Watchlist for the second half of 2017

Last year I did a series of watchlists (only one of which is on this blog), where I would list the most exciting movies to watch over the coming month or 3. I got their Indian release dates from BookMyShow, but in time, I started to realise just how unreliable those dates really were. I got annoyed when movies like Hell or High Water and Kubo and the Two Strings didn’t release when they should’ve according to BMS, and soon after that I just stopped making the lists. But 2017 is ramping up to be a truly spectacular year for movies, and so many of them might slip by without people noticing them, I couldn’t not do another one.
But I’m not going through that uncertainty or that disappointment again. I’m done. So my new watchlist, covering the rest of the year from here on out, is based on the far more concrete USA release dates from Box Office Mojo. For those that also release in India, the release dates shouldn’t be too far. Those that don’t, we can still watch whenever they get their digital releases around 3 months later. With zero expectations comes zero disappointment.
Also, the second half of 2017 is gearing up to be an absolute blast for movie lovers, so I cannot reasonably list every movie I think will be amazing. I’m going to restrict myself to one per weekend. It’s not going to be easy.
JULY: The crescendo to the summer movie season
July 7: Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car)
This looks like everything a Spider-Man movie needs to be. High school coming-of-age drama blended with action packed superheroics, with a nerdy Peter Parker portrayed perfectly by Tom Holland and a terrifying villain played by Michael Keaton. (I’m also a massive Spider-Man fan, if you can’t tell from my blog name.)
July 14: War for the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
The conclusion to what many are already calling one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time, this follows Andy Serkis as Caesar dealing with the conflict between his duty to the apes and his personal vendetta. The trailers look breathtaking. Also, Matt Reeves is going on to direct The Batman, so this better be great.
July 21: Dunkirk, directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight)
One of the most exciting movies in years, this might just be the first time Christopher Nolan gives us a movie without a mindf**k, instead relying on raw emotions like hope, despair and terror. It stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles. The trailer is heart-stopping.
July 28: Atomic Blonde, directed by David Leitch (John Wick)
The pitch: Charlize Theron kicks ass. The trailer: Charlize Theron kicks ass. The reviews: Charlize Theron kicks ass. What I want: for Charlize Theron to kick ass. I’m sold.
AUGUST: Summer fade-out
August 4: Detroit, directed by Katherine Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Her last 2 movies were the 2 best critically reviewed movies of 2009 and 2012 respectively. Like The Hurt Locker, this looks like an extremely tense thriller, and like Zero Dark Thirty, it’s based on an important true story. It stars John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter and Jack Reynor. A Best Picture nomination is all but guaranteed.
August 11: Logan Lucky, directed by Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11)
The trailer looks like Oceans 11 but if the heist crew comprises entirely of nincompoops. It’s hilarious, especially, believe it or not, Daniel Craig, who does not brood.
August 18: The Glass Castle, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12)
Look, I don’t know much about this film other than that it’s based on an acclaimed work of non-fiction. What I do know is that Short Term 12 is a powerful, brilliantly directed movie and that I’ll watch anything that teams this director up with Brie Larson.
August 25: Death Note, directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next)
The trailer doesn’t look good, I know, but this is an adaptation of an all-time great anime, so nothing can really kill my enthusiasm for this movie until the reviews are out. And the casting of Nat Wolff as Light and Willem Dafoe as Ryuk is promising.
SEPTEMBER: Fall = Downtime gems
September 1: Viceroy’s House, directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham)
I’m not sure about this release date actually, it might be releasing on August 11. Or August 18. And it might be called Partition: 1947. Either way, a British period drama starring Huma Qureshi, Michael Gambon and Om Puri in his final performance should definitely be on your radar. Early reviews are positive, but not too positive.
September 8: It, directed by Andrés Muschietti (Mama)
It’s based on a Stephen King novel, which is it’s selling point. The trailer had some creepy moments to it, and it will certainly be good to see Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) again, but if I do end up seeing this, it will be because of the tone and feel I associate with Stephen King.
September 15: Simran, directed by Hansal Mehta (Shahid)
This is the only Indian film on my list for the year (not that When Harry Met Sejal won’t be good), and there are 3 reasons why: Shahid, Citylights and Aligarh. Mehta has shown himself to be perhaps the only Indian director whose storytelling talent lives up to the best in the world, and this time, he’s teamed up with Kangana Ranaut.
September 22: Kingsman: The Golden Circle, directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
The first one was one of the most uniquely entertaining action comedies in years, and it isn’t always you get to see Matthew Vaughn return to direct a sequel. There is no way this won’t be an absolute blast.
