Time, who has it? Thad and I sure don’t; so instead of a podcast full of witty repartee, you get a Top Five list. Sadly it won’t be about Columbo. Instead, Thad and I discuss our most anticipated movies coming out the latter half of the year.
Some of mine like Eighth Grade, Leave No Trace, and Ocean’s 8 have already come out. Since July really has little more than a week left it doesn’t make sense to include any of those features. So instead every movie on this list comes out between August and the end of the year. You’ll notice some big names absent on this list but rest assured we’re excited for those as well. But saying we’re excited about a multi-million dollar action movie seems a little redundant.
So, without further ado, here are our top five most anticipated movies coming out this year. These aren’t the only ones, just the ones that happen to make the list.
THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
I’m looking forward to this movie more out of morbid curiosity than anything else at this point. Brian Henson’s tonal inversion of Sesame Street was initially announced 10 years ago and I’ve been idly eyeing it the entire time. I first heard it described as Muppet Noir and that piqued my interest, keeping my ear to the ground all these years.
But when I saw the first actual trailer a couple months back, I immediately dialed back my expectations. On the one hand, I love Melissa McCarthy. On the other, the trailer was nothing but gross-out humor that had me thinking more of the Scary Movie series than anything else. I guess I was hoping for something more straight-faced in its inversion of expectations, but that’s what happens when you spend literally ten years imagining what this film that sounded neat would be like if it ever came out.
Then again, that’s just the trailer. What a trailer focuses on is not necessarily equivalent to the film’s own focus. We’ll see. So maybe I’m not excited about it, in the same way, I used to be (nor the same way I am for the rest of the movies on this list), but I’ve spent so long wondering what this would be that finding out is essentially a requirement at this point.
There is literally nothing in this world that cannot be made infinitely more enjoyable, or better, by adding Muppets. The trailer for The Happytime Murders, however, challenges this very assumption. Honestly though, as much as I love the Muppets, their trailers are often much worse than their worst film.
Like Thad, I heard about this ages ago and have been low keep psyched ever since. A Muppet version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Hell yeah!
Admittedly, the trailer’s first impression is a hot mess of tone and ideas. The jokes showcased are easy jokes, and jokes we’ve heard a billion times in better, or even worse, movies. No matter, I have faith in Brian Henson and still remain excited if only for the idea alone.
Y’know what movie I loved that nobody talks about anymore? Where the Wild Things Are. That weird Spike Jonze journey through the world of a classic kids’ book with its absurd Maurice Sendak monsters brought to digital and emotional life. That’s the first thing I find myself thinking about when I watch trailers for Christopher Robin, though in this case through a filter of Disney-fied nostalgia.
Where the Wild Things Are was about a child learning what it is to be responsible for others and growing past his personal wild emotions to connect with the perspective of his mother. Christopher Robin, meanwhile, appears to be in the much more traditional vein of films-about-an-adult-recapturing-childhood-wonder. I want to be cynical about this movie. There’s plenty of reason to be; “[Classic Character] is a Dad now!” has been the go-to spice for making pop culture characters More Serious™ for years.
Even superheroes and video game murder-dudes are doing it!
The ur-example of this is probably Hook from all the way back at the dawn of the ‘90s before the trend was a trend. Peter Pan is a dad now! But also… Hook was wonderful. And look at those stuffed creatures! Eeyore is floating in the creek! I cannot be cynical about this. It is physically impossible. I am going to watch the crap out of this movie.
Much like this years earlier Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Christopher Robin appears to be a much-needed cup of kindness. A sweet movie that cuts through the cynicism like a hot knife.
When I lived in New York I read the stories of A.A. Milne. I was shocked by, how even though I was in my mid-twenties, the stories of the Hundred Acre Wood, were still emotionally effective. “It’s not normal for a grown man to cry while reading a children’s book,” I thought to myself. Milne’s book have endured not because of their sweet nature but because of their honest one.
The trailer is not perfect. How dare a movie that co-stars Haley Atwell, not announce this fact loudly and proudly. I understand she is not the “star” but still, it seems an odd miss by the marketing department. Winnie the Pooh and friends AND Hayley Atwell? The words “Take my money,” are words I shouted at the screen after it played. The similarities to Hook seem numerous but the vibe seems altogether different and the idea intrigues me. Hook copy or not, I’m stoked for Christopher Robin.
Speaking of movies I don’t know what to think about: Creed II. It’s a sequel to both Creed and Rocky IV somehow (yes, I get that it’s an ongoing series… but also, shut up). That is a strange place for a movie to be.
