Hollywood is dead, long live Hollywood. There are a number of "issues" that have made the headlines this year: Streaming services altering the way we watch films forever; rising ticket prices; franchise fatigue; reboots; an out of control superhero boom. It's easy fall into the trap of doom and gloom, but when looking beyond the headlines, a wealth of exceptional films have hit cinemas during the first eight months of 2017.
From a record breaking Wonder Woman debut, to Christopher Nolan's 70mm masterpiece Dunkirk, original hits such as Baby Driver, Charlize Theron's badass action heroine in Atomic Blonde and "they-don't-make-them-like-they-used-to" retro hit The Lost City of Z, this year has delivered endless hours of motion picture entertainment. Audiences are shaping up too, with quality — not financial might — shaping box office performance.
And the best bit? There are four months left of this year and there's much, much more to come,evidenced by our list of the best upcoming films of Fall 2017. It's an eclectic bunch, but all 20 are unmissable in their own right. So read on and mark the dates in your calendar.
Release date: September 8
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard
Coulrophobia. That's the term given to those with an intense fear of clowns, those deceptively unnerving "entertainers" who in theory should bring joy to children's parties, but instead freak out people of all ages. Track back to the source of coulrophobia, and you'll find Stephen King's 1986 horror novel It, which tells the story of seven children haunted by an shapeshifter who, of all things, manifests as a clown known as Pennywise.
King's novel was adapted in 1990 for a television miniseries, where Pennywise was portrayed by Tim Curry. This year brings a fresh adaptation, the first of two planned films. Bill Skarsgård will fill the oversized boots and don the makeup this time around, and judging from early footage, he'll instigate a rise in cases coulrophobia in a new generation.
Release Date: September 15
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer
Aronofsky is a master of creating psychological thrillers that double as hallucinogenic nightmares, from drug-induced fridge murmurs in Requiem for a Dream (2000) to psychotic dancing in Black Swan (2010). Hidden under a veil of secrecy, Mother! looks to take the director's most unnerving traits, and trap them in one location.
Marketing has been deliberately secretive, with only an unnerving teaser trailer and some stylish, cryptic posters released. The plot is ambiguous, too, gravitating around a couple (played by Lawrence and Bardem) who are "tested" when uninvited guests visit their home. Mother! will no doubt be dark, enthralling, horrifying and hard to shake off.
18. Battle Of The Sexes
Release date: September 22
Director: Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carrell, Andrea Riseborough
Films about tennis are like buses. You wait for ages, two turn up at once, and then you make a racket about the lack of service. Sidestepping poor puns, Battle of the Sexes will complement Borg/McEnroe; both films are based on real matches, Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Rigs and Björn Borg and John McEnroe respectively.
Battle of the Sexes — also the term given to games between men and women — stands out though thanks to direction from Little Miss Sunshine duo, Faris and Dayton. They'll bring to life the 1973 tennis match, with Emma Stone playing then World Number One, Billie Jean King, and Steve Carrel playing her opponent, ex-Champion Bobby Riggs.
17. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Release Date: September 22
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore
Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of the most well-received films of 2015, making $414.4 million against a $94 million budget, impressing critics and generally being lauded as the film to rejuvenate a genre that had lost some of its zest. Vaughn's R-rated romp focused on Eggsy (Egerton), an unlikely recruit to Kingsman, an independent intelligence, and his mentor Harry Hart (Firth).
The clan return — including the presumed-dead Hart — in what will be a bigger, more stylish, more tailored, more umbrella-yieldingly violent clash of gentlemanly manners. This time, the world-saving Kingsman join forces with their American equivalent, the Statesmen (incorporating the likes of Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges).
Release Date: September 29
Director: John Carroll Lynch
Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston
Harry Dean Stanton proves there's never a cut off date for a role of a lifetime. After Lucky made the rounds at South by Southwest, all the talk was that this was his finest performance to date, at the tender age of 90-years-old. He plays the titular protagonist, an ageing, cynical atheist who is thrust into a journey of spiritual enlightenment as he approaches the twilight of his life.
Dubbed a love-letter to it's leading man, Lucky is peppered with eccentric locals, adding color to his desert town, including Stanton's onscreen reunion with Tom Skerritt, 38 years after co-starring in Alien. Lynch's directorial debut tackles life, love, death, and everything in between.
Release Date: September 29
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev
Is there life after death? 27 years ago, Flatliners told the story of five medical student's disturbing attempt to answer that question. Directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts, the original received a lukewarm response, praised for its style, criticized for its narrative.
