First off, let me wish you all a Happy New Year! 2017 was certainly a great year for film, and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all in the coming weeks. However, for today, we have a more pressing issue: what films we’re looking forward to in 2018. What films this year will make us laugh, or cry, or cheer? Can we possibly top 2017 in terms of groundbreaking action, comedy, and romance? We’ll find out soon enough, and in honor of this question, today’s Wednesday Listicle will be our Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2018.
As per usual, a few caveats for this list. First, these are the films that I am most excited for, as opposed to films that Joe MovieGoer (I believe it’s French) is excited for. So while a few blockbusters will be in there, mostly it will consist of dramas and art films, and you can bet your ass if there’s a musical, it’s in contention. As well, it is worth noting that because these films are artsier releases, there is a good chance they won’t all come out this year. As of this moment, I’ve only seen nine of last year’s eleven most anticipated, as one had a very late 2017 release, and the other has only now been given a Netflix release of the end of January. Hell, I had The Disaster Artist on my list in 2014, 2015, and 2016 before it finally came out in 2017. And finally, a reminder that all of these films still have the potential to be bad. From last year’s list, only one made my Top Ten, four were honorable mentions, three were simply average, and one was downright bad. Basically, the fact they are on this list means nothing outside of the fact that something about the film has me truly, truly excited.
Now that those disclaimers are out of the way, my Honorable Mentions. As per usual, there are a ton of films that I’m excited for, even if they didn’t make my Top Ten. There’s independent films, like Bo Burnham’s Eight Grade, Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan’s Wildfire, and Anton Yelchin’s last film, Thoroughbreds. Then there’s the blockbusters that I am curious about, for better or worse, like Solo: A Star Wars Story, Tom Hardy in Venom, Melissa McCarthy’s puppet murder mystery The Happytime Murders, Ewan McGregor’s live-action Winnie-the-Pooh film Christopher Robin, the animated sequel we’ve all been waiting for The Incredibles 2, and Taron Egerton’s Robin Hood. And finally, there’s the art films that I expect to blow me away, like Steve McQueen’s all-female Widows, Jacques Audiard’s Western The Sisters Brothers, Robert Redford’s last film The Old Man and the Gun, Joaquin Phoenix and Lynne Ramsey’s remarkable You Were Never Really Here, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina follow-up Annihilation, the new Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs, and Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic Backseat. I also have the Morbid Curiosity Award, which I will give to the sequel to my guiltiest of pleasures, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. And should it come out in 2018, you bet your ass The Irishman will make the list. How often do we get Martin Scorsese working with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino? So, with that settled, let’s take a look at the ten films I’m most looking forward to this year.
10. A Wrinkle in Time
Ava DuVernay’s last two films were some of my favorites of their respective years (Selma and 13th, for those wondering), so it would make sense that her newest film would be one of my most anticipated of the year. That’s especially the case if she is adapting one of the most beloved young adult novels of all time. Truth be told, I’ve never read A Wrinkle in Time, but I know enough. I know that it’s beloved enough that you need someone like DuVernay to pull it off. I know that it’s some form of sci-fi adventure. And I know that DuVernay has given the cast a diverse update that not only adds to its timelessness, but also allows it to speak to a group that hadn’t seen themselves onscreen before. This includes the newcomer Storm Reid (who seems perfectly cast), Levi Miller, and Deric McCabe, but it goes much further than that. We also get André Holland, Rowan Blanchard, Bellamy Young, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and, above all, we get the Trinity: Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, respectively. That trio is my political orientation. When combined with the artistic vision seen in the trailer, you have one of the coolest, most exciting films coming out, and I can’t wait to see it. The film will be released March 9th.
9. Mary, Queen of Scots
Sometimes you just have to take a chance on a film that has little proven talent behind the camera and just role with the cast and subject matter. So is the case with Mary, Queen of Scots, a film with an unproven director in Josie Rourke and a very mixed writer in Beau Willimon. However, there’s a few things you need to know about me. I am a huge history buff, and I adore English history. The political rivalry between cousins Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I is one of the most infamous of all time, and I look forward to seeing it play out on the screen. However, what really wins me over is the cast. There’s David Tennant, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, and Guy Pearce, each playing one of male stepping stones on these women’s quests to power, but that’s nothing compared to the women they have in the lead roles. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to name my two favorite actresses working right now, there’s a very good chance I’d say Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, and that’s exactly who’s playing Mary and Elizabeth, respectively. Watching these two butt heads will tickle me to no end, like a female-led Beckett, and while it will likely appear at the Toronto International Film Festival, you and I will both be looking for it on November 2nd.
