20: Annihilation (Dir; Alex Garland, Starring; Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Release Date; 23 February)
Though the first trailer for Annihilation only hinted at it, the second one for Alex Garland’s follow-up to Ex Machina fully embraced the promise of true trippy weirdness. Bizarre creatures and alternate dimensions are just some of what we can expect from this dark sci-fi journey led by a diverse and exciting cast.
19: Solo (Dir; Ron Howard, Starring; Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Release Date; 25 May)
A few months ago, this Star Wars spinoff/prequel/origin story would have been a lot higher on this list. But a high profile firing of original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller followed by enormous reshoots, combined with a complete lack of any footage for a film meant to be released in May, led to dampened expectations. Still, with a cast as impressive as the one assembled, it’s hard not to be a little hopeful.
18: Old Man And The Gun (Dir; David Lowery, Starring; Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Release Date; TBA)
A true story comedy about an old man robbing banks wouldn’t generally pique my interest, especially with recent films like Last Vegas and Going in Style proving that genre to be painfully stale, but with David Lowery, the brilliant mind behind the astounding A Ghost Story, at the helm, there’s bound to be something original here. Robert Redford leads an impressive cast, and it’ll be interesting to see if Old Man and the Gun can transcend its seemingly predictable material.
17: Freak Shift (Dir; Ben Wheatley, Starring; Alicia Vikander, Sasha Lane, Armie Hammer, Release Date; TBA)
Announced by Ben Wheatley through a release of concept art, Freak Shift looks set to be a unique, grimy slice of apocalyptic dystopia. The central premise is apparently ‘misfits with shotguns versus giant monster crabs’, and Free Fire proved that Wheatley is a dab hand at heavy-gauge shootout action, so this has the potential to be a brilliantly fun and thrilling practical-effects driven, deafening monster-hunt adventure. Amy Jump’s script for Free Fire was one of last year’s most satisfyingly well-structured stories, and ‘more of the same but with sci-fi’ sounds like a great idea to me.
16: Apostle (Dir; Gareth Evans, Starring; Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, Lucy Boynton, Release Date; TBA)
Gareth Evans’s first film since The Raid 2 is not the sequel many expected, but an English-language period thriller about a religious cult. Plot details are thin on the ground, but it looks like Dan Stevens will be going head to head with Michael Sheen as he seeks to save his sister (presumably Lucy Boynton) from Sheen’s evil clutches. The Raid movies have some of the best action sequences ever committed to film and, though it’s unlikely that Apostle will reach those sort of heights, this could be an enormous step up for the entire British action film genre.
15: The Sisters Brothers (Dir; Jacques Audiard, Starring; Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, John C Reilly, Release Date; TBA)
The first English-language film from Palme d’Or winning director Jacques Audiard has assembled a truly mighty set of actors. A western, The Sisters Brothers has Joaquin Phoenix and John C Reilly as the eponymous siblings, famed assassins hunting for the wondrously named gold prospector Hermann Kermit Warm (Jake Gyllenhaal). Riz Ahmed, Carol Kane, Rutger Hauer, and even The Office‘s Creed Bratton round out the cast. As suggested by everyone’s names, the book on which this film is based is an irreverent and funny one, and a good lighthearted western is always something to look closely for.
14: The Favourite (Dir; Yorgos Lanthimos, Starring; Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Release Date; TBA)
Greek provocateur and arthouse darling Yorgos Lanthimos continues his prolific and unpredictable run, following up Old Testament tragi-comedy The Killing of a Sacred Deer with this biopic of Queen Anne and her court in early 18th Century England. A top tier cast is fronted by Olivia Colman as the Queen, finally given the leading film role she so richly deserves, whose bawdy and fickle tastes caused scandal and crisis. Seeing Lanthimos tackle an elegantly designed period piece is intriguing enough, and this should also be a tremendously acted and fascinating lesson in an understudied moment in British history.
13: Venom (Dir; Ruben Fleischer, Starring; Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams, Release Date; 5 October)
When this project was first mooted, it was very hard to get excited about. A Spider-Man spinoff at Sony Studios, who had just produced the atrocious Amazing Spider-Man 2, wasn’t something to get the pulse racing. But then it was announced that Tom Hardy was to be playing Eddie Brock/Venom and suddenly it looked a whole lot more interesting. Add to that a planned R rating, horror movie tone, and the casting of Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate, and Woody Harrelson, and it became clear that Kelly Marcel’s script was clearly a hot property. Tom Holland’s web-slinger apparently won’t be making an appearance, but if Venom delivers on the promise of its cast, then that shouldn’t matter in the slightest.
