It's that time again! I write these posts every year a little later than everyone else, in order to get a better sense of what the year's film landscape is going to look like. There are never guarantees about what's going to make it to screens by December and what isn't.
As always, I will split this feature up into two posts, one for the mainstream, would-be blockbusters released by big studios, that everybody hears about, and one for the art house fare that may break through to the mainstream eventually, but only the cinephiles anticipate this far in advance. Big releases go first. Films are ordered below by release date. There are also a couple of titles that were delayed from 2017, like "Annihilation," which I'll leave off the new lists.
Ready Player One - It's been a long while since there's been a Spielberg film that really looks like something groundbreaking. Sure, we've seen virtual and online realities onscreen before, but this is a new beast in that it's playing with a big chunk of existing pop culture iconography. The more I've learned about the actual plot, the more I've curbed expectations, but I'm pretty certain that there will be images in this movie that I've never seen the likes of before.
The Incredibles 2 - It certainly has been long enough since the original film that nobody is going to accuse PIXAR of cashing in, but I'm still a little wary. Brad Bird's "Tomorrowland" was a bust, and the plot details I've seen point to this being a spiritual successor to "Mr. Mom," which feels a little outdated. Still, it's PIXAR, and they've repeatedly made good films out of unlikely premises, and most of their recent sequels like "Finding Dory" and "Cars 3" have been very decent.
Solo: A Star Wars Story - I'm bracing myself for a "Justice League" style Franken-film, but there's a part of me that really wants this to be a good time. I mean, look at that cast! Consider the story possibilities! And even if this is terrible, the drama that will unfold across the "Star Wars" fandom should be plenty entertaining. It's important to remember that even if this is a failure, it will be far from the franchise's first failure, and there's no way it'll be the most egregious one.
Deadpool 2 - I resisted the hype for a while, but I am really looking forward to having everyone's favorite foul-mouthed anti-hero mercenary back on the screen again. And I may be even more excited for Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus to return. This time out, we've got the director of "John Wick" and a bigger budget to play with, which may or may not be a good thing. At least the casting of Cable is spot on. Josh Brolin looks fabulous in the costume.
Ocean's 8 - I'd be happy to watch Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter, in any movie together, but I get a special thrill out of thinking about them taking over the stylish "Oceans" franchise together. We haven't had a big budget female ensemble film in ages, and certainly little that looks as fun as this. Alas, no Soderbergh, but Gary Ross is certainly no slouch. And I'm already hoping for sequels, crossovers, team-ups, and all the rest.
Crazy Rich Asians - I confess to Asian solidarity impulses at work here, but I sorely, sorely want this to be a hit. It has been so long since we've had anything with an East-Asian cast make any real waves with mainstream audiences. If crazy wedding catfights and disgustingly opulent lifestyle porn are required, so be it. I'm also very curious to see if Constance Wu can carry a movie and if Jon M. Chu is up to the task of doing something a little down to earth. Don't waste this shot, guys.
Bad Times At The El Royale - Hey, Drew Goddard is directing another film! The last time that happened, we got "Cabin in the Woods," one of my favorite comedies of the past decade. I suspect that the less we know going in, the better, but it involves Chris Hemsworth, Russell Crowe, and Jeff Bridges leading a cast of shady characters who clash at a rundown hotel in the 1960s. I suspect that it may be the kind of action comedy that I was hoping last year's "Free Fire" was going to be. Fingers crossed.
First Man - Damien Chazelle is taking on the Apollo program and the moon landing with Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy as his wife. There are no indications that this is any sort of musical at this time, though I'd be completely okay with it if it was. While I wasn't a big fan of "La La Land," Chazelle is definitely a talent worth keeping up with, and I'll watch just about anything with Ryan Gosling in it - even if he's apparently going to turn himself into James Cromwell for the part.
Widows - This may be the year of the female ensemble heist movie. Steve McQueen is finally directing another flick, this one based on a British television series about the widows of group of robbers who were killed during a job gone wrong. Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, and Michelle Rodriguez will be leading the cast. This isn't as flashy a lineup as "Ocean's 8," but it's a strong one, and I'm very curious to see how McQueen is going to fare with a more mainstream project.
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 - And here's our second movie where a lot of different IP all interact together in movie that simulates life online. I'm actually not all that excited about the epic Disney princess crossover we've been promised or Ralph and friends exploring the internet. I'm really just happy to see all of these characters again, as "Wreck-it-Ralph" is one of my favorite of the recent Disney animated features. Do we need a sequel? No, but it'll be fun anyway.