From superhero entertainment and emotionally riveting dramas to spooky franchise additions and action films galore, the new year will see many star-studded, highly compelling features. It's a cinematic lineup so good, you may finally purchase that much talked about movie pass.
Here are 10 movies that have me eager for what’s to come in 2018.
Black Panther (Feb. 16) As excited as I am to see all the superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe unite to battle the heavily teased baddie Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War (May 4), I prefer my superhero movies to have fewer cooks in the kitchen and more to contribute to current conversations. I mean, if studios are going to keep cranking these movies out, they might as well matter, right? Audiences have been demanding more diverse casts and comic book adaptations, and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is the high-dollar release to put this notion in motion. Luckily, we don’t have to wait that long.
Annihilation (Feb. 23) There has been a lot of drama going on with this sci-fi horror film, including one producer calling it “too intellectual.” I say, what’s wrong with that? If you saw writer-director Alex Garland’s previous outing, 2015’s Ex Machina, then you know he’s a capable filmmaker who entertains his viewers as much as he challenges them. A brainy visual feast about an all-female team of explorers (Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson) venturing into a deadly environmental disaster zone sounds like a bloody, terrifying, good time.
Isle of Dogs (March 23) Aside from Coco, this year was rather mediocre for big-studio animation. However, with the upcoming Incredibles 2 (Jun. 15) and the more eccentric entry, Isle of Dogs, in the cannon, get ready for 2018 to load animation up with some big fireworks. Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) returns to the stop-motion form to tell a bittersweet story about canines that are banished to live on their own island.
A Quiet Place (April 6) Emily Blunt is directed by her real-life husband John Krasinski for a creature feature about a family living in complete silence out of fear of being attacked by sound-hungry monsters. Krasinski has been working hard to have people recognize him as somebody more than Jim Halpert from The Office. A Quiet Place just may be the career diversion he’s chasing.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette (May 11) It doesn’t matter what the story is or who’s in it, if Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Last Flag Flying) directs a new movie, you see it. There’s a grand sense of authenticity and universality that come with his intimate stories. Where’d You Go, Bernadette — a tale about a daughter trying to track down her anxiety-ridden mother (Cate Blanchett) — seems no different.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25) Headlines for this new Star Wars standalone installment haven't treated it well. The word is Alden Ehrenreich had trouble filling in the shoes of Harrison Ford’s beloved Han Solo character and required an on-set acting coach. Also, let’s not discount the fact that original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie) were given the boot by Disney over “creative differences” and hired Ron Howard to complete the job. While it may sound like an impossible janitorial task, I have faith in Howard and the film's all-star cast (Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover and Woody Harrelson) tidying things up with class.
Deadpool 2 (June 1) It’s hard to imagine Ryan Reynolds dropping the ball with Deadpool’s next whacky adventure. So far, the teasers and promotional artwork have not let us down. They all continue to solidify Reynolds’ perfect casting and conjure up big laughs. The inclusion of David Leitch (the stuntman-turned-director behind such films as Atomic Blonde and John Wick) at the helm and Josh Brolin as the main villain are just icing on the cake.
Halloween (Oct. 19) After Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween failed to bring any new ideas to the table, David Gordon Green (director of Stronger) and executive producer Danny McBride decided to take another stab at John Carpenter’s celebrated horror franchise. Their vision aims to have the murderous Michael Myers return to the big screen in a fashion that both pays homage to its 1978 original (even bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back to reprise her character) and make new cuts of its own.
Widows (Nov. 18) Ocean’s 8 (Jun. 8) isn’t the only female-led heist movie hitting screens in 2018. Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) also has assembled an impressive cast (Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo) for a crime-driven narrative about four women who decide to finish the armed robbery that killed their husbands. McQueen’s raw filmmaking style and Gone Girl-scriber Gillian Flynn’s co-writing skills are sure to make Widows the fall release to see.
Under the Silver Lake (to be announced) David Robert Mitchell (director of It Follows) and A24 (the film distributor behind The Disaster Artist and Lady Bird) join forces for the first time for potential greatness with the mysterious Under the Silver Lake. Not much is known about the project, but it has a mighty cast attached (Riley Keough, Andrew Garfield and Topher Grace) and A24 seems to think highly of it. That’s good enough for me.
Others to see: Backseat (TBA) Christian Bale teams back up with his Big Short director for a Dick Cheney biopic; If Beale Street Could Talk (TBA) Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight, adapts James Baldwin’s novel about a Harlem woman trying to prove her fiancé’s innocence while pregnant with their first child; The Irishman (TBA) A gangster movie made by Martin Scorsese that stars the usual suspects: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. Hopefully Scorsese takes Netflix’s original films to an award-winning level; Sicario 2: Soldado (Jun. 29) While its straight-to-DVD-sounding title may lead you astray, Soldado picks up with the characters from 2015’s spectacular Sicario for more crime stories around the U.S.-Mexico border; and Suspiria (TBA) Another horror reimagining made by a good filmmaker: Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino.
PRESTON BARTA is a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association. Read his work on FreshFiction.tv. Follow him on Twitter @PrestonBarta.
FEATURED IMAGE: Chadwick Boseman in a scene from Black Panther, in theaters on Feb. 16. (Marvel Studios/Disney via AP)