Today, I finish up the look at my most anticipated films of the years, this time with the movies that are in production but with no release dates yet. Tomorrow, I will be looking at my most anticipated television programs of 2018. Let me know what films sound good to you and why.
Alien Nation (TBD) – Directed by Jeff Nichols
Alien Nation is probably remembered better for the Fox television series, and sadly I have never seen the 1988 feature film (will be remedying that this year). The premise is that an alien race in desperate need of a home assimilates into Los Angeles. The film follows a human cop and his new alien partner as they uncover a noir-ish conspiracy involving both their species. Jeff Nichols, the man behind great films like Take Shelter and Midnight Special, feels like he has the right muted realism to make something like this have a profound impact. In our current political climate, done right, Alien Nation could be a considerable achievement.
Annette (TBD) – Directed by Leos Carax
Leos Carax is an elusive director. He released Pola X in 1999 and didn’t pop back up in cinemas till he did a short piece in 2008’s Tokyo. He also directed the brilliant Holy Motors in 2012. The premise has Adam Driver playing a stand-up comedian whose wife dies and leave him to raise their daughter, the titular Annette. However, he learns the child possesses a strange power and must cope with this revelation. Rihanna and Michelle Williams are set to co-star. Carax makes odd, almost dangerous films so looking forward to seeing what this one shapes up like.
Fahrenheit 451 (TBD, HBO) – Directed by Ramin Bahrani
The novel by Ray Bradbury is a classic one, with disturbing parallels to our own time. The discussion on presidential candidates feels terrifyingly real. Once adapted by Francois Truffaut, this time around its Ramin Bahrani. Bahrani directed two great films I’ve seen: Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo, both of which did an excellent job of exploring the humanity of its characters rather than getting caught up in intricate plotting. I would love to see Bahrani bring that humanism to this picture. Michael B. Jordan will play the Guy Montag role with Michael Shannon as his superior.
Hold the Dark (TBD, Netflix) – Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Blue Ruin and Green Room have been two of the most devastating and visceral films I’ve seen in many years. Jeremy Saulnier is set to return with this adaptation of a novel about an investigator exploring the circumstances surrounding a young boy’s death by a wolf. The investigator becomes entangled in the dark psychological battle going on between the boy’s mother and father. The script is by Macon Blair who played the leading role in Blue Ruin and the club owner in Green Room. Every element of this film has it set up to be remarkable, and I am hyped.
Mandy (TBD) – Directed by Panos Cosmatos
If you asked me what film of the past decade has connected me on the most potent aesthetic level, I would say Beyond the Black Rainbow hands down. That 2010 debut by Cosmatos hit me like a brick wall with how powerful the combination of music and visuals were. And for the longest time, the director said he wasn’t sure if he had another film in him. Thank goodness he did. Mandy will star Nicholas Cage as a man hunting down a religious cult that is responsible for the death of a loved one. The film is set in 1983, so this means more of that weathered and raw 1980s aesthetic Cosmatos delivered with perfection in Beyond the Black Rainbow. Might be my most anticipated film of 2018.
The Modern Ocean (TBD) – Directed Shane Carruth
Carruth first came on the scene in 2004 with Primer, likely the most realistic time travel movie ever made. Primer is a film that is dense and complex, requiring multiple viewings to understand. I haven’t seen Upstream Color, his second movie out of a bit intimidation based on Primer. I will do that this year as well as see his new release The Modern Ocean. The film is about disputes over shipping routes in the ocean. Tom Holland, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe, and Anne Hathaway are set to star. If any director to make what sounds mundane into something deeply engaging it is Carruth.
Mute (TBD) – Directed by Duncan Jones
I tend to view 2016’s Warcraft as a weird misstep in an otherwise exciting career. Jones returns to his science fiction roots with this “spiritual” sequel to Moon. Forty years from now in Berlin, a mute bartender (Alexander Skarsgård) searches for the woman he loves, and two strange American surgeons (Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux) seem to be tied to her whereabouts.
The Nightingale (TBD) – Directed Jennifer Kent
Coming off the critical acclaim of The Babadook, Kent takes on Australia’s dark colonial past. Set in Tasmania, the film follows a woman determined to get revenge on a soldier for a terrible act of violence he committed on her family. She enlists an Indigenous tracker to help her, and through these characters, the horrors of the British Empire are explored.
Nosferatu (TBD) – Directed by Robert Eggers
The Witch was one of my favorite films of 2016 and Eggers seemed like a veteran filmmaker. His next project is a remake of the first vampire film. Like with The Witch, I expect a lot of real period accuracy that helps immerse us in the world and horror elements that aren’t overt and paced very meticulously.
