Hollywood 2018 – Part 2 (July-December)

A list of 30 movies to look forward to during the second half of 2018.

The formalities are done with, and now we wade into the deep-end of the movie lovefest with the second half of this calendar year. We can now also look past Avengers: Infinity War to consider what else Hollywood has on offer this year. Summer fun, Autumn eccentricities, Christmas tentpoles: there’s a lot to look forward to. Among them, pay particular attention to some of the October and November releases; that’s when the bulk of the Oscar contenders release. Watching those movies at release will not only save you from a last-minute rush come Oscar time (too many movies, too little time!), but will also give you street-cred among your friends during Oscar week 😉

There are over 50 noteworthy movies releasing between July & December this year. The below list is for 30 of the more significant ones.

Note: Release dates mentioned are for the USA, for the sake of some order. They are also, owing to the oldest lie in America (that power can be innocent), subject to change

Ant-Man and the Wasp
06 July

Directed by: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña

Premise: As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

Thoughts: Being the first movie post-Infinity War, the anticipation for Ant-Man‘s sequel is massive. The director has mentioned on record that the movie is mostly stand-alone, but there is little doubt that if not within the movie, the customary post-credit scene(s) will have a link to the expanded universe. All that aside, the first movie was a whole lot of fun, and the sequel looks even more so, especially with Wasp now sharing top-billing. She is a founding member of the Avengers in the comics, hence high time we see her in action on film!

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
27 July

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Henry Cavill

Premise: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

Thoughts: While already the 6th movie in this franchise, the trailers are proving that neither is the franchise stale nor has Tom Cruise aged. The action sequences seem like a proper adrenaline rush yet not computer-generated, making it looks like one of the best action movies in recent times. Here’s hoping the film lives up to its marketing. Besides, the movie also holds a curious place among DC film fans, considering it features the infamous Henry Cavill moustache. (p.s.: Have you watched his tongue-in-cheek announcement of its shaving?)

The Meg
10 August

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Starring: Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Robert Taylor

Premise: After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.

Thoughts: “It’s a Megaladon”, says Jason Statham in his inimitable style, like he’s announcing the weather. He surely then fights (and presumably beats) the Megaladon in time for a dinner date. This needs to be seen in 3D!

10 August

Directed by: Spike Lee
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Alec Baldwin

Premise: Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter.

Thoughts: Just when we are ready to write off Spike Lee, he comes up with another movie that feels as exciting as relevant. The amusing trailer also suggests this to be a star-making performance from its leading man John David Washington, the son of Denzel Washington, while Adam Driver continues to impress with his choice of movies.

The Little Stranger
31 August

Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Ruth Wilson, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Charlotte Rampling

Premise: A country doctor makes friends with an old gentry family of declining fortunes who own a very old estate that is crumbling around them. The stress of reconciling the state of their finances with the familial responsibility of keeping the estate coincides with perplexing events which may or may not be of supernatural origin, culminating in tragedy.

Thoughts: Director Lenny Abrahamson’s follow-up to the multiple-award winning Room is this gothic drama. Ruth Wilson, after all the impressive work on TV (Luther, The Affair, Jane Eyre), will get to flex her acting muscles on the big screen alongside the always dependable Domhnall Gleeson. The trailer suitably sets up the creepy tone, and the director has proven he can build to a pay-off. Please just don’t be a repeat of Sixth Sense / The Others.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

21 September

Directed by: Eli Roth
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Colleen Camp, Kyle MacLachlan

Premise: A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.

Thoughts: Eli Roth is a surprising pick to direct a family-friendly movie, considering his torture-horror pedigree. But he just may be the right impetus the children’s fantasy genre needs to make a distinct movie. With the usual premise of “child in uncle’s magical house” combined with an excellent adult companion duo of Cate Blanchett and Jack Black, this looks like an odd mix of unoriginal and fresh.

The Old Man & the Gun
28 September

Directed by: David Lowery
Starring: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Elisabeth Moss

Premise: Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.

Thoughts: David Lowery is a remarkable director, making movies that are meditative and pleasingly humane (even when about a ghost) – think Jeff Nichols, but with more warmth and love. His regular collaborator Casey Affleck appears in this movie too, but the focus is on Robert Redford and he is usually more than a delight to watch. Do not let this one slip under your radar.

Boy Erased
28 September

Directed by: Joel Edgerton
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Russell Crowe

Premise: The son of a baptist preacher is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program.

Thoughts: Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman as the conservative parents who send their gay son to a church-run conversion program, sounds like a promise of powerhouse performances from these Oscar winners. While that is a good enough reason to watch this movie, do not discount the fact that Joel Edgerton is a heck of a director, as is evident from his first movie – The Gift. (…and if you haven’t watched The Gift, consider it homework!)

05 October

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate

Premise: When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life.

Thoughts: If your knowledge of Venom is based on the character’s appearance in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, then you are as mistaken about him as I was. This movie sets him up as an anti-hero, faithful to how he is in the comics. The initial skepticism I had for this movie evaporated as soon as I learned a little more about how fascinating Venom’s character is. With Tom Hardy playing the alter-ego Eddie Brock, Sony’s first non-Spider-Man superhero movie could surprise us all.

