Superheroes, Jedis and Oscar hopefuls — 25 films to see before 2017 ends

12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017 Movies & TV

Welcome to autumn, when studios large and small roll out what cynics might call “Oscar bait” and others might call “movies for actual adults.” Then again, looking at the sheer volume of sequels here, maybe that stereotype is not entirely true anymore.

But all else ceases to matter Dec. 15 when roughly everyone will go see the new “Star Wars” movie, the third in three years. This is the new normal, people — a Star Wars movie every year.

Here are 25 buzzy and not-so-buzzy movies coming out between now and the end of the year. Release dates are, as always, subject to change, especially in Austin, which tends to get some films a few weeks after major markets.

Some of these may be great, some may be terrible; we’ll find out.

“American Assassin.” Based on the novel by the late thriller author Vince Flynn, this actioner stars Dylan O’Brien (from the “Maze Runner” series) as Mitch Rapp, a young man enlisted by the CIA who gets trained by agent Michael Keaton. The two go after Taylor Kitsch, playing an operative code-named “Ghost” who is bent on causing chaos in the Middle East. Very obviously a franchise-bid.

American-Statesman Staff
Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence in “Mother!” Contributed by Paramount Pictures

“Mother!” Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer and written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, this is a psychological thriller about which almost nothing is known other than that one couple insinuates itself into the life of another. Which, to be fair, can be pretty creepy.

American-Statesman Staff
Steve Carell and Emma Stone star in “Battle of the Sexes.” Contributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Battle of the Sexes.” Emma Stone and Steve Carell as tennis legend Billie Jean King and tennis goofball Bobby Riggs in an adaptation of their 1973 match? Are you kidding me? I am there opening night. With Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell and Sarah Silverman.

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From left, Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Pedro Pascal in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” Contributed

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” Matthew “X-Men: First Class” Vaughn helms a sequel to his successful “Kingsman” film and reassembles Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Taron Egerton, the latter a young James Bond for the 21st century. Look for Channing Tatum and Pedro Pascal as members of the Statesmen (the U.S. version of Kingsmen) along with Halle Berry, Elton John, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. Based on the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

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Justin Theroux lends his voice to “The Lego Ninjago Movie.” Contributed by Warner Bros.

“The Lego Ninjago Movie.” The Lego franchise continues. Even though this one involves ninjas and magic, don’t expect the ingenious fun of “The Lego Movie” or even the “Lego Batman Movie” — this one has a different creative team. But a certain strain of kid will likely be interested.

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Domhnall Gleeson and Tom Cruise in “American Made.” Contributed

“American Made.” Fresh off the atomic bomb that was “The Mummy,” Tom Cruise reunites with “Edge of Tomorrow” director Doug Liman to explore the high-octane career of Barry Seal, a drug smuggler the American government tapped to run a massive covert operation. Seal died at 46, Cruise is 55 — I guess that is just par for the course with this guy now.

“Flatliners.” For reasons that pass understanding, the 1990 Joel Schumacher film about medical students who bring themselves back from the brink of death has been remade starring Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev.

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Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in “Blade Runner 2049.” Contributed by Stephen Vaughan

“Blade Runner 2049.” That low roar you heard a few months back was a mumbled “Please don’t screw this up” as a kabillion sci-fi nerds watched the first trailer for “Blade Runner 2049,” the sequel to the legendary 1982 sci-fi classic “Blade Runner.” Original “BR” director Ridley Scott produces, “Arrival” director Denis Villeneuve helms the thing from a script by original “BR” co-screenwriter Hampton Fancher. Harrison Ford returns, joined by star Ryan Gosling. Unlike the original, this one is not drawn from a Philip K. Dick novel. Jared Leto is in it for some reason. Just keep praying.

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Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in “The Mountain Between Us.” Contributed

“The Mountain Between Us.” Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Beau Bridges and Dermot Mulroney star in this drama about strangers (Winslet and Elba) who share a plane that ends up crashing into, well, a mountain. They have to do a lot of hiking. One suspects they will hook up.

“The Foreigner.” Martin Campbell directs Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan in a thriller about a restaurant owner (Chan) who is trying to track down Irish terrorists who killed his daughter. Brosnan is the bad guy, a British official getting in Chan’s way.

“Happy Death Day.” Written by longtime comic book scribe Scott Lobdell, Jessica Rothe stars as a college student who has to relive the day of her murder, “Groundhog Day”-style, until she figures out who killed her. I have heard of worse premises. With Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine and Charles Aitken.

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Chadwick Boseman in “Marshall.” Contributed

“Marshall.” Chadwick Boseman is running out of African-American icons to play. He’s essayed Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Marvel Comics’ Black Panther. Now he’s playing a young, pre-“Brown vs. Board of Education” Thurgood Marshall in a true story, teaming up with attorney Sam Friedman (Josh Gad) to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) who is accused by his white employer (Kate Hudson) of a heinous crime.

