Twenty films to catch in 2017

11 Jan 2017 BY Joe Ursell in Film Features

10 mins
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast

While 2016 was another bumper year for fantastic films - you can check out our favourites from the past year here - 2017 looks set to be just as exciting - if not more so! Below, our Film Programmer Joe picks out twenty of the titles we're most looking forward to this year, from animated hijinks, to spectacular superheroes, and emotionally resonant dramas.

Find our Primary picks below, or click here to jump to our Secondary selections.

Films to look out for in 2017 - Primary

The LEGO® Batman Movie

After stealing the show in not-so-modest fashion in The LEGO® Movie, the Caped Crusader gets his own film in this, the first of two LEGO® films to be released this year (the other being the martial arts-themed The LEGO® Ninjago Movie, due out in September). Faced with the Joker once again trying to take over Gotham City, Batman learns that in order to be the hero, he may just need the help of others if the fearsome villain is to be stopped in his tracks.

Hidden Figures 

The story of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 is already familiar to most people, but this comedy-drama tells the true story of its unsung heroes; a group of three female African-American mathematicians who performed the crucial role of calculating the spaceship's flight trajectories, allowing the mission to take place. Drawing on themes of gender and race, whilst retaining the sense of wonder seen in all the best space movies, Hidden Figures should bring history to life for young audiences in fresh, inspiring ways. 

Beauty and the Beast 

Following the enormous success of Cinderella and The Jungle Book, this is the latest Disney classic to be reinterpreted in live-action. Emma Watson stars as Belle, a young woman who learns to look beyond appearance and see the kind heart within, after she is captured by a fearsome beast in his castle, with the help of a host of curious characters she befriends. Promising to emphasise Belle as a strong, independent and fearless individual, anticipation is certainly high, with the trailer became the most viewed of all-time when it appeared last year!

Spider-Man: Homecoming 

Following his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Spidey gets his own adventure with British actor and BAFTA rising star Tom Holland in the title role. His story has, of course, been told numerous times in recent years, but this film promises something different by focusing on Peter Parker as a high-school student and placing the character within the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than a lone crime-fighter. We're hoping the fresh, energetic charisma hinted at in Civil War is carried forward into this new adventure, allowing for a younger spin on the superhero world.

Despicable Me 3

After 2015's hugely popular spin-off, the pesky Minions are back for a new adventure, alongside Gru, his wife Lucy, and former child-star turned hell-raiser Baltazar Bratt, who is intent on achieving world domination. This time the story takes place in the 1980s, and while story details are thin at this stage, it's safe to assume this sequel will be every bit as zany, silly and funny as its predecessors. 

Mary and the Witch's Flower 

Following the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki and the release of When Marnie Was There, it appeared that the iconic Studio Ghibli was no more. But a group of their animators had more stories to tell, and to everyone's surprise, they quietly formed Studio Ponoc. This is to be their first film, shrouded in secrecy until recently, and an adaptation of classic British children's story The Little Broomstick, by Mary Stewart. Expect all of the magical Ghibli elements, alongside some fresh techniques that will hopefully establish Ponoc as both a continuation of the Ghibli legacy and a distinct filmmaking presence in its own right.

The Red Turtle

Studio Ghibli also had a hand in this multi-national, dialogue-free animation, which tells the story of a man who encounters a giant turtle after he is shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. This is a gentle, simple fable, told beautifully, and having received rave reviews at film festivals around the world, looks set to enchant audiences when it arrives in cinemas.

My Life As A Courgette

Its title might sound bonkers, but this animated film from France is a universal tale for anybody who has ever struggled to fit into new surroundings. Nine year-old Icare (known as Courgette to his friends) suddenly finds himself in an orphanage; a scary new home filled with other orphans with their own emotional troubles. Initially struggling to fit in, Courgette gradually makes friends and comes to discover how to trust people, and maybe even fall in love! Sensitive and funny, this film proves once again how animation can engage young people in complex but beautifully human stories. 

Paddington 2

Everybody fell in love with the lost bear from Peru when he arrived at the Browns' London home in 2014 with nothing but wide eyes and a decreasing pile of marmalade sandwiches. This year he's back for a new adventure, together with all of his friends. Now happily living as a member of the community, Paddington has nothing more to concern himself with than organising a present for Aunt Lucy's birthday - but that all changes when said present is stolen! Alongside the returning faces, the film adds a perfectly cast Hugh Grant as "a vain, charming acting legend whose star has faded in recent years".

Coco 

The second of two Pixar films in 2017 (following Cars 3 in the summer), Coco takes place around Mexico's legendary Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Twelve year-old music-lover Miguel stumbles into the Land of the Dead and goes on a remarkable journey in search of his family heritage. Continuing Disney's commitment to telling more diverse stories and promising to immerse audiences in authentic representations of other cultures, the central focus of this story is on the family unit, suggesting a film that will combine human emotions with wonderful storytelling in the way that Pixar do best.

