Tag Archives: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The MovieMini Awards for the Films of 2018

In chaotic times, film becomes more important. As a source of entertainment, as a mode of escape, as a reflection of identity and community, and as an empathy machine, film shapes plenty about how we navigate the world — and we need that when the world is full of whiplash.

In 2018, film guided us powerfully. From a little bear from darkest Peru to a domestic worker in Mexico City, from three skateboarders in the Rust Belt to an astronaut shooting for the moon, from a family on the edges of Tokyo to the King of Wakanda, the characters of these films asked us to reflect upon ourselves, and helped us learn about others in this world.

Simply put, it was a damn good year for movies, and we’re grateful for how they’ve impacted not just us, but millions around the world. If even one film leaves something important with someone needing it, it’s a testament to the power of the art form. But we’re certain that more than a few films did that for more than a few people.

And it all calls for a little needed celebration, a little needed positivity. As that little bear says, “If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.” Film was good to us, so here’s some recognition for film.

Here are the MovieMini Awards for the Films of 2018:

(These awards were voted on and compiled by Rosemarie Alejandrino, Danielle Gutierrez, Levi Hill, Kyle Kizu, Michelle Lee, Miyako Singer, Harrison Tunggal, and Hooman Yazdanian.)

Best Specialty Performance

Winner: Ben Whishaw as Paddington — Paddington 2

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Ben Whishaw’s turn as a kind and deeply principled bear from darkest Peru may not be the buzziest performance in acclaimed masterpiece Paddington 2, but Whishaw’s voice is the gentle glue that holds the movie together. He’s tasked with making the bear cute, but not cloying, unwaveringly good, but never preachy — a CGI bear capable of silliness and sternness in equal measure. Whishaw achieves this by imbuing Paddington with his natural tender-yet-brisk Britishness. Paddington’s matter of fact politeness makes the comedic scenes all the funnier for his total sincerity, and the tear jerking moments all the more heartrending. In Whishaw’s hands (paws?), Paddington is — like his famous, prison reforming marmalade — the perfect mix of sweet and tart.
— Miyako Singer

Runner-up: Shameik Moore as Miles Morales — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
3. Holly Hunter as Elastigirl — Incredibles 2
4. Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
5. Sonoya Mizuno as Humanoid — Annihilation

Next Group:
Josh Brolin as Thanos — Avengers: Infinity War
Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh — Christopher Robin
Stephen Lang as Shrike — Mortal Engines
Brian Tyree Henry as Jefferson Davis — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Honorable Mention: Olivia as Good Doggo — Game Night/Widows

Best Breakthrough Performance

Winner: Yalitza Aparicio — Roma

Netflix/Courtesy

It’d be impossible to tell that Yalitza Aparicio is a first time actress, let alone someone with no formal training prior to starring in Roma. Her warmth is immediate, and only grows exponentially throughout the rest of the film. Just as Alfonso Cuarón renders the space three-dimensional, Aparicio makes it feel alive, navigating the house with confidence. Her chemistry with the family is delightful, but Aparicio is absolutely breathtaking during the delivery scene and the beach sequence. Roma is a film that makes you feel alive, as it’s about life, and Aparicio is the beating heart.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Thomasin McKenzie — Leave No Trace
3. Kiki Layne — If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Elsie Fisher — Eighth Grade
5. Lady Gaga — A Star Is Born

Next Group:
Cynthia Erivo — Bad Times at the El Royale
John David Washington — BlacKkKlansman
Geraldine Viswanathan — Blockers
Brady Jandreau — The Rider
Lana Condor — To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Best Feature Debut

Winner: Bradley Cooper — A Star Is Born

Clay Enos/Warner Bros./Courtesy

From the very opening shot of A Star Is Born — on-stage with Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine in such visceral, wild, grimy, and adventurous close-up — we know we’re in the hands of a director with complete confidence and control. The film is intimate and rough, raw and painful, and Cooper digs his hands into the blood of the material to find emotional truth. Whether it be the close-up of Ally and Jackson’s hands touching in the convenience store parking lot, or the cross-cutting between Jackson on stage and Ally on her way to his concert before bursting into “Shallow,” or the harrowing cut from Ally’s performance at the end of the film to Jackson playing for her at home, Cooper’s choices are staggeringly powerful.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Paul Dano — Wildlife
3. Ari Aster — Hereditary
4. Bo Burnham — Eighth Grade
5. Boots Riley — Sorry to Bother You

Next Group:
Carlos López Estrada — Blindspotting
Kay Cannon — Blockers
Gustav Möller — The Guilty
Josie Rourke — Mary Queen of Scots
Aneesh Chaganty — Searching

Best Original Song

Winner: “Shallow” — A Star Is Born

Warner Bros./Courtesy

At this point in awards season, there’s not much to be said about “Shallow” that hasn’t already been said. It’s nearly become a parody of itself, and the movie’s meme-able reputation definitely precedes it — if only so it can take another look at the movie that follows.

But let us not forget that what makes a song most deserving of the Best Original Song title does not simply rely on the quality of the song itself; it requires a song to, yes, standalone, but to also amplify the moment of the film which it occupies. “Shallow” does not amplify only one moment of A Star is Born, but three: Ally’s shy crooning in the parking lot, Jackson and Ally’s first duet on stage, and Ally’s solo piano performance before learning of Jackson’s fate. And yet, beyond the film, the song itself has taken on new meaning as part of “Enigma,” Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas residency. She turns to the piano ballad to close her electrifying, synth-heavy and neon-laced live show, knighting the song of an anthem for defying expectations. “We’re far from the shallow now,” refers to breaking free from the status quo shallowness expected of a high-profile pop artist, a message both Ally and Lady Gaga declare with triumph.

So while Lady Gaga’s projected victory for “Shallow” on Oscar night may read like the predictable end of a rote coming-of-age novel, let us not forget the first moment that Ally’s voice cracked into the late-night Los Angeles air, hesitant but somehow firm, expelling from her lungs like the slow birth of a legacy in a convenience store parking lot.
— Rosemarie Alejandrino

Runner-up: “Sunflower” — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
3. “Opps” — Black Panther
4. “Maybe It’s Time” — A Star Is Born
5. “Suspirium” — Suspiria

Next Group:
“All the Stars” — Black Panther
“Pray For Me” — Black Panther
“A Cover Is Not the Book” — Mary Poppins Returns
“Always Remember Us This Way” — A Star Is Born
“Wrapped Up” — Vox Lux

Best Original Score

Winner: Nicholas Britell — If Beale Street Could Talk

Annapurna Pictures/Courtesy

Nicholas Britell’s If Beale Street Could Talk score is unbearably beautiful. With lush, waning strings and fluttering, hopeful woodwinds, each piece of music is a stunning evocation of love — of love’s strength, but also of love’s painful journey. The score aches with many truths just as Jenkins’ vision of Baldwin’s characters do — “Eros” a transcendent piece of swelling intimacy and “Hypertension” a bone-rattling piece of soul-crushing fear and despair. And then, “Ye Who Enters Here” truly lives as the blend of such powerful lows and highs at once. Britell’s music tells the story as much as any other part of If Beale Street Could Talk does. It’s not simply there to accompany the film. It pushes the film to new heights. It talks.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Justin Hurwitz — First Man
3. Ludwig Göransson — Black Panther
4. Lorne Balfe — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
5. Thom Yorke — Suspiria

