Whether or not your head is buzzing with Force Awakens theories, it's going to be a long wait for Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII. What can I watch while I wait? May 2017 isn't too far away, but I kind of want to keep thinking about Rey, Finn, and Poe for a good long while. Don't you? So much of Episode VIII was familiar territory, but I'm completely obsessed with the new characters and all of the new possibilities.
I am also, and this may just be because I'm as fresh-faced and hopeful as a little padawan, just excited about movies in general again. I watch the darn things all the time, but there's something about a universe as rich as Star Wars that reinvigorates my love my escaping into an imaginary world. So, I have made a list of films that I want to make sure I see for the first time, or revisit, before 2017 when the next film in the Star Wars saga is released. There are a few different themes at play, which I'll explain. You're welcome to ditch my list and just watch Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally for the umpteenth time; it's a great movie! That said, whether it's for the director, actors, or general Star Wars theorizing, this is sure to keep you busy and in the galactic spirit all year.
First, you'll want to marathon the oeuvre of Rian Johnson, who is directing the next film and writing the screenplay for the next wo. He's got a very specific directorial voice and aesthetic that I'm looking forward to — particularly on Luke Skywalker's Isle Of Jedi. Brick is probably the best entry — it's a teenage noir, like Veronica Mars but with a different edge, and has a whole bunch of Joseph Gordon-Levitt punching people in the face.
2. The Brothers Bloom
Johnson's second feature is a bit more quirky and romantic. Your dream farmer's market date Mark Ruffalo is in it. It's more of an adventure than a mystery, which proves Johnson can do both with a lot of style!
Finally, Johnson's own science fiction outing about time travel assassins is his most obvious Star Wars calling card.
4. Safety Not Guaranteed
If you want to jump way ahead, there's also this fun Colin Trevorrow film (that, unlike Jurassic World, he did not write the screenplay for) that stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, and Jake Johnson. It's about time travel too, in a way.
5. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Since The Force Awakens contained so many analogs to the original Star Wars film, also known as A New Hope, your theorizing could benefit by scrutinizing the first Star Wars sequel. I might also recommend Attack Of The Clones for a similar reason, but that's up to you — the prequel films can be a touchy subject.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
On that note, if you're into sequels, both this followup and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire follow an Empire Strikes Back-esque structure, particularly with their cliffhanger endings.
7. Inside Llewyn Davis
Confession: I've been faking a love for Oscar Isaac for about two years. I knew he was everybody's crush but I hadn't actually seen many of his movies. If you're like me, remedy this ASAP with this Coen Brothers film that has bonus Adam Driver, lots of singing, and a cat. Who could ask for anything more?
8. Ex Machina
Similarly, in this movie (which is streaming on Amazon Prime) you can watch Poe Dameron and General Hux pal around, also there are robots. Fun!
9. Attack The Block
Let's not forget about the ever-charming John Boyega, who got noticed with this indie science fiction film.
10. Guardians Of The Galaxy
First of all, because it's great. Second of all, because we can only dream that Benecio Del Toro's new Star Wars character is as weird as The Collector.
11. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
OK, it's not out in theaters yet, but we're all going to be hitting the cinema for this spinoff prequel about the rebels who stole the plans for the Death Star (the first one, which Leia gave to R2-D2, not the mission that killed many Bothans) next year? Absolutely.
12. Only Yesterday
For Rey fans, you'll want to check out the American release of this Studio Ghibli film that Daisy Ridley is lending her voice to in 2016.
13. Beyond The Lights
This one is a bit of a gamble — it is heavily rumored that actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been cast in a lead role. If that is the case, you're gonna want to know all about her. Beyond The Lights is on Netflix, and her period film Belle is streaming on HBO.