In the interest of saving you time and perhaps even sparing you pain, I will refrain from another massive preamble like the one that accompanied my Best of 2018 piece. Instead, I am going to get down to the task at hand, and do my best to be moderator for your film intake this year ahead. Some of these will appeal to mass audiences, some will probably bring you back to scream at me for pointing you in their direction, but I guarantee that each will conjure a response from you. So, in no particular order at all, let’s see what lies ahead:
Us: Dir. Jordan Peele
I do myself absolutely no favors being a white male by saying that it took me multiple viewings to really begin to understand the depth of Peele’s debut Get Out, but alas to the very nature of the thing. With another banger of a trailer, Peele’s newest “social thriller” looks tremendous. Promising the same brand of intellectual savvy, artfully composed and layered story-telling, one can only expect based on the limited but fantastic track record that we’re going to get another outing that could likely land Peele more mass audience and critical love.
High Life – Dir. Claire Denis
I am on record that since the Twilight saga, two of the most exciting actors in the biz right now are Kristen Stewart, and starring in the above mentioned film, Robert Pattinson. The material they’re choosing, the filmmakers they’re choosing with said material are signs of challenging themselves to elevate their game and take themselves to places they haven’t been. I get legitimately excited to see them both work now, and High Life promises to be if nothing else, a challenge for the mind. French filmmaker Denis work is always challenging and emotional fraught from what I have seen, in an admittedly limited scope, but pitching me an “erotic space thriller” with this level of talent involved is really all that needs to be said.
The Beach Bum – Dir. Harmony Korine
I’ve waited for this movie for six years, since Korine’s last film Spring Breakers pissed off a lot of people, but also captivated weirdos like myself to no end. That film playing like a transcendent dream in some ways, in other ways like an ultimate Right Wing Dad’s nightmare scenario. It’s the best film to date in Korine’s polarizing catalog, and certainly the most purely cinematic. Everything we’ve so far from his follow-up shows that he’s still living in that similar area of his psyche, and I am already enthralled with the totally divided discourse that this one promises.
Doctor Sleep – Dir. Mike Flanagan
I went on at length about Flanagan’s stellar The Haunting of Hill House here and being the tireless work horse that he is, he’s already wrapping up his next time feature, an infamous sequel written by Stephen King to The Shining. I haven’t read Doctor Sleep though it’s on my list to knock out before the film is released, however I’m guarded about the situation to an extent. I hold Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining in the highest echelon of films ever made, and Stephen King is famously brash towards it. The film is after all, intensely different than the novel, and in the mid 90’s King oversaw a more “direct” adaptation in the style of a mini-series that was frankly garbage. I trust Flanagan though, intensely, to find the appropriate balance of honoring source material while also staying true to his style and thematic vein. Bold prediction: This will be 2019’s horror film getting awards season acclaim. Book it.
Three From Hell – Dir. Rob Zombie
I would argue no American film maker is more in tune with the decrepit, nihilistic corners of our country than Rob Zombie. He’s a passionate filmmaker, and one of our most literal ones. If anybody saw the Trump era coming, I promise you it was Rob but nobody felt the need to listen. His newest is billed as a conclusion to what will now become a trilogy focusing on the Firefly family. Zombie has yet to let me down, not for everyone I know, but his brand of authentic, dirtball cinema will be plunged into my eyeballs and I absolutely cannot wait.
Star Wars Ep. IX – Dir. J.J. Abrams
Let’s just get it out of the way. Sure to make the quickest billion dollars, ever, and I will be contributing. Let’s move on…
Knives Out – Dir. Rian Johnson
In between his own ventures in a galaxy far, far away, it looks like we’re going to get a good ole’ fashioned whodunit murder mystery. A quick glance at the cast list and plot description should do nothing short but get anybody excited. I am exhausted at defending Johnson’s brilliant The Last Jedi, so here’s to hoping that he gives us a juicy genre romp that I can put my arms down sing it praises with the company of many others.
The Dirt – Dir. Jeff Tremaine
I read Motley Crue’s The Dirt when I was in high school, and to this day it’s one of the most insane chronicles of debauchery I have ever experienced. So when I learned a feature film was being developed in the nature of capturing some of these tales, and as a general chronicle of the hair bands reign in music. I think Tremaine is a very interesting choice for this, as himself a long time documentarian of debauchery with the Jackass family tree of films and television. This is either to be surprisingly great, or unsurprisingly awful with no in-between and to be quite honest: I am here for either option.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Dir. Chad Stahelski
This could be John Wick: Chapter 43, and I would be excited to see it. Moving on..
The Nightingale – Dir. Jennifer Kent
The Babadook is in the recent collection of essential horror films which need to be championed loudly. It’s a beautiful film, and a difficult one. It asks questions that are uncomfortable as anything, and offers possible answers that aren’t in any way easy. Jennifer Kent has been on my radar since then, and her follow-up pitched as an unflinching revenge tale set in the 19th century. Sign me up.
