Winter 2017’s 22 Most Exciting Films

We’re in the heart of the Summer movie season, but — as always — most of the year’s most promising releases have been saved for the final months of 2017: here’s our countdown of the 22 most exciting films of Autumn and Winter, from the latest Spielberg and Star Wars to Justice League.

1. THE PAPERS

MVPs: Silly Steven Spielberg has only gone and put every single one of my favourite actors in his new political drama. In addition to Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, The Papers will star Michael Stuhlbarg, Carrie Coon, Alison Brie, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Zach Woods, David Cross, Sarah Paulson, Bruce Greenwood, Jesse Plemons and Matthew Rhys. Enough said.

ETA: December 22 (US)

2. MOLLY’S GAME

MVPs: Aaron Sorkin, the smartest man in movies, making his directorial debut. He’s also written the script. Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera and Bill Camp star.

ETA: November 22 (US)

3. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

MVPs: Writer/director Rian Johnson, who has seemingly managed to maintain his authorial voice whilst cooperating with the LucasFilm suits. Composer John Williams will return, as well as The Force Awakens stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher in her final appearance as Leia, Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker and new faces Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro.

ETA: December 15

4. THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW & SELECTED)

MVPs: Writer/director Noah Baumbach, king of the indie tragicomedy, has given Adam Sandler his biggest ‘serious’ role in years, and when Sandler’s good, he’s really good! Also starring are Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Judd Hirsch and Emma Thompson. Netflix are distributing, so this’ll be easily accessible around the world.

ETA: TBC

5. KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

MVPs: Matthew Vaughn, returning as director, as is co-writer Jane Goldman. Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong and Sophie Cookson are back after 2015’s brilliant The Secret Service, joined by Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore and — seriously- Elton John.

ETA: September 22

6. COCO

MVPs: Pixar, at the top of their game with a beautiful-looking original film. Co-director Lee Unrich, the man behind Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3.

ETA: November 22

7. BLADE RUNNER 2049

MVPs: Director Denis Villeneuve of Arrival/Sicario fame, a man with the legitimate potential to make a superior film to Ridley Scott’s original. Ryan Gosling, the greatest leading man of his generation, joins original star Harrison Ford, as does Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Barkhad Abdi. Arrival composer Jóhann Jóhannsson is on board, as is King DOP Roger Deakins.

ETA: October 6

8. DOWNSIZING

MVPs: Alexander Payne, director of reliably moody black comedies. The cast includes Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, Margo Martindale and woman of the year Laura Dern.

ETA: December 22 (US)

9. THREE BILLBOARD OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

MVPs: Martin McDonagh, writer/director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. The legendary Frances McDormand being a badass in her biggest leading role in years. Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Kerry Condon, John Hawkes, Caleb Landry Jones and Lucas Hedges also star.

ETA: November 10 (US)

10. OUR SOULS AT NIGHT

MVPs: Jane Fonda and Robert Redford are one of the greatest big-screen duos of all time, and they’re back together in this Netflix movie, which also stars Bruce Dern.

ETA: TBC

11. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

MVPs: Yay, another original musical! This has the La La Land lyricists on board, and a really great cast led by Hugh Jackman, with Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya — who impressed in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

ETA: December 25 (US)

12. SUBURBICON

MVPs: Director George Clooney working off a script by the Coen Brothers and Grant Heslov. Stars Matt Damon, Oscar Isaac and Julianne Moore. Scored by Alexandre Desplat.

ETA: November 3 (US)

13. THE DISASTER ARTIST

MVPs: James Franco’s film about the worst film ever made, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, received acclaim at Sundance. The cast includes Franco, his brother Dave, Seth Rogen, Bryan Cranston, Dylan Minnette, Kristen Bell, Lizzy Kaplan, Zac Efron, Alison Brie, Zoey Deutsch, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Sharon Stone and Jason Mantzoukas.

ETA: December 8 (US)

14. THE SHAPE OF WATER

MVPs: Guillermo Del Toro, directing a period fairy tale that looks like a mix of Hellboy and Hugo. The cast is great: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins and — once again — Mr. Michael Stuhlbarg.

ETA: December 8 (US)

15. JUSTICE LEAGUE

MVPs: Zack Snyder did an… interesting job with Batman v Superman, which is by no means a film without merit. His directorial duties on JL have been picked up by Joss Whedon after a personal tragedy, and the Avengers director will hopefully inject some fresh energy into Snyder’s project. His first creative choice? Firing terrible composer Junkie XL and hiring the far preferable Danny Elfman. Ben Affleck is back as a very good Bruce Wayne, joined by Gal Gadot’s superb Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller’s promising The Flash and Henry Cavill’s passable Superman. However, Aquaman is also in this film. Plus: J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Amy Adams, Billy Crudup, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, Diane Lane, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Ciarán Hinds and Jeremy Irons. The trailer’s rubbish, but DAMN this is a must-see.

ETA: November 17

16. AMERICAN MADE

MVPs: Doug Liman and Tom Cruise reunite after Edge of Tomorrow with this flashy Wolf of Wall Street-ish crime thriller. Domhnall Gleeson also stars, and is shown dancing in the trailer. So we’re seeing it.

ETA: September 29

17. FAHRENHEIT 11/9

MVPs: Weeks before the US election, Michael Moore released a film/filmed performance called Trumpland. One year on, he’s trying to take down POTUS45 with a cleverly-titled follow-up to his anti-Bush opus Fahrenheit 9/11.

ETA: November TBC

18. mother!

MVPs: Darren Aronofsky, hopefully bouncing back after Noah. Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson (again) and Kristen Wiig (again).

ETA: October 13 (US)

19. THOR: RAGNAROK

MVPs: Hunt for the Wilderpeople director Taiki Waititi is one of Marvel’s more interesting choices recently, helming a great ensemble that includes Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Idris Elba and probably Benedict Cumberbatch.

ETA: November 3

20. THE SNOWMAN

MVPs: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy director Tomas Alfredson directs Michael Fassbender, Val Kilmer, Rebecca Ferguson and J.K. Simmons in this Jo Nesbø adaptation.

ETA: October 20

21. WONDER WHEEL

MVPs: Woody Allen’s latest is another New York period drama, this time set in the 1950s. Justin Timberlake and Kate Winslet make their Allen debuts.

ETA: December 1 (US)

22. LBJ

MVPs: Rob Reiner’s long-awaited Johnson biopic has some struggle being as engaging as Jay Roach’s All The Way, but it does have Woody Harrelson as LBJ, plus Richard Jenkins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bill Pullman. It’s 98 minutes long — a big bonus.

ETA: November 10 (US)