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Friday, January 19, 2018

25 Films to Look Forward to in 2018

As we all try to finish catching the last of 2017's movies, let's take a look forward! At the beginning of each new year, we take a look ahead at the year of movies to come–what are we excited about? Some of these movies have been a decade in the making, while others are pleasant surprises from our favorite directors, writers, and performers. While on the podcast we recently discussed the mixed bag that was our 2017 most anticipated films, here are 25 movies we're (cautiously) optimistic about for 2018!

Black Panther
dir. Ryan Coogler
Release Date: February 16th

I'm not sure there will be a better cure for the fatigue I'm feeling with Marvel's cookie-cutter approach to films than Ryan Coogler's Black Panther. Coogler knocked what should have been a stale and unnecessary sequel - Creed - out of the park, and had said he wants to make Black Panther "as personal as possible," and if the visually stunning trailers are any indication, we may be in for the rare Marvel movie they puts its director's vision at the forefront. The film's cast alone is worth the entry fee: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. (Hannah)

dir. Alex Garland
Release Date: February 23rd

The new film from Alex Garland, the mind behind Ex Machina, Dredd and other great genre entertainment made last year's list, but we're such fans of his we couldn't let the actual year it finally got released go by without another mention. The film looks to be quite the departure from Jeff VanderMeer's book, and was the subject of some serious push and pull between the studio and its producer and filmmaker. I expect it to be this year's early favorite for "most divisive film". But really, between his screenwriting work and his excellent directorial debut, this is the first movie of the year I am well and truly excited about. (Kyle)

A Wrinkle in Time
dir. Ava DuVernay
Release Date: March 9th

What can I say? It's Ava DuVernay's world, and we're just living in it. After pushing David Oyelowo into stardom by giving him an absolutely iconic turn in Selma, DuVernay stepped back and crafted the best documentary of 2017 with the heartbreaking, powerful 13th -- and teamed up with Oprah to put Queen Sugar on TV. But now DuVernay is back on the big screen, and in full-on blockbuster mode with A Wrinkle in Time, adapting Madeleine L'Engle's absolutely beloved young adult classic. The movie has an excellent adult cast (Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine, and more) and some promising newcomers like Storm Reid. They should be a great fit with DuVernay's crowd-pleasing sensibilities and strong sense of character. The trailer looks strong, the source material is classic, and DuVernay herself is a massive talent to look out for. (Alexander)

The Strangers: Prey at Night
dir. Johannes Roberts
Release Date: March 9th

Marvel/Disney aren't the only ones capitalizing on ten years of storytelling this year.  A decade after its release, The Strangers is finally getting a sequel.  The Strangers is one of my favorite horror movies of this century, and it has the distinction of being one of the last horror movies to scare me to the point of losing sleep.  Our three masked killers are back, this time targeting a family in an abandoned trailer park.  Bryan Bertino is the only one returning from the original film, this time co-writing instead of writing/directing.  Given how cleverly the original Strangers played on the home invasion trope in horror movies, it will be interesting to see if The Strangers: Prey at Night brings something new to the table, or if it falls under the trap of being yet another disappointing horror sequel. (Shane)

Isle of Dogs
dir. Wes Anderson
Release Date: March 23rd

New Wes Anderson Movie? And it’s stop-motion animated like the gorgeous Fantastic Mr. Fox? Count me in. Isle of Dogs is set in a future world where all dogs in Japan have been quarantined to an island covered with garbage, and a young boy sneaks there to find his dog. It looks weird, adorable, and beautifully animated, not to mention the outrageously packed voice cast including Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum just to mention a few. The Grand Budapest Hotel was on of Anderson’s finest films to date, so there are a lot of reasons to have high expectations for his follow up and return to animation. (Harper)

Pacific Rim Uprising
dir. Steven S. DeKnight
Release Date: March 23rd

I'm not a huge Charlie Hunnam fan, but I AM a big Pacific Rim fan, so I couldn't be happier that John Boyega will be the lead in the franchise's next chapter. Uprising follows the events of Pacific Rim 10 years later, in which Boyega will star as the son of Stacker Pentecost. There's bad news with the good, though. I'm a little nervous that Guillermo del Toro isn't directing this one - he's only acting as a producer - and the resume of director Steven DeKnight doesn't give me much hope. But by some miracle, if I can get a fun, thrilling monster battle movie like I did the first time around, I'll be thrilled. (Hannah)

