By Stephanie Merry
As a New Year dawns, we’re greeted with more of the same from Hollywood: superhero movies, sequels, reboots and origin stories. But that’s not all there will be in 2017. There are also a few films that feature no caped-crusaders nor light sabre battles.
War movies
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is one of the most hotly-anticipated films of the year, what with a stellar cast — Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance — and the thrilling real-life story of how British troops evacuated hundreds of thousands of men from a French beach in 1940. But it’s not the only war movie. It’s not even the only World War II movie. Jessica Chastain stars in The Zookeeper’s Wife, about a Polish woman who secretly harbours Jews.For a more modern story, check out War Machine, a satire about the war in Afghanistan, starring Brad Pitt and directed by David Michôd, the Australian director behind Animal Kingdom and The Rover.
Comedies didn’t do so well in 2016, but this year has some more promising titles. Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn play mother and daughter in Snatched, a movie about a vacation in Ecuador that goes off the rails. And Scarlett Johansson stars in the dark comedy Rock That Body, about a bachelorette party that turns deadly. Broad City writer-director Lucia Aniello co-wrote the script and directs.
Pixar is seriously embracing the sequel game. Over the next few years, we’ll be seeing The Incredibles 2, Cars 3 and Toy Story 4. But there’s a bit of originality in the mix: This year’s Coco follows a 12-year-old Mexican boy who’s increasingly interested in music, even though it’s forbidden in his household. Also family-friendly is Wonder, based on the best-selling book about a boy with a facial deformity navigating a new school. Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay star in it.
Epic action and adventure
Luc Besson is back in Fifth Element mode with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan star as time-travelling government agents. Back on Earth, Hot Fuzz writer-director Edgar Wright debuts the suspense thriller Baby Driver, about a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) stuck working on an ill-conceived heist.
Dependable American dramas
Actor-turned-screenwriter Taylor Sheridan has a perfect record with scripts so far. On the heels of the taut storytelling in Sicario, this year’s Hell or High Water was one of the sleeper hits of the summer.
His directorial debut, Wind River, plays this month at Sundance and stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as a pair investigating a murder on a Native American reservation. Speaking of good track records, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are quite the duo. The team behind Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker turns its attention to the Detroit riots of 1967. Their untitled movie stars John Boyega and Will Poulter.
Dependably British historical dramas*
Stephen Frears, the director behind The Queen and Philomena, is reteaming with Judi Dench for Victoria and Abdul, the true tale of the friendship between Queen Victoria and her Indian attendant, Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal). Director Joe Wright will try to rebound from the panned Pan with Darkest Hour, a look at Winston Churchill’s (Gary Oldman) strategy during the early days of World War II.
Socially conscious horror
Key and Peele’s Jordan Peele is shifting gears away from comedy with Get Out, a pointed horror movie he wrote and directed. In a creepy twist on Meet the Parents, Daniel Kaluuya plays a black man whose first meet-and-greet with his white girlfriend’s mom and dad takes a dark, potentially deadly turn.
The latest from some reliable auteurs
Darren Aronofsky’s new film Mother stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in a drama about a couple dealing with uninvited out-of-town guests. And Alexander Payne unveils Downsizing, with a star-studded cast including Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Christoph Waltz. The satire follows a man who decides to shrink himself down to four inches.
Star Wars-free sci-fi
Matthew McConaughey turned down a part in the surefire blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to play the villain in The Dark Tower. The movie was adapted from Stephen King’s series of novels and follows a kid who lands in another world and teams up with a gunslinger played by Idris Elba. Orcs and humans live side by side in Bright, David Ayer’s movie about two cops played by Will Smith and Joel Edgerton (under a thick layer of makeup).
Musical history
Hugh Jackman is getting the most buzz for his next Wolverine movie, Logan, but he’ll also be starring in The Greatest Showman, the musical retelling of the life of P.T. Barnum. He’ll be joined by Michelle Williams and Zac Efron, among others, singing songs written by La La Land lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.