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Film Fanatic: Five Under the Radar Movies to See in 2017

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2016 is officially behind us (Thank God) and with the new year arriving, it’s time to look ahead to what’s coming out in the world of cinema. There will be plenty of superhero movies, sequels and animated fare, but what about the little guys?

Instead of giving you a list of most anticipated or simply biggest movies to look forward to in 2017, I’m going to look at five movies that are flying under the radar. Think of them as those potential little gems to tell friends about months before they come out. That way when they do arrive and are amazing, you look like you know what you’re talking about and are greatly admired by friends and family. You’re welcome in advance by the way.


The Masterpiece (Release Date: Unknown)

Have you seen The Room? It might be the best worst movie that has ever been made. Written, produced, directed and starring Tommy Wiseau (In all his glory), The Room follows the exploits of Johnny (Wiseau), a banker living in San Francisco whose seemingly happy life is “TORN APART” when he discovers his fiancee, Lisa, decides to seduce his best friend, Mark.

Not only is it the best worst movie ever, it’s the most unintentionally hilarious movie that has ever existed. The dialogue appears to have been written by an eight-year-old, the performances are horrifying and the direction rivals most student films.

Poster for James Franco’s ‘The Masterpiece.’ | (

But is it so bad that it might just be genius? This is the question people have asked themselves after watching it because The Room has become a cult classic. Theaters hold screenings across the country, people get together for parties and now we are getting a full blown comedic remake of The Room courtesy of James Franco called The Masterpiece.

Based on the book, The Disaster Artist (A much better title), the film follows Wiseau (Franco) as he directs his first film. The supporting cast includes Alison Brie, Bryan Cranston, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen and Sharon Stone.

It’s hard to pinpoint what type of comedy this will be. I could see it being either a straight up Franco/Rogen frat-boy comedy or a more intelligent mockumentary-style film in the vein of Christopher Guest. I happen to think it will be more of the latter.


Mute (Release Date: Unknown)

There might actually be two Blade Runner movies released this year after seeing the first images for Duncan Jones’ Mute. His latest sci-fi movie takes place forty years in the future in Berlin where the East and West are once again in a volatile relationship.

Leo Beiler (Alexander Skarsgard) is a mute bartender in search of the woman he loves after she disappears. But when Leo’s search takes him deep into the city’s underbelly, an odd pair of American surgeons (Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux) seem to be the only recurring clue. Now he doesn’t know whether to trust them or fear them.

Is this ‘Mute’ or ‘Blade Runner?’ | (Netflix)

The images released feature a neon noir setting very much in tune with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. This is a story Jones has been developing for years so expect another mind-bending experience.

Jones’ first two films, Moon and Source Code, where excellent and contained little sci-fi stories with great premises. Then he made Warcraft which wasn’t terrible, but certainly felt like a step backward for the talented young filmmaker. Mute sounds like a great bounce back.


Baby Driver (Release Date: August 11)

It’s been four years since Edgar Wright released a film and in my mind, that’s four years too long. After completing his Cornetto Trilogy with The World’s End, Wright was in the process of directing Ant-Man for Marvel until he was eventually taken off the project.

But it may have been for the best considering Wright’s distinct directing style which doesn’t exactly fit in the MCU. He quickly moved on from that by writing Baby Driver.

The story follows a young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who after being coerced into working for a crime boss, finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Edgar Wright has once again assembled a great cast. | (EW)

While the film doesn’t feature Wright’s usuals (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost), the amazing cast for Baby Driver includes Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx.

The film is described as an action thriller, but I have to imagine it will feature plenty of comedic elements. Wright’s entire filmography is steeped in brilliant comedies from Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz to Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Expect Baby Driver to have a similar tone in addition to amazing editing and terrific performances.


Thank You for Your Service (Release Date: Unknown)

This pick is a bit of a gamble. Thank You for Your Service looks at how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects American servicemen and women returning home from war. Obviously there are plenty of compelling stories there, but the film will be directed by first-time filmmaker Jason Hall.

Most of his credits are in acting, but he’s also responsible for a few screenplays including the dreadful Paranoia and American Sniper which wasn’t exactly a subtle look at soldiers in war.

My fear is the way Thank You for Your Service might be handled. Hall also wrote the screenplay and it could come off as contrived and manipulative. But the eclectic cast includes Miles Teller and Amy Schumer in a rare dramatic role so there is some potential.

This is heavy material so expect a fall release.


Downsizing (Release Date: December 22)

No trepidations with this pick. Alexander Payne writes and directs Downsizing, a social satire about a kindly occupational therapist (Matt Damon) who undergoes a new procedure to be shrunken to four inches tall so that he and his wife (Kristen Wiig) can help save the planet and afford a nice lifestyle at the same time.

Payne is known for intelligent dark comedies (Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants), but this sounds like his most ambitious film to date. The stellar supporting cast includes Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, Alec Baldwin and Margo Martindale.

The film gets a prime Christmas release just in time for awards season and a great alternative to Star Wars.

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