Sure, there will be lots of movies coming out in the last few months of the year that aren’t even on a release calendar right now. So I apologize if this list is heavily-weighted for movies in the first half of 2018, but with that in mind this will be a pretty good starting place of movies to look forward to (or avoid) all year long…
Movies I’m Least Looking Forward To…
Runner-Up: “Sherlock Gnomes”…As if “Gnomeo and Juliet” weren’t bad enough (one of the very first reviews Alabama Liberal ever did all those years ago), they’ve come back to make a new generation of parents suffer.
10. Mission Impossible: Fall-Out…Literally, the only reason this film is ranked here is because Christopher McQuarrie directed my pick for the franchise’s worst installment (the thoroughly bland and unmemorable MI5: Rogue Nation), and he’s now the first director to return for an installment. If this is even half as good as the cerebral first installment or Brad Bird’s inspired 4th installment “Ghost Protocol,” it’ll be a miracle. [And with the only major new addition to this installment being the flavorless Henry Caville, I doubt this will be better than I’m thinking.]
9. Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them 2: Crimes of Grindlewald…Like “Mission Impossible,” this franchise insists on sticking with an uninteresting director. David Yates is more grim-minded librarian than trail-blazing fantasist.
8. Avengers: Infinity War/Ant-Man and the Wasp…Yes, I know I’m alone on this.
7. The Equalizer 2/Scarface…One of Denzel Washington’s worst movies in years gets a sequel, and a remake that will almost certainly not have the same ferocity of Al Pacino’s guilty-pleasure classic. The only thing worse than a sequel or remake nobody asked for is…
6. Super Troopers 2…A sequel nobody has asked for in a very, very long time.
5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom…Yes, I know I’m alone on this one too.
4. Tomb Raider…Alicia Vikander may be a talented actress, but all the talent in the world can’t save a dwarf that’s been miscast as a giant. She is completely, thoroughly ill-suited for the role of Lara Croft. [A role they should’ve paid Gal Gadot whatever she wanted to take. Or maybe someone could rustle up hair dye for Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki, or any other actress that is not 5-feet tall and 80 pounds.]
3. Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again!…That subtitle says it all.
2. Blockers…A movie about a trio of parents trying to cockblock their daughters from losing their virginity on prom night, a premise that will probably make you wince more than laugh.
1. Untitled, Shitty Horror Movie…I’m sure there will be at least a dozen terrible horror movies that come out this year, and I’ll go ahead and spare you the suspense: I won’t be reviewing them.
Movies I’m Most Looking Forward To…
Runners-Up: “Mowgli/Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas”…Because nobody does great voice work like Benedict Cumberpatch (perfectly cast as Shere Khan in “Mowgli” and the titular Grinch). “Mary, Queen of Scots”…It may be a familiar story, but Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are picking great scripts, and there’s no reason to assume this is different. “Roma”…Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be interested in this, but the great director Alfonso Cuaron has never made a bad movie. “Mortal Engines”…This film about moving cities on wheels that gobble up smaller communities could be a timely allegory for urban sprawl and brain drain or incredibly stupid; either way, it’ll be worth watching. “Back Seat”…Is a biopic about Dick Cheney starring Christian Bale, a casting stunt so gloriously insane it’ll probably work.
10. Overlord…Yes, “The Cloverfield Paradox” was a disappointment, but this Halloween-timed release involves American GIs stumbling across a Nazi-occupied village right before D-Day, and soon discovering supernatural occurences. Could be the type of great suspense we got in “10 Cloverfield Lane.”
9. Bohemian Rhapsody…”Mr. Robot'”s Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury in a Queen biopic. True, Sacha Baron Cohen, who spent years trying to get this made, is perfect for it but I’m intrigued to see if Malek (who has never played a character like this) is a revelation or a disaster.
8. The Front-Runner/Tully…I feel Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air,” “Young Adult”) is an incredibly underrated writer/director and this year we’re treated not one, but two films from him. “Tully” promises to be a showcase for Charlize Theron and the wonderful Mackenzie Davis (who is due for a breakout), while “The Front Runner” has Hugh Jackman playing Gary Hart during the worst week of his life–the central event that changed American politics into the tabloid era we’ve been trapped in ever since.
7. Modern Ocean…Shane Carruth is nuts. Films like “Upstream Color” and his break-out “Primer” have layers-within-layers and have inspired a devoted cult following. “Modern Ocean” is, by far, his most mainstream offering to date with actors you’ve actually heard of like Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, and Daniel Radcliffe. It’ll be interesting to see how Carruth adapts his singular style to a starrier cast, but I’m rooting for him.
6. Marwencol…Steve Carell’s been on a hot streak since his excellent, career-changing performance in “Foxcatcher.” [He just narrowly missed out on a Best Supporting Actor nomination for “Battle of the Sexes” this year.] This true-life of a brain-damaged man who builds a replica of a WWII town will either be an underwhelming dud or possibly win Carell that elusive second Oscar nomination.
5. Isle of Dogs…Wes Anderson’s first animated film “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” lived up to its name. This one probably won’t be as classically excellent, but it will feature an ace voice cast and a delightfully strange plot involving an island of talking dogs affected by some deadly virus.
4. Red Sparrow…Oh my God, what is this? A big-budget, mainstream thriller that’s actually relevant to the world we live in? In 2018? God bless Jennifer Lawrence, taking more risks than any other A-list actor or actress alive.
3. Beirut…Jon Hamm may not be Jennifer Lawrence in the star-power department but maybe this excellent-looking spy thriller will change that. [Hotel Mumbai—based on the 2008 terrorist attacks—may also be worth checking out for a realistic terrorism thriller.]
2. First Man…Ryan Gosling may not be the most natural actor to play Neil Armstrong, but I’m a sucker for space films, and Damien Chazzelle (“Whiplash,” the unfairly backlashed “La La Land”) has already made two great movies out of topics that had far less promise.
1. Sicario 2: Soldado…At long last, a sequel that’s actually warranted. Taylor Sheridan’s scripts have been nothing but stellar (“Hell or High Water,” “Wind River”) and there’s no reason to think his “Sicario” sequel won’t be just as good. Throw in a great trailer and a beefed-up role for Benecio Del Toro’s mysterious, cartel-hunting operative, and this will probably be the best film of the Summer.