The Most Anticipated Movies of 2018
This is a very subjective list (you won't see me getting excited about that new Mary Poppins movie or the Mamma Mia! sequel). And just like last year, I've divided my most anticipated into sequels/remakes and originals (20 each). Because I think there's a difference between getting excited for a continuation or remake than it is for something completely unknown. Plus I like doing it this way and it's my site, so I make the rules.
20. A Wrinkle in Time
Starring: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Jennifer Lee
March 9
People are freaking out over this movie. And I think with good reason. I'm not sure, I've never read the book or seen the straight-to-DVD version so I'm probably not the best person to take the temperature of how hot this movie is. Although having 3 badass women play what I can only assume is Disney's version of the Triforce is pretty cool. It seems like Disney is slowly taking over our pop culture lives and it will be only more transparent next year. But you know what? I'm fine with that as long as they can keep giving leading roles to women and putting them in the director's chair as well. DuVernay, who directed the Oscar-winning Selma a few years ago, is behind the camera and a good choice for the more female-focused story. And don't be surprised if Disney wants to fold this into their Marvel Universe:

"Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which turn out to be supernatural beings who transport Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe through the universe by means of tesseract, a fifth-dimensional phenomenon explained as being similar to folding the fabric of space and time." [ Wikipedia]

Yeah, the tesseract from The Avengers? Or did the Avengers get this from A Wrinkle in Time? I dunno, Everything is a Remix. Sooooo yeah, this looks like a trippy movie and I'm down for any kind of fantastical adventure. Especially if it involves the dreamy Chris Pine. This does remind me a bit of that Nickelodeon cartoon I remember called The Noozles about some stuffed koala bears that come to life that are trying to find their dad, who is trapped in another dimension. I remember being profoundly sad as a child while watching the whole show play out. I don't think this will be quite the same, but here's hoping this movie delves as deeply into mature themes as the book did.
19. Super Troopers
Starring: Broken Lizard, Brian Cox, Rob Lowe
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Writers: Broken Lizard
April 20
Super Troopers catapulted the Broken Lizard comedy group to worldwide fame. Through home video sales and rentals, the group was able to make a just as beloved comedy, Beerfest and a few others before going into obscurity the past 10 years. Through crowd funding, this sequel was made possible. Which is a sad state of affairs - this is almost going to be a guaranteed money maker (assuming the budget isn't that big) and I don't know why a studio wouldn't jump at producing this movie. And as much as I am looking forward to the sequel, I am hesitant to put this higher than what it is. It's very hard to make a good comedy sequel (as The Hangover Part II, Anchorman 2 and a whole lot more can attest to). I really think all these guys are hilarious, I just wish they were able to make more original comedies. Maybe the success of this sequel will spark a revival and we'll get to see more movies from them. As it stands, I'm looking forward to the hijinks of these Vermont jackasses. Hopefully they don't just re-tread the same jokes like they did in this pretty lame teaser above.
18. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Rosa Salazar
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin
January 26
This will probably finish up the last of those young adult sci-fi adaptations that started with Harry Potter, peaked at The Hunger Games and died with Divergent. I personally enjoyed the first two movies. I liked the first movie enough to read the trilogy and while the third book ended up being a bit of a disappointment, overall it was a fun series. The books are a lot more bonkers and violent and just straight-up bat-shit crazy than the movies (like the two main leads have telepathic powers between themselves and there are a lot more gory deaths done to the kids in the final two books). The Death Cure was supposed to get released this year, but O'Brien suffered a very gruesome set injury:

And then, just days into shooting that sequel, O’Brien was seriously injured in a stunt gone wrong. Pulled from one vehicle, he was reportedly struck by another, leaving him with a concussion, facial fracture, and brain trauma among his injuries. Production shut down for several weeks, then indefinitely. O’Brien withdrew from public view during his recovery as rumors flew that he might not return to the film. Half a year went by as O’Brien tried to heal and, at the lowest point in his life, mulled whether he wanted to continue his career at all. “I really was in a dark place there for a while and it wasn’t an easy journey back,” says O’Brien. “There was a time there where I didn’t know if I would ever do it again … and that thought scared me, too.” [ Vulture]

Shit, man. I think we all need to see this movie just to see how ballsy this guy is. I mean, I get scared getting into the shower or my wife tickling me while driving, so yeah, that's pretty insane and luckily he was able to recover. As far as the story goes, this is a conclusion, although the actual plot and twists and turns in the narrative of the trilogy are a little muddy. Like, the big baddy wants to psychologically induce a cure through torture of kids...or something? I dunno, it all was a big mystery even after I finished the book - which is to say that I don't know how the movie will handle everything. I thought the books would end with a more clever twist or solution, but instead it ended up being a lot of bang bag, pew pew, people die kinda ending. I guess it doesn't matter, I really enjoyed the second movie more than I should've, so I'm all in for this final one.
17. Sicario 2: Soldado
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin
Director: Stefano Sollima
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
June 29
Sicario was one of my favorite films from 2015 and Denis Villneueve has become the hot director as of late. It's too bad he won't be back for the somewhat-of-a-sequel Soldado. The great twist at the end of the movie was that this wasn't about Emily Blunt's character at all. This was Del Toro's character's movie the whole time. It's just that Blunt hijacked the movie (for the better) and her character's perspective on the assassin Alejandro made for a gripping watch. But now the cat's out of the bag for this movie and we're going to be following the assassin on who-knows-what kind of adventure. If the film can match the intensity of Sicario, I'm going to be stoked. Although it's a totally green director - Sollima hasn't really directed an American film - the writer, Sheridan, is the hot stuff right now. He's written critically acclaimed titles like Hell or High Water, Wind River and the original Sicario. So I think we'll be in for a treat story-wise. If the direction can match the quality of the writing, this could be one of those stumbled-upon franchise makers (think John Wick).
16. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Jon Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan
May 25
The film has been through the ringer. The second of what Disney is calling their "Anthology" Star Wars films, Solo has seen some talented directors leave after clashing creatively with producer Kathleen Kennedy. It seems like they had a certain vision for the film and it was not what Kennedy wanted. Which is sad, Chris Miller and Phil Lord (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) would have brought some weird manic energy to the flick. But now the film is in the hands of the safe-bet, color-in-the-lines Ron Howard. Don't get me wrong, Howard has done some wonderful movies in the past (Rush, Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon), but I feel like this movie is going to need a little crazy.

Because honestly? I really don't want to know the origin story of Han Solo. I'd rather really just keep Ford's version in my head. Of course I'm going to watch this when it comes out because, hey, it's still a Star Wars film. But I'm a little disappointed that I won't get to see something truly crazy. Who knows? Maybe Howard will surprise. I equate this to the Ant-Man movie - sure, it was unfortunate that Edgar Wright didn't get to direct his vision of the movie, but the movie was actually pretty good. It could've been great, but it wasn't a disaster, nor was it just okay. It was good and that's all I can hope that Solo will turn out. I'm not too high on their casting of Ehrenreich only because he hasn't been in anything, but the same could've been said about Ford in the first Star Wars. The rest of the cast I'm delighted about - Glover is perfect for Lando and Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany and Thandie Newton round out a really solid supporting cast. It's written by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon. Lawrence is most notably known for writing The Empire Strikes Back, so we can only hope things turn out great again.
15. Ocean's 8
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett
Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Olivia Milch, Gary Ross
June 8
This movie couldn't possibly come out at a better time. If only the Ghostbusters reboot had the momentum of the #MeToo movement, maybe it might have done better at the box office. That movie got unfair treatment despite it being a pretty solid comedy. As much as I say this movie might benefit from the unfolding events of 2017, it might just be a really bad remake. the Ocean's trilogy were fun movies (although 12 was a bit too obnoxious) and hopefully they can recreate the same magic.

