Sunday, February 19, 2017

2017 Movie Preview - Part III

This past week guest-writer Greg Rouleau and I discussed countless upcoming movie releases spanning various genres with our 2017 Movie Preview Part I and Part II. Today we finally complete the trilogy by breaking down some of 2017's most notable drama releases and potential awards season contenders. Unlike the previous previews, these titles won't be sorted by release dates (since many haven't formally been announced). So here they are, the films that could potentially dominate next year's Academy Awards ceremony:

Dramas/Awards Season Hopefuls

Downsizing - December 22nd

Director Alexander Payne is no stranger to awards season as his last three feature films have been nominated for Best Picture, all of which had at least one acting nominee, too.   His latest, Downsizing, is the story of a man who decides to shrink himself after deciding his life will be more fulfilling after doing so.  Matt Damon stars along with Kristen Wiig, Alec Baldwin and Christoph Waltz.  Downsizing also marks the reunion of Payne with fellow Sideways scribe, Jim Taylor.

Molly's Game - ???

Aaron Sorkin is undoubtedly one of the best screenwriters working today.  Later this year, we’ll see how adept he is behind the camera as he brings us his directorial debut, Molly’s Game, which he also adapted from the titular character’s memoir.  Jessica Chastain plays Molly Bloom who organizes a very high-stakes poker game that eventually becomes the subject of an investigation by the FBI.

Battle of the Sexes - ???

Coming off of La La Land and a potential Best Actress Oscar win, Emma Stone has cemented herself as the Hollywood “it girl” right now, so expectations will be high for her next project where she plays Billie Jean King alongside Steve Carell’s Bobby Riggs where the two go head to head in the infamous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match.  Little Miss Sunshine directing duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris share helming duties here once again with a script by Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy.

Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project - ???

Little information is available for the latest movie from PTA other than a brief synopsis that implies it’s the story of a London fashion designer in the 1950s.  Admittedly, that doesn’t exactly amplify any intrigue for the period piece, but in the hands of the auteur Anderson, we can always expect the best.  Another reason to get excited is it marks the reunion of PTA with Daniel Day-Lewis who hasn’t been seen since his Oscar winning portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in 2012.

Kathryn Bigelow Detroit Riot Project - ???

Another movie that could be a major awards season player is the untitled project from director Kathryn Bigelow.  Bigelow has proven – especially with her last two movies – she is a master of tone, tension and skillfully crafted action sequences.  The next subject she will tackle is the infamous riots from 1967 Detroit that will once again allow the Oscar winning director to display her talent for creating some gut-wrenching thrills on screen.  Bigelow has tasked Mark Boal – who also wrote Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty­ – with the screenwriting duties again, and the movie will also be the first major distribution effort from Annapurna Pictures who had previously just handled production costs.

The Snowman - October 13th

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy helmer, Tomas Alfredson, returns in 2017 with the crime thriller, The Snowman. Based on the novel by Norwegian author, Jo Nesbo, Michael Fassbender stars as Harry Hole, a detective investigating the disappearance of a missing woman whose pink scarf was found draped over a snowman. An impressive supporting cast including J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer and Toby Jones, The Snowman makes for an intriguing fall prospect.

Suburbicon - ???

The screenplay for Suburbicon, written by the Coen Brothers has been around since the mid-80s and now, in 2017, finally looks like it’ll see the big screen.  With George Clooney directing a star-studded cast that includes Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac, this small-town noir/crime/comedy, which centers around a home invasion that turns deadly and forces the hand of a picture-perfect 1950s suburban family, has all the makings of one of the year’s bests.   

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara - ???

Any time legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg delivers a new film, it has to be considered a contender for the big dance. Spielberg's latest effort, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, marks a return to the period piece where a young Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy who is taken from him family and raised as a Christian in 1858. Oscar Isaac and Mark Rylance, who won an Academy Award for his performance in Spielberg's Bridge of Spies, headline the cast.

Darkest Hour - November 24th

Gary Oldman is a well-regarded veteran actor who's failed to secure an Oscar win, well he just may get his chance in this year's World War II drama, Darkest Hour. Director Joe Wright (Atonement & Pride & Prejudice) examines the valiant work of Winston Churchill (played by Oldman, pictured below), as he leads a charge against Adolph Hitler in the early stages of WWII. The late John Hurt co-stars alongside Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn and Lily James in this potential-filled drama that hits all the check marks for the Academy.

Mary Magdalene - ???

Garth Davis has enjoyed a wildly successful awards season run this year with his Weinstein Company title, Lion. The filmmaker plans to return in 2017 with an examination of biblical figure, Mary Magdalene. Rooney Mara re-teams with Davis in the title role, and she'll be joined by co-stars Joaquin Phoenix (as Jesus) and Chiwetel Ejiofor in what hopes to be another Best Picture contender for industry tycoon, Harvey Weinstein.

Hostiles - ???

The Western genre has made quite a resurgence of late and director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace & Black Mass) plans to capitalize on the upswing in 2017. His adventure/drama transports the audience back to 1892 where an Army captain (Christian Bale) reluctantly agrees to guide an Indian chief and his family through a dangerous territory. Ben Foster and Rosamund Pike co-star in Hostiles, an intriguing new title from Scott Cooper.

Stronger - ???

Finally, David Gordon Green built a career off of stoner comedies like Pineapple Express and Your Highness, but he's finally branching out in a big way with the upcoming drama, Stronger. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman, a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing who aided police officials in tracking down the perpetrators, all while battling to overcome his own traumatic injuries. The premise certainly suggests an emotional ride as Stronger could be the work that finally transforms the director's career.

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