Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.
With 2017 now part of our memories, it’s time to look forward to 2018 and what film treasures it may hold. It’s been two years since we last took a look at our most anticipated films of the year, so it’s time to dust off this old chestnut and dig into what our contributors are most interested in.
Looking over the selections, they run the gamut of styles, genres, and moods from directors both popular and critically acclaimed. There is surprisingly little over lap with only a small number of films appearing on all lists. Ready Player One is slated on three lists while Bohemian Rhapsody, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Isle of Dogs, Mary Queen of Scots, and Roma appear on two lists each.
After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.
Wesley Lovell: There are so many rich possibilities this year that narrowing it down to ten was a challenge. My selections tend to be more populist efforts than what my fellow contributors are likely to select, but that’s because I actually enjoy spectacle films. I will have a separate article on all of the films I’m most looking forward to in 2018 at a later date.
Peter J. Patrick: I don’t know whether any of these films will factor into next year’s awards, but all of them seem interesting on the surface either because of director, cast, plot, or, in two of the cases, an opportunity to improve on the films they are remakes of.
Tripp Burton: This is always a tough list to make, and these could all end up being disappointing, but here are some of the films that I can’t wait to check out next year. Some of them are stories I’ve long wanted to see on screen, some are the next steps of directors I’ve loved, some of them are filled with ensembles that seem too good to be true, and some of them mix up all of that.
Thomas LaTourrette: The last time we did this, a few of the films that sounded interesting ended up being failures, but it is still an interesting exercise. Sometimes it is the director or the stars that make it look intriguing. Or it can be the continuation of a series. At this point we know little about them, but it is fun to look ahead and hope that some of the coming films will be good.
(dir. Alex Garland) Commentary By Tripp Burton – Alex Garland’s Ex Machina was one of the more interesting sci-fi films of the last decade, and here he is given a bigger budget for something that looks just as intelligent and twisty as the former. Ex Machina gave us Oscar-winning special effects on a limited budget, so who knows what he can give us with more. He has proven himself to be one of our best genre writers, and now an emerging director, and I’m thrilled to see what he gives us next.
(dir. Spike Lee) Commentary By Tripp Burton – Spike Lee has been doing interesting work for the last several years that hasn’t completely caught on with the public, but this could be the film to launch him back into the general conversation. Based on the true story of an African-American detective who infiltrates a KKK chapter, this could be one of the most important films of the year.
(dir. Ryan Coogler) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – One of the more politically charged comic characters Marvel ever introduced, Black Panther, first introduced in Avengers: Civil War… I mean Captain America: Civil War, is given his own chance to shine as he defends his kingdom of Wakanda from foreign invaders wanting access to their vast stores of resources. While the trailers haven’t been great, this feels like a chance for Disney/Marvel to explore a character in a more fascinating way.
(dir. Dexter Fletcher, Bryan Singer) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – This highly publicized film about the legendary band Queen, starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon with Lucy Boynton, Mike Myers, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, and Allen Leech also in the eclectic cast has a Christmas Day release date. Despite the firing of director Singer with just two weeks of filming to go, and the hiring of actor-turned-director Fletcher to complete the project, it has the potential of being both a critical and commercial hit.
Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – I did not grow up listening to Queen’s music, but it is something that I have learned to enjoy. This biopic about lead singer Freddie Mercury, could be one of the better films about a singer out there. There will be a question about whether star Rami Malek can capture the flamboyance of Freddie without going into parody. Trouble on the set with the firing of one director well into the filming might pose problems, but perhaps they will have overcome them.
(dir. Joel Edgerton) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – Edgerton’s first film as director, The Gift, was a disappointment, but this film based on Garrard Conley’s memoir about his gay conversion therapy as the son of an Arkansas minister not only has timeliness on its side, but a strong cast to put it over. Red-hot Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) should make it four critical hits a row. Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman play his conservative parents and writer-director Edgerton co-stars. It’s slated for release in September 2018 at the heart of film festival mania.