A Quiet Place
dir. John Krasinski
Release Date: April 6th

If you told me a year ago that I’d be picking a horror movie directed by The Office’s John Krasinski, I’d have guessed you came from a weird, parallel universe. Based on the film’s first trailer which is so silent for its first minute that you might check your speaker’s power button, the film follows a family living in quiet solitude, taking extreme measures not to make any loud noises. They lay sand on the forest path, only step on the painted footsteps in their home, and play Monopoly with knitted pieces, all to keep a mysterious and terrifying threat from hearing them. With Krasinski co-starring with Emily Blunt, it looks to be not only very frightening, but perhaps one of the most interesting uses of sound in horror films in recent times. (Harper)

You Were Never Really Here
dir. Lynne Ramsay
Release Date: April 6th

Lynne Ramsay is one of the most gut-level disturbing filmmakers working today. Ramsay got her start with the excellent indie drama Ratcatcher, a drama about a young child in a poor, trash-filled slum working through his guilt at watching a friend drown to death without going for help. Her most recent film was, if anything, even darker: 2011's We Need To Talk About Kevin followed two separate threads, Ezra Miller's teenage sociopath pushing closer and closer to a truly monstrous act, and Tilda Swinton as his mother trying to live with the consequences in the aftermath. It's a brutal, emotional story that features phenomenal performances from both Miller and Swinton. In You Were Never Really Here, Joaquin Phoenix plays a hitman trying to save a teenager from being forced into prostitution, but comparisons abound to things like Scorsese's Taxi Driver, so don't expect this to be a simple anti-hero story. Ramsay is fascinated by the horrifying things humans can do to one another and the happiness they can find coming out of tragedy, so I'll be fascinated to see what Ramsay does with the story. (Alexander)

Avengers: Infinity War
dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Release Date: May 4th

It feels like we say this every few Marvel movies, but this time it really has all been building to this.  Easily the most anticipated movie of the year for many, Avengers: Infinity War sees the culmination of literally a decade of storytelling with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The cast is massive and the plot is widespread across the galaxy. The Avengers find themselves face to face with Thanos, who will hopefully break the curse that has befallen so many MCU villains before him.  While there are so many things that can go wrong with a movie with so much riding on it, Joe and Anthony Russo have not struck out yet with their Marvel offerings.  Captain America: Civil War seemed to be the practice round for juggling a gigantic cast, but fan expectations are through the roof with this one.  Nothing short of a masterpiece may invoke the ire of the MCU loyal.  At the very least, they'll be more skeptical when pre-ordering their Avengers 4 tickets. (Shane)

Ant-Man and The Wasp
dir. Peyton Reed
Release Date: July 6th

What a change of perspective for me. You see, three years ago I outright boycotted Ant-Man in the theater after the execrable way Edgar Wright was treated by the studio, even to the point that we had Cal and Harper describe the film beat by beat to me on the podcast, rather than actual seeing it. It frankly still stings a bit to think about, but I happened to catch Peyton Reed's final product on blu-ray when it was brought over, and of course I ended having a really good time with it. So much so, that I'm really delighted to see what Reed can do with a film that isn't a Frankenstein monster of a script, and also makes hopefully much better use of Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne. Plus, shrinking heroes! Always here for that and the fun set pieces that'll produce! (Kyle)

2014's The Babadook directed by Jennifer Kent
The Nightingale
dir. Jennifer Kent
Release Date: August 10th

The Babadook remains one of the truly great horror films of the 21st century, coming in 3rd in our list of the new century's best horror. As a debut for Jennifer Kent, it was a powerhouse, and we've all been wondering what Kent would do next. Now we know: The Nightingale is the story of a young prisoner in 1820s Australia seeking revenge on the man that killed her family. What impressed me most about The Babadook was the way Kent built on and managed the film's powerful tension even before the film's horror elements took off, so seeing her going for a full-on thriller has me incredible excited. The Nightingale seems like it may be a bit of a harder sell than the pure genre thrills of The Babadook, but Kent is a great up-and-comer, and I can't wait to see what she does as she branches out into more complex work. (Alexander)

The Happytime Murders
dir. Brian Henson
Release Date: August 17th

Another film which has been in development hell for a longtime, The Happytime Murders just may be the most unique comedy film lined up for 2018.  In a world where humans and puppets co-exist, The Happytime Murders tells the story of a puppet detective searching for a serial killer responsible for the murder of his brother as well as a recent string of murders of the stars of a popular 80's TV show.  The plot synopsis on its own is intriguing, but then seeing that the film is directed by Brian Henson and stars the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, and Maya Rudolph makes this a movie you don't want to ignore.  Given the noir feel of the plot and concept art, perhaps this could be the next Who Framed Roger Rabbit...only with a lot more felt and googly eyes.  A list of five screenwriters doesn't offer much hope, but we can at least wait for a trailer.  If nothing else, you won't see another movie like The Happytime Murders this year. (Shane)