The cast is top notch - there's Oscar winners (Blanchett, Bullock, Hathaway) and newer faces (Olivia Munn, Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling) so I think they got it covered. Gary Ross, best known for The Hunger Games, will be directing off a script by Olivia Milch, who has only one other credit, a teen comedy coming out in 2018 called Dude. Basically Bullock plays Danny Ocean's estranged sister Debbie and wants to pull off her own heist in New York at the Met Gala - so she assembles her own team.

A lot of the unknown in this movie falls on the script. I can't imagine the producers (including Clooney and Soderbergh) not having any trust in Milch's script - they must like what she wrote. As long as it doesn't re-tread the same characters as before, this could be a fun remake/sequel.
14. Aquaman
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman
Director: James Wan
Writer: Will Beall
December 21
DC films have been on a rollercoaster these past few years. They've tried desperately to replicate the success of Marvel to varying degrees of success. Man of Steel had started things off with an okay reception, then Batman v Superman happened and no one was excited in the dark, gritty and sometimes dumb take on those beloved superheroes. Suicide Squad had a great trailer, but that was about it. So it was a breath of fresh air when Wonder Woman came out and blew away expectations. Justice League was kind of a mess, but everyone agreed it was better than BvS, which wasn't saying much. And now it seems like DC and Warner Bros. aren't really doing a cinematic universe like they said they were. The only movie they got going for next year is Aquaman.

The only reason I have this movie on here is because A) Momoa is fantastic as Aquaman, who brings a lot of swagger and badassery to a character that has been the butt of jokes for decades and B) James Wan is the director - best known for The Conjuring 1 & 2 and Fast & Furious 7. I think he's got a good eye for action and beautifully choreographed shots. So yeah, I don't know anything about the story, but it sounds like it's going to tread a lot of the same ground the original Thor did, just that it takes place in the ocean. Which cool, I'm down for that and hopefully it's a little more original than that. But DC doesn't seem to know what they're doing with these films more than half the time. They got lucky with Wonder Woman, so maybe they're better off telling stories of lesser known characters for now.
13. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
Starring: John C. Reilly, Kristen Bell, Sarah Silverman
Directors: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Writers: Phil Johnston, Pamela Ribon
November 21
Wreck-It Ralph was one of the better animated films from the past 5 years and it took long enough to get a sequel. It seems that Disney is employing several of their other properties and all the princesses will show up, including Anna from Frozen and Rapunzel from Tangled. In fact, it seems like this is going to be the Magic Kingdom movie that Disney wants to do so badly:

The film will also feature appearances of all the Disney Princessesincluding: Jodi Benson as Ariel, Paige O'Hara as Belle, Linda Larkin as Jasmine, Irene Bedard as Pocahontas, Ming-Na Wen as Mulan, Anika Noni Rose as Tiana, Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, Kelly Macdonald as Merida, Kristen Bell as Anna, Idina Menzel as Queen Elsa, and Auli'i Cravalho as Moana; all of which are reprising their roles from previous films, while Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora will be voiced by new actresses. C-3PO, R2-D2, Yoda and Princess Leia from Star Wars, and Iron Man and Gamora from Marvel Comics, will appear in the film as well. [ Wikipedia]

So yeah, I'll definitely have to check this out. As much as I loathe Disney for buying Fox and slowly swallowing up our pop culture lives (we'll soon have to refer to movies as just Disneys), only they could make something like this happen.
12. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 
Starring: Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Johnny Depp
Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
November 16
Fantastic Beasts was at once a risk for Warner Bros. but at the same time a no-brainer. Harry Potter has been extremely lucrative for the studio and it only makes sense to expand upon that universe. Just how good these new movies could be and perform was up to debate. And while the movie has some loose connections to Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts was,  by and large a whole new story with new characters. Eddie Redmayne really hammed it up as Newt Scamander and Katherine Waterston is quickly becoming one of my new faves to look out for and really shined in this movie. Putting the Potter universe in America during the 1920s really set up a whole new aesthetic for the series and it worked out really well. The beasts were clearly the stars of the show and the movie might've had some missteps with some of the characters, but it does a good job of setting up a new set of movies.

Rowling and company have worked out an outline of 4 additional movies, telling the tale of Albus Dumbledore and his dealings with the evil Grindelwald. Jude Law will be playing the iconic Dumbledore while Johnny Depp will play his archnemesis. Depp seems like a bad casting choice - he's done nothing impressive as of late and his personal life seems like he escaped the #MeToo movement a year early with his much-publicized divorce with Amber Heard. So yeah, I don't like Depp that much and I'm not looking forward to seeing him onscreen. But he's not what I'm here for. I'm here for some more quirky wizarding and witchcraft. I'm here for more beasts and seeing how they handle characters that have been mentioned in passing in both books and movies.

David Yates is back from the previous Fantastic Beasts (and the last 4 Harry Potter films) to direct and J.K. Rowling is stepping in to write the screenplay just like she did for the previous movie. It's safe to say if you enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie, this one is going to be a safe bet.
11. Deadpool 2
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Josh Brolin
Director: David Leitch
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
June 1
I didn't know much about Deadpool when it came out of nowhere in 2016, nor did most of the movie-going public. But somehow it managed to defy expectations and become the second highest grossing R-rated movie (behind Passion of the Christ). It was a fun and obscene superhero movie, something we've never seen before. So of course anticipation is high for a sequel to this action comedy. I didn't put this higher because I think it's going to be hard to pull off another shocker like the first one did. Comedy sequels are hard and I'd firmly plant this movie more in the comedy section than the superhero section.

The sequel does have the same writers, but with a new director, whose previous effort has been the really good John Wick. It's safe to say that the movie will be in good hands. Luckily, the story has a lot of potential. Josh Brolin will be playing Cable, the perfect foil for Deadpool. He's a do-gooder and they're going to team up for what should be a more interesting story than the first movie:

Simply put, by introducing Cable in the Deadpool sequel, 20th Century Fox is ultimately laying the groundwork for an X-Force franchise. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds has already confirmed that getting X-Force made is his #1 priority...The X-Force is a strike team that evolved from New Mutants. Led by Cable, the group sought to take a more proactive approach with mutant threats, often putting them at odds with Professor Xavier's peaceful method. [ MTV]

And we'll be seeing a New Mutants movie next year as well (more on that later). But with Disney possibly acquiring Fox, plans beyond this year will be up in the air. I have a lot to say about this acquisition, but I won't air my grievances here. Needless to say, this should be an easy slam dunk, but I will repeat, comedy sequels are hard.
10. Creed II
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Writers: Sylvester Stallone, Cheo Hodari Coker
November 21
Creed had no business being as good as it was. But just like the original Rocky, Creed put forward a great boxing story with some great characters. It also didn't hurt that Ryan Coogler wrote and directed the movie. He has a good chemistry with Michael B. Jordan while directing Fruitvale Station and their pairing shined again in that movie. Sylvester Stallone had a nice presence in the movie, but didn't overshadow the new kid.

Things are pretty tight-lipped about the plot, but Lundgren will be reprising his role as Ivan Drago, the man who killed Creed's father. It's looking like he'll have his own son and I'm guessing this is going to end up being the fight of the century between the two. Luke Cage writer Cheo Hodari Coker is writing the script along with Stallone so I expect this to be stellar.

