13 Films You Should Be Excited About For 2017

From much-awaited sequels like Blade Runner 2049 to new projects from some of the world's best directors, here's a forecast of what we'll be munching popcorn to this year

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By mid-January a glut of Oscar-hungry films have already been released and plastered across available every advert space in town. Though many of this year's hopefuls have matched expectations there's still a swathe of contenders to come, plus months more of other titles to enjoy.

2017 sees the release of long-awaited sequels to iconic films like Trainspotting and Blade Runner and the return of celebrated partnerships between the actors and directors who gave us There Will Be Blood and Ex Machina. In other words, plenty of reasons to be excited.

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Manchester By The Sea (13 January)

Casey Affleck's powerful if muted performance as a broken man left to take care of his nephew is a painful exercise in realism that manages to pack a few laughs in along the way. Having won the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama, Affleck is a frontrunner at the Academy Awards. So too are director Kenneth Lonergan and Michelle Williams for her powerful and subtle performance. Read Esquire's full review here.

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La La Land (13 January)

Damian Chazelle's directorial follow-up to Whiplash is an all-singing all-dancing stylish Hollywood musical with the on-screen chemistry of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling beating at its heart. The majestic, heel-clicking opening number will win over many musical cynics and - given its record-breaking results at the Golden Globes - it's likely to bag a few more accolades along the way. Read Esquire's full review here.

The Founder (20 January)

The story of how salesman Ray Kroc franchised the first McDonald's restaurant, squeezed out the original owners and turned it into a multi-million dollar chain isn't exactly a happy meal. But with Michael Keaton in the leading role (Spotlight, Bird Man) and John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) in the directors chair you can expect a compelling performance and gripping storytelling. "McDonald's can be the new American church" Kroc says of the golden arches. You can't argue with his results.

T2 Trainspotting (27 January)

20 years after Mark Renton stole £16,000 from his three friends he is back in Scotland to make amends. Loosely based on Irvine Welsh's novel Porno the film has lured back Danny Boyle to direct and all the original cast including Ewan McGregor, whose character looks slightly older but not much wiser. Emotional reunions are on the cards, as well as that sinking feeling of wondering what you've been doing with yourself for the last two decades.

Gold (3 February)

The McConaissance has hit the skids a little since the heady days of winning an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club and an Emmy for True Detective, but don't bet against 2017 being the year when Matthew rediscovers his mojo. Gold finds him (bald and overweight, no less) on an escapade through the Indonesian jungle in search of gold, a story based on the Bre-X mining scandal.

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Free Fire (31 March)

Ben Wheatley's films are something of an acquired taste (High Rise, A Field In England) and often require audiences with a strong constitution (Kill List, Sightseers). In his forthcoming film a gang of criminals meet in a warehouse to buy weapons and, unsurprisingly, a shootout ensues. Starring Brie Larson and Sam Riley, Free Fire looks like another great black comedy from the celebrated British filmmaker.

The Circle (28 April)

Dave Eggar's slightly silly 2013 dystopian novel predicted the frightening power technology and social media will come to have in the future. The upcoming film of the same name features Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega - quite the cast - who work for the ominous tech company with a spurious ethics on privacy and surveillance. So 2017 it hurts.

Dunkirk (21 July)

Christopher Nolan's new project swaps the mind-bending sci-fi of Interstellar and Inception for the sombre battle of Dunkirk in which allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada, and France were surrounded by the army of Nazi Germany. The impressive cast includes Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and, strangely, Harry Styles.

IT (8 September)

Despite losing director Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) and subsequently all but one of its cast, the second adaptation of Steven King's classic horror novel is still a big date in the film calendar. Bill Skarsgård plays the iconic and terrifying clown Pennywise and Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard plays one of children he torments.

Blade Runner 2049 (6 October)

Another Gosling project comes in the form of the long-awaited awaited sequel to Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi film, Blade Runner. The follow-up is set 30 years after the first film and sees Gosling as an LAPD officer who unearths a long-buried secret with potentially disastrous consequences. You'll be pleased to hear Harrison Ford is back too.

Annihilation (unconfirmed)

Director Alex Garland received widespread acclaim for his 2015 sci-fi thriller Ex Machina earning it two unexpected Oscar nominations. Garland is back directing its star Oscar Isaac alongside Natalie Portman in an adaptation of the first of Jeff VanderMeer's sci-fi horror trilogy. Portman plays a biologist searching for her missing husband who finds sinister answers in a remote environmental disaster zone.

Logan Lucky (unconfirmed)

Steven Soderberg has secured an illustrious if eclectic cast for his 2017 release that includes Adam Driver, Channing Tatum, Seth MacFarlane, Daniel Craig, Katherine Heigl and Hilary Swank. Little is known about the film other than that it is a comedy about a heist during a NASCAR event, and the set photos that have emerged promise a strange ride.

Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson project (unconfirmed)

Scarce would be a generous way to describe the details available on the forthcoming project between Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis. All that is known is that the pair are working on a film based on the 1950s fashion scene. That and it will almost certainly be Oscar-worthy given the masterpiece they worked on together, There Will Be Blood.