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2017: 51 Reasons to Be Excited

Around every six months we update the top of our website’s collage with new movies, television, streaming and gaming we are hotly anticipating. From left to right and in no particular order of preference, here’s fifty-one things Novastream is pumped for in 2017.

#1 – Russel Coight’s All Aussie Adventures: The memeworthy series was the height of parody back in the early 00s, and thanks to star Glenn Robbin’s popular stint on Have You Been Paying Attention the crew at Working Dog have decided to resurrect it. Expect senseless shenanigans abound and more than a few cameos.

#2 – Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: The first foray into television for Marvel was on Disney’s broadcast arm ABC and it was a frosty start but once the show got some plot to chew on everything lined up. This season has featured Ghost Rider, Life Model Decoys and Inhumans in fascinating ways and the cast continue to up their game.

#3 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: After all the success of 30 Rock NBC took a hard pass on the next series championed by Tina Fey, to which Netflix happily obliged. Season 2 wasn’t as daring or inventive as the first but after a dramatic Lemonade inspired promo we’re still keen for our comedy comfort food.

#4 – Baywatch: The Rock is a moviemaking and moneymaking machine, starring in four movies hitting theatres this year including Jumanji and another Fast and Furious flick. Baywatch is by far the funniest and costars Bad Neighbours’ Zac Efron and San Andreas babe Alexandra Daddario in a 21 Jump Street mystery type. Maybe if that 23 Jump Street/ Men in Black crossover ever hits theatres, the sequel could incorporate Baywatch?

#5 – Injustice 2: Our first game of the list is the ridiculously anticipated sequel to Injustice. Warner Bros could continue to spit these out biannually if they keep upping the roster with more characters – including Black Canary, Swamp Thing and Supergirl – and more villians – Gorilla Grodd! Square Enix’s deal with Marvel is also interesting, but it’s not Swamp Thing VS Gorilla Grodd interesting!

#6 – Game of Thrones: We would be shot if we didn’t include the world’s most popular show as it enters its penultimate season. The television series has finally eclipsed the novels with the plot’s blessing by George RR Martin however script leaks have confirmed the disparate plots are finally coming together. Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams and many more return for more blood, sweat and tears and it is unlikely they’ll all be needed for the final season.

#7 – Rosehaven: Luke McGregor moves to Tasmania to look after his mother’s beloved real estate agency while she recovers from surgery, only his best friend Celia Pacquola’s honeymoon fell apart and she’s now on his doorstep. A real estate agency is the perfect fodder for comedy and every now and again it pulls on a heartstring. The first series is written by McGregor and Pacquola and is streaming on iView now and the second season is on the way.

#8 – Billions: The promotion for Homeland’s debut season was so relentless that the image of Damien Lewis being rescued from a terrorist hellhole will always be my first thought of him. His to and fro with Claire Danes lasted until it didn’t and a bold and unflinching exit from the show was devised. He’s since landed on Showtime alongside Paul Giamatti in a snappy and mean look at financial traders and the people trying to take them down. Shows like this remind us we’re in the golden age of television and while the premise is getting a little stretched it’s still intriguing to see where it will go.

#9 – Ghost In the Shell: The most common word written about this meticulously adapted feature is whitewashing. Upon rewatching Breakfast at Tiffany‘s I cringe in pain at comedy icon Mickey Rooney’s racist portrayal of an Asian man. It makes me sick. The healthy debate over Scarlett Johansson or Tilda Swinton’s casting in traditionally Asian roles is something to consider, but nevertheless I believe in both cases the studios made a solid casting choice. Who else could tiptoe that strange line but Swinton, and off the back of Lucy and her fifth time playing Black Widow which other superstar would you cast to faithfully champion this manga-turned-anime to a global market?

#10 – Coco: Little is known of the next original story from Pixar and it’s tantalising. The film draws inspiration from the Day of the Dead and is steeped in Mexican heritage in a serendipitous juxtaposition to the White House. It’s also directed by Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, meaning safe and measured hands.

#11 – Brooklyn Nine Nine: Where is the half way point between generic Big Bang Theory comedy and nuanced Jane the Virgin comedy? Brooklyn Nine Nine. At the end of the year the show hits it’s 100th episode and it has never been funnier to see Andy Samberg and his ensemble of cops do their thing. This show should be taught in writer’s rooms. It’s stupid in the way Hitchcock gets his tie stapled to his show and it’s smart in the slyest blink-and-you-miss-it ways. It’s also not afraid to chew through plot in the search of a good joke, meaning the series doesn’t hit reset at the end of every episode. It sits along 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation as “Awesome Comedy By A Former Saturday Night Live Star”.