At the same time, this is going to be pure schlock. I mean, how can it not when the basis of some of the characters is from possibly the most over-the-top Rocky movie? I expect some more nuance and subtlety, and as much as Coogler was a surprise director, it looks like Steven Caple Jr. is being groomed in the same way. With only one critically-acclaimed indie movie under his belt, Creed II is looking to repeat the same formula and come up with boxing movie gold. 
9. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Starring: Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Paul Rudd
July 6
Much hand-wringing was written over the departure of Edgar Wright from the Ant-Man movie. And as much as I would've like to see Wright's vision come to life, Peyton Reed stepped into the director's chair and did a wonderful job taking the movie and making it fun and one of the move underrated Marvel movies. This was one of the more comedic Marvel movies and the cast was perfect. Unfortunately the movie spent way too much time sidelining it's female characters (a problem Marvel has in general), so hopefully this sequel can deliver on the promise of the end-credits scene in the first movie.

All of the cast is back plus we're getting Michelle Pfeiffer back in the superhero game with her playing Janet van Dyne, the mother of Lilly's character, Hope. And you got Laurence Fishburne playing Goliath, a superhero who's like the anti-Ant-Man. Details are slim on the plot, but it looks like they'll be going up against a villain Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen, a supersmart techie who can go invisible. The script is written by a lot of people, but McKenna and Sommers are both known for writing awesome comedy on TV (Community, Mindy Project, Happy Endings) and some really good action comedies lately (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Lego Batman and Jumanji). I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy this one if it all comes together well.

Ant-Man and the Wasp comes out as the last MCU movie for 2018 which might have it take place right after Avengers: Infinity War, standing as a set-up to the big finale. But the first Ant-Man really was, for the most part, a stand-alone film and I wouldn't be surprised if the sequel remains the same way. Either way, this should be another slam dunk for Marvel.
8. X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
Director: Simon Kinberg
Writer: Simon Kinberg
November 2
Say what you will about the current X-Men series, I've enjoyed most of them. Sure, Apocalypse was not that good. But it wasn't dreadful. In the age of superhero movies that happen to be really good movies, the last X-Men movie was...okay. The villain was just plain dumb, but it was fun to see the new cast of characters and it has some excellent action.

This will probably be the end of this set of X-Men movies with the current cast. Not only does it seem like the Dark Phoenix story is a finale for the characters, Fox might still be bought out by Disney and it will only be a matter of time before they fold these characters into the MCU. But this movie will try and be a course correction for the abysmal Last Stand from 2006. That movie saw the botched adaptation of the Jean Grey's Dark Phoenix storyline and fans were not too happy and it nearly ruined the franchise. Luckily it's led to a phenomenal new series, starting with First Class.

With the Dark Phoenix, the X-Men will have to make tough decisions when Jean Grey becomes corrupted by her powers. The cast is all back and there's a new director at the helm. First time director, but a long-time writer Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Apocalypse). But he also wrote the pretty bad Fantastic Four reboot and the aforementioned X-Men Last Stand as well. So maybe he's going to make up for his mistakes with this one? I dunno, but we're lucky that douchebag Bryan Singer isn't around anymore to muddy up the series.

The future of the X-Men is uncertain, at least as far as movies are concerned. There's a whole lot going on in this universe, with Deadpool and The New Mutants coming out next year and Disney acquiring the rights to the characters. We'll see how things shake out, but this should be a fitting end and a good farewell to this version of these characters.
7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum
Director: J.A. Bayona
Writers: Colin Trevarrow, Derek Connolly
June 22
I was a huge fan of Jurassic World. Despite all the backlash, it was a return to form for the series. With a mix of adventure, horror and action, the film did a good job of paying homage to the original while doing new things. Now it's unclear whether this one will continue the solid foundation Jurassic World set - it could turn out to be another Lost World (not good) or it might end up reviving a series and really cementing this as a franchise to look forward to.

The trailer looks decent, but it is just a teaser, so I expect there's a lot they're not showing us. We might be reaching peak Chris Pratt here, so enjoy him while you can. I expect there to be a backlash against him this year as we find we're tired of his schtick (I won't be, but I'm guessing the internets might). It looks like most of the cast is returning, plus we get Goldblum who is reprising his brilliant role as Ian Malcolm. And the writers are back as well, Trevarrow steps down as director to make way for J.A. Bayona, a under-the-radar director who has some solid movies under his belt (The Impossible, A Monster Calls).

I don't think we'll see as big a box office number like Jurassic World got, but I expect this to be one of the biggest movies of the summer. I have high expectations that it will deliver on providing some stunning set pieces while at the same time scaring the shit out of us.
6. Mission: Impossible 6
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
July 27
Mission: Impossible is the new Fast & Furious. In that, they keep getting better with age. Rogue Nation was just as good, if not better, than Ghost Protocol and everyone is back for more of the same. So expect some fun and epic action set pieces and Tom Cruise running around like a maniac.

The even better news is that Rebecca Ferguson is back as the perfect foil for Tom Cruise and she's being joined by Superman himself, Henry Cavill and Vanessa Kirby (The Crown) and Angela Bassett. I won't go so far as to say Rogue Nation was a pretty feminist movie, but it had much meatier roles for women than a lot of action franchises (Bond, Bourne). There's not much word on what's going to happen in this movie, but does it really matter? As long as the action is awesome and we get some interesting spy-on-spy intrigue, I'm all in.
5. The Incredibles 2
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Brad Bird
June 15
After what seems like an eternity, Brad Bird is finally delivering a sequel to one of the most cherished Pixar movies. Much has been written lately about Pixar and their decline ever since Disney bought them out. Which is kinda true, they've focused a lot on sequels with mixed results and their original movies haven't garnered as much acclaim as their classics. But they still churn out good movies and the Incredibles has always been begging for a sequel.

There's absolutely no info on this sequel but the cast is back and the Bird is back, so I think it's safe to say this should be a quality movie. Whether is manages to be as good or better than the original will be up for grabs.
4. Tomb Raider
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Kristen Scott Thomas
Director: Roar Uthaug
Writers: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons
March 16
I know, this is ridiculous, right? I mean, I've never even seen the original Tomb Raider movies. But I've been a fan of the Tomb Raider games ever since I convinced my dad to buy the game while we were at Best Buy. I'm pretty sure my dad felt sorry for me because we just came back from the doctor after a dose of chemotherapy and it was all I was talking about on the drive to the hospital. So yeah, I've played all the Tomb Raider games and while they started out pretty dumb and brought out the worst, misogynistic characteristics of the video game industry, the reboot that started in 2013 really brought a depth to the character no one had seen before. It was, frankly, a fun and terrifying game and it looks like from the trailer that the movie is taking a lot of cues from this particular series of the Tomb Raider franchise. I mean, take a look at the video game trailers here and here and you'll get an idea of how much influence it has on the movie trailer. I'm glad their bringing the red axe into the fold here.

Which is exciting - but I'm excited to see Alicia Vikander kick some ass and do some raidin'. Vikander came onto the scene pretty loud after winning an Oscar for The Danish Girl and I've been in love since her portrayal of a sinister A.I. in Ex Machina. Walter Goggins is always good at playing the villain and I think Kristen Scott Thomas looks like she's playing a similar villain from one of the earlier games.

The director, despite having a great name, really hasn't done any big-budget movies, but that doesn't matter as much to me for a movie like this. The writers are fairly green as well. So while I don't expect a movie like this to light up the Oscars with stellar writing, I'm hoping that the plot and characters are at least written well. They have a lot of history and depth already with Lara Croft, so it shouldn't be that hard to find a good character arc for her.

