Fall 2018 Movie Preview

With August in full swing and Hollywood living up to its reputation of treating it as a dump month, I tend to use this time to start training my eyes to the Fall. I love a blockbuster as much as anyone else, but I always have this sense at the end of summer of feeling completely exhausted by big-budget CGI-heavy extravaganzas by this time of the year (just like I can no longer look at a hot dog and not feel slightly squeamish).

But Fall movie season promises that all of this will change. I love this period between September and the end of the year because while there are still the odd blockbuster here and there, Hollywood is actually also interested in providing something different as well. Fall season means gearing up for awards season which means the major studios start rolling out their prestige projects, indie production companies remind us of their presence, and even the blockbusters that come out are interested in commercial AND critical success. In other words, Fall season means the best of all movie worlds.

And it is at this moment in the middle of August that the Fall movie season is most exciting. All we have are trailers, the reputation of the directors and the actors (in that order), and the premises of the movie to go by, with the exciting expectation that given the right amount of alchemy any of these projects could turn out to be amazing. Of course the vast majority of these won’t, and there is no guarantee that any of these movies will approach all-time greatness. I’m an amateur blogger so I have no inside information on the production of these movies, no special previes to get me pre-excited. A couple of notes before we jump in:

  1. Any movie released between Aug. 30 and Dec. 31 in any capacity (not just wide release) in North America is eligible.
  2. The movies are strictly ranked by my excitement level to go see it, and should not necessarily be viewed as a guarantor of quality. By no means is this an exhaustive list, and I can guarantee that there are movies that are going to be good, if not great, that have been left off the list. On the flipside, I can also guarantee that a bunch of the movies that do make the list are going to be flops. This is strictly what I’m most excited to see – and I capped it at 30 movies because I’ve got to stop somewhere.

Thus here it is, unadorned, my list of the movies I’m most excited to see this Fall:

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30. MANDY dir. Panos Costamos
Release Date: September 14

Truth be told, I have barely any idea what this movie is about. From what I can tell Nicolas Cage falls in love with some culty woman (Andrea Riseborough), some weird creatures and evil people disrupt that, and Nic Cage goes full Nic Cage on all of them. It is supposed to be a gonzo Nic Cage performance to end all gonzo Nic Cage performances. And amazingly in spite of that it is also, apparently, good. We should all be so grateful.

Watch the trailer

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29. VENOM dir. Ruben Fleischer
Release Date: Octocber 5

Honestly, this film originally was a lot higher on my list. A dark and R-rated superhero picture starring Tom Hardy that sought to play up the horrific elements of this anti-hero for a standalone comic-book movie is basically catnip for me. Then I got wind that they were seeking to make Venom a PG-13 movie not just for the higher box-office potential, but because they want to leave the door open for Venom to crossover into yet another cinematic universe in the Spider-universe. And that, ultimately, leaves me less than enthused.

Watch the trailer

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28. CREED II dir. Steven Caple Jr.
Release Date: November 21

The initial Creed turned out to be one of the greater sleeper hits of recent times, reinvigorating the Rocky franchise with a sense of vitality that transcended the previous campfests that defined the series. One of the reasons for Creed‘s success was undoubtedly Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed who wanted to live-up to his father’s legacy. The other is Sylvester Stallone, who proved that there was no role he was more suited for than Rocky Balboa. Both of these return for Creed II, which is encouraging. However the final vital piece of the puzzle was director Ryan Coogler, who is absent from this picture and replaced by Steven Caple Jr. That, and the fact that this is still a Rocky sequel which have historically been not quite as good, is the only reason this movie isn’t ranked higher.

Watch the trailer

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27. A SIMPLE FAVOR dir. Paul Feig
Release Date: September 14

As with many movies on this list, what intrigues me the most are the principal players. Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) is mainly a comedic director, and yet here he directs a mystery-thriller about a small town blogger (Anna Kendrick) who decides to investigate after her rich friend (Blake Lively) disappears. This promises to be a pulpy twist-fest that represents a departure for both Kendrick and Lively and as long as the twists don’t depart from plausibility too much, this should be a fun ride.

