2017 has arrived, like the pox-ridden blankets handed over to our indigenous peoples, but hey, let’s try not to get overwhelmed by the eminent reign of a petty, insolent, white supremacist sexual predator. At least we have movies to look forward to, right? Right? RIGHT?!? (Please give me this, it’s all I have.) So let’s peek ahead with something other than fear, at some of the feature films we’re anticipating most, based on the talent in front of and behind the camera – seasoned masters and exciting newcomers, and hey, look at that, not a sequel among ‘em. Maybe miracles are still possible.
When Steven Soderbergh retired from feature filmmaking back in 2013, only the most naïve among us assumed it was a permanent move; he clearly wasn’t going to go idle, and spent the ensuing years making everything but another movie. So after directing every episode of The Knick, producing the TV adaptation of his film The Girlfriend Experience, and shooting and editing Greg Jacobs’s Magic Mike sequel, he’s finally at the helm of another feature, and it took him damn long enough. Unsurprisingly, it reunites him with Channing Tatum (their fifth collaboration since 2011’s Haywire); Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank, and Girlfriend Experience‘s Riley Keough will co-star in the film, which is a heist picture set at a NASCAR race. In other words, it sounds like a fusion of the Ocean’s and Mike franchises, so the only bad news here is we have to wait until October to see it.
Yeh Din Ka Kiss / The Meyerowitz Stories
There used to be a very simple rule about Adam Sandler movies: the ones he made under his own “Happy Madison” shingle were unquestionably terrible, lazy vanity projects made to keep him and his army of sycophants in easy money, but when he ventured out of his comfort zone to star in films for other, more distinguished filmmakers, he ended up with either a great movie (Punch-Drunk Love, Funny People) or at least an interesting performance (Spanglish, Reign Over Me). But the one-two punch of 2014’s woefully misbegotten The Cobbler and Men, Women, and Children put even that convention to rest. Help is on the way, however, in the form of Noah Baumbach, who will hopefully continue his current hot streak (Frances Ha, While We’re Young, Mistress America) with this Sandler-fronted New York family comedy/drama, which may have either of the above titles, or another one entirely, by the time it hits theaters (frankly, if it’s actually released as Yeh Din Ka Kiss, I’ll eat my hat). Greenberg and While We’re Young lead Ben Stiller will co-star, along with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman; guess we’ll have to wait and see if this one is set in the Last Chance Harvey Cinematic Universe.
Baumbach has had a one-on, one-off collaborative pattern with his on- and off-set partner Greta Gerwig, who both co-wrote and starred in Frances Ha and Mistress America. So apparently while he was off doing the Sandler picture, she was both writing and directing Lady Bird, her first solo credit as such (she also shared writing credits on Northern Comfort, Hannah Takes the Stairs, and Nights and Weekends, and shared a directorial credit on the latter). Unsurprisingly, she put together a stellar cast for this one; Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan takes the leading role, and Manchester By the Sea’s Lucas Hedges co-stars along with the brilliant stage-n-screen thespians Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts.
Sandler’s Men, Women, and Children director Jason Reitman clearly needed to regroup, following not only that regrettable picture but the equally clumsy Labor Day. So what does a director do when they put out two critical and commercial flops in a row? Return to their finest work, obviously. And thus we have Mr. Reitman reuniting with both the writer (Diablo Cody) and star (Charlize Theron) of his 2012 masterpiece Young Adult, and throwing in a solid supporting cast to boot, including Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, and Ron Livingston.
It Comes at Night
Trey Edward Shults’s Krisha was one of last year’s most exhilarating debuts, taking the broadly familiar strokes of the dysfunctional family holiday story and making it vibrate with freshness and electricity via stylistic intensity and open-wound candor. Much of its intimacy came from the casting of his own family in key roles; for his sophomore effort, he’s lined up some slightly bigger names, including Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, Carmen Ejogo, and Christopher Abbott. And he’s telling something of a ghost story this time around – a bit of a turn from Krisha genre-wise, though that was certainly a film about how the past can unnerve the present.
The Glass Castle
Brie Larson’s Best Actress Oscar for last year’s Room was certainly well deserved, but indie film watchers were blown away by her award-worthy leading turn in 2013’s Short Term 12. The Glass Castle reunites her with that film’s director Destin Cretton (I Am Not A Hipster), this time for a period piece based on Jeanette Walls’ memoir. Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, and Max Greenfield turn up in support.
The Death Of Stalin
It’s been eight long years since Armando Iannucci last directed a feature film, and it was a doozy: In the Loop, one of the smartest and most savage political satires of our time. But he’s been plenty busy, putting out an additional season of The Thick of It, the British television series that inspired that film, and then creating and overseeing a little show called Veep. His new film remains steeped in politics, though not those of our era; it’s set in 1953, after the death of Joseph Stalin, and concerns the chaos of its aftermath and the incompetence of his underlings (including Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Andre Riseborough, Michael Palin, and Olga Kurylenko). So yeah, it’s just about power-mad Russians. Nothing relevant to our current situation.
It’s the new Todd Haynes. Oh, and it’s his fourth film with Julianne Moore. Not sure what else you need to know.
Normally the prospect of yet another remake of a ‘70s cult fave wouldn’t exactly draw fevered anticipation around these parts – but normally those remakes aren’t helmed by the great Sofia Coppola. Don Siegel’s 1971 original, starring Clint Eastwood, was a fascinating examination of contemporary feminism by way of Civil War fever dream; the possibilities loaded in to Coppola’s interpretation of its narrative and themes are tantalizing indeed. Colin Farrell steps into Clint’s shoes as the film’s sole important male character; the women surrounding him include Nicole Kidman, Coppola’s Marie Antoinette star Kirsten Dunst, Coppola’s Somewhere star Elle Fanning, and Nice Guys scene-staler Angourie Rice.
Untitled P.T. Anderson Fashion Project
We don’t even have a damn title yet, much less a synopsis beyond a vague “50’s London fashion drama,” but who cares; any new Paul Thomas Anderson film is news, particularly since this one finds him re-teaming with There Will Be Blood star Daniel Day-Lewis, making his first film appearance since winning the Oscar for Lincoln five long years ago. That is literally all we know, and that’s enough to make it our most anticipated movie of the year.