What I'm most excited is that we're finally getting that action/adventure itch that's been largely absent in blockbuster movies lately. I won't say this is going to be as good as an Indiana Jones movie, but it seems like there hasn't been something like this in a long time. There's been lots of hand-wringing over video game movie adaptations and there was utter failure in last year's Assassin's Creed despite a lot of buzz and talent. I'm hoping this one at least delivers on what the trailer is selling.
3. Pacific Rim Uprising
Starring: John Boyega, Tian Jing, Scott Eastwood
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Writers: Steven S. DeKnight, T.S. Nowlin, Kira Snyder, Emily Carmichael
March 23
Pacific Rim was Guillermo del Toro's love letter to monster movies. While he's currently getting lots of praise and nominations for his newest movie, The Shape of Water, he's passed on the torch to a new cast and crew. And I can't wait to dive back into this world. Pacific Rim was just a blast - it didn't take itself too seriously and it had some very fun action.

This time around, it's been 10 years later and there's a new generation of soldiers ready to take on the next wave of monsters coming out of the ocean. I'm just excited to see more battles between giant robots and monsters. It doesn't hurt that John Boyega (Star Wars) is on board playing Idris Elba's son in, which is such sublime casting. Scott Eastwood looks like he's playing a stereotypical military dude, which okay, sure. I'm not here for the rich character development anyways.

The movie is written and directed by Steven S. DeKnight (Netflix's Daredevil) with a lot of help from other screenwriters who've had varied experience. I mean, the script doesn't matter in this one to be honest. I mean, sure, I want some human drama and the stakes have to be appropriately set up, but I trust they'll get this one right. March is looking to be a really fun month with a lot of big time action movies.
2. Predator
Starring: Olivia Munn, Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Jane
Director: Shane Black
Writers: Shane Black, Fred Dekker
August 3
Oh boy, nothing like a late summer R-rated action horror movie. I have such fond memories of the original that I can't wait to see what Shane Black has in store for us. Black was one of the original cast and has written quite a lot of fun action films (Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero, Iron Man 3). He recently moved into the directors chair with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and it is one of my all-time faves. So yes, this should be loud and gory and just full of great one-liners.

And while I don't remember anything about Predator 2, I thought the 2010 Predators wasn't too bad. Sure, it was completely different from the rest of the franchise, but I thought it was an interesting take on the premise where the humans get taken to a hunting planet to be killed. This new movie is reportedly taking place after Predator 2 and it's set in the suburbs. Apparently there's a bunch of Iraq war veterans who find themselves being hunted. The cast is so diverse and just...weird (about as weird as Adrien Brody and Topher Grace and Danny Trejo). Olivia Munn has always been a favorite and Boyd Holbrook was fantastic in this year's Logan. Add in action staple Thomas Jane, plus comedian Keegan-Michael Key and child actor Jacob Tremblay and you go the makings of a memorable cast.

Black has been on record saying they want to make this an event-level film while at the same time creating a more intimate film like the original. There's been a lot of talk about this film invoking the spirit of the original and I'm completely sold on this PR spin. Sign me up.
1. Avengers: Infinity War
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Anthony & Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
May 4
What else could #1 be? I mean, y'all know I'm a big-time Marvel fan and they haven't let me down. Even their bad movies are still pretty good and this is just going to be the beginning of the end for Phase 3. I mean, we're 10 years into this experiment Marvel started with Iron Man and things are moving along quite nicely. The same team behind the last two Captain America movies are helming this one and the fourth Avengers movie, so I think they'll be able to handle the epicness of it all.

They've been referring to this movie as a heist movie, where Thanos, the big baddie lurking in the shadows of the credits in some of these Marvel films, starts to steal all the infinity gems/stones so he can conquer the galaxy. It will be interesting to see how the movie handles his character. Like, besides having ultimate power, what's his motivation? I'm hoping they can write a decent character because they've revealed very little about him so far.

We've come a long way since the first Avengers. This is what I wrote back in 2011 regarding that upcoming film (#9!):

This is every Marvel fanboy's wet dream come true. The culmination of five movies (The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor and Captain America) that laid the groundwork for this penultimate comic book film kick starts the summer movie season. I don't believe this movie can live up to the amount of hype that the internet has heaped upon it, but I'm sure it's going to be a real good time at the theater. The only thing that can get in the way of this movie is the fact that there are so many characters! On top of the main cast which includes Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk; you have Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen, previously seen kicking some butt in tight leather in Iron Man 2) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner who had a very small cameo in Thor). PLUS! You have Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role again as Nick Fury, who until now, has only been on the sidelines gathering up the team to create The Avengers. To say this is a big movie is not doing it justice. I don't know how long it's going to be, but I seriously wouldn't mind a three-hour action-packed popcorn flick. I have faith Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy, Dollhouse and Firefly, can shine in this movie. If he can't make a great movie out of this, then really no one can. Obviously this is a guaranteed box office hit - I don't know how much it will make domestically, but worldwide? Probably at least $500 million, and that's a conservative estimate. So we can probably expect more of these movies on the horizon. I don't want to get my hopes up, but secretly I want to be blown away by this movie. The trailers released so far haven't wowed me, but that's probably a good thing because I can only expect they're saving the best stuff for the actual movie (or on the other, more depressing side of the coin, this is all they've got to wow us. Sad face). And you know what I'm most excited about? Cobie Smulders doing something outside of How I Met Your Mother! I hope she has a significant role which might be hard to come by with all this stuff jampacked into the movie. I can only dream. But what a great way to start off the summer!

Wow, I really tampered my expectations. I was excited about that movie and it really did live up to the hype. And here were are 6 years later and I am not worried one bit. Sure, the other Avengers movie was just okay, but this one has more talented directors and writers than Age of Ultron. I think Joss Whedon was a good choice to usher in this new era of superhero team-ups, but the Russo brothers know how to handle a large cast of characters and make it look and feel exciting and intimate all at the same time.

So yes, I'm hoping there will be some really long, 2-day marathon involving all the Marvel movies of which I can participate, otherwise I'm doing my own thing because this will be epic.
20. Crazy Rich Asians
Starring: Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding
Director: John M. Chu
Writers: Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim
August 17
Romantic comedies haven't been a big deal for years now. Although to say the genre is dead is a bit misleading. One of the best movies this year, The Big Sick, is straight up a rom-com and unafraid to be called one. They've mainly been relegated to indie films lately, but the genre was pumping out a lot each year up until the early 2010s. It's just that those rom-coms mostly sucked (Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, Leap Year, The Back-Up Plan, What's Your Number, When in Rome, Killers, Just Go With It. Geez that list is long and that's just movies from 2 years. In fact 2010 & 2011 are filled with just pure awfulness, with only a few standouts like Something Borrowed and Crazy, Stupid, Love).

Anyway, back to the actual movie. Crazy Rich Asians is based on the book of the same name and it's a fish-out-of-water rom-com. Except this fish is an American-born Chinese girl who finds herself dating another Asian who's secretly rich and they fly back to Singapore to go to his friend's wedding. The title says it all and I think the fact that the pretty much all-Asian cast could make for a very fun and funny movie. Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat) is the hot thing right now and she seems like the perfect fit for the lead character.

I doubt this movie will revitalize the genre, but this will be a fun, end-of-summer comedy that could become a hit if it ends up being clever instead of filled with bad stereotypes and cliches.
19. The Women of Marwen
Starring: Steve Carrell, Diane Kruger, Leslie Mann
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Caroline Thompson, Robert Zemeckis
November 21
Based on a documentary about a man recovering from a brutal attack, The Women of Marwen is about Mark Hogancamp's imaginative creation of Marwencol, a 1/6 scale World War II-era Belgian town filled with characters pulled from Hogancamp's life. Instead of re-telling the story told in the documentary, this movie will be about the actual characters inhabiting this fictional town.

