Black Panther – February
There’s a number of films coming down the pipeline to please Marvel fans this year; Avengers: Infinity War, Venom and Deadpool 2 to name but a few, there is one project that is buzzing with more hype that the rest: Black Panther. After decades of comic book heroes being whitewashed when they make the transition from page to screen, Marvel is finally making serious strides toward diversity. Director Ryan Coogler has done substantive research into African tribal cultures as he wants the film to intertwine African-American history with the Black Panther origin story. The majority black cast is led by Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker, with Michael B. Jordan playing the villain. To top it all off, Kendrick Lamar is set to supervise the soundtrack. It’s easy to see why the film has already set the record for the highest ticket pre-sales for any Marvel movie ever.
Annihilation – March
Alex Garland’s 2014 directorial debut Ex Machina was a provocative portrayal of the possible future of artificial intelligence and it was such a success that Garland’s sophomore feature has critics and sci-fi fans giddy with excitement. Based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation follows Natalie Portman, whose husband, played by Oscar Isaac, returns as the lone survivor of an expedition into an environmental disaster zone. She gathers a group of scientists, that include Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson, and ventures back into the disaster area in the hopes of finding out what happened. After a production dispute, it was finalised that the film will be released theatrically in America, but will be distributed internationally on Netflix. It will be interesting to see if Annihilation’s release online rather than in cinemas internationally will affect the response to what is already a hugely anticipated film.
Isle of Dogs – March
Wes Anderson finally returns to the director’s chair with his first stop-motion feature since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Set in futuristic Japan, an outbreak of ‘canine flu’ has led to all dogs being quarantined on an island. We follow a group of five dogs, voiced a dream-team of actors – Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Bob Balaban. They live a destitute life, until a young boy arrives on the island to find his dog Spots. Anderson is possibly the most stylistic director to make it in Hollywood this century, so his films are often marmite to audiences – you either love them or hate them. Regardless, fans of Anderson are eagerly awaiting this film’s release.
A Wrinkle in Time – March
This film has made history before even being released, because it makes director Ava DuVernay the first black woman to direct a live-action feature with a budget of over a hundred million dollars. Based on the 1962 children’s book, the plot centers on a young girl as she searches for her missing father. She is helped by a trio of time travellers known as the Mrs W’s, played by Oprah Winfrey (pictured below), Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. The stellar female leads are supported by some fantastic male actors too: Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine and André Holland. With Oprah stealing the show at the Golden Globes, her involvement alone is creating a wealth of excitement for this film.
Ready Player One – April
Based on Ernest Cline’s novel, Steven Spielberg brings this science fiction story to the big screen. In a dystopian future, people live most of their lives in a virtual reality called OASIS. The death of the founder of the OASIS sparks a competition between a gang of underdog teenagers and a corrupt corporation to find the clues he left behind. The younger cast that lead the film are supported by some bigger names – TJ Miller (recently accused of sexual assault which may impact this movie slighty), Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg. This film is set to become the next big teen dystopian drama to have major success at the box office.
Ocean’s Eight – June
Wonder Woman and Star Wars: Rogue One have given women the opportunity to shine in lead roles in action films, but the number of action films with female ensemble casts can still be counted on one hand. Ocean’s Eleven spin-off Ocean’s Eight is at the forefront of attempts to change this trend. Sandra Bullock plays the sister of George Clooney’s character in Ocean’s Eleven, who is assembling a team of ladies to pull off a heist at the Met Gala. The cast (pictured below) is the definition of star studded, featuring Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and Rihanna – there may be no actor in this film who is not an A list celebrity. The original trilogy director Steven Soderbergh is not at the helm of this project, so fans will be watching to see how new director Gary Ross stays true to the original series aesthetic.
Mid 90’s – release date TBA
Jonah Hill is set to make his directorial debut in 2018, with a script he penned himself. The story will focus on a young teen named Stevie who struggling to maintain his relationships with his single mother and troubled older brother. Lucas Hedges, of acclaimed films such as Manchester by the Sea and Lady Bird, will play the older brother. It will interesting to see if Hill can make the transition from acting to directing, but if Hill’s comedic and dramatic acting talents are any indicator of how the film will turn out, this is a film we should all look forward to.
If Beale Street Could Talk – release date TBA
Barry Jenkins’ follow up to last year’s Best Picture winner Moonlight is expected to be another stunning depiction of the person of colour experience in American. This time, it’s an adaption of the renowned James Baldwin novel, If Beale Street Could Talk. The story follows a young black man who is falsely accused of rape, as his pregnant wife tries to disprove the accusation. It’s difficult to guess how the subject matter will play out in post-Weinstein Hollywood, but people of colour being wrongly accused of crimes by white people has been an often overlooked aspect of their life that deserves attention. Hopefully this film will be embraced by the mainstream as enthusiastically as Moonlight was.
Muireann O’Shea – Film Editor