry Hole" series. CB

Thor: The Dark World

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (Nov. 3)

Did you miss Thor and the Hulk during Marvel's epic Captain America: Civil War? Don't worry: You'll get plenty of each in this new to-Asgard-and-beyond installment, which finds the God of Thunder squaring off against the big green guy, as well as contending with a new menace that could destroy his home planet. Humblebragging award-winner Tom Hiddleston will be joining Chris Hemsworth once again as Loki; two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett plays Thor's main enemy; and filmmaker Taika Waititi (responsible for the wry vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows) takes over as director. TG

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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

Maarten de Boer/Getty

‘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

Maarten de Boer/Getty

‘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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