January 10, 2018

28 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

The No Film School team takes a look ahead to 2018's exciting slate of movies.

After a tumultuous 2017 brought great art that challenged (and counterbalanced) the world's current political turmoil, 2018 seems to very much be on that same path, complete with a year-removed perspective that will only enhance upcoming projects. There's optimism in our sights, and we're thrilled to take a look forward toward these extremely fulfilling, thought-provoking, and entertaining stories.

After revealing our 27 most anticipated films last year, we've one-upped the ante by providing the 28 most anticipated of 2018. There are no set rules to how we make our selections, but if, in our line-up, you happen to notice a lack of documentaries and movies set to screen at major festivals represented, that's intentional. We never truly know when a long-gestating nonfiction project will be ready to screen, and we can't entirely be sure as to when a festival hit will find distribution and open stateside. Proving that point, you may notice that one film on this year's list was also featured on last year's. Distribution (and forecasting upcoming releases) can be tricky like that. Here are the films we're most excited about, in alphabetical order:

1. Ad Astra

Director: James Gray

The Lost City of Z is a film that was absent from far too many Top 10 lists at the end of 2017. Wasting no time between that film and his next, however, is James Gray getting ready to release his sci-fi epic Ad Astra at the end of 2018. While the indie-leaning Z was headlined by the likes of Robert Pattinson and Charlie Hunnam, Astra gets some major star power with the presence of Brad Pitt. Pitt plays an autistic astronaut who travels in search of his father, who’s been missing for twenty years. It also helps to have expert space cinematographer Hoyt von Hoytema onboard lensing the project.—Jon Fusco

2. Annihilation

Director: Alex Garland

Alex Garland is responsible for some of the most exciting entries into the science fiction genre since the early aughts. Danny Boyle first ushered the young Garland into the industry after seeing the potential to turn his novel The Beach into a feature film. And while Garland wasn’t responsible for the adaptation of his own work for that film, he would later go on to write the wholly original screenplays for Boyle’s next two movies, 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Fast forward almost a decade later to 2014, and Garland stunned the world with his debut directorial effort, Ex Machina. Now for his sophomore feature, he’ll be adapting another sci-fi writers work, Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. The mysterious plot surrounds a biologist who signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a strange environmental disaster zone where the laws of nature don't apply.—Jon Fusco

3.Black Mother

Director: Khalik Allah

One of today's most exciting visual artists, photographer and filmmaker Khalik Allah follows up his poetically sociological documentary Field N----s with Black Mother. Less thought out than thought through, Allah's work feels lived in and interpretative, providing an incredible workout for the senses. As described by Cinereach (one of its major supporters), his latest is "part film, part baptism, casting a lens between the prostitutes and churches of Jamaica." Be on the lookout for this film on the nonfiction circuit soon.—Erik Luers

4. Black Panther

Director: Ryan Coogler

Although Black Panther has appeared in Marvel comic books for some 50 years, he has yet to make much of a dent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, no black superhero has headlined a film in any of the major superhero franchises. But it’s not just that fact that makes this film stand out. Director Ryan Coogler has shown a deft hand at directing both social justice dramas (Fruitvale Station and blockbuster fare Creed. Combine those talents with a soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar and you already have the makings of one of the most exciting entries into the genre in years.—Liz Nord

5. Backseat

Director: Adam McKay

Adam Mckay continues his transformation into a funnier Aaron Sorkin with Backseat, his follow up to the Academy Award-nominated The Big Short. The one-time Anchorman director has made the transition from comedy to political drama without breaking a sweat. This is a biopic of sorts on Dick Cheney, a role sure to be brilliantly portrayed by a chubby Christian Bale, which follows his life-long ascent to the ranks of one of the most vilified Vice Presidents in the history of the United States.—Jon Fusco

6. Beach Bum

Director: Harmony Korine

After the success of Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine is returning to sunshine, sex-laced Florida to tell what he describes as a comedy “about somewhat depressive marijuana smokers, in the spirit of Cheech and Chong.” In a stunning demonstration of their range as actors, the aforementioned stoners will be brought to life by Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dogg. Like all of Korine’s films, this one should be divisive, to say the least, but we have *cough* high hopes.—Jon Fusco
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

7. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Director: Marielle Heller

We always appreciate when fresh debut voices get recognized, manage to avoid the sophomore slump, and are given access to funding for their next—often more ambitious—projects. This is just such the case of Can You Ever Forgive Me? Director Marielle Heller’s gutsy first feature, The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, is a teenage sexual awakening tale that debuted at Sundance 2015 and got picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. With several new projects reportedly in development, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the first with a release date. In it, Melissa McCarthy plays infamous forger Lee Israel, on whose memoir the film is based. (Incidentally, one of the film’s writers, Nicole Holofcener, also has a promising directorial turn in 2018 with Netflix’s The Land Of Steady Habits.)—Liz Nord

