There are a lot of films announced for 2018 that have my attention, some more than others. The likelihood I will end up loving all these films is very low, but I’m sure some will live up to the hype. Today’s list is the movies who have official release dates or are debuting at Sundance this year. Tomorrow will be the films that are announced for 2018 but whose release is to be determined.
Eighth Grade (January 19th, Sundance) – Directed by Bo Burnham
I wouldn’t say I am a huge fan of comedian Bo Burnham but is a very unique voice in a field that can be very repetitive. His directorial debut is this film which was shot without much fanfare and has little talk surrounding it until the press release for Sundance. The movie is about a 13-year-old girl who develops a strong online persona dishing out advice via her YouTube channel while being paralyzed with fear in real life situations. The film sounds like a good mix of comedy and drama, looking forward to seeing Burnham’s first outing.
Lizzie (January 19th, Sundance) – Directed by Craig Macneil
I was stunned at the emotional weight and darkness in Macneil’s feature debut The Boy. Check out my review for a more in-depth explanation of my thoughts. He also wowed me as the director of Channel Zero: Candle Cove. His whole style is muted and restrained but incredibly tense. Lizzie will have Macneil telling the story of the trial and subsequent fallout of Lizzie Borden, as played by Chloe Sevigny. While I haven’t been incredibly impressed by Sevigny as of late and the Borden story doesn’t grab me right away, having Macneil onboard is keeping me hooked.
The Tale (January 20th, Sundance) – Directed by Jennifer Fox
Based on real events in director Jennifer Fox’s life, Laura Dern plays a successful journalist whose mother (Ellen Burstyn) discovers a story her daughter wrote at 13 about a sexual relationship with two coaches from her school. Questions arise about whether this is a fictional fantasy or based on events that actually happened to the protagonist. Both of the lead actresses in this picture are some of the best we have today so regardless of any other factors it will be a treat to see them at work.
Wildlife (January 20th, Sundance) – Directed by Paul Dano
Based on the novel by Richard Ford, Wildlife tells the story of a marriage dissolving through the eyes of the couple’s son. Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan are playing the couple. This is Paul Dano’s directorial debut, and he’s been acting since the age of 10 and has had the chance to work with a wide variety of directors. I suspect he’s pulled together everything he’s learned in 23 years of study to produce this film. With the strong cast, I am looking forward to seeing what he pulled off.
Untitled Cloverfield Movie/God Particle (February 2nd) – Directed by Julius Onah
Like 10 Cloverfield Lane, this film has been made in much secrecy and was adapted from a script that was a science fiction feature separate from this strange universe JJ Abrams is constructing. While I disliked the original Cloverfield feature, I was incredibly impressed with 10 Cloverfield Lane. I enter this movie with a little trepidation, unsure how much of the success of the last film was the Cloverfield brand and how much was the direction of Dan Trachtenberg. Overall, it seems like Cloverfield may become more of Twilight Zone-esque brand for original science fiction films.
Annihilation (February 23rd) – Directed by Alex Garland
I have read 2/3 of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, and this has the potential to be a deeply disturbing and visually exciting film. It’s being helmed by Garland who delivered one of 2015’s best with Ex Machina. He definitely knows how to create science fiction cinema that plays with ideas rather than spectacle which is what this story needs.
Isle of Dogs (March 23rd) – Directed by Wes Anderson
I’ve had my ups and downs with Wes Anderson, but his output since 2012 has been some of his best (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel). Isle of Dogs sees Anderson return to stop-motion animation, his first since 2009’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox. All the usual suspects have been assembled to voice the characters, both human and dog. The plot is pretty unique and exciting, enough that I am somewhat hyped to see this when it drops in the Spring. My only worry is that the movie will just push tired Anderson tropes of indy-ness at us, but I hope that I am happily surprised.
A Quiet Place (April 6th) – Directed by John Krasinski
I have seen neither of the two films Krasinski has previously directed (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, The Hollars) and I was not a fan of the American version of The Office. However, the trailer for this film and its premise have me legitimately interested. A supernatural evil comes to a small farm, and the family terrorized by it learn that the entity is attracted to sound. So they must use non-verbal communication and refrain from making a sound. This has the potential to be a fun experiment with one of the chief elements of modern film. When we do have sound present, it should have an impact and really shake us up. Here’s hoping the movie doesn’t have an obnoxious soundtrack that undercuts all of that potential dramatic tension.
The New Mutants (April 13th) – Directed by Josh Boone
Whether is succeeds or fails, making this newest spin-off of the X-Men franchise a straight-up horror film is a pretty brilliant move. As the superhero movie genre has become as cemented into cinema as the Western, shakeups to the tropes or total reinventions are needed to keep the ideas fresh. Now is Josh Boone the right director to make this happen…uh, I dunno about that one. The cast looks great but still holding out to see if they are in a film that can bring out there best. This should be an intriguing movie if nothing else.
The Incredibles 2 (June 15th) – Directed by Brad Bird
The Incredibles is my favorite Pixar film, and I have long argued that it is the best Fantastic Four film we’ve ever gotten. It hits on the same themes of family and familial conflict that the FF comics did, but the movies have yet to find. Brad Bird’s last few films (Tomorrowland, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol) have been okay, so I hope this return to animation will bring him back to the caliber of filmmaking he is capable of. I fully expect to love this one and see a superhero film that understands that you don’t need blue beams of light into the sky and large explosive battles to tell a good story.
The Happytime Murders (August 18th) – Directed by Brian Henson
This film has been on the back burner for awhile and is finally getting a release this year. Taking Jim Henson’s wish that puppetry becomes a craft beyond just children’s entertainment, his son Brian has put together a somewhat unique movie. In a world much like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a private detective (and puppet) Phil Phillips is investigating a serial killer who is targeting the former stars of a famous 80s sitcom. Billed as Muppet Noir, The Happytime Murders has the potential to be something incredibly odd and daring. Crossing my fingers and hoping we get a beautiful blend of comedy and darkness.
Boy Erased (September 28th) – Directed by Joel Edgerton
Based on the memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley, the film tells the story of Conley’s upbringing as the son of a Baptist minister in the American South, his forced outing to his parents, and subsequent imprisonment at a gay conversion camp. Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe star as the parents, Edgerton plays the antagonistic head counselor, and Lucas Hedges takes the Conley role. It will be interesting to see Edgerton’s debut as writer-director (he is also co-producing) and seems to be very passionate about bringing this story to the big screen.
Halloween (October 19th) – Directed by David Gordon Green
By all accounts, this should be a disaster. The last Halloween reboot was in 2007 helmed by Rob Zombie with a sequel in 2009. This time around David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Your Highness) is directing with a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride (star of Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals). This should be a complete mess..yet…they are saying all the right things about this film. Both filmmakers have emphasized that the horror of the film will be built around tension and fear instead of jump scares or endless gore. Every Halloween film since the original is apparently out of continuity, and Jamie Lee Curtis returns as a Laurie Strode who hasn’t encountered Michael Meyers in 40 years. Here’s hoping this all works. Please.
Holmes & Watson (November 9th) – Directed by Etan Cohen
Etan Cohen is a terrible director, so this movie hinges entirely on the strength of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. If it had just been Ferrell, this film would not have been on my list. The addition of Reilly is what brings it here with hopes it recreates the magic of Step-Brothers. Without a doubt that movie was one of the biggest surprises I had in 2008. Sherlock Holmes has become an incredibly tired concept as of late, but if the film shrugs off those elements in favor of letting Ferrell and Reilly play it could be a fun diversion.