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50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

From a solo Black Panther to a young Han Solo, Spielberg going retro to Barry Jenkins doing James Baldwin – the films we can’t wait to see this year

Another year, another batch of superhero blockbusters, brand-name sequels and big-name movie stars/directors vying for your attention. When you look over the lineup of what’s hitting theaters near you over the next year, however, it’s hard not to get excited. We’re finally getting to feast our eyes on Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther movie and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time! And witness the all-star Marvel Team-Up that is Avengers: Infinity War! And see how this Muppet-baby chronicle of Han Solo and friends plays out! And being gifted new projects from no less than Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Steve McQueen, Wes Anderson, Barry Jenkins and Spike Lee! Do you notice how many exclamation points are in the introduction?!? We’re pumped!

We’ve managed to whittle down the massive list of upcoming films to the 50 we’re most anxious to check out – from an all-ladies version of the Oceans movies to Lady Gaga’s country-flavored A Star Is Born, a long-awaited Freddie Mercury biopic to some classic horror remakes and a documentary on Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand man. Start marking your calendar now (dates are, of course, subject to change). Welcome to what looks like a bang-up year at the movies.

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘A Fantastic Woman’ (Feb. 2)

You may have heard about this Chilean/German movie courtesy of the festival-circuit buzz, or possibly seen the title show up on a lot of 2017 year-end lists (it received a week-long qualifying Oscar run) and in the Golden Globes’ Best Foreign-Language Film category. Believe us when we say that the hype behind director Sebástian Lelio’s transcendent melodrama about a transgender singer (Daniela Vega – remember that name) is more than justified. The longer you watch the movie’s heroine mourn her late lover – even as the dead man’s relatives try to rewrite her out of the narrative – the more you feel like you’ve stumbled across a phoenix in the middle of rising from the ashes. “Fantastic” doesn’t even scratch the surface of how good this is. DF

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘The 15:17 to Paris’ (Feb. 9)

Director Clint Eastwood follows up American Sniper and Sully with yet another movie about modern manhood in times of crisis, looking back at a famed 2015 incident where heroic train passengers subdued an active shooter. The three Americans who helped save the day are starring as themselves, and it’ll be interesting to see how Eastwood works with a cast of non-pros – as well as how he’s going to turn a split-second moment of heroism into a full-length action movie. NM

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Black Panther’ (Feb. 16)

Based on how much every morsel of information has been scrutinized, meme-ed, and breathlessly rallied around, the month of February belongs to the solo debut of Marvel’s herb-enhanced African superhero. Though T’Challa/Black Panther was formally introduced in Captain America: Civil War, which established him as king of the isolationist country of Wakanda, he stands alone in confronting a threat to his kingdom – and a possible world war. There’s an abundance of African-American talent, both next-gen (Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya) and last (Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker). As for director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan, who plays the movie’s villain, the duo continue a Scorsese/De Niro-style collaboration that began with Fruitvale Station and Creed. ST 

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Early Man’ (Feb. 16)

Animation freaks and British comedy connoisseurs both perk up whenever there’s a new Aardman production arriving in theaters – and its latest has drawn more attention than usual, because it’s the first film in over a decade directed by Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park. Working with many of his longtime collaborators, the droll animation auteur will be dropping his latest collection of big-toothed claymation characters into some prehistoric steampunk whimsy, set at the moment when the Stone Age turned Bronze. NM

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Annihilation’ (Feb. 23)

It says something about Ex Machina and its writer-director, Alex Garland, that its most heavily circulated clip was of Oscar Isaac “tear[ing] up the fucking dance floor” with a humanoid robot. He’s returning to the genre again with Annihilation, which turns an environmental mutation into its a crossbreed of sci-fi and action/horror. Natalie Portman stars as a biologist who leads a quintet of women – including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny – into “the Shimmer,” a nebulous disaster area that seems like “the Zone” in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker reimagined as a Predator movie. ST 

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Game Night’ (Feb. 23)

So let’s say you go to one of those suburban game nights – you know, where your friends and neighbors regularly guzzle chardonnay and play Monopoly. Now imagine your host has decided to do one of those immersive solve-a-murder-mystery shindigs, except it involves an abduction. And some gangsters. And guns with live rounds. And a creepy Jesse Plemons. And also it is real. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams lead a TV-star heavy cast (Friday Night Lights‘ Kyle Chandler! New Girl‘s Lamorne Morris! Catastrophe‘s Sharon Horgan!!!) in what may be the only  raunchcom this year to feature both karaoke and a guy getting sucked into a jet engine. DF