Next Group:
Mowg — Burning
Alexandre Desplat — Isle Of Dogs
Jóhann Jóhannsson — Mandy
Daniel Hart — The Old Man & the Gun
Alexandre Desplat — The Sisters Brothers

Best Sound Mixing

Winner: Mary H. Ellis, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee — First Man

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

There’s true depth to the sound mix of First Man. It’s loud and brutal, but immersive and three-dimensional. The interior of the space crafts are made distinctly human through the mix, in that the rattling of the metal, the hard-to-hear radio buzz of astronaut communication, the sudden jerks and slashes, and even the gravity of sound are all meshed into a cohesive environment that can be fully lived-in. It’s a symphonic nightmare.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan, José Antonio García — Roma
3. Gilbert Lake, Mike Prestwood Smith, Paul Munro — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
4. Michael Barosky, Brandon Proctor — A Quiet Place
5. Niv Adiri, Michael Clayton, John Skehill, Ian Tapp — Annihilation

Next Group:
Tom Johnson, Juan Peralta, John Pritchett — Avengers: Infinity War
Michael Semanick, Nathan Nance, Vince Caro — Incredibles 2
Michael Semanick, Tony Lamberti, Brian Smith, Aaron Hasson, Howard London — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Steve Morrow, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder — A Star Is Born
Drew Kunin, Andrew Stirk — You Were Never Really Here

Best Sound Editing

Winner: Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan — First Man

Daniel McFadden/Universal Pictures/Courtesy

The First Man sound team went to incredible lengths to capture the accuracy of the sounds of spacecrafts, from recording actual launches to consulting the professionals for the minutiae of space travel. And it pays off immensely. Every created sound feels entirely organic to every environment — and often times because it was, with everything that the film does practically. But it’s the most brutal effects that elevate the film, as we can feel the metal in our bones, just like the astronauts likely did.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: James Mather — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
3. Skip Lievsay, Sergio Díaz — Roma
4. Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl — A Quiet Place
5. Geoffrey G. Rubay, Curt Schulkey, John Pospisil — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Next Group:
Glenn Freemantle, Niv Adiri —Annihilation
Shannon Mills, Daniel Laurie — Avengers: Infinity War
Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker — Black Panther
Coya Elliott, Ren Klyce — Incredibles 2
Gary Rydstrom, Richard Hymns — Ready Player One

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Winner: Joel Harlow, Camille Friend, Ken Diaz — Black Panther

Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios/Courtesy

The makeup and hairstyling work in Black Panther does what a lot of the other design work in the film does: it builds a world, and does so extremely thoroughly and organically. The hairstyling is distinct and varied, from the extravagant regal designs of Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) to the stylishly personal work for both Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). And the makeup is prevalent, but not overt. The larger prosthetics are carefully utilized and integrated, such as with a tribe leader’s mouth, and the facial designs breathe life to the characters, telling their own stories for each tribe and status. Combined, the film’s work is innovative.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Nadia Stacey — The Favourite
3. Mark Coulier, Fernanda Perez, Manolo Garcia — Suspiria
4. Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, Jessica Brooks — Mary Queen of Scots
5. Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, Patricia DeHaney — Vice

Next Group:
LaWanda M. Pierre, Shaun Perkins — BlacKkKlansman
Göran Lundström, Pamela Goldammer — Border
Heike Merker — Crazy Rich Asians
Bill Corso, Barbara Lorenz — Destroyer
Oriane De Neve — Mandy

Best Costume Design

Winner: Ruth E. Carter — Black Panther

Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios/Courtesy

To be honest, Ruth E. Carter earned this back in February of last year. Not to take away from any of the other wondrous world-building within the film, but the costume design is simply supreme. From the layout and layering of beads, to the various textures and colors of fabrics, to the infused metal, Carter’s costumes are both steeped in the history of African clothing and evocative of what afrofuturism envisions, engaging with the past and the future simultaneously in the same way that the story does. But it’s her scope and range that are difficult to put into words. The tribal clothing is so specific and so intuitive, declaring rank, but also declaring style and personality — and that’s for multiple tribes, as well as for warrior armor and regal wear. And this all goes without mention of how incredibly badass and utterly gorgeous it all looks.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Sandy Powell — The Favourite
3. Caroline Eselin — If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Mary E. Vogt — Crazy Rich Asians
5. Sandy Powell — Mary Poppins Returns

Next Group:
Kym Barrett — Aquaman
Alexandra Byrne — Mary Queen of Scots
Lindy Hemming — Paddington 2
Renee Ehrlich Kalfus — A Simple Favor
Amanda Ford — Wildlife

Best Production Design

Winner: Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart — Black Panther

Hannah Beachler/Marvel Studios/Courtesy

Best Production Design could also be known as “Best World Building,” literally, as the production designer and set decorator are the people tasked — with the guidance of the film’s director and screenwriter — in crafting the world of the film, fictional or authentically real. And this past year, the work of Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart in creating Wakanda is simply unrivaled.

Black Panther’s success truly stems from its ability to let Wakanda, Oakland, and South Korea be vital locations and production sets for the story Coogler is telling. Every set, every design presents eye-popping creations, but with real-world authenticity. Yet, it was the first scene in which the audience is shown the fictional African country of Wakanda that we knew exactly who would be taking home this award. Beachler and Hart have created an awe-inspiring world, where futuristic high rises co-exist with classical African village designs. The look of Wakanda feels real, and honors the film’s black identity, but is also willing to be highly original with its deep mines of vibranium and stunning throne rooms. Truly, because of the work these two crafted, as well as the film’s direction, cinematography, costume design, and makeup, we’ll always remember that first feeling of when we knew what “Wakanda Forever” meant.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton — The Favourite
3. Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez — Roma
4. Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas — First Man
5. Mark Digby, Michelle Day — Annihilation

Next Group:
Martin Whist, Hamish Purdy — Bad Times at the El Royale
Nelson Coates, Andrew Baseman — Crazy Rich Asians
Adam Stockhausen, Paul Harrod — Isle of Dogs
Gary Williamson, Cathy Cosgrove — Paddington 2
Keiko Mitsumatsu, Akiko Matsuba — Shoplifters

Best Visual Effects

Winner: Paul Lambert, J.D. Schwalm, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles — First Man

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

First Man is a celebration of practical effects. From its various scales of models to its massive LED screens that play backgrounds of skies and space for in-camera capture, the film is invigoratingly tactile. We can sense real physics and real depth at play, which is immensely key to communicating the dangers of the Gemini and Apollo missions. That the film feels as though it truly takes us to space, through the genius of perspective as well as invisible CG and compositing, is an astounding accomplishment.
Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Dan Deleeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, Dan Sudick — Avengers: Infinity War
3. Andrew Whitehurst, Sara Bennett, Richard Clarke, Simon Hughes — Annihilation
4. Nicholas Bennett, Rupert Davies, Andy Kind, Peter McDonald, Carlos Monzon, Glen Pratt — Paddington 2
5. Jason Smith — Bumblebee

Next Group:
Kelvin McIlwain, Jeff White, Bryan Hirota, Kimberly Nelson Locascio — Aquaman
Matt Johnson, Steve Warner, Jim Capobianco, Kyle McCulloch —Mary Poppins Returns
Jody Johnson — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler, David Shirk — Ready Player One
Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy —Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Cinematography

Winner: Alfonso Cuarón — Roma

Netflix/Courtesy

There’s something initially objective and removed about Alfonso Cuarón’s cinematography for Roma. There aren’t many close-ups. Perspective is, occasionally, not attached too strongly to individual characters. It’s almost as if the camera were a young boy watching from a distance.

