I’ve been writing most anticipated lists for quite a while now on the internet, and usually when I do so, I choose to structure the piece by selecting an equal number of films to the year that I am writing about. So if the year was 2013, I would choose 13 films for the list—14 for 2014, 15 for 2015, etc. Well, now we are in the year of Our Lord 2018, and quickly this is becoming an overwhelming enterprising. The number keeps going up, and I know that eventually there has to be a breaking point. If I keep this going all the way until 2027, for instance, am I going to really choose 27 anticipated movies to put on the list? Someday, I’m really going to have put a stop to this expansion.
…But today is not that day! A new year means a new set of films to look forward to, which means yet another list arbitrarily ranking my anticipation for them! At first, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to find 18 films to fill out the entire thing, but as always, the number of releases in the forthcoming year that have a lot of potential vastly outway the ones I can actually include on the list. My working list had like, thirty at the end of the day. Maybe I’m capable of doing the “27 Films To Look Forward To In 2027” list after all!
In any case, here’s the 18 films worth looking forward to in 2018. As always, there’s one major stipulation: all the films on this list had to have an official, confirmed release date — which means a lot of smaller indies that we suspect will be released in 2017, but have no actual plan in place for their distribution, have to get the shaft. Sorry smaller films — I have to find a way to cull the list somehow. But even if pretty much all of these are studio joints, there’s still plenty of variety amongst the selections. Take my #18, for instance…
18. Sicario 2: Soldado
Release: June 29, 2018
When Sicario 2 was first announced, I was filled with nothing but apprehension and confusion surrounding its mere existence. Why the hell does the world need a follow-up to a gritty, depressing thriller about the pressures of life of law enforcement on the border? Especially one without so many elements that made the first film great–namely, director Denis Villeneuve, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and main star Emily Blunt. It seemed like Sicario 2 was destined for the “forgettable sequel” bin right from the get-go. And, for what it’s worth, Siciario 2 could very well wind up in that bin anyways. That being said, the first trailer for the film was actually pretty great, and the involvement of writer Taylor Sheridan (whose three-for-three after Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River) has me hoping that there’s actual artistic merit to this follow-up. The plot synopsis raises my eyebrows a bit on that regard (MEXICANS BE SMUGGLIN’ TERRORISTS ACROSS THE BORDER), but I can only hope that the actual film will be just as fascinating–and enthralling–as its predecessor.
17. Paddington 2
Release: January 12
FUCK YEAH Y’ALL, PADDINGTON 2! IT’S THE RETURN OF THE FUCKING MARMALADE EATING, HAT BRANDISHING, JACKET WEARING BEAR MOTHERFUCKER! HELL FUCKING YEAH.
MOTHER. FUCKING. PADDINGTON. TWO.
16. The Happytime Murders
Release: August 17
I have been looking forward to The Happytime Murders for what feels like over a decade…because, apparently, it has been over a decade. This is one of those projects that has an incredibly promising concept (R-rated puppet noir in the vein of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), but just can’t seem to pick up enough steam to actually be put into production. But finally, after ten years of struggles from director Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson himself,) The Happytime Murders is a 100% real project that will likely be hitting theater screens in the next few months. I guess that’s the power of getting a big-time star involved…who, in this case, happens to be Melissa McCarthy. She wouldn’t be my first choice for the lead of a puppet comedy noir, but she can be extremely funny when given great material to work off of, so I can only hope The Happytime Murders will lean more towards Spy than it does Identity Thief. With a concept this high, the potential for failure is huge…but even just on the promise of seeing this thing actually hitting theaters, I’m very much looking forward to the film’s late Summer release.
15. Mission: Impossible 6
Release: July 27
Despite everything that would seem to be set against it, the Mission: Impossible series has been going on for nearly twenty years, and through six separate entries. And here’s the craziest thing of all: the past couple installments haven’t been worse than the first few. Heck, the series just keeps getting better and better every time, if you ask me. At this point, I’m certain the franchise as it stands is destined to have a comedown of some sort…but since that has yet to happen, I am as psyched as ever for Mission: Impossible 6. Returning writer/director Christopher McQuarrie did fantastic work on Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation, and though it will be a little strange for a director to come back and do another Mission: Impossible (a series first), I’m interested to see if this series can wow us once again. I’ve learned plenty of time never to underestimate its potential, that’s for sure.
14. Black Panther
Release: February 16
There’s obviously a far bigger-ticket Marvel Studios’ film in the pipeline for 2018 (don’t worry, we’ll get there), but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on Black Panther. Everything we’ve seen from the project has been extremely cool, and director Ryan Coogler has the talent to really make this something special (he absolutely knocked my socks off with his last film, Creed.) To see Marvel give him the reigns to what looks to be a crazy ass Black Panther movie is extremely gratifying. Add in a crazy good cast of almost entirely black actors (Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman withstanding), and you have the makings of what should be another great Marvel origin movie. By design it likely won’t be the standout for Marvel in 2018, but it can still be one hell of a delicious, early-in-the-year appetizer for what is to come.
13. The Predator
Release: August 3
Shane Black is making a goddamn Predator movie. That alone, really, should be enough to justify the film’s inclusion on this list. And, since I still have 12 more films to get through on this list…it will be.