(dir. David Leitch) Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – Deadpool surprised me by being a sheer delight. It was a raucous, profane and very funny play on the superhero film, from the opening credits through the end. Those credits were something I watched multiple times. Ryan Reynolds never had a character that suited him as well. Rumored trouble on the set worries me some, but if this can capture some of that same magic, it will well be worth seeing.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
(dir. Gus Van Sant) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – Van Sant makes lots of films that fail to live up to expectations, but every now and then he delivers a near masterpiece as with My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, and Milk. Let’s hope that this one is more like them than such disappointments as Promised Land and the TV production of When We Rise. This one stars Joaquin Phoenix as the late writer John Callahan who turned to drawing after becoming paralyzed in a car accident at the age of 21. Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, and Jack Black co-star. No release date yet, but it does open this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
(dir. Asghar Farhadi) Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – Asghar Farhadi directed some interesting films about life inside modern day Iran. For his first film outside of that country he is doing a thriller set in Spain. Penelope Cruz plays a woman returning to her hometown and confronting some strange events. Javier Bardem costars. Farhadi had mostly done more intimate dramas, so it will be intriguing to see what he does with this cast in a very different type of film.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
(dir. David Yates) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – The second film in the series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald gains the benefit of the doubt thanks to a stirring first chapter. Tackling heady political concepts in the guise of a family-friend adventure film, this film holds great promise even with the presence of Johnny Depp.
Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – The first film of this series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was a surprisingly enjoyable prequel to the Harry Potter world. I know little about this one except that it boasts the same director and star. If it can capture some of the same charm and moodiness of the first film, then it could well prove a winner.
(dir. Damien Chazelle) Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – The story of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, has the possibility of being a stirring biography. He led an interesting life, and they have garnered a strong actor to play him in Ryan Gosling. The rest of the cast looks equally impressive. Director Damien Chazelle continues to do diverse work with each film, and they have all been watchable so far.
The Front Runner
(dir. Jason Reitman) Commentary By Tripp Burton – I’ve been hoping for a while that someone would make a film of the Gary Hart scandal, where an extramarital affair took down the frontrunner for the 1988 Democratic Presidential nomination, and Jason Reitman should be just the person to do it. With an all-star ensemble, led by Hugh Jackman, and the possibility for a ridiculous black comedic edge to everything, this is one film that can’t come soon enough for me.
(dir. John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – With an incredibly funny trailer in release, this Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams comedy looks like a great deal of fun from a group of actors that looks like they are having the greatest time. Few R-rated comedies really stand out in recent years and this one looks like it might just be one of them.
(dir. Brad Bird) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – When Pixar introduced The Incredibles, about a family of super-powered heroes fighting against a bigger evil, it marked the first time Pixar had tackled a Marvel-esque story and they did so with flair and inventiveness. The incredibly funny original has always deserved a sequel and it’s great to see that Disney/Pixar is finally delivering.
(dir. Martin Scorsese) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – Scorsese’s return to the gangster film is a Netflix production which could be problematic for its theatrical release given the streaming company’s penchant for releasing their films in limited runs while releasing them on the internet at the same time. This one might have theatrical legs given its high profile. Based on a book about a hitman who may have been involved in the 1975 disappearance of union leader Jimmy Hoffa, it stars Robert De Niro as the title character, Al Pacino as Hoffa, and a huge supporting cast led by Anna Paquin, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale, Jack Huston, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Romano. Tentatively set for 2019, but things could change.
Isle of Dogs
(dir. Wes Anderson) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – Wes Anderson is one of the most creative directors working today. His surrealistic aesthetic has served him well in his career and this marks his second stop-motion animated feature. If his last film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and his first animated film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, are any indication, this adventure should be a great deal of inventive fun.
Commentary By Tripp Burton – Any Wes Anderson film is a contender for my list, but a Kurosawa-influenced stop motion animated film about dogs with one of the best ensembles of the year leaps to the top. I don’t quite know what to make of it, even after watching the trailer several times, but I can’t wait to be baffled and amused by it.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
(dir. Terry Gilliam) Commentary By Tripp Burton – In terms of length of anticipation, this film wins for me, since I’ve been waiting almost two decades to see Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Don Quixote. He gave up on it years ago, as captured in the fascinating documentary Lost in LaMancha, but now he has finally made it. It could be a disaster, or it could be a masterpiece, but it will certainly be interesting and I’ve waited too long for it to not be first in line to see it.
