Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Movies to Look for in 2017

Movies to look for in 2017

After carefully combing through the hundreds of movies to be released in 2017, Guy S. Malone, Researcher, and I have come up with 43 titles, enough movies to satisfy everyone, except those of you who like foreign language films and documentaries.  In short, they were movies that interested us because of their actors, directors, and/or stories. 

Why 43?  I'd like to say it was in honor of Troy Polamalu's jersey number with the Steelers.  In truth, though, Guy S. Malone, Researcher, abandoned me for a bottle of Stoli.  So, I’m sure we missed a few; we’ll let you know about them as we become aware. 

For the films listed, tentative release dates are as they stand now, some of those may be for limited release rather than wide release, and ten at the end have release dates yet to be determined (TBD).

02/24 I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – Melanie Lynsky, Elijah Wood  Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury winner, dark comic/thriller about a woman who buddies up with her oddball neighbor to track down the criminals who robbed her apartment.

03/03 Logan – Hugh Jackman. Patrick Stewart
In 2029, a world-weary Logan cares for a declining Prof. Xavier, vowing to remain in seclusion until a young mutant forces him to face the world and his fate.

03/10 Kong: Skull Island – Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Kong: bigger, longer, uncut

03/10 Personal Shopper – Kristen Stewart
Olivia Assayas’ horror/drama in which K-Stew has to exorcise her dead twin brother while maintaining haute couture.

03/17 Beauty and the Beast – Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Live retelling of the classic Stockholm syndrome tale.

03/24 Life – Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds
The crew of the International Space Station finds life on Mars, wish they hadn’t.

03/31 Ghost in the Shell – Scarlett Johansson
A human-cyborg hybrid guns down international criminals and extremists, until she discovers a secret that makes her search her search her past for the truth.

04/07 Speech and Debate - Liam James, Sarah Steele, Austin P. McKenzie
Three eccentric students fight for truth and justice as they rebel against faculty, parent, and school board hypocrisy to resurrect a defunct school club. 

04/14 The Lost City of Z – Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson
Based-on-truth story of British explorer Percival Fawcett who in early-20th Century discovered a theretofore unknown advanced civilization in the heart of the Amazon basin.

04/28 The Circle - Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Karen Gillan
Thriller about a woman gets a job in a giant tech company, whose founding CEO is a charismatic but controlling man who plots to push the boundaries of ethics and privacy.

05/05 Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 – Chris Pratt et al
Backed by the great ’70’s hits of Awesome Mixtape #2, the gang of misfits set out do the Ancestry number on Peter Quill.

05/12 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law
Guy Ritchie’s stylized retelling of the Excalibur tale in which a young Arthur pulls the sword from the stone and faces down his evil uncle to gain his birthright.

05/19 Alien: Covenant – Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Katherine Waterston
Ridley Scott returns to his series.  The crew of a colony ship believes it are bound for paradise but instead they find hell--and Michael Fassbender.

06/02 Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot, Chris Pine
Circa WWI, an Amazon warrior leaves her mythic home to experience the world, and on the way we find the heroine we want and Chris Pine needs.

06/08 The Mummy – Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella
How many times to we have to tell them: Don’t open the tomb!  They never learn.  This time the mummy is a female, which might make it more dangerous.

06/28 Okja – Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins
A South Korean girl’s dramatic adventure trying to prevent an evil corporation from kidnaping her friend, Okja, a massive animal.

07/07 Spiderman: Homecoming – Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Michael Keaton
Another go at the Spiderman story, this time bolstered by more humor and Robert Downey, Jr’s Iron Man.

07/14 War for the Planet of the Apes - Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Judy Greer
Apes versus humans for control of the, um, planet.

07/21 Dunkirk – Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh
Christopher Nolan’s WWII tale about the evacuation of Allied soldiers pinned down on the French beach by German troops.

07/28 The Dark Tower – Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey
First chapter of Stephen King series about Roland Deschain, a gunslinger who travels an Old west-like alternate dimension seeking the Man in Black and a legendary Dark Tower.

10/06 Blade Runner 2049 – Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford
Denis Villeneuve directs this sequel, set 30 years later, in which a new blade runner seeks his predecessor in the hope of avoiding a calamity that will plunge society into chaos.

10/06 Kingsmen: The Golden Circle – Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
The sequel to the James Bond/Monty Python mash-up wherein out British heroes join their US counterparts, the Statesmen to take down super-villain (Julianne Moore).

10/13 Mother! – Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris
Auteur Darren Aronofsky's dark drama centering on a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

10/13 The Snowman – Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson. Charlotte Gainsbourg
Detective Harry Hole tries to locate a missing woman, and his only clue is her pink scarf found tied around the neck of a snowman.

11/03  Thor: Ragnarok – Chris Hemsworth
Thor gets help from an A-list and bad-ass cast: Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Karl Urban

11/07 Untitled Detroit Project – John Krasinski, John Boyega
Kathryn Bigelow directs the factual drama, set in 1967, in which a Detroit police raid ignites of of the largest citizen uprisings in US history.

11/10 Red Sparrow – Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts
A Russian dancer is trained as a spy and unleashed to gain secrets through seduction, but she falls for a CIA operative and becomes a double agent, placing her life in danger.

11/22 Murder on the Orient Express – Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer
Dame Agatha Christie’s brilliant detective Hercule Poirot must solve the mystery of an American tycoon killed on the famous train.

11/24 Darkest Hour - Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Lily James
Late-1930s, Churchill versus Hitler.

