The new year is upon us, and for moviegoers, it’s a time of hope and promise. We haven’t seen any of these yet! They could all be brilliant! I mean, y’know, probably not, but! But we’ve perused the many, many films slated for release in 2018 anyway, and plucked out the ten we’re looking forward to most – and just to prove that modern moviemaking isn’t all #branding, we took pains to choose ten that aren’t sequels or remakes or reboots or whatever. Release dates are all subject to change, of course, and our info on some of these (especially those late in the year) is still sketchy. But right now, in our heads, there are perfect versions of the year’s most promising pictures, so let’s hold on to those for just a moment, shall we?
The Party (February 16)
Sally Potter’s brilliance is nearly matched by her deliberateness, at least in terms of productivity – since her masterpiece Orlando twenty-five years ago, she’s only directed six movies, taking a good four to five years between projects. But her new one sounds like a pip, with an indie dream cast that includes Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Mortimer, Cherry Jones, Bruno Ganz, and Timothy Spall, a “claustrophobic celebratory dinner party” premise, and a promise (per the press release) that “a night that began with champagne may end with gunplay.” One, please!
A Wrinkle in Time (March 9)
Madeline L’Engle’s innovative YA sci-fi novel (and the first of a series, so maybe we didn’t dodge franchise movies after all) was previously adapted into a TV movie back in 2003, but this is in another class altogether: a big-budget ($100-plus million, reportedly), big star (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifinakis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw), big effects take from Disney, under the direction of Ava DuVernay, who thus far appears able to do pretty much anything.
Isle of Dogs (March 23)
Back in 2009, Wes Anderson took an unexpected detour into the world of family filmmaking with an adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox, and ended up with the film that perhaps best captures his sui generis aesthetic. Now, he returns to the world of stop-action animation with this original canine tale, which he says was directly inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa. The usual Anderson rep company – including Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton, and Harvey Keitel – are back, along with such new additions as Bryan Cranston, Greta Gerwig, Ken Watanabe, Scarlett Johansson, and Yoko Ono.
Unsane (March 23)
Steven Soderbergh’s return to feature filmmaking, Logan Lucky, didn’t exactly burn up the box office like it should’ve, but that’s not slowing him down; by the time Lucky was in theaters, his next one was in the can – and all we really know about it so far is that it’s a horror thriller, it was shot on an iPhone, and its cast includes Claire Foy, Juno Temple, Amy Irving, Jay Pharoah, and Joshua Leonard, the co-star of another low-tech horror fave, The Blair Witch Project. Between this and his multi-media Mosaic project, Soderbergh seems to be spending a lot of time on his iPhone these days, one more way in which he’s highly relatable.
Tully (April 20)
In 2011, director Jason Reitman, writer Diablo Cody, and star Charlize Theron teamed for Young Adult, a tart, acidic comedy/drama that most agree is the best thing Reitman or Cody (though maybe not Theron) has ever done. In the years since, Reitman directed Labor Day and Men, Women, and Children, so it’s probably not surprising that he was up for a reunion. About all we know so far is the subject – motherhood – and Theron’s co-stars, including Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, and Mark Duplass. Like we need to know any more than that…
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (October 19)
Here’s a trio we’ll see doing pretty much anything together: director Marielle Heller, who directed one of 2015’s best films, The Diary of a Teenage Girl; co-writer Nicole Holofcener, whose credits include Enough Said, Please Give, and Walking and Talking; and star Melissa McCarthy, here doing what seems a semi-serious turn as a failing celebrity biographer who (per Fox Searchlight) “turns her art form to deception.” What could that mean?!? Only ten months until we find out!
Widows (November 16)
Steve McQueen’s too-damn-long-in-coming follow-up to 12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of an ‘80s British TV miniseries (above), with an ingenious premise: when four armed robbers are killed in a heist gone awry, their widows team up to finish the job. Even better is the cast, which somehow gathers Vila Davis, Carrie Coon, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, André Holland, and Robert Duvall in the same damn movie. We have to wait how long for this thing?!?
Karyn Kusama’s had a bit of a bumpy ride, following up her breakthrough movie Girlfight with the unfortunate Aeon Flux and the underrated but still unsuccessful Jennifer’s Body. But she bounced back in a big way with the goosebump-raising 2015 thriller The Invitation , and her next one looks quite promising, with a riding-high Nicole Kidman as a police detective reconnecting with those she might’ve wronged while working undercover. Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany, Scoot McNairy, and Bradley Whitford co-star.
The same year that 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture, Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director (for Gravity), so it stands to reason that he’d put out a new movie this year too. Again, we don’t know much – including whether it’ll actually hit this year – but Roma (no connection to the Fellini) reportedly finds Cuarón venturing back into Y Tu Mama Tambien territory, telling the (perhaps personal?) story of a middle-class Mexico City family in the early ‘70s.
If Beale Street Could Talk (TBD)
Unlike McQueen and Cuarón, Barry Jenkins isn’t dawdling towards the follow-up to his Best Picture winner; his new film is reportedly already in the can, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel – and thus a gasp-inspiring fusion of 2016’s two best movies, Moonlight and I Am Not Your Negro. Baldwin’s novels aren’t often given the big screen treatment (though this one was, in a 1998 French film retitled Where the Heart Is), but it’s hard to imagine a filmmaker better suited to capturing the brilliant writer’s specific sensibility.