The Sisters Brothers (TBD) – Directed by Jacques Audiard
This Dark Western comedy (based on the novel of the same name) tells the story of a prospector who steals from his boss and is pursued by the Sisters Brothers, a pair of notorious bounty hunters. The prospector will be played by Jake Gyllenhaal while the brothers are John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix. John C. Reilly is producing, and this is apparently a passion project he’s been working on for four years. The film will be directed by Jacque Audiard who is responsible for 2009’s A Prophet, which was a fantastic low key crime film. Will be interesting to see how he handles something more overtly comedic.
Slice (TBD) – Directed by Austin Vesely
Austin Vesely and Chance the Rapper have been working together for six years, mostly on music video collaborations. 2018 will bring their first feature film. In interviews, Vesely reveals it came from a short horror film concept of “Person orders pizza to houses. Kills the driver.” Chance will be playing the pizza delivery man, riding a motorcycle. The idea has evolved so that the pizza delivery man is a werewolf by night. He’s blamed for the murder while attempting to discover the identity of the real killer. A blink and you’ll miss it teaser was dropped by A24 and the aesthetic appears to be another in the neon 1980s vein.
The Son (TBD) – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Denis Villeneuve is firing on all cylinders at the moment. Prisoners. Enemy. Sicario. Arrival. Blade Runner 2049. I plan on going back and watching his films pre-Prisoners and also enjoying this new feature. The Son reunites Villeneuve with Jake Gyllenhaal who plays the long-imprisoned son of a cop who killed himself. While in prison he’s inundated with heroin and manipulated by a seedy priest. Questions arise about the truth behind his father’s death, and the son is out for revenge. In lesser hands, this would be mundane and bland, with Villeneuve I expect something incredibly unique and resonant.
Sorry To Bother You (TBD) – Directed by Boots Reilly
A black telemarketer in Oakland, California is having a bad run of it and happens on the secret to corporate success. The discovery causes him to quickly ascend the ladder of corporate America and discover more truths about the power structure. At the same time, his friends who are labor activists make plans that put them at odds with his personal success. Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out) plays the protagonist. His supporting cast includes Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, and more. Tremendous potential for this film to be a breakout dark comedy of the year! Stanfield has all the pieces in place to become a significant actor.
Suspiria (TBD) – Directed by Luca Guadagnino
You just can’t remake a film as visually pleasing as the original 1972 Suspiria. Yet they are going to do it. Chloe Moretz in the lead role…ugh. I should not have this on the list. However, Luca Guadagnino directed the emotionally overwhelming I Am Love and last year’s awards contender Call Me By My Name. He has already gone on record saying he will not attempt to mimic the aesthetic of the original Italian horror film which I believe is a good choice. You cannot top Dario Argento’s palette of colors or Goblin’s electro-nightmare score. If you are going to remake then do something new and surprising. I sincerely hope the studio doesn’t force this into being something bland and full of empty jumpscares. If you hire Guadagnino then you have someone unique working for you, let them do what they do.
Under the Silver Lake (TBD) – Directed by David Robert Mitchell
It Follows is one of the best horror films to come out in decades and director Mitchell’s next project will be tackling a classic L.A. Noir story. A woman goes missing, and the man who loves sets out to discover what happened. Nothing new or unusual about the story, so this is going to be all about the telling. Andrew Garfield is the lead, supported by Riley Keough and Topher Grace. The film appears to be set in modern day, hoping for more of that non-specific time period and the world that Mitchell brought to It Follows.
Vox Lux (TBD) – Directed by Brad Corbet
Brady Corbet’s directorial debut The Childhood of a Leader is must viewing for living in the Trump age, or any time where we are questioning how societies can fall so quickly to darker inclinations. Corbet’s next film will tell the story of a pop star named Celeste (Rooney Mara) and her rise and fall over the course of 15 years. Music is being written by Sia, and the scope of the film sounds very large. Exploring the cycle of pop musicians in contemporary America has a lot of potential, Corbet doesn’t seem like a filmmaker worried about getting too dark.
We Have Always Lived in The Castle (TBD) – Directed by Stacie Passon
Shirley Jackson is a horror author who has not received the acclaim she deserves in the mainstream. Everybody reads The Lottery at some point in high school or college, but she has a large and engaging body of work. The novel this film is based on tells the story of a family plagued by a series of arsenic poisonings. To combat this, the surviving eldest sister uses magic to protect her relatives from outsiders. A cousin arrives with plans to steal the family fortune but uncovers a very dark secret that explains the poisonings and leads to a confrontation with the town around the castle. Starring Taissa Farmiga, Sebastian Stan and more.