Release Date: UK February 10
Alice Lowe is a godsend for British films. She had been plying her trade in comedy for several years before she came to the attention of cinema audiences in the brilliant Ben Wheatley-directed black comedy Sightseers. But not only did she star in it, she also wrote the screenplay with comedy partner Steve Oram. Now she’s directed her own first feature film, Prevenge. That’s on top of taking on writing and acting duties. And if Sightseers was dark with tinges of horror, Prevenge practically switches the lights out and boards up the windows.
The story involves a widowed pregnant woman on a killing spree, driven by her unborn baby. “I wanted to write something which defied that image of the pregnant woman as this safe, sweet, kind person,” says Alice. Yeah, it definitely kind of does that.
The Death of Stalin
Release Date: TBC
Armando Iannucci has been responsible for some of the funniest, most incendiary, and most relevant comedy of modern times. TV series like spoof news show The Day Today, Alan Partridge, The Thick of It and Veep have all benefited from his satirical touch, creative flair and penmanship. He’s also an accomplished director.
The Death of Stalin is his first feature film since 2009’s In The Loop. An adaptation of the graphic novel by Fabien Nury, The Death of Stalin is a political satire revolving around Stalin’s death in 1953 and the circus-like behind-the-scenes battle of power that went on. The film’s cast is impressive. Steve Buscemi, Olga Kurylenko, Jason Isaacs, Andrea Riseborough, Rupert Friend, Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine, Michael Palin, Jonathan Aris, Simon Russell Beale, Roger Ashton-Griffiths and Paul Whitehouse all feature. Among others. Phew. Talk about star power.
City of Tiny Lights
Release Date: UK April 7
City of Tiny Lights melds missing-person thriller with religious fanaticism overtones. Rogue One’s Riz Ahmed is the private investigator on the case, and Billie Piper – of Doctor Who and Secret Diary of a Call Girl – the former girlfriend back on the scene.
Ahmed’s star has been on the rise since his performance in Chris Morris’s Jihadi farce Four Lions. With eye-catching turns recently in HBO’s Golden Globe-nominated TV mini series The Night Of and Netflix’s The OA, as well as in Rogue One, a showcase such as this for the British-born talent is extremely welcome. Ahmed is always mesmerising on screen.
Helmed by Pete Travis, who directed 2012’s Dredd, you’ll have some idea of what to expect visually. Set in an authentically contemporary London seen through a neo-noir filter, City of Tiny Lights is an intriguing proposition.
Release Date: US January 2018, UK November 10 2017
Who knew that a film about Michael Bond’s 1958 creation – a bear from “Darkest Peru” fond of marmalade sandwiches – would be one of 2014’s most warmly received releases?
The heartwarming adaptation was a hit with audiences of all ages, and we’re stoked at the prospect of a sequel. This time around, Paddington is tasked with taking on odd jobs to raise the cash he needs to buy his Aunt Lucy a gift for her 100th birthday. When that present is stolen, it’s up to plucky Paddington to uncover the thief.
Directed once again by Paul King, with an all-star cast that includes Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters and former Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, you’re practically guaranteed more of the stuff that made the first film really rather pleasant indeed.
Release Date: US March 10, UK January 27
The long-awaited follow-up to the 1993 smash that launched Ewan McGregor’s career is finally upon us. T2 Trainspotting picks up 20 years after the events of the first, and is very loosely based on Irvine Welsh’s novel Porno, itself a sequel to his novel Trainspotting. Excitingly, it reunites the actors from the original film in their original roles, screenwriter John Hodges and director Danny Boyle. It’s also set to have a banging soundtrack, details of which have just been released.
The trailer has done a grand job of whipping up enthusiasm for the follow-up with a re-hashed opening voiceover monologue spoken by Renton updated for the times. “Choose life, choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone somewhere cares…” Choose to go and see this sequel to a landmark British film.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Release Date: US & UK May 12
We are hoping that Guy Ritchie’s take on the King Arthur legend is a fun one. Antoine Fuqua’s 2004 adaptation was a dour, humourless affair that stripped out the magic of the story – literally. With Ritchie’s signature dialogue and self-conscious, flashy camerawork we’re expecting him to puff the same kind of life into Arthur that he breathed into his Sherlock Holmes adaptations. The second sequel of which is a step closer to fruition, incidentally.
On the evidence of the trailer, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword blends the deadly serious with a sense of fun, and throws in some epic battle sequences. There’s magic and mythical beasts, a pulsating score, and more than a sniff of Game of Thrones about it all. Charlie Hunnam stars alongside Jude Law, Eric Bana, Annabelle Wallis, Aidan Gillen and Hermione Corfield.
Having gone from making low-budget indie flicks to big-budget blockbusters, Guy Ritchie has certainly become a bit of a standard-bearer for British film.
Release Date: US & UK January 27
iBoy is an aptly cheesy name for a high-concept thriller. This science-fantasy revenge drama blends the realness of gritty London estates with the superhero themes of Hollywood. Think Attack the Block without the humour.
Looking like an extended episode of Black Mirror, there’s plenty to get excited about in this British-made release. The cast even includes Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams. It also features Bill Milner, who played the young Magneto in X-Men: First Class, Miranda Richardson and Rory Kinnear.
iBoy is based on the Young Adult novel by Kevin Brooks. The film will be available via Netflix.
Release Date: US June 2, UK April 28
This dark drama based on Nikolai Leskov’s novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk has nothing to do with Shakespeare’s Scottish queen. But it has everything to do with the horrors of a young girl being sold as a bride to a middle-aged man.
A Victorian corset drama, it should strike a note with fans of The Crown and Downton Abbey – but its appeal also stretches beyond that. Newcomer Florence Pugh is gaining lots of attention as the titular character. The film also stars Cosmo Jarvis and Christopher Fairbank, who you can currently see in Taboo. It’s directed by William Oldroyd.
Release Date: TBC
Paddy Considine is everybody’s favourite Staffordshire-born actor, as adept at comedy as he is at drama. He’s also proven himself to be an outstanding writer and director. Tyrannosaur, his directorial debut, tells the story of a man struggling with anger issues and violent outbursts and how his friendship with a charity shop worker helps him to address his problems.
Journeyman, his second effort, is a similarly low-concept tale about a boxer whose head injury affects his family and his life. Considine stars as boxer Matty Burton. Jodie Whittaker also features.
There are plenty more British films slated for release in 2017 to get excited about. And the brilliant thing is that both big blockbusters and small indie features alike are getting the investment they deserve. The future of British films, it seems, never looked so good.