Release: February 23
I think Alex Garland impressed us all collectively with his directorial debut, 2014’s Ex Machina, which alone would make his follow-up worth getting invested in. But apparently, the source material for Annihilation, the novel by Jeff Vandermeer, is pretty great, and perfect for an accomplished writer/director like Garland to adapt. Add in an EXCELLENT cast of primarily female performers ( led by Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez, with a masculine dash of Oscar Isaac as the cherry on top), and Annihilation could end up being the very best science fiction film of 2018. And, to be honest, the behind-the-scenes drama only makes the entire enterprise MORE enticing. A science fiction film that tested poorly because it was too complicated for general audiences, and because it has an unsympathetic lead character? CONSIDER ME SOLD.
11. The Kid Who Would Be King
Release: September 28
We haven’t seen ANYTHING from The Kid Who Would Be King, which for some reason for a lot of films that made my list this year, is actually the norm. But my excitement for the project can be linked pretty directly to the man in charge of it: Joe Cornish, who absolutely blew me away with his directorial debut Attack the Block, and has since vanished for nearly seven years. Cornish is now back behind the camera though with this original adventure fantasy film, which tells the story of “A band of kids embarking on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.” Vague, yes, but nonetheless enticing. Plus, Patrick Stewart. Everything’s a little bit better with a helping of Patrick Stewart.
10. Bad Times At The El Royale
Release: October 5
Speaking of secretive follow-ups to great movies from first-time directors…you probably haven’t heard about Bad Times At The El Royale. To be quite honest, I hadn’t really either, at least not until I started doing research for this list. But though there’s not a lot to work with when it comes to El Royale (“The film is set in the 1960s in a dilapidated hotel in the Lake Tahoe region in California,” says the brief IMDB plot summary), it seems that secrecy is very much the intent with this one. In fact, the Fox executives who bought the script weren’t even given paper copies of it — they had to read the thing on an iPad, and give it back afterwards. That makes me think some crazy shit is actually going on in this movie, only reinforced by my main point of excitement for the film: it’s being written and directed by Drew Goddard, who is no stranger to writing mysterious things (he wrote Cloverfield, and was a writer on Lost, after all.) And the last time he both wrote and directed a film, we got Cabin in the Woods, a genre-bending meta exercise that was also, like, the best. Will Bad Times at the El Royale (which is being fronted by the intriguing pair of Chris Hemsworth and Jeff Bridges) be able to measure up? All I know is that I’m incredibly eager to find out.
9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Release: December 14
I was incredibly skeptical of Sony making an Animated Spider-Man movie at the same time they were developing a whole new live-action trilogy for the character…but then they got Phil Lord and Chris Miller on board. That pair has yet to let me down, and seeing them put their stamp on my favorite superhero filled me with excitement. Then the first trailer for the movie was released last month, and my anticipation only skyrocketed further. This movie has the potential to be really great, even if getting an animated Spider-Man movie, big budget Spider-Man videogame, and an appearance from the character in Avengers: Infinity War all in the span of eight months seems to tilt the property to the point of oversaturation. But if any character can survive being overused in popular culture, it’s certainly Spider-Man, right?
8. First Man
Release: October 12
After Whiplash and La La Land (two films I both loved to almost equal measure), I’m fully in on the directing career of Damien Chazelle. First Man represents a bit of a different project for him (being a biopic about Neil Armstrong, I doubt it will include much in the realm of music or singing…probably), but I have to imagine there was something about the script that led Chazelle to attaching himself to the project. With Spotlight’s Josh Singer credited for the most recent version, hopefully there will be more to this project than just a simple biopic. And even if not…Astronaut Ryan Gosling? Sure, why not!
7. Deadpool 2
Release: June 1
I really, really liked 2016’s Deadpool, very close to the point of loving it. But as super fun and watchable as the original Deadpool was, I still feel like the film didn’t quite practice what it preached. Deadpool wanted to be an unconventional, strange, and abrasive superhero film, and occasionally was that. But beneath all that was a surprisingly standard superhero origin story, one that failed to be as subversive as what you would expect from a “true” film starring the Merc With A Mouth. However, my reservations about the first film are a feature for Deadpool 2, not a bug. I really believe that the original told a necessary story to get people sold on the concept, and cut certain corners that could be deemed too weird to attract general audiences. But with Deadpool being a bonefide smash, and the business of telling the character’s origins out of the way, I’m hoping the sequel will be given a lot more room to play around with, and truly embrace its weird-ass self. The bonkers teaser trailer for the film is certainly leaning in the right direction, and I can only hope the finished product will be a nutty, vulgar, and fun time at the theater. Deadpool set a strong foundation, and I am eager to see what Deadpool 2 (if it ultimately goes by that title) will do to build upon it. At the very least, having John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch on board should provide for some absolutely kickass action scenes, right?