Which is awesome, I think the story of Hogancamp has already been told and to bring to life his creation seems only fitting. This movie can be about anything, but it seems like Zemeckis is really stoked to make this pretty crazy:

 I wrote it, and it's a much more... it's a movie. It takes the essence of it, and then just blows it out. It's action packed! [Cinemablend]

So yeah, this sounds like it's going to be a little different and the story could be anything! It seems like they're pretty serious about this film - they hired a German actor to play the villain in the movie, so who the hell knows what kind of World War II story they'll tell. Zemeckis is one of those legendary directors who can kind of do anything - his resume includes Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Flight, Contact, What Lies Beneath and Cast Away. He's a reliable director and writer and I think after his mediocre animated phase (Polar Express, Beowulf, Christmas Carol), he's been on a roll with dramas like The Walk and Flight. The other writer, Caroline Thompson, has written such wonderfully bizarre scripts like Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Addams Family, so I think this could be a potentially weird and quirky movie.
18B. Rampage
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomie Harris
Director: Brad Peyton
Writers: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan Condal, Adam Sztykiel
April 20
We shouldn't be surprised this movie is happening. I mean, we did get a movie about emojis this year. So why not take a kinda-popular arcade game from the 80s that shamelessly steals from King Kong and Godzilla and make it into a movie? I mean, the only reason we're here is because of Dwayne Johnson. That man can make anything infinitely watchable, including that G.I. Joe movie, Hercules and San Andreas. Speaking of San Andreas, which has the most inexplicable cameo of Kylie Minogue alongside Star Trek with Tyler Perry, this pretty much looks like San Andreas. Just replace earthquakes with giant animals and swap out evil Kylie Minogue with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and there ya go.

I can't say I'm super stoked about this movie, but it looks like a big, giant dumb mess that I will gladly watch with glee while I woof down some popcorn and hot dogs. Certainly this is worth a matinee showing, right?
18A. Skyscraper
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
July 13
Here's the plot:

FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he's been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building...above the fire line.

So...another San Andreas movie? But kinda like Die Hard too? Mixed with The Fugitive? I mean, this is the reason I cheated a little bit on this part of the list. I couldn't not have both Rock movies on here. And to be honest, it seems like they're going to be the same kind of popcorn action flick. What's really weird about this movie is that it's written and directed by Thurber, the writer/director behind Dodgeball and We're the Millers. He also did that Rock movie Central Intelligence, so maybe he thinks he's got the chops to do a straight up action movie. Dunno, but the same things I said about Rampage applies here. It's going to be loud and dumb and a big mess, but hells yes I watch the hell out of this.
17B. Love, Simon
Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner
Director: Greg Berlanti
Writers: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
March 16
I am a huge sucker for coming of age stories. Lady Bird is one of my faves this year and there seems to be a healthy dose of these movies every year. In fact, Nick Robinson, who plays the lead in this movie, was in one of the better coming-of-age movies I've seen in the past few years with Kings of Summer. It seems like he's going to be the next big thing, along with Ansel Elgort, of the dreamy white boy variety. Which is cool. Aaaaanyways, there need to be more movies like this. Just like, gay lead characters. And not just coming of age stories. Why can't we have a gay action character who saves a dude from a burning building? Maybe this movie will be the start of a cascade of big-name titles with more minorities in lead roles. I can only hope.

But yeah, Greg Berlanti is directing, which is interesting because he's been the CW man as of late - producing and writing several shows like Arrow, The Flash, Riverdale and a lot more TV. He's only really done one big-budget film, Life as We Know It, an okay romantic comedy. So it'll be interesting to see him back behind the camera. My wife is obsessed with Riverdale and I did enjoy the first two seasons of The Flash andArrow, so I don't doubt Berlanti can deliver. The writing duo is best known for their breakout hit TV show This is Us, a melodramatic family drama. So yeah, I think the experience will help shape the story here. While probably a bit more accessible than Call Me By Your Name, it still looks like it's going to try and make being gay a more mainstream story in Hollywood. Hopefully it works.
17A. Boy Erased
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Joel Edgerton, Nicole Kidman
Director: Joel Edgerton
Writer: Joel Edgerton
September 28
A lot more serious, this coming-of-age tale tackles the darker side of coming out. Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, the story deals with Conley, the son of a soon-to-be Baptist pastor, who is forced into gay conversion therapy and trying to live through the terrible ordeal.

I couldn't not include this film when I started to make this list and I put Love, Simon on it. I think these films are important in that they expose these awful institutions and beliefs that permeate in our culture. So while it's hard for me get super excited about a movie with a subject like this, I'm looking forward to the message it brings and more than likely the powerful performances it will have. Edgerton is directing his sophomore effort after the well-received The Gift. And he's been a fantastic actor as well, so I think this movie is in good hands. I recently saw Lucas Hedges in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and while he only has a supporting role, he was impressive playing the son of Frances McDormand's wild character. This could be an Oscar contender for next year.
16. Alita: Battle Angel
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writers: James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Laeta Kalogridis
July 20
This movie has been a dream of James Cameron's for quite a while now. Originally he bought the rights to the Japanese manga way back in 2000 and has been trying to get a movie going ever since. Of course, there has been much hand-wringing over the trailer that got released a couple weeks ago. Mostly because of those large, uncanny valley-like eyes on the main character. I mean, I get it, but it's really not that big of a deal. Leave it to the internet to get all bent out of shape because something they like didn't turn out perfectly like they expected (coughTheLastJedicough).

Which, I don't know. About this movie that is. I mean, most of the time when Hollywood tries to adapt a beloved Eastern/Asian comic/show/movie, it usually ends in disaster. Ghost in the Shell and Death Note are just a couple recent examples. So I hesitate to put this any higher, but Cameron does know his shit. And as much as everyone loves to hate on Avatar now, I still think it was a fun, epic movie. But the director is Robert Rodriguez, the cultish director who's done everything from Desperado to Spy Kids. I imagine this will fall somewhere in between. My best guess is that the studio is going to push for a PG-13 rating and try to make this film appeal to the broadest audience as possible. The cast looks fantastic - Rosa Salazar is a newcomer - she was in the Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials lately and maybe this might be her breakout role? Plus you have the always charming Waltz and safe-bet Jennifer Connelly in what looks like a going-against-type villain role. And Mahershala Ali, fresh off his Oscar win playing a supporting role. 

Which is a shame, the story sounds awesome - a cyborg is found in a garbage heap with her memory erased and becomes a bounty hunter while trying to figure out her mysterious past. It sounds a lot like Ghost in the Shell, which, well, it does cover a lot of similar territory. So it remains to be seen if anyone will be interested in this story. I'm interested, but worry that the movie will pander to 13 year-old boys instead of being a kick-ass adventure set in a cyberpunk future.
15. Mary Queen of Scots
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, David Tennant
Director: Josie Rourke
Writer: Beau Willimon
November 2
Ahhhh, this is in my wheelhouse. I do love me some British period piece drama. I loved the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth movies, which I don't think get as much love as they should. I even loved the mostly boring The Other Boleyn Girl. Seriously, the Royal family history is messed up. British history before the 19th century is simply confusing. Thankfully, there's a very informative, pretty funny video about the history of the British royal family. Mary Queen of Scots had a very complicated life, not only because she was married several times, but she had a legitimate argument to be the rightful heir to the English throne.