Mary Poppins Returns
(dir. Rob Marshall) Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – This one worries me the most as I deeply adore the original film and am not certain if this will work at all. It has an all star cast, which hopefully will be a plus. Emily Blunt should make a good Mary Poppins as she has proven herself in all sorts of genres. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s casting could be a problem as he seems so modern American that it might be difficult to believe him as a 1930s lamplighter.
Mary Queen of Scots
(dir. Josie Rourke) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – Rourke is the esteemed Artistic Director of London’s Donmar Warehouse. Her theatrical productions are often filmed and exhibited in British cinemas. Although this version of the conflict between Scotland’s Mary Stuart and her cousin, England’s Elizabeth I, may be characterized as an original production written by House of Cards writer Beau Willimon, it is in fact a tale that has been told many times. Oscar hopefuls Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie star as the warring monarchs with David Tennant, Guy Pearce, Jack Lowden, and Joe Alwyn co-starring. It’s set for a November 2018 release.
Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – The rivalry between Mary of Scotland and Elizabeth I of England has been a source of many previous films. With the casting of two probable Oscar nominees from this year, Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, it will come out as a possible must see film, just to see those two performers. It could definitely be one of the prestige pictures of the year.
(dir. Josh Boone) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – Although Marvel now owns the rights to 20th Century Fox’s entire film catalog, including its long desired rights to the rest of the Marvel universe, it was Fox that was expanding and broadening the definition of what a Marvel adaptation could be. With the likes of Deadpool and Logan proving tackling different genres can be creatively exciting, this film will be the comic world’s first foray into horror and it couldn’t look more intense or exciting.
(dir. Gary Ross) Commentary By Tripp Burton – I’m a sucker for the Steven Soderbergh Ocean’s films, and this new entry in the series looks like a lot of fun. With another trademark all-star turnout, this should scratch my never-ending itch for heist films and be a better all-female relaunch than some of the others we’ve gotten.
Old Man and the Gun
(dir. David Lowery) Commentary By Tripp Burton – David Lowery has become one of our most interesting American directors the last few years, and I’m curious to see him embrace this true crime saga with Robert Redford (who has been giving some fabulously grizzled performances the last few years) and Sissy Spacek (who has been sadly missing from our films the last few years). This could be one of the most elegiac American crime films of the decade.
(dir. Mike Leigh) Commentary By Tripp Burton – Mike Leigh makes historical dramas like no one else does, and this year he is taking on the Peterloo massacre, which happened in Manchester 200 years ago. I don’t know much about this massacre, but if it makes Leigh interested in it, then I am along for the ride.
(dir. Babak Najafi) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – Taraji P. Henson seems like she’s been gone from the big screen far too long and this espionage thriller will give her the best opportunity yet to showcase her wide-ranging skills. There’s a reason I included her on my list of most versatile actors and this film is one of the reasons why and it looks like a great deal of fun.
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
(dir. Phil Johnston, Rich Moore) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – Disney was so caught up in its princesses for years that it long ignored other potential avenues of exploration. That changed with Wreck-It Ralph, a dive into the world of video games where those characters come to live with problems and challenges of their own. That this film lost to Pixar’s less deserving foray into the princess tale (Brave) is quite galling, but having a sequel to that prior film is just what many of us were hoping for.
Ready Player One
(dir. Steven Spielberg) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – The premise of this sci-fi adventure film doesn’t excite me, but the fact that it’s directed by Steven Spielberg suggests that it might have hidden appeal. Not every Spielberg film is a masterpiece, but he does do his best to balance his output between the weighty material of a Schindler’s List or a Saving Private Ryan with lighter fare. Hopefully, this one will be more like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, or Minority Report than it will be like his dullish 2016 film The BFG. The March release date suggests it’s not a strong Oscar hopeful.
Commentary By Tripp Burton – I loved Ernest Cline’s pop culture fantasia of a novel, which mixes video games, dystopia, and any popular piece of entertainment from my lifetime, and having Steven Spielberg helm the big screen adaptation seems like a perfect fit. The trailer hasn’t completely blown me away — it looks a little too chaotic — but I have a lot of faith in everyone involved to do the story justice.
Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – Steven Spielberg has not always had the best of luck directing science fiction films, but his films are usually worth seeing. It will be interesting to see how he handles a dystopian future, as that is not his usual genre. There are some good actors in his cast, so it could be worth seeing.
(dir. Alfonso Cuaron) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – For a major director, Cuaron’s output has been relatively modest, with only 2001’s Y Tu Mama Tambien, 2006’s Children of Men, and 2013’s Gravity, for which he won two Oscars, generating Oscar talk, but this seemingly modest look at a year in the life of a family in Mexico City in the early 1970s risks comparisons with Edward Yang’s similarly themed 2000 masterpiece about a middle-class family in Taipei. The title, on the other hand, risks comparisons with Federico Fellini’s similarly titled 1972 film, which was not one of his major successes. No release date yet, but one will be forthcoming.
Commentary By Tripp Burton – I know almost nothing about this film, except that it is Alfonso Cuaron returning to Mexico and returning to a personal drama, and that is enough for me. As much as I have loved his recent sci-fi spectaculars, his Y Tu Mama Tambien remains one of my favorite films and to see him return to that mill makes me ecstatic.
The Sisters Brothers
(dir. Jacques Audiard) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – Audiard has made interesting films in the past, including A Prophet and Rust and Bone, both of which were nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Here he turns his attention to the Old West of the 1850s with Jake Gyllenhaal as a gold prospector in Oregon who is hunted by the notorious assassins, the Sisters Brothers, played by Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly. With an eclectic supporting cast that includes Carol Kane, Rutger Hauer, Riz Ahmed, and Niels Arestrup, this one could be Audiard’s No Country for Old Men. No release date yet, but one is surely coming.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
(dir. Ron Howard) Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – Three of the films on my list had directors quit or be fired during production, and this is one of them. Hopefully, it will survive that and hold together under one vision upon release. If Alden Ehrenreich can channel some of Harrison Ford’s wit and charm as he plays the younger version of Han Solo, it could be a good addition to the numerous Star Wars films.
(dir. Luca Guadagnino) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – Guadagnino, hot off of Call Me By Your Name, has turned to a remake of the 1977 Giallo classic. Set in a German ballet school, the grisly goings-on of Dario Argento’s original horror film centered on Jessica Harper, who has a featured role in this. Her original role will be played by Dakota Johnson, with Chloe Grace Moretz as the film’s co-lead. The always interesting Tilda Swinton has the role of the school’s director, played in the original by Hollywood legend Joan Bennett. Angela Winkler has the role of her assistant, played by the equally legendary Alida Valli in the original. The film has an open 2018 release date.
Untitled Laika Project
(dir. Unknown) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – As great and wonderful as Pixar is, no animation studio in existence has been more consistent in the quality of its output than Laika. After the brilliant and should-have-won-the-Oscar Kubo and the Two Strings, any output by Laika is an event to be celebrated.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
(dir. Richard Linklater) Commentary By Thomas La Tourrette – A wife who does not like people disappears and her teenage daughter sets about trying to locate her. Richard Linklater is not always my favorite director, but it was an interesting book to read. It has a strong cast including Cate Blanchett and Billy Crudup amongst many others, so it could be a surprising success.
(dir. Steve McQueen) Commentary By Peter J. Patrick – McQueen’s first feature film since 12 Years a Slave is a crime drama set in Chicago, about the otherwise unrelated widows of four armed robbers who take over the heist after their husbands are killed. The women are played by Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo. Also in the cast are Colin Farrell, André Holland, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Carrie Coon, Garret Dillahnut, Jacki Weaver, Lukas Haas, and Jon Bernthal. With a November 16th release date, this one would certainly seem to have some awards potential.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
(dir. Simon Kinberg) Commentary By Wesley Lovell – Comic book movies have become such an integral part of the cinematic landscape in the last two decades, that many forget that it was X-Men that reinvigorated the brand after the disastrous third and fourth Batman movies from Joel Schumacher. Since then, the X-Men films have more often been superior to the output of Disney’s Marvel product that any effort they put out has to be worth consideration, including this film.