A Star Is Born
05 October

Directed by: Bradley Cooper
Starring: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Greg Grunberg

Premise: A musician helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

Thoughts: Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with a retelling of an oft-told story: an aging star on his way down mentors a young star on her way up. Cooper has worked with some great directors, especially the gold standard for actor-turned-director Clint Eastwoood (in American Sniper). He has learned well it seems, because the trailer suggests a confident classical movie.

Bad Times at the El Royale
05 October

Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Nick Offerman

Premise: Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell.

Thoughts: Drew Goddard has made one movie, and it was a genre-bender that had extremely divisive reactions. I loved his Cabin in the Woods, and expect an equally sharp and absurd experience in his second film. The all-star cast (including Chris Hemsworth again) makes this an even more enticing prospect. Pick a late-night show for this one!

First Man
12 October

Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Premise: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Thoughts: After two musically-inclined movies (Whiplash and La La Land), director Damien Chazelle gets into proper drama territory with this story about Neil Armstrong. Besides starring actor-heartthrob Ryan Gosling in the lead, First Man will also be the big-league ticket for Claire Foy (she played Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown). Note: Watch the movie in IMAX, since it is partially shot on the format. Currently U.A.E. has 5 IMAX cinemas, 4 in Dubai and 1 in Sharjah.

The Sisters Brothers
12 October

Directed by:
Jacques Audiard Starring: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed

Premise: In 1850s Oregon, a gold prospector is chased by the infamous duo of assassins, the Sisters brothers.

Thoughts: Triple Cannes winner Jacques Audiard makes his Hollywood debut with this peculiar Western starring arguably the three best J’s of Hollywood (Jake, Joaquin and John). It looks funny enough to perhaps be a light comedy, but knowing the director’s body of work (Have you watched Un Prophète or Dheepan?), it would be our loss if there isn’t good drama included.

19 October

Directed by: Andy Serkis
Starring: voices of Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Andy Serkis

Premise: A human child raised by wolves must face off against a menacing tiger named Shere Khan, as well as his own origins.

Thoughts: Yes, there was a Jungle book adaptation from Disney just two years ago. Yes, it was a big success. Superficially, there is no reason to look forward to this movie. But look a little closer: the animals are voiced & performed (motion-capture) by Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis, under the directorial guidance of Andy Serkis himself. Also, this is an adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling book, not the Disney cartoon – don’t expect Baloo to sing “The Bare Necessities” here.

19 October

Directed by: Paul Dano
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Bill Camp

Premise: A boy witnesses his parents’ marriage falling apart after his mother finds another man.

Thoughts: When it screened at Sundance earlier this year, Wildlife was met with universal acclaim that bordered on euphoric. It hasn’t received a negative review yet (82 on metacritic), suggesting Paul Dano is another welcome addition to the company of actors that turn skillful directors. His debut feature is described as “exquisitely sad”, “quietly devastating” and “melancholy”, while also being called “Superb” and “elegant”. Now that’s the kind of mix that cinephiles love and look forward to!

19 October

Directed by: Steven Knight
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Matthew McConaughey

Premise: The mysterious past of a fishing boat captain comes back to haunt him, when his ex-wife tracks him down with a desperate plea for help, ensnaring his life in a new reality that may not be all that it seems.

Thoughts: Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway come together after Interstellar in a modern noir, working for a director who can make a fantastic movie out of a single scene. If you haven’t yet, check out Locke. You’ll know why this movie is a must-watch.

02 November

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Chloë Grace Moretz

Premise: A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.

Thoughts: A classic Italian horror movie from the 70s made by genre maestro Dario Argento, is now adapted by another acclaimed Italian director for Hollywood. The trailer is suitably chilling, hinting this to be another fine horror movie this year (after A Quiet Place and Hereditary). The recent resurgence of the Horror genre has been terrific!

The Girl in the Spider’s Web
09 November

Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Claire Foy, Sylvia Hoeks, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Merchant

Premise: Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.

Thoughts: Though it is a pity that director David Fincher and actress Rooney Mara did not continue their collaboration for the series after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fede Alvarez-Claire Foy make a good replacement duo for this sequel. While Alvarez’s Evil Dead remake wasn’t great (notwithstanding a bloody good last act), Don’t Breathe was inventive, terrifying and shocking. He has a penchant for tough female protagonists, and they don’t come tougher than Lisbeth Salander.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
16 November

Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Jude Law, Johnny Depp

Premise: The second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series set in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander.

Thoughts: When David Yates took up directorial duties for the Harry Potter franchise starting with Order of the Phoenix, it took that one mediocre movie before he turned things around and did progressively better work with each subsequent film. Let’s hope he mirrors that with the Fantastic Beasts movies too, since there was little to enjoy in the first film. While we’re stuck with abysmal Johnny Depp (instead of awesome Colin Farrell) as Grindelwald, it is offset by Jude Law playing “Hot Dumbledore”.

