2018’s just around the corner, and with it a whole host of new movies coming to a box office or streaming service near you. I always like to look ahead and put together a list of movies that interest me in the coming year, though I know it’s basically an exercise in futility since I so rarely make it to the theatre. But one can always hope, right?
Black Panther by Ryan Coogler
The Marvel movies have taken us to some exciting places, but Black Panther takes us to a new one: the secretive African nation of Wakanda, which also happens to be the world’s most advanced country. After a solid debut in Captain America: Civil War, Chadwick Boseman reprises his role as the African prince trying to solidify his hold on Wakanda’s throne against various threats, both internal and external. Not surprisingly, the movie’s action looks great, but more intriguing are the glimpses of Wakandan society that we’ve seen so far. Release Date: February 16
Early Man by Nick Park
In this crazy, topsy-turvy age of ours, I take comfort in the fact that Aardman Animations is still making movies. For their newest title, the studio travels back in time to the prehistoric era, where a young cave man finds himself facing obsolescence as the Bronze Age emerges. He must go on a quest, which apparently involves soccer, to save his tribe from destruction. Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams, Tom Hiddleston, and Richard Ayoade lend their voices. Release Date: February 16
Annhilation by Alex Garland
Alex Garland first came to fame thanks to his screenplays for films like Sunshine and Never Let Me Go. In 2015, he made his directorial debut with Ex Machina, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Now he’s back with Annihilation, in which Natalie Portman ventures into a strange environmental disaster zone to find her husband. There’s been some behind-the-scenes drama surrounding this one, but it definitely looks like an intriguing blend of thought-provoking material and intense action. Release Date: February 23
Red Sparrow by Francis Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence reunites with Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence for this intense-looking spy thriller. Lawrence plays an elite and very deadly Russian spy who falls in love with a CIA officer and contemplates becoming a double agent. The film, which is an adaptation of Jason Matthews’s acclaimed novel, will also star Joel Edgerton, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, and Ciaran Hinds. Release Date: March 2
A Wrinkle in Time by Ava Duvernay
I have a secret confession to make: I’ve never read any of Madeleine L’Engle’s fiction, including A Wrinkle in Time and its various sequels. (I did, however, greatly enjoy Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.) Still, enough folks whom I greatly respect (including my wife) sing the novel’s praises that I’m curious about the movie, which will be directed by Ava DuVernay (13th, Selma) and star Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine. In it, a young girl searches for her lost father, who is being held captive on a distant planet. Release Date: March 9
Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightful movie made all the moreso thanks to its stop-motion animation. Evidently, Anderson really liked the medium, so he’s returning with another stop-motion feature. Set in a dystopic Japan where all dogs have been placed on an island, Isle of Dogs follows a young boy in search of his beloved pet, and the canines who help him. The usual Wes Anderson players are involved and the premise is plenty quirky, so expect lots of dry humor and subtle emotional effect. Release Date: March 23
Pacific Rim: Uprising by Steven S. Deknight
The first Pacific Rim movie was probably the closest we’ll ever get to a live action mecha anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion. The sequel stars Star Wars’ John Boyega as the leader of a new batch of mecha pilots who have to battle bigger, badder monsters with even bigger, badder mecha. Release Date: March 23
The New Mutants by Josh Boone
In the original comic books, the New Mutants were a team of younger mutants learning to use their newfound powers while navigating the perils of adolescence. In their big screen debut, the young mutants find themselves trapped in a secret facility where they must “battle the dangers of their powers, as well as the sins of their past.” Director Boone has described The New Mutants as “a full-fledged horror movie set within the X‑Men universe,” and the trailer clearly shows that the film’s going for a very different vibe than other Marvel movies. Release Date: April 13
Avengers: Infinity War by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Avengers Infinity War will bring to completion everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building towards for the last decade, as the alien villain Thanos takes on Earth’s mightiest heroes. Basically every Marvel superhero and their mom is in this film, which could result in a big mess — or something totally awesome. Given Marvel’s pretty solid track record so far, I’m betting on the latter. Release Date: May 4
Solo: A Star Wars Story by Ron Howard
There’s been quite a bit of behind-the-scenes drama with this particular production. It was originally going to be directed by the guys who did The Lego Movie — which would’ve been awesome — before being put in the more reliable, if conventional hands of Ron Howard. That doesn’t give one the most confidence for the film, which explores Han Solo’s early years, but hopefully the galaxy’s greatest smuggler will get his due. Release Date: May 25
Deadpool 2 by David Leitch
The first Deadpool was an R‑rated superhero movie that definitely earned its “R” rating while still being a lot of fun. Deadpool 2 finds Ryan Reynolds returning as the “merc with a mouth” (the role he was born to play), and he’ll be joining up/squaring off with Cable and Domino. Plot details are still scarce, but it’s clear that the irreverent sense of humor is still in full effect. And given that it’s directed by one of the guys who did John Wick, there’ll be plenty of crazy action, too. Release Date: June 1
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? by Morgan Neville
As you might guess from the title, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a documentary about the world’s greatest neighbor, Mr. Rogers, and “explores the question of whether or not we have lived up to Fred’s ideal.” I’m not sure we’re going to like the answer to that question. But given how un-neighborly our national discourse has become in recent years, this sounds like just the kind of movie we need right now. Director Morgan Neville won a “Best Documentary Feature” Oscar for 2013’s 20 Feet from Stardom. Release Date: June 8