8. The Favorite

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Could this be the first film that Yorgos Lanthimos makes that isn't really fucking weird? The Greek auteur finds himself facing a much wider audience after the surprising commercial success of both The Lobster and Killing of a Sacred DeerThe Favorite may be his most palpable film yet, and if not, it will certainly be his largest in scale. The Favorite is, in fact, a period drama about two noblewomen who jockey for power and influence at the court of England’s Queen Anne in the early 18th century. The key players in the triangle for the queen's attention will be played by Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.—Jon Fusco 

Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

9. Halloween

Director: David Gordon Green

Even if John Carpenter's Halloween wasn't my favorite film of all time, its impending 40th anniversary would still feel like an appropriate time for me to consider a new take on the horror classic. I'm a fanboy for this franchise though. Heck, I saw those two grungy Rob Zombie remakes opening weekend and thought they were pretty solid! Now with David Gordon Green, Danny McBride,and the Blumhouse team behind the camera and (how are they going to pull this off?) leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis in front of it, this reboot/sequel is the horror event of the fall season.—Erik Luers

10. The Happytime Murders

Director: Brian Henson

In development for almost ten years, the description of this film reminds us of the hilarious “Muppet Hunter” sketches from The State where puppets were lured into traps with calls of “Can anyone tell me a word that starts with the letter O?” In The Happytime Murders, puppets live alongside humans as second-class citizens, and a string of untimely puppet deaths is being investigated in what appears to be a noirish mystery. But these protagonists aren’t backed by just any puppeteers; Brian Henson, heir to the greatest puppeteering legacy in American history is helming the project. That fact alone has us intrigued.—Liz Nord

11. Hold the Dark

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

With an insatiable taste for blood and the perverse ability to milk a tense situation for all its worth, Jeremy Saulnier returns to the land of the uncomfortable with this adaptation of the 2014 novel by William Giraldi. Re-teaming with his frequent collaborator (and often-leading man) Macon Blair, whose screenplay will anchor the film, this marks Saulnier's first collaboration with Netflix. From the details released thus far, this sounds like an Alaskan murder mystery/detective story/blown-out-of-proportion family dispute for the ages. With Saulnier, at least three genres are always necessary to spout when describing his work, and the fun is observing how he turns each on their head. With this film and Andrew Haigh's Lean on Pete, cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jønck is going to have one heck of a year.—Erik Luers

12. If Beale Street Could Talk

Director: Barry Jenkins

With the surprise runaway success of his second feature Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ latest effort may be the most anticipated indie film out there. Moonlight was based on a play, and this time Jenkins adapts once again, turning to a James Baldwin novel for inspiration. It’s an apropos moment for Baldwin, with racial tensions at the fore in America and last year’s Baldwin-focused doc I Am Not Your Negro bringing his name to renewed public attention. The story follows a pregnant woman in Harlem attempting to prove that the father of her unborn child is innocent of an accused crime. We’re also excited to see more lensing from James Laxton, who shot Moonlight so gorgeously.—Liz Nord

13. Isle of Dogs

Director: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson returning to stop-motion animation is a treat for everyone. Fantastic Mr. Fox did things with the medium the likes of which had never been seen. Every ounce of detail Anderson brings to his live action films can be seen translated into his painstakingly molded creatures down to the very last strand of fur.Isle of Dogs tells the story of a young boy who sets off to find his pet dog after all the canine pets of his city are exiled to a vast garbage dump. Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, F Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono and Harvey Keitel are just a few of the members of his monstrously talented ensemble.—Jon Fusco

14. Jinn

Director: Nijla Mu’min

A rarely-touched upon story of religion and the strenuous turmoil it can impose upon a family with contrasting values, Jinn is the debut feature by Oakland-based filmmaker Nijla Mu'min. Selected as one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film, Mu'min has been working hard to get her deeply personal film made, having raised over $27K on Kickstarter and bringing on two-time NBA All-Star (and prolific film producer) Elton Brand to EP.  From there, the film has received a grant from the Islamic Scholarship Fund and has participated in the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab and the 2017 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Labs. The support for this project (focusing on a loving mother who converts to Islam, a decision that deeply affects her teenage daughter) makes me excited to see the finished work. It even co-stars another fellow 2017 25 New Face of Independent Film, Kelvin Harrison, Jr.  —Erik Luers

