This is '17

2017 bears the hallmarks of a vintage year with a slew of exciting titles and directors emerging from hiatuses or production hell.

Not all will make it out of the starting blocks, but most will see the light of day by the end of the year; and only you, the audiences, can determine who is worthy of your cinema patronage as they all collectively tout their wares.

Take a look below as we pick the 17 innocuous titles which have caught our eye in the release schedule.

17. THE TRAP (d. Harmony Korine)

Cast: Al Pacino, Benicio Del Toro, Robert Pattinson, Gucci Mane

The last film to star Pacino and a prolific rapper was the poorly received Righteous Kill (2008), giving 50 Cent the acting career launch of his dreams as he starred alongside two Hollywood heavyweights (the other being De Niro). This film has better prospects in its director, whose previous film, Spring Breakers (2012), was divisively anarchic and full of youthful gusto. Robert Pattinson has put his name to edgier projects since his Twilight days, aligning himself with Cronenerg and David Michôd, giving The Trap a heavy dose of goodwill despite a damp premise of a gangster revenge tale of a robbery-gone-wrong

16. SUBMERGENCE (d. Wim Wenders)

Cast: Alicia Vikander, James McAvoy, Charlotte Rampling, Alexander Siddig

German filmmaker, Wim Wenders, carries with him the weight of expectation. The body of his work is frequently a hit-or-miss affair, and yet when he does land his target (Buena Vista Social Club, Paris,Texas) his failures fade into the ether, only for audiences to recount his popular work. Submergence is an adaptation of a novel in two stories told through a flashback to reveal an intense romance, unweaving itself to the current day situation where one partner is being held captive by jihadi's and the other is about to dive into the Greenland Sea.

15. THE SOUND OF METAL (d. Darius Marder)

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts

Darius Marder, known for writing The Place Beyond The Pines, delivers his first feature, the story of a drummer in a metal band (played by Schoenaerts) whose hearing loss impairs his ability to play. In a set up similar to that of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, this exploration of sensory loss promises much as both leads have shown capable ability to deliver intriguing character arcs in 2016's awards contender A Bigger Splash.

14. JOURNEYMAN (d. Paddy Considine)

Cast: Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker, Paul Popplewell, Tony Pitts

In his second film as director and writer, Paddy Considine parachutes himself in as the lead of this boxing narrative of Matty Burton whose family's very survival is predicated on being victorious in the ring. After a devasting injury during a bout, his career is in tatters and he must retrain and venture back into the ring to continue as breadwinner. Overshadowed by last year's Bleed For This, the story may appear to be money for old rope, but from Considine's debut Tyrannosaur, it is clear he won't shy away from the gritty realism that others are happy to gloss over.

13. THE KILLING OF THE SACRED DEER (d. Yorgos Lanthimos)

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone, Raffey Cassidy

Scoring critical acclaim from 2015's English-language debut The Lobster, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos' 2nd English language feature sees him team up again with Colin Farrell and a wealth of other well established names. As with the director's previous penchant for the ludicrous critique of society, the story of a teenager inauguarating a surgeon into their dysfunctional family with bizarre consequences, promises much of the same.

12. THE SNOWMAN (d. Tomas Alfredson)

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, Chloë Sevigny

An amalgamation of previous works sees Alfredson mash up the bitter coldness of Let The Right One In and the subterfuge of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, as Michael Fassbender plays detective Harry Hole tracking down the mysterious disappearance of a woman whose scarf is found wrapped around the titular snowman. Based on Jo Nesbø's novel of the same name, Alfredson's body of work offers a incisive view of his native country.

11. WONDERSTRUCK (d. Todd Haynes)

Cast: Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Oakes Fegley, Cory Michael Smith

Adapted from Brian Selznick's novel, following two parallel stories of a boy and girl told fifty years apart is a tantalising hook for Todd Haynes' return to screen after the remarkable work he did in Carol. In the same vein, Wonderstruck will feature two strong leads in Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore, the latter of whom featured in his 2004 film Far From Heaven.

10. HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES (d. John Cameron Mitchell)

Cast: Elle Fanning, Ruth Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Matt Lucas

Neil Gaiman's popular short story gets the big screen treatment through the lens of Texan John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus, Hedwig & the Angry Inch) as he steps out of the lines and into 1970's Croydon, a surburb of London. Following two randy teenage boys, Enn and Vic, as they infiltrate parties to converse with young girls in the hope of romantic liaisons, they arrive at a party whose patrons are decidely peculiar and other-worldly. A mixture of British and Hollywood stars against the backdrop of the punk era, combined with the tongue-in-cheek narrative Gaiman is known for, offers another volume to the 'aliens invade London' category, on the lonely shelf where only Joe Cornish's Attack The Block (2011) resides.