This movie looks like it will cover Mary's attempt to overthrow Elizabeth I's throne and her subsequent imprisonment at the hands of the Queen. The title role is played by the impeccable Saoirse Ronan, who I've mentioned numerous times as being one of my faves. Ronan is Irish, so it is a little funny to see her play such a fiercely Scottish role. Margot Robbie will be playing Elizabeth, which I'm looking forward to seeing how she fills another iconic role. The film is directed by a somewhat green director Josie Rourke whose past experience has been directing stage plays. Beau Willimon, best known for writing The Ides of March and House of Cards episodes, has written the script so I don't doubt the quality of the script.

This could possibly be an Oscar contender next year and it might nab Ronan another Oscar nomination as well (if she gets nominated for Lady Bird this year, that will make it 4 nominations in 11 years). I do love me some Oscar-worthy period pieces and this looks fantastic with the talent involved.
14. Chappaquiddick
Starring: Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Ed Helms
Director: John Curran
Writers: Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan
April 8
From British royalty to American royalty, Chappaquiddick is about the sensational story of Ted Kennedy, the last Kennedy brother and his scandal involving his crash off a one-lane bridge which resulted in the death of the passenger in the car, Mary Jo Kopechne. I've always been fascinated by the Kennedys and the 1960s. Ted Kennedy was seen as the last great hope for the family to retake the presidency. After the assassination of JFK Jr and Robert Kennedy, Ted was probably facing enormous pressure to live up to his older brothers' legacies. And then along comes this incident at Chappaquiddick and almost derails his political career. He certainly wouldn't run for president after this, but he was a successful congressman for over 40 years.

Mystery and tragedy have stuck around the Kennedys for years and the accident at Chappaquiddick seems like there was a lot more going on than what you can gleam from a simple Wikipedia page. I'm sure there's been several accounts of what went down, but the movie seems to be taking a more one-sided view of things. The trailer does look a bit heavy handed. I thought for sure this might be an awards contender, but after watching the trailer and seeing the release date, I don't think this is going to be much a release.

The cast looks great, but Ed Helms seems a bit miscast here. And the accents! Dear lord, those accents are worse than Mayor Quimby or his son from The Simpsons ( Shau-dare? It's CHOW DUH). So yeah, this does look a bit straight-to-DVD, which is sad because I think a story like this deserves a bigger budget and a more objectionable look at things. I feel like this story will always be a mystery and that Ted probably went to his grave with a lot of secrets, so I'm anxious to see this movie just to see where it fills in those missing pieces.
13. I Feel Pretty
Starring: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams
Directors: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Writers: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
June 29
Schumer will play "Renee Bennett, an ordinary woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis, wakes up from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman in the world. With this newfound confidence she is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly." [ Wikipedia]

Schumer's stock has gone down in the past year and a half. It's weird, she was riding high in 2015 with her hit movie Trainwreck and her show Inside Amy Schumer. She was marketed as a guy's girl and a raunchy feminine version of Judd Apatow. I'm too naive to know exactly what happened, but it seems like everyone got tired of her. Her movie Snatched this year failed miserably even though it brought back Goldie Hawn back to the big screen and I don't think her show is coming back at all, but that might be more of Schumer's choice than anything. But here she is with another story that is more akin to Trainwreck than the action-comedy Snatched that just didn't gel with Schumer's comedic style. The writers are hit-and-miss IMO. They wrote the underrated He's Just Not That Into You, but also wrote The Vow and How to Be Single, two movies that were just...okay. So I don't know! This movie is probably going to face off against the Barbie movie which Schumer was originally attached to star in, so the headlines that week will write themselves.

I'm looking forward to this because Schumer I felt has been unfairly criticized and the backlash against her seemed like it came out of nowhere. I hope this is hilarious and I hope Schumer gets her swagger back on the big screen.
12. First Man
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, John Bernthal
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writers: Nicole Perlman, Josh Singer
October 12
Damien Chazelle was set to direct this movie before he blew up last year with La La Land. And if it wasn't already clear that this was going to be an Oscar contender, it's clear that Chazelle at the helm will give the film that much more awards credentials. Based on the autobiography of Neil Armstrong, the film will focus on the buildup to the Apollo 11 mission - the first successful NASA trip to the moon. Nicole Perlman (best known for writing Guardians of the Galaxy), wrote the first script treatmen and Josh Singer (The West Wing, Spotlight, The Post) is credited with the final screenplay. So prestige all around and don't be surprised if this comes out a winner.

The cast isn't bad too. Ryan Gosling, still the dreamy lead man we all love, is playing the title role along with Clair Foy from The Crown standing in as Neil Armstrong's wife, Janet. The rest of the cast is full of stars and solid actors: John Bernthal (The Punisher), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights). The only problem is that this seems like a boys club-type of movie. Kinda the opposite of Hidden Figures from 2016, which, granted this was a group of men story from the beginning, but a female cast is largely absent from the IMDb page.

The 1960s as a decaded fascinates me, especially as a time period in America. There just was so much going on culturally and politically and it's ripe for great, true stories. So yeah, this is high on my list and with everyone involved if this turns out to be a great movie, it's certainly an Oscar front-runner.
11. Tag
Starring: Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Annabelle Wallis
Director: Jeff Tomsic
Writers: Rob McKittrick, Mark Steilen
June 29
Comedies have had a rough go in the past few years. There's only been a handful of good comedies the past few years. So this entry is more hopeful than excited. Tag is about a group of friends who play an annual game of tag (duh), sending them traveling across the country. The cast is what I'm most excited about - Isla Fisher, who found her success first with an all-time great comedy, Wedding Crashers, is one of the more underrated actresses that deserves better than what she gets. Plus Jon Hamm is always a good comic actor (see: Bridesmaids, 30 Rock). Round that out with Jake Johnson (New Girl [side note: I have a man crush on this guy - I'll watch anything he's in]), Ed Helms (The Office), Rashida Jones (Parks & Rec) and this looks like a fun movie.

However, there's been a dearth of just awful, dumb concept comedies that have really funny people in it, but end up being god awful. There's too many to mention, but just off the top of my head this reminds me of movies like Hall Pass, Sex Tape, The Watch, The Internship, The Boss, etc. So this could be a mess and the writers and director involved don't have much experience except McKittrick wrote the pretty good comedy Waiting. And that's about it.

So yeah, I'm not super excited, but this could be a minor hit and might just end up being funny.
10. Game Night
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler
Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Writer: Mark Perez
February 23
Another comedy on the list, but this one I think has a lot more potential. Mainly because the trailer is out for this one and I get a funny dark comedy vibe like Horrible Bosses or Date Night. The directors, Daley and Goldstein have had a few hits on their hands - they both wrote Horrible Bosses and the new Spider-Man movie. But they didn't write this movie. Perez, who's known for the okay comedy Accepted and the family movies Herby Fully Loaded and The Country Bears, wrote this one. So, not much to go on.

But the cast! Rachel McAdams is not known for her comedy, but I think her comedic timing in this trailer is perfect. Plus Jason Bateman playing the straight guy is pure Bateman right there. Add in a bunch of more dramatic actors - Chandler, Plemons, Jeffrey Wright - and this could be a surprise. I'm hoping the trailer isn't giving away too much - they tend to put the best jokes in the trailers, but I have a feeling there's going to be some nice surprises here.
9. Proud Mary
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Neal McDonough, Danny Glover
Director: Babak Najafi
Writers: Steve Antin, John Stuart Newman, Christian Swegal
January 12
I'm all for this new trend in badass women in action movies. We had Charlize Theron in Mad Max in 2015, Felicity Jones in Rogue One and then Charlize Again in Atomic Blonde this year. So I'll gladly plunk down my money to see Taraji kick some ass and pull a John Wick. Taraji Henson has been on a role and playing some truly fun women characters lately with Cookie from Empire. And if she's going to bring that same energy to this role as she does with everything else, look out.

