Saturday, September 01, 2018

Dangerous Liaisons: What's Coming in 2018

The only person bringing more hawklike focus than I am to the Fall 2018 movie season is Ms. Glenn Close, who's been assured by top brass at Sony Pictures Classics for a year now that this winter's Best Actress Oscar belongs to her. Everyone knows you don't tempt the anger of Alex Forrest, Sunny von Bulow, or the Marquise de Merteuil, so I hope those suits at Sony know what the f they're doing. Joan Castleman, Glenn's character in The Wife, is also pretty good at sniffing out a lie, threat, or looming disaster. Thus, whichever persona Glenn's adopting on a given day over the next four months, you know she'll be surveilling the movie screen at all hours, making sure some other hussy doesn't roll up to steal her trophy.

I personally know how to stay on Glenn's good side, so in a break from past tradition, when one musical diva or other emceed this blog feature (though occasionally none turned up!), she is determining all brackets for my Fall Movie Season Preview. (Yes, I know she considers herself a musical diva as well, and that's just fine.) My plan is to see a handful or two of these titles at the Toronto Film Festival that starts later this week, so no time like now to nail this down. Here it is: the world of prestige-season movies according to Garp me.

Updated! In the wake of Amazon canceling Sea Oak, Glenn has decided she is a Netflix gal after all, so she has perused this helpful guide (forwarded by the splendid Conrado Falco) and added several gems to the roster below.

Note: Once titles have been graded and grayed out, the link will take you to my own website entry on the film, including tweet-length summaries of the overall impressions it made on me.

Paradise Road
When I call their names, it's like a little prayer
If Beale Street Could Talk A - Baldwin and Jenkins? My midterms ticket!
Roma A– - Intimate epic from a genius who hasn't misstepped in 20 years
Burning B - I've been riding Lee's train since Oasis. This sounds amazing.
Happy as Lazzaro A– - Even more ambitious than Rohrwacher's first two
Widows B - Viola Davis always kicks ass, but not always this blatantly
Hale County This Morning, This Evening B+ - All I needed was Eric's rave
Monrovia, Indiana B+ - Wiseman only comes in Great and Perfect flavors
The Favourite B - I was slower to get psyched than some, but I got there
A Star Is Born B+ - Y'all been gabbing about Gaga, but I'm all about Brad
Shoplifters A– - After years of us not getting along, I'm here for Hirokazu

Meeting Venus
Totally prepared to fall in love with these
Creed II C+ - The first movie was a treat and a wonder. On to round two!!
Cold War B - Sounds like Ida but more tempestuous? Good high concept.
I Am Not a Witch B - Pulled down lots of trophies from the Brits last year
Capernaum B+ - Reviews were split and I'm mixed on Labaki. Still curious
Destroyer B - Nic Kidman looks like she's gone in on a different character
Girl D - LGBTQ films sometimes get too generously reviewed, but I'm in
Suspiria D - Don't love the first; could do without a new one. But! Tilda.

The Natural
Buying these tickets will come easily to me
Monsters and Men B+ - Among all the gutsy titles that surfaced at Sundance
Museo C+ - García Bernal and Beale topline impressive cast in intriguing tale
First Man A– - Haven't even liked a Chazelle film yet, and I'm still swept up
The Hate U Give B+ - Nice to see a teen-focused drama with a meaty subject
Bisbee '17 A - Ambitious reenactment-based doc focused on timely issues
Bird Box C– - Blindfolds?? How will Bier get her eyes in extreme close-up?
Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland B– - Seems urgent, no?
The Children Act - Read this last year; still can't wait to see Emma do it
Beautiful Boy C+ - Addiction dramas aren't my everything but I like the cast
Night School - Even better if Tiff just wore that white dress in every scene
Boy Erased B - Could easily tip into earnestness, but these actors merit trust
The Kindergarten Teacher B - I liked the original; is the remake a necessity?
Wildlife B - If Carey's as brilliant as y'all have promised, I'll be really happy
Vice B - Sam Rockwell as W? Tyler Perry as Colin Powell? Yes, please!
Feminists: What Were They Thinking? - Directly up my scholarly alleys
Shirkers B+ - Yay for docs with creative structures and personal investments
The Land of Steady Habits - Holofcener veers around for me, but I'm sold
Dovlatov - German is hugely talented, but my learning curve will be high
The Other Side of the Wind - I know, I'm supposed to be way more ecstatic
Bodied B - Graduate-school satire has been building festival buzz for a while