8. The Favourite
Speaking of English history, The Favourite. We’ve seen a lot of biopics and dramas about English history, from Beckett to The Crown. However, one thing we don’t often see is a biting political satire, most specifically about the controversial friendship between Queen Anne and Abigail Masham. If that’s not troubling (in a good way) enough, Yorgos Lanthimos, the twisted mind behind The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (two great films I will never watch again), is directing the biting tale. He is one of the most vivid minds working today, and when he works with talented actors, it’s always groundbreaking and innovative. The cast ranges from Lanthimos veterans like Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman (in the lead role, no less), but it also includes newcomers like Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss and Joe Alwyn. I love history, I love satire, and I love Lanthimos, and I can’t wait for this film to be released. Currently, Fox Searchlight has no release date planned, but I would expect an appearance at one of the film festivals – Cannes at the earliest, Toronto at the latest, and we’ll know where we stand from there.
I’m not the biggest fan of horror, so if a scary movie makes my most anticipated list, you know that there’s something special there. You’ll also know, from reading this site, that I consider Halloween (1978) to be one of the scariest, greatest films ever made, the peak of the slasher film due to its lack of violence and focus on suspense. Like many people, I was skeptical when the newest film was announced, especially when I was told of Danny McBride’s involvement. However, allow me to show you why I’m excited for the 2018 horror extravaganza. First, the main force on the project (writer/director) is David Gordon Green, an indie darling who has made such great films as George Washington and Stronger. Second, the film is cutting back on violence and focusing on suspense, much like the original. Third, the film is not a reboot, but a closing chapter on the series, providing it with the finale it deserves. Fourth, Jamie Lee Curtis is returning one final time to the role of Laurie Strode, which put her on the map, and the oft-uncredited Nick Castle is reprising his role as the killer Michael Myers. And finally, this is the only sequel to Halloween to get John Carpenter’s approval, as he is not only serving as a consultant, but returning to score the film. That’s a lot of weight being thrown behind this film, in a way that simply would not happen if this film wasn’t something special. This could be the next Jigsaw or Texas Chainsaw, but no matter how this goes down, I’m excited by the promise of what could be. The film will be released on October 19th, and if it is truly something special, it may make an appearance at Toronto’s Midnight Madness.
6. Black Panther
Ryan Coogler has landed on my Top Ten list twice – first for Fruitvale Station, and again for Creed. He has not made a bad film, and has proven his talent with both a small and large budget. So when you tell me that he’s making the first black superhero film, and he’s bringing his own directorial flair to it, I’m in. When you tell me that the hero has a badass team of female warriors to back him up, I’m really in. And when you show me a trailer filled with stunning visuals, electrifying music, and the directorial swagger that made Shaft a phenomenal film back in the day, I am all in. Chadwick Boseman was far and away the greatest part of Captain America: Civil War, and the prospect of his King of Wakanda battling a rebel who wants to start a world war sounds like the burst of fresh air that this genre requires. It doesn’t hurt that I will see Michael B. Jordan in literally anything, so the idea of his playing a villain in the vein of Magneto is incredibly enticing. And when you round out the cast with Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, and Sterling K. Brown, then you’ve just about sold me on my first superhero film in years. Black Panther will be released on February 16th, and you can be damn sure I’ll be first in line to see how Ryan Coogler has changed the genre.
5. If Beale Street Could Talk
The last time Barry Jenkins made a film, he somehow pushed through the confusion to walk home with the Best Picture Oscar. As opposed to the nearly ten year gap between Medicine for Melancholy and Moonlight, Jenkins is spending no time at all before climbing back into the director’s chair. Never one to lack ambition, Jenkins will be adapting James Baldwin’s book If Beale Street Could Talk, a forty-year-old book that somehow feels timely in its story about an African-American man falsely accused of a crime and his fiancé’s quest to prove his innocence. Jenkins is a prolific, powerful director, and I think he’s the perfect man to bring this tale to life. I also like his choice in relatively unknown Kiki Layne as the female lead Tish, as well as the supporting roles of Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Brian Tyree Henry (who should be in everything), Dave Franco, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock, Pedro Pascal, and Diego Luna. I’m confident that with this cast, crew, and director, this will be one of the big Oscar contenders of 2018. While the film currently has no release date, you can bet that Annapurna will get this into Telluride and Toronto, in order to amplify its Oscar chances.