The director, Babak Najafi, has one other American film under his belt, London Has Fallen, a god awful action sequel to the murder-oriented Gerard Butler actioner Olympus Has Fallen. But the movie was decently directed for an action film, it's just the script was terrible. And the script here is written by a bunch of different writers from all over the place, but none really with that much experience. With a movie like this though, the script doesn't have to be stellar. It just needs to be serviceable. Of course, it's a typical hitman story - Mary's professional life is turned upside down when she encounters a boy during a hit gone wrong. Much like The Professional, The Equalizer and Man on Fire, this more than likely won't set any precedent as far as storytelling goes.

But the action and characters could make up for the shortcoming of originality in the script. The movie will be out in less than two weeks, so we'll know soon enough.
8. Venom
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Kelly Marcel, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner
October 5
This film has been in development for about 10 years and has bounced around quite a bit between actors and directors and writers. But it is actually going to come out next year - they're started filming in October. So this is really happening. Venom has always been a fan favorite of any Spider-Man comic book aficionado will attest to. They really screwed up his character in Spider-Man 3, with the unfortunate casting of Topher Grace and making Eddie Brock into a whiny bitch.

Luckily Tom Hardy might save the day here. I mean, if he can bring legitimacy to Bane, one of the most ridiculous Batman villains, then surely he can make Venom a cool anti-hero. And it looks like the film is going to be inspired by the comic book storylines where Venom moves to San Francisco and finds himself fighting a bunch of other Venom symbiotes and struggling with his sanity. Michelle Williams is bringing her Oscar-winning acting abilities to play his ex-wife. Add in Jenny Slate, Woody Harrelson and Riz Ahmed to the production and this is a solid cast.

The film is directed by Ruben Fleischer, best known for Zombieland and he's recently been doing a lot TV comedy work, but I think he's suited for bringing this to life. The writers don't inspire much for myself - Kelly Marcel is known for Fifty Shades of Grey and Saving Mr. Banks and Jeff Pinkner wrote The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Tower. Not exactly stellar movies and I'm hoping the source material can bring out the best in these writers.

And it seems like with all the hoopla surrounding Spider-Man entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony is looking to capitalize on their recent success by making an "adjunct" set of movies that will take place in the same universe. Which, cool. But I'm just hoping they make a good movie first before thinking about expanding these characters.
7. Red Sparrow
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Justin Haythe
March 2
This was originally on my list for this year, but it got pushed back. And now there's a trailer out, I'm even more excited. Based on the book of the same name, Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova, a Russian spy who was trained to seduce the enemy at a special school. The book was written by an ex-CIA agent and was acclaimed for it's accuracy in depicting the more mundane and tense-filled actions of CIA operatives.

Which, cool, but this movie does look sexy as hell. And I'm guessing it won't be that mundane. As far as plot goes, it has to do with Egorova falling for a CIA officer and considers becoming a double agent. So yeah, I'm super excited about the dark tone the teaser puts forth and it just looks sinister.

Lawrence is teaming up with Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence and I think he's an interesting fit - he's done dark tales like Constantine and I Am Legend, alongside dramas like Water for Elephants. He's working on a script by Justin Haythe, known for dramas like Revolutionary Road and weird horror flick A Cure for Wellness. I don't know if I'm super stoked about the writer and director, but their experience should lead to a very interesting movie, if not a downright good one.

Jennifer Lawrence might still be one of the most successful A-list actresses, but it seems like she's determined to not be pegged down by big-time blockbusters and choosing weirder stories (mother!). We'll see if this one works out, but I'm just excited to see a good spy story.
6. The Darkest Minds
Starring: Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, Amandla Stenberg
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Writer: Chad Hodge
September 14
Originally this slot was for The New Mutants, but they pushed that movie back to 2019, so I had to rush and find a movie after I had already posted my picks. You can read about The New Mutants here, if you're looking forward to just skipping this year entirely.

So maybe the YA adaptation isn't entirely dead. Here's another post-apocalyptic young adult novel that's about a disease that kills off 98% of America's population and a group of teens with supernatural abilities. Ruby is one of those teens and after escaping a government facility where she was being held captive, she seeks out a safe haven where other like-minded folk try to fight back.

We're getting more and more genre movies like this with female-centric leads and crew. And this is no exception - Jennifer Yuh Nelson directed the past couple Kung Fu Panda movies and episodes of the Spawn TV show, so this will be her first live-action adaptation. Which is exciting, I actually am fond of the Kung Fu Panda series and I think she's a good fit for an adaptation like this. If Brad Bird can transition from The Incredibles to Mission: Impossible, this should be easy peesy for Nelson.

The main character is played by Amandla Stenberg, who is best known for portraying Rue in The Hunger Games and last seen in another YA adaption - Everything Everything. Plus add in the always lovable Mandy Moore and Game of Thrones vet Gwendoline Christie and this should be an interesting story.
5. God Particle/Cloverfield Station
Starring: Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Director: Julius Onah
Writers: Oren Uziel, Doug Jung
April 20
Another movie from this year's list, God Particle is not the official title, but it's going to be part of the Cloverfield brand. And I say brand because I think what J.J. Abrams wants to do with the title Cloverfield is make a series of films that have a certain tone, style and branding. 10 Cloverfield Lane was hands down one of my favorite movies from 2016 and you could say it's loosely tied to the Cloverfield film. But I think what's great about these movies is that they're sticking to keeping things a mystery. 10 Cloverfield Lane came out of nowhere and surprised everyone and I'm expecting the same with this especially when its release date is about a month away.

The cast is great - Elizabeth Debicki stole every scene she was in in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., one of my favorite movies from 2015. And Daneil Brühl was great as the villain in Captain America: Civil War. The story revolves around a team of astronauts on an international space station that find themselves alone after they somehow make the Earth vanish after an experiment with a particle accelerator. I'm guessing we're going to see sort of a horror/sci-fi/thriller type movie here. I expect there to be some twists along the way and I really am excited to see how this all turns out. The writer Doug Jung wrote the latest Star Trek movie, which was awesome and Oren Uziel wrote the 22 Jump Street movie. So interesting pairing. The director, Julius Onah hasn't done any big-time movies, but I trust Abrams when he makes choices, so I think the movie will be in good hands. I expect a pleasant surprise come April.
4. Black Panther
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
February 16
Marvel seems ready to finally put its money where its mouth is. Marvel has been taking risks all throughout their 10-year history of the MCU. But some of their next movies are taking a different risk. That is, we're finally getting a black superhero movie and eventually a female superhero movie (although probably 20 movies to late). To be fair, these movies shouldn't be risks. I would imagine that most audiences and demographics either don't care about these important cultural milestones or they're really excited about it. It's really not that risky and I think a lot of people are saying it's about damn time.

That being said, it looks like Black Panther is continuing the trend of weird MCU movies. Wakanda is an isolated country with very advanced technology (possible due to an Infinity stone? Hmmmm) and after the death of his father in Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa will not only have to take the reins of his kingdom, but try and fend off an outcast Wakander named Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). They both have visions of how and what their native country should be and Jordan likened their rivalry to that of Professor Xavier and Magneto. Which I'm down for - I think their could be better villains in the MCU and Killmonger just might balance that act of being a villain and anti-hero in a sense. I'm hoping this film can find a nuance to these characters. Not everything has to be black & white, good vs. evil.

