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Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2018

Written by on January 10, 2018 

10. Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke)

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Jia Zhangke is singular within contemporary cinema in the way his films keep both the vast and the intimate in sharp focus at all times. On the one hand, he has established himself as a chronicler of the Chinese nation at large, charting phenomena ranging from the local ramifications of globalization (The World) to the various displacements caused by the Three Gorges Dam construction project (Still Life) to the dissolving moral fabric of modern China (A Touch of Sin). And yet, in the process of painting these national portraits, the human face isn’t erased or abstracted. On the contrary, Jia insists on the urgency and beauty of individual stories, suggesting that the concept of nation shouldn’t be one of a monolithic entity but of a multitude of idiosyncratic lives that are irreducible to one ideology or narrative and yet nonetheless constitute greater patterns of national development that are identifiable. In his humane quest for national truth, Jia also reflects on the cinematic medium’s role in this project and plays around with genre, variously infusing his pictures with strains of melodrama, neorealism, sci-fi, and even the wuxia pian. All these tendencies seem poised to resurface in his newest project, Ash is Purest White, in bold and exciting ways. Per Variety, the film tells of “an epic love story set against the backdrop of China’s crime underworld” and stars Jia’s wife and onscreen regular Zhao Tao as well as Liao Fan of Black Coal, Thin Ice fame. – Jonah J.

9. Domino (Brian De Palma)

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The long parabola of Brian De Palma’s career has seen him emerge from the art film fringes in the 60s and 70s, to the absolute forefront of American cinema in the 80s and 90s, to something of a marginal figure in the 00s and 10s. His acclaim is not doubted, yet Domino is only his second film in the last ten years. Still, the fact that a new De Palma is even on the way at all is cause for delight, and De Palma acolytes will be happy to know that his latest is a police thriller set in Scandinavia whose story incorporates elements of global terrorism. Appropriately weighty for a director accustomed to grandiose, sweeping films. Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice Van Houten are the main cast members, so here’s to yet another instance of De Palma turning trash into art. – Nate F.

8. Widows (Steve McQueen; Nov. 16)

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12 Years a Slave and Shame director Steve McQueen is making his long-awaited return this year and he’s going the genre route. Widows, his crime drama that has assembled the epic cast of Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo, André Holland, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall, follows the a quartet of woman who pick up the pieces of a robbery after their husbands are killed. It sounds like a thrilling new direction for the filmmaker after his Best Picture winner, and we expect it to dominate the conversation just under a year from now. – Jordan R.

7. Le livre d’image (Jean-Luc Godard)

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All we know about Jean-Luc Godard’s next film comes from the synopsis: “Nothing but silence. Nothing but a revolutionary song. A story in five chapters like the five fingers of a hand.” The Cannes Film Festival co-awarded Godard and Xavier Dolan the Jury Prize in 2014 for Goodbye to Language and Mommy, respectively, so with both directors having the possibility to return this year, we can only await to see the response. One thing is for certain: a new project from the greatest living director brings anticipation of a rare variety.  – Josh E.

6. Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson; March 23)

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Wes Anderson’s newest marks a welcomed return to stop-motion animation for the first time since Fantastic Mr. Fox. The new film, titled Isle of Dogs, takes place in a world where dogs have been quarantined to a place called Garbage Island as a result of a dangerous canine flu. A 12-year-old boy named Atari (Koyu Rankin) journeys to the island in search of his dog, Spots. On the island, he encounters a pack of “alpha dogs” voiced by Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray and Bob Balaban, who join him on his search. From the outside, it seems as though the film’s teaser contains a few possible spoilers, only noticeable on repeat viewings, so if you’re looking to stay pure until its wide release in March (Anderson’s latest is scheduled to premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February) steer clear of that trailer. But seriously, it’s a new Wes Anderson film. What more do you need to know? – Tony H.

5. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)

Scorsese De Niro

Let us hope it is as long as his last two. With runtimes of 180 and 161 minutes, Martin Scorsese’s last two films, The Wolf of Wall Street and Silence, represented different but complete and unforgettable visions of the world. It looks as though the same grandiosity will come with The Irishman. Based on a book about the life and times of Jimmy Hoffa, with a story reported to span generations, we can expect Scorsese with his massive cast to return to his gangster milieu triumphantly. Shocking tidbits have already emerged, such as Netflix’s allotted $125 million budget, along with the on-set photos of Pacino and De Niro together in character. I would line my dorm room with posters of those alone. – Nate F.