And that’s where it all clicks. As Cuarón’s camera pans or tracks through space in unbroken takes, we become enveloped in something truly three-dimensional. “Lived in” is an overused phrase, but it’s the most potent thing about Roma’s photography. It breathes with life. It’s lived in. It’s memory.

There’s such immense visual depth in this film, greater than what 3D could ever accomplish. But there’s also warmth, connection, and love. Cuarón captures his images with the quiet wonder of a boy admiring the matriarchs in his life. However, it’s also clear that this is not just removed, but a reflection into the past, which allows his cinematography to break the bounds of its objective style and evoke true emotions within time.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Rob Hardy — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
3. Lukasz Zal — Cold War
4. Linus Sandgren — First Man
5. Hong Kyung-pyo — Burning

Next Group:
Robbie Ryan — The Favourite
James Laxton — If Beale Street Could Talk
Bing Liu — Minding the Gap
Joshua James Richard — The Rider
Benoît Debie — The Sisters Brothers

Best Film Editing

Winner: Eddie Hamilton — Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy

In more ways than one, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is explosive. One of the most underappreciated facets of that, however, is the film’s editing. Eddie Hamilton’s pacing is never off-note, taking us through a roaring 2.5 hours without anything ever feeling slow or unbalanced. And zooming in to individual sequences, Hamilton’s compositions are breathtaking, particularly the “stairs and rooftops” chase through London. That sequence is its own spotless short film, a blend of perfectly timed comedy and powerful bursts of energy. We feel Ethan Hunt’s energy and exhaustion distinctly through Hamilton’s work, and the entire film is taken to a new level for the franchise because of that.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Bing Liu, Joshua Altman — Minding the Gap
3. Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough — Roma
4. Jonathan Amos, Mark Everson — Paddington 2
5. Joe Walker — Widows

Next Group:
Nick Fenton, Chris Gill, Julian Hart — American Animals
Barry Alexander Brown — BlacKkKlansman
Yorgos Mavropsaridis — The Favourite
Hirokazu Kore-eda — Shoplifters
Jay Cassidy — A Star Is Born

Best Documentary

Winner: Minding the Gap

Hulu/Courtesy

Bing Liu’s directorial debut is a true revelation. Minding the Gap centers on three boys — Liu himself, Zack Mulligan and Kiere Johnson — in Rockford, Illinois, who all skateboard and who, we learn, all grew up in abusive households. Liu’s film, like so many of 2018’s best, wrestles with the essential question: What have our parents done to us? The answer to this question is completely different for each of Liu, Mulligan and Johnson. Yet each of these stories, even Liu’s own, is handled with a deft touch of empathy and true intuition. We know these boys, not just their traumas but their charm, their shortcomings, their senses of humor, their aspirations. We cry with them and for them, but we also hope with them.

Minding the Gap is about so many things. Escaping your home. The oppressive force of capitalism. Cycles of abuse. Toxic, limiting masculinity. Friendship. Ultimately, it’s about everything that shapes us into who we are and the shared traumas that can underlie our relationships. That’s what makes this not just the year’s best documentary, but one of its very best films as well.
Hooman Yazdanian

Runner-up: Free Solo
3. Hale County This Morning, This Evening
4. The Dawn Wall
5. Science Fair

Next Group:
Nossa Chape
Shirkers
They Shall Not Grow Old
Three Identical Strangers
White Tide: The Legend of Culebra

Best Animated Film

Winner: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures/Courtesy

It’s been more than a month since the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and we’re still feeling the ripples of its arrival. It’s hard to say something that’s not already been said, but it’s the fact that people are still saying things that shows just how significant this film is. Visually dynamic and innovative, but also with a pulsing emotional core, the film feels like a dream, an all-too-perfect culmination of superhero-centered art from its inception in the form of comic books to its dominance of popular cinema today. Spider-Verse is not just a leap forward, but a leap up, all because it was brave enough to take a leap of faith.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Incredibles 2
3. Ralph Breaks the Internet
4. Mirai
5. Early Man

Best Foreign Film

Winner: Shoplifters

Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy

In its first two-thirds, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters is a warm yet unflinching movie about the daily rhythms of a family living on the fringes of Tokyo. The Shibata family — Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) and Osamu (Lily Franky), their son Shota (Jyo Kairi), and adult sibling Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) — live in the cramped home of grandmother and matriarch Hatsue (the late Kirin Kiki), living off her small pension, odd jobs, and the eponymous shoplifting.

One day, Nobuyo and Osamu come across a hungry and abused little girl named Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) and decide to take her in, setting in motion a doomed story of kidnap and familial love. Had the movie ambled along in this way, quietly checking in on the day to day of the strange and messy Shibatas, it would have been a triumph of humanistic filmmaking. But in its third act, Shoplifters delivers a shocking series of twists which blow apart the family’s fragile, cobbled-together peace, and reveal that Kore-eda has something much deeper to say about choosing love and family when you’re up against the world.
— Miyako Singer

Runner-up: Roma
3. Burning
4. Cold War
5. Happy As Lazzaro

Next Group:
Capernaum
The Guilty
I Am Not A Witch
Museo
Zama

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures/Courtesy

Granted, there’ve been a lot of Spider-Man stories (comics, movies, and games) this century, and a lot have been wildly successful. But there’s something about Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman’s take on the classic Spider-Man story that sets it above the rest, and honestly, as one of the best superhero scripts ever.

Maybe it’s how it introduces Miles Morales into the cinematic canon, while still giving us a thrilling Peter (B.) Parker story? Maybe it’s because it takes a plethora of villains and heroes from the Spider-Verse, and gives each character their own rational motivations for their actions, with varying degrees of forgivability? Maybe it’s just because we didn’t laugh harder or cry more during a studio film from 2018 than we did while watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse? Or most likely, it’s because it did all of these things, and crafted an inclusive story that anyone of any race, gender, age, or nationality can relate to. Because in the end, the power of superhero stories has always been that superheroes don’t have to be that super at all; they just have to believe in themselves and in the good of the people around them. Anyone can wear the mask.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Paul King, Simon Farnaby — Paddington 2
3. Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan — Wildlife
4. Lee Chang-dong, Oh Jung-mi — Burning
5. Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty — Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Next Group:
Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole — Black Panther
Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim — Crazy Rich Asians
Barry Jenkins — If Beale Street Could Talk
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini — Leave No Trace
Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain — The Sisters Brothers

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara — The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos/Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy

The incredible passive aggressiveness, snark, and sass of Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara’s script for The Favourite is, quite frankly, jaw-dropping. From the overarching manipulative machinations of Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone), to the invigoratingly sexy scenes, all the way down to the single lines of dialogue — the most gobsmackingly awesome being Queen Anne’s “I like it when she puts her tongue inside me” — the script is an absolute wonder.