Sarah, Plain and Tall
Looks a bit wan, but I'm still glad I ordered it
Can You Ever Forgive Me? A– - Eager to see McCarthy in a change of pace
Lizzie - Axe-murder story with Chloë and Kristen, so how "wan" can it be?
Mid 90s - I'm hoping that the recent run of good high school films holds up
The Old Man & the Gun C - Lowery, Redford, and story sound like good fits
Viper Club B - Rooting for Keshavarz, though not exactly craving Sarandon

Mars Attacks!
I don't even understand, but I'm intrigued?
Narcissister Organ Player - I mean, I'm Googling and I still barely get this
Mortal Engines - Giant wheels are pillaging the world? Ok, Peter Jackson
Anna and the Apocalypse - A musical about a zombie raid? Not as odd as...
Stuck - ...a musical starring Amy Madigan! With Ashanti! Am I awake?

Fatal Attraction
I shouldn't want to see them—but Reader, I do!
Vox Lux B+ - This screams "pretentious mess" but I can't help feeling drawn
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs B– - Sounds like my least favorite kind of Coens
What They Had B– - If Hilary and Blythe are headlining it, I'm not not going
Mary Poppins Returns C+ - Reasons to be nervous, but I'm holding out hope
On the Basis of Sex - The RBG machine is in overdrive this year. Too much?
The Girl in the Spider's Web - I need convincing that we couldn't just leave it
American Chaos - As long as it doesn't feel like one of those Times articles
Bel Canto D - Not sure film feels like the right medium? And they're hiding it!
The Happy Prince C– - Rupert as Wilde might be inspired, but do I trust him? 
The Predator - A Trevante Rhodes film that involves some kind of monster
The Mule D+ - I feel like a grumpy, uninvited guest has abruptly shown up
Making Montgomery Clift - Inside-the-family job; may require skepticism
Postcards from London - Guess Harris isn't too worried about typecasting?

Jagged Edge
Right on the border of To See or Not to See
Hold the Dark - I adored Blue Ruin and loathed Green Room; break the tie!
The Oath - Could be a timely comedy. Tiffany's agent has kept it moving!
Private Life A– - Jenkins is great, but otherwise? I have—such doubts.
22 July - Greengrass also great, but the last Bourne so wasn't. Is he back?
Ben Is Back B– - Pete Hedges is a problem for me, but Julia and Lucas help
Outlaw King - Director's on-again, off-again; this doesn't look "on" to me
The Sisters Brothers B - This isn't at all what I want from the great Audiard
Apostle - I'm curious but confused: how isn't this a Ben Wheatley movie?
Peppermint - I'll do my part to keep Jen from being the ashes. Will she?
Mary, Queen of Scots D+ - Getting big Other Boleyn Girl vibes off of this
All About Nina - I've never fully warmed to Winstead, but good reviews
Nappily Ever After - al-Mansour keeps moving in unexpected directions
Halloween F - Another reboot, but David Gordon Green is a good hook
Nobody's Fool D– - Is Tiffany's agent an algorithm? Is Tyler Perry a bot?
Colette B– - Still Alice was a mixed bag for me; this looks even mixeder
The Little Stranger - A decent entry in a genre I don't care about, I'd bet
Bad Times at the El Royale - Seems so proud of itself? Often a bad sign.
Assassination Nation - This might also be proud of itself, but in Salem
White Boy Rick - I was turned off by the trailer, and wasn't wowed by '71

The Big Chill
Prospects that leave me cold, but there's hope
The Front Runner B– - Having just loved a Reitman, am I being unfair?
Searching - That's too many screens, and I'm agnostic about John Cho
Quincy - Another doc about another star, where access trumps insight?
Maria by Callas - So, a documentary, but she's also played by Ardant?
A Private War B– - I got less interested in Pike as soon as she took off