12/15 Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac
The continuing story of Rey’s epic quest to milk untolled sums of cash into Disb]ney’s coffers.

12/22 Downsizing – Matt Damon Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz
Alexander Payne social satire in which a man concludes his life would improve if he would shring himself.

12/22 Jumanji – Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillen, Jack Black
Kids find an old video game consol.  When they play it they get sucked in and have to win the game in order to get out again.

12/25 The Greatest Showman - Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson
Biopic about P.T. Barnum, founder of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus.

TBD  Annihilation – Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac
Alex Garland sci-fi thriller; an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor join a biologist in search of her husband who went missing in an environmental disaster zone.

TBD Battle of the Sexes - Emma Stone, Steve Carell
Based-on-truth story of the events surrounding the 1973 tennis challenge match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

TBD The Glass Castle – Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson
A girl comes of age learning to survive in a dysfunctional and poverty-stricken family consisting of an alcoholic father and eccentric artist mother.

TBD Hostiles – Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster
In late 19th Century, a cavalry officer reluctantly agrees to assist a Cheyenne chief and his family as they travel through hostile territory.

TBD Mudbound - Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund
Sundance favorite about racism in post-WWII Mississippi.

TBD Suburbicon - Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin
Goerge Clooney directed, Joel and Ethan Coen wrote the comedy/crime mystery set in a suburban town where ordinary people turn to extraordinary stupidity and murder.

TBD The Shape of Water – Michael Shannon, Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlbarg
Guillermo del Toro fantasy-thriller, set in 1963, a cleaning woman falls for an aqua-man being held captive in a testing laboratory.

TBD The Current War - Benedict Cumberbatch, Katherine Waterston, Michael Shannon
Historical bio-drama about the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to market a sustainable electrical system.

TBD Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project – Daniel Day-Lewis, Leslie Manville
Drama set in the 1950s, a perfectionist dressmaker serves royalty and the highest echelon of British society.

TBD Wonderstruck – Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Cory Michael Smith

Todd Haynes drama following the mysterious connection between a young Midwestern boy and a girl from fifty years earlier.

Films released in 2016: A Final Word

Closing the books on 2016

The Academy Awards marks the official end to the 2016 year in film.  It's time for me to concentrate on the movies released in 2017 and a year that will culminate in the 2018 Academy Awards.  Before I do that, though, I have to take one final look in the rearview mirror.  

When I list my top movies of the year, I don't have an arbitrary number in mind, and I am only recommending them to the extent that your tastes and mine coincide.  My list is comprised of films that combine art, story, and entertainment, and it is highly personal.  With the exception of Arrival (a truly exceptional film), I have not included films from several of my favorite genres--science fiction, fantasy, superhero, and animated--because their primary concerns are escapism and sheer entertainment, not great art; they are aimed at box office numbers, not Oscars.  Also, my list doesn't reflect an agenda,  it isn't influenced by the opinions of the critical mass of critics.*

The Very Best can't miss films, in order of my preference:
La La Land 
Hidden Figures
Hell or High Water 
Hacksaw Ridge
Manchester by the Sea 

The Best of the Rest, again in order of preference:
Hail, Caesar!  
Eye in the Sky 
Love and Friendship 
Captain Fantastic 

* Disclaimer: 
I see 40-45 movies a year.  My record for catching foreign films and documentaries hovers somewhere between embarrassing and abysmal.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Star Trek Beyond - if you aren't a Trekkie, you may rate this lower, but it's still terrific entertainment
Passengers - audiences defy critical hatchet job to the tune of $300 million WW; audiences are smart
Rogue One - vastly superior to The Force Awakens; still, it is Guns of Navarone goes to the stars 
Midnight Special - father protects son with special powers from religious cult and government
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - doesn't rise to Potter standard, but still most welcome 

Captain America: Civil War - good humor and exciting, despite too many heroes
Doctor Strange - mystical tale, outright laughs, and Inception-like effects recommend it
Deadpool - raunchy, rousing antihero; not for kiddies
X-Men: Apocalypse - fitting transition from Fassbender/Lawrence/McAvoy to younger X-Men

Kubo and the Two Strings - more for adults than kids, visually gorgeous metaphorical folklore
Zootopia - entertaining plea for understanding; DMV scene is worth price of admission
Moana - Polynesian princess is cursed, but her movie surely isn't
Finding Dory - Sequel enjoyed by everyone but Oscar
The Jungle Book - classic story, star-filled and well-made remake.


Café Society - yes, it's typical Woody Allen, but that alone makes it better than most
The Girl on the Train - suffered from high expectations, Emily Blunt is award-worthy
Inferno - scenic, intriguing Dan Brown film was doomed by critics before it was released
Ghostbusters 2016 - critics kowtowed to misogynistic fanboys--one of many bad moments for them
Collateral Beauty - unapologetically sympathetic musing on life and love sunk by critical torpedoes

Disappointments (I refuse to use the term "overrated"--trolls have rendered it meaningless):
Jason Bourne - A great trilogy taken one step too far, none of the intrigue of the first three
The Lobster - the Ionescu-like absurdity, the intentionally flat-tone never took focus
Nocturnal Animals - plot-within-a-plot, neither satisfies; terrific performances wasted
Sully - Tom Hanks inhabits heroic role/story, but Eastwood's melodramatics create ham
A Bigger Splash - remake of French film was most notable for Ralph-Fiennes full-frontal     

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