But that’s not all that Davis and McNamara accomplish. The story is also a seering look at the sacrifices made in a quest for power, as well as the corruption that such a quest can bring upon one’s soul. And, in perhaps the film’s most powerful scene when Lady Sarah tries to connect with Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) again, The Favourite reveals itself as a story of what love truly means.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Hirokazu Kore-eda — Shoplifters
3. Bo Burnham — Eighth Grade
4. Alfonso Cuarón — Roma
5. Tamara Jenkins — Private Life

Next Group:
Paweł Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki — Cold War
Paul Schrader — First Reformed
Mark Perez — Game Night
Alice Rohrwacher — Happy As Lazzaro
Ari Aster — Hereditary

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Steven Yeun — Burning

Well Go USA Entertainment/Courtesy

Burning is a reserved, chilling psychosexual thriller from one of the world’s premier directors, Lee Chang-dong. The film follows a love triangle between Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), and Ben (Steven Yeun). Through Chang-dong’s lens, we see the story from Jong-su’s increasingly anxious, jealous, and fractured view. But because the film rests with Jong-su, this allows Yeun’s Ben to become the film’s enigma; it’s through his character and Yeun’s portrayal that the film morphs into a stunning, shocking mystery. On first viewing, when the three are with each other, Yeun’s almost displeasing yawns and seemingly mocking laughter shake Jong-su, and the audience, to the core. There’s clearly something underneath this person — a rich kid so privileged in society, that maybe, just maybe, he has turned to murder to feel something in the world. Yet, on repeat viewings (which this film begs for), it could be implied that Ben isn’t all that bad. While having an aura of superiority around him, Ben appears rather inviting. Maybe, after all, it is Jong-su trying to force Ben into the story he wants for himself.

Thanks, in large part, to Lee Chang-dong and Oh Jung-mi’s masterful script and Steven Yeun’s even more masterful performance, we’re never granted answers, though. Yeun perfectly relies on subtlety, born charisma, and his dashing good looks to craft Ben into an unknowable key to understanding what transpires. Yet, the answers go up in flames, and we’re all left with the haunting reality that we may never truly know who Ben is.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Hugh Grant — Paddington 2
3. Brian Tyree Henry — If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Alex Wolff — Hereditary
5. Daniel Kaluuya — Widows

Next Group:
Timothée Chalamet — Beautiful Boy
Richard E. Grant — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Nicholas Hoult — The Favourite
Jesse Plemons — Game Night
Jake Gyllenhaal — Wildlife

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Rachel Weisz — The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos/Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy

In The Favourite — a film full of overt, loud, and clear (even if passive aggressive) expression — Rachel Weisz is a complex force. Her Lady Sarah is simultaneously manipulative, loving, confident, and jealous. Under a rarely changing steely glare, Weisz breathes with power, while also communicating her character’s slow loss of it. And along with that comes a loss of friendship and a loss of love, and Weisz evokes a painfully palpable desperation, culminating in her heart-wrenching monologue of what it means to love someone. While there’s an engaging sadness and depression to Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne, it’s Weisz’s brilliant performance as Lady Sarah that lays a soul at the foundation of the film.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Regina King — If Beale Street Could Talk
3. Emma Stone — The Favourite
4. Elizabeth Debicki — Widows
5. Marina de Tavira — Roma

Next Group:
Michelle Yeoh — Crazy Rich Asians
Rachel McAdams — Game Night
Margot Robbie — Mary Queen of Scots
Kayli Carter — Private Life
Kirin Kiki — Shoplifters

Best Lead Actor

Winner: Bradley Cooper — A Star Is Born

Peter Lindbergh/Warner Bros./Courtesy

A Star Is Born opens with Bradley Cooper on stage as Jackson Maine, strumming the hell out of his guitar and belting out “Black Eyes.” Cooper not only answers any questions about his musical bonafides, but does it with fervor, commanding that stage and the audience — both the one in the film and the one watching it — like a real life rock star. He commands us not just to watch, but to believe. We need to believe he’d be successful, famous enough to attract big festival crowds, but also to walk into a drag bar and be treated like a star right away. Later, we need to believe he would both instantly fall in love with Ally (Lady Gaga) and have Ally fall in love with him. We need to believe this is a man in pain, and that this pain lingers even and especially when he’s head-over-heels in love with Ally, as he is until the end. We need to believe, and feel, and regret, the self-medication by alcohol Maine resorts to; haunted by the traumas of his youth and embroiled in the tumultuous rollercoasters of love and fame, Maine’s only restraint is more dangerous than the rollercoasters themselves. He gets drunk, he yells, he regrets. He goes to rehab. We need to believe it’s all real. We need to believe in Cooper as Maine does in Ally. And boy, is Cooper worth believing. He falls into the role of Jackson Maine. The star we know is hidden behind a beard, scraggly hair and sunworn skin. Of Cooper, only his winning eyes remain, and even they do their fair share of sad talking.

When an actor as famous as Bradley Cooper does a role as big and different as this one, it can be distracting. It’d be easy to watch A Star Is Born and just yell, “That is Bradley Cooper, the motherfucker from The Hangover! And he is singing!” But this doesn’t happen because we believe Cooper. The now seven-time Oscar nominee gives the performance of his life and of the year. We were right to believe.
Hooman Yazdanian

Runner-up: Tom Cruise — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
3. Ethan Hawke — First Reformed
4. Ryan Gosling — First Man
5. Lily Franky — Shoplifters

Next Group:
Yoo Ah-in — Burning
Tomasz Kot — Cold War
Stephan James — If Beale Street Could Talk
John Cho — Searching
Christian Bale — Vice

Best Lead Actress

Winner: Sakura Ando — Shoplifters

Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy

Amidst an amazing cast, Sakura Ando is transfixing in Shoplifters. A sense of enigmatic cool immediately emanating from her performance, Ando allows us in slowly. From her character’s quiet will to endure and survive, to her deep and raw connection to Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) through shared trauma, to her growing sense of motherhood and what it means to take care of someone, Ando’s turn unveils layer upon layer with stunning precision and timing, while maintaining an emotional truth to every aspect. She’s the powerful, magnetic center to the film because she plays that part to the film’s family, anchoring them in both fantasy and reality. And in her two key moments in the third act, when talking about motherhood and when telling Shota (Jyo Kairi) key information, Ando is harrowing in both her quiet pain and her strained certainty. Her performance is one of the most brilliantly understated of the year.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Olivia Colman — The Favourite
3. Toni Collette — Hereditary
4. Carey Mulligan — Wildlife
5. Yalitza Aparicio — Roma

Next Group:
Joanna Kulig — Cold War
Thomasin McKenzie — Leave No Trace
Kathryn Hahn — Private Life
Regina Hall — Support the Girls
Glenn Close — The Wife

Best Ensemble

Winner: The cast of The Favourite

Atsushi Nishijima/Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy

The cast of The Favourite may not be as expansive as other ensembles. But the set of performances is undoubtedly unmatched. Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Colman all deliver deliciously devilish and ravishingly ravenous turns. And they’re accompanied by a magnificent Nicholas Hoult, and a solidly serviceable Joe Alwyn and James Smith.

