18 for 2018: The movies Richard Roeper can’t wait to see in the new year
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Get your mind out of the Jedi, people!
Take a look at the date on your smart phone or the calendar on the wall (if you happen to be stretching out your holiday visit at Mom’s or Grandma’s or Great-Great-Grandma’s).
Sure, we still have some trophies to hand out, but when it comes to the movies playing at your local cinema (or streaming right into your home), those 2017 titles are a thing of the past.
Look, just ahead: It’s 2018, which means it’s time to take a look at 18 for ’18 — the list of films I’m most keenly anticipating.
(Boy, am I glad I wasn’t writing this type of piece in 1999.)
“The 15:17 to Paris” (Feb. 9)
Consider these titles: “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Flags of our Fathers,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Gran Torino,” “American Sniper,” “Sully.”
That’s a partial list of films Clint Eastwood has directed since turning 70. A partial list! (Raise your hand if you remember Eastwood directed the movie adaptation of “Jersey Boys.”)
The 87-year-old director’s newest film is about the 2015 terrorist attack on a Thayls train bound from Amsterdam to Paris, and the three off-duty American soldiers who brought down the gunman.
Of course, Eastwood has long been interested in making movies about true events and heroes, but in a bold experiment this time around, the three real-life heroes will be playing themselves.
“Black Panther” (Feb. 16)
In recent years, Chadwick Boseman has been the go-to actor for biopics, playing Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall.
I don’t think Boseman’s been given enough due for the range and depth of his work. Watch those films back to back to back, and you’ll be blown away by his talents.
The Black Panther comic book character was introduced in the 1960s, and Hollywood has been exploring a movie version since at least the early 1990s (with Wesley Snipes as the title character). Now, finally, we get the Marvel Studios treatment, with Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther; and an ensemble supporting cast I’d want to see in just about any genre: Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.
“Game Night” (Feb. 23)
Speaking of uniquely talented actors we like but perhaps take a little bit for granted because they make it look so easy:
Grown-up Jason Bateman.
Star of two of the best TV shows of the 21st century (“Arrested Development” and “Ozark”), brilliant character actor in movies such as “Juno,” “Up in the Air,” voice of Nick Wilde in “Zootopia”!
Bateman seems like a perfect casting choice for “Game Night,” a comedy-thriller about a group of friends and family members (including Rachel McAdams as Bateman’s wife and Kyle Chandler as his brother) whose regular game night turns into a murder mystery.
Oh, and it’s based on Agatha Christie’s oft-adapted novel “And Then There Were None.”
“A Wrinkle in Time” (March 9)
The greatly talented Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) directs Oprah Winfrey (always a welcome presence as an actor), Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Pena and Zach Galifianakis in the adaptation of the hugely popular sci-fi novel by Madeleine L’Engle.
“Isle of Dogs” (March 23)
A few hours before I sat down to write this piece, a millennial I’d just met said, “Can I ask you about this ‘Isle of Dogs’ movie? I was watching the trailer and it looks really weird and maybe great.”
The one and only Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated adventure is set in the Japan of 20 years from now, when a “canine flu” leads to all dogs being banished to a remote island. When a little boy arrives on the island in search of his pup, a team of dogs vow to protect him from the authorities and help him find his dog.
Come on! Who’s not going to be rooting for the boy and his dog!
Featuring the voices of a few mildly successful actors, including Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Frances McDormand, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton.
“Ready Player One” (March 30)
Tell me they’re making a movie based on the terrific 2011 sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline and my reaction is, “OK, I’m down for that.”
Tell me Steven Spielberg is directing the adaptation, and I’m putting “Ready Player One” on this list.
“The New Mutants” (April 11)
I loved Josh Boone’s adaptation of “The Fault in Our Stars,” and I think he’s an inspired choice to tell the story of some new mutants in the “X-Men” universe: a Russian, a Scot, a Kentuckian, a Brazilian and a Native American.
It’s a promising cast as well, with Anya Taylor-Joy as Magik; Maisie Williams from “Game of Thrones” as Wolfsbane; Charlie Heaton as Cannonball; Henry Zaga as Sunspot, and Blu Hunt as Mirage.
“Avengers: Infinity War” (May 4)
Guardians, meet the Avengers.
Avengers, I think you know the Guardians.