12: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Dir; Terry Gilliam, Starring; Jonathan Pryce, Adam Driver, Olga Kurylenko, Release Date; TBA)
After decades in development hell and a constantly shifting cast list, it looks like 2018 will be the year we finally see Terry Gilliam’s vision of Don Quixote. It’s not a direct adaptation of the legendary novel, instead seeing an ad executive travel back and forth between 21st Century London and 17th Century Spain, sometimes coinciding with Don Quixote’s story. Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver take on the lead roles, and it should be huge fun to see the pair of them interact, especially in whatever bizarre visual wonderland Gilliam has dreamed up for this incarnation of his unbelievably difficult passion project.
11: Widows (Dir; Steve McQueen, Starring; Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Release Date; 9 November)
It’s been a long wait since 2013 for the next film from Steve McQueen after 12 Years A Slave, but we finally have it in the form of Widows. Based on a British TV series from the ’80s, it sees four women forced together by the deaths of their criminal husbands to finish what their spouses started. On paper it seems like lighter (or at least more accessible) fare than usual from McQueen, who has never taken on a crime thriller, but it’s certain to be no ordinary caper in his hands. Viola Davis is front and centre in one of the most exciting and promising matches of actor and story in 2018 film.
10: Isle of Dogs (Dir; Wes Anderson, Starring; Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Release Date; 30 March)
Following up The Grand Budapest Hotel, by far his most successful movie, must have been a daunting task for Wes Anderson, but it’s a challenge he’s clearly eager to take on, returning to animation with Isle of Dogs. The trailer was properly stunning, packed with unforgettable imagery and, as ever, Anderson has called in an absurdly starry cast to lend voices to his canine heroes. Just as it was with Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs should be one of the biggest film highlights of the early months of 2018, possibly gaining the same momentum that carried Hotel so far into the awards season.
9: The Predator (Dir; Shane Black, Starring; Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes, Release Date; 3 August)
The Predator franchise is not one that’s held a huge amount interest for me, but the second I saw Shane Black’s name attached to this new semi-reboot, I was 100% in. The Nice Guys is one of my absolute favourite films, and Iron Man 3 proved that Black is more than capable of grafting his flat-out hilarious scripts to spectacular sci-fi action. Eschewing huge stars in his cast, expect The Predator to be a dirty and desperate fight for survival as a military team of questionable morals takes on the galaxy’s ultimate hunter. If it’s even a quarter as good as The Nice Guys, then it’ll be one of Summer 2018’s most thrilling blockbusters. Factor in performances from Keegan Michael-Key and Jacob Tremblay, as well as Trevante Rhodes’s biggest role since Moonlight, and this looks set to be a must-watch.
8: The Irishman (Dir; Martin Scorsese, Starring; Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Release Date; TBA)
The Irishman is more likely to be delayed into 2019 than actually release in 2018, but Martin Scorsese doing a gangster film that reunites him with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci – on a $150 million budget – is too tantalising a prospect to miss from this list altogether. Funded by Netflix, it remains to be seen if it will be rolled out on a full cinema release, but if Curzon cinemas are still showing Netflix films by the time The Irishman comes out, then this will surely be one to catch on the big screen. The cast list is ridiculously stacked, Harvey Keitel joining the lead three to complete the Scorsese superteam, and they’re all joined by Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Plemons and more. All that’s missing is Leonardo DiCaprio, but he’ll be re-teaming with Scorsese soon enough for both true-crime thriller Killers of the Flower Moon and Presidential biopic Roosevelt.
7: Suspiria (Dir; Luca Guadagnino, Starring; Dakota Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Release Date; TBA)
Horror remakes are rarely the most critically acclaimed or interesting of films, but if anything can break that pattern, it’s Italian master Luca Guadagnino’s take on the crown jewel of the terrifying and mad giallo genre. Suspiria is one of the most beautiful and distressingly scary horror movies ever made, and to see Guadagnino switch gears from the incomparably lovely Call Me By Your Name to a blood soaked ballerina massacre (with a hideously aged, near unrecognisable Tilda Swinton at its centre) should be fascinating. With CMBYN‘s Sayombhu Mukdeeprom back on lensing duties and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke providing the score, Suspiria will be a feast for the senses – all the better to horrify us.
6: If Beale Street Could Talk (Dir; Barry Jenkins, Starring; Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Teyonah Parris, Release Date; TBA)
After the stunning and well-deserved Oscar glory for Moonlight, there could be no better fit of material and director than James Baldwin’s classic novel If Beale Street Could Talk and Barry Jenkins. Ferocious intelligence and heartbreaking empathy flow through both, and it will come as no surprise if this ends up as one of the 2019 awards season’s hottest tickets. A brilliant cast of young character actors fills the film’s ranks from Chi-Raq‘s Teyonah Parris to Atlanta‘s Brian Tyree Henry, with complete newcomer Kiki Layne in the lead. Both writing and directing, Jenkins is also reteaming with cinematographer James Laxton and composer Nicholas Britell, the pair who made sure Moonlight looked and sounded like so few other films, so this is almost certain to be both an emotional and technical triumph.