9. SONG TO SONG (d. Terrence Malick)

Cast: Haley Bennett, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman

Renamed from the original title 'Weightless' to give Terrence Malick's newest work an air of La La Land, and keen to wear its music credentials on its sleeve, Song To Song sees a heavyweight cast of award winners line up to take on an intersecting love triangle. Set in Austin, Texas, Malick is on home soil with a lick of seduction and betrayal, soundtracked with a riff of rock 'n roll and looks as if it will be his most accessible work yet.

8. SUSPIRIA (d. Luca Guadagnino)

Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, Tilda Swinton

It is almost sacrilegious to remake cult films, let alone an Italian language giallo but it's 2017 and that was more than forty years ago. People forget, fashion comes full circle. Italian horror royalty, Dario Argento is about to have his well-received work remade in the english language by a modern Italian director, Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash). Hooking up with Dakota Johnson yet again and combined with the ever reliable Tilda Swinton, it's a bet we're willing to hedge has favourable outcome against unfavourable odds.

Originally touted for a 2008 remake with Natalie Portman, the story follows a dancer who arrives in Berlin to join a ballet academy only to realise that it is a front for the occult and supernatural.

7. FINAL PORTRAIT (d. Stanley Tucci)

Cast: Armie Hammer, Clémence Poésy, Geoffrey Rush, Tony Shalhoub

It's fair to say that Stanley Tucci will often sign up for any old film and regardless of 'art', he makes the most of any role he is given (Space Chimps, Jack & the Giant Slayer, Transformers), but his directorial debut was always going to be his baby. Scant detail is known of this biography involving Swiss painter and sculptor, Alberto Giacometti, but if this is his Mr. Turner (2014), then it will be worth the wait.

6. COLOSSAL (d. Nacho Vigalondo)

Cast: Dan Stevens, Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson

In a return to feature film making, Nacho Vigalondo brings a self-penned exploration of a woman's breakdown whose life has been beset by numerous catastrophic events, as she tried to make sense of it all. Colossal's remit is much more restrained than the zaniness in his opus magnum, Timecrimes, but now with genre breakout star, Dan Stevens, in the saddle behind the film's protagonist, Academy Award winner, Anne Hathaway. 

5. THE SALESMAN (d. Asghar Farhadi)

Cast: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Babak Karimi, Mina Sadati

Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi has tasted awards sucess as a foreign-language Academy Awards winner for A Seperation (2011) and now returns to his homeland with longtime collaborator, Shahab Hoesseini, for another lightly nuanced and quietly intimate drama. Revolving around the performance of Arthur Miller's The Death Of A Salesman, the plot follows the breakdown of a relationship and the subsequent creeping paranoia, guilt and revenge which follow.

4. HAPPY END (d. Michael Haneke)

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Nabiha Akkari

Masterful filmmaker, Michael Hanaeke is back with a timely story of a family who find themselves in Calais, France, amongst the burgeoning migration crisis as refugees dream of crossing over the English Channel to Dover for a better life.

3. ISMAEL'S GHOSTS (d. Arnaud Desplechin)

Cast: Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Louis Garrel, Mathieu Amalric

Teaming up once more with Mathieu Amalric, Arnaud Desplechin's film is a meta-drama of a director about to shoot a film when his presumed dead ex-wife steps in to throw his life into complete turmoil starting with his current partner.

2. THE PARTY (d. Sally Potter)

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall

Screening at the 67th Berlin film festival, writer-director, Sally Potter's The Party is a farcical black and white comedy culminating in death, murder and tragedy. No stranger to the thespian side of film, having written an entire feature in iambic pentameter, Potter's latest recalls the ridiculousness of Polanski's adaptation of play, Carnage (2011) and its stellar ensemble cast looks as if it could deliver with aplomb.

1. SUBURBICON (d. George Clooney)

Cast: Matt Damon, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Julianne Moore

Back in the driving seat again, George Clooney looks to redeem himself after the clumsy Monuments Men (2014) with a steadier hand at the wheel (associate screenwriter, Grant Heslov is still aboard) with buddies the Coen brothers on writing duties. Harking back to the 1950's, this is an absurdist take on a quasi-revenge-thriller as a utopian family retalliate and take vengence after a bungled home invasion resulting in death.

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Neil Ramjee

Head honcho of FilmSeekers.
Film Reviewer.
Condiment Enthusiast.

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