If it's been a hard day, or I've been medicated
Second Act - To think of all the Out of Sights we shoulda had by now
The Silence - The pitch: it's A Quiet Place but it's also...A Quiet Place?
Life Itself - Hoo, boy. Oscar Isaac can lead me lots of places, but still...
The Last Race - Not really my cultural niche, but I like docs like that
Zero - I'm unforgivably negligent of Bollywood releases and their stars
Overlord - So, 30 Days of Night the Normandy beach landing?
Bohemian Rhapsody D– - I mean, Rami Malek isn't even a clear fan, so
El Angel - Great cast, but I'm feeling pretty sated on serial-killer front
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse B– - Guys? I mean? Can't we just?
Venom - Waiting all my life to see Tom Hardy play a dour brickhouse
Fahrenheit 11/9 - Moore gets ever-harder to defend. His last was awful.
Aquaman - I appreciate that Nicole took pains to be cut from the trailer
Little Women - I'll wait for Greta's vers... no, actually, I'm already good
Hunter Killer - Every once in a while, it's Gerard Butler time. It just is.
Becoming Astrid - What if Becoming Jane but with Pippi Longstocking?
Robin Hood - It's Robin Hood: Into the Robin-verse! What'll happen??

Low Down
Even if you boiled my bunny, I'd stay away
Stan & Ollie - Give Reilly all the good notices you want. I have doubts!
Welcome to Marwen - I bet it's already booked on This Had Oscar Buzz
Green Book D+ - For folks who think Best Picture '89 did the right thing
A Simple Favor - I appreciate Feig switching courses, but I'm a no-go
Unbroken: Path to Redemption - Oh, now they want to complicate it!
Bumblebee - Is this like a Muppet Babies for the Transformers series?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Is that title kidding me
Holmes and Watson - More characters we haven't milked quite enough
Ralph Breaks the Internet - ...but not before he breaks the movies!
Dr. Seuss' The Grinch - You guys, it's genuinely okay to tell new stories
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - I wouldn't say it if it weren't true
Johnny English Strikes Again - Honestly, you really do have that option

Reversal of Fortune
Previously scheduled for 2018, but no longer
Gloria Bell B - But, if you've hired Julianne, you can reboot all you want
Peterloo - If this weren't Mike Leigh, I'd be more skeptical. But since it is...
Under the Silver Lake - Looks messy? Garfield has been losing his appeal
Serenity - Wouldn't be the first over-solemn, under-cooked Knight joint
Alita: Battle Angel - Good to see Hollywood gets the Whitewashing thing

In the Gloaming
I've had months to catch them; it's getting late...
Minding the Gap B - A raved-about doc from an amazing movie company
El mar la mar A - Just my kind of documentary, and made by a colleague
Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc B– - Dumont still on a crazy trip
How to Talk to Girls at Parties - ...and Kidman's on a crazy one, as well
Beast B+ - Festival glosses didn't grab me, but I may have slept on this
Custody B - Beat some big players to some top prizes at Venice last year
Bitter Money - 2½-hour Wang Bing is like a short film by someone else
A Prayer Before Dawn B– - Johnny Mad Dog is indelible, ten years later
We the Animals B - I expected this to catch on more but I'm still curious
Araby A - I badly wanted to see this at the Siskel and want another shot
Support the Girls B– - Only playing in two way-South-Side theaters??
Sollers Point - Putty Hill has lingered with me. Eager for this follow-up.
Damsel - My mom has not forgiven the friend who took her to this
Never Steady, Never Still - People tell me Henderson is a revelation
The Third Murder - As I said, my luck is improving with Kore-eda
Skate Kitchen - I didn't care for The Wolfpack but this seems promising
Lover for a Day - Garrel's sketches have a curious staying-power
Hearts Beat Loud - I kept getting close but never pulled the trigger
Claire's Camera B– - Is this the one good Hong for every 2-3 dull ones?
Duck Butter - Elicited good notices from critics I trust. I like Shawkat.
The Meg - Yes, I'd rather see a giant-shark film than one about Godard
Cocote - Violet Lucca wrote a great article about this in Film Comment
The Bookshop - The plot seems inauspicious, but I'm told there's more?
Godard mon amour - I just hope Michel cheered up after The Search
The Desert Bride - Paulina García, the o.g. Gloria, in a starring vehicle
Makala - The kind of doc my friends rib me for prioritizing at TIFF
Mrs. Hyde - I didn't sense anyone was over the moon, but it's Isabelle
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot - And it hasn't! But I'm curious.
Thoroughbreds - Its partisans are really vehement, despite my doubts
Tehran Taboo - I'm walking in cold, but the whole thing looks inventive
The Strange Ones - I loved the short so much, I'm not sure I want more!
Who We Are Now - Julianne Nicholson in a spotlight; she's been on a roll
Scarred Hearts - From a director whose new film is a festival sensation
Nancy C+ - I can't recall from Sundance if this was supposed to be good?
Rodin - Cannes critics rolled their eyes but is it a crime to love Lindon?
Life of the Party - McCarthy makes too many films but this might work
The Commuter - If you're going to hire Farmiga, make her the lead!!
Oh, Lucy! - I don't know anything except that the Indie Spirits liked it
Boundaries - Okay, somebody made Farmiga the lead. And I didn't go!
Mary Shelley - Came and went with barely a ripple. Dare I ask why?
Gringo - A quirky misfire that was hard to market? Or just a bad movie?
The China Hustle - A documentary I missed at TIFF that'll teach me lots
Hotel Artemis - I was surprised to hear murmurs that this got misserved
Ismael's Ghosts - Desplechin can be too much for me; notices were cool
Golden Exits - Hey, IMDb! That's not what "intersectional" means!
Papillon - In which two good-looking actors... something about prison
Mom and Dad - The campy-fun Nic Cage movies blur with the bad ones
Acrimony - After this and Proud Mary, I sense this wasn't Taraji's year
Racer and the Jailbird - Two hot actors and an Oscar-nominated director
Final Portrait - Geoffrey wants to paint Armie's picture. Join the club.