6. Isle of Dogs
Release: March 23
Wes Anderson has created a lot of really great movies (and The Darjeeling Limited) in his over two decades of filmmaking, to the point it’s really hard to say which one is really his best. Is it one of his earlier works like The Royal Tenenbaums? Something newer like The Grand Budapest Hotel? Something, umm, weird like The Life Aquatic? I don’t even know for sure, but I know one thing: by far his FUNNEST film is Fantastic Mr. Fox. A wonderfully realized, incredibly funny piece of stop-motion greatness, Fantastic Mr. Fox is just a delightful little movie everytime I see it. From the initial trailer, it seems like Anderson’s return to the world of stop motion will be a bit more on the serious side (as serious as a Wes Anderson joint can get, I guess), but that doesn’t make his return to the format any less exciting. In fact, I’m super eager to see what Anderson will do with the wide canvas that animation allows him in bringing an original work to life. And with a cast of seemingly everyone in the world (Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johannson, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Courtney B. Vance, Ken Watanabe, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban…good lord, it’s endless), the project certainly isn’t lacking in star power. Plus, DOGGIES! STOP MOTION DOGGIES! What do you need, a roadmap?!
Release: November 16
My Top 5 most anticipated films are regretfully light on original fare, which means including this film on it should in and of itself show how much I’m looking forward to Widows. The first film from Steven McQueen since his Oscar winning 12 Years A Slave (which, jeez, came out almost five years ago), Widows also boast a script by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, which makes for one hell of a critically acclaimed pair here. Widows also has a really fresh premise, as a heist film starring the widows of a bunch of dead criminals puts a nice contemporary spin on the age-old bank robbery flick. And though many films on this list feature great casts, I would argue Widows could go toe-to-toe with any of them. Viola Davis, Jon Bernthal, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall, and of course, Carrie Motherfucking Coon. Consider me very much on board for this.
4. Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
Release: November 21
Wreck-It Ralph 2 has me just based on the quality of the first film, which remains one of my favorite Disney Animated films in the modern age. As a gamer, the concept is pure catnip to me, and even putting aside all the fun little in-jokes and witty references, there was a really sweet message and relationship at the center of Wreck-It Ralph that really made it sing. I don’t know if the sequel will have quite the same emotional impact, but at least conceptually, it’s just as enticing as the original. Taking the Wreck-It Ralph characters and throwing them into the world of the internet is a genius concept for a sequel and, from what we’ve heard about the film so far, it’s only going to get more and more hilariously meta in its storytelling. With returning writers/directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston once again at the helm, I say bring it on. I’ve been game for more of this franchise ever since the final shot of the first one. And yes, that was a pun. You may stop reading this now.
Release: Sometime in 2017
Speaking of films I’ve been waiting a while for, let’s talk Duncan Jones’ Mute. The long-promised spiritual sequel to Jones’ brilliant sci-fi debut, Moon, Mute was originally supposed to be released in 2017, until Netflix rather silently pushed it into 2017. And while the film still doesn’t have a release date at this point, I’m making a slight exception and including it on this list, because A) it’s already completely done, so I have no idea why Netflix would push it any further and B) it sounds SO AWESOME, guys. Jones tackling a Blade Runner esque future noir is 100% my cup of tea, and with folks like Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux playing characters by the name of “Cactus Bill” and “Duck Teddington,” respectively, this movie could end up being a masterpiece. At the very least, it might be the type of brilliance that puts Netflix’s original movies on the map…after all, Bright sure as hell didn’t.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
Release: May 4
In this list, I have tried my best to provide a variety to the overall selections, doing my darndest not to over-saturate things with just superhero films. But, ultimately, the heart wants what the heart wants…and my heart very much wants Avengers: Infinity War. Even with the slightly underwhelming teaser trailer, I am completely psyched for what is unequivocally Marvel’s most ambitious movie yet, seemingly cramming in everything to ever happen in the grander MCU, and finding a way to make it work between two huge blockbuster films. We’ve been building up to this moment for literally a decade and, at this point, it’s hard not to buy into the hype that such a build-up very much warrants. The Russo Brothers knocked my socks off twice with The Winter Soldier and Civil War, and it will be one hell of a disappointment if they fail to do it once again with Avengers: Infinity War. But I trust those two. I trust Marvel. I really feel this one is going to deliver.
1. Incredibles 2
Release: June 15
But, as always, there can only be one. And in this particular case, this one was pretty much pre-ordained from the moment it was announced, a long, long, long ten years after its predecessor was first released. But the years have only improved the strengths of The Incredibles in my mind, and made the wait for a follow-up all the more unbearable. At this point, I don’t need much of anything else to increase my anticipation: I just want to see more from this world, and these characters, and from writer/director Brad Bird. Barring Tomorrowland (which, like most of America, I try my best just not to think about), Brad has yet to really let me down, and considering how long he waited until returning to this series, I’m hoping he found the perfect story for our superhero family to get wrapped up in.
Regardless, I absolutely can not wait. After all, I already did my waiting. 13 years of it.
IN AZKABAN PRISON Writing endless articles on the internet! I NEED this movie, you guys. And, more importantly, I need it to be great. Ball is in your court, Pixar. Good luck — we’re all counting on you.
And there you have it, the 18 films I believe are worth looking forward to in 2018. Think I missed any particularly egregious ones? Well…sorry? Go complain about it on Twitter.
Also published on Medium.