70. “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot”
Director: Gus Van Sant (“Milk”)
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Mark Webber
Synopsis: The story of John Callahan, who became an acclaimed cartoonist dealing with taboo subjects despite becoming a quadriplegic at the age of 21.
What You Need To Know: He’s one of indie cinema’s survivors, but Gus Van Sant’s last decade hasn’t been his most memorable: “Restless,” “Promised Land” and his last film “The Sea Of Trees” were all poorly received to varying degrees, particularly the latter, which bowed to boos at Cannes before taking just $20,000 in the U.S. But his latest, with one of the best titles of the year, shows every sign of being a return to form. Based on the memoir of the colorful Callahan himself, a quirky, characterful cast (also including Udo Kier, Steve Zissis, Carrie Brownstein, Heather Matarazzo and Kim Gordon) is toplined by what sounds like an awards-bound role for Phoenix, who’s currently in the form of his life. It could prove to be another disappointment, but this sounds more than most like it’ll straddle Van Sant’s more distinctive, experimental side and his “Good Will Hunting”-ish facility for crowd-pleasing.
Release Date: It’ll be one of the most high-profile Sundance premieres.
Director: Paul Dano
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Zoe Margaret Colletti
Synopsis: After they move to Montana, a teenager watches his family fall apart.
What You Need To Know: He’s barely into his thirties, but Paul Dano has already worked with a who’s-who of top directors, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Ang Lee, Spike Jonze, Rian Johnson, Steve McQueen and Denis Villeneuve. So it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s moving behind the camera next. His directorial debut (adapted with his real-life partner Zoe Kazan) is an adaptation of a novel by the great Richard Ford, a writer whose outstanding work has so far resisted screen adaptation. But Dano and Kazan have great taste: the excellent Oren Moverman is on board to produce, and they’ve assembled two tremendous actors to headline, with Dano’s “Prisoners” co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan playing the parents (and “The Visit” breakout Alex Oxenbould in the lead role).
Release Date: Sundance
Director: Duncan Jones (“Moon”)
Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Florence Kasumba, Sam Rockwell
Synopsis: In near-future Berlin, a mute bartender searches for a woman, aided and abetted by a pair of sinister American surgeons.
What You Need To Know: After kicking off with one of the best directorial debuts of the last decade with “Moon,” and following it up with the very enjoyable “Source Code,” Duncan Jones became something of a cropper with his fantasy blockbuster “Warcraft,” a movie not quite as bad as its reputation, but pretty bad regardless. Fortunately, he looks to be getting back on track with this long-time passion project, a “Blade Runner”-style near-future noir compared to “Casablanca” and the like. Netflix were the ones that finally stepped up with the cash, and the result is sure to be one of their most high profile movies to date, and one that will hopefully return Jones to the sci-fi brilliance of “Moon” (a film that this is rumored to exist in the same universe as: Sam Rockwell’s long been rumored to cameo as Sam Bell here in some respect). It’ll be intriguing to see how Paul Rudd does in a dramatic, semi-villainous role, too.
Release Date: Jones has suggested on Twitter that the film’s done and just waiting for Netflix to release it: a premiere at Berlin, where it’s set, would make sense.
67. “Hotel Artemis”
Director: Drew Pearce
Cast: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Jeff Goldblum, Sofia Boutella, Jenny Slate
Synopsis: In near-future L.A, a nurse runs a secret hospital in an art deco hotel for criminals, only to find violence come to her doorstep.
What You Need To Know: He only has two official IMDB credits, but Drew Pearce has been one of the major forces behind Hollywood’s blockbusters recently — he co-wrote “Iron Man 3” and “Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation,” but has also done uncredited work on movies like “Pacific Rim,” “Godzilla” and the as-yet-unmade “Sherlock Holmes 3.” Now he’s making his directorial debut with a star-studded sci-fi neo-noir crime picture that sounds like a beguiling mix of “John Wick” and Tarantino. The Black Listed script attracted not just Jodie Foster to star, but also of-the-moment names like Bautista, Goldblum, Boutella, Slate, Sterling K. Brown, Charlie Day, Zachary Quinto, Kenneth Choi and Brian Tyree Henry for what could be a cult movie in the making.
Release Date: Shooting took place last spring, so this could arrive anytime — SXSW seems most likely if it goes the festival route.
66. “White Boy Rick”
Director: Yann Demange (“71”)
Cast: Richie Merritt, Matthew McConaughey, Bel Powley, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Synopsis: The story of a teenager in 1980s Detroit who became the FBI’s youngest informant, and THEN one of the city’s biggest dealers.
What You Need To Know: French/Algerian filmmaker Yann Demange made one of the most striking directorial debuts of the last few years with the stunning Northern Ireland-set thriller “71.” And he’s now heavily rumored to be the frontrunner to direct the 25th James Bond film. But in between — and presumably helping to give him the buzz to put him in the running for the latter — is this Sony-released crime picture, based on the true story of Richard Wershe Jr. Newcomer Richie Merritt has the title role, but there’s lots of talent backing him up: most notably Matthew McConaughey as the boy’s father, Bel Powley as his sister, and Detroit’s own Danny Brown. Darren Aronofsky’s producing as well, in case you needed more reason to get excited: the only question right now is that we’re less than two months from release and we still haven’t seen a trailer…
Release Date: January 26th, 2018.
