Overall, 2017 was a pretty good year for film. There were a few months in the summer where it looked like there was going to be a repeat of 2016’s long line of disappointments, but it picked back up. By the end of the year, we were left with a good list of films. Shifting focus towards 2018 now, I started writing up my list of most anticipated films of 2018, and the list has surprised me. This isn’t a definitive list of all of the releases this year and will focus mostly on blockbuster films (since most of the smaller movies don’t get release dates until after some of the film festivals and also don’t have any trailers out).
So without further ado here is my list of most anticipated films of the year.
Alita: Battle Angel
A Wrinkle In Time
Red Sparrow is an interesting looking film. Reteaming is Jennifer Lawrence and director Francis Lawrence (a rather talented big blockbuster director). Red Sparrow is something of a departure for Francis whose resume has built on films like I Am Legend and three of four Hunger Games movies (with Catching Fire being his best work), Red Sparrow looks like an almost Bourne-like spy thriller and is based off an acclaimed novel. The mysterious trailer is incredibly intriguing and makes me want more, which is what a good trailer does.
19-Pacific Rim: Uprising
My excitement for this second Pacific Rim film is tempered by a few elements: director Guillermo Del Toro isn’t returning, and a few cast members from the previous film, like Charlie Hunum, aren’t returning. In their place is John Boyega (who is wickedly talented) and director Steven S. Deknight who show-ran Spartacus and Daredevil. I really like the new look of this movie; the bright vibrant colors and the Jaegers looking, even more, Samurai inspired. I do get a kick out of Kaiju type films like Godzilla, King Kong, and (of course) the first Pacific Rim. Part of me even considered putting Rampage on this list (but the video game curse is still alive), so of course, I’m not expecting the deepest story, I’m looking for some great action, spectacle with hopefully some solid characters on the side.
If it wasn’t for two things in 2017, Wonder Woman actually being a good movie and Jason Moma’s performance in Justice League, I don’t know if this would be on this list. Justice League was a letdown (and this coming from the bottom of my heart as a big DC fan), but I am excited about Jason Moma’s take on the Aquaman character moving forward. I have never disliked the Aquaman character, and there could be some really interesting things they do with him on screen. The element that really excites me is having James Wan on board to direct the feature. Wan has become a name that excites me greatly in the horror world and showed himself capable of helping a big blockbuster like Furious 7 (even if that’s a franchise where Vin Diseal gets to make the big decisions). The DC films that focus on a single character (Man of Steel, Wonder Woman) seem to be more successful and better than their team up movies (Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League) so I’m hoping this trend will continue with Aquaman.
After the conclusion of The Hobbit trilogy, I’ve been longing to see Peter Jackson step back into the director’s chair (I appreciated the trilogy more so than others despite some of the flaws). While Mortal Engines doesn’t have him stepping back into the director’s he is putting his name out there as a producer, the last time he did that, we got Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. The exception here is Jackson wrote the screenplay. So anything with Jackson’s involvement I will get excited about. This is also the directorial debut of a longtime collaborator Christian Rivers and the premise is pretty unique as well. I have yet to read the novels but based on the talent involved, the premise, and the brief teaser, I am more than excited about this movie.
Halloween has long been my favorite of the major slasher franchises. The original John Carpenter Halloween is a pioneering horror film that was built off of the foundations of horror films like Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The franchise has long had its ups and downs, but the series is once again returning back to John Carpenter with director David Gordon Green at the helm and being produced by the highly successful Blumhouse Productions. It has been a while since we’ve seen the killer Michael Myers on the big screen, and the possibilities brought by this reboot (that ignores all films after the original) and is returning with Jamie Lee Curtis excites me.
14-X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Fox Studios has done some really interesting things with the X-Men franchise. So while X-Men: Apocalypse fell short of expectations, nearly all the other films have been hitting their mark going back to X-Men: First Class, to X-Men: Days of Future Past, to Deadpool, and to Logan (this is why I’m not excited about Marvel getting X-Men back). I wanted to put The New Mutants on this list (but sadly got pushed back to 2019). X-Men: Dark Phoenix feels like a perfect continuation of the story set up in Apocalypse. I really like the young cast that has been assembled with these younger X-Men movies. I’m a little skeptical of Simon Kimberg stepping in as director but he has done some good producing and writing work so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
13- Jungle Book
When it was announced that there were two different Jungle Book movies being made from two different studios, one from Disney and one from Warner Brothers, the one I was more excited for was the Warner Brothers film. Which might be surprising to some because of how big of a fan I am of Disney. The reason I have been so excited for this version of Jungle Book is that of who is in the directing chair, Andy Serkis. I am a big Andy Serkis fan. He is one of the most talented, gifted, and groundbreaking actors in the business right now and has worked with Peter Jackson as a second unit director on The Hobbit trilogy (along with debuting his directorial film Breathe last year). Serkis will be bringing his signature talent for motion capture to a film that will benefit from it. This will, unfortunately, have to compete with Disney’s version (which would have made my top films of 2016 list), and hopefully, it’ll be able to stand on its own. I know I’m still excited about it. The Disney version stayed somewhat faithful to the 1967 animated film, while this version has the freedom to do whatever it wants.
12- Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
I did a complete 180 on this film. When it was announced that Sony was going to be producing a theatrical animated film for Spider-Man, I rolled my eyes. This felt like Sony was getting greedy in the wake of their Marvel deal. However, after seeing the footage from the teaser I am completely sold. The animation is gorgeous and unique. This looks big and grand and deserving of a spot on the big screen. I liked Spider-Man: Homecoming but I was more underwhelmed by it than impressed. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse looks more like what I look for in a Spider-Man movie. I don’t think it’ll do well at the box office but I know I’ll be contributing to it.
11- Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck it Ralph II
Sadly, Disney Animation didn’t put out any animated features in 2017 after the two outstanding ones we got in 2016 (Zootopia and Moana). Hopefully, this is because Disney was hard at work with this sequel to their 2012 breakout hit, Wreck-It Ralph. Disney Animation Studios very rarely makes sequels in their history (there is only The Rescuers Down Under and Winnie the Pooh), I don’t look as forward to their sequels as their original projects but I really liked Wreck-It Ralph (which should have won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars), I am a big Disney Animation Fan, and they have been on a hot streak. It’ll be exciting to see what Disney comes up with Ralph Breaks the Internet, the premise of Wreck-It Ralph makes for a lot of creativity and possibility.
10- Solo: A Star Wars Story
Every year that a new Star Wars movie comes out, it is always at the top of my most anticipated list at number 1. Like so many other people, Star Wars means that much to me. For the first time, it is not. This is still a Star Wars movie and for now, that’ll be enough to get me excited and into the theater. But still, couldn’t a story be told about Han Solo’s origins in the form of a novel or an Uncharted style video game? A movie centered around Solo’s origins doesn’t seem like very interesting material for a Star Wars film. Of course with the behind the scenes issues (along with some claiming Solo was going to be a comedy with an almost Ace Ventura. If you thought the humor didn’t work in The Last Jedi I can only imagine the reactions to this). That all being said, Rogue One also had production problems and came out to be a pretty good movie. Lucasfilm did also cast a talented young actor and Donald Glover playing Lando is a stroke of genius casting. Also, director Ron Howard has deep connections to Lucasfilm from starring in American Graffiti and directing the vastly underrated and overlooked Willow. So while all our expectations are low for this project, this is still Star Wars and all three of the previous films that Lucasfilm have put out have been really good. This could surprise us all and I’ll be incredibly happy if it does.
The news that Deadpool 2 will be moved up to a May release date came with great excitement from me. The first Deadpool not only exceeded expectations but quickly became one of my favorite of the recent superhero films. The story is simple but executed to almost perfection with an amazing sense of humor, a surprisingly great romance and a solid amount of dramatic heft in key scenes. It’s unfortunate that director Tim Miller is not returning but everyone else is returning and taking over the director’s chair is one half of the John Wick team. It is going to be very tough for this to follow up the first one. We’ve seen previous satirical R rated comic book movies second entries fall short of their great first films (Kick-Ass and Kingsman) hopefully this will retain the charm of Deadpool.
8- Isle of Dogs
I am a big stop-motion animation fan. It is a great form of animation that doesn’t get enough attention or projects. Needless to say, putting together the brilliance of Wes Anderson and one of my favorite forms of animation together makes for a great potential watching experience. The Isle of Dogs looks fantastic and is a project that is really flying under the radar, Anderson has already worked really well in the medium with Fantastic Mr. Fox. The last project of Anderson’s was The Grand Budapest Hotel which was among the best movies that year. So how can you not be excited about this film?
7- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindleward
I’ve been a long time of the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling. I’ve really enjoyed the Harry Potter films and I was one of the ones that really enjoyed the first entry in the now planned five movie series for Fantastic Beasts. It wasn’t groundbreaking or anything of that sort but it was a fun movie that set up for an interesting story for the future. Having Johnny Depp step into the role of Grindleward does concern me a bit, not because I don’t believe he isn’t a good actor but because Colin Farrell did a great job in the first film I just feel attached to his rendition. Hopefully, Depp doesn’t get eccentric with the role. Besides that though, this movie has everything else going for it. Director David Yates is returning (he has a great grip on the world), the cast is returning and Jude Law is coming into to play a young Dumbledore and the conflict is shifting towards Grindleward. I’ll be very excited and interested to see how this turns out.
I was a little late to the Ex Machina game. I did not get a chance to see it when it came out and I kept putting off watching. My friend finally sat me down and had me watch it and I loved it. It was an incredible Sci-Fi film and now the director, Alex Garland, is returning with another science fiction film that looks mysterious, intriguing, and fresh. Going into Annihilation I am not exactly sure what to expect and that excites me.
5- Sicario II: Soldado
Seldom do we get sequels to crime thrillers like Sicario. Sicario was an outstanding film and never felt like we needed a sequel to it (nor was it a big box office hit). Then again since it wasn’t a big box office hit then there must have been a good story worth telling. Writer Taylor Sheridan has made a name for himself and has emerged as one of my favorite writers in the business (The Oscar-nominated writer of Sicario, Hell or High Water and the writer/director of Wind River). So while Denis Villeneuve, Roger Deakins or Emily Blunt aren’t returning, this does have Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, and Taylor Sheridan returning. This also has a talented up and coming director at the helm (although I wish Sheridan would have directed it instead). With a really good first trailer, there isn’t much of a reason to not get excited about Soldado.
4-Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg is one of my all-time favorite directors so I, of course, will be excited for any new movie he comes out (even if he has come out with a few more forgettable films as of late). I have yet to read Ready Player One but everyone I know who has read it loves the book. This does seem like the right type of material for Spielberg to tackle who hasn’t done a really massive blockbuster in a while. But not only that, Ready Player One is a movie that ripe with nostalgia for pop culture, much of which Spielberg helped bring forth. So it is interesting to see Spielberg take part in a production of that sort. Striping all of that away, this looks like a visually gorgeous, stunning and crazy science fiction action movie. I can’t wait to see this film.
There is no denying what a force Marvel has become. Even when their films don’t rise to the point of excellence or greatness, they are at the very least entertaining (with Iron Man 2 and 3 being exceptions). A Black Panther movie alone isn’t going to normally going to get me very excited, but this production is. The introduction of Black Panther is Captain America: Civil War was a massive standout of that movie, Chadwick Bosman is truly a great talent working in the industry and he was great as Black Panther. Now put him in a movie with a cast that has Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman, AND Andy Serkis; not to mention this movie also has Michael B. Jordan who is one of the best young actors out there right now. You put all that together and you hire Ryan Coogler, director of the heartbreaking Fruitvale Station and the revelation that was Creed, this has the potential to be not only a great Marvel/superhero movie but one of the best the sub-genre has to offer. At the very, I know I’m probably going to get an entertaining movie.
2-Avengers: Infinity War
It was tough to pick between Infinity War and Black Panther. I feel Black Panther has the potential to be the better overall movie but the epic Infinity War trailer just won me over. I was not a big fan of Avengers: Age of Ultron but Captain America: Civil War made up for it (in my mind) and having the co-directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War helm this superhero extravaganza, that has been building up since the first Avengers (and really the first Iron Man) makes me very confident for this film. Regardless of what you think of the actual movies, it is hard to deny what Marvel has done to get this movie is a remarkable achievement in blockbuster filmmaking. I will be seeing this opening night.
1- The Incredibles 2
There is simply no other studio like Pixar. Pixar is almost always reliable for a good movie (Cars 2 aside). They have recently gone into movies making sequels to movies that don’t really beg for sequels like the Cars sequels, Monsters University (even though I had a lot of fun with that), the upcoming Toy Story 4 (the trilogy was perfect, leave it alone), and even to some extent Finding Dory, but the Incredibles has been a movie that has been begging for a sequel since it was first released in 2004. Long have I imagined what the sequel would be ever since I saw the movie in theaters for the first time. It is exciting to finally be getting a follow up to one of Pixar’s best films. The Incredibles is a special film and to have original writer/director Brad Bird step back into the world of animation and helm this flick makes me excited beyond belief.