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Woody Harrelson’s potentially big 2017 begins with “Wilson”

The first part of any given year is usually pretty dry when it comes to awards contenders. As such, a lot of the time speculation surrounds who might end up in play, should their upcoming films be worthy of contention. Once such actor with a decent sized slate in 2017 is Woody Harrelson. Here is a man with Academy Award nominations to his name, but perhaps no driving force so far pushing him towards an Oscar. He also was just out and out snubbed in regards to receiving no attention last year for The Edge of Seventeen. Could that change this year? There’s a chance, but first, he begins by trying to please the crowd with his new comedy Wilson. It opens this week after a debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival.

The movie, for those wondering, is a dark edged comedy, one with Harrelson playing the title character. Wilson is a misanthrope who is as honest and neurotic as he is lonely. He finds a new purpose in his life when he discovers that he has a daughter. Wilson sets out to reconnect with his estranged wife Pippi (Laura Dern) and finally meet his daughter Claire (Isabella Amara), now a teenager. As he tries to connect with her, cinematic lessons are learned, albeit with a comedic twist. Craig Johnson directs a script from Danial Clowes, who adapted his own graphic novel. Also in the cast are Judy Greer and Cheryl Hines, among others.

So far, the response to Wilson has been somewhat middling, so that could keep him out of play for that. It’s far from his only 2017 flick though. Also this year, Harrelson has projects like The Glass Castle, LBJ, Shock and Awe, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and War for the Planet of the Apes. Honestly, War for the Planet of the Apes isn’t going to do it. LBJ as well as Shock and Awe would potentially have bigger shots, if not for Rob Reiner having a rough track record lately. That leaves Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as another choice, which is a major X factor this year. It might end up too odd for voters, but we’ll have to see how that goes.

The one to watch out for, via process of elimination, is probably The Glass Castle, which checks the most boxes, potential prestige wise. It’s the highly anticipated follow up to Short Term 12 from filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton, one that also reunites him with star Brie Larson. Harrelson co-stars as a family patriarch in this drama, which sounds pretty baity. Nothing is known yet, but it feels like a strong possibility that this could be something to reckon with during the awards season. It doesn’t have a release date just yet, but that announcement shouldn’t be too far off, especially if it’s going to play the fall festival circuit.

Here are what I think are Harrelson’s ten best performances to date:

10. Friends with Benefits
9. No Country for Old Men
8. Out of the Furnace
7. Natural Born Killers
6. Seven Psychopaths
5. Zombieland
4. The Edge of Seventeen
3. The Messenger
2. Rampart
1. The People vs Larry Flynt

Starting on Friday, audiences can see Harrelson in Wilson. This is his first offering of the new year, though as we’ve mentioned it will hardly be his only time on the big screen this year. He may very well end up in at least one of 2017’s big films when all is said and done. It all remains to be seen, but it’s worth thinking about, especially while everything else is sight unseen. For now, Wilson is the one hitting screens in the next few days, so give that a shot if you’re a fan of his. Either way, his year is just getting started…

Be sure to check out Wilson, starting its theatrical run this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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