It’s that time of year again when one year has ended and another year with a bunch of promising films is officially before us. Unlike last year, I’ve decided to reduce the list to an uneven 15 and only include one franchise film on my list (and you can probably guess which one if you’ve been reading my reviews for a while). Now, with no further ado, I shall rapidly list off my honorable mentions and initiate the countdown towards my most anticipated film of the year. Honorable Mentions: The Lighthouse, Diamantino, Little Women, and Bergman Island.
15. Velvet Buzzsaw – Dan Gilroy
I never watched Roman J. Israel, Esq. and as far as I’m concerned Dan Gilroy is still the bold director who came out blazing alongside Gyllenhaal a few years back with his directorial debut Nightcrawler. Bringing a hardboiled edge to his exploration of L.A.’s seedy news-reporting underbelly, Gilroy unleashed an unforeseen directing bravado and the full power of a coyote-like madman in Gyllenhaal. Now that he’s reuniting with him and also bringing in a rather eclectic cast including everyone from Toni Collette to John Malkovich to tackle the art world, one can only hope he’ll be doing what Östlund did with The Square at Cannes at Sundance. Also, Velvet Buzzsaw, that’s like the coolest title ever, besides another film on this list that we’ll eventually get to.
14. Against All Enemies – Benedict Andrews
Benedict Andrews did something amazing in adapting Blackbird to the big screen in the form of Una and now that he’s headed back to the screen to tell the story of Jean Seberg’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, I’m simply ecstatic. Adapting the story of how French New Wave icon went on to become an activist in a tumultuous era, Andrews seems to not be holding back in any way, amassing a stellar cast with the likes of Zazie Beetz and Vince Vaughn. The question remains, who’ll be portraying Seberg? Well, apparently, it’s none other than Kristen Stewart who might’ve dissuaded me a couple of years back, but after having seen her work with Assayas I know she’s bound to nail Seberg’s particular je ne sais quoi whilst delivering an empowering performance under Andrew’s calculated direction.
13. The Nightingale – Jennifer Kent
This film was on one of My Most Anticipated Films List a couple of years back and now that it’s premiered at a couple of festivals to a couple of stellar first impressions, my excitement is unmatched. First of all, that headshot looks amazing and serves as a true testament of the unflinching brutality Kent is seeking to portray with this film. Then, reading the synopsis, how can you not be hyped? It’s essentially a female-led The Revenant set in the Tasmanian wilderness, it’s bound to be awesome. Not only that, but we have a guaranteed Australian auteur at the helm who knows how to wield emotion in film to great effect, meaning we’ll get yet another brutal, mind-boggling masterpiece from Kent if everything I’ve read is true.
12. The Irishman – Martin Scorsese
Now, this is yet another film that’s been hovering around my lists for a couple of years now, but it seems like it’s finally going to be released under Netflix this year. I guess I’ll simply reiterate once more: ” It’s a miracle that this reunion is finally happening, as director Martin Scorsese pulls some of the greatest acting talents that have ever lived together. Pacino, De Niro, Pesci, and Keitel all stand together to tell the story of Jimmy Hoffa’s slaying and with Netflix funneling all the money to Scorsese, this is sure to be great. And apart from the acting legends that headline the film, there’s also Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Plemmons, Jack Huston, and Ray Romano. There’s also the fact that Scorsese hasn’t made a full-blown mobster film in a while, making this a return for him as a much as it for De Niro or Pacino. Seriously, if this goes wrong, I will forever question my love of Scorsese and everyone involved in this picture.”
11. Us – Jordan Peele
To be honest, I had totally forgotten Us was slated for this year, and then that trailer hit. Perhaps, it didn’t make the same impression the Get Out trailer made on me when it was released, but Peele still delivered my second-favorite film of 2017 and with a cast made up of Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o, and Elisabeth Moss, you’ve got to imagine there’s something truly sinister about this script that attracted that level of star-power.
10. High Life – Claire Denis
Noting I’ve relegated one of Robert Pattinson’s (a mainstay on my lists) projects to my honorable mentions, I must offer a justification for my decision. Well, the reason I omitted The Lighthouse is because of High Life’s existence. Now, not only is High Life being distributed by A24, but it’s a Claire Denis space film involving a weird contraption that’s been dubbed the “fuck-box,” so there’s that. Beyond that, High Life stars none other than Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, and Mia Goth alongside the titular Pattinson; plus, let’s not forget it’s already premiered to rave reviews on the festival circuit. Not to mention, Claire Denis filming a space film is bound to offer us some stellar cinematography if the trailer is of any indication.
9. Her Smell – Alex Ross Perry
Now, Her Smell is a film that wasn’t even on my list for a while and that’s because you never really know what you’re going to get with Alex Ross Perry, but, for some inexplicable reason, I decided to watch a clip from the film and I was transfixed. Whether it be the colors or the rage, there’s something morbidly enticing about Perry’s drama about an alcoholic punk rocker, an air of rabidness that’s hooked me and earned Her Smell the ninth spot on my list.