5: First Man (Dir; Damien Chazelle, Starring; Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Release Date; 2 November)
Brightest star of his generation Ryan Gosling has had an utterly sensational couple of years with The Nice Guys, La La Land, and Blade Runner 2049, and his reunion with La La Land director Damien Chazelle might provide him with his first Best Actor Oscar playing Neil Armstrong in First Man. Alongside Hidden Figures, First Man could spell a revival for the sadly rather dormant astronaut film, one of American cinema’s most hopeful and awe-inspiring genres. Seeing Chazelle tackle space flight and a moon walk after his virtuoso musical numbers in La La Land is ridiculously exciting, and if he can again nail the balance between spectacle and humanity, then First Man should be something very special indeed.
4: Incredibles 2 (Dir; Brad Bird, Starring; Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson, Release Date; 13 July)
One of the most demanded sequels of all time is finally arriving next year, a full 14 years after the original was released – and with a release date perfectly timed for the summer holidays, this will surely be one of 2018’s biggest box-office smashes. Incredibles 2 will pick right up where the first left off, so the Parr family’s showdown with The Underminer is sure to kick things into gear. Where things will go from there is more of a mystery, but the teaser suggests that at least some of the film will be dedicated to discovering the many powers of baby Jack-Jack. The Incredibles is both one of best superhero films ever made and one of the finest entries in Pixar’s storied canon, so Brad Bird has a lot to live up to when crafting a follow up to his masterpiece, but I have full faith in his capability to deliver.
3: Peterloo (Dir; Mike Leigh, Starring; Maxine Peake, Rory Kinnear, Nico Mirallegro, Release Date; TBA)
After Ken Loach, Mike Leigh is Britain’s most Guardian-friendly filmmaker, so where more fitting to turn his talents than to the event that spawned the paper itself – the 1819 Peterloo massacre. Leigh has wanted to make this film for a long time, and it looks as if it should be ready for next year’s Cannes Film Festival, where he is an eternal favourite. Exactly who is in the film has been strangely hard to nail down – Christopher Eccleston is heavily rumoured but not confirmed, for example – but Maxine Peake is set to lead, and, as the picture shows, Rory Kinnear will play radical orator and man of the people Henry Hunt. After Mr Turner showed Leigh’s willingness to widen to scope, Peterloo will prove a true test of his talents as he marshals a recreation of one of the most violent attacks ever mounted on British citizens. In this era of savage Tory cutbacks and neglect, a firecracker film about the government’s cruelty and cowardice could hardly feel better timed, or more thrilling.
2: Black Panther (Dir; Ryan Coogler, Starring; Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Release Date; 16 February)
Black Panther came very close to topping the inevitable number one on this list, with its unique visual style, ridiculously stacked cast, and real progressive credentials. Increasingly, the MCU machine is letting its directors show off their own voice, and this fact is abundantly clear in the trailer for Ryan Coogler’s entry into the unstoppably expanding universe. Afrofuturism is rarely put forward on the big screen at all, let alone in a film this mainstream, and never with this kind of budget, and Wakanda looks like an immediately iconic location. Black Panther has been my favourite superhero since I was a kid, and to see him in his full glory and the dizzying set-pieces that Coogler has planned will be a joy. Also, Black Panther follows in Wonder Woman‘s footsteps as a truly important comic book movie, providing representation on the world’s biggest cinematic stage.
1: Avengers Infinity War (Dir; The Russo Brothers, Starring; Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Release Date; 27 April)
What else? There’s only one film next year that can possibly lay the claim to ‘biggest movie of all time’, and that’s Infinity War. The culmination of 10 years of the mad Marvel experiment, it’s the film that every studio on earth wishes they could have, a shared universe season finale that people genuinely care about. With over 100 million views on Youtube alone, the trailer is the most watched ever, and it’s very hard to not just get swept along in the hype. The Russo brothers have knocked both Winter Soldier and Civil War out of the park, and now they have every character in the MCU canon to play with as Josh Brolin’s Thanos comes to earth to finish what Loki started in The Avengers all the way back in 2012. Spanning New York (with Spiderman, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange), Wakanda (Black Panther, Captain America, and Black Widow), and outer space (Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy), the scope is unbelievable (the film reportedly cost around $500 million, a full fifth of which went to Robert Downey Jr). If it works, MCU head honcho Kevin Feige will genuinely go down in movie history, earning twenty times over whatever enormous holiday he takes when it’s all said and done.