This looks to be the movie equivalent of an All-Star game, which means we’re sure to see an amazing array of Hall of Fame talent and some moments of breathtaking individual performances — but it’s a coin toss as to whether the event itself will be rousing, start-to-finish entertainment, or a somewhat bloated, overstuffed exhibition.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” (May 11)
I like a title that takes us right to the heart of the movie. In “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”, there’s a character named Bernadette —and she goes missing.
Richard Linklater (one of my favorite living directors) helms this adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel, with Cate Blanchett starring as the agoraphobic Bernadette (the one thing you’d think you wouldn’t have to worry about an agoraphobic is her going missing), and a supporting cast that includes Kristen Wiig, Billy Crudup and Laurence Fishburne.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” (May 25)
The follow-up to “Rogue One” has a checkered history, with Ron Howard replacing directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
This of course led to much hand-wringing on the Internet. Ron Howard! What does HE know about adventures in space!
Well, given Howard made a great film about some real-life space explorers on a little mission called “Apollo 13,” he just might be able to handle the story of a rogue young pilot and his Wookie best friend. (Cue the outraged comments: “THIS IS A STAR WARS UNIVERSE FILM, YOU IDIOT! IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SOME ASTRONAUT MOVIE! HOW DID YOU EVEN GET YOUR JOB! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!”)
Alden Ehrenreich (who has done stellar work in films such as “Hail, Caesar!” and “Rules Don’t Apply”) stars as the young Han Solo.
“Ocean’s Eight” (June 8)
Clearly this is another big year for sequels and spinoffs and the introduction of new characters in familiar movie universes. “Ocean’s 8” is an all-female, semi-sequel, semi-reboot of the 21st century “Ocean’s” trilogy (which sprung from the 1960 original). Gotta love the cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter.
“Alita: Battle Angel” (July 20)
When I first saw a clip from “Alita: Battle Angel,” I was…
Freaked. The. Blank. Out.
Robert Rodriguez’ live-action adaptation of the manga series created by Yukito Kishiro features the lead character (played by Rosa Salazar) with a human face but large, anime-style eyes.
It’s a marvel of cutting-edge technology to see this blend of human face and CGI-created eyes — but it’s also very creepy and distracting, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out over the length of a feature film.
Christoph Waltz and Jennifer Connelly — and the eyes God gave them — also star.
“Crazy Rich Asians” (Aug. 17)
Jon Chu directs the adaptation of the first of three novels by Kevin Kwan. Constance Wu (so wonderful on ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat”) stars as an American-born economics professor who accompanies her boyfriend to Singapore, and discovers he’s from an insanely wealthy and very traditional family.
“Boy Erased” (Sept. 28)
Joel Edgerton (who has acted in films such as “Warrior” and “Zero Dark Thirty” and was the writer-director-star of “The Gift”) writes, co-produces, directs and has a key supporting role in what is sure to be one of the hot-button movies of the year. It’s based on Garrard Conley’s memoir, in which Conley (the son of a Baptist preacher) comes out to his parents — and is told he must enroll in a “gay conversion” program, or be ostracized.
Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea,” “Three Billboards”) plays the teenage Conley, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman are his parents, and Edgerton is the leader of the “therapy” program.
“First Man” (Oct. 12)
The first man on the moon could have been a HUGE celebrity, cashing in on his instant global fame for the rest of his life.
Or he could have run for office, a la Sens. John Glenn and Harrison Schmitt.
Neil Armstrong didn’t want any of that. He was a quiet, brilliant, serious, humble man, often referred to as a reluctant hero — but there’s no denying Armstrong’s amazing, cinema-ready, historic part in American and world history.
Director Damien Chazelle reteams with “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling in a biopic focusing on Armstrong’s life and career from 1961 through the moon landing of 1969.
“Halloween” (Oct. 19)
Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, some 40 years after she first encountered Michael Myers.
Ooh, I can hear that fantastically haunting theme music already…
“The Women of Marwen” (Nov. 21)
The visionary director Robert Zemeckis (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Back to the Future,” “Polar Express”) seems a wise choice indeed to direct a fictionalized take on the 2010 documentary “Marwencol,” which told the story of Mark Hogancamp, who was beaten nearly to death, spent nine days in a coma, woke up with little memory of his previous life — and as a form of therapy, created a scale model of a Belgian town circa World War II in his backyard.
Steve Carell, who keeps reminding us he can do just about anything onscreen, plays Hogancamp.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Dec. 25)
Another troubled production, but with Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) as Freddie Mercury, one still holds out hope for this biopic of the late and legendary lead singer for Queen.