The range of work from these actors would be enough to put it into contention, but what locks it in as the best ensemble of 2018 is the vibrant and explosive chemistry between every single performer. Yorgos Lanthimos movies are idiosyncratic, so chemistry is key, and here, the rapport is simply sublime.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: The cast of Shoplifters
3. The cast of Black Panther
4. The cast of Widows
5. The cast of Game Night

Next Group:
The cast of Bad Times at the El Royale
The cast of Crazy Rich Asians
The cast of If Beale Street Could Talk
The cast of Private Life
The cast of The Sisters Brothers

Best Director

Winner: Alfonso Cuarón — Roma

Carlos Somonte/Netflix/Courtesy

Like practically every other critics group (and we’re predicting the directors guild, too), we found Alfonso Cuarón’s deeply personal autobiographical memory play to be the best piece of directing of 2018. Using crisp black-and-white digital 65mm cinematography, mostly non-professional cast members, and stunning on-set recreations of 1970s Mexico City, Cuarón paints a humanistic, neo-realistic love letter to both the city and the women who raised him.

Cuarón’s approach to the material is organic in every facet. Composed of mostly long takes, Cuarón allows the performers, and thus the audience, to live in his world. There’s no prioritization of banal, seemingly simple moments (such as kids being cleansed with vinegar after getting sunburnt) over more dramatic moments (when a fire ravages an estate where the central family and friends are spending Christmas). Furthermore, the film perfectly balances moments of brevity — like a cheeky visual reference of the family going to the movies to see Marooned, which Cuarón may or may not have based his own Oscar-winning Gravity off of — with complete tragedy — such as when Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) loses a part of herself, in a devastating scene that won’t be spoiled here.

Yet, Cuarón is also giving a voice and vision to people rarely seen on the big screen: domestic workers. Starring an indigenous woman (the groundbreaking, now Oscar-nominated Yalitza Aparicio), Roma explores privilege, class, and race within Mexican society, but in a way that allows audiences to see the hard, caring work that these people do for the families they serve and, equally, how much they shape the people they help. Films have always been described as empathy machines, and it doesn’t get much more empathetic than what Cuarón’s direction achieves with his masterpiece Roma.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Paul King — Paddington 2
3. Lynne Ramsay — You Were Never Really Here
4. Lee Chang-dong — Burning
5. Hirokazu Kore-eda — Shoplifters

Next Group:
Ryan Coogler — Black Panther
Yorgos Lanthimos — The Favourite
Bing Liu — Minding the Gap
Christopher McQuarrie — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Tamara Jenkins — Private Life

Best Picture

Winner: Paddington 2

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Sweet but never saccharine, Paddington 2 gives the perfect answer to the cynicism of the day, and does so without standing on a soap box, megaphone in hand, declaring itself apolitical. In fact, it does the opposite, embodying soul and optimism about humanity without betraying its messaging as a perfectly-toned rebuke of anti-immigrant, anti-refugee sentiment. Such is the case with 2018’s best film (that’s right, US release dates) and the flagbearer of nicecore, Paddington 2.

The story is simple: Paddington (Ben Whishaw), a bear from darkest Peru who lives with his adopted family, the Browns, in London, wants to buy his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) a popup book for her birthday. He wants to share the magic he sees in it with her. The end of that story is truly tear-jerking, and the execution of the journey to get there is transcendent. Packed with action, humor, and joy, the film takes aesthetic swings and knocks them out of the park. It is directed phenomenally by Paul King and perfectly acted, led by a layered, career-best performance from Hugh Grant.

Filled to the brim with equal helpings of ingenuity, marmalade, and heart, Paddington 2 sees the best in us and manages to be the best film of 2018 along the way.
— Hooman Yazdanian

Runner-up: The Favourite

3. Shoplifters
4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
5. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
6. Black Panther
7. Minding the Gap
8. Roma
9. Wildlife
10. Private Life

Next Group:
Annihilation
Burning
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Cold War
Game Night
Hereditary
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born
Widows
You Were Never Really Here

Feature graphic by Kyle Kizu
Feature images courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox/Warner Bros./Netflix/Sony Pictures

25 most anticipated films of 2018

As each year ends, it’s customary to look back on our favorite films, to spend hours on lists of the best that we saw. But it’s also a hell of a time to look forward at the films releasing in the coming year and start to build anticipation. The ones that immediately pop into mind are the blockbusters, the landmark events of the year like Solo: A Star Wars Story and the early Black Panther. They’re beyond exciting, not only for us, but for millions of people. The real fun for us film writers, though, comes with the research, with digging deep to find which prestige, Oscar-nominated or, simply, personal favorite storytellers (actors, directors or writers) have movies coming out that are currently under-the-radar to most people — and then going even deeper to find the films that even us film writers would miss on a first go around of digging.

What immediately became apparent after finishing our research and sitting down to pick our top 25 is that 2018 is going to be a spectacular year for film — hence our honorable mentions list being so long.

We thought 2017 was a never-ending ride of greatness, from Get Out back in February all the way to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread today. 2018 should be just the same. Whether it be the aforementioned blockbusters, or the return of both Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle, or Martin Scorsese pairing up with Netflix, or French female filmmakers taking on science fiction, 2018 films need to get going already.

25. Bios

Dick Thomas Johnson/Courtesy

Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik

Written by: Craig Luck, Ivor Powell

Starring: Tom Hanks

Release date: Possibly 2018, currently in pre-production, expected start shooting early 2018

This film might’ve been ranked higher on the list were it further along in production and guaranteed for 2018. With production meant to start in early 2018, there’s a definite possibility, considering the star power of Tom Hanks, that we could see it toward the end of the year, especially as an awards contender, which is why we’re including it. But there’s also a definite possibility that it won’t, as we never really know in regard to a film like this until the cameras start rolling.

Regardless, the team behind BIOS, a sci-fi story that follows a robot “built to protect the life of his dying creator’s beloved dog” on a post-apocalyptic Earth, is a heavyweight one. There’s the obvious, consistent, dependable brilliance of Tom Hanks. Then, there’s a Black List (a list of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood) script from writers Craig Luck and Ivor Powell. And finally, there’s director Miguel Sapochnik, best known for the final two episodes, Battle of the Bastards and The Winds of Winter, of season 6 of Game of Thrones. He also directed the season 5 action heavy episode Hardhome. All three are all timers for the series, but Battle of the Bastards is a special piece of visual storytelling, as it features what is arguably the best directed, most viscerally brilliant war sequences in all of TV or film. The episode is truly a landmark piece of direction, one that rightfully won Sapochnik the Emmy and Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Drama Series. It was only a matter of time before he got the opportunity to direct a massive, visual-heavy film, and BIOS sounds like a film that could prove Sapochnik as an equally brilliant film director.