Surprisingly, 2017's Flatliners isn't a reboot, but instead a sequel to the first. Again, the story focuses on students who create near-death experiences in an attempt to answer the elusive question, with Sutherland returning in the same role as one of the original students, Nelson Wright. It's tough to predict whether this unlikely sequel will fall flat, but at the very least the hope is it'll be entertaining.
14. American Made
Release Date: September 29
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson
A true-to-life crime thriller, starring Tom Cruise as an airline pilot, with the word "American" in the title... is it the '80s all over again? It has been a while since Cruise had a decent hit, and American Made has potential. The film is based on the life of Barry Seal, an infamous American smuggler who was recruited by the DEA to provide intelligence on the Medellín Cartel.
If The Bourne Identity (2002) director Doug Liman can adequately transfer Seal's cocaine-smuggling life of crime to the big screen — and involvement in the subsequent governmental scandal — American Made could be a surprise hit movie of fall 2017 and maybe, just maybe, the best Cruise movie in a number of years.
13. Blade Runner 2049
Release date: October 5
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford
How do you follow-up Blade Runner, knowing that Ridley Scott's cyber punk is widely considered one of the best sci-fi films of all time? Well, first you hire one of the finest working directors in Hollywood. Then you add one of the biggest A-list actors, bring back the star of the first film, and continue the story, rather than rehash or reboot the original.
As Blade Runner 2049 approaches, the better the prospect looks. Ryan Gosling stars as Blade Runner LAPD Officer K, who searches for Rick Deckhard (Ford) who has been missing since the events of the 1982 cult classic, year 2019 in the film's timeline. On top of stunning visuals courtesy of Roger Deakins, and a chilling score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, Villeneuve's bold exploration of a universe already richly adored could easily match the original — or even better it.
12. The Snowman
Release date: October 13
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson
"He calls himself the Snowman killer. He's completely insane," says Detective Harry Hole (Fassbender), the man on a mission to stop a frosty and calculated serial killer who preys on victims during snowfall. He and fellow recruit Katrine Bratt (Ferguson) are taunted by childlike, handwritten messages and actual snowmen as they search, against the clock.
11. The Foreigner
Release date: October 13
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan
Once a prolific force in Hollywood, Jackie Chan hasn't had a major release in the West since 2010, if you discount the animated Kung Fu Panda. This year, he's back with a bang, starring as Ngoc Minh Quan, a London-based businessman who becomes embroiled in conspiracy after his daughter dies as a result of politically-motivated terrorism.
Directed by Martin Campbell, who took charge of two critically acclaimed Bond films Goldeneye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006), The Foreigner proves Hollywood has been missing out on Chan for the past seven years, with the first trailer showing the 63-year-old at his ass-kicking best during his impassioned quest for vengeance — aimed at government official Liam Hennessy, played by former 007 Pierce Brosnan.
Release date: October 20
Director: Dean Devlin
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish
Ah, Geostorm. The entry I most deliberated on including in the list because, well, it's unashamedly cheesy, popcorn-munching, hyperbolic and unoriginal. So why? Why does it make this list? Because, for exactly the reasons stated above, it also looks to contain enough wink-to-camera awesomeness to make for a pulsating visit to the nearest IMAX, to divulge in the absurd, to revel in the far-fetched.
It also looks like an unofficial sequel to Independence Day, a catastrophe movie that packs a punch. Gerard Butler stars as Jake Lawson, an astronaut who has to travel to outer-space to prevent climate-control satellites from causing the storm of all storms (a computer system screams "EXTREME WEATHER ALERT" in big red letters, so it must be bad). I'm sure you're already sold.
9. Thor: Ragnarok
Release date: October 25
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba
After 16 films and almost $5 billion in box office receipts, you'd be silly to doubt the appeal of the MCU. That being said, there are still those who actively avoid superhero movies, and those that feel there's no enough variation within the shared universe. Well, for those people, Thor: Ragnarok could provide something a little bit different.
Following on from Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013), Ragnarok has a distinct quality thanks to direction from New Zealand's Taika Waititi. His trademark quick-witted dialogue and effortless balance of drama and lightheartedness are evident from the trailer alone, and after creating hits such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) and What We Do in the Shadows (2014), it's exciting to see how he tackles the superhero genre. On top of that, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett stars as the MCU's first female villain, Hela, and Jeff Goldblum appears as Grandmaster.
8. The Square
Release date: October 27
Director: Ruben Östlund
Cast: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West
After winning the esteemed Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, there's plenty of buzz surrounding this satirical look at the art industry. Swedish director Östlund follows up his previous hit Force Majeure (2014), this time imagining a fictional world where the Monarchy of Sweden has been abolished and the palace has been transformed into an art gallery.