“The Snowman.” Michael Fassbender joins Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer and J.K. Simmons in this adaptation of the smash-hit Jo Nesbo thriller. Fassbender plays the lead detective of a squad that must figure out if a long-dormant serial killer has become active once again, a serial killer who starts dropping bodies whenever it … snows (yep). Shot entirely on location in Norway.

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Julianne Moore and Matt Damon in “Suburbicon.” Contributed by Paramount Pictures

“Suburbicon.” Directed by George Clooney! Co-written by the Coen Brothers! Shot by Robert Elswit! Starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Issac! This thing, about the dark side of suburban life in 1959, has Oscar bait written all over it. But buzz has been mixed. Coen scripts, often a weird balance of satire and drama, often require the Coen touch to work. And Clooney, while a decent director, is NOT the Coens.

“Thank You for Your Service.” Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole and Amy Schumer star in this drama — written and directed by “American Sniper” scribe Jason Hall and based on the book by David Finkel — about a group of American soldiers trying to integrate themselves into everyday family life.

“A Bad Moms Christmas.”A sequel to the surprisingly funny “Bad Moms” set at Ramadan. No, just kidding, it’s a Christmas flick. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn all return as moms submitting to and resisting, possibly with the help of partying, the pressures of the season. Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon show up as their moms.

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From left, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Mark Ruffalo in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Contributed by Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios

“Thor: Ragnarok.” Given that 2017 is the 100th anniversary of comic book genius Jack Kirby’s birth, it seems fitting that the newest flick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of Disney/Marvel’s most Kirby-looking films so far, a mix of science-fantasy (alien ships! giant laser rifles!), the myths of old (Norse gods fighting for control of Asgard!), superheroes (the Hulk!) and really awesome hats (check out all the horns on Hela). The trailer features the most on-point use of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” ever.

American-Statesman Staff
From left, Will Ferrell, Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg in “Daddy’s Home 2.” Contributed by Paramount Pictures

“Daddy’s Home 2.” Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reprise their roles in this sequel to “Daddy’s Home.” John Cena, who can be very funny, is in this one.

“Murder on the Orient Express.” Kenneth Branagh directs a new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s legendary whodunit. With one of those “Towering Inferno”-style, all-star casts including Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr. and many more.

American-Statesman Staff
From left, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Ziller and Jason Momoa in “Justice League.” Contributed by Clay Enos

“Justice League.” This one had a kind of rocky genesis. Helmed by Zack Snyder until he bowed out for personal reasons, Joss Whedon was hired by DC/Warners to wrap the movie up and helm the reshoots. Rumor has it the reshoots by Whedon were extensive and attempted to inject a little levity into what has thus far been a deeply humorless franchise. We’ll see how it goes as Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) form a team of metahumans including Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash to fight an invasion from beyond the stars.

American-Statesman Staff
“Coco” features the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gabriel Iglesias and more. Contributed by Disney Pixar

“Coco.” The newest from Pixar concerns a 12-year-old, music-obsessed Mexican boy who dreams of becoming a musician in spite of his family’s prohibition on music. So he does what every aspiring musician does — he heads off to the Land of the Dead to explore his family’s past.

“Molly’s Game.” Hey, an Aaron Sorkin movie about a woman! Sorkin writes and directs the true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a woman who ran one of the most exclusive poker games in the world before she was arrested by the FBI for … well, that’s where it gets interesting. With Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong and Chris O’Dowd.

“Mary Magdalene.” Ah, good old Mary Magdalene. Was she a prostitute? Was she the wife of Jesus of Nazareth? Did they have children? Rooney Mara stars as the titular character in this biopic with Joaquin Phoenix (hmm …) as Jesus.

“The Disaster Artist.” Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 movie “The Room” is considered both one of the very worst films ever lensed and one of the 21st century’s most bizarrely compelling pieces of outsider art — it really does have to be seen to be believed. Here, James and Dave Franco star as Wiseau and Wiseau’s friend/costar/line producer Greg Sestero, respectively, in this story of how “The Room” got made. Based on Sestero’s best-selling confessional about the movie’s seriously weird production, “The Disaster Artist” looks moving and funny all at once. But, seriously, try to see “The Room” itself before you see this.

American-Statesman Staff
Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Contributed by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Welp, here we go. The second in the (allegedly) final trilogy of “Star Wars” movies featuring the story of the Skywalker family, “The Last Jedi” was written and directed by Rian Johnson. In keeping with the NSA-like secrecy around “Star Wars” productions, Mark Hamill told Vanity Fair that after he read the script, he told Johnson, “I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.” Oy vey..

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