ByDavid Opie, writer at
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David Opie

From 9th-19th February, the 67th Berlin International Film Festival will showcase a stunning array of movies, featuring a range of blockbusters and arthouse films alike. With hundreds of films competing this year, it can be hard to choose which ones will be most deserving of your precious time — fortunately, Movie Pilot is on hand to help you decide.

Whether you're interested in R-rated superheroes, Scottish drug addicts or forbidden romance in Europe, there's something here for everyone. Can't make it to the this year? Take a look anyway and discover the best movies heading to cinemas in 2017 before anyone else.


Director: James Mangold

Berlinale Synopsis: In 2024, the mutant population has shrunk significantly and the X-Men have disbanded. , whose power to self-heal is dwindling, has surrendered himself to alcohol and now earns a living as a chauffeur. He takes care of the ailing old Professor X whom he keeps hidden away.

One day, a female stranger asks Logan to drive a girl named Laura to the Canadian border. At first he refuses, but the Professor has been waiting for a long time for her to appear. Laura possesses an extraordinary fighting prowess and is in many ways like Wolverine. She is pursued by sinister figures working for a powerful corporation; this is because her DNA contains the secret that connects her to Logan. A relentless pursuit begins …

Why We're Excited: Hugh Jackman's swan song as the titular Wolverine promises to be one of the most adult superhero films ever made, taking the X-Men franchise in a bold new direction.


Django [Credit: Pathe]
Django [Credit: Pathe]

Director: Etienne Comar

Berlinale Synopsis: France in 1943 during the German occupation. Every night, guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt delights Parisian audiences with his witty, life-affirming ‘gypsy swing’ music.

Whilst many other Romany people are finding themselves the target of racist persecution and being murdered in concentration camps, Django believes himself to be safe due to his popularity – until agents of the Nazi propaganda machine demand that he goes on tour to Germany in order to counteract the influence of ‘negro music’ from the USA. Django Reinhardt refuses.

Why We're Excited: Chosen as the opening film for this year's Berlinale, Django promises a captivating glimpse into the machinations behind the Nazi's rise to power, all set to a thrilling soundtrack.

Dream Boat

Dream Boat [Credit: Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion]
Dream Boat [Credit: Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion]

Director: Tristan Ferland Milewski

Berlinale Synopsis: One week on a cruise ship, with parties, fun and new friendships. The all-gay clientele on board are preoccupied with topics such as identity, the body beautiful and the search for sex. Every evening is dedicated to a new theme, challenging the passengers to ever more extravagant, body-hugging outfits. In the cabins however, the talk is more than skin deep as the men open up about their private lives.

Marek, a young Polish man just wants to be accepted and loved as a human being and not just because of his taut body. Dipankar from India has just recently come out; he and Palestinian Ramzi are revelling in the kind of freedom they can only dream about in their homophobic societies back home. Martin is HIV positive and ponders hedonistic ways, while Philippe from France observes the proceedings on board serenely from his wheelchair.

Why We're Excited: A frank, yet humorous approach to free love, Dream Boat is a surprisingly moving documentary that portrays this unique aspect of the gay community without pretence or judgement.

The Dinner

The Dinner [Credit: The Orchard]
The Dinner [Credit: The Orchard]

Director: Oren Moverman

Berlinale Synopsis: Paul has no desire to go out to dinner with his brother Stan, a well-known politician, and his sister-in-law Barbara. But his wife Claire insists on him accompanying her. The couples meet at a hip restaurant but, in between each exquisite course, dark family secrets are brought out onto the table. The couples’ sons are responsible for a terrible crime – as yet undiscovered – and their parents must now decide how to deal with the situation. An argument soon ensues, since public disclosure would change the lives of each of them forever.

Oren Moverman puts moral conflict right at the heart of his thriller that sometimes has the intimate feel of a four-hander. The quarrel between the adults confronted with the fact that their children have committed a monstrous act is punctuated with flashbacks both to the crime and to the childhood of brothers Paul and Stan. The film reveals the power struggle between two couples as they shift alliances. Should they face up to their responsibility or deny it? How do you make the right decision and what price does the next generation have to pay for it?

Why We're Excited: Moverman has been working on the cusp of success for some time now, but by the look of this incredible cast — including Laura Linney and Richard Gere — The Dinner could be the film that finally propels the oft-overlooked director into the big leagues.

T2 Trainspotting

T2 Trainspotting [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
T2 Trainspotting [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

Director: Danny Boyle

Berlinale Synopsis: Did Renton really start a family, buy a car and a washing machine as he proclaimed at the end of Danny Boyle’s successful cult film? Or how else did he spend the 16,000 pounds he stole from his friends following their heroin deal? These may be the questions we ask ourselves twenty years later but there is barely time to answer them as Renton’s return to the place that was once his home ushers in a quick-fire succession of events.