Anonymous Jenna said...

Oh I'm so glad you're doing this again! You won't love All About Nina (it's tonally all over the place) but it's the most I've liked Winstead. And Minding the Gap won't disappoint. How to Talk to Girls at Parties WILL disappoint.

More to consider that might be up your alley...
Call Her Ganda
Daughter of Mine
A Kid Like Jake
Love After Love
Notes on an Appearance
Winter Brothers
The Yellow Birds

8:25 AM, September 02, 2018  
Anonymous Dave Sagehorn said...

Alerting me to the Ashanti/Amy Madigan musical = an important public service. Thank you.

I may be crazy, but the latest trailer for that "Nutcracker" movie looked... not terrible? I was seeing more practical effects and sets than expected, with a hint of Powell and Pressburger to it. I'm almost certainly wrong.

Not on your list: very, very excited for Honore's "Sorry Angel", which may not be a 2018 release but was on the early list for the Chi Film Fest. Even when Honore has disappointed me, he's still intrigued me.

Also I am very much here for "A Simple Favor". Blake Lively has had a run of better-than-expected, high concept b-movies and she's clearly having way more fun with those rather than just taking a paycheck to be "the only woman in a Ben Affleck movie". Believe it or not, I trust her judgment in picking projects.

8:40 AM, September 02, 2018  
Anonymous Grace said...

Grasshopper Film, quickly becoming one of my favorite distributors, released Araby, Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?, and Milla this year, all of which are SO worth finding.

8:40 AM, September 02, 2018  
Anonymous Lincoln said...

Do not even bother with Life of the Party. Benjamin Lee nails it with his Guardian review. McCarthy's nadir.

The Wild Boys (Les garçons sauvages) looks pretty awesome. Don't know how easy it'll be to find but it did just get a US theatrical release.

8:52 AM, September 02, 2018  
Blogger Nick Taylor said...

We the Animals is so visually and sonically astonishing that I almost wonder if I neglected to notice some story beats by being so immersed in the aesthetics. It's so emotionally captivating, forcefully presented, and it's got the best editing of the year. Catch that as soon as you can, especially if it's in theaters near you.

Support the Girls is fine, but much better than its micro-release suggests, and it's amazing how everything gets more interesting about 2/3 of the way in. I'm not as wild about Thoroughbreds as it's biggest fans but it's really interesting, and it's got a great score. How to Talk to Girls at Parties is kinda admirably weird, with a great, trippy concert scene with Fanning and Sharp. I would really love to see Nicole Kidman be in a movie with a good accent *and* a good wig at least once though. And don't bother with Oh Lucy, that script barely went through one draft and the actors can't even seem to care. It's my first walk out in years.

9:11 AM, September 02, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seconding Notes on An Appearance and those other Grasshopper releases in Grace's post. The best distributor out there.

Let the Corpses Tan and A Paris Education are also great.

10:05 AM, September 02, 2018  
Anonymous Erin said...