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Red Sparrow’ (Mar. 2)

How does Jennifer Lawrence follow up one of her gutsiest performances in a movie nobody saw? The Oscar-winner reteams with director Francis Lawrence, who helmed the final three Hunger Games films, for a sultry spy thriller in which she plays a seductive Russian agent who starts working with Joel Edgerton’s dashing American operative. This adaptation of the Jason Matthews novel is stacked with a killer ensemble of supporting players – including Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling and Matthias Schoenaerts – who add style and substance to a film that ought to tide us over until we get a proper Black Widow standalone movie. TG

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘The Death of Stalin’ (Mar. 9)

It’s 1953, the Soviet Union is under the thumb of Josef Stalin, and the secret police and Party toadies keep everything in check. Then Russia’s leader dies unexpectedly, and suddenly, a power-grabbing politburo game of musical-chairs is in full swing. It takes a certain kind of director to turn this adaptation of a French graphic novel into a comedy of (t)errors; it takes a satirist of In the Loop director/Veep creator Armando Iannucci’s talents to transform this into the sort of farce that makes you lose bladder control. Any comparison to current political corruption and chaos is, of course, completely coincidental. DF

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ (Mar. 9)

One of the most popular young adult fantasy novels of all time gets a more racially and ethnically diverse adaptation, helmed by Selma director Ava DuVernay and written by Frozen writer Jennifer Lee. Given the talent involved – and the timelessness of Madeline L’Engle’s story about kids traveling the galaxy in search of their dad – this Wrinkle should unfold spectacularly. But even if the movie’s just okay, Disney will probably need to bend the fabric of reality just to find a place to stash all the money it’s going to make. NM

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Tomb Raider’ (Mar. 16)

Move over Angelina Jolie, there’s a new puzzle-solving, rope-swinging, arrow-shooting archeologist in town. Alicia Vikander puts on the telltale tank top for this reboot of the franchise based on the gajillion-selling adventures of Lara Croft, who gets caught up in some serious jungle boogie-ing while following a trail left by her missing father. Don’t expect Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug (The Wave) to switch the formula up; do expect Vikander to offer the latest, sleekest model of an iconic video-game heroine. DF

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Isle of Dogs’ (Mar. 23)

Wes Anderson is no stranger to animation – see his dazzling 2009 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. But his newest venture finds him working from an original (and pretty bleak) concept: a dystopian future in which dogs live on a quarantined island. Their unhappy existence is interrupted by the arrival of a boy (voiced by Koyu Rankin) in search for his own wayward mutt. Utilizing the same stop-motion style that gave Fox its handmade charm, this new project has a more epic feel, aided by voice work from Bryan Cranston and Anderson veterans Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum. It may be too dark for kids, but Anderson’s fans are already wagging their tail with anticipation. TG

Steven Soderbergh

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

‘Unsane’ (Mar. 23)

Just when you think he’s left the game entirely, along comes the formerly retired Steven Soderbergh with a scrappy NASCAR heist flick, a new HBO series that’s also an app – and a “secret” new horror movie, made on the D.L and shot on his iPhone. The Crown‘s Claire Foy is a young woman who finds her sanity in peril when she’s institutionalized; June Temple and former SNL-er Jay Pharoah costar. The particulars of the plot are apparently on a need-to-know basis past that synopsis; Pharoah has described the movie as “reality-type horror – almost Get Out-ish, but different,” which sounds promising. Frankly, you had us at “Soderbergh.” DF 

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Ready Player One’ (Mar. 30)

Ernest Cline’s 2011 science-fiction novel floated a tantalizing fantasy: What if all the useless information you’ve accumulated through a lifetime of immersion of Eighties movies, music, video games and other cultural flotsam and jetsam could, in fact, make you the most important person on Earth? Having Steven Spielberg adapt this cult sci-fi book to the screen may count as a shameless act of self-homage for a director who ruled the decade, but he also legitimizes the fanboy enthusiasm that fuels Cline’s story. It may be set in a future dystopia of widespread poverty and overpopulation, but the film will largely take place in the virtual realm of OASIS, where players like Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) search for a $240 billion Easter Egg left by its late creator. Let the games, and the shameless Back to the Future references, begin! ST 

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘You Were Never Really Here’ (Apr. 6)