At first glance much has changed in Edinburgh, but for the friends of yesteryear much has also remained the same. It seems that they have long been waiting for Renton to put in an appearance: whilst the cynical Sick Boy greets him with a punch in the face, Begbie, fresh out of prison and still agile, goes berserk. And when it comes to Spud, the eternal dreamer, Renton finds himself having to save him once again from a final tumble into oblivion.

Why We're Excited: It's been 20 years, but we couldn't be more excited to catch up with the cast of and see what questionable yet hilarious shenanigans they're up to now.

Final Portrait

Final Portrait [Credit: Olive Productions]
Final Portrait [Credit: Olive Productions]

Director: Stanley Tucci

Berlinale Synopsis: Paris in 1964. Alberto Giacometti is the one who decides when it is time for work, drink, doubt, destruction, flirtation or laughter in his studio. An established artist whose works fetch record prices, he hides his earnings in his studio. This is just one of the causes of many an argument with his wife Annette, another being the fact that his mistress Caroline receives all his attention. His brother Diego, also an artist, is all too familiar with his idiosyncrasies. One day, Giacometti asks American art critic and biographer James Lord to pose for him. But their sittings, scheduled to take a week, are frequently interrupted by visits to the bistro or long car rides, with no end in sight. Lord postpones his return flight several times.

Why We're Excited: We've always known that is an impressive actor, but his fifth turn in the director's chair could elevate him to a whole new level. Plus, this time out, he's working with a stunning cast that includes the likes of Geoffrey Rush and .

Butterfly Kisses

Butterfly Kisses [Credit: Blue Shadows Films]
Butterfly Kisses [Credit: Blue Shadows Films]

Director: Rafael Kapelinski

Berlinale Synopsis: At the housing estate they call home, Jake, Kyle and Jarred hang around playing billiards, partying, smoking pot, watching porn, and talking about sex. They welcome anything that breaks the routine, even if it's a fight at the snooker hall – or a new neighbour such as the pretty Zara, a teenage girl who just moved into the estate with her younger sister. Standing at the window on the top floor, Jake can survey the whole housing block. Something about this place captivates him; the solitude, the isolation, the anonymity.

Why We're Excited: The 10th anniversary of Skins reminds us that no one portrays disenchanted teens like the British media. Fortunately, the directorial debut from Rafael Kapelinski looks set to continue this tradition, using monochrome film and a haunting soundtrack to take audiences into surprisingly dark territory.

La Reina de España (The Queen of Spain)

La Reina de España (The Queen of Spain) [Credit: Universal Pictures]
La Reina de España (The Queen of Spain) [Credit: Universal Pictures]

Director: Fernando Trueba

Berlinale Synopsis: Spanish actress Macarena Granada returns home to Spain in the mid-1950s having enjoyed a successful career in Hollywood. She is to play Queen Isabella the First of Castille in a prestigious period drama. At the studio she meets her former friends and colleagues, falls in love with a handsome crew member, leads a madcap expedition to free a resistance fighter and proves herself to be truly regal during an encounter with the fascist leader Franco, whom she despises.

Why We're Excited: The Spanish dream team of Fernando Trueba and reunite for a third time here, promising a uniquely ravishing meta-experience that plunges the startingly beautiful actress into a film within a film. We expect plenty of award attention for La Reina de España in the near future.

On The Road

On The Road [Credit: Revolution Films]
On The Road [Credit: Revolution Films]

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Berlinale Synopsis: In the summer of 2015, Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Joel Amey and Theo Ellis take their band Wolf Alice on tour through Great Britain and Ireland, to promote their seductive, darkly euphoric debut album ‘My Love is Cool’ – and find themselves confronted by sudden fame.

Director Michael Winterbottom accompanies the band and observes the realities of life on tour from the perspective of a new member of the crew: from the energetic interplay between the band and its young audience and the moments of ecstasy on stage, to the exhaustion backstage. In time, the relationships between the travellers are also brought to light – with a few surprising turns.

Why We're Excited: Winterbottom's surprisingly candid glimpse into the British music scene works as both a study of art and a romantic tale, all wrapped into one unforgettable film.

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name [Credit: Sony Pictures Classics]
Call Me By Your Name [Credit: Sony Pictures Classics]

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Berlinale Synopsis: It’s the hot, sun-drenched summer of 1983 and Elio is at his parents’ country seat in northern Italy. The 17-year-old idles away the time listening to music, reading books and swimming until one day his father’s new American assistant arrives at their large villa.

Oliver is charming and, like Elio, has Jewish roots; he is also young, self-confident and good-looking. At first Elio is somewhat cold and distant towards the young man but before long the two begin going out together on excursions. Elio begins to make tentative overtures towards Oliver that become increasingly intimate – even if, as Oliver says, ‘one can’t talk about such things’. As the short summer progresses, the pair’s mutual attraction grows more intense.

Why We're Excited: Already boasting strong reviews following a screening at Sundance, is a sumptuous piece of acting and filmmaking that demands your attention from the get-go. Trust us — you've never seen Armie Hammer like this before.