Incredibles 2 by Brad Bird
The Incredibles is arguably my favorite Pixar movie, a delightful send-up of superhero and spy movies as well as a charming family film. I’ve been waiting for Brad Bird to deliver a sequel for years, so this might easily be my most anticipated movie of 2018. Supposedly Incredibles 2 picks up right where the original left off, with no doubt plenty of super-powered heroics and affecting family drama to follow. Release Date: June 15
Alita: Battle Angel by Robert Rodriguez
James Cameron had been planning to adapt Yukito Kishiro’s acclaimed cyberpunk manga Battle Angel Alita for years. But in 2015, Robert Rodriguez was announced as the director (with Cameron producing). Alita is a young cyborg who’s discovered in a post-apocalyptic trash heap, and turns out to be much more powerful and deadly than she initially seems. There’s no denying the main character’s very anime-ish appearance is interesting, to say the least, but I have to say that Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, and Mahershala Ali look perfect in their roles. Release Date: July 20
M:I 6 — Mission Impossible by Christopher Mcquarrie
Over the years, the Mission Impossible films have proven themselves to be solid action/espionage thrillers highlighted by outlandish plots, cool gadgets, and crazy stuntwork and setpieces. (Remember the Burj Khalifa scene in Ghost Protocol?) The sixth film finds Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt tracking down yet another super-criminal with his regular team from the IMF. Given the series’ record so far, I think we all know what we’re in for, and I can’t wait to see it. Release Date: July 27
The Predator by Shane Black
The original Predator, directed by John McTiernan, is one of the great action movies of the ’80s. Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in another one, but this one’s being written and directed by Shane Black, the crazy genius behind such classics and guilty pleasures as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black wants his Predator to hearken back to the summer blockbusters of yore, which sounds good to me — especially with a cast featuring Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, and Alfie Allen. Release Date: August 3
The Kid Who Would Be King by Joe Cornish
A film about a young boy who discovers the sword Excalibur and has to save the world sounds like it’s been done countless times before. But The Kid Who Would Be King will be directed by Joe Cornish, who knocked it out of the park with 2011’s Attack the Block (which I really hope you’ve seen). Plus, it stars Patrick Stewart as Merlin the Magician, which seems like the icing on the cake. Release Date: September 28
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 by Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
The first Wreck-It Ralph movie was a charming enough film about a video game villain who might’ve been a bad guy, but wasn’t really a bad guy. As the title implies, the sequel finds Ralph heading out onto the information superhighway, where he’ll encounter everyone from Disney Princesses to Iron Man. It’ll be directed by a couple of folks who brought us Zootopia, which is a huge hit in my household. I suspect Wreck-It Ralph 2 will become one, too. Release Date: November 21
Mortal Engines by Christian Rivers
Do we really need another YA novel adaptation? Probably not, but Mortal Engines is being written and produced by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, and they know a thing or two about big screen epics. And it doesn’t get much more epic than a steampunk world where mobile cities battle each other, does it? Of course, given the Hobbit movies, this could be an excessive, overloaded mess — but still, steampunk city battles does sound pretty cool. Release Date: December 14
Mary Poppins Returns by Rob Marshall
The original Mary Poppins is one of the great Disney classics, and has only grown in stature over the years. Suffice to say, the pressure’s on with the sequel, which is being directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods). The film is set during The Great Depression and finds the magical nanny revisiting the Banks children as adults now reeling from a personal tragedy. The film stars Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack the chimney sweep. Release Date: December 25
The following movies have been announced but have no official release date yet.
Blame! Sequel by Hiroyuki Seshita
The first Blame! movie was a decent adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei’s cyberpunk/transhumanist manga, but it was lacking the weirdness that made the manga so compelling. Hopefully, the recently announced Blame! sequel will veer off even more in that direction, as it follows Killy’s further adventures in a nightmarish distant future filled with technology that’s run amok.
Cargo by Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke
Netflix will be streaming this full-length adaptation of a bittersweet short film about a father who goes to great lengths to protect his baby daughter during the zombie apocalypse. I won’t lie, I’m a little worried about what extending the storyline will do — the short is pretty much perfect as is. But the directors of the original short will be directing the feature version, which bodes well. One major change is that Martin Freeman will star as the father.
Godzilla: Monster Planet by Hiroyuki Seshita, Kōbun Shizuno
Set thousands of years in the future, Godzilla: Monster Planet finds humanity returning to their home planet only to find it overrun with monsters — including the big G himself. The first in a trilogy of Godzilla anime movies, Godzilla: Monster Planet will be streaming on Netflix sometime in 2018. It’s already played in Japanese theatres, and initial reviews have been decent and promising.
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade by Kim Ji-Woon
Mamoru Oshii’s original Jin-Roh film was a suspenseful and gutwrenching anime thriller set in an alternate version of post-WW2 Japan that focused on a group of elite police officers battling corruption. The remake will be by Korean director Kim Ji-Woon, who is well-known for such stylish films as A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Like those films, I suspect his Jin-Roh remake will be filled with stunning visuals, memorable characters, and intense, twisty set-pieces.
Mute by Duncan Jones
Netflix has proven themselves willing to fund interesting film projects, like the fantasy crime film Bright and Bong Joon-ho’s Okja. Mute is the latest film from director Duncan Jones, who wowed folks with Moon and Source Code, and stars Alexander Skarsgard as a mute bartender who searches for a woman in a futuristic Berlin.