From full advanced screenings of The Fate of the Furious and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales to countless footage presentations from every major Hollywood studio, the last few days at CinemaCon in Las Vegas have given us an immense list of movies to put both on our radar and yours.
Here are some of the highlights…
Our favorite movie…
The Fate of the Furious (in theaters April 14)
Granted we didn’t get to see many films in their entirety, so this was a short list to pull from, but the latest installment in the Fast & Furious franchise truly blew us away with some spectacular action sequences, particularly one massively explosive chase scene throughout the streets of New York City that involves fast cars, zombie cars, and raining cars. The eighth film in the series, which features scene-stealing performances from both Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, doubles down on action, emotion, intensity, humor and, of course, family.
Top 3 most anticipated movies based on footage alone…
Dunkirk (in theaters July 21)
Christopher Nolan’s new WWII-set movie, about the real-life survival story of thousands of allied soldiers surrounded by enemy forces with seemingly no way to escape, showed off some pulse-pounding footage that proved Dunkirk will be among the most intense and visceral moviegoing experiences of the year. With a continuous clock ticking-like score that’s relentless and never lets up, Nolan jumps between the action on land, on water and in the air at a frantic pace, and it just looks spectacular.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (in theaters September 29)
2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprise hit, but it kind of foreshadowed this growing desire from moviegoers to see more wildly inventive R-rated genre movies. The success of Kingsman is what helped draw people to films like John Wick and Deadpool, and so naturally anticipation is high for the Kingsman sequel, which dropped its first insane trailer at CinemaCon.
Featuring Channing Tatum in a cowboy hat and lassos that slice people in half, Kingsman: The Golden Circle looks to change up its game by moving the action to America, and specifically Kentucky. With Western vibes to go with more of the slick spy weaponry featuring in the first installment — not to mention a cast that also adds Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry, among others, The Golden Circle positioned itself as an action flick not to be missed.
Downsizing (in theaters December 22)
The smallest film on this list… literally. From director Alexander Payne (Nebraska, Election), Downsizing stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a married couple with financial troubles who go ahead with a newly discovered procedure that allows people to be shrunk down to five inches tall in order to live a more comfortable life. With an inventive and irreverant tone to match its Being John Malkovich-esque flavor, Downsizing just snatched our attention and never let go. It is easily now one of our most anticipated movies of the year.
Jumanji (in theaters December 22)
You never know what you’re going to get with a reboot, and especially with a reboot that no one particularly asked for, but color us surprised by the footage we previewed from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which swaps a board game with a video game, injecting a fresh, inventive spin into the series that first hit screens in 1995. From its fun ensemble (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan) to its colorful jungle-set action sequences, the new Jumanji feels like a cross between Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and The Breakfast Club, and everything we saw from it left us wanting more.
Winning superhero movie…
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7) and Wonder Woman (June 2)
We’re calling it a tie when it comes to the new Spider-Man and Wonder Woman movies, mainly because each one brought something new to the table when it comes to the modern age of superhero movies. With Spider-Man, that trademark Marvel Studios wit — coupled with the promise of the kind of high school-set Spider-Man story we haven’t seen yet — is what’s drawing us to that film. Also, we dig Michael Keaton’s blue-collar villain, Vulture, and how he may be one of the more sympathetic villains Marvel has ever introduced.
As for Wonder Woman, which showed off a few never-before-seen sequences from the film, we really liked the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, as well as the promise of World War I-set action pieces in a superhero film. That’s something we haven’t seen before, and the way Gadot moves through a fight — ricocheting bullts off her bracelts, and throwing down that bold golden lasso if the moment should call for it, is what excites us for Wonder Woman’s long-awaited big-screen debut.
Potential Oscar contenders…
The Greatest Showman (December 25) and Wonder (November 17, pictured above)
Of all the films we previewed, the two most likely to slide into the awards conversation later this year are Hugh Jackman’s dazzling movie-musical, The Greatest Showman, and the hit-ya-in-the-heartstrings drama, Wonder, starring wonder-kid, Jacob Tremblay.
The Greatest Showman, based on the life of PT Barnum, features dynamic musical sequences, larger-than-life sets and original music from the two dudes who created the music for La La Land. Meanwhile, Wonder stars breakout star Jacob Tremblay as a young boy with a facial deformity who’s struggling to fit into school and just be normal. When Lionsgate introduced Wonder, they touted it as having the highest testing scores of any movie in the company’s history, and its November 17 release date places it right smack in the middle of primetime awards chatter. We expect both films to make a run at Oscar gold.