#12 – Spider-man: Homecoming: In fifteen years three different actors have played Spiderman in six different live action films, but thanks to an above-average debut for Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire are old news. Most never thought Spidey would enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the rights are with Sony rather than Disney) but an unprecedented deal has put an interesting twist on the non-origin story. Add flagship figure Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man and Oscar winner/ former Batman Michael Keaton as the villianous Vulture and maybe we can forget that this is the same studio behind The Amazing Spiderman 2: Rise of Electro.

#13 – Master of None: The debut season of Aziz Ansari’s magnum opus was a welcome treat, if at times a little bitter. It’s over a year since the greenlight for a second season and despite a tweet for Ansari stating an April release nothing definite has come from Netflix. The show is done – it was filming when Kanye’s Famous song came out, because Ansari filmed a lipsyncing video of Famous on set – so it’s up to distribution. But like Chelsea Handler, Netflix has always had a soft spot for Aziz Ansari, so it should be soon.

#14 – Doctor Who: I am unabashedly a Whovian, the fans of Doctor Who, but I will try and keep this concise. The tenth season in thirteen years is upon us after an unnecessary and frustrating hiatus year. The trailer looks bloody brilliant. It’s the final season for longtime showrunner Steven Moffat and leading man Peter Capaldi, so expect big stakes and plot twists and more than a few fireworks. There’s a new companion in Pearl Mackie and Michelle Gomez returns as Missy, amongst many more. Doctor Who is science fiction at its best.

#15 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Another Marvel property (we’ve limited ourselves to two television and one and a half movies, with Spider-Man: Homecoming’s other half attributed to Sony. They’re just appearing earlier on the list). The comedic space opera was the breakout hit of its year and cemented Chris Pratt as the go-to action hero for a while there. After a few misses with The Magnificent Seven and Passengers (which should have worked, but didn’t) he’s back on familiar ground with friendly faces. New recruits, bigger monsters, daddy issues and more are to be addressed before the Guardians meet the Avengers in Infinity War.

#16 – American Horror Story: Ryan Murphy is one of the lucky people in the world that can be compared to Midas. Greg Berlanti is the other. Probably Shonda Rhimes too. Murphy’s previous work includes Nip/Tuck and Glee and his current slate has AHS, American Crime Story and debut titled Fued, which stars Susan Sarandon and longtime AHS feature Jessica Lange. While all are on the radar – especially Crime Story, which will tackle Katrina this year, the murder of Versace the following year and Monica Lewinsky the year after that – there is no more intriguing than the original anthology American Horror Story. After a Murder House, an Asylum, a Coven, a Freak Show, a Hotel and the land of Roanoke the recurring cast will look towards the 2016 Presidential Election. What? Yes! Count me in.

#17 – Westworld: A show with a lot of untapped potential, Westworld rates a mention for it’s sheer ambition. It broke all the sorts of records that makes a network like HBO proud to pony it about and a second season is on the way. Is it the new Breaking Bad? No. Is it the best science fiction on TV? No, see #14. But it’s Christopher Nolan’s little brother and it’s got more promise than it’s critics give it credit.

#18 – Big Little Lies: Once this article is complete I’m going to dive into the pilot of Big Little Lies. The catch? There’s only seven episodes! The novel sold a truckload and the stars are lining up to be a part of it. Nicole Kidman – riding high off the awards season buzz of Lion – and Reese Witherspoon – last seen in the 2014 awards season for Wild – are joined by Fault in Our Stars’ Shailene Woodley, F is for Family‘s Laura Dern, Park and Recreation’s Adam Scott and Dope’s Zoe Kravitz. If that cast doesn’t get you excited try this for a plot: murder mystery at school trivia night. Colour me intrigued.

#19 – The Big Bang Theory: Yes, I called it generic. And it is. And the stars are overpaid – the original five are close to signing on for a further forty-four episodes at a million per person per episode. CBS gets over a billion dollars in syndication. It’s concept of nerd culture is now the mainstream. And while bubblegum comedy it is, the show has transformed to a neat ensemble with some cool new direction. Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris as a military contractor is a solid move. The wedding episode featuring Good Wife/Good Fight‘s Christine Baranski, Futurama’s Katey Segal, 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer and so many more was endlessly fun. The Star Wars: Force Awakens commemorative episode was good character development. And Penny is no longer the unobtainable airhead actress next door, progressively morphed into pharmaceutical saleswoman wife of Leonard. It’s only for occasional viewing but it pulls in the money for a reason. Big Bang is funny.