— Kyle Kizu

24. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman

Written by: Phil Lord

Starring: Shameik Moore, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Liev Schreiber

Release date: December 14, 2018

Finally, Miles Morales is coming to a theater near you. Sony Pictures hasn’t always done right by the webhead (2.5/5 ain’t bad), but bringing on the tonally unique duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller to oversee an animated theatrical Spider-Man release that introduces general audiences to Miles f$@#ing Morales as well as the breadth of alternate-earth Spider-Men is, well, amends enough. Although the first teaser only dropped recently, a photorealistic NYC in the background juxtaposed with the imaginative and malleable hand-drawn imagery of the protagonist himself makes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse an aesthetic and, hopefully, narrative treat for comic book fan and casual moviegoer alike.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

23. A Wrinkle in Time

Disney/Courtesy

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Written by: Jennifer Lee

Starring: Storm Reid, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Zach Galifianakis, Andrè Holland

Release date: March 9, 2018

If there’s one incontrovertible truth about Ava DuVernay’s career thus far, it’s that all of her films are imbued with an unbridled sense of passion from a creative standpoint, and A Wrinkle in Time appears to continue that trend. Ever since its first trailer set to the tune of the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), DuVernay’s take on Madeleine L’Engle’s iconic fantasy novel has seemed visually distinct, naturalistically cast and rousingly written and executed. The past few years have provided us with some fairly poor YA novel adaptations, but from what we’ve seen thus far, A Wrinkle in Time is set to break the mold.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

22. At Eternity’s Gate

Josh Jensen/Courtesy

Directed by: Julian Schnabel

Written by: Jean-Claude Carrière, Julian Schnabel

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Oscar Isaac

Release date: Expected in 2018, currently filming

What’s poised to be a incisive look at renowned painter Vincent van Gogh’s life while he lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France, benefits greatly from its principal starrers, Willem Dafoe and Oscar Isaac as van Gogh and fellow famous painter Paul Gauguin, respectively. Combine Dafoe’s range with Isaac’s intensity and both with director and co-writer Julian Schnabel’s unabashed reverential directorial stylings à la The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and an eternity is just how far away this film’s release feels.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

21. Creed II

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.

Written by: Cheo Hodari Coker, Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren

Release date: November 21, 2018

Though admittedly hesitant to re-enter the ring after its predecessor’s knockout performance and conclusion (puns intended and necessary), we’d be fools to not want to see Adonis Creed again on the big screen for another fight of his life in Creed II. Now with Dolph Lundgren in the mix, hopefully Ivan Drago finally gets what’s coming to him.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

20. Proxima

Gage Skidmore/Courtesy

Directed by: Alice Winocour

Written by: Alice Winocour

Starring: Eva Green, Lars Eidinger

Release date: Expected in 2018, currently in pre-production

Alice Winocour, co-writer of the Oscar-nominated Mustang, for which she also won Best Original Screenplay at the Cèsar Awards (essentially, the French Oscars), will dive into science fiction with her upcoming film Proxima. However, the film sounds as though it’s heavily based in reality. Proxima will follow a mother just before her departure on a year-long mission at the International Space Station, as she physically trains for space and prepares to say goodbye to her young daughter. The story seems incredibly emotional, and has basis, as she says, in Winocour’s own feelings of separation from her daughter when she shoots a movie — ringing a similar bell to the inspiration behind Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Such a basis should bring such genuine weight to the story, one that will explore a side of an astronaut’s life that not many films get into, and offer Eva Green material for a powerhouse performance. And to see a female astronaut who is also a mother as the lead character is necessary and empowering visibility. Oh, and the film will be in French.

— Kyle Kizu

19. Newsflash

Gage Skidmore/Courtesy

Directed by: David Gordon Green

Written by: Ben Jacoby

Starring: Seth Rogen

Release date: November 22, 2018

David Gordon Green has had a rather interesting career, breaking out with the incredibly small independent film George Washington, flourishing in the comedy genre with Pineapple Express, giving Nicolas Cage a platform to actually excel in Joe and devastating us with the powerful, human Stronger. Just a month before Newsflash, Gordon Green will release Halloween, another film in the Halloween franchise, and showcase yet another side of his directorial skill set with horror.

He can really do everything, which intensifies our anticipation of the recently announced Newsflash, a film about Walter Cronkite, who, on November 22, 1963, reported on live TV about the assassination of JFK.

The obvious thematic relevance of the film — the power of journalism (this time broadcast) — is enough to grip onto. But the specifics of the story offer it utterly dynamic potential; it could end up as much a story about the power of journalism as it is a study of that terrible moment in American history as well as a character study of Cronkite himself. The choice of Seth Rogen to lead the film is, initially, a bit jarring — but not in a bad way, as it very quickly turns into excitement at the thought of Rogen expanding his dramatic chops, after a very serviceable performance as Steve Wozniak in Steve Jobs, and showcasing the charisma we all know he has. Newsflash could very well play a similar role in 2018 that The Post is playing in 2017.

— Kyle Kizu

18. Mission: Impossible 6

Christopher McQuarrie/Paramount/Courtesy

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Written by: Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett

Release date: July 27, 2018

We appreciated the first. We drank to forget the second. We reluctantly saw the third. We cheered for the fourth. And we were in awe of the fifth. If Mission Impossible has proven anything up to this point, it’s that, much like lead actor Tom Cruise, this franchise has got legs. Mission: Impossible 6 has Christopher McQuarrie back at the helm (a series first) along with much of its predecessor’s cast in what is to be, hopefully, another enthralling action-adventure defined by its practically-performed death-defying stunts. Most of the film’s plot is still under wraps, but one thing is certain: Henry Cavill will be sporting a mustache that — if digitally removed — gives him uncanny valley face.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

17. On the Basis of Sex

Dick Thomas Johnson/Courtesy

Directed by: Mimi Leder

Written by: Daniel Stiepleman

Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates

Release date: 2018, currently in post-production

The story of On the Basis of Sex, following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fight for equality and journey to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, is fascinating and deeply needed in this moment in time, as well as reason enough, alone, for this film to make this list. But the pieces around the story are absolutely brilliant. Felicity Jones is one of the more emotionally powerful actresses working today; just look at her raw, moving performance in The Theory of Everything. Armie Hammer is resurfacing — to our delight — as a true acting talent, also channeling raw emotion in this year’s Call Me by Your Name. And the director behind it all, Mimi Leder — who has been sorely and unjustly underappreciated in Hollywood, but has become one of TV’s greatest directors, especially after her work on The Leftovers — will show everyone what they’ve been missing when she nails this film.

— Kyle Kizu

16. If Beale Street Could Talk

Allan Warren/Courtesy

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

Written by: Barry Jenkins

Starring: Regina King, Pedro Pascal, Dave Franco, Ed Skrein, Emily Rios, Aunjanue Ellis, Teyonah Parris, Brian Tyree Henry, Finn Wittrock, Michael Beach, Colman Domingo, Stephan James

Release date: 2018, currently in post-production

Moonlight’s ethereally cathartic narrative and characters earned it the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017, so it should come as no surprise that we’re eagerly awaiting writer-director Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning follow-up, If Beale Street Could Talk. If Jenkins can invoke the same emotionally complex yet superficially subtle and restrained atmosphere when adapting James Baldwin’s novel of the same name for the silver screen, then the filmmaker could be looking at another critical darling in his filmography in the not-too-distant future.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

15. Suspiria

Elena Ringo/Courtesy

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Written by: David Kajganich

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper

Release date: 2018, currently in post-production

A remake of legend Dario Argento’s supernatural Italian classic gallo film from one of the most talented directors working today, who just blew us away with Call Me by Your Name and has built some kind of career with films like I Am Love and A Bigger Splash? With a cast of Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton and Mia Goth? With the first original score from Thom Yorke, the frontman of Radiohead? With an appearance from the original film’s star, Jessica Harper?

There’s no way that this film won’t be a gorgeous, gory descent into madness.