Watch the trailer

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26. WILDLIFE dir. Paul Dano
Release Date: October 19

Truth be told, this movie was guaranteed to be on this list the moment Carey Mulligan signed on, being perhaps one of the more underrated actors currently working. Paul Dano makes his directorial debut here as he chronicles the dissoloution of a seemingly perfect American couple in the 1960s as Mulligan is joined by Jake Gyllenhaal in a movie that is bound to feature a whole lot of acting, of the prestige kind.

Watch the trailer

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25. BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE dir. Drew Goddard
Release Date: October 12

Drew Goddard does not make conventional films or write conventional narratives. The director’s debut Cabin in the Woods was a turn-on-its-head twisty take to the usual teen slasher movie and his follow-up Bad Times at the El Royale promises to be no different. The El Royale is a hotel that borders California and Nevada and features a cavalcade of interesting residents including a priest (Jeff Bridges), a singer (Cynthia Erivo), a vacuum cleaner salesman (Jon Hamm), two criminals (Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spaeny), and a cult leader to boot (Chris Hemsworth). Naturally there is more than meets the eye to all of these characters, and the thrill of seeing this mystery unfold should be a blast.

Watch the trailer

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24. THE LITTLE STRANGER dir. Lenny Abrahamson
Release Date: August 31

Lenny Abrahamson trades a one-bunker room for a an expansive Victorian estate but promises to be no less claustrophobic. Based on Sarah Waters excellent novel of the same name the movie follows the country doctor Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) who finds himself tending to a patient in Hundreds Hall, a house where he coincidentally spent some time in childhood. Of course, given the fact that the family that owns the house still lives there and the movie is set during the aristocracy-collapsing days of post-World War II, there is plenty of opportunities to encounter ghosts, both metaphorical and real in the gothic-horror pick of the season.

Watch the trailer

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23. THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB dir. Fede Alvarez
Release Date: November 9

To be perfectly honest, the idea of a direct sequel to David Fincher’s 2011 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo seemed like a bad bet given the almost cursed nature of the movie’s development that caused Fincher, Rooney Mara, and Daniel Craig to not reprise their roles. But then the trailer finally dropped with Claire Foy taking up the role of Lisbeth Salander, and I firmly bought that she was Lisbeth. Since that is 90% of the battle for this pulpy crime series, I figure that’s as good a reason as any to get excited to see this.

Watch the trailer

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22. ON THE BASIS OF SEX dir. Mimi Leder
Release Date: December 25

Living legend and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg already has had a fantastic documentary made of her this year, taking some of the luster of this obvious awards-season crowd-pleaser of a movie. Thankfully, On The Basis of Sex seeks not to attempt the breadth of her illustrious career but focus on the monumental case that propelled her to fame as she challenges the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn gender discrimination. Felicity Jones has big shoes to fill, but if she manages it then she certainly will garner some awards-season attention.

Watch the trailer

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21. BOY ERASED dir. Joel Edgerton
Release Date: November 2

After his breakout performance in Manchester by the Sea and appearances in two awards-season darlings last year in Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Lucas Hedges has established himself as one of the best young actors working today (he is still only 21). This time he plays a southern high-schooler who is sent to gay conversion therapy when his Baptist parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) find out about his attraction to men. Based on a memoir by Garrard Conley, it promises to be one of the hard-hitters this year and a chance for sophomore director Joel Edgerton to establish his directing chops.

Watch the trailer

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20. CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? dir. Marielle Heller
Release Date: October 19

Basically there are two kinds of movies that I am a sucker for: true story crime with decidedly low stakes, and movies where comedians give dramatic performances. Can You Ever Forgive Me? thus seems to reverse-engineered specifically for me. Melissa McCarthy portrays Lee Israel, a struggling writer who discovers she has a talent fraudelently forging  letters of famous people in order to sell them to collectors and pay her bills. I doubt this movie is going to rise above being merely good, but I am here for it.