8. Untitled Miranda July Project – Miranda July
Whenever July releases a film it hits you like a rock. There’s a mysterious and tragic beauty to her work that no one has been able to replicate just yet, making every film she releases somewhat of a spectacle regardless of the seemingly small scale of things. I really do not know if this film will premiere before the year ends, but I sure hope it does, offering us the proper dose of mixed melancholy, laughs, and hope we’ll need to survive the year.
7. Lucy in the Sky – Noah Hawley
I mentioned there was a film on this list that had a better name than Velvet Buzzsaw and that’s this one, which was originally dubbed with an equally cool title (Pale Blue Dot), but can anything really beat the majesty of naming a film after my favorite Beatles’ song. As to what this film’s about, well you guessed it, there’s an astronaut named Lucy (Natalie Portman) and she begins losing her sanity upon returning to Earth, embarking on an impassioned road-trip with violent motives on her mind. Not only is it the fact that we’re bound to experience Portman in a sci-fi, road-trip film that questions your sanity as she does so herself much like in last year’s Annihilation, but there’s also the fact that this is being done by none other than Noah Hawley, marking his first foray into directing a feature-length film. Now, for those unfamiliar with Hawley, he is a man who’s done the impossible in reinventing the genius of the Coen’s Fargo for the small-screen, and not only that, he has single-handedly crafted the best superhero/mutant/whatever t.v. show put to screen with Legion. Noah Hawley is a screenwriting genius and he’s bound to prove himself as a true auteur with this film, as the inclusion of Natalie, Portman, Zazie Beetz, Jon Hamm, and Dan Stevens point to Hawley having created yet another brilliant project I’m itching to watch.
6. Beach Bum – Harmony Korine
In what seems to be a trend, here is yet another film that was on my list for last year, except, this time it has ascended the list and that’s due to the trailer’s release. If there is anyone who could possibly bring Korine’s vision to life it’s Benoît Debe and he’s proven it by delivering a mere glimpse of the photographical oeuvre he’s put together for Beach Bum. Working with neons and beautiful sunsets, Debe’s vision paints a strange and luminescent Southern Florida that’s perfect for the titular stoner poet (McConaughey) to explore alongside Snoop Dogg. Oh, and this is a Harmony Korine film, so try and prepare yourself for a wave of madness that will undoubtedly wash you away.
5. Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi
I must admit, this one also has a pretty great title, even though I have no idea what it’s referencing. After having rescued the Thor trilogy, the fact that Taika Waititi has chosen to tell this story really says something about its importance to him and how he’ll hopefully deliver with our generation’s The Great Dictator, using the height of his comedic talent to satirize Hitler whilst still keeping that element of childhood-nuance that made Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy so spectacular.
4. Star Wars: Episode IX – J. J. Abrams
Here it is, the one and only franchise film on my list. Unlike most people out there, I really liked The Last Jedi and was mildly entertained by Solo despite its flaws. I’m holding out hope Disney can find their ground and solely make Star Wars films if they’re going to be great rather than for commercial reasons moving forward. That being said, this film will mark the end of an era and an important moment of finality in film history if Disney finally decides to halt the movie-making machine for a while. If everything goes according to plan, Episode IX will give them the opportunity to pause and explore a myriad of different directions after having tied up the Skywalker saga in what one can only hope is the best bow Abrams could conjure.
3. Uncut Gems – Safdie Bros.
Time has passed since I first watched Heaven Knows What and was absolutely hypnotized by the Safdie Bros.’ ability to deliver such visceral storytelling that transcended that of Trainspotting and realized New York City in the same light Czech filmmakers used their surroundings during the days of the Czech New Wave. And then, they hit me with Good Time, pulling the best performance of the year out of Robert Pattinson, delivering with a non-stop thrill-ride that used New York’s griminess to great effect once more. This time around, the Safdie Bros. have decided to plop their feet in the Diamond District to film a crime drama starring Adam Sandler in the titular role, where they’ll hopefully extract another great and unpredictable performance from a major talent that seems to have faded away with the times into the grime only to be unearthed by these young talents once more and presented before the world anew.
2. Climax – Gaspar Noe
There’s no one out there like Noe and the fact that this is the first film he’s received mostly favorable reviews for since Enter the Void means he’s crafted something veritably special. Set in 90’s Belgium and partially composed by none other than Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk fame, Climax looks like the perfect mix between Suspiria and Enter the Void, a Freudian nightmare come to life and directed by none other than the deliciously disgusting Gaspar Noe.
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
This is it, this is the one, my most anticipated film of the year, another Tarantino. Not only is it supposedly his second-to-last film, but it’s a script that’s taken him five years to properly develop and a story about a mystical Hollywood he’s always alluded to throughout his filmography, a land of legends he’s finally brining to life with the likes of Brad Pitt, DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Margot Robbie, and the rest of a truly phenomenal ensemble cast that’s just too long to list here. Plus, there’s an underlying madness driving the film noting the Manson Family Murders will serve as the film’s backdrop, like an insidious parasite leeching the rest of the film for the viewer’s entertainment. Plus, look at that picture and tell me it doesn’t look phenomenal. You can get an immediate sense of what Tarantino is looking to do from this image alone and I cannot wait for him to deliver once more with yet another fantastic film prior to his supposed decision to retire upon completing his tenth film.