4. Maya (Mia Hansen-Love)

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What does it mean that Mia Hansen-Løve’s latest is perhaps her first step away from the autobiographical? How will her turn with Juliette Binoche compare to Isabelle Huppert’s career-topping work the last time around? I don’t know, of course, but let’s jump in — she’s as dependable as almost anyone doing this right now, and there’s no reason to think now’s the point things fall off. The film follows a 30-year-old man named Gabriel, a French war reporter who was taken to hostage in Syria and then heads to India after months in captivity. The story will mainly focus on his journey to Goa, the state in western India where his childhood home is, to reflect on his life after his harrowing experience. – Nick N.

3. Radegeund (Terrence Malick)

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Another year, another promised Terrence Malick never actually made it to a festival. Although any fan of the director has come to expect this, hopefully 2018 is the year when we’ll see the director’s return to World War II. Radegund follows Austria’s Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a conscientious objector who was put to death at the age of 36 for undermining military actions. Also starring Valerie Pachner, Michael Nyqvist, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jürgen Prochnow, and Bruno Ganz, Malick has said this returns to him more scripted territory. While I’ll miss his experimental phase, he closed it out with his latest, greatest entry, and I can imagine this project has the ability to win back his detractors of the last few years. – Jordan R.

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)

Moonlight

How do you follow-up an upset Best Picture win? With anything you want. Barry Jenkins and company surprised the world when Moonlight was revealed as The Academy’s top choice, and not just because of how it unfolded. It felt like a tectonic shift in Hollywood that an African American queer love story could win Best Picture, and Jenkins will follow-up his historic win with If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the 1974 novel by James Baldwin. The story follows Fonny and Tish, whose love shields them from their respective dysfunctional families, but Fonny is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. The couple soon learn they are expecting a child and fight to release Fonny before the baby is born. With casting already set–Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Teyonah Parris, Regina King, and Colman Domingo–and shooting reportedly beginning last fall, expect it this fall. – Josh E.

1. High Life (Claire Denis)

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Years in development, still mysterious as all hell with plot details made public, and a potential (potential!) case of the auteur’s disastrous step into a foreign language. But if Let the Sunshine In is surely one of the best films you’ll be able to see in theaters this year and Claire Denis really is as good as it gets, I would, in the interest of shirking proper critical discourse, like this injected into my eyeballs now. Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and Lars Eidinger, High Life, according to Pattinson, “will take place in the future, the character is an astronaut. He’s a criminal who volunteers for a mission toward a black hole, but he realizes along the way that a doctor on board wants to do sexual experiences with humans in space.” He added, “It’s a very strange film.” – Nick N.

There’s also a number of question marks, such as if Orson Welles’ now-in-post-production The Other Side of the Wind will actually debut this year (if so, you can make that our #1). One wonders if James Gray’s Brad Pitt-led sci-fi epic Ad Astra will get a December qualifying run before arriving in January. There’s also a pair of musical films, Leos Carax’s Annette and Brady Corbet’s Vox Lux, which seem to have trouble nailing down their main stars, but hopefully we’ll see at least go into production this year. On the TV side, there’s no new David Lynch magnum opus this year, but a few projects that have our attention, including Coens’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Cary Fukunaga’s Maniac, and Lana Wachowski’s final Sense8 outing–all Netflix releases.

In terms of honorable mentions, we sincerely hope a handful of studio offerings turn out to be of quality, including Solo: A Star Wars Story, Incredibles 2, Ready Player One, Ocean’s 8, Soldado, Predator, Red Sparrow, Wrinkle in Time, Holmes & Watson, Early Man, Mortal Engines, and, of course, the Jason Staham vs. a shark feature The Meg.

On the indie/foreign side, there’s Robert Greene’s new documentary Bisbee ’17, Rick Alverson’s Entertainment follow-up The Mountain, Chance the Rapper’s Slice, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg drama On the Basis of Sex starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer, two Jason Reitman films (Tully and The Front Runner), new features from Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino (Loro) and Matteo Garrone (Dogman), as well as Christoph Waltz’s directorial debut Georgetown. We also nearly put Johnnie To’s Election 3 on the list, but it may not arrive until next year, and the same goes for Jessica Hausner’s Amour Fou follow-up Little Joe.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Continue: The 50 Best 2018 Films We’ve Already Seen

50-best-films-of-2018

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