#20 – War for the Planet of the Apes: The initial ire at a prequel series for the classic Charleston Heston movie was justified, and nobody expected the fantastic reception for a plot that will end in certain dystopia. Andy Serkis and his motion capture magic once again portray the struggle of ape Caesar, the prequel series’ main character. That bold move meant the human cast are endlessly expendable – so this movie is just Woody Harrelson and a bunch of cheap redshirts. A fourth flick is planned already – but after a Rise, Dawn and a War what more do the apes have to do to win the planet?

#21 – La La Land: We would be remiss not to highlight the Oscar darling that has watched universal love dwindle to stark polarisation. Is it a savvy update on musicals lead by charming and talented actors that draws inspiration from cinema old, new, near and far or is it a rehash of better films hopelessly trying to recapture a lost art by pretentiously whining? Certainly the former. Emma Stone is a marvel and the audience gets to have its cake and eat it too. It deserves its Best Picture nomination.

#22 – The Defenders: After the success of The Avengers changed blockbusters comprehensively everyone was looking for a shared universe. Even Netflix. After the rights to Daredevil reverted to Marvel the studio was keen to capitalise on a well-known hero but didn’t want to commit to a whole film. A deal was struck with Netflix and series for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist were greenlight at the streaming giant. The Defenders is the mega-crossover fans have been waiting for and Alien badass Sigourney Weaver is the villian. This is going to be epic.

#23 – CW’s DCTV – Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow: Where to even begin? What Netflix has been inching towards the CW has taken and ran away with. Each year they top themselves with more ambitious storytelling and this is no better exemplified than the crossovers. Season 2 of Arrow introduced Barry Allen as a regular lab tech. Season 3 united Team Flash and Team Arrow for standalone episodes about mind control and Captain Boomerang. Season 4 introduced Hawkgirl and Hawkman, their enemy Vandal Savage and paved the way for the Legends of Tomorrow. Season five was the powerhouse Invasion! arc across three (and a bit) nights that involved not only Team Flash, Team Arrow and the fully formed Legends of Tomorrow but also introduced Supergirl to all the other heroes. The shows are fun and compelling and twenty-three times better than the DC movies ever will be.

#24 – Rick and Morty: Now take what you know from the Flash about multiverses and from Doctor Who about adventuring and Westworld about plot twists and throw it all in a blender. Add some Guardians of the Galaxy and a massive dollop of Back to the Future too. Then forget everything you ever knew because Rick and Morty’s goal is to flip everything on it’s head in the smartest, crassest, cynical and effed up way possible. It is side-splitting funny and super original, putting veteran shows like Family Guy and South Park to shame. The wait for the third season has become a meme of its own, along with the accidental mascot of Mr Meseeks. It’s just brilliant.

#25 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind: The nineteenth instalment of the Zelda franchise sees our hero Link awake from one hundred years of slumber. The endurance of the franchise makes this a must-see. It’s also the first big intellectual property to hit next generation console Nintendo Switch, so a lot of eyes will be watching it.

#26 – Baby Driver: Edgar Wright’s first flick in a while and first since not directing Ant-Man has a whole lot of potential. Ansel Elgort makes an A-grade career choice after a strong turn as Gus in The Fault in Our Stars and a poor cog in the doomsday machine known as the Divergent series. He also dabbles as a DJ and a model, so how he and Edgar Wright met we may never know. The film’s supporting cast are Lily James (Cinderella), Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained), Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) and Meryl effing Streep. Damn.

#27 – Gaycation: Ellen Page coming out at the United Nations was extremely powerful. She has since taken the issue with both hands and began to tour the world to better understand the reasoning behind some of the most homophobic areas in the world. Page also covers the Orlando nightclub massacre. It’s hard to find words to describe a show like this but it is more relevant and necessary now than ever before. A third season is on its way. Seasons one and two are avaliable on SBS On Demand now.

#28 – Powerless: DC does comedy is an inventive hook and while it’s on NBC and afar from the CW’s Arrowverse fans can appreciate the jokes all the same. The power trio of Vanessa Hudgens (Grease Live, Spring Breakers), Danny Pudi (Community) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) give the series some serious legs and goes hard and fast with ALL the references, rather than a Supergirl show that never mentions Bruce Wayne. The second episode is a little hammy and run-of-the-mill comedy but it still has miles of potential. Let’s give it a chance.

#29 – House of Cards: The original Netflix show was an impeccable trilogy that realistically painted delicate chess games of politics both domestic and abroad. The fourth season was a bridging season that severed the last remaining ties with reality before our political discourse descended into the discombobulation it is now. Robin Wright takes more creative control as executive producer and frequent director and it shows in the end product. War is afoot and some of the series biggest lies are being exposed. Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood has a battle ahead of him.

