Movies I Wanna See Most: Fall 2017

This fall has come to be something of a strange time in terms of movie-going as I was supposed to be attending the Toronto International Film Festival this week, but due to some unfortunate circumstances I wasn't able to make the trip. And so, in lieu of seeing and reviewing some of the big prestige pictures set to arrive this fall I decided to highlight some of the films I was most excited to see for the remainder of 2017. It's been a fairly dry year thus far with only a handful or so of exceptional films some of which include a rather stand-out year for super-hero films with Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Wonder Woman all doing stellar jobs of sticking with me while Spider-Man: Homecoming was a ton of fun if not necessarily great. Still, I know plenty of people who would disagree with me on that point so I can only hope this spells good things for Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League come November. That said, given I was anticipating going to TIFF this year much of what makes up my most anticipated for the remainder of the year are those that I would have been seeing this week with others that I might have had the chance to see falling by the wayside in the wake of mapping out the final three months of the year, but that I'm still very much excited to see. For example, while titles such as Hostiles, Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, and Downsizing are all films I look forward to for one reason or another they didn't make my final cut (though, if the word out of this year's collection of film festivals is to be believed I'll grimly regret leaving Call Me By Your Name out of this list).  Not to be left out, there are certainly other blockbusters that I wasn't able to include on the list either that I'm anxious to lay my eyes upon including Pitch Perfect 3, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, as well as the latest works from the likes of Steven Spielberg (The Post) and Ridley Scott (All the Money in the World). All of that said, let's get into the movies that I am excited to see and see which did and didn't make the cut.

15. The Florida Project - From Tangerine director Sean Baker the filmmaker follows-up his 2015 breakout that was shot entirely on three iPhone 5s smartphones and an $8 app with The Florida Project. While that film followed a hooker in Hollywood searching out the pimp who broke her heart on Christmas Eve, The Florida Project has a slightly more appealing and relatable premise in that it is set over one summer and follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World. (10/6)

14. The Greatest Showman - Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. Slap the words "Original Musical" on something and I'm pretty intrigued, but combine this with a concept based around P.T. Barnum and the birth of the modern show business model that stars the likes of Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron and I'm sold. Sure, I'm a tad nervous about the idea that director Michael Gracey is making his directorial debut with this type of huge undertaking, but he's also given us no reason to be weary other than his inexperience. Time will tell, but there is certainly a lot of ambition for these high hopes to capitalize on. (12/25)

13. Happy Death Day - With IT dominating and Annabelle: Creation still lurking just behind it, not to mention the massive successes Get Out and Split were earlier this year as well as Darren Aronofsky's mother! making its bow this weekend it's easy to see that the horror genre is having a particularly good year. I'm hoping it only gets better next month when director Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and the severely underrated Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalyspe) delivers a mystery-styled horror movie about a college student who re-lives the day of her murder experiencing both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers who her killer is. (10/13)

12. Darkest Hour - No, this isn't the 2011 action film starring Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby, but rather this is the latest from director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) and while this may look rather traditional at first glance The Darkest Hour has garnered solid praise out of the festival circuit thus far and I look forward to seeing Wright get back in his wheelhouse after the disappointing PAN. An unrecognizable Gary Oldman apparently gives what is award-worthy performance as the famous Prime Minister. Maybe that run of delivering consistently fantastic performances with no Oscar to show for it will soon come to an end? Time will tell, but I can only hope this film turns out to be as good as all its factors promise it should be. (11/22)

11. Blade Runner 2049 - I've never actually finished Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi epic that is Blade Runner. I will, of course, watch it again before seeing this sequel, but the original is one of those I've always been told I need to watch and have started countless times, but never actually sat all the way through. And so, with little knowledge of exactly what to expect from this movie other than a visually stunning experience (cinematographer Roger Deakins is once again responsible for what we see here) director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival) and original screenwriter Hampton Fancher along with Michael Green (Logan) have crafted a story around a young blade runner's (Ryan Gosling) discovery of a long buried secret leads him on a quest to track down former blade runner, Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard, who's been missing for thirty years. (10/6)

10. Molly's Game - This being screenwriting auteur Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut is enough to make me want to see the film. The fact Sorkin has based this experience on Molly Bloom's 2014 memoir and is led by the magnificent Jessica Chastain only it makes it that much more intriguing. Bloom, who was once an Olympic-class skier, ended up running the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for more than a decade before being arrested by the FBI. Bloom's tell-all about her exploits clearly informed Sorkin's screenplay and his interest in the material, but I'm curious as to what about Bloom's story made the famed writer want to take this on as his debut directorial effort. (11/22)

9. The Killing of a Sacred Deer - The Lobster is one of those movies that completely puzzles me and thus is the reason I'm rather excited to see what filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has in store for audiences with his follow-up. The Killing of a Sacred Deer follows Steven, a charismatic surgeon, who is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister. The director reunites with star Colin Farrell who plays the aforementioned surgeon and while the first trailer for the film didn't offer much by way of plot it certainly set the tone for what to expect as it has Raffey Cassidy of Tomorrowland performing a haunting rendition of Ellie Goulding's "Burn." Sold! (11/17)

8. Coco - Knowing only that Coco, like 2014's The Book of Life, would in one way or another incorporate Día de Muertos or the Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead it might be easy to assume what ideas around death and remembrance Disney and Pixar might be aiming to utilize, but I'm still not sure what to expect from this film and I kind of like that considering the last Pixar film we got was a third Cars movie. Hinting at ideas of legacy and influence and the amalgamation of what such words can lead to all conveyed through this specific cultural event that honors as much it seems Coco certainly has the potential to be one of those Pixar features that reaches for more and I can't wait to see the journey on which this film takes us. (11/22)

