10. Mom and Dad-
He might be a laughingstock to some who consider his al a cart method for choosing projects paycheck gigs but Nicolas Cage rarely sleepwalks through a performance. With B-movies as his unabashed forte, the shackles will be removed for him to be the same uninhibited tornado that he was in Vampire’s Kiss. Brian Taylor’s previous films were the joyously capricious Crank movies which hopscotched between ven diagrams of lunacy. Cage as a deranged father whose prey is his own children is bound to be a monumental tonic for fans who’ve been missing his clenched-jawed, bulging-eye wackiness.
9. Blessed Virgin-
Paul Verhoeven is the directorial equivalent of Alex Jones. He savors controversy and he addresses taboo subjects about rape revenge, violence and lesbianism with frothing-at-the-mouth vigor. Surely, his tale of a nun experiencing carnal fantasies and sacrilegious nightmares will be a lightning rod for the Catholic church to rally against. Verhoeven isn’t a sadist though. Even the most lurid of his movies (Elle, Black Book and the NC-17 camp classic Showgirls) were interlaced with the black tar of askew levity. Whereas his movies were initially disparaged as misogynistic, he has countervailed his critics by featuring strong female protagonists in his recent work and with such a coveted role, Virginie Efira could be a contender for this year’s award race.
I was relatively oblivious to the existence of Anton Yelchin’s penultimate film until I saw a preview for it a month and within that trailer, they quoted it as a successor to Heathers. Anyone who knows me personally knows that Heathers vacillates within my top 3 films of all time. High praise indeed. My farcical appetite is ranked on the bleaker end of gallows humor and any plot that revolves around callous, premeditated murder is typically a pretty dark territory to scope out laughs.
Indonesian action choreography push the boundaries of where the stunt performers end and the professional actors begin. Although he was aristocratic in Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens displayed a penchant for macabre menace in The Guest. I’m not sure how agile or fleet he is but it will probably be tested with Gareth Evans’ The Raid follow-up where he must rescue his estranged sister for an inculcating cult (led by Michael Sheen in scenery-chewing mode). Many long takes will ensue with Stevens dodging assailants with jagged crucifixion nails and other religious icons that are weaponized for maximum conversion.
6. Isle of Dogs-
Having gone on record as being disenchanted with Wes Anderson’s brand of twee whimsy, it might seem like an anomaly for me to be so enthralled with his latest project. The fundamental difference is Anderson’s self-conscious archness is more suited to painstaking stop-motion rather than live-action actors (much like his jaw-dropping adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox). And the storyline around the search for a lost pet is one of universal sentimental appeal which should add heart to an auteur who is usually lacking in the cardiac department. The garbage island in particular has a begrimed, otherworldly visual element that will dazzle the eyeballs. The quirky, matter-of-fact sense of humor might alienate youngsters and tykes but audience of my generation will lap it up.
5. Halloween (2018)-
John Carpenter’s 1978 babysitter-in-danger picture wasn’t hailed to be the inception of a dwindling horror franchise yet the rampage of Dr. Loomis after Michael Myers continued for several decades past its prime. For me, the original was always an unsettling, slow-burn piece of clockwork but every movie beyond that hasn’t justified what was one of the classier, less bloody slasher epics. The involvement of comedy impresarios David Gordon Green and Danny McBride might cause pauses within the horror community but we underestimated Jordan Peele this past year as well as a pigeonholed pony. Thankfully the duo are retconning the tangled Thorn subplots and Jamie sisterhood of the other films for a tabula rasa with Michael’s murderous resilience. I’m confident that with Carpenter’s blessing, they’ll weave a meritorious follow-up and possibly gain the rights to use Trent Reznor’s terrifically modernized rendition of the synthesizer theme.
While I wasn’t an acolyte of Adam McKay’s prior excursion into socioeconomic satire The Big Short, the George W. Bush administration was an era that always fascinated me. More than that, the puppeteer behind the scenes, VP Dick Cheney, has remained an enigmatic figure to the American public. Christian Bale is notorious for his weight fluctuations but from the set photos, he seems to be completely incognito as the rotund, wizened Cheney. This could be a flawless companion piece to Oliver Stone’s Oedipal-complex masterstroke W. McKay will undoubtedly be more unflinching and ruthless as to how Cheney coerced the country into the oil conflict and how he manipulated other members of the cabinet through his Halliburton connections. Could be 2018’s answer to Dr. Strangelove.
Now that Netflix has acquired the international rights to this title, the film will be accessible in a way that eluded Alex Garland’s brilliant directorial debut Ex Machina. While the trailer is fixated on the gunfire and military hardware of the picture, I expect the film to be much more cerebral (which is the main reason the producers mandated reshoots which were then rebuffed by Garland in favor of the un-altered cut). Not having read the book, I can expect provocative eco-friendly lessons about the blowback from mankind’s mongrelization of Mother Earth. Natalie Portman has been on a consecutive streak of tour-de-force performances and in the genre of science-fiction, she won’t be bedraggled into the wooden doldrums by George Lucas again. While I’m not a fan of adaptations of books with trilogy arcs, if the movie can be retrofitted for a singular experience, it could be a visually transcendent movie on the tier of Fritz Lang or Stanley Kubrick.
2. Creed 2-
Usually I’d be apprehensive about a sequel to a spin-off of one of my most beloved franchises. However, the last two entries from the Rocky Balboa arena have been gangbusters and with rumors that Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) might be reprising his role as the pugilist who took away Adonis’ father, the stakes couldn’t be more poignant or vengeful. Rather than another run-of-the-mill opponent, this would culminate the Adonis saga in which he laboring under Apollo’s umbrage and maybe bring justice to his father’s killer. Hopefully Drago won’t be the one-dimensional juggernaut we saw in Rocky IV and he utter more than a few grunting syllables. My biggest fear with this installment- a swan song for Rocky in which Stallone retires the character permanently through an act of vengeance or mortality finally takes its toll. I’d rather my last image of Rocky be his tandem walk with Adonis down the museum steps than laying in a casket.
1. Dragged Across Concrete-
With police brutality as a national pastime, who better than S. Craig Zahler to pour salt in America’s open wound around corrupt law enforcement? Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn previously collaborated on the lopsided Hacksaw Ridge and now they’re grizzled costars. Both are known for explosive outbursts and with such a timely subject, I don’t doubt the interrogations and inciting incident will be tremendously volatile. Vaughn’s blonde highlights lend his character an Aryan superiority complex. Moreso than the Takeshi Miike ultraviolence, I’m looking forward to Zahler’s novelistic navigation through the Z-grade plot wherein the two reprehensible officers will be given depth beyond their bigotry. Unlike Shane Black buddy action-comedies, these hard-boiled cops won’t be sharing Christmas meals together or going on fishing trips. Even the curb-stomping title has a pulpy zest to it.
The War with Grandpa- Two things that will bring shame to this movie – DeNiro’s continued ruination of his 70’s and 80’s streak and Tim Hill’s assuredly insipid direction. The Weinstein Company banner is a badge of honor in comparison.
Pacific Rim: Uprising- It was only a matter of time before this series became as cinematically incoherent and drab as Michael Bay’s Transformers but already the second one?
Super Troopers 2- Despite the gimmicky stoner release date, does this movie have any reason for being financed? I thought the first movie was an overwhelmingly overrated, lowbrow cult film. Why would a belated comedy sequel redeem it?