— Levi Hill

14. High Life

Nicolas Genin/Courtesy

Directed by: Claire Denis

Written by: Claire Denis, Jean Pol-Fargeau, Nick Laird, Zadie Smith

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Mia Goth, Juliette Binoche

Release date: Expected in 2018, currently in post-production

Another French filmmaker is leaping into science fiction. Claire Denis, director of Beau Travail, White Material and 35 Shots of Rum, will simultaneously make her English language debut with High Life, a sci-fi story that Denis has been developing for nearly two years now. The concept, alone, is the stuff of sci-fi dreams: Monte, a criminal who chose to participate in a government project rather than serve jail time, is sent out into space with other convicts to find alternative energy as well as to participate in human reproduction experiments. Now headed toward a black hole, Monte must connect with his daughter Willow, who was born out of one of the experiments.

That Denis is experimenting, herself, with science fiction after a career of careful character studies is riveting — and likely means that this film will also end up being a complex character study in the setting of space. But that she’s doing it with such an original story and a lead actor like Robert Pattinson, who just turned everyone’s head with his performance in Good Time, makes High Life one of the most compelling projects of the upcoming year.

— Kyle Kizu

13. Roma

Gage Skidmore/Courtesy

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Written by: Alfonso Cuarón

Starring: Marina de Tavira, Daniela Demesa, Marco Graf, Yalitza Aparicio

Release date: 2018, currently in post-production

Not much is known about Roma, except that it’s Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón’s first film set in Mexico since his breakout masterpiece Y Tu Mamá También and his direct follow up to Gravity, the film for which he won that Oscar. With a cast of, to American audiences, unknowns and Cuarón’s distinct ability with setting, showcased in Children of Men, Roma will have an authenticity unlike many other films. We’re beyond excited to see whatever this incredible filmmaker can concoct.

— Levi Hill

12. Untitled Adam McKay directed, Christian Bale starring Dick Cheney biopic

Gage Skidmore/Courtesy

Directed by: Adam McKay

Written by: Adam McKay

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Bill Pullman

Release date: 2018, currently in post-production

Who knew that Adam McKay, the man behind Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Step Brothers, is a magnificent drama director. Perhaps it should’ve been more obvious that McKay could make a film like The Big Short, a searing and sharp film dissecting a complex moment in recent history; his success in comedy shows that he’s a deeply intelligent storyteller as comedy is the hardest genre to pull off and pull off well. That McKay is continuing in this direction, this time dissecting ex-vice president Dick Cheney, is exciting on multiple levels. But that he’s also teaming up with Christian Bale, who is, arguably, the greatest method actor of our time outside of Daniel Day-Lewis and whose transformation for this role has been mind-boggling, and Amy Adams, one of the most underappreciated actresses in the game and someone who should have Oscar gold on her mantle already, is a near dream. Throw in Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush and what will surely be a script that does not hold back at critiquing that administration’s failures, and this film, rumored to be titled Backseat, will certainly be a knockout.

— Kyle Kizu

11. Wildlife

Eva Rinaldi/Courtesy

Directed by: Paul Dano

Written by: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould

Release date: Premiering at Sundance Film Festival in January 2018, will see a 2018 release date if, as expected, it is picked up by a distributor

Time will tell how Paul Dano’s directorial debut shapes up, because it’s premiering at Sundance within a few weeks. But Dano, as an actor who always chooses interesting projects, getting behind the camera is an intriguing proposition. Throw in the excellent starring duo of Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, and Wildlife, based on a true story adapted by Dano and his talented actress-writer-wife Zoe Kazan, might be the Sundance breakout of 2018 — at least on paper.

— Levi Hill

10. Ad Astra

Maximilian Bühn/Courtesy

Directed by: James Gray

Written by: James Gray, Ethan Gross

Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland

Release date: January 11, 2019, with an expected limited release in late 2018

After Two Lovers, The Immigrant and The Lost City of Z, James Gray has proven himself as a respectable filmmaker, a traditionalist with such refined filmmaking talent. The move, alone, into heavy sci-fi is fascinating; Ad Astra will follow an “Army Corps engineer (Brad Pitt) [searching] across the galaxy for his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who had disappeared on a mission to find alien life 20 years prior.” The concept sounds harrowing, like the perfect opportunity for more gripping traditional storytelling in such a visually wondrous setting. Shot by Hoyte van Hoytema (Her, Interstellar, Dunkirk) and produced by Plan B Entertainment team Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner (12 Years a Slave, Selma, The Big Short, Moonlight), Ad Astra is shaping up to be an absolute heavyweight production, and one that will surely have a limited release in December 2018 to compete for awards or change its official release date to late 2018.

— Kyle Kizu

9. Widows

Chris Cheung/Courtesy

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Written by: Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen

Starring: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya

Release date: November 16, 2018

Seriously, though, look at this cast — including the now Oscar-winning Viola Davis, she’s-everywhere Carrie Coon, the very underrated Michelle Rodriguez, the reforming-back-into-drama Liam Neeson, the breakout Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, and the multi-faceted and always interesting Colin Farrell — and tell us you’re not excited. Throw in Steve McQueen, the director of the Best Picture-winning 12 Years a Slave — who, to us, in only three films, has proved to be one of the most exciting directors today — and Gillian Flynn, the author and adapting screenwriter of Gone Girl, and Widows might just be the most prestigious film coming in 2018.

— Levi Hill

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Lucasfilm/Courtesy

Even with all of the production troubles that Solo: A Star Wars Story has gone through, this film is still an entry in the Star Wars franchise, which is, perhaps unfairly, enough to anticipate it anyway. To be fair to the film, Alden Ehrenreich is a wonderful choice to play a young Han Solo — his performance in Hail, Caesar! a testament to his talent — and the rest of the cast is filled with major players, Donald Glover being a badass choice for young Lando Calrissian. Co-writer Lawrence Kasdan deserves a lifetime of trust after writing The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark and, while a seemingly safe choice, Ron Howard is by no means a bad director. We’ll be there opening night.

— Kyle Kizu

7. Annihilation

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Alex Garland

Written by: Alex Garland

Starring: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez

Release date: February 23, 2018

Alex Garland stunned with his feature debut Ex Machina, which is already being hailed by most as one of the best sci-fi films of the 21st century. The film was not only written with careful, complex intelligence, but it was also directed with visuals that matched the story’s intrigue. To see Garland venture into sci-fi yet again, especially into what seems to be horror-sci-fi, considering that he’s also written 28 Days Later and Sunshine, is salivating. Based on a beloved novel and with a star-studded cast, Annihilation is, despite its shift to a February release date, a film that we cannot wait for, and one that we know, at least, will be a visual treat.

— Kyle Kizu

6. The Irishman

The Peabody Awards/Courtesy

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Written by: Steve Zaillian

Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano

Release date: 2018, currently filming

While Bright might have been Netflix’s first foray into big budget filmmaking, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman looks to be the first unqualified success into big budget filmmaking. Starring Scorsese regulars from his ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s heyday, like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, and featuring the gangster narrative trappings Scorsese has made classic after classic in, The Irishman seems to be Scorsese doing everything he loves, and Netflix’s willingness to allow Scorsese an unchecked or unquestioned vision might just convince more filmmakers to follow in his footsteps.

— Levi Hill

5. First Man

Gage Skidmore/Courtesy

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Written by: Josh Singer, Nicole Perlman

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jon Bernthal, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Release date: October 12, 2018

With La La Land, Damien Chazelle ventured to the stars metaphorically and musically. So, it was only appropriate that he make a movie that actually visits the stars. Re-teaming with Ryan Gosling, Chazelle will direct the story of Neil Armstrong. The character work should be fantastic, not only on an acting and directing side, but also based in great writing as Chazelle is directing a script from Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman and Spotlight and The Post co-writer Josh Singer. But no matter the story, after two spectacular films in a row, anything Chazelle does is something to look forward to.