15. The Kid Who Would Be King

Director: Joe Cornish

If you haven’t seen the 2011 alien invasion flick Attack The Block, you gotta put it up on the top of your list immediately. The undeniably British Joe Cornish hasn’t gotten a chance to make a movie since the release of the John Boyega career-making sci-fi, but we are now finally getting a follow-up with this exploration into the fantasy genre - The Kid Who Would Be King. Early reports mark it as an Amblin-esque homage to the Camelot story, about a group of kids who band together to thwart an evil sorcerer. With the recent success of Stranger Things and It (along with Patrick Stewart in line to play Merlin), this seems like it has a pretty solid chance to be great.—Jon Fusco

16. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Director: Terry Gilliam

It’s kind of crazy to think that this feature already exists as one of Terry Gilliam’s most famous films. Of course, it’s famous for mostly all the wrong reasons as it is widely recognized for being of the most infamous examples of development hell in film history.  Gilliam unsuccessfully attempted to make the film a total of eight times over the span of nineteen years. It’s exciting, however, because the source of all these woes stems purely from Gilliam’s enormous ambition. It’s incredible to think that we’ll finally be able to the result of this madness, based of course, off Miguel de Cervantes classic novel Don Quixote. Gilliam himself assures us that the result is “surprisingly wonderful.”—Jon Fusco

17. Mid '90s

Director: Jonah Hill

People have been quick to pinpoint Mid-'90s as Jonah Hill’s Lady Bird, which sounds kind of odd, but consider the facts. It’s a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story from a comedic actor is making their first movie and it’s even being released by A24. It’s hard not to just think about the film as some sort of Superbad 2, but Hill says he’s been using Kids as inspiration, so…—Jon Fusco
Director Jennifer Kent.

18. The Nightingale

Director: Jennifer Kent

Winner of several Best First Feature prizes, Jennifer Kent's debut The Babadook is one of the most celebrated horror films of the past decade, and, low-budget be damned, looked like (several) million bucks. Kent returns this year with her follow-up, a 19th century period piece that follows a woman seeking revenge on the man who callously murdered her family. The film sounds like it's going to be appropriately dark, and Kent excels at emphasizing distress over bloodshed.—Erik Luers

19. Ready Player One

Director: Steven Spielberg

In some ways, Ready Player One is the movie Steven Spielberg was born to make, at least in the most meta sense. After all, many of the pop culture references in the future VR world that the film portrays come from his own work, and in the year after a comprehensive documentary of his career came out, he has the potential to mine and celebrate his own family-friendly blockbuster canon through this film. It doesn’t hurt that Ready Player One marks the director’s 18th collaboration with Oscar-winning DP Janusz Kaminski, who has shot Spielberg’s dark and light fare alike. Based on Ernest Cline’s young adult novel of the same name, this treasure hunt adventure is likely to excite the imaginations of both old and new generations of Spielberg fans. —Liz Nord

20. Roma

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Multi-faceted director Alfonso Cuarón has been celebrated for his blockbuster fare in recent years, including 7-time Oscar-winner Gravity. However, our standout from his canon is Y Tu Mama También, which Cuarón has noted as a turning point for himself and longtime DP collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki. Chivo is not behind the camera this time, but it recalls the 2001 film because, like Y Tu Mama, it brings Cuarón back to his native Mexico to tell a Spanish-language tale rooted in personal experience. Cuarón and up-and-coming Mexican DP Galo Olivares shot Roma in 70mm, which should lend visual grandeur to the story of the 1971 Corpus Christi Massacre, when soldiers killed almost 120 students at an anti-government protest in Mexico City.—Liz Nord

Director Luca Guadagnino on the set of 'Suspiria.'

21. Suspiria

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Another remake of a 1970s horror film, Luca Guadagnino follows up Call Me by your Name with a new spin on Dario Argento's gorgeously shot Giallo classic. I say "new spin" knowing full well that Argento's hypnotizing film logic cannot truly be replicated—Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman once described it as "a movie that makes sense only to the eye (and even then...)"—but Guadagnino is certainly adept at adapting a source material and making it his own. With a cast that includes Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Tilda Swinton, this reimagining promises to merge prestige with bloodshed.—Erik Luers

22. Tully

Director: Jason Reitman

We know that this business is built on successful collaborations, and so this reunion of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody is especially promising. The pair first teamed up on Juno, one of the most beloved and successful indies of the aughts, and again for Young Adult in 2011. Charlize Theron starred in the latter, as she does in Tully, playing a mother-of-three against Mackenzie Davis (the sex worker Mariette from Blade Runner 2049) as the titular night nurse, Tully.—Liz Nord

23. Under the Silver Lake

Director: David Robert Mitchell

It's been three years since David Robert Mitchell's previous film, It Follows, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rapturous praise, leading it to become the summer horror hit of 2015. The film