Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
2017 is just getting started, but we’ve already seen an unusually wide variety of hit movies that ranges from corporate behemoths (“Beauty and the Beast”) to culture-shaking phenomenons (“Get Out”). Some of these blockbusters have been safe (it’s hard to imagine that something like “Justice League” won’t make actual buckets of money when it hits later this year), or even cynical (who knew that “Split” could upend the box office so early, and kinda stay there?), while others have pushed the needle forward and inspired the type of fervid conversation that’s usually reserved for television.
Looking at the list of major movies that are slated for release later this year, which of them — for the good of cinema or civilization on the whole — would you most like to see become a huge success?
Kate Erbland (@katerbland), IndieWire
This is easy: Nacho Vigalondo’s “Colossal.” Putting aside things like budget, distributor, its actual creation story, and this thing looks and moves like a goddamn blockbuster smash hit. It stars Anne Hathaway. It’s about monsters — and like, not just ANY monsters, but basically Godzilla and essentially a Pacific Rim kaiju dude. It has a festival pedigree. It’s really, really good.
But “Colossal” is so good because it takes all those known elements — an Oscar-winning leading lady, huge bad guys, actual quality — and twists them into something entirely fun and new and exceedingly different. I don’t think it could work without any of those puzzle pieces, they’re exactly what allow it to so handily subvert what we expect from BIG STARS! and MONSTER MOVIES! That’s why it’s so damn good, and why this might be a totally bonkers idea, but why not just sell the hell out of its stars and its villains — who knows, we could all be in for a really big (Godzilla big!!) treat with this one.
Neil Miller (@Rejects) Film School Rejects
“Wonder Woman.” Hands down. Sure, this feels like an easy choice, as it’s likely to be able to trip over itself on the way to a large release. But there’s more to it. For one, this is a huge opportunity for a film that puts a female superhero in the driver’s seat to come out and really perform. Working for it is the fact that fans have been waiting for a long damn time to see a good Wonder Woman film. Plus, it’s not just a win for representation in front of the camera, it’s also got the very talented Patty Jenkins in the director’s chair. As well, this could be the film that helps turn the critical tide for the DC Comics universe of films. Can WB deliver a more energetic, focused, crowd-pleasing experience and bring fringe fans (and critics) back into the fold for its DCEU? That’s a huge weight to bear for a film like “Wonder Woman,” but it’s nothing she isn’t completely capable of handling.
Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko), Pajiba, Nerdist, Comic Book Resources
I’m rooting for “Atomic Blonde.” I was lucky enough to see it SXSW, where the audience was so thrilled with ecstasy over the bone-crunching, ball-busting action thrown down by Charlize Theron that they roared like it was a rock concert at the end of every battle scene. I’ve rarely experienced that sense of frenzy in a theater. And I want more.
I want as many “Atomic Blonde” sequels as Theron — who not only stars but also produces — would dare to take on. And audiences have plenty of reason to turn out for this (hopefully) first entry. The direction by David Leitch is electric with attitude and an awesome ’80s soundtrack. The performances from Theron, Sofia Boutella and James McAvoy are acidic and alive. And the heroine, Lorraine Broughton, is a worthy successor to James Bond. She’s ever-chic, unmatched in a fight (be it brutal hand-to-hand combat or a sprawling shootout), and this unburdened bisexual also “gets the girl” in one of the hottest sex scenes likely to be seen this year, period, let alone in a major studio release. What more could audiences ask for? Besides sequels.
Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker
I abstain, from excess of enthusiasm. I don’t wish failure even on bad movies, because you never know when a filmmaker will get better (others get worse, but that’s another story). Certainly, there are directors, and some among the best — such as Terence Davies, James Gray, and Sofia Coppola – who have movies opening soon, and, as my mother used to say, I wish for them what they wish for themselves (though various forms of deeply-ingrained guilt may make that a bad deal for the recipient). This is a roundabout way of saying that I wish for movies to be good, which is what’s to the good of cinema and (God help it) civilization; recognizing them to be so or not is my department; and I’ll leave the commercial dreams to the interested parties.
Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse), Freelance for the Guardian, Vulture, Vox
The only part of the Judd Apatow-produced Netflix comedy “Love” that didn’t make me want to open-palm slap the nebbishy romantic lead Gus was when he expressed his frustration that Hollywood appears to have abandoned the erotic thriller. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, movies like Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction still managed to generate hundreds of millions in profit while offering the moviegoing public a glimpse of Sharon Stone’s pudenda. The closest thing we’re getting to those lurid delights these days would be the cinema of David Fincher, and even “Gone Girl” didn’t dare to bare full-frontal. As cinephiles — no, as Americans — we’ve grown estranged from our truer natures.
How much fun, then, would it be if “Unforgettable” came out of nowhere as a sexy sleeper hit? The plot synopsis sounds like something I’d come up with after a long night of slugging malt liquor and watching “The Perfect Man” on repeat: Katherine MFin’ Heigl is furious that her man has divorced her and shacked up with Rosario Dawson, letting her anger turn her into what the film’s Wikipedia page describes as a “sadistic, terroristic, bloodthirsty dominatrix craving for vengeance.” I have seen the trailer upwards of a dozen times. At this point, I don’t even want to see this film — I want to mash my face into it like Tony Montana and snort it up my nostrils.
David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich), IndieWire
I’ve gotta go with Luca Guadagnino’s Sundance breakout, “Call Me By Your Name.” The story — a tender, idyllic period piece about the attraction that develops between a scrawny teenage boy (Timothée Chalamet) and the hunky older man (Armie Hammer) who interns for his father (Michael Stuhlbarg) during a sun-kissed summer in 1983 Italy — earns its radical empathy in the most heartbreakingly unexpected of ways. I’m hesitant to reveal too much, but it’s safe to say that everybody on the planet would do well to listen to and learn from the monologue that Stuhlbarg delivers during the film’s closing minutes. It’s a veritable guideline on how to love and let live, and it’s delivered in such a way that even the most resistant audiences will be hard-pressed to shake it off their skin.