It’s time to spitball what the Best Picture hotties will be twelve months hence.

Every January I begin to compile a list of likely or at least promising-sounding goodies. I thought I’d start a little earlier so that by New Year’s Day I’ll have a half-decent 2017 roster to build from. It’s always hard to cut through the smoke and try to figure out what might poke through. Right now I can’t see much out there. If you check the usual sites and sources (Wikipedia, Box-Office Mojo release schedule) it’s all the same old nauseating crap — the usual mind-melting, idiot-brand, animal-friendly superhero franchise CG Asian-market slop.

Theatrical films are slowly dying, certainly if you go by the product being cranked out by the five families these days, but never say die. Netflix, Amazon, Megan Ellison, A24, Scott Rudin, Sony Pictures Classics…anyone and anything that turns the key. Ambitious theatrical fare…what is that these days? Most believe the form can only go downhill, but the discipline of having to put it all together and cram it into 95 or 110 or 125 or 140 minutes (as opposed to the relative ease of sprawling Westworld-like longforms)…there’s something so vivid and extra-feeling when movies somehow manage to do that thing and deliver like it matters. I wouldn’t want to live in a realm in which people aren’t trying like hell to keep doing this, each and every year.

I’m looking to spitball a rundown of (a) the possible standouts at Sundance 2017, (b) at the Berlinale in February, (c) possible outliers from the winter, spring and even summer seasons that might go against the grain by being actually good, (c) potential Cannes headliners, (d) the Toronto, Venice, Telluride poppers, and (e) the Thanksgiving-Xmas films. No fucking franchises, no Marvels, no horror unless we’re talking Witch or Babadook-level, no monsters, no zombies, no end-of-the-world dystopia, no action-for-action’s-sake, no comic-book adaptations, no anime. And I don’t want to hear (much less think) about family-geared animation unless it’s some extra-level Pixar thing.

I’ve asked a few friends who usually hear about stuff, and now I’m asking the HE community. Any hints or clues of any kind would be appreciated. A couple of months hence I should have a list of 25 or 30 films that will at least start things off.