In my recently published blog post I talked about some of the films I watched in 2016 and as a Brit there’s a certain pain reserved for films which are only released in North America, or those which are released over here but weeks or months later. Thus, in this piece I’m considering UK theatrical releases as ‘2017 films’, even though a lot may have come out in other countries in 2016. Some of these films have been released in January, some haven’t even got a poster yet, but where I can I’ll link the trailer and UK or US release date – though do note the majority of January release dates are at Sundance Festival, with no announced theatrical release as of yet. So here (in order of release) are 17 films I’m excited for in 2017…
Directed by: Garth Davis Written by: Luke Davies Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara Release date: 20th January (UK)
First on my list is a Rooney Mara film, because of course. The trailer for this looks beautiful and the multiple nominations across award schemes speaks for itself (though we can debate the meaning of awards another time…). While it has the usual ‘true story’ film trademarks it does look to be a solid drama with a good cast.
Ingrid Goes West
Directed by: Matt Spicer Written by: Matt Spicer, David Branson Smith Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Aubrey Plaza Release date: 20th January (Sundance)
The other day I saw a photo of Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza on what looked like a film set, and after a short period of frantic Googling I found Ingrid Goes West. I was slightly put off by the ‘crazy girl stalker’ plot but without even a trailer it’s hard to judge. All I know is any indie flick with Olsen and Plaza in is bound to be at least worth watching.
Written and Directed by: Taylor Sheridan Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen Release date: 21st January (Sundance)
I’ve always been a fan of Jeremy Renner due to his links with Joss Whedon’s Angel and then, of course, the Avengers films, but it wasn’t until I saw Arrival (Villeneuve, 2016) that I truly realised he can act. While that wasn’t the most developed role it did make me intrigued to see him in other types of cinema. Wind River looks to be a difficult watch from what I’ve heard but my love for the actors and my nostalgia towards Wyoming landscapes are enough to excite me.
God’s Own Country
Written and Directed by: Francis Lee Starring: Josh O’Connor, Alex Secareanu Release date: 23rd January (Sundance)
God’s Own Country was received well at Sundance and has been titled the ‘British Brokeback’ so I’m eagerly anticipating this queer love story.
Below Her Mouth
Directed by: April Mullen Written by: Stephanie Fabrizi Starring: Erika Linder, Natalie Krill, Elisa Bauman Release date: 14th February (US)
I’ve been following Below Her Mouth from the beginning, when I heard it was a queer film made entirely by a female cast. The majority of reviews seem centred around its representation of female sexuality, so I look forward to seeing if this is as groundbreaking as it could be. Personally, I’m just excited to see some of my favourite queer actresses in a female-made film!
Written and Directed by: Barry Jenkins Starring: Mahershala Ali Release date: 16th February (UK)
Another film I heard about a while back was Moonlight, then it swept into all the nominations and news, being claimed as a mix between Boyhood and Brokeback (see a theme emerging?). The cinematography alone looks stunning and I always love a coming-of-age film.
Directed by: Theodore Melfi Written by: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monaé, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons Release date: 17th February (UK)
Hidden Figures is one of those films that I was pleasantly blown away by its response. I expected a Ghostbustersesque backlash towards a film that catered towards POC and women but instead the box office has been overwhelmed. At this time in our political climate, a film that openly addresses systemic racism could not be more needed, and I’m grateful this film’s been getting the recognition it deserves.
Directed by: So Yong Kim Written by: Bradley Rust Gray, So Yong Kim Starring: Riley Keough, Jena Malone Release date: 17th February (US)
For me, this film gives off queer vibes. Sadly I’m probably very wrong, but coming from the writer-director of Jack and Diane (also starring Keough), a coming-of-age queer love story, I can’t help but get my hopes up. Ultimately this appears to be a beautifully-made indie drama about female friendship and growing into your adulthood. Either way, I can’t wait.
Written and Directed by: Kelly Reichardt Starring: Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Lily Gladstone Release date: 3rd March (UK)
Recently I’ve been on a binge of watching all Reichardt’s work. There’s something magical about her filmmaking which is mesmerising and calming. Reichardt describes it as ‘glimpses of people passing through’ and nothing could be more accurate. Her films are slow and deliberate, but not dreary or dragged out, they’re just warm and thoughtful. Certain Women appears to be returning her to previous projects like Wendy & Lucy or Meek’s Cutoff, still focussing on women and their stories in small American towns. This is possibly the film I am most looking forward to in 2017.
Directed by: Charlie McDowell Written by: Charlie McDowell, Justin Lader Starring: Rooney Mara, Riley Keough, Robert Redford, Jason Segel Release date: 31st March (US)
For months all that was on The Discovery IMDb page was Rooney Mara and Riley Keough’s names, with a brief plot description about romance. Safe to say I got my hopes up for a Mara/Keough queer romance, but of course I was naive. Nevertheless, from the trailer this film promises a quirky indie take on romance and relationships, with strong casting choices.
Directed by: William Oldroyd Written by: Alice Birch Starring: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis Release date: 2nd June (US)
While I’m disappointed this film won’t be released in the UK for ages, I’m very much looking forward to it. Although I don’t believe there are explicit connections to Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, I’m almost immediately on board with anything related to that wonderfully-unhinged woman. Florence Pugh has been on my radar since The Falling and I’m eager to see what she brings to this role.
Written and Directed by: Christopher Nolan Starring: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh Release date: 21st July (UK)
Of course Nolan’s new film had to be on this list. Of course! Since this film was announced I’ve been waiting patiently to see whether I love it as much as Nolan’s other work – considering how different in genre it is – but I have high hopes.
Written and Directed by: Edgar Wright Starring: Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx Release date: 11th August (UK)
Not much has been announced about this film at all, but while this doesn’t sound like my usual type of film, I’m willing to give anything by Edgar Wright a go!
Directed by: Reed Morano Written by: Rosalind Ross Starring: Ellen Page Release date: (no US or UK theatrical release info)
Another film with barely any information available is Lioness, which stars Ellen Page as a U.S. Marine Officer sent into Afghanistan to work with women and try to gain information about their Taliban husbands. I can’t really judge this film at all yet, but I’ve never been let down by an Ellen Page film yet, and I’m pleased to see her getting more serious roles.
First Girl I Loved
Written and Directed by: Kerem Sanga Starring: Brianna Hildebrand, Pamela Adlon, Dylan Gelula, Cameron Esposito Release date: (no UK release info)
I have a feeling about this film that it’s going to prove to be one of those hidden indie gems for queer coming-of-age stories. While the plot seems very average the performances and style of filmmaking seem promising. Plus I’m a huge fan of Cameron Esposito so seeing a surprise cameo was amazing!
The Third Wave
Written and Directed by: David Freyne Starring: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley Release date: (no US or UK theatrical release info)
The penultimate film on my list is another that I have little to no information about, but it just sounds good. From just the summary it seems a zombie film which uses that metaphor to once again talk about ostricisation of certain races, religions etc. But what’s interesting is the film taking place after a cure has been found. Plus any post-apocalypse film starring Ellen Page is worth watching in my eyes.
Directed by: Tali Shalom-Ezer Written by: Joe Barton Starring: Ellen Page, Kate Mara Release date: (no US or UK theatrical release info)
Finally we have Mercy, a film which to be honest is just on my list due to the cast and the fact it’s a lesbian romance. Perhaps it’ll fall flat, but any lesbian film deserves a chance in this cinematic climate.
Honorary mentions: Colossal, Logan, The Secret Scripture, Call Me by Your Name, Una and A Ghost Story