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.