“I hear you’re brutal,” a man says to Joe (a more-bearded-than-usual Joaquin Phoenix), a gentleman who can unleash violence and enact vengeance for the right price. Given that we’ve just seen wirled use the business end of a hammer for maximum damage in the above trailer, we’re apt to think those rumors aren’t unfounded. This psycho-for-hire’s latest gig, however, requires more steeliness than usual: Rescue a senator’s young daughter who’s been kidnapped by white traffickers by any means necessary. He takes the job. Then things go very wrong. We’ve been waiting to see what Lynne Ramsay was going to do to follow-up 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, and the answer is apparently a revenge thriller that won her lead actor an award at last year’s Cannes and takes exactly zero prisoners. DF

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘The Rider’ (Apr. 13)

After having been injured in a fall and stuck with a plate in his head, a Native American rodeo star (Brady Jandeau) is forced to put his ridin’ and ropin’ days behind him. As to what lays in his future, the young man knows he doesn’t want to end a drunk like his dad – or permanently injured like his best friend, a former bronco-busting hotshot confined to a wheelchair. Past that, it all seems to be an open-ended question. Part semi-documentary, part semi-fictional storytelling and an all-American chronicle of hardship and transcendental bliss, filmmaker Chloé Zhao has real-life circuit riders recreating scenes from their own life – the scene in which Jandeau actually horse-whispers an untamed animal is incredible – and reclaiming Western iconography. It’s a winner. DF

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘The New Mutants’ (Apr. 13)

Last year’s superb superhero pic Logan used the X-Men movie universe as a jumping-off point for a futuristic western. Now The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone digs into his stack of Eighties New Mutants comics to make a film that he insists is just as inspired by Stephen King and John Hughes as by Marvel legends Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz. An ace young cast led by The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy and Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams anchors this tale of powerful youngsters haunted by both supernatural evils and their own raging hormones. NM

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Overboard’ (Apr. 20)

In the 30 years since its release, the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell comedy Overboard has gone from an indifferently received amnesiac comedy to a beloved screwball classic. Suffice to say, ahem, there’s room for improvement in the gender-reversed remake, which now casts Hawn’s heir apparent, Anna Faris, as a blue-collar worker and Mexican star Eugenio Derbez in the role of a rich snob humbled by an accident that wipes his memory clean. Derbez’s comedy How to Be a Latin Lover was a quiet hit last year, and Faris has spent a career spinning gold from dross. And let’s face it: This material is drossy as hell. ST 

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Super Troopers 2’ (Apr. 20)

In the 17 years since the sketch comedy troupe Broken Lizard wrote and starred in the riotous cop movie parody Super Troopers, fans though have waited for the gang to return to the world of Vermont crimefighting and bros-in-blue shenanigans. Finally, that dream of a sequel to the cult movie’s saga of radar-gun-slinging yahoos – who spend more time annoying each other than going after bad guys – is about to become a reality. Director and Lizard co-founder Jay Chandrasekhar is once again behind the camera; in addition to the rest of the group, Rob Lowe is on-hand as a Canadian named Guy Le Franc. You may begin filling your bongs now, folks. NM

American director and producer Stanley Kubrick on the set of his film, The Shining.

Murray Close/Getty Images

‘Filmworker’ (Spring 2018)

You may not know the name Leon Vitali. You probably know who Stanley Kubrick is, however, who gave the young, aspiring actor a key role in Barry Lyndon. Later, the director hired him as a sort of his-guy-Friday during the production of The Shining – a function that Vitali continued to perform for his boss regarding his professional obligations and personal obsessions until Kubrick’s death in 1999. Tony Zierra’s docu-portrait is said to be a must-see for those who love arcane Kubrickiana and stories of the private filmmaker’s creative process. But it also sounds like an intriguing character study of a man who can arguably claim to be the auteur’s single biggest fan of them all. DF

50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (May 4)

The conventional wisdom is that Marvel movies are more lighthearted than their gloomy DC/Warner Bros. peers. But that impression might change after battle royale pitting Stan Lee’s titans against Thanos (Josh Brolin), the intergalactic baddie in search of the all-powerful Infinity Stones. Last fall’s trailer promised a darker, more despairing superhero film – you can tell this movie is serious because Chris Evans’ Captain America is sporting a beard. Plus it features not just the core heroes but everyone from Black Panther to Doctor Strange to the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Avengers invented the idea of the supersized comic-book film. Infinity War is going to be even bigger. TG