16 November

Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell

Premise: Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Thoughts: Director Steve McQueen is averaging at ~5/5 at Filmphoria for his 3 movies (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years A Slave). Therefore, when he casts Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Jon Bernthal and Michelle Rodriguez for a crime-thriller, consider us giddy with anticipation! Meanwhile, is it possible that McQueen has, for the first time, no role for Michael Fassbender in his movie? I’m betting on a cameo.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
21 November

Directed by: Phil Johnston & Rich Moore
Starring: voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch

Premise: Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

Thoughts: As wonderful as Wreck It Ralph was, we’re in unknown territory for Walt Disney Animation; this is their first ever theatrical sequel. The trailer was jam-packed with Disney owned properties (from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and other Disney movies), and it looks fun enough. Let’s just keep faith in the studio’s perfect track-record over the past decade.

Creed II
21 November

Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren

Premise: Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, newly crowned light heavyweight champion Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago.

Thoughts: Creed was a knockout, and in typical Rocky tradition, we have a sequel. Returning cast, new director, another link to Rocky’s past… it will take skill for this to not fall into a cliché trap. But even if it does, we will likely witness another prodigious performance from Michael B. Jordan.

Green Book
21 November

Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Premise: A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Thoughts: This is not a joke. One of the Farrelly brothers (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself & Irene, etc.) is directing an awards-positioned drama that tackles racism in the American South during the 1960s. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. I’m confounded and curious.

The Favourite
23 November

Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult

Premise: In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead. When a new servant Abigail arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.

Thoughts: This absurdist Greek director has won accolades for each of his last 4 movies. Now, he reteams with Rachel Weisz for a period drama that seems… normal? Don’t trust that innocent premise, Lanthimos will mess with you!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
14 December

Directed by: Bob Persichetti & Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Liev Schreiber, Lily Tomlin

Premise: Spider-Man crosses parallel dimensions and teams up with the Spider-Men of those dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.

Thoughts: A major cinematic Spider-Man animated movie is reason enough to be eager. In fact, the mainstream superhero genre needs more animated movies (and not targeted for home video, but the cinemas!), to unshackle from the limits of live-action. Here, the animation style looks distinctive, like a digital comic book, and the action looks sharp. Colour me excited!

21 December

Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson

Premise: Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and to be a hero to the world.

Thoughts: After the Man of Steel and Wonder Woman, this is the third DC hero that gets a standalone movie within the DCEU. James Wan is a frugal director, with a confident and a proven track-record (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious, Fast & Furious 7). This is his biggest undertaking yet, and he has promised a swashbuckling underwater adventure. No trailer yet though – there’s one promised for the San Diego Comic Con (28 July). The publicity images promise a grand scale and imagination, including Atlantean soldiers riding saddled great white sharks!

21 December

Directed by: Travis Knight
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Pamela Adlon, Vanessa Ross

Premise: On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

Thoughts: Few people were aware of this upcoming movie, let alone be interested in it. That all changed with the first trailer. Rather than Michael Bay’s explosions and visual eye-sore, it focused on character and relationship, suggesting a more intimate, personal story. The healing effect of Michael Bay’s absence already showing.

Welcome to Marwen
21 December

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Steve Carell, Diane Kruger, Leslie Mann, Eiza González

Premise: A victim of a brutal attack finds a unique and beautiful therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process.

Thoughts: Another Steve Carell movie prime for Awards season. Has any actor ever made such a good transition from Comedian to Oscar regular? Here, he is powered by Bob Zemeckis, a director rediscovering his mojo after a bit of an extended indulgence in animation work. His mix of live-action and photo-real toy animation in a sensitive drama gives a fresh and inventive look to this emotional story.

21 December

Directed by: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry

Premise: The story of Dick Cheney, the most powerful Vice President in history, and how his policies changed the world as we know it.

Thoughts: Two of the best actors of our generation come together again (after The Fighter and American Hustle), and like both those times, there’s reason to be excited. They’ll be playing Dick Cheney & wife for Adam McKay, who made a great transition into dramedy with The Big Short. He tackled the 2007-08 financial crisis in a quasi-humorous way. Look for him to do the same with the political powerplay during the George W. Bush-Gulf War era.

Mary Poppins Returns
25 December

Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Ben Whishaw

Premise: In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Thoughts: Time for a whole new generation to go Super… Super… Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

A few events (and one non-event) to keep in mind during the coming months:

  • Mid-July marks the annual San Diego Comic Con, which will undoubtedly be a platform for major movie announcements, poster and trailer releases, and general film geekdom.
  • The Toronto Film Festival takes place during the second week of September. Some of the most popular award-worthy movies each year generally get premiered (and therefore reviewed) at TIFF.
  • The Dubai International Film Festival for 2018 has been cancelled. While there is a promise for a 2019 edition, this gaping hole in Dubai’s 2018 movie calendar will be lamented.

This list is for movies that have a planned theatrical release. A significant number of new movies will also release exclusively on streaming platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.). Remember to keep an eye on those too, as well as the many international releases that will garner widespread critical acclaim. Filmphoria’s weekly post “Out This Week”, published every Thursday, will keep you up-to-date. Also look for Filmphoria’s regular reviews of the latest films.

Keep watching movies, and spread the love!

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About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.