The credits have rolled on cinema in 2016. Now it’s time to take a peek at what will be hitting screens in the year ahead. It looks set to be a good year for film with a calendar bursting with big names and interesting projects. We’ve picked out a selection for you to put in your diary for the months ahead.
Another year, another earth-shuddering throng of blockbusters. Once again Marvel Studios lead the way with a sequel for Guardians of the Galaxy – Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. Chris Hemsworth’s Norse alter-ego has another outing with Thor: Ragnarok. Early rumours suggest the film will also feature the Hulk and Benedict Cumberbatch’s new caped persona Doctor Strange. Huge anticipation surrounds Spider-Man: Homecoming – can someone finally turn the web-slinger’s story into a sustainable franchise? Early indications bode well.
Other fantasy romps include Star Wars VIII set to be released next Christmas. Logan adds to the X-Men cannon, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine now a lonely old man in a dystopian, mutant-less future. Moving to romance, filmgoers will no doubt be titillated by Fifty Shades Darker. No, it won’t be the next Citizen Kane, but if it’s like its predecessor, it will at least be fun.
Non-franchise based offerings come from Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk – a dramatization of the evacuation of British Forces from France at the beginning of WWII. Stephen King’s much loved Dark Tower gets a movie adaptation starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey; and Blade Runner returns with Blade Runner 2049, Ryan Gosling taking the central role. Maybe the boom-or-bust project of next year is the US remake of 1995 Japanese anime cult hit Ghost in the Shell. The original inspired a whole wave of sci-fi hits including The Matrix and Minority Report. This new take has Scarlett Johansson as android cop The Major attempting to track down a shapeless computer hacker terrorizing a futuristic city.
Round up the kids and ship them to the cinema this year: there’s plenty showing they will enjoy. The traditional animated fair is provided by Despicable Me 3 – surely we are tired of Minions now, no? The Lego Batman Movie takes a miniature look at the caped crusader and his block of crime fighting woes. And Paddington returns with Paddington 2. Hugh Grant joins the fold as the loveable bear continues to bumble around London.
Also to look out for: Disney’s live action Beauty & The Beast will certainly set some hearts aflutter - feel free to be their guest and join them in the cinema; and a new adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express hits screens in December with an all-star cast including Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley (pause for breath), Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi and Willem Dafoe. Oh and Kenneth Branagh stars and directs.
There’s a smattering of British-made films for you to enjoy this year. At the glitzier end, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will almost certainly have his signature daft touch. Rising star Ben Wheatley returns with Free Fire, which garnered good reviews at the London Film Festival; and Trainspotting is back in cinemas with T2, another chance to merrily frolic with Danny Boyle’s band of misfits.
Period dramas are supplied by Joe Wright’s The Darkest Hour, a dramatization of Winston Churchill’s early days in office. Wright tends to be a fairly laborious director, but it will certainly be a big hit. Their Finest also looks at WWII, perennial period drama stalwart Bill Nighy leading a rag tag bunch of propaganda agents. At the artier end, Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion documents the caustic life of poet Emily Dickenson. And We Need to Talk About Kevin director Lynn Ramsay finally returns with We Were Never Really Here, starring Jaoquin Phoenix as a misguided local hero.
Indie Hits and Foreign Language Gems
2017 looks a good year for arthouse projects. The usual parade of Oscar think-pieces are waltzing onto screens over the next two months. La La Land, Manchester By The Sea and Jackie (“there’ll never be another Ke-me-lot” – see the trailer for the reference) have all been lauded by critics. Moonlight, the tale of a young black teenager growing up in the tough suburbs of Miami, has also garnered immense praise. Later in the year, Mud and Midnight Special director Jeff Nichols presents his latest release Loving, and Luca Guadagnino, the genius behind A Bigger Splash, adapts Dario Argento’s horror classic Suspiria.
In the foreign language category, Toni Erdmann bowled over critics at Cannes – to be released 3 February; French-Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan assembles a myriad of stars for broken home drama It’s Only The End Of The World; and Jackie director Pablo Larrain returns for his second film of the year Neruda, a biopic of the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet starring Gael Garcia Bernal. A final two to list in the diary: Asghar Farhadi brings The Salesman to the screen. The Iranian director’s 2011 release A Separation is arguably one of the best films of this millennia. The Salesman sees him return once again to the theme of broken marriages. After a long wait Park Chan Wook’s Handmaiden finally opens in April to blitz audiences with psychodrama. South Korea has been the darling of arthouse cinema for nearly a decade, and Chan-Wook (director of Oldboy, Thirst and the Vengeance trilogy) has been a large contributor to this status. His latest project roams the aristocratic houses of Japanese occupied Korea and has been labelled as one of his best films yet.
There we are, 2017’s cinema all planned out. See all of these and you can truly call yourself a film buff.