Film critic Brian Gibson highlights films to look out for in the next 12 months
Wait, howzat—a new film year already? A year when Netflix alone will be releasing 80 original films, but Edmonton still hasn’t been graced by some of 2017’s best-reviewed features: Lucas Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name (only one film-fest screening last October); Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread (due this month); Mohammad Rasoulof’s A Man of Integrity; and Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch. Look for those and these other releases, projected or streaming, in 2018 at a big or small screen near you.
Ruben Östlund’s art-world satire The Square (Metro Cinema, February) nabbed Cannes’ top prize last year. A Fantastic Woman (Metro, February) stars Chile’s first openly trans actress Daniela Vega as the title-figure, who’s battling prejudice and distrust just to mourn the death of her lover, a man 20 years older.
February also hosts Sally Potter’s tie-black comedy The Party, where a politician’s celebration with friends becomes a spate of disclosures, insults, and confrontations. Andrei Zvyagintsev (Leviathan) is back with Loveless (February), another frosty widescreen-portrait of Putin’s Russia.
The late great Abbas Kiarostami’s photo and painting-inspired experiment 24 Frames (February) closes his career. Skewed, surreal Israeli drama Foxtrot breaks out in March; April witnesses Lynne Ramsay’s hitman-thriller You Were Never Really Here, taker of two awards at Cannes.
French New Wave doyenne Agnès Varda, now in her 80s, and photo-artist JR take us on a trip through their country’s rural communities, plastering massive portraits of villagers on building walls, sides of vehicles, and more in Faces Places (Metro, January). Whose Streets? (Metro, February) covers the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri after a white policeman killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The world’s most famous primate researcher is herself studied in Jane (Metro, February). And Frederick Wiseman’s 42nd documentary, Ex Libris (Metro, February), goes by the book, taking a long look at New York’s public library system.
For its debut, Japan’s Studio Ponoc, led by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (The Secret World of Arrietty), hothoused Mary and the Witch’s Flower—this tale of a girl who’s a witch for just one night touches down at Metro in January.
England’s Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit) goes back to the Bronze Age for Early Man (February). It’s stop-motion time, too, for Wes Anderson (The Fantastic Mr. Fox), landing us on a future-dystopia Japan’s Isle of Dogs (March). And the newest, still-to-be-titled film from Laika Studios (Kubo and the Two Strings) is due in May.
Summer 2018 and beyond
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) adapts If Beale Street Could Talk, James Baldwin’s Harlem tale of a pregnant woman and her fiancé, falsely accused of rape. A father and daughter’s idyllic Portland life goes horribly awry in Leave No Trace, from Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone).
Its title is Roma, but Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) heads to 1970s Mexico City for one year in the life of a family. Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan plants The Wild Pear Tree, wherein a would-be writer, returning home, becomes entangled in his father’s debts.
Political satirist Armando Iannucci (Veep) finds black Russian hilarity in the fight for Politburo power with The Death of Stalin. After two decades tilting at windmills, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote finally arrives. Mike Leigh visits Peterloo, the 1819 Manchester massacre of protesters demanding parliament reform. Pavel Pawlikowski (Ida) goes black-and-white again in Cold War, spanning ’50s Berlin, Paris, Poland, and Yugoslavia.
Down under, Warwick Thornton offers up the 1920s tale of a fugitive Aboriginal farmer in Sweet Country. With The Nightingale, Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) flies to 1820s Van Diemen’s Land, where a female convict seeks vengeance against a soldier.
Two Oregon assassins (Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly) track a prospector in Jacques Audiard’s adaptation of The Sisters Brothers. Yann Demange (’71) unravels the 1980s Detroit story of the FBI’s youngest-ever informant in White Boy Rick. The True American, from Pablo Larraín, recounts Muslim immigrant Rais Bhuyan’s survival of a hate-crime shooting-spree and his campaign to spare the killer’s life.
Be ready for The Seen and Unseen as Indonesian director Kamila Andini dreamily enters the mindscape of a young girl who’s losing her twin brother.
The haunted object of In Fabric, from Peter Strickland, is a cursed dress, passed on from one person to another in a department store. Iran’s Asghar Farhadi tries a psychological-thriller in Spain on for size, Everybody Knows. Lee Chang-dong (Poetry) lights up a Haruki Murakami story with Burning. Brian Henson leads a puppet-filled private-eye hunt for a serial killer in The Happytime Murders (August). In Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Third Murder, a defence lawyer is convinced that his client, accused of killing an industrialist, has been set up. Director Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave) and Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn remake Widows (November), the ’80s heist-thriller TV series where robbers’ wives finish the job.