The rest of the cast is stellar - Lupita has been nonstop in doing awesome things and she's playing the former girlfriend of T'Challa and part of the all-female Wakanda operatives known Dora Milaje. Daniel Kaluuya plays T'Challa's best friend and on top of that there's Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Sterling K. Brown. The film will be directed by Ryan Coogler, a man who knocked it out of the park with the Rocky sequel, Creed. And he wrote the script along with one of the Marvel writers, Joe Robert Cole.

It just looks badass and I can't wait to see where the story goes and its implications for the larger Infinity War story arc. Clearly there's going to be some big revelations - this will be the final movie before the next Avengers. With all the right talent involved, this should not only be a great movie, but an important one as well.
3. Mortal Engines
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving
Director: Christian Rivers
Writers: Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh
December 14
I think the reason this movie is so high on my list is that I just finished reading all four Mortal Engines books. They're fantastic. They are, for the most part, post-apocalyptic young adult novels. Wait! Don't leave! While that phrase may get many eye rolls, these books a lot more unique than your typical YA sci-fi fair. First of all, it's steampunk. I've been waiting for a GD good steampunk movie forever, and this could be it. And putting aside the fact that it seems like a really dumb idea - cities mobilizing themselves in order to survive and then eating other, smaller cities for resources - the premise is ripe for a lot of fun, adventurous storytelling.

I won't go into details, but the main protagonist, Tom, lives in London, a city that's seen better days and better cities to eat. But when he interrupts an assassination attempt by a mysterious girl on his mentor and idol, he gets thrown off London and is forced to team up with the girl assassin in order to get back to London. It's a really good story and honestly, what thrills me more is the possibility of them doing all four books. Because the story, especially in the third and fourth books, goes in a completely unexpected direction that took me by surprise, but was so rich and rewarding, that I'd love to see shown on the big screen.

Plus, you know, it just looks cool. There's a couple newcomers playing the lead roles, with Hugo Weaving doing his thing, playing Tom's hero, Thaddeus Valentine. The movie is written and produced by Peter Jackson and his partners, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. They'll forever be my heroes for bringing Lord of the Rings to life and they gave the director's chair over to longtime partner Christian Rivers, who has done all of Jackson's storyboards and a ton of visual effects for his movies.

I have a lot of faith in this adaptation. I think this could be a big hit - it might hit that sweet spot of family-friendly action/adventure that is always a hit during the holidays.
2. Ready Player One
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
March 30
Another adaptation of a wildly successful young adult novel, Ready Player One looks like it not only will be a visual treat, but will probably such a nostalgia high for a lot of 30- and 40-somethings that it's destined to be a hit. Add in the fact that Spielberg has stepped back into the role of nerd director just one more time and this should be a hit.

What's got me more excited is the story. I read the book in 2 days - it was just a fun, zippy adventure (I seem to be using that term a lot lately, but it just seems like such an appropriate word to describe a lot of these movies) and while the narrative does rely heavily on nostalgia and lots of 80s and 90s pop culture, it was still a blast and I think the characters were well-written. Tye Sheridan (Cyclops from the recent X-Men) is playing the title role and he not only has to deal with virtual death, but literal death because when that much money is at stake, shit gets real. And Olivia Cooke plays his new-found friend and rival, Art3mis. I really enjoyed Cooke's performance in Me & Earl and the Dying Girl and I think she's one big blockbuster away from becoming a sought-after star.

I'm excited to see how this all plays out on the big screen. This is definitely in Spielberg's wheelhouse and I hope he swings for the fences on this movie because it's been quite a while since we've had a really good Spielberg adventure. Ernest Cline adapted his own book along with help from Zak Penn (who helped pen The Avengers and X-Men and Last Action Hero). I'll say this again - March is looking to be an awesome month - Red Sparrow, A Wrinkle in Time, The Upside, Love, Simon, Tomb Raider, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Isle of Dogs, Ready Player One - all coming out. This is some summer-level releases right here, and we're less than 2 months away!
1B. Mute
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux
Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Duncan Jones, Michael Robert Johnson
February 23
This was the movie I completely forgot about. It's coming to Netflix and they probably won't announce a release date until a couple months before it will come out. Which is fine, but I've been wanting to see this movie ever since it was revealed a few years ago! I'll just re-paste what I wrote last year because there's been literally no news in the intervening year about this movie:

This is supposedly a 'spiritual successor' to Moon, the debut film of sci-fi director Duncan Jones, who also helmed the movies Source Code and Warcraft. Oh and he's David Bowie's son. I swear I didn't intend this, but this movie takes place in Berlin. The story is about a mute bartender who goes looking for his missing friend and ends up tackling the seedy underbelly of Berlin. Set 40 years into the future, Jones hopes to style the movie in the vein of Blade Runner. That's some pretty big shoes to fill, but I really enjoy Jones' work. I have yet to see Warcraft, but his smaller movies are excellent. If you haven't seen Moon, I highly suggest to stop reading this and witness a modern classic. The cast looks solid, I'm a huge fan of Paul Rudd and I can get behind both Skarsgård and Theroux. I'm really stoked at Jones getting back to a more intimate, personal story. Apparently this is a dream project of his and at one time was supposed to be a comic (see image above). Sometimes the best movies are the ones that are more quiet (see what I did there?) and this one looks like it will have a big impact next year. Netflix has bought the rights to distribute and they're looking at a small theatrical release with it showing up on their service sometime next year.

It's funny because Blade Runner came out this year and is one of my top 10 this year. I don't know if Jones can make something as iconic as Blade Runner, but I think Moon was an outstanding film and Warcraft, while interesting, was kind of a letdown. But Jones is a good filmmaker and I hope this turns out amazing. I love sci-fi, I love noir films and this should be a dazzler if we're going off of any of the screenshots.
1A. Annihilation
Starring: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
February 23
I don't think I've ever been so blown away by a set of novels as I had with Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy. There was such a use of language and storytelling to mine the darkest horrors of something completely alien and unknown. He had a way of wriggling into my brain and I hadn't lost myself in a novel like that in quite some time. I highly recommend anyone who likes to read and likes horror or sci-fi or just an interesting story to give Annihilation a shot.

But man, this is the perfect story for Alex Garland. Let me just copy & past AGAIN what I wrote last year (yeah, this was supposed to be out already!):

The story is about Area X - a quarantined piece of land, somewhere in America, that is like a Bermuda triangle. No one who goes in comes back alive, or at least, the same person. The whole story is told from the perspective of the biologist, mainly. She is part of an expedition of four women (the others are a surveyor, an anthropologist and a psychologist) into Area X to observe and report back. But things don't go as planned and a lurking terror soon consumes them all. It's the way VanderMeer uses language and the unknown to slowly tear down your senses. You don't precisely know what is happening, but that something is scratching the back of your head and comes alive when you're sleeping. The studio found the perfect man to capture this tale and translate it to the screen - Alex Garland. The man behind the brilliant Ex Machina, Dredd, Never Let Me Go & 28 Days Later. As far as his scripting goes, he's on a whole other level than most screenwriters. I love this guy and I'm excited how he's going to handle this material. Natalie Portman plays the lead with a rather exciting supporting cast including Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Tessa Thompson (Creed) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hateful Eight). Oscar Isaac, everyone's secret crush, is in it as well, but honestly, I can't imagine what role he'll play unless it's something that will lead into an inevitable sequel. Seriously, if the film becomes a moderate hit at the very least, they immediately need to greenlight the next two books - Authority and Accepatance - because the whole trilogy is so GD amazing. And the story gets deeper and deeper and it's one of those books that haunts you long after you read it. And you can debate other people as to what it all means and how it affected you. There's no release date for the movie yet, but it is post-production, so expect an announcement soon. I cannot tell you how excited I am other than that I AM SO EXCITED.

It's a done deal, I'm probably going to like this. A lot.