First Man
dir. Damien Chazelle
Release Date: October 12th

Look, all Oscar joking aside, La La Land was great, and so was Whiplash. I was expecting another music-focused film from Chazelle, so it’s a nice surprise to see him delving into the historical biopic of American astronaut and first man on the moon Neil Armstrong. I’m a sucker for all things early NASA–all the men and women involved with putting mankind into space are unquestionable heroes, and their stories have been uniquely fascinating in film, from 1989’s For All Mankind right up to last year’s Hidden Figures. Add to that Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy playing Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong and a script by Josh Singer (Spotlight and The Post) and this might just be a way for Chazelle to make a great movie without trying to save jazz. (Harper)

2015's The Diary of a Teenage Girl directed by Marielle Heller
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
dir. Marielle Heller
Release Date: October 19th

A few years ago, we really didn't have many smart female coming-of-age stories breaking through into the mainstream. Now, we have Lady Bird and The Edge of Seventeen, but I consider both to be following in Marielle Heller's footsteps: The Diary of a Teenage Girl was Heller's debut, a sexually frank coming-of-age period piece set in '70s San Francisco, and she crushed it. At the time, she was adapting a graphic memoir by cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner; with Can You Ever Forgive Me? Heller is adapting a memoir by biographer, forger, and thief Lee Israel. Playing it as a black comedy, Heller has cast Melissa McCarthy to star as a famed writer whose star wanes after a notable feud with a celebrity, who ends up forging and then later stealing letters from celebrities to keep her career going. Dark comedies are always a difficult tonal tightrope act, particularly when they're based on a true story, but Diary - a frank look at a relationship between an adult man and a young teenage girl - was similarly tricky territory that I think Heller nailed, so I'm excited to see what she does with something more overtly comedic. (Alexander)

dir. David Gordon Green
Release Date: October 19th

The Strangers aren't the only horror icons returning to the big screen in 2018.  Michael Myers is back once again, and he's got a lot of familiar faces with him.  Though it may be the 11th film in the series, this new Halloween is a reboot of sorts, ignoring all previous entries in the series and acting as a sequel to only the 1978 film.  If that isn't enough to intrigue you, Jamie Lee Curtis is back (last seen briefly in 2002's Halloween Resurrection) as well as original Michael Myers, Nick Castle.  John Carpenter is also returning, this time as executive producer and creative consultant.  Newcomers to the series Judy Greer and Andi Matichak are also along for the ride, playing Curtis's daughter and granddaughter respectively.  Nothing is known about the plot at this point, but so many returning faces and with the ever-successful Blumhouse in charge of production, you're not going to want to miss Halloween.  Given that this film will ignore even Halloween II, it will be interesting to see if a new connection is established between Laurie Strode and the Shape. (Shane)

2011's Much Ado About Nothing directed by Josie Rourke
Mary Queen of Scots
dir. Josie Rourke
Release Date: November 2nd

With The Crown creating a surging interest in British royal history, this historical drama about the Scottish queen attempting to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I may just come at exactly the right time. The director Josie Rourke has recently been directing live filmings of plays at the National Theatre, but her debut film was an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing starring Doctor Who favorites David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Tennant returns here along with a very exciting cast including Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, both hot off 2017 critical hits Lady Bird and I, Tonya respectively. The rivalry of two of the most powerful women in the world is a story I’ve always been fascinated with, so having adapted with such a formidable cast is something to look forward to. (Harper)

dir. Steve McQueen
Release Date: November 16th

After Gone Girl was adapted for the big screen, it seems the book's author, Gillian Flynn, will make her own attempt at big screen adaptation. This might sound like a risky proposition, but Flynn's co-writer is none other than director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), who will also direct the film, which stars Viola Davis. The premise is an adaptation of a 1980s television show about a group of men killed trying to rob a bank, and their widows, who finish the job. (Hannah)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Release Date: December 14th

While Spider-man may have crawled his way to the MCU, Sony still technically has control over the character's film rights.  Not wanting to risk two live action Spider-men on screen, Sony has opted to go animated for its next Spidey film.  Into the Spider-verse sees the cinematic debut of Miles Morales, the popular African American/Puerto Rican Spider-man (formerly) of the Ultimate Marvel Universe.  Aside from having a breathtaking art style taken from the comics themselves, not much is really known about the plot of the film.  The title comes from the recent Spider-Verse storyline, which saw an entire multiverse of Spider-men and women working together.  Does this mean we may not just get Miles but also Spider Gwen, Spider-man 2099, or Spider-Ham?  Could we see Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield return to the role of Peter Parker?  Only time will tell, but Into the Spider-verse is already off to a great start with a screenplay by Phil Lord and a cast including Mahershala Ali and Liev Schreiber. (Shane)