— Kyle Kizu

4. Incredibles 2

Pixar/Courtesy

Directed by: Brad Bird

Written by: Brad Bird

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk

Release date: June 15, 2018

14 years in the making (and not a moment too late), Incredibles 2 is the latest in Pixar’s fairly recent string of sequels to its critically-acclaimed films. As we catch up with the Parrs immediately after the conclusion of The Incredibles, hopefully we’re treated to answers of some of the first film’s long gestating questions such as: “What are the limits of Jack-Jack’s powers?” or “Will Edna Mode ever officially get back into the super heroic fashion business?” but most importantly, “Where WAS his super-suit?”

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

3. Black Panther

Marvel/Courtesy

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Written by: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown

Release date: February 16, 2018

Housing a sterling directorial record comprised of 2013’s harrowing Fruitvale Station and 2015’s uplifting and invigorating Creed under his belt, Ryan Coogler enters the ever-expanding comic book genre with the newest, and arguably most exhilarating, solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Black Panther. While Captain America: Civil War solidly introduced T’Challa into an eclectic world beset by self-aware robots, mirror dimensions and wall-crawlers, Coogler’s Black Panther has distinguished itself so far by its fixation on the racial and cultural foundations at the core of the character. With trailers scored to the beat of RTJ and Vince Staples, a cast primarily made up of people of color and ideas like afro-futurism, monarchic injustice and the relationship between heritage/identity in play, it’s not physically possible to articulate how hotly we’re anticipating this cinematic landmark.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

2. Isle of Dogs

Fox Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Written by: Wes Anderson

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray

Release date: March 23, 2018

Wes Anderson has become one of the most idiosyncratic working directors, but, also, one of the most successful. His last film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, was his biggest box-office success, as well being his first film to gather not only an Oscar nomination for Best Picture,  but win multiple craft awards.

Adding new faces like Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Greta Gerwig, Courtney B. Vance and Scarlett Johansson next to Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum and Frances McDormand, Isle of Dogs takes Anderson back to stop-motion animation, where he’s scored an Oscar nomination for Fantastic Mr. Fox. Yet unlike Fox, Dogs looks to be a darker, if still charming tale.

Set in a near apocalyptic, dystopian future, Isle of Dogs premise is fascinating: all dogs of Japan are cast away to a deserted island due to a “canine flu” that has wiped away a good portion of the population. The young son of the Japanese president wants to get his dog back, though, so against all of his family’s wishes, he makes an epic journey to the island to get his trusted companion back. Along the way, the young boy is aided by fellow dogs.

With Anderson’s typical blend of whimsy, and potential heartache, Dogs looks to be a story that will surely make us all weep over the animals that give their lives to us.

— Levi Hill

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Marvel/Courtesy

Directed by: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo

Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Hiddleston

Release date: May 4, 2018

It’s all been building up to this, the arrival of Thanos to Earth. Ever since 2012, we’ve been waiting for that big purple guy in the post credits scene of Marvel’s The Avengers to show up. We saw glimpses of him in Guardians of the Galaxy and during the mid-credits scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron. And now, he’s here.

But he’s also arriving to a vastly different landscape than what was there in 2012. Both Iron Man and Captain America have seen fascinating character development throughout their trilogy of films, culminating in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. The Guardians of the Galaxy crew will finally join our heroes in the fight, crossing paths with our other galactic and now, apparently, hilarious hero Thor. Spider-Man and Black Panther are welcome additions to the team, with the former being a wonderfully interpreted younger version of Peter Parker and the latter being a badass, refreshing, layered hero from a different background that we will see more of in our #3 on this list, prior to Infinity War’s release. And while more female-led films need to come, Infinity War will bring together the many powerful women of Marvel: Black Widow, Gamora, Mantis, Nebula, Scarlet Witch, Okoye and, hopefully, Valkyrie.

As the trailer for Infinity War showed, this film has been 10 years in the making and it’s hard not to be swept up in the epic culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a phenomenon in modern cinema. Each film, alone, has been anywhere from modestly enjoyable to the pinnacle of blockbuster filmmaking, and Infinity War is the climax of everything. While there are other event films coming out in 2018, this is the event film, the film everyone will be talking about.

And we’re hopeful for it. There may be upwards of 30 — yes, 30 — characters in this film. But jumping over from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War are directors Joe and Anthony Russo, as well as screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and if anyone can handle this massive undertaking, it’s them.

Some major characters will surely die, which is devastating, but also ups the stakes massively and takes Marvel to a darker place that they’ve been far too afraid to explore.

Our heroes’ fight will be a valiant one to the end, the epitome of epic and an absolute treasure on the big screen.

— Kyle Kizu

 

Honorable mentions:

As said above, there are too many intriguing films coming out in 2018 to just list our top 25. We struggled to cross films off, so we felt that we had to mention many of the hardest ones to cut, compiling a list that, itself, would be a great top 25.

After delivering the best male lead performance of 2017, Timothèe Chalamet will be back, garnering an equally heavy role as a recovering meth addict with Steve Carell playing his father in Beautiful Boy. Denis Villeneuve’s brilliant Sicario will, strangely, receive a sequel with Soldado, which sees the return of Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro and writer Taylor Sheridan. Lynne Ramsay’s Cannes-premiering You Were Never Really Here, which already has outstanding reviews and won Joaquin Phoenix the Best Actor award at the French film festival, will finally screen in Spring 2018. Steven Spielberg will take on the “holy grail of pop culture” with Ready Player One. David Robert Mitchell, writer-director of It Follows, will team up with A24 for an underbelly Los Angeles-set neo-noir starring Andrew Garfield. Terrence Malick will return to the setting of war in his, apparently, more traditional film Radegund — that is, if he finishes his edit when expected, which is never expected. Gareth Evans, director of The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2 — deemed two of the best action films of the 21st century — will shift over to English language film with the religious cult drama Apostle, starring Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen.

We could go on and on throughout the whole list because each one genuinely is something we’ll be first in line to see. From David Lowery following up A Ghost Story with Old Man and the Gun, to Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie facing off in Mary, Queen of Scots, to Drew Goddard directing for the first time since The Cabin in the Woods with Bad Times at the El Royale, to two extraordinarily talented female directors in Jennifer Kent and Michelle MacLaren both making films titled The Nightingale, to Marielle Heller following up The Diary of a Teenage Girl with Can You Ever Forgive Me?, to performance capture master Andy Serkis stepping behind and in front of the camera for Jungle Book, to Terry Gilliam’s decades-in-the-making The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, these honorable mentions should still be on everyone’s radar.

 

Beautiful Boy

Soldado

You Were Never Really Here

Ready Player One

Under the Silver Lake

Radegund

Apostle

Fahrenheit 451

Halloween

Venom

Black Klansman

Maya

The Beach Bum

Mary, Queen of Scots

Old Man and the Gun

Bad Times at the El Royale

Mary Poppins Returns

The Nightingale (Michelle MacLaren)

The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)

The Favourite

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Jungle Book

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Destroyer

Outlaw King

 

Featured image via Marvel/Disney/Paramount/Universal.