Watch the trailer

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19. BURNING dir. Lee Chang-Dong
Release Date: October 26

Lee Chang-Dong (Secret Sunshine, Poetry) remains a criminally underseen director in North America, so it is with great excitement to see that his latest movie Burning might actually get something of a theatrical release on our shores. Adapting a Haruki Murakami short (another plus point) Lee weaves an anxious and fretful tale about a writer who finds his idyllic view of himself shaken by the arrival of a Korean-American who seems to have achieved everything he wants in life.

Watch the trailer

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18. COLD WAR dir. Pawel Pawlikowski
Release Date: December 21

Pawel Pawlikowski returns with another gorgeously rendered black and white film. This is reason enough to get excited. But Pawlikowski also returns to the same fruitful grounds that he explored in Ida as he continues to meditate on the effect World War II and the subsequent Soviet occupation had on Poland’s citizens. Based loosely on his parents, it promises to be one of his most personal projects and coming on the heels of winning the best director award for this movie at Cannes, Cold War promises to be one of the highlights of the season.

Watch the trailer

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17. MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS dir. Josie Rourke
Release Date: December 7

In a classic “leveraging Best Actress nominations into prestige projects” move, Saiorse Ronan (Lady Bird) and Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) take on the titanic roles of Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I respectively in one of the greatest rivalries of all time. Although like most historical dramas, the end result is well known to most of us, Ronan and Robbie are sure to make the conflict explosively compelling.

Watch the trailer

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16. THE HATE U GIVE dir. George Tillman, Jr.
Release Date: October 19

After spending the last decade or so trapped in fantasy and science-fiction the young adult movie comes flying back to stark reality with this adaptation of the Angie Thomas YA bestselling novel. Amanda Steelberg plays Starr Carter, a high-schooler who has to straddle two worlds between the neighborhood where she lives and the private mostly-white high school her parents send her to escape the local public school. The separation she is able to maintain between both worlds is shattered when she witnesses one of her childhood friends shot down at point blank range by a white cop. From there she is forced into the impossible scenario of having to choose between speaking up and standing up for her people while becoming the subject of intense scrutiny and losing the immaculate image she has maintained in high school, or stay silent and presumably safer for a little bit longer. Either way, escapist YA fare this is decidedly not.

Watch the trailer.

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15. HALLOWEEN dir. David Gordon Green
Release Date: October 19

Usually I tend to have rather bleak and cynical views of horror franchises with multiple horrible instalments trying to milk more money out of us by bringing another movie to the big screen. However there are reasons to get really excited about this one. First of all David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Prince Avalanche, Stronger) is easily the best director to helm the series other than the original director John Carpenter. Speaking of Carpenter, he’s back as composer, executive producer, and creative consultant. This installment also sees the return of Jamie Lee Curtis are Laurie Strode and Nick Castle as Michael Myers in a direct sequel to the original that disregards all the other sequels entirely. Finally the production company in charge of this picture is Blumhouse Pictures who have established themselves as masters of modern horror with hits like Get Out, Insidious, The Purge, Paranormal Activity, and The Gift among others. In other words: this film is in very good hands.

Watch the trailer

14. HIGH LIFE dir. Claire Denis
Release Date: September TBD

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© Credit: Wild Bunch

Claire Denis (Beau Travail35 Shots of Rum, White Material) has made a career out of grounded explorations of post-colonialism and its effects in West Africa and France, which makes it all the more surprising that her first English-language film is going to be set in outer space. Of course, since this movie is about a group of criminals who are tricked into exploring a black hole on the promise of their freedom but end up being experimented on, it is clear that Denis will not have departed to far from the musings that have made her such a vital voice to cinema.