This reminds me, will you ever reveal your personal 2017 acting honorees? Actress especially was so competitive; would love to know where you landed.

10:39 AM, September 02, 2018  
Anonymous Neve said...

You'll like Nancy! Three impressive performances. Buscemi's having quite a year

8:48 AM, September 05, 2018  
Anonymous Bethany said...

Just a heads up that the following titles you've seen had non-theatrical US releases this year...

Our People Will be Healed (Amazon Prime)
Sheikh Jackson (iTunes)
A Sort of Family (Netflix)
They (iTunes)

6:51 AM, September 16, 2018  
Anonymous Helena said...

You're gonna love SORRY ANGEL. Sebastián Silva's TYREL is worth seeing too!

9:09 PM, September 19, 2018  
Anonymous Brenda said...

Seconding LOVE AFTER LOVE. Criminally under-seen.

9:56 PM, September 22, 2018  
Anonymous David Shultz said...

Was really surprised no one caught Beast while it was out. My friend and I both thought it was gripping, and I thought the portrayal of the maybe-pathologies of its main characters was well-researched. Also, the lead, Jessie Buckley, really surprised me. Such a compelling star, and she sold every last minute of it. Am very curious what you would think.

Also, Claire's Camera felt short and sweet. Isabelle was very entertaining. Chic costumes.

And lastly, Ismael's Ghost was something I saw out of desperation (hasn't felt like there's been a lot worth seeing this year). I'm not crazy about Desplechin, but the director's cut felt really substantial and interesting. Admiration grows over time. All of the performances were top notch, but Mathieu and Charlotte remain my favorite lead actor and support actress perfs of the year so far.

6:10 PM, October 12, 2018  
Anonymous David Shultz said...

Oh, and Colette! Keira owned the role. It's the kind of thing you'd want to watch when you've had a rough day... but then again, you're a literature and gender and sexuality professor as well, so.... maybe you'd pick up on more problems that I did. There were issues, some Frida-ish screenplay moments, but very light, modern, and sharp.

6:36 PM, October 12, 2018  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Jenna: Thanks so much for all these recommendations! I missed Minding the Gap TWICE but am determined to track it down. I must admit, I really disliked Call Her Ganda, which seemed so falsely confident of having unwound itself from the very imperial and narrow gaze that it meant to critique. But I'm jotting down many others of these titles.

@Dave: Have you actually braved Nutcracker now that it's out? And what did you think of Honoré, since we spotted each other at the same screening. It took me till the last third to truly warm up, but I liked it!

@Grace: We're on the same page with Grasshopper. So grateful for them.

@Lincoln: I need to read more carefully into that one. The title keeps floating up, but I haven't really clocked it yet.

@Nick: Very provocative for better and worse on We the Animals and Oh, Lucy! The former played half a screen in Chicago for one week - so embarrassing. I'll have a lot of catch-up to do in December. Everyone seems to have a different take on Parties!

2:36 PM, November 03, 2018  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Anonymous, @Neve, @Helena, and @Brenda: Thanks to all five of you for these really welcome recommendations, all of which I am dutifully recording in my list-happy Excel files.

@Bethany: I'm touched that you would keep such close track of my favorites and alert me to where they've surfaced. Thank you!

@David: I completely agreed with you on Colette, especially once it left its shakiest, earliest sequences behind, which got a little Constant Nymph-y to me. A really pleasant surprise, even if I'm loath to make huge claims for it. Even more excited now to track down the other three you wrote about. Love hearing from you. x

@Erin: I'm not sure I ever totally committed, but Sally Hawkins in Maudie and Danielle Macdonald in Patti Cake$ were way, way up there. Ronan was my vote among the eventual Oscar nominees, with Robbie and Streep behind her. I loved Bening in Liverpool, and Hayek and Nixon remained strong presences in my mind throughout the year. I'd want to revisit some other less-visible favorites from movies like Félicité, Hounds of Love, Paulina, Lovesong, and A Woman's Life before finalizing my list and would urge others to track them down, too. Princess Cyd had a perfect duet between two lead actresses of consummate judgment, and I sometimes worry I've internalized a dubious preference for "bigger" acting when I leave work like that off the very top of my list.

All of that said, if Life and Nothing More had actually been released last year, Regina Williams would have walked away with it for me.

2:48 PM, November 03, 2018  

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