Creed was a movie of writer/director Ryan Coogler to the same extent that Rocky was a movie of writer/star Sylvester Stallone. With Coogler only executive producing, I do not know what to expect… but I think that’s a good thing. And not JUST because I will follow Dolph Lundgren (a.k.a. He-Man, the Most Powerful Man in the Universe and also I guess Ivan Drago, but that’s less important) anywhere. The script is coming from a collaboration between Stallone and Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, which would definitely put me on board if I wasn’t already (provided it’s still Rocky Balboa Stallone and not Rocky V Stallone). Whatever it ends up being, it’ll be something to see.
Ryan Coogler’s Creed was the culmination of every Rocky movie ever made. It was one of the best films of the year, period. Creed juggled a plethora of themes and motifs flawlessly and was riveting and entertaining to boot.
Creed II seems poised to do the exact same thing. The father and the son motif is a huge part of the first Creed and looks to be the same for the second one as well. Coogler’s absence does not worry me, largely because as much as I love Coogler, I am anxious to see what another director can do with this material. Cheo Hodari Coker is a perfect successor to Coogler. If only because Coker’s Luke Cage is one of the more important artistic achievements Marvel Studios has ever produced.
Also, the illuminating supernova star of Tessa Thompson alone is enough to get my eyes on the screen. Not to mention her character, Bianca, is one of the few times I’ve ever seen a character, much less a black one, with hearing aids. Thompson, hard of hearing representation, Jordan, Coker, Stallone, Rocky, AND Lundgren? Start up Eye of the Tiger and let’s do this thing!
UNDER THE SILVER LAKE
Thad: This movie is messing with me. Partly because it was delayed from a summer to a winter release, but mostly because its particular mode of oddball paranoia is heavily evocative of the novels Thomas Pynchon. That’s how it first came on my radar.
Another Pynchon obsessive pointed the trailer out to me and asked, “Does this seem like The Crying of Lot 49 to you?” Yes, yes it does. I don’t have to explain; read the book, it’s only 152 pages.
Although if the novel were being directly adapted then the protagonist would be a grown-ass-woman instead of Andrew Garfield playing “shiftless perpetual adolescence dude” but whatever. That’s fine. It’s only 2018. Snark aside, writer/director David Robert Mitchell appears to be following up It Follows with yet another film pervaded by anachronistic strangeness, this time adding in delicious layers of (possibly-imagined?) conspiracy. Under the Silver Lake feels like it’s being made at me and I will reward that behavior.
I’m not with Thad on this one. While I agree the trailer looks interesting, Andrew Garfield is one of those actors who I inherently doubt. Most of the movies I’ve seen with Garfield have been good to great, in spite of him. So, with all due respect-I’ll pass.
I’m much more interested in Wash Westmoreland’s Colette starring Keira Knightley. Which if that name makes your eyes roll, then you have clearly never seen Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship or if you have, you’ve forgotten. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for you.
Also, Craig William Macneill, showed a movie at Sundance, called Lizzie. Chloe Sevigny plays Lizzie Borden and her majesty, Kristen Stewart, plays her Irish housemaid/lover. Honestly, they had me at K-Stew.
Now is the perfect time for this movie. Hell, now is the perfect time to go back through Spike Lee’s filmography. It’s been three years and I’m still floored by the fact that his previous narrative feature was a modern reimagining of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata through the lens of gun violence in South Side Chicago.
The madman actually did it.
Now he’s taking on the true story of a black man infiltrating the KKK? In a time when white supremacist groups are resurgent in America, this movie is an absolute necessity. This is the one movie I knew I was going to put on this list and I am SO EXCITED that I can’t put my thoughts in order. I need to see BlacKkKlansmen. If I had to pick only one of the movies on this list, it would be this one.
Spike Lee is one of the greatest cinematic storytellers, working in America today. Much like another staggering talent Martin Scorsese, Lee makes every story he tells feel as if it’s telling is vital to his very being. To see a Spike Lee joint is to glimpse into Lee’s psyche.
BlacKkKlansman is based on the real events of how a black detective used a Jewish detective to infiltrate and take down the KKK. I bristle when people say, “Now is the time for this movie.” Not because they are wrong but because whenever a movie like this comes out someone always says this. Left unsaid is how movies like this are always timely, despite the time period they come out.
Many film buffs have counted Lee out because he’s had a series of misses. Every director has rough patches, especially directors as prolific as Lee. The trailer even showcases many of Lee’s favorite shots, including the exaggerated dolly shot. A shot so persistent in Lee’s filmography, more than a few people applaud when the scene plays in the theater. They applaud, not because of any real technical prowess, but because it is a calling card from an old friend. BlacKkKlansman is hands down the movie I am most anticipating.