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13. PETERLOO dir. Mike Leigh
Release Date: November 9

When Mike Leigh turns his eyes towards historical material (Topsy-Turvy, Mr. Turner) they generally turn out to be spectacular. For this reason Peterloo, which chronicles the Peterloo massacre where 15 people were killed and hundreds wounded during a reform rally in Manchester, promises to be an exciting project. Hardly one for sentimental overdramatizations, it will be interesting to see Leigh bring his strong eye for portraying emotional depth in what will be his first attempt at an epic of this scale.

Watch the trailer

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12. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Release Date: December 14

Admittedly, I see no reason why we need another Spider-Man movie, and especially one that is set in a different universe with a different continuity, a different cast of characters, and a brand new mythology to learn. But this is also the big screen debut of Miles Morales’ Spider-Man who is possibly the most important addition to comic-books in recent history – and if the trailer is anything to go by, it looks like they might have given him a worthy movie to debut in. The look of this animated film is exciting and invigorating and new, channeling a much more frenetic and urban style that is perfectly in keeping with Morales’ character. It is without hyperbole to say that we have never seen an animated film look like this. And that is enough to get me hyped.

Watch the trailer

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11. SHOPLIFTERS dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda
Release Date: November 23

If there is one thing I can almost guarantee, it is that Kore-eda’s latest film is going to be a good film and probably a great one. I know this because over his career, Kore-eda seems to be allergic to making a bad film. In fact, Kore-eda has been consistently excellent for so freaking long that I’m pretty sure I’m taking his excellence for granted by only slotting his latest in the number 10 slot. But I am by nature a lazy person so shifting my list around so that is where it’ll stay.

Watch the trailer

10. ROMA dir. Alfonso Cuaron
Release Date: TBD

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© 2018 Netflix Inc.

This year signals Netflix’s major foray into the kind of prestige movies that might garner serious awards attention. As such Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma is the first in a concerted salvo aimed at getting Hollywood to take them seriously. This is Alfonso Cuaron’s return to Mexico after spending a decade away making prestige Hollywood pictures (his last Mexican picture was Y Tu Mama Tambien in 2001). It is also his return to a more grounded and human story, as he follows the life of a family in Mexico City during the 1970s. The intimate sweep of this film and the lyrical nature of the trailer promises that this could easily be one of the films of the year.

Watch the trailer

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9. BEAUTIFUL BOY dir. Felix Van Groeningen
Release Date: October 12

Timothee Chalamet’s follow-up from his breakout year in 2017, where he starred in Call Me By Your Name, promises to be the tearjerker of the season. Chalamet plays Nic Sheff, a struggling drug addict whose story is viewed through the prism of his father David Sheff (Steve Carrell). Since this is based on a true-story memoir, it also promises not to be a cliche-ridden story of redemption as Nic’s recovery takes a decidedly non-linear and heartbreaking path. If Chalamet pulls off the role, there just might be another Oscar nomination waiting for him come February.

Watch the trailer

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8. THE FAVOURITE dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Release Date: November 23

In almost all of Yorgos Lanthimos’ work (The Lobster, Dogtooth, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) he has dealt with some bleak and dark material, but with a dry comic touch. His newest movie The Favourite however looks like it is actually going to be much more comic in nature as it follows, as best as I can tell, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and a bout of comeptitive jeaousy between Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone). Either way, the calibre of the cast and the chance to see Lanthimos flex some more explicitly comedic muscles (for him) is enough to colour me intrigued.

Watch the trailer

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7. WIDOWS dir. Steve McQueen
Release Dates: November 16

After the harrowing but affective dramas Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years A Slave, no one should begrudge director Steve McQueen for making his next project a heist thriller.  Led by Viola Davis (Fences, The Help, How to Get Away With Murder), this female-driven ensemble (with Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo joining her) centres on four women who are forced to complete the very same heist that got their four husbands killed. Of course given that this is McQueen we’re talking about here, this is no mere thriller as the dynamics of violence in Chicago, racial and class tensions, and gender are sure to take centre stage – along with presumably some thrilling heisting.