65. “Animated Spider-Man Project”
Director: Bob Persichetti & Peter Ramsay (“Rise Of The Guardians”)
Cast: Shameik Moore, Liev Schreiber, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry
Synopsis: Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales is bitten by a spider and gains powers similar to those of Peter Parker, becoming a superhero in his footsteps.
What You Need To Know: “Spider-Man: Homecoming” finally saw Sony’s Spider-franchise back on the right footing for the first time since “Spider-Man 2,” but there continues to be a sense that they’re flinging a certain amount of webbing at the wall and seeing what sticks, as the announcement of a “Morbius: The Living Vampire” movie might suggest. But their most promising non-Tom Holland-related project is this, an animated movie that will see Miles Morales, the popular Afro-Latino Ultimate Spider-Man from the comics, reach the big screen for the first time. It sounds on paper like it might be something of a cash-in, but there’s some serious creative talent behind the writing — “Lego Movie” duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, plus “Gravity Falls” creator Alex Hirsch — that suggests it could be something special. There’s a strong voice cast announced so far too, including Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali (curiously playing the same role that Donald Glover had in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”).
Release Date: December 14th, 2018
Director: Gareth Evans (“The Raid”)
Cast: Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, Lucy Boynton, Bill Milner, Kristin Froseth
Synopsis: In 1905, a man travels to a remote island to rescue his sister from a religious cult.
What You Need To Know: After the astonishing action of his “Raid” films, Welsh-born director Gareth Evans appeared to have the world at his feet, but he’s been careful to take some time to pick his next step — mostly resisting Hollywood overtures and the like. He looks to be getting sucked in soon: TV series “Gangs Of London” and DC adaptation “Deathstroke” are both in the works. But first is this Netflix-backed thriller that marks his first British-made movie. Right now, it’s unclear even what genre the film sits in — action, like his previous ones? Horror, like his excellent contribution to “V/H/S 2?” Something more grounded? But the idea of Stevens facing off against Sheen is intriguing, and we’re excited to discover the project’s secrets.
Release Date: Not at Sundance, so SXSW or TIFF.
63. “The Souvenir: Part One”
Director: Joanna Hogg (“Archipelago”)
Cast: Chyna Terrelonge-Vaughan, Ariana Labed, Robert Pattinson, Tom Burke, Richard Ayoade
Synopsis: In the early 1980s, a film student begins a relationship with an older, untrustworthy man.
What You Need To Know: Despite being responsible in large part for discovering Tom Hiddleston (who made his debut in her debut “Unrelated,” and has appeared in her subsequent two films too), Joanna Hogg’s utterly distinctive arthouse dramas remain something of an acquired taste. But her latest — the first in a two-part, semi-autobiographical story, the second of which will follow in 2019 — could be the one to break her out wider. For one, Martin Scorsese, an avowed fan of her work, is executive producing the movie, for another, it has her most high-profile cast to date, including the currently-on-a-roll Robert Pattinson.
Release Date: Her last film “Exhibition” premiered at Locarno, but expect a higher profile bow for this — perhaps at Cannes or TIFF.
62. “Outlaw King”
Director: David Mackenzie (“Hell Or High Water”)
Cast: Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, Billy Howle, Stephen Dillane
Synopsis: The story of 14th century Scottish king Robert The Bruce, who despite being wildly outnumbered, managed to drive the English invaders out of Scotland.
What You Need To Know: It’s a measure of the draw that they have, and the creative freedom and hefty budgets that they offer, that despite coming off the biggest hit of his career with the Oscar-nominated “Hell Or High Water,” Scottish director David Mackenzie chose to make his next film, a longtime passion project, with Netflix. This period epic, focused on some similar events and characters to “Braveheart,” sees Mackenzie reunite with Chris Pine, who might have his most testing acting challenge here (and that’s just the accent alone). Could this be another shot at awards for the streaming service? Or a “War Machine”-style folly? We’re betting on the former, given Mackenzie’s current form.
Release Date: The project filmed last August so we’d bet on a summer bow of some kind.
Director: Karyn Kusama (“The Invitation”)
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Scoot McNairy
Synopsis: An LAPD detective haunted by her undercover past in a desert gang must confront her demons when the gang’s leader reappears.
What You Need To Know: After a scorching debut in the early 00s with “Girlfight,” Karyn Kusama ended up unfairly in director’s jail after the studio-compromised “Aeon Flux” and the misunderstood “Jennifer’s Body.” But 2015’s “The Invitation” delivered a hell of a comeback: an utterly controlled, tonally assured, textured little thriller that reminded us what we’ve been missing. Between that and some top-notch TV on the likes of “Halt & Catch Fire” and “Billions,” Kusama’s a hot property again, so we’re keeping a definite eye on this thriller, which reteams her with “The Invitation” writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and toplines the similarly-on-a-hot-streak Nicole Kidman, along with the first post-“Orphan Black” role for the extraordinarily talented Tatiana Maslany.
Release Date: Filming’s not yet underway, so look for a TIFF premiere, like “The Invitation.”