The film focuses on Christian, the curator of an interactive exhibition named "The Square," a small space where citizens can enter, but are instructed to act in the name of altruism. Christian is thrust into crisis following the theft of his mobile phone, which sets the chain of chaotic events, leading to an eccentric and bizarre satire on modern life through the lens of the contemporary art.
7. Last Flag Flying
Release date: November 3
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne
Set to premiere by opening at this year's New York Film Festival, Richard Linklater's latest offering is a sequel to Oscar-nominated The Last Detail (1973), which starred Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid and and Otis Young. The road movie will pick up the lives of the three Vietnam veterans those actors portrayed some years down the line — this time played by Cranston, Carrell and Fishburne.
Based on a novel by Darryl Ponicsan, the three reunite following the death of Doc's (Carrell) son during the Iraq invasion, with the intention of giving him a proper burial. After being nominated for his role as Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo (2015), there's early speculation Cranston's role in Last Flag Flying could see him enter the Oscar race yet again.
Release date: November 3
Director: George Clooney
Cast: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac
Watch the trailer for Suburbicon, and you'd be forgiven for being convinced it was directed by the Coen Brothers. Although they wrote the script, regular collaborator George Clooney takes on directorial duties, clearly having learned a thing or two throughout his appearances in films such as Burn After Reading (2008) and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).
The comedy crime caper has all the trademark Coen Brothers tropes. Set in 1959 in the seemingly idyllic titular community, the Lodges are enjoying living the simple life, raising a family, until a ruthless mob becomes involved. It's then up to Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) to tackle the criminal gang — and match their level of violence — in an attempt to save his family.
5. Justice League
Release date: November 16
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa
In modern times, there's no avoiding the glut of superhero movies propping up Hollywood. Justice League will be 10th of its kind in 2017 alone and the fifth DCEU entry since 2013. Hot on the heels of the financial and critical success of Wonder Woman, Zack Snyder will be hoping it's third time lucky in Warner Bros. shared universe, after directing lukewarm entries Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
Success, failure, or somewhere in the middle, there are some guarantees with Justice League — grandiose, no-holding-back action, CGI-infused destruction and more superheroes you can shake a lasso of truth at. DC's royalty, including Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg, will all be vying for screen time in events beginning months after Batman v Superman.
Release date: November 17
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Cast: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay
Here's one to warm even the coldest of hearts. Child acting sensation Jacob Tremblay — who made millions "awwhhh" at the Oscars following his incredibly breakout appearance in Room (2015) — plays August "Auggie" Pullman, a young boy with a facial disfigurement who has to adjust to life in a new school. The story is based on a 2012 novel by R.J. Palacio.
Two of Hollywood's most wholesome play the parents helping to guide Auggie through his difficult journey: Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. Wonder raises poignant moral questions on the concept of outer and inner beauty, the importance society misplaces in appearance and the struggle to fit in.
3. Death Wish
Release date: November 22
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Bruce Willis, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dean Norris
The original 1974 film starred Charles Bronson in the lead role as vigilante Paul Kersey, and spawned a series of five films running up to Death Wish V: The Face of Death in 1994. Rather than a continuation of the series, this time the original is rebooted by horror aficionado Eli Roth and fronted by Hollywood action royalty, Bruce Willis.
Willis will take on the role of Kersey, a doctor from Chicago who takes the law into his own hands after his wife is murdered and his daughter is sexually assaulted during a home invasion. With killer quips, all-out action and bad guys getting beat down by Bruce through the lens of Roth's grisly genius, Death Wish is set to become one of 2017's guilty pleasures.
2. Call Me By Your Name
Release date: November 24
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Another film on the list surrounded by a healthy amount of Oscars buzz after wowing crowds at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Luca Guadagnino's poignant first-love tale is sure to be a sweet antidote to the dark winter months. Set in a sun-drenched Italian Riviera in 1983, Call Me By Your Name depicts the coming-of-age romance between 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old academic Oliver.
Immersive, authentic and moving, the tale of the passionate romance between the two young men is an unforgettable addition to LGBT cinema, and provides a career defining (and possibly award winning) performance from Armie Hammer and a sensational debut from Timothée Chalamet.
1. The Shape Of Water
Release date: December 8
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins
Del Toro, the master of crafting dark, fantastical worlds, returns for the enchanting and aesthetically stunning The Shape of Water. Set in 1963, the film tells the story of Elisa, a deaf janitor who, while working in a governmental facility, stumbles across a top-secret experiment.
The result of that experiment is a bizarre, water-dwelling creature. Elisa strikes an unconventional bond with the creature as she fights to keep him safe at the hands of government. Due to a resemblance to another character del Toro captured on screen, there were theories that this is a covert Hellboy prequel. Hellboy link or not, this'll be one to watch in cinemas thanks to del Toro's magical visual composition.