The Lighthouse – Dir. Robert Eggers
Speaking of film makers responsible for creating masterworks, Robert Eggers follow-up to what could be the best film of the last five years, The VVitch, has me buzzing solely based on the cast and concept. Described as “a fantasy horror set in the world of old sea-faring myths” it also stars Willem Dafoe and the aforementioned Robert Pattinson. As the kids would say, take my money.
Dumbo – Dir. Tim Burton
Nothing has depressed me more in recent memory with my movie going experiences than watching all of the technically efficient but painfully unremarkable output of Tim Burton. Not since his terribly under loved masterpiece, Sweeney Todd, has Burton approached anything nearing the level of mastery he once possessed. His career reminds of Ridley Scott’s for many, in that both are visual savants at the mercy of a script. They need to find a way in on the material, and there is no movie this year I am rooting for more than this to capture once again that magical touch that Burton can bring to the right material, and I do believe that with this heralded Disney property, potential lies within for him to give us something special.
6 Underground – Dir. Michael Bay
I know, I know….am I seriously suggesting there’s any reason to look forward to a Michael Bay film? Well, yes. Now of course, the Transformers franchise is awful. Bay’s company Platinum Dunes has a track record of producing some of the most embarrassing films, ever. However, any respectable movie fan has to admit, for all of his flourishes and tropes, the man has talent. There’s a serious conversation to be had that Bay’s wrangling and management of big money effects and set pieces is among the best we’ve ever gotten. Anybody questioning that, flip on the making of features of Bad Boys II and try to keep your jaw from hanging open at the execution and danger involved in those scene. The man is a psychopath, and by all assumed knowledge a terrible human being, but damn it I want to be entertained and he makes things go boom better than any of them. Pizza is pizza..
The Kitchen – Dir. Andrea Berloff
This directorial debut from a screenwriting vet is for sure one to be on the lookout for. An adaptation of a small DC comic run, the film will center on wives of New York gangsters in the 1970’s that continue to do their husbands bidding after they are sent to prison. Berloff co-penned Sleepless, Straight Outta Compton, and Blood Father which looks to promise if nothing else, she has a wonderful sense of grit and scale. Doesn’t hurt the film is packed with acting talent such as Elizabeth Moss, Bill Camp and Domhnall Gleeson as well. Not to mention the ever-lovable Tiffany Haddish making her dramatic splash.
It: Chapter 2 – Dir. Andy Muschietti
It had its detractors, but I hold 2017’s It in the highest regard if we’re having a conversation about mainstream, big budget crowd pleasing horror films. It wasn’t just an excellently scary horror film, it was one of the better films in a very long time about childhood. What it means to possess childlike wonder, along with childlike fear, and what horrifying realized entities those manifestations of your fear look like. Bill Skarsgaard’s interpretation of Pennywise is already iconic, and to see the continuation of this story by the same director that so excellently sculpted the first chapter.
The Irishman – Dir. Martin Scorsese
It’s honestly a wild guess on what year this is going to be released, or if this is even a real movie or not. I am holding out hope though, and Netflix as all but set an official date that this is the year we get a new Marty Scorsese mobster epic. De Niro, Pacino, Pesci? I’ll stop there.
Parasite – Dir. Joon-ho Bong
South Korean director Joon-ho Bong is a maverick. I first became acclimated to his work with his brilliant 2006 monster film The Host. He made splashes in the US with Snowpiercer in 2013, and most recently with Okja in 2017. His films are crafted with exquisite detail, and all contain a sociopolitical message in one way or another. I like the concept of him seemingly scaling it back into a tense family drama. This one is a guarantee to pop up on more than few end of the year best of lists.
Ad Astra – Dir. James Gray
James Gray makes the films I wish I could make. He has a way of capturing mood and incredible performances with amazing nuance. Plot here? An astronaut ventures to the edge of our solar system to find his missing father. The father son casting? Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones. See you there.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Dir. Quentin Tarantino
This is the big one, of course. It’s an event when QT has a new film to give the world, and in this instance every A-Lister in the business has seemingly cleared their schedules to be a part of this. What I am most curious about here, is the tone that Tarantino is going for. From the little anybody knows, it seems like it’s going to be the traditional Tarantino blending of different characters and arcs for sure, but early on in development news I remember hearing and then seeing the confirmation of Margot Robbie being cast as Sharon Tate, and that the film would be mentioning and even casting a Charles Manson. This leaves me a bit worrisome, as the re-invigoration with notorious murderers and criminals in our society leaves me frankly sick, and I would hope QT is above re-staging the murders committed by the Manson family. That being said, I think the film will likely have these events playing out in the background, and we won’t get these carried out on screen.
WOOF! Well, I think that is plenty of discussion on films not even available for us to see yet. I am excited though, and if I land even a handful of these correctly in that they’re as great as I think they’ll be, it will have been a fantastic year. And just for good measure, here’s some extras that I think will be plenty fun in their own right:
- The Joker- Dir. Todd Philips
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters-Dir. Michael Dougherty
- Dragged Across Concrete- S. Craig Zahler
- Jojo Wabbit- Taika Waititi
- Triple Frontier-J.C. Chandor
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette?- Dir. Richard Linklater