September 29: American Made, directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow)
It’s difficult to not be excited to see Doug Liman collaborate with Tom Cruise after Edge of Tomorrow was so good, but it gets even better once you realise that this is a character right up Cruise’s alley. Not a certain hit, but definitely one I’m curious about.
OCTOBER: Building up to Oscar Season
October 6: Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
The visionary director teams up with legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins to follow up one of the most beloved science fiction movies of all time. I’m just excited because the trailers look crazy.
October 13: mother!, directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
I know nothing about this movie. Nothing whatsoever. The director and the cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Harris, Kristen Wiig) should be more than enough.
October 20: The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
A crime/detective thriller starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J. K. Simmons, and I’ll stop here or the list will never end.
October 27: God Particle, directed by Julius Onah (The Girl is in Trouble)
I wouldn’t put too much faith in the director, but this is the 3rd Cloverfield movie, and the first 2 have created a universe truly unlike any other. I’m fascinated to see how much more we may end up discovering about that world through this film.
NOVEMBER: Oscar Season!
November 3: Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople)
Okay, not exactly the first thing you think of when you think Oscars. Not only is the trailer for this movie incredible, not only does it feature Thor, Hulk and Doctor Strange, not only is the villain Hela played by Cate Blanchett, but Taika Waititi is one of the most brilliant dramedic (is that a term?) directors working today. This is a must watch.
November 10: Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor)
Look at the cast. Look at the cast! Kenneth Branagh (as Hercule Poirot), Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley (pants, out of breath). Never has a whodunit had its suspects this well-cast.
November 17: Last Flag Flying, directed by Richard Linklater (Before Trilogy)
I don’t really know much about it beyond the fact that it’s a comedy starring Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne. That should be enough.
November 24: Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3)
Unless it’s a Cars movie, anything Pixar does gets an automatic spot on the watchlist. When it’s the second movie from the man who debuted with one of the greatest animated movies these eyes have failed to see through all the tears, it would take me being even more heartless than I am for me to not put this here.
DECEMBER: Christmas, Star Wars and more Oscar season
December 1: The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco (Child of God)
As a director, Franco hasn’t had a good track record, but here, the premise is interesting (a behind the scenes look at the making of The Room, one of the worst movies of all time), and early reviews are positive. Could Franco get a nomination for playing Tommy Wiseau?
December 8: The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth)
When del Toro directs a fantasy movie, you know at the very least that it’s going to look stunning. Whether the story reflects that beauty, we have to wait and see.
December 15: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson (Looper)
Everything about this movie is promising. Luke training Rey, the potential fall of the Jedi Order, a meeting of the Light and Dark sides and the unveiling of the mysteries surrounding Rey and Snoke. Moreover, as respected as Looper is, let’s not forget Johnson also directed the Breaking Bad episode Ozymandias, perhaps the greatest episode in TV history.
December 22: Downsizing, directed by Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Alexander Payne has quietly established himself as one of the most reliable directors working today, with movies like Sideways, The Descendants and Nebraska. This is a particularly intriguing movie because of its weird science fiction premise and a cast of Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Christoph Waltz.
December 29: Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood)
Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the greatest actors of all time, in his final performance, teaming up with the great Paul Thomas Anderson. The movie is set in the fashion industry and Phantom Thread may not be its final title. Oscar nominations are a given.
JANUARY: Oscar Spillover
Probably sometime in January: The Current War, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
Reminiscent of Murder on the Orient Express in that feeling of Look At That Cast! Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison! Tom Holland as his secretary Samuel Insull! Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse! Katherine Waterson as his wife Marguerite Erskine! Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla! Matthew McFayden as J. P. Morgan!
January 12: The Papers, directed by Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies)
A historical drama reminiscent of Spotlight starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep as editor and publisher of The Washington Post respectively, it tells the story of the Pentagon Papers and looks to me like exactly the kind of film Spielberg excels at. And what better way to end a watchlist than with a Spielberg movie?
That’s what I have for the remainder of the year, readers. Remember, this doesn’t nearly exhaust all the movies worth watching this year. Movies like The Big Sick and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets didn’t make it here simply because they’re out on the same weekends as War for the Planet of the Apes and Dunkirk respectively. So tell me, what are the movies you’re looking forward the most to? Is there something you think I should’ve included but didn’t? Let’s keep the discussion going.
Sources: Wikipedia and Box Office Mojo for release dates, IMDb for cast and crew and YouTube for trailers.

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