We live in an era where Hollywood wants to produce franchises or constantly adapt from known properties. Sure, we are all excited for the new installment of #StarWars, the next superhero movie or an adaptation of a book. There's nothing wrong with those films or wanting to see them. They have characters and worlds we know, love and can't wait to see. Unlike some filmmakers, I believe franchises are not the death of creativity, I just believe they should be used more sparingly than they are currently in the marketplace.
When I discuss going to see a movie in theaters with family members or coworkers they often say, "They're all the same," and that's why they hardly pay to see anything on the big screen anymore. As a writer who dreams of professionally producing my original scripts someday, this statement truly upsets me. They're not wrong in saying most films do feel the same. This makes me tell them, "Go financially support original movies then." They often don't know about these smaller projects or original movies because the marketing is so small compared to the big franchise blockbusters.
My goal is to help spread the word of some original movies coming out this year. I cannot vouch that they will be mindbogglingly amazing experiences or best picture winners, but based on the directors, writers, or actors involved, they are worth checking out. These films feel unique and aren't "all the same." They can be limited release, but be sure to seek out where you can catch them and give them a chance! In no order:
1. 'Baby Driver'
Originally scheduled for August, and recently bumped up to a June release, is #BabyDriver by the incredible director Edgar Wright. If that name doesn't ring a bell, he made certain genre-bending films such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World's End and one of my favorites of all time: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. After Edgar Wright had a falling out with Marvel Studios trying to direct Ant-Man, he decided to jump back into what he does best: original content.
This all-star cast comes together to give us a movie that got glowing reviews when it screened at the SXSW film festival. Based on all four of Edgar Wright's films, I believe we can trust that he will deliver another fun time at the movie theater. Back in December when ranking my Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017, Baby Driver sat at No. 3 only behind #Logan and The Last Jedi. That's how much faith I have in Edgar Wright.
2. 'Free Fire'
Free Fire is produced by A24, who has recently given us films such as #Moonlight, The Lobster, Swiss Army Man, Room, Ex Machina, Under the Skin (among many others). A24 is known for is bringing us mostly original content with modest budgets of usually less than $40 million instead of blockbusters that push $300 million. I bring this up because we may see some more A24 productions on this list.
#FreeFire looks like a blast with dark comedy spattered throughout this high-octane trailer. It has incredible actors like Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and others in what seems to be a feature-length Mexican standoff/shootout sequence. It reminds me of Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, with the entire story looking to be in a trashy warehouse. This comes out April 21st and I hope you plan to see it like me!
Currently playing in limited theaters, this certainly looks like a strange film indeed. Anne Hathaway seems to have developed the powers to control a gigantic Godzilla-sized monster? What? You read that correctly. It seems very odd, but that is what is so intriguing about it all. I have no idea if this story plans to explain how or why she has this ability but I want to see what the answers are to the many questions.
Jason Sudekis also stars alongside this weird and wild ride of an idea. I have yet to get the chance, but this and Free Fire are going to be the two films I try to see in theaters in April instead of anything in the Never-ending story franchise. Oh, I meant the Fast and the Furious franchise. Or, are they the same thing? Neither end.
4. 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'
Also featured on my Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017 List, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri sat at the No. 5 spot only because, at the time, there were no trailers available. This could be tied with Baby Driver as one of the movies I am most eager to see this year. It's written and directed by one of the most underrated filmmakers working today: Martin McDonagh. The former playwright has written/directed two films, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. The first can be found on Netflix and the latter on Amazon.
Do yourself a favor and check them out to see why those who have seen these films, love them. McDonagh has a dark dramatic writing style that includes hilarious black comedy. Some compare him to the likes of Tarantino, or the Coen Brothers with his two features. Three Billboards has a tremendous cast including Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes and Peter Dinklage. Coming this fall.
5. 'The House'
This is not an independent darling like some of the previous entries. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler come together for the directorial debut feature of Andrew J. Cohen. He's known recently for being a writer involved with both Neighbors movies. Why is this on the list? The trailer made me laugh and the film stars one of my favorite comedic actors working today: Jason Mantzoukas. You may recognize him as Rafi in The League.
It's a goofy premise but I would rather something like this be attempted than churn out more comedy sequels that don't live up to the original like Anchorman 2 or Zoolander 2. It also seems like it can provide some great laughs when the characters reference such classics like Casino. Maybe this will be a comeback for Will Ferrell who has been very hit or miss his last handful of films.
6. 'The Lovers'
Here's another film from A24. The trailer makes it seems like a very on-the-nose story, until the latter half when you realize what is actually going on. Even though the main characters are going through a divorce and have found new partners, they find themselves drifting back together. The lead cast will include Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Melora Walters and Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones.) Instead of seeing the same ol' generic romantic comedy, go see something like this that brings an interesting look at a divorcing couple. This will be coming out this May.
7. 'A Ghost Story'
Believe it or not, this isn't a horror movie. This is a drama coming from A24 again (last one, I promise) is directed by David Lowery, with the lead cast of Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. It is being described as:
In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try and reconnect with his bereft wife.
What intrigued me so much about this trailer was simply how haunting yet innocent the look of a "ghost" is in a white sheet with only two holes poked out. I couldn't take my eyes off my screen because I was so curious as to what exactly was going on. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and the reactions have been fantastic across the board. The only thing that worries me is the July release date being surrounded by big blockbusters.
8. 'The Big Sick'
This has been a film I've been dying to see for years ever since I heard about it on Pete Holmes's podcast You Made it Weird. Here is the premise: "The Big Sick is based on the real courtship of Kumail Nanjiani and his now-wife, Emily Gordon. Kumail's traditional Muslim family are unhappy with his relationship with Emily, an American. When Emily is waylaid by a mysterious illness, Kumail must take charge of the crisis with her parents."
This is being produced by Judd Apatow, directed by Michael Showalter and will star Kumail as himself, Zoe Kazan as Emily, as well as Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily's parents. This is a romantic comedy I'm actually looking forward to, and coming in July, may be a nice break from all the big-budget action movies coming out.
Dean — Written, directed and starring comedian Demeteri Martin, the film is about an illustrator who falls in love with a woman while trying to keep his father from burning down the family home after his wife dies. Supporting cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen.
The Wall — This is a film about two American soldiers are trapped by a lethal Iraqi sniper, with only an unsteady wall for cover. This movie is directed by Doug Liman, who directed the amazingly underrated Edge of Tomorrow. It will star Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena in the two lead roles. Scheduled to be released this May.
Suburbicon — Coming out in early November, this will be directed by George Clooney and is written by Joel and Ethan Coen. Word is this is a crime-comedy script the Coen brothers wrote back in the later 1980's after Blood Simple was released. It will star Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac.
Wind River — Set for an August release date, this movie stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Jon Bernthal. No, this is not a film that will feature Hawkeye, Scarlett Witch and The Punisher. This will be about Renner and Olsen as two agents traveling through the Wind River Indian Reservation during a violent winter. This is written and the directed by Taylor Sherdian. He was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Hell or High Water and also wrote Sicario. For any Sons of Anarchy fans, he played the police officer David Hale in the first two seasons.
Thank you so much for reading this article if you made it this far. If you'd like to see some more of my work you can check out my production channel called Entertainment Buffet. We have new web shows and sketches coming soon. I also co-host a podcast called The Entertainment Buffet Podcast if you'd like to check us out there as well. On Episode 31 of the podcast, we will be discussing more of these original films in depth! Please follow me on MoviePilot if you'd like to keep up with my written work.
Which of these films are you most looking forward to?