8. The Post
Release Date: 22 December 2017 (USA)
Steven Spielberg teams up with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep for a historical drama about one of the biggest exposés in U.S. history, arriving at a time where its themes are still relevant in a Trump-led America.
Plot: The Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Kay Graham challenge the government for the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, which unveiled the Watergate scandal and resignation of President Nixon.
Sporting a strong support cast that includes Alison Brie, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, David Cross and Jesse Plemons to name a few, “The Post” will definitely have its share of strong performances and dramatic moments. Streep will probably get nominated for her gazillionth Oscar.
Between making his blockbuster fair, Spielberg has had an interest in making true-life dramas and is currently working through pivotal moments of American history following “Lincoln” and “Bridge of Spies”. While “The Post” may be a statement on current affairs, it’s an interesting look into one of the most controversial times in American politics.
7. I, Tonya
Release Date: 8 December 2017 (USA)
“I, Tonya” seems like another one of those “truth is stranger than fiction” stories. The media frenzy that followed the story made it hard to sympathize with Tonya Harding, but the Craig Gillespie-directed, Margot Robbie-led film will tell us things from her side.
Plot: The true story of one of the biggest scandals in sports history. Competitive figure skater Tonya Harding’s falls from grace after her husband tries to eliminate her competitor Nancy Kerrigan.
Classified as a biographical sports black-comedy drama, it’s the black-comedy aspect that critics are saying gives it its charm. It’ll be remarkable to see a biopic (a scandalous one at that) treated that way. It’s a story that’s already known to have its share of drama, comedy, stupidity and the flat-out bizarre.
Robbie has already shown her knack for comedy and drama in the likes of “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and this could be one of her most memorable performances.
6. The Darkest Hour
Release Date: 22 November 2017 (USA), 29 December 2017 (UK)
Joe Wright’s “The Darkest Hour” looks like a great companion piece to Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk”. While Dunkirk showed us what it was like on the battlefield of World War II, “The Darkest Hour” will show us what went on behind the walls of government.
Plot: Within days of becoming Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, faces his darkest hour: negotiate a peace treaty with Germany as the Nazis close in on Western Europe and invasion looms closer, or go to war to defend freedom. With his own party plotting against him and an unprepared public, Churchill must rally his nation and change the course of world history.
Everyone who’s seen the film has already labeled Oldman as the frontrunner for the Oscar for Best Actor. There’ve been numerous portrayals of the Churchill over the years, but maybe Oldman’s performance will stand as the definitive Churchill portrayal.
By choosing to focus on a small chapter of Churchill’s work and life, Wright will no doubt capture the dramatic heft and paranoia of one of the most famous and respected figures in history.
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Release Date: 10 November 2017 (USA)
Martin McDonagh has made some of the funniest black comedy films in the last couple of years, and his latest looks like it might be his funniest. It also looks like his most dramatic with the simple type of concept that makes for the best kind of film.
Plot: Nine months after her daughter is raped and murdered, Mildred Hayes scrambles money together to put up three controversial billboards in her town that condemn the local police for not arresting the culprit. The main target of these billboards, the local sheriff, and his deputy don’t take kindly to the public criticism and things get out of hand.
Starring a foul-mouthed, angry and funny Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson (who’s having a stellar year), Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, Abbie Cornish and Peter Dinklage, “Three Billboards” has one of the best casts this year.
Some critics are calling it McDonagh’s best film to date and are praising McDormand as an Oscar contender for her powerhouse performance alongside her co-stars. Although the film looks like it’s based on a true story, it’s actually an original story inspired by a personal angry billboard that McDonagh once saw.
4. Molly’s Game
Release Date: 25 December 2017 (initial), 5 January 2018 (wide) (USA)
Aaron Sorkin has long been one of the greatest screenwriters of his generation, delivering powerful and thought-provoking scripts like “A Few Good Men”, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, “Steve Jobs” and “The Social Network”. He finally stepped behind the director’s chair to deliver another unique true-life story.