7. Lady Bird - Greta Gerwig's directorial debut, about the adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year, is one of those movies I was hoping to get in on the ground floor with. It is a pure independent movie at heart that likely won't be seen by many outside of the cinephile circles, but here's to hoping I'm wrong. I've had a strange relationship with Gerwig and her films over the years, ranging from thinking she was playing up her "type" too much to having something of a kindred affinity for her since Frances Ha in 2012. Couple with this Maggie's Plan, 20th Century Women, and the near masterpiece that is Mistress America and it feels as if one knows where Lady Bird is coming from. I'd like to go to that place. I can't wait to see if this movie succeeds in taking me there. Also, Saoirse Ronan. (11/10)

6. Thor: Ragnarok - I can't say that I've necessarily ever been excited for one of the Thor movies. Curious, sure, but more than anything I've always been a bit concerned that Thor is where the Marvel universe would surely lose its vanilla footing and their time-tested formula would finally fail them. And to a certain extent this is true. Thor has seemingly always received the short end of the hammer when it comes to either scope or director, but Ragnarok is making up for both as not only does the subtitle hint at the time in Norse mythology when the cosmos are destroyed, but Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have brought in filmmaker Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) who has brought what seems to be a fresh start to the doomed Asgardian world. It may seem a little contradictory that the film dealing in the end of our titular characters world is also the one with the brightest color scheme and best sense of humor, but that's the main takeaway here and I can't wait to see Waititi's version of a Marvel movie. (11/3)

5. The Disaster Artist - I've never seen Tommy Wiseau's 2003 film, The Room, which is famously hailed as one of the worst movies ever made, but I have seen enough clips online to know they aren't exaggerating an to know that I don't know if I could make it through the whole movie. That said, I still may need to watch the entirety of Wiseau's film to fully appreciate the latest from director and star of The Disaster Artist, James Franco. With his latest endeavor Franco has adapted Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell's book that documents the behind-the-scenes look at the making of, "the greatest bad movie ever made." Needless to say, this should really be something special. (12/8)

4. Brawl in Cell Block 99 - I love Vince Vaughn. I think the guy can do a multitude of things, but was simply typecast for too long a time and, in turn, rode out that typecasting for far too long. Don't get me wrong, the guy is a comedy genius and I love seeing him in his element when he has the material to support it, but it's nice to see the actor's career trajectory taking on new and interesting territory as Vaughn has now teamed up with Bone Tomahawk writer/director S. Craig Zahler for a film about a former boxer-turned-drug runner who lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly. While I didn't adore Zahler's previous film it does stand out as containing one of the most graphic scenes of disturbing violence I've ever witnessed and if that indicates anything about how the guy will orchestrate a prison movie consider my interest piqued. (9/23)

3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - One could simply say there was a new Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) coming out and I would be on board based on the guys previous work, but when a movie looks as good, as darkly comic, and as compelling as this one does-the fact McDonagh wrote and directed it only makes the prospects of such that much better. The film follows a grieving mother, played by the always wonderful Frances McDormand, who personally challenges the local authorities (including Woody Harrelson's sheriff and Sam Rockwell as a racist cop) to solve her daughter's murder, when they fail to catch the culprit. Be warned, the trailer link above is for the red-band trailer and contains strong language, but gives you the best idea of how effortlessly McDonagh can seemingly mesh humor and melancholy. (11/10)

2. Justice League - What's interesting about Justice League is that we have to keep in mind it was being planned and prepped for long before the backlash Dawn of Justice received and it is a film that has clearly had a new light shined on it due to those reactions. If you read any of the set visits from last summer you'll remember the fact Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder immediately went to work on building a more positive narrative around the DCEU and for the most part, that was totally demolished by Suicide Squad. Of course, Wonder Woman has done a lot to change this perception and I'm hoping Justice League can continue this upwards trend. Ultimately, the film might have a spunkier tone due to re-writes, but it will still look like and be an epic Snyder film which is what these heroes and gods deserve. I don't mind owning up to the fact I'm a Snyder fan and that I hope his vision for this cinematic universe is seen through to the end even with the recent events of his personal life and Joss Whedon coming in to steer the film to its opening day. Side note: really happy they still haven't shown us a glimpse of Henry Cavill's Superman despite the fact we know he will be back in some capacity. (11/17)

1. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi - Was there even any question? Writer/director Rian Johnson's (Brick, Looper) middle chapter to this new trilogy of Star Wars films has become something of an enigma in that we've hardly seen anything in the way of a traditional marketing campaign for what is sure to be the biggest movie of the year which in turn makes it all the more alluring and all the more fascinating. Of course, Disney and Lucasfilm don't have to create any marketing campaign at all and this thing would still make a kajillion dollars, but inevitably they will and inevitably there will be another full-length trailer released (and probably soon) so as to remind people there is in fact another Star Wars moving coming this winter and that they'll definitely want to see it. For now though, let's just bask in the fact Mark Hamill returns as Luke Skywalker this December, that most of us have very clearly been wrong about where his intentions might lie, and that what we'll be getting from The Last Jedi is likely not at all what we'll expect to be getting. As star Daisy Ridley has said, "Rian has written a story that's unexpected, but right." I can't get those words and the ideas they spawn out of my head. I can't wait. (12/15)

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