The New Movies of January 2017, In Order of Anticipation

By  · Published on January 4th, 2017

Some call this month a dumping ground for theatrical miscarriages. We call it an opportunity to enjoy sequels to Resident Evil, Underworld, and XXX.

A new year is upon us, and we have only hope and anticipation for what’s to come. That optimism is given physical properties in the form of new movies hitting theaters this month. What wonders await? Let’s find out together.

The focus here is on new movies obviously, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Hidden Figures is expanding beyond its initial limited release this month. It’s quite good, it’s terrifically acted, and it’s a true story that deserves more awareness.

Here’s how we rank the new movies of January 2017, from “Maybe See” to “Must See.”

10. The Bye Bye Man (1/13)

Pros: Look, I just needed a tenth new movie for this list. Maybe it’ll surprise us?

Cons: Good lord have you seen the trailer? It’s every PG-13 Hollywood horror movie distilled into ninety seconds, and it looks abysmal.

9. Split (1/20)

Pros: Many of you will probably rate this higher on your most anticipated of the month list, and I get it. A new M.Night Shyamalan is appealing, James McAvoy is terrifically ferocious in it, and that ending is almost worth the price of admission alone.

Cons: I’ve seen it.

8. Railroad Tigers (1/6)

Pros: Jackie Chan has starred in more than twenty action classics throughout his career. His latest effort hoping to join their ranks is an ensemble period thriller about a ragtag group of men who take a stand against Japanese occupiers, and judging by the trailer it looks to be a mix of big action and laughs.

Cons: Jackie Chan’s starred in a whopping twenty two movies so far this millennium – and I’m not even counting animated fare or cameos – and only seven of them have been worth a damn. It’s been a while since one of the good ones though, and his most recent was also one of his least entertaining.

7. Underworld: Blood Wars (1/6)

Pros: We don’t get many studio horror films directed by women, but this fifth entry in the Underworld franchise is the feature debut for TV veteran Anna Foerster. Kate Beckinsale returns in the lead role as a leather-clad, machine pistol-shooting vampire too, and that has to count for something.

Cons: Does anybody actually like these movies… let alone follow their convoluted historical narratives and family trees? The action has grown incredibly generic across the series, and it didn’t start that great to begin with.

6. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage (1/20)

Pros: Donny Yen and Tony Jaa! Plus Ruby Rose!

Cons: Vin Diesel still stars, so that’s not great, and D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, I Am Number Four, The Disappointments Room) is in the director’s chair. The first film was a poor-man’s Spy Kids, I never saw the second, and this new one looks to be a collection of Furious 7’s weakest moments.

5. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (1/27)

Pros: It’s the sixth and final installment of a long-running studio horror franchise, and while they’ve always leaned heavier on the sci-fi/action each of the entries (I’ve seen) has managed to at least reach the level of mindless fun. Plus Ruby Rose!

Cons: If you showed me one of the previous five films without the credits I would have no idea which of the five it was.

4. The Founder (1/20)

Pros: It’s all about Michael Keaton in a lead role.

Cons: The story of how Ray Croc brought McDonald’s from local burger joint to worldwide brand isn’t really all that interesting, and there’s been an absence of chatter on the film.

3. Sleepless (1/13)

Pros: The French film this is based on, 2011’s Sleepless Night, is a slick, twisty, and exciting thriller, and this remake is from the director of 2010’s terrific The Silence and the writer of last year’s Blood Father. Oh, and it co-stars Michelle Monaghan.

Cons: As simple as the original film’s plot is, Hollywood has a strong history of screwing up its remakes of French thrillers. The Tourist, The Next Three Days, The Jackal, TaxiMartyrs

2. Gold (1/27)

Pros: Director Stephen Gaghan wrote Traffic and wrote/directed Syriana, and star Matthew McConaughey goes method with his hair.

Cons: It’s not the Fool’s Gold sequel we’ve all been waiting for. Festival reviews have praised McConaughey but have had few kind words for the script or film in general. A common theme seems to be that the movie lacks energy and delivers its tale of one man’s rise and fall with a heavy dose of boredom.

1. The Salesman (1/27)

Pros: Asghar Farhadi’s last three films – About Elly, A Separation, The Past – are each fantastic explorations of lives and worlds seldom seen and rarely understood in the West.

Cons: The film made very few waves during its various festival appearances last year including Cannes and TIFF.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.