Watch the trailer

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Release Date: November 2

Personally I find Orson Welles work fairly uneven, especially in his later years. But that does not nullify the fact that we have a new Orson Welles film coming this year! It could be the second coming of Citizen Kane, it could be an outright disaster of a film. Regardless, it is appointment viewing and since it is coming to Netflix it will literally cost you nothing other than your subscription fee – that you already paid to rewatch Friends again – to check it out.

Watch the behind-the-scenes making of the movie

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5. A STAR IS BORN dir. Bradley Cooper
Release Date: October 5

Taking the adage “Go big or go home” to heart, Bradley Cooper’s definitely swinging for the fences. Remaking a beloved movie that already has a beloved remake (and another so-so one) would be risky enough for a directorial debut. But to then also cast the iconic singer-songwriter Lady Gaga for her acting debut for a role that clearly requires her to put in a potentially Oscar-worthy performance for the movie to work is an incredible risk indeed. But like many movies on this list, the stunning trailer below turned me from heavy skeptic into true believer. Also, I am a sucker for musician-heavy projects like this.

Watch the trailer

4. THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS dir. Joel & Ethan Coen
Release Date: November 16

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© 2018 Netflix Inc.

The Coen Brothers come to Netflix. That momentous coup signals exactly the kind of uncharted waters the future of film is heading into as prestige directors turn their back on traditional studios and embrace the streaming giant. The directors of such hall-of-fame Westerns like No Country for Old Men and True Grit return to the genre that has served them so well to construct an anthology movie about, well, Buster Scruggs and the reason there is a ballad about them. Honestly, I have nothing more than that to go by (other than knowing that Liam Neeson, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, and Zoe Kazan among others join them for the journey). But it is a Coen Brothers movie. By default, that means it is obviously a must-see this Fall.

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Release Date: October 12

There is every chance that this year’s Oscar race could be a repeat of the closely contested La La Land-Moonlight battle of 2016. The first half of that equation is Damien Chazelle with this biopic of Neil Armstrong and his race to be the first person on the moon. As the trailer below indicates, it seems like Chazelle is not working from his cheerily optimistic palate that he employed in La La Land. Rather he has returned to the fracturous, disorientating, and intense mood he employed to perfection with Whiplash creating an anxious The Right Stuff, which might help this movie escape the usual trappings of a biopic. I have high confidence that it will.

Watch the trailer

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2. SUSPIRIA dir. Luca Guadagnino
Release Date: November 2

When I originally heard that they were remaking Dario Argento’s indisputably iconic 1977 giallo film Suspiria, I naturally shouted something in the vicinity of “sacrilege” (but with more swearing). But then several things happened to dramatically change my mind. First, Luca Guadagnino, fresh off his phenomenal Call Me By Your Name decided to direct the remake. Then I saw that the release date for this film was November 2, which meant it was not going to be some mere scare-fest for the Halloween crowd. Then the trailer dropped. And you try telling me it’s not one of the most exciting projects of the fall. Also with Dakota Johnson starring, it gives her the perfect opportunity to chart a Kristen Stewart-like escape from the clutches of a potentially career-defining franchise. And any decent person has to be pulling for that.

Watch the trailer

1. IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK dir. Barry Jenkins
Release Date: Nov. 30

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© 2018 Annapurna Releasing, LLC.

Generally speaking, if your last film happened to be a great movie, your next project gets a free pass on the list. If that movie happens to be Moonlight, a movie that is in contention for being the best of the century, then you automatically vault to the upper half of this list. If it also happens to be an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel that explores what it means to be a black man in America today, well that simply makes it the most anticipated movie for the Fall. It’s just simple math really.

Watch the trailer

One thought on “Fall 2018 Movie Preview

  1. Pingback: Best Movies of 2018 (So far…) – Homebody Movies

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