#30 – Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy: Remastering titles for current generation consoles is a cheap ploy to drum up business but anybody who owned the original PlayStation knows why this is on the list. Revisit the three earliest and arguably best Crash Bandicoot game in high definition as a pledge to the company that the fan base is ripe for a new instalment. Or dust off your old console and give pre-Skylanders Spyro a whirl. It’s all the same.

#31 – The Walking Dead: Despite murmurs that the series is getting old and stale a record number of viewers to continue to watch, comment and click. The showrunners think the series can go forever but it is catching up to the graphic novel source material in leaps and bounds. The redshirts rotate through while Rick, Carl, Daryl, Michonne and Carol keep enduring through each fresh hell the writers land them in. AMC doesn’t have any other juggernaut – Better Call Saul is a tamer critical darling – and the arrival of Negan is set up to have ramifications in the show’s universe for years to come. So whether you love it or hatewatch it, The Walking Dead is here to stay.

#32 – Mass Affect: Andromeda: The Rogue One of Mass Effect games, Andromeda slips between the second and third game of the series for a story of population resettlement. It’s the first time there’s an open world element and BioWare is confident the ending will please fans more than Mass Effect 3. It hits PC, Xbox and PS4 in about a month.

#33 – Utopia: Working Dog got so fed up with former prime minister Tony Abbott’s boner for infrastructure that they create a whole show to mock him. Long after the Prime Ministership hit an iceberg the show is going strong. Rob Stitch headlines a collection of Australia’s funniest including Lehmo, Kitty Flannagan, Luke McGregor, Celia Pacquola and many more. Once again, our national broadcaster has it is all online for free now.

#35 – Logan: Fox is good studio that has mixed results with superhero flicks. Fantastic Flop was one of the most contrived attempts at rights keeping in recent memory while Deadpool is lauded as the little film that could, and did. The X-Men series has a fifty percent hit rate while the Wolverine side stories have always struggled to resonate despite enduring love for Aussie Hugh Jackman. Now he’s putting down the claws for good in a one last stand road trip movie for the ages that looks stunning. Deadpool says it was like no other but it looks like Logan is going to walk in and unceremoniously steal that title.

#36 – Suits: Gabriel Macht and Patrick J Adams signed onto the Universal series six years ago and have quietly built a fervent fan base. After the exit of matriarch Gina Torres and the resolution of Mike’s crimes we’re moving into uncharted territory. As such there’s a lot of introspection flying about and the show is better for it. These next episodes will redefine it. Here’s hoping it swims rather than sinks.

#37 – Horizon Zero Dawn: It’s archer against machine on this console game that places more emphasis on trial and error than other games. The team behind the Killzone series sought out anthropologists to accurately represent decay of objects and the formation of cultures. They’re not messing about. It’s artistically beautiful and even better, it’s forwards compatible to 4K.

#38 – The Lego Batman Movie:  While DC Films struggles its parent company Warner Bros soars, expanding the Harry Potter universes and building the Lego series from something trite and commercial to awesome comedy gold. The Lego Movie‘s breakout star was quickly given a spinoff and all signs point to a rousing success. Will Arnett returns as the Dark Knight, his Arrested Development costar Michael Cera jumps on as Robin and the Hangover‘s oddball Zach Galifanakis tackles the Clown Prince of Crime. It has all the makings of a stellar comedy flick – it just so happens to also be Lego.

#39 – Snatched: The buzz for Amy Schumer’s breakout original comedy Trainwreck was strong. Her signature tone is a fresh flavour to Hollywood and Fox is happy to pay for her to cowrite another original story. Schumer also lured Goldie Hawn out of retirement to play her fictional mother, which gives the film a nice angle for the press. Supporting players are the reliable Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU), the more-misses-than-hits Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbours, Sisters) and the funniest human on Earth Wanda Sykes. Forget the rest of the movie – Wanda Sykes reading a dictionary has me hook, line and sinker.

#40 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The eighth episode of the greatest space saga of all time hits theatres this Christmas. It stars Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, and will also be the final work of the late Carrie Fischer. Foreign language translation reveal that Jedi is plural, signifying a look at Luke Skywalker’s ambition to train the next generation of Jedi despite the nefarious turn of Ben Solo / Kylo Ren. The mystery of Snoke’s agenda and Rey’s parentage should also be answered while still leaving a few breadcrumbs for the next episode.

#41 – Riverdale: Masterminded by Greg Berlanti of Arrowverse fame, Riverdale is a 21st century look at Archie comics’ timeless characters. It features the most iconic love triangle of all time in Archie, Betty and Veronica and a murder mystery to boot, a la Pretty Little Liars. It’s a beautiful hybrid of every teen show ever and instantly must-see TV. The only dilemma? Is this a guilty pleasure or something to be loud and proud about?