Films to look out for in 2017 - Secondary

Moonlight

This beautiful, achingly sad and tender film has become the talk of the industry, and might just be heading towards unlikely awards season glory. Told in three parts, it tells the story of shy, withdrawn Chiron, a young gay black man growing up in one of the most economically deprived areas of Miami. Surrounded by guns, drugs, and a culture of toxic masculinity, Chiron's story is a beautifully observed coming-of-age tale that feels especially relevant in the current political climate. The film challenges stereotypes and confronts issues around identity in delicate, emotionally raw fashion.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

This unlikely and largely unknown gang of superhero misfits first appeared in 2014 with a rip-roaring intergalactic adventure that harked back to serial storytelling of the past and never took itself too seriously. Expectations are therefore enormous for this follow-up, which sees most of the old gang returning, alongside an adorable looking Baby Groot. Can the success be replicated now that the secret is out? And can we expect an appearance from any of the Avengers along the way? Marvel fans can also look forward to Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Hunt For The Wilderpeople's Taiki Waititi. 

Wonder Woman 

After stealing the show in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman gets her own movie this summer, ahead of the Justice League team-up later in the year. This origin story already has audiences looking forward to one of pop-culture's most iconic heroes finally getting her due on the big screen, and will hopefully encourage more films of this size to centre their stories around female characters. The choice of Patty Jenkins as director suggests fans will not be disappointed.

Baby Driver 

Cult British director Edgar Wright returns (this time without Simon Pegg) for an action thriller that Wright has suggested will depart more from his comic roots than his many fans might think. Ansel Elgort plays a young, music-obsessed getaway driver who gets into trouble when a bank robbery goes particularly badly wrong. Despite the departure in tone, and moving away from his usual UK setting, we expect Wright's trademark cinematic flair to still be evident in what could be a belting ride. 

The Beguiled 

Following The Virgin SuicidesMarie Antoinette and The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola promises another fabulous female coming-of-age story, with an intriguing Western twist. While imprisoned in a girls' boarding school, a Union soldier fighting in the American Civil War cons his way into the hearts of several lonely women. A remake of a 1971 Clint Eastwood film, this stars regular Coppola collaborators Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, along with Nicole Kidman, and promises to be a great showcase for Coppola's familiar visual panache and acute understanding of pop culture and femininity.

Dunkirk 

Christopher Nolan has assembled an eclectic cast - ranging from Mark Rylance to Harry Styles - for this epic telling of the evacuation of Allied soldiers on the French beach of Dunkirk when surrounded by German soldiers; a crucial event in World War Two. Shot using IMAX cameras and repurposed vehicles from the actual event, the film looks to combine visual spectacle with a respectful historical account of what really took place. Following The Dark KnightInception and Interstellar, this could be the film that finally takes Nolan to the Oscars.

The Circle 

Based on the Dave Eggers novel, this drama starring Emma Watson, John Boyega and Tom Hanks takes place in a dystopian future at The Circle, an organisation that functions as a sort of hybrid of Facebook, Google and Apple. Watson plays Mae, a young woman offered her dream job at The Circle, who quickly discovers that the company is not quite as benign as it likes to project. Tapping into our relationship with technology and offering a vision of a not-so-inconceivable future that should alarm us all, it might just make us think about our own relationship with social media and ponder at what point a company has too much power. 

Wonderstruck 

Acclaimed director Todd Haynes follows up Carol with a story aimed at a slightly younger audience. Based on a story by Brian Selznick (who also wrote Hugo), Wonderstruck follows a young boy growing up in the Midwest during the 1970s whose tale is told simultaneously with that of a young girl in 1920s New York, as they both seek the same mysterious connection. Starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, the prospect of a director of Haynes' sensitivity telling stories centred around young people is a fascinating one. 

Blade Runner 2049 

Thirty five years after one of the most influential science-fiction films ever made, the long-talked about sequel is finally happening. Harrision Ford is back as LAPD officer Deckard, but it appears the lead role will be taken by Ryan Gosling, who plays a younger detective. The story remains unknown, but an early trailer suggests the dystopian tone and remarkable visuals have been retained. Director Denis Villeneuve has the unenviable task of living up to the hype, but his previous track record (including Arrival and Sicario) suggests that the story is in safe hands.

Star Wars Episode VIII 

Details remain scarce on the next instalment in the Star Wars saga, but that will only increase the enthusiasm of its legions of fans. With J.J. Abrams handing over directing duties to independent-spirited Rian Johnson, it seems likely that this will be a slightly darker episode, which may take the story in an entirely fresh direction, as well as drawing on nostalgia for the original films. Expect to see a larger role for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) this time around, along with an unexpectedly poignant farewell to the late Carrie Fisher, who completed her work as Princess Leia shortly before her sad death late last year.

Portrait picture of Joe Ursell

Joe Ursell, Film Curator

Joe has a BA in Film & American Studies from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Contemporary Cinema Cultures from King's College London. He has worked with the BFI London Film Festival and on the production of ITV documentary 56 Up.

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