2018 Movie Preview

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The Oscar ceremony, which I consider to be the official start of the movie year, won’t take place until March 4. But 2018 is not going to wait around for it. I’m still thinking about the movies of 2017 (especially Phantom Thread, which grows in my estimation the more I think about it), but I’m also looking forward to what 2018 has to offer…

The Five Movies I’m Most Excited For:

Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson returns to animation after hitting a career high with The Grand Budapest Hotel. I am a sucker for all things Anderson, so I’ve practically already bought my ticket. In case you need some more context, this is a futuristic story set in Japan, at a time when dogs have been exiled to a deserted island. Opens March 23.

Ocean’s Eight – The biggest pleasure of the Ocean’s 11 movies is seeing the stars bounce their charisma off each other. So imagine what will happen when you bring in a cast of fierce women that includes Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, and Rihanna? The only question mark is director Gary Ross, whose track record ranges from serviceable to uninspired. It opens wide June 8.

Suspiria – A remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria sounds tricky. But then you hear it’s directed by Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash, Call Me by Your Name), one of our most stylistically pleasurable filmmakers, and that he’s reuniting with past collaborators Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton. Now, I hear my nemesis Chloë Grace Moretz in this movie, but the Guadagnino-Johnson-Swinton trifecta should be enough to balance her out.

Ad Astra – James Gray stepped out of his New York milieu and into the Amazonian depths last year with the sublime Lost City of Z, and now steps out even further… into outer space. Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ruth Negga (all personal favorites) star in this one. It’s scheduled for release in January 2019, which makes me hope it shows up late in 2018 (at least in the Festival circuit).

Gloria If nothing else, Sebastian Lelio’s 2013 film Gloria was a showcase for its lead actress, the wonderful Paulina Garcia. This year, Lelio remakes his own film in America, and the lead is Julianne Moore. Just knowing that there will be a 90-minute movie dedicated to closely following Julianne Moore this year makes me hopeful.

Five Holdovers from 2017 (That Will Be Released in 2018 and I’m Most Excited For):

Zama – I’ve already seen Lucrecia Martel’s long awaited return (at the New York Film Festival), but I will not shut up about it. I would be shocked if I see a better movie in all of 2018. This is a literary adaptation about a colonial functionary stranded in a remote South American village. It’s brilliantly directed, uniquely capturing the soul of a whole continent. It opens in limited release April 13.

Western – Every film critic I respect who has seen this movie has had nothing but great things to say about it. Directed by Valeska Grisenbach, this is a culture-clash movie about a group of German workers taking a construction job in a small Bulgarian town. It premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and starts its limited run on February 16.

You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsay hasn’t made a movie since We Need to Talk About Kevin back in 2011. But she’s back, with a thriller about an army veteran trying to bring down a pedophile ring. Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor, and Ramsay Best Screenplay at last year’s Cannes. The movie opens April 6.

First Reformed – Another movie that I saw the New York Film Festival, this one has director Paul Schrader directing Ethan Hawke as a troubled priest trying to help a young man who has grown obsessed with the end of the world. The work of Bergman, Tarkovsky, and Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest are all influences int his deeply spiritual movie. Opens in April.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties – This one premiered at least year’s Cannes without much fanfare, but I’m still holding on to the latest work of the great John Cameron Mitchell, which is a sci-fi extravaganza about aliens disguised as punk rockers with Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman. A25 has the distribution rights, but hasn’t set a release date just yet.

Five Movies I Want to Be Good But I’m Nervous About (You Know, Cautiously Optimistic):

Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time – I loved Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay’s last movies (Creed and Selma respectively), and I’m thrilled they get to play with Hollywood’s big toys. But both these movies land firmly in genres I’m not crazy about. One is a Marvel movie and we know how forgettable those are. The other is a fantasy YA story. I’m hoping for the best, though. Black Panther opens February 16 and A Wrinkle in Time March 9.

Black KlansmanSpike Lee has had a spotty record lately, but read the plot synopsis of this movie and tell me you’re not at least curious. This is the true story of an African American police officer who managed to infiltrate the KKK. John David Washington (Denzel’s son) stars alongside Adam Driver and Topher Grace.

Ready Player One – It seems these days Steven Spielberg has lost interest in making the kind of movies he used to make in the 70s and 80s, and this one looks like a mess. But last time Spielberg made a movie with lots of performance capture action sequences, we got The Adventures of Tintin, so there’s hope. Opens March 30.

The Incredibles 2 – I love Brad Bird. (I will even defend Tomrrowland!), but boy am I nervous about this movie. Outside of the Toy Story movies, every Pixar has been a bland disappointment. Now, I know that if anyone’s gonna reverse that curse is going to be Bird, who’s two previous features are my favorites of the Pixar canon. This one opens June 15.

The Happytime Murders –  A film noir parody in which the hard-boiled detective is a puppet? Who Framed Roger Rabbit but with puppets instead of cartoon characters sounds right up my alley, but these genre match-ups can be tricky. The director is Brian Henson (son of puppetry legend Jim Henson), and the cast includes Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy. It opens August 17.

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