Saturday, 24 June 2017

MY MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS OF THE SECOND HALF OF 2017



Earlier this year I posted about my Least Anticipated Films of 2017, so in a bid to counter that negativity -- and as we reach the halfway point of the year -- I thought I'd select some of the films I'm really looking forward to seeing in Australian cinemas between now and New Year's Eve.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
20th Century Fox
July 27

No reviews as yet but the early word from media screenings for this third installment of the Apes reboot is pretty darn good. With the Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, and then Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014, Fox showed they were capable of creating blockbusters with smarts. They also proved that motion-capture performances can be truly amazing. Seriously, how good is Andy Serkis as Caesar? Will this be the film that -- finally -- lands him an Oscar nomination? Matt Reeves is again at the helm as the apes and humans are once again headed for war.

ALI'S WEDDING
Madman Films
August 31

Winning the Audience Award at the recent Sydney Film Festival, this Australian comedy looks set to be the local breakout hit of the year. Co-written by actor, writer and comedian Osamah Sami (with Andrew Knight; Hacksaw Ridge, The Water Diviner), it is based on a true story from Sami’s life. After a reckless lie sets off a catastrophic chain of events, Ali (Sami), the son of a Muslim cleric, finds himself caught between his sense of duty to his family and following his heart. The film also stars Don Hany, Ryan Corr and newcomer Helana Sawires, who plays the Australian-born Muslim Osamah would prefer to marry and not the arranged bride of his parents' choosing. My Big Fat Muslim Wedding? Sounds like an invitation too good to pass up.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES
20th Century Fox
September 28

There are as many good films about tennis as Anna Kournikova has singles titles, so while Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (the creative team behind Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine) have a low net to clear, my hopes for Battle of the Sexes to be aces are pretty high. Emma Stone plays Billie Jean King and Steve Carell is Bobby Riggs, two American tennis greats and opposite ends of their careers in 1973, and opposite sides of the fight for sexual equality, when they decided to go head-to-head on the tennis court. From the trailer, the film certainly gets the 1970s look right, and, promisingly, it will also touch on King's sexuality. (I'm also hoping the film shows Riggs' first man v woman match; where he kicked the ass of one-time Australian tennis great, now loudmouth bigot, Margaret Court.)

PADDINGTON 2
StudioCanal
December 21

One of the delights of recent years was the first big screen outing for the much-loved book and TV show Paddington; the Peruvian bear with a penchant for marmalade and a knack for getting into trouble in his adopted London home. Perfectly voiced by Ben Whishaw, and supported by humans Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville and Julie Walters, Paddington 2 again sees the bear in the sights of a not-so nice Londoner; Hugh Grant taking up the evil mantle left by Nicole Kidman in the first film. It will be interesting to see if the Brexit vote has impacted the world of Paddington -- the first film was very much about an immigrant finding a new, welcoming home in London -- but if it has the same warmth, charm and British sense of humour as the first, then Paddington 2 should be a treat.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Sony Pictures
December 26

I haven't read the novel by Andre Aciman, but the glowing reviews following the Sundance premiere of Luca Guadagnino's adaptation (penned by James Ivory) of this gay coming of age tale -- as well as the overwhelmingly positive response from its Sydney Film Festival showing (jealous!) -- has made Call Me By Your Name my most anticipated film for the remainder of 2017. There's already awards buzz for this sun-drenched tale set in early 1980s Italy, where the teenage son of a professor falls for his father's intern (Armie Hammer). Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg and Hammer, seemingly gifted his best role since 2010's The Social Network, have all been praised for their performances. Now if someone could just make my dream project -- Armie Hammer as American tennis legend Bill Tillden -- that'd be great.

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