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City Of Z [Credit: Plan B Entertainment]
The Lost City Of Z [Credit: Plan B Entertainment]

Director: James Gray

Berlinale Synopsis: Private Percy Fawcett’s humble background means that his chances of promotion in 1920s England are pretty slim. Seconded to a Royal Society land surveying expedition to Bolivia, he finds himself fascinated with the jungle – in spite of the strenuous conditions. He agrees to a further expedition even though an absence of several years will distance him from his wife and mean that his children will barely know him. In the Amazonian rainforest he finds vestiges of lost civilisations. He becomes convinced of the existence of a sunken metropolis, the mysterious city of Z. But his claims are laughed off by the scientific establishment. Driven by the desire to prove his theory, Fawcett sets out on one last fateful journey with his now adult son.

Why We're Excited: Between , , Sienna Miller and , The Lost City of Z is full to the brim with impressive acting chops. Based on David Grann’s non-fiction book, Gray’s adventure film possesses both the dramatic scope and the killer cast to have a big impact at the Berlinale and beyond.

I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro [Credit: Magnolia Pictures]
I Am Not Your Negro [Credit: Magnolia Pictures]

Director: Raoul Peck

Berlinale Synopsis: In June 1979 renowned US writer James Baldwin began work on his last, unfinished text ‘Remember this House’. His personal memories of his three murdered civil rights friends Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King and his reflections on his own painful experiences as a black American serve to re-write American history.

Raoul Peck has turned these thirty hitherto unpublished pages into a powerful collage of archive photographs, excerpts from films and newsreel footage: the boycotts and the resistance against racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, the invisibility of black Americans in Hollywood’s legendary works, the Afro-American protests against white police brutality that continue to take place even today, Baldwin’s complex relationship with the Black Power Movement and one FBI report’s paranoid view of Baldwin’s homosexuality. A trenchant and disturbing essay about the reality of the lives of African Americans – lives that are still largely ignored by America’s mainstream. Samuel L Jackson’s voice lends Baldwin’s poetic, meditative language suitable expression.

Why We're Excited: Already nominated for an Oscar, this searing account of prejudice against African Americans is sadly more relevant now than it has been for a number of decades.

Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome [Credit: Entertainment One]
Berlin Syndrome [Credit: Entertainment One]

Director: Cate Shortland

Berlinale Synopsis: Australian backpacker Clare is wandering through Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg with her stills camera. She’s particularly fascinated by the old GDR buildings. She meets a friendly English teacher named Andi and they hit it off immediately. He shows her the allotments and the neighbourhood, and they end up in bed together. Something that begins as a romance takes an unexpectedly sinister turn when, in the morning – Andi has left for school – Clare tries to leave the otherwise empty old building and realises that she is locked in. At first she thinks this is a mistake, but she soon realises that she is a prisoner. Cut off from the rest of the world, Clare experiences terrifying weeks during which she vacillates between yielding to Andi’s obsessions and trying to escape.

We’ve seen thrillers about psychopaths in the outback but Australian director Cate Shortland has set the horror in Berlin. Whenever the film focusses on Clare, the setting, lighting and camerawork has a claustrophobic feel, whereas Andi’s world outside goes on just as before. Based on Melanie Joosten’s novel of the same name, this adaptation is a precise study of the changing relationship between kidnapper and victim.

Why We're Excited: Moving further away from her Australian roots, director Cate Shortland has crafted an unusual thriller set in Berlin, one that captivates like the best genre films do, but in a way that never compromises the filmmaker's own authorial stamp.

Casting JonBenet

Casting JonBenet [Credit: Netflix]
Casting JonBenet [Credit: Netflix]

Director: Kitty Green

Berlinale Synopsis: The truth about a murder is usually difficult to grasp. The question is: which is better, a documentary or a fictional approach? In Casting JonBenet director Kitty Green attempts to use both approaches at the same time. The unsolved death of six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey has preoccupied the American public for twenty years. Under the pretext of searching suitable actors for a feature film about this mysterious case, Kitty Green invites everyone in the girl’s Colorado home town community who had contact with the Ramsey family. In screen tests the diverse protagonists reveal their version of the truth, which becomes increasingly complex as the film progresses. Filmed on a set, the film’s documentary sections are juxtaposed with carefully dramatised fictional scenes until the various portrayals would appear to form a single truth. Truth has many facets, and the fictional dramatisation of the real story displaces the memories. All is not what it would at first appear to be.

Why We're Excited: Documentaries revolving around unsolved murder cases have become more of a fascination in recent years, but few are crafted with such intelligence and care as Casting JonBenet.

See also:

As the 2017 Berlinale unfolds, make sure to come back and find out more about the very best films that the festival has to offer. We can guarantee that there will be a whole host of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

Which film are you most excited to see at Berlinale 2017 and why? Let us know in the comments section below!

(Source — Berlinale Programme)


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