Is it really almost 2018? Whatever you make of that shocking fact, the coming year will have another bumper crop of movies, good, bad, and indifferent. For this list, I felt perhaps a bigger than usual challenge to represent both big franchise goodness and intriguing smaller-scale efforts, so I hope you enjoy what I’ve come up with. Ahead of my mid-January blitz of end-of-2017 material, let’s look forward before looking back.
First, a host of bonus picks. Creed 2 (the sequel to one of the best franchise reinventions in years also brings back the misunderstood Ivan Drago); Bad Times at the El Royale (filmmaker extraordinaire and super-writer Drew Goddard’s one-location thriller); Sicario 2: Soldado (a Benicio del Toro-starring sequel); Black Klansman (a topical and potentially very-big-deal movie from Spike Lee); Roma (potential new Alfonso Cuarón masterpiece in domestic mode but intriguingly shot with big ol’ technical ambition); Widows (Viola Davis leads an ensemble cast of widows who complete the heist that their late husbands could not); Ant-Man and the Wasp (finally, a female MCU superhero with at least co-lead billing); The Death of Stalin (after In the Loop, more Armando Ianucci pitch-black political satire); Solo: A Star Wars Story (it’s Star Wars, it’s maybe a gangster movie, it’s got Lando Calrissian).
10) Anna and the Apocalypse
This festival darling is a mashup Christmas zombie musical that apparently delivers on its considerable ambition rather than falling on its face. If this Scottish confection sticks the landing we could have a Shaun of the Dead-level success here. If not, at least it will probably hard to take our eyes off it.
9) Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2
I’m not a fan of Wreck-it Ralph. Then, why is this sequel on the list? Basically because it promises to be Disney’s The LEGO Movie, metatextually zipping around references and in-jokes. There’s trepidation because it could also be Disney’s The Emoji Movie, with the considerable risk of commenting on the weirdness of the internet. So like Anna and the Apocalypse, this is a mashup movie that has to walk a pretty thin tightrope, but what secured its place on this list is a sequence bringing together the Disney princesses (a scene which screened at Disney expo D23 and brought the house down). *Deep breath* Irene Bedard as Pocahontas, Kelly Macdonald as Merida, Linda Larkin as Jasmine, Anika Noni Rose as Tiana, Jodi Benson as Ariel, Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, Ming-Na Wen as Mulan, Paige O’Hara as Belle, Kristen Bell as Anna, Idina Menzel as Elsa, and Auli’i Cravalho as Moana! Disney fans, try to stay calm.
Not a Deadpool spinoff, not a reboot of the Keira Knightley movie, not another remake of Thunderball. This is the latest film from one of our greatest living directors, Brian De Palma, his first since the extremely uneven Passion. De Palma has been very open about how difficult it is for older filmmakers to recapture their creative spark, but you never know when it will reignite. With a promising cast including Guy Pearce and Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten, this new film from the director of Carrie and Dressed to Kill is one to keep an eye on.
7) Mary Poppins Returns
Making a sequel to one of the greatest film musicals of all time is a bold move, and hiring Lin-Manuel Miranda to help develop the songs is certainly a good first step. I get the sense that Disney seems to be throwing every bit of whimsy they have into this one, and hopefully the long development period pays off. Also, Dick Van Dyke is coming back, so I’ll take this opportunity to say that his bad Cockney accent is absolutely the right fit for his character.
6) The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
This film probably tops the list of Movie Fandom’s most anticipated, simply because of how absurdly long Terry Gilliam has spent trying to make this thing a reality. Disastrous weather, bailing financiers, actor changes, and more have been obstacles in the decades-long process of getting The Man Who Killed Don Quixote made, which has been a quixotic journey in itself. It makes you wonder if the film itself can possibly be as interesting as its genesis. We’ll see!
5) Black Panther
My fellow Saint Mary’s College alumnus Ryan Coogler is one of the more exciting rising star directors out there. Starting small with Fruitvale Station, killing it with a mid-budget Creed, and now in the MCU big leagues with Black Panther, Coogler has assembled an impeccable cast for an Afro-futurist extravaganza. Despite this movie coming out pretty soon, we intriguingly don’t know much about the story and themes at play; let’s hope this movie soars.
4) Mission: Impossible 6
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was the best spy movie of 2015, a year riddled with them. That film’s writer and director Christopher McQuarrie is coming back for more (a first for a Mission: Impossible director), after giving us the airplane stunt, the opera house sequence to end all opera house sequences, and Ilsa Faust, one of my favorite film characters of recent memory. This sequel has big shoes to fill, but it’s distinguished itself already by featuring a stunt that actually incapacitated the unstoppable Tom Cruise. They’re gonna use the take that hurt in the movie, I know it.
3) Paddington 2
Mea culpa. I included Paddington 2 in My Most Anticipated Films of 2017, and while it did release in October 2017 in the UK, the US release schedule pushes it back to January of the following year. Everything I said before still applies for this sequel to one of the best family movies in decades, except that people in Paddington’s native UK have seen it already. Suffice to say, they like it.
2) Lucy and Desi
This is my moonshot. At time of writing Aaron Sorkin (!) has apparently not gotten word one into the screenplay, but it’s still at least conceivable this could be ready for next year’s awards season. Sorkin has pitched Lucy and Desi as looking at a week in the behind-the-scenes life of I Love Lucy (a show that I will never stop loving), Lucille Ball to be played by Cate Blanchett. Celluloid, here we come.
1) Avengers: Infinity War
From Iron Man to Avengers: Infinity War, ten years will have passed. The runaway success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe experiment has changed the face of the movie industry, leaving in its wake success after success, beloved character after beloved character. Infinity War is Marvel’s victory lap, the Super Bowl of superhero movies, with a bench of cast members so deep you need a lifeguard to read its IMDb page. Any movie that brings together Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, Dave Bautista as Drax, and (probably) Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie is a shoo-in for my most anticipated movie of 2018.