A couple of quick primers for this list. First, many years ago I started breaking it down into two parts, one in January and the other in July, so that I could highlight more films and so that I didn’t stick my neck out for a movie that comes out in November, only to have that movie turn out to be a embarrassing disaster. So, for the sake of this list, “Part 1” includes the first six months of the year. Second, a trailer is vital to my anticipation level. I hate that the film industry feels like we NEED six trailers for every movie, each giving away more and more of the plot or atmosphere. But I am one who thinks you can tell a lot from a two-minute trailer, just in terms of feel and, sometimes, general quality. So if it doesn’t have a trailer, it isn’t eligible for this list. Third, as always, the first half of the year is usually pretty weak in comparison to the back half and thus, if something here turns out poorly, I’m want to blame its inclusion on the lack of options.
HONORABLE MENTION: All of the 2016 Movies That Inexplicably Come Out in 2017
I’m cheating a bit here as I am want to do on these lists. While limited release is the bane of my existence, it does make January more palatable. A Monster Calls, Hidden Figures, Patriot’s Day, and The Founder all receive wide releases in January after actually debuting in 2016 and I have various levels of excitement for all of them (not to mention even smaller movies like Silence and Paterson).
10. The Mummy (June 9) – Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe
“Anticipate” might be a strong word for this one but “Top 8 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017 Plus 2 More That Might Be Okay” doesn’t have the best ring to it. For The Mummy, I’m most interested in two things: One, can this be a solid launching point for a full reboot of the old Universal monster movies? And two, will Tom Cruise actually become a mummy in order to win the approval of his viewers? Fingers crossed on both fronts!
9. The Circle (April 28) – Emma Watson, John Boyega, Tom Hanks
I read this book a couple years ago and I thought it was really good…up until the last 100 pages or so when I couldn’t wait for it to end. That said, I think the material is very cinematic and it should make a better movie than it did a book. This is a big year for Emma Watson (see below) and I’m very excited to see her and Boyega play off of one another.
8. Life (March 24) – Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson
Highbrow sci-fi with a big budget is right up my alley and the trailer for Life provides a great glimpse into the film without giving too much away. This could definitely go wrong fast but if Daniel Espinosa can keep the action moving while playing to the intelligence of the audience, I think this could be a big hit.
7. Beauty and the Beast (March 17) – Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Dan Stevens
I’m still not sure we need a shot-for-shot live action remake of a classic that’s not even 30 years old but then again, every viewing of the trailer gets me a little more hyped. That score…so good. I’m really looking forward to this one, I just hope the trailer is designed for nostalgia and in the end, Beauty and the Beast follows the path of Cinerella and The Jungle Book by differentiating itself somewhat from the animated feature. We’ll see!
6. Kong: Skull Island (March 10) – Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston
I feel like Kong is the movie on this list that has the biggest chance of disappointing. It feels like there’s a lot riding on this one and King Kong hasn’t been a truly viable onscreen star in 80 years. (No offense to Peter Jackson’s King Kong which I quite liked at the time but has virtually no cultural cache 12 years down the line.) The success of Godzilla a few years ago, however, has me hoping we can see a similar renaissance for Kong.
5. The Lego Batman Movie (February 10) – Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes
I didn’t know how badly I needed a Lego Batman movie with Will Arnett and Michael Cera in my life until it was announced and then it was kind of all I could think about for few weeks. I’m not sure what there is to NOT love about this even if Lord and Miller are too busy preparing a Star Wars movie to direct this one. Hoping we get at least three Arrested Development jokes hidden in here to play off the reunion of Arnett and Cera.
4. Alien: Covenant (May 19) – Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, James Franco
If Kong is the riskiest bet on this list, I’d say Alien follows close behind. The foundation is there, I think the story is there, and it has the tools to be a GREAT sci-fi blockbuster. The trailer gives the appearance that Ridley Scott is taking this franchise back to its horror roots and after Prometheus (a seriously flawed movie that I quite enjoyed), I’d say that’s a huge step in the right direction. But are we getting “Engaged Ridley Scott” (The Martian) or “Totally Checked Out Ridley Scott” (every other movie he’s made for the last decade)? And can Katherine Waterston carry a movie? Big questions, to be sure, but there’s also a HUGE payoff here if they get it right.
3. The Fate of the Furious (April 14) – Vin Diesel, The Rock, Charlize Theron
Guys. Dom has lost it. He LITERALLY turned his back on family, the one thing he swore he’d NEVER do. His moral compass is out of whack! How are Hobbs and the gang going to get their boy back in the fold?! And more importantly, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO USE DODGE CHARGERS TO PULL A SUBMARINE THROUGH ARCTIC ICE?! So many questions. I’ve been sitting up at night, mulling over how Dom could betray his family and his cinematic family. April cannot get here fast enough. We’ve got to get some answers.
2. Logan (March 3) – Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook
This is it, my friends. I know I’m setting myself up for failure. I know I’ve been hurt in the past. But I’ve convinced myself this our time. We are FINALLY getting the Wolverine movie that we, and Hugh Jackman, deserve. Just in time for Jackman to ride off into the sunset and hand the claws over to a new generation! I love this trailer. I could watch it a hundred times and my anticipation would not be diminished. Logan is the perfect story to tell in a Wolverine movie and by all accounts, this is the right approach for the material. Please don’t hurt me again, sir.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (May 5) – Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
I didn’t really know what to expect from Guardians back in 2014. I was excited, I loved the look and the cast, but having no knowledge of the source material, it seemed like a strange property and I wasn’t certain it would find an audience. Great prognosticating there, Brian. We all know the rest, Guardians was a smash hit both with audiences and critics, and it was also, I think, the most fun I’d had in a theater in a decade. Not sure how Volume 2 can top that but I AM MORE THAN WILLING TO GIVE IT THE CHANCE!!! Seriously, that trailer is fantastic and there is no way adding Kurt Russell AND Sylvester Stallone to the cast could possibly hurt. Let’s just skip to May and do this thing right now.