Dunkirk teaser

Sometimes humans can be terrible at predicting things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun when we try. My previous attempts to predict my favorite films of the year are often wildly inaccurate — inevitably, my actual favorite films of the year will contain lots of entries that I couldn’t have possibly foreseen.

That being said, for 2017, the job is slightly easier. There are sequels on the docket that lots of people are actually psyched to see, rather than follow-ups people didn’t need (Alice Through the Looking Glass) or ask for (The Hunstman: Winter’s War). Still, I have no doubt that my favorite films of the year will be those that I couldn’t have possibly predicted at this stage.

After the jump, check out my picks in chronological order based on release date. Also, I recorded an episode of my new podcast with Joanna Robinson, Gen Pop, in which we both discuss the films that have us most excited. Listen below (and also see Jacob and Ethan’s lists).

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John Wick: Chapter 2 (February 10)

Part of the reason why the first John Wick was so refreshing was it filmed its action in relatively wide shots and lengthy takes, allowing viewers to luxuriate in the choreography and gunplay. Moreover, it was unafraid to embrace its status as a b-movie, leaning into the outlandishness of Wick’s mythology and crafting a subculture of assassins that felt alluring and dangerous. This new film looks like it’ll continue both those trends and deliver some reliable, fun ultraviolence.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

I couldn’t be more excited to see a film with these beloved characters again, unencumbered by the need to provide each of them with origin stories. I wasn’t certain that director James Gunn could pull off a mass-market four-quadrant film the first time around, but my doubts have been eliminated and I really appreciated the edginess he brought to that film. Bring on Baby Groot, I say.

A Cure for Wellness (February 17)

Between The Ring and the Pirates films (and even arguably Lone Ranger), Gore Verbinski has demonstrated that he can produce some of the most distinctive visuals of our time. The incredibly creepy teaser trailer for The Cure for Wellness hints at how his powers might be used might be used in service of something that’s not a reboot or a remake (see also: Rango).

Logan (March 3)

The resilience of the Wolverine franchise, as separate from The X-Men, has really impressed me. It takes a lot of guts to continue soldiering on in the wake of a movie as resoundingly awful as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but James Mangold took The Wolverine and made it into a solid extension of the invincible clawed superhero’s story. With Logan, it seems like Mangold and Hugh Jackman understand that all bets are off. This will likely be the last featuring Jackman in the role and based on the trailers, he is going to leave it all on the field. I love what looks like a smaller stakes story with a darker tone.

T2: Trainspotting (March 3)

I’m not sure why Danny Boyle has chosen to return to the Trainspotting franchise after all this time, but I’m hoping it’s because he sees an opportunity to deliver something we don’t expect. When I’ve interviewed Boyle in the past, he’s always spoken compellingly about using each new film as an opportunity to test himself and try new things. The diversity of his filmography attests to the fact that Boyle moves between different genres with aplomb, and he’s never done a sequel until now. I’m cautiously optimistic that this isn’t just a cash grab, but we’ll find out soon enough.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7) 

No joke: One of the most moving parts of Captain America: Civil War was the re-introduction of Spider-Man into the Marvel cinematic universe. Not just because Tom Holland played the part perfectly (he did), but because of the knowledge that after Sony cranked out two terrible Spider-Man movies, essentially ruining the very concept of Spider-Man in the popular imagination, Spider-Man was finally coming home to Marvel Studios. This new trailer indicates that they’re doing a lot of things right: Holland actually looks the part, and they’re skipping the by-now-tired origin story to get straight to the action. Here’s hoping this homecoming continues to be a joyful one.

War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was one of my favorite films of 2014, introducing us to the entire subculture and language of the Ceasar’s community and successfully making us root for these non-human characters. But it was ultimately tragic, with its message that some differences can be irreconcilable. With War coming out this year, we are promised the next phase of the escalating violence between apes and humans. Matt Reeves returns from the second film to shepherd the third to its conclusion.

Dunkirk (July 21)

I haven’t loved any Christopher Nolan film as much as I loved Memento, but here’s one thing you can consistently say about his most recent ones: They are visually spectacular. Whether it’s cities folding in on themselves in Inception, or spaceships trying to bend the laws of space/time in Interstellar, Nolan not only comes up with novel concepts, he comes up with innovative ways of executing those concepts. While I feel less and less connected with his characters in each subsequent film, I am increasingly impressed by his technique. I’m hoping that Dunkirk can deliver on both fronts.

Blade Runner 2049 (October 6) 

As with Danny Boyle above, here we have another filmmaker (Denis Villeneuve) whose work I’ve adored, but is now taking his first steps into sequel-making. The visuals and design of Blade Runner have inspired dozens of sci-fi films since, and this movie already looks like it’ll be a worthy successor on those fronts. But will the story justify the return to this world? I’ll take the return of Harrison Ford as an encouraging sign.

Star Wars Episode VIII Title

Star Wars: Episode VIII (December 15)

What to say about one of the most anticipated sequels of all time? Rian Johnson is one of my favorite filmmakers on the planet and with The Force Awakens, I feel like JJ Abrams reintroduced the universe of Star Wars to fans in a way that allows Johnson to take it in bold and interesting new directions. I hope Disney lets him.

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