#42 – Cars 3: Lightning McQueen is injured and looks at some hard life truths in the threequel from Pixar, steering clear of the loud merchandising exercise Cars 2. Both the fabled Route 66 and the Western coast highway Route 99 will feature. Owen Wilson returns as hero Lightning while Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) will be the villian. Cautiously optimistic.

#43 – Grace and Frankie: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin triumph in this grey-haired adventure that bottles everything right about Netflix’s programming schedule. The surprise hit has a lot to say and not even time to say it in, as the series is so consumed by the hilarious and heartbreaking tribulations of the main duo that is never spends any time with its ginormous supporting cast. Michael Sheen and Sam Waterston are a dream and it is fantastic that their characters linger realistically than being swept under the rug and out of view. June Diane Raphael is also an underrated delight.

#44 – Oceans 8: A female twist on a familiar tale, including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter and Rihanna. Is that enough to get people in the theatre? Again, we’ll reserve our opinion til the trailer drops but so far so good.

#45 – Please Like Me: It is a crime that Please Like Me will not continue after American chequewriters Pivot closed up shop. The Australian series was perfect and even the idea of repeats outshines many options on this thorough list. The theme song was on point and the themes within the show were diverse and real. Josh Thomas stars, writes and directs, and apparently also features on a companion podcast. It is the best television show of 2016 by far and perhaps, dare I say without jest, the best thing I have ever watched. Too much praise? Probably not.

#46 – Orange is the New Black: OITNB is like an old time kettle boiling on an open flame. Season after season the heat keeps rising and the water is boiling and eventually the kettle starts to scream. Here we are. The series has gone from a strange drama with dark comedy elements centred on one prisoner to a ginormous ensemble of at least twenty-five women, each with their own story and heartbreak to tell. And depending on the prisoner in the spotlight it could be a relationship-based drama akin to Home and Away or it could be a paranoid murder plot akin to Breaking Bad. Last year the show took a hard political stance and shocked everyone watched – forever changing the show and the characters within it. The immediate fallout one-upped the previous finale with a truly shocking turn of events and it will take all of season five to address it, as the showrunners has confirmed the thirteen episodes will only chronicle three days of prison life. Wow.

#47 – Super Mario: Odyssey: Accompanying Zelda for the Nintendo Switch launch is company mascot Mario. His recent jump to mobile gaming inspired the developers to delve into an open world environment rather than the ever-faithful sidescrolller format. It is the twenty-first time the plumber will pursue Princess Peach outside of a Kart-based game but it does have the distinguishing feature of being able to throw the infamous red cap, using it as a bridge and spring to cross large areas. Why Mario has chosen all these years to use this skill we will never know.

48 – How to Get Away with Murder: It tightropes the line between ingenious and incredulous like nothing else, but most of the mysteries are great hooks and the catalyst for some wonderful character work. It’s the only Shonda Rhimes TGIT show on my radar after losing track of Grey’s almost a decade ago and never making the jump to Scandal. Viola Davis is a revolution and is never given material to justify her skill set, while Alfred Enoch, Karla Souza, Jack Falahee and Aja Naomi King play angst and dread very well. Liza Weil of Gilmore Girls and Matt McGory of Orange is the New Black are also along for the ride.

#49 – Justice League: A lot of things have been said about DC Films and Snyder but at the end of the day he is the man to unite Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman and inevitably Superman on the big screen for the first time in live action history. It is the third act of a trilogy rather than an Infinity War esque culmination but its teaser looks brighter and better than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

#50 – Stranger Things: Streaming’s surprise hit last year came from an eighties nostalgia trip so detailed it recruited Winona Ryder for the ride. A simple premise excellently scripted and cutely cast lead Millie Bobby Brown to instant stardom and gave Netflix another flagship show in the same league as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. The second season lands Halloween and already the antici…. pation is too much.

#51 – Wolf Creek: The Series: Travelling overseas confirms what we already know – foreigners think we live in the most ocker country on Earth complete with drop bears, crocodile hunters and Wolf Creek. The slasher found its way to streaming service Stan and was so successful another season is in development. Looks like John Jarett has some more redshirts to find!

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

Legion: the FX series about the X-Men that thinks he’s schitzophrenic. Costars Aubrey Plaza.

Murder on the Orient Express: Kenneth Branagh updates the age old tale with Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Dame Judi Dench and more.

Glitch: The Aussie series about the undead rising. Stars Patrick Brammel.

Orphan Black: The final season wraps after things got way too convoluted. Tatiana Malsany remains incredible.

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