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A Jedi-free guide to autumn's most anticipated movies

Take ten

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The Florida Project
  • The Florida Project

Some movies are so universally craved that it seems redundant to include them on a list of most anticipated films. This Christmas, there is one film that will undoubtedly unite every moviegoer in the galaxy. The follow-up to the 2015 sensation that incorporated familiar faces into a new cinematic universe, this film doesn't need any extra promotion, as rabid fans of the franchise will eagerly watch and re-watch it, dissecting every background detail for references and clues. Therefore, I have not included Daddy's Home 2 on my list of the most anticipated films of the rest of 2017. (For good measure, I've also left off Star Wars: The Last Jedi).

Mother! (Sept. 15)

Jennifer Lawrence's last two awards-season vehicles (the joyless Joy and the passable Passengers) were drippy duds, and the pitilessness and severity of Darren Aronofsky might be the cure. Back in Black Swan psychological horror mode after dabbling in Biblical epics with Noah, Aronofsky wrote and directed this story of a woman whose domestic life gets unsettled by unexpected houseguests.

The Florida Project (Oct. 10)

Sean Baker's Tangerine was one of the left-field surprises of 2015, an energetic and empathetic look at transsexual prostitutes on the streets of Los Angeles. It was Baker's fifth feature film, but marked a commercial breakthrough for the low-budget filmmaker, and now familiar faces like Willem Dafoe and Caleb Landry Jones show up in this candy-colored follow-up about mischievous children.

Wonderstruck (Oct. 20)

When the rigid perfectionist Martin Scorsese wanted to warm up and make his first film about children, he turned to Brian Selznick's Hugo for source material. And now that the rigid perfectionist Todd Haynes (Carol) is ready to do the same, back we go to Selznick, who adapts his own book about a generations-spanning mystery.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Nov. 3)

Some foreign-born directors are never able to find their footing in English-language efforts, but something about the singularly impudent sadism of Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos made for an effortless Americanization in last year's The Lobster. More confusing animal imagery comes our way with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a revenge story about a surgeon (Colin Farrell), his wife (Nicole Kidman) and the disturbed young man who they befriend.

Last Flag Flying (Nov. 3)

If you told me that my list of the most anticipated films of the fall would include a spiritual sequel to The Last Detail starring Bryan Cranston as "Badass" Buddinsky and Steve Carell as Larry Meadows (Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid, respectively, in Hal Ashby's 1973 classic), I would have scoffed, but director Richard Linklater makes one do strange things.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Nov. 10)

The first film from English writer-director Martin McDonagh since 2012's ridiculously underrated Seven Psychopaths, and only the second since his 2008 debut In Bruges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a bloody, hyper-literate, Midwestern crime comedy about idiot cops and philosophical lawbreakers. And if that's not Coen Brothers-esque enough for you, the film also stars Frances McDormand as a grieving mother battling with the local police department.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water (Dec. 8)

The last time Guillermo del Toro tried to mingle horror and romance, we got 2015's murky and overheated Crimson Peak, so it's a little disappointing that he sprinted right back to that well with The Shape of Water. But with del Toro, there is always the tantalizing possibility of another Pan's Labyrinth, so fingers crossed that this 1960s-set love story between a mute janitor and an amphibious lab experiment fulfills that promise.

Downsizing (Dec. 22)

Alexander Payne's first movie since Nebraska in 2013 is also the first fantastical premise from a filmmaker best known for his sharp sociological observations. Kristen Wiig and Matt Damon play a couple who elect to get shrunk to 4 inches in height, allowing them to reduce waste and live a more lavish lifestyle. No trailer exists as we got to press, so we'll have to trust that Payne will find a way to make that annoyingly high-concept premise work.

The Post (Dec. 22)

While 70-year-old Steven Spielberg prepares this story about the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers for an awards-season push, he is also deep into post-production on Ready Player One, a sci-fi action thriller slated for a March 2018 release, deep into pre-production on the historical biopic The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, and he has a producer credit on over a dozen upcoming releases. Buried lede: You are lazy.

Phantom Thread (Dec. 25)

Details are still sketchy about Paul Thomas Anderson's latest effort, his first film since Inherent Vice in 2014, but here's what we know: Daniel Day-Lewis stars; Anderson writes, directs and serves as his own cinematographer; Jonny Greenwood composes the music; it's set in the London fashion industry in the 1950s. Sold!

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