4. Avengers: Infinity War
Honestly, I don’t know how you can’t be excited for this film, even if you’ve grown tired of Marvel movies. This is everything we’ve been building towards for ten years. Every two-hour slog we’ve had to sit through has led to this. All of our favorite heroes, finally coming together in a story with over fifty hours of build-up. We will finally see all of the heroes we met, from the Avengers to Spider-Man to the Guardians of the freakin’ Galaxy, in the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. We will finally see what Thanos (as played by Josh Brolin) will bring to the universe, and how Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel will play off of (deep breath) Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Holland, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Rudd, and Don Cheadle. However, above all, it will be exciting to see which of these characters live or die. There’s no way all of these characters survive an all-out war, and that means some franchises are about to come to a tragic, tragic end. No matter how much you hate superhero films, no matter how much I’m over superhero films, there’s no way you can’t be at least intrigued by the prospect of seeing how all these films tie together into one massive arc. We will finally see how all these films tie together on May 4th.
3. Ocean’s Eight
You know, I’m a man of simple tastes. I like funny movies. I like slick movies that make me think without making me think. And I like a bunch of badass actors and actresses being badass. So when I heard that Gary Ross would be directing Ocean’s Eight, the all-female version of the wonderful Ocean’s Eleven, I was onboard. When they announced the new Clooney, Damon, and Pitt would be Sandra Bullock (yes), Cate Blanchett (yesssss), and Sarah Paulson (YAAASSSSSSSS), I was all in. And when the rest of the team was made of Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Helena Bonham Carter, I was over the moon. I cannot wait to see this movie. I can’t wait to see them stylishly kick ass. I can’t wait to see them crack wise. And I can’t wait to see a clever heist done well. This promises to be the most fun film of 2018, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all I need to be excited about a film. This film will be released June 8th, and you can bet your ass I will be first in line to see it.
2. First Man
Damien Chazelle’s first film, Whiplash, was the third best film of 2014. His second film, La La Land, was the second best film of 2016. At the rate he’s going, he’s destined to become this generation’s Bob Fosse. And if he’s this generation’s Fosse, it would stand to reason he will reinvigorate the biopic genre the same way Lenny did. Because Chazelle isn’t just making the average biopic with First Man – he’s taking on the story of Neil Armstrong, arguably the most well-liked American in recent memory (maybe ever?) Working from a script by Guardians of the Galaxy writer Nicole Perlman and Spotlight writer Josh Singer, the film will follow the key years of Armstrong’s life, from 1961 to his landing on the moon in 1969. Chazelle is bringing along his usual team for this film, including Academy Award winners Justin Hurwitz on score, Linus Sandgren on cinematography, and Tom Cross on editing, as well as his new go-to male lead Ryan Gosling as Armstrong himself. Other cast members include Claire Foy as Armstrong’s first wife, the great Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin, Kyle Chandler as Deke Slayton, Jason Clarke as Ed White, Shea Whigham as Gus Grissom, Jon Bernthal as David Scott, Brian d’Arcy James as Joseph Walker, and Patrick Fugit as Elliot See. Chazelle continues to wow me every single time, and I don’t expect First Man to be any different. First Man will be released October 12th, and should make an appearance at Toronto (and based on his history with the festival, maybe even Telluride).
1. A Star Is Born
Look, you can just assume at this point if there’s a musical released in any given year, it’s going to be on my Top Ten. And that’s most certainly the case with A Star Is Born. Arguably the most famous Hollywood story ever made, it’s been told three times, with two serving as some of the greatest movie musicals of all time, and one featuring some good songs by Barbra Streisand. For years, Clint Eastwood wanted to adapt the story with Bradley Cooper and Beyoncé (which also would have been my #1 most anticipated because, well, good God). However, as other projects came up and funding fell through, both Eastwood and Queen Bey exited the project. However, Cooper found something he inherently liked about the project. So much so, he went all in. He helped rewrite the script, gathered funding from the directors who most loved him (Eastwood and Todd Phillips chief among them), and managed to snag the project as his directorial debut. That’s right – Cooper’s directing it. And who did he manage to snag to play opposite him as the fresh faced up-and-comer who takes the musical world by storm? Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known to the world as Lady Gaga. That’s right, Gaga is making her big screen debut, and writing a series of songs to boot. And if that’s not enough to entice you, the rest of the cast includes Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Rebecca Field, and, in a supposedly scene-stealing turn as Gaga’s father, provocative comedian Andrew Dice Clay (I liked Clay back when he was satire, before he lost track of who and what he was, and I like his recent attempts to be taken seriously as an actor). This is the type of go-for-broke film that excites me about a given year, and it’s the type of underdog project that sneaks in to become major Oscar players. I’m completely on board with this film, and I can’t wait for its release on October 5th (should it not be moved for a fourth time).
And those are the films I’m most anticipating in 2018. I hope I managed to give you some inspiration for the upcoming year. Are there any films you think I missed? Any that you’re excited about that I didn’t mention/didn’t name for my Top Ten? Let me know in the comments!