2017 Film Watchlist – 10 Movies That Aren’t Superheroes or Star Wars That You Should Watch
In my previous Film Roundup articles (2015 and 2016) I’ve lamented the state of the box office. Every year spin-offs, prequels, sequels, reboots, and tired superhero flicks dominate the list of most profitable films. In an attempt to provide some alternatives to those usual suspects, I’ve collated a list of 10 films you might not have heard of, but you should definitely put on your watchlist.
If you are getting tired of mainstream big budget features and their recycled content, these films should have something fresh or interesting to offer. This list covers the second half of the year from June through December. I can’t guarantee the quality of any of these movies as I haven’t seen them yet, but they are certain to be interesting and unique, if nothing else. I’ve listed them in order of release date.
1. It Comes At Night
Release Date: June 9th, 2017
Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.
Why should you see it: This horror film (out now!) should inject a much needed jolt of terror amidst the fun and frolic of summer blockbusters. Early reviews are very positive and praise the paranoid atmosphere and the story’s unforeseen twists and unforgettable scenes.
2. Baby Driver
Release Date: June 28th, 2017
Synopsis: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
Why should you see it: Baby Driver is in a difficult spot. It will have to compete with Transformers 11 (or whatever) and Despicable Me 3, and the following weekend is Spiderman 6. It will be a shame if it doesn’t find a big audience as this film looks like a crowd-pleasing feast of fun filled with shoot-outs and car chase scenes. Written and directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim) Baby Driver is sure to have Wright’s ingenious mix of comedy, action, and kinetic style that’s made him one of the best action-comedy directors alive today. The film boasts an impressive cast to boot with rising stars Ansel Elgort and Lily James taking the main roles and major stars like Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm rounding out the supporting cast. Make some time in your summer blockbuster schedule to see this gem of an action movie and I doubt you will regret it!
3. A Ghost Story
Release Date: July 7th, 2017
Synopsis: In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.
Why should you see it: David Lowrey directed the big budget Disney remake, Pete’s Dragon, in 2016. After that success he wanted to make a personal and low budget film quickly. He wrote A Ghost Story and got Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (pretty sure he’s the one wearing that ridiculous costume) to star in it. Just look at that photo. That’s the actual costume the ghost wears in the movie. It looks so bizarre and strange that it has to be worth figuring out what this is all about. This will most certainly be one of the most interesting and original movies released during the bombastic summer season – check it out when you need something utterly different.
4. Wind River
Release Date: August 4th, 2017
Synopsis: An FBI agent teams with the town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.
Why you should see it: Taylor Sheridan, the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water, writes and directs this murder mystery set in the snowy landscapes of Wyoming. Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star – so if you ever wanted to see the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye solve a murder/rape on an Indian Reservation – well that’s a strangely specific desire – but this is EXACTLY that movie.
Release Date: October 13th, 2017
Synopsis: A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
Why you should see it: Not much is known yet about this upcoming film from Darren Aronofsky. The poster and pre-Halloween release date hint that it may be a horror movie. Aronofsky has written and directed a number of dark and disturbing pictures including Requiem For A Dream and Black Swan. The new movie features Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem so you should definitely put it on your radar. Come Halloween, film buffs will be seeking something seedy and twisted, and Mother! looks like it could hit the spot.
6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Release Date: October 13th, 2017
Synopsis: After a 50-year-old woman’s daughter is murdered, she confronts the police in her town, using the billboards on the outskirts of town to begin a smear campaign on them.
Why you should see it: An absolutely stellar cast (Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell) perform in what is sure to be one of the funniest black comedies of the year. Three Billboards is written and directed by Martin McDonagh – whose past credits include the incredible and underrated In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. If his past work is any indicator, his newest work should be a darkly hilarious crime drama.
7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Release Date: November 3rd, 2017
Synopsis: A teenager’s attempts to bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family take an unexpected turn.
Why you should see it: The art house snobs should know the Greek writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos from his bizarre but incredible films Dogtooth and The Lobster. His latest feature has already gotten critical acclaim at Cannes, so it is sure to maintain his oddly satisfying blend of dry humor, disturbing drama, and incisive social commentary. Check it out so you can brag to your friends about being more cultured than them.
8. Happy End
Release Date: Not set for U.S. (Likely November or December)
Synopsis: A drama about a family set in Calais with the European refugee crisis as the backdrop.
Why you should see it: If your friends have already seen The Killing of a Sacred Deer and are holding it over you, go see Michael Haneke’s newest French film Happy End to put yourself back atop the hipster throne. The movie will be steeped in political allegory and social symbolism so you can really flaunt your film buff knowledge and art-scene credibility. In all sincerity, if it follows his previous works, Happy End will likely be an obtuse and strange story but an overall rewarding journey. I am excited to try and decipher its message and recommend you check it out when it’s available. If you do, you will experience something unique and strange and that’s worth the price of admission all on its own.
9. The Disaster Artist
Release Date: December 8th, 2017
Synopsis: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.
Why you should see it: Enough with the high brow art scene stuff – how about James Franco in a wig and a bunch of makeup playing a weirdo? James Franco (yes that’s him on the right) plays Tommy Wiseau, the enigmatic director of the unintentionally hilarious 2003 film, The Room. The Disaster Artist, based on a non-fiction book of the same name, promises to be a comedic retelling of how The Room was created. It will also serve as an examination of the bizarre person responsible for this now infamously bad film. If you haven’t seen The Room yet, use this as an excuse to view what is often considered the Citizen Kane of bad movies.
Release Date: 2017
Synopsis: A mute bartender goes up against his city’s gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner.
Why you should see it: Here’s an easy one we can all get behind. Mute is a science fiction thriller that will be released directly to Netflix sometime this year. You don’t even have to leave your house! Not sure when this one will drop, but it may be sooner rather than later, so keep an eye out for it to and put it in your queue! Look at all the style that just oozes out of the image – don’t you want to see that in motion? I know you do.
Do your part this year to help combat the impending Sequelpocalypse and check out one (or all!) of these fresh and original films. Are there other movies coming out this year you can’t wait to see? Comment below or share your own watchlists!