dir. James Wan
Release Date: December 21st

2018's lone DC offering may actually be the most promising one of the lot. You have a likable, if untested, star, a director who seems a bit of an unusual pairing for the material, and it arrives on the heels of another poorly received Zack Snyder curated vehicle. Sound familiar? While the broad strokes of James Wan's foray into the DC Universe sound a lot like what gave us Wonder Woman, the actual material looks to be wildly different, with Wan describing it as an underwater cross of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing The Stone...as much of Aquaman will take place post-character introduction in Justice League (a lukewarm debut by most accounts), it won't have the tried and true origin arc to rely on, and thusly its task will be just a bit more difficult in winning dubious audiences over. Still, I look forward to seeing how Wan conceptualizes the underwater environments...particularly how characters communicate...and if this can finally be the moment when DC Films gets on track. (Kyle)

Hold the Dark
dir. Jeremy Saunier
Release Date: TBD

Green Room was one of the most interesting and terrifying movies of 2015, defying genre expectations by bridging the gap between crime, thriller, and horror in a way that left many unsettled and excited to see what Saulnier does next. In Hold the Dark, Saulnier sees an author (Jeffrey Wright) trying to locate a couple’s young son who is presumed to have been killed by wolves in the Alaskan wilderness. The cast also includes Riley Keogh and Alexander Skarsgård, as well as frequent Saulnier collaborator Macon Blair, who also co-wrote the movie. With the filmmakers behind Green Room and I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore diving once again into a world of violence and crime, I’ll be sure to be there! (Harper)

2013's Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón
dir. Alfonso Cuarón
Release Date: TBD

I know very little about this, except that it returns Alfonso Cuaron to his Mexican roots as it chronicles a year in the life of one family in Mexico City in the 70's. With a cast of actors unknown to American audiences, this long-awaited return for Cuaron sounds, on paper, to be pretty enticing. After Children of Men and Gravity, two of the more highly regarded science fiction films of the current era, this is also a return to grounded storytelling, and a nice change of pace for the auteur. (Kyle)

2013's The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani
Let the Corpses Tan
dir. Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Release Date: TBD

Okay, first off, this clearly has the best title on the list. For a film paying homage to the Euro thrillers of the 1970s, it needed an evocative title, and co-directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani have certainly found that. Cattet and Forzani are known for their homages to the exploitation films of old, most notably in 2009's giallo homage Amer and again in The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears just a couple years ago. Cattet and Forzani's take on horror tends to be slow, methodical, and partnered with surreal imagery and hallucinatory editing. It will be interesting to see them change the force of their fetish with Let the Corpses Tan, but regardless of the subject matter, this is a duo that is always interesting to watch. While I didn't love The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, it seemingly pushed their bizarre imagery as far as it can go, and I'm interested to see if they'll pull back a bit now that they're working in a different genre. (Alexander)

dir. Duncan Jones
Release Date: TBD

Welp. This was on my 2017 list, but after release delays, Mute is back on the list for 2018. So I'll say now what I said then: I have to admit that I skipped out on Warcraft, but I was a big fan of director Duncan Jones' Moon, so I'm interested to see what he has in store for us with his next film. Mute is already drawing comparisons to Blade Runner based on recently released images, and the film stars Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux in a noir-ish quest set in Berlin circa 2052. Rather than a traditional theatrical release, Mute will release on Netflix. (Hannah)

dir. Luca Guadagnino
Release Date: TBD

A remake of the Dario Argento classic would hold very little appeal to me in almost every single case...but I guess there's always an exception to be had. Post-A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino, who just really doesn't know how to take a break, takes on this herculean task...and I am very much here for it. One has to presume this will be more of a remake in name only, and this will allow Guadagnino the opportunity to really pick apart and recontextualize the source material. The cast is an interesting mix, bringing on the ever excellent Tilda Swinton with younger talent like Dakota Johnson (maybe finally getting the stink of the 50 Shades of Grey franchise off of her) and Chloe Grace Moretz, who has been in need of a career redirect herself - Clouds of Sils Maria notwithstanding. (Kyle)

Let It Fall Back
dir. Luca Guadagnino
Release Date: TBD

I'm still torn over whether Call Me By Your Name occupies my #1 movie slot for 2017 or if it sits at second, but either way, director Luca Guadagnino has my attention. So I'll be eagerly awaiting this one - a drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jake Gyllenhaal as friends involved in faking a murder. It's also penned by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. (Hannah)

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