Plot: Jessica Chastain plays Molly Bloom, an Olympic would-be skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes, underground poker game. Her games included players like Hollywood celebrities, sports stars, business tycoons and the Russian Mob. When she’s arrested by the FBI, her only ally is her lawyer Charles Jaffe, played by Idris Elba.
You can already tell from the trailers that this is another rise-and-fall Scorsese-esque story but what makes it more interesting is the female lead. Here we have a woman who’s not just some guy’s long-suffering wife but an actual player. There’s little doubt that Chastain will deliver another stellar performance that’ll maybe bag her that overdue Oscar. Her chemistry with Elba from what we’ve seen is what will give the film its center.
Early reviews affirm the performances, the writing and Sorkin’s directing. It’ll be interesting to see exactly how he directs one of his scripts and how it’ll fit into his signature storytelling.
3. Call Me by Your Name
Release Date: 24 November 2017 (USA)
Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age drama has been making noise since the Sundance Film Festival and every other festival that followed. Based on the novel of the same name by André Aciman that’s both beautiful and moving, qualities that Guadagnino will surely translate to the screen.
The Plot: A young man living in Italy in the 1980s forms a passionate relationship with an academic who comes to stay at his parent’s villa. They connect over their sexuality, Jewish heritage and landscape.
The film stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, who’ve received nothing but praise for their fearless work. The script by James Ivory and direction by Guadagnino has been highlighted as well in a film that appears to be firing on all cylinders.
And with music being handled by the amazing singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens, you can be sure he’ll capture the emotion of first love and the beauty of the locations.
2. The Shape of Water
Release Date: 8 December 2017 (USA)
Guillermo del Toro returns with another romantic fantasy after the underrated and mis-marketed “Crimson Peak”. Collecting a string of high-praises from critics who are calling it his best film since “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “The Shape of Water” won this year’s Golden Lion for best film at the Venice International Film Festival.
Plot: Set in 1962 Baltimore, Elisa, a mute janitor working at a high-security government laboratory, discovers an amphibious creature in a water tank known as “The Asset”. Out of loneliness, she forms a bond with the creature whose fate lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and marine biologist.
Del Toro’s films are always visually stunning with a poetic, classic literature aesthetic and the trailers confirm that this one is no different. It sports a strong cast that includes Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Doug Jones, del Toro’s go-to man for playing creatures.
“The Shape of Water” looks like it’ll match the director’s visual flair with strong performances and emotional heft that the detractors of his last few films felt were missing. Sally Hawkins especially, has been receiving praise for her performance as the heart and soul of the film with her powerful silent acting. She’s the favorite and front-runner for Best Actress at next year’s Academy Awards.
1. Phantom Thread
Release Date: 25 December 2017 (initial) (USA)
Acclaimed filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson reteams with acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis, after their acclaimed 2007 masterpiece “There Will Be Blood”. Did we mention acclaimed enough? Right, moving along…
Plot: Reportedly set in 1950’s London and based on eccentric fashion designer Charles James, the plot is set to revolve around James being commissioned to design for members of high society and the royal family. But anyone who’s watched any of Anderson’s previous films knows to expect something more character driven.
At the time of writing, a poster, trailer or any kind of teaser has yet to be released (aside from some awesome production photos). But sometimes that’s a good thing as it builds anticipation and lets our imaginations run wild.
Besides writing, directing and co-producing, Anderson will also serve as his own cinematographer. And it’s Day-Lewis’ final film, or has his Oscar campaign officially began?
While it’ll inevitably be compared to “There Will Be Blood”, what’s interesting is seeing Anderson behind the camera. He’s always been a visual director with the help of frequent collaborator Robert Elswit, and to see what he does on his own will be curious. Another first is seeing an Anderson film set in England instead of the American past.
What we don’t need to wonder about is Day-Lewis’ performance, as he’s proven himself as one of the most consistent actors of all time. Set for initial release on December 25th, 2017, Anderson’s new film will be an event for film fans all over. With the lack of any promotional material or festival momentum hopefully, the film won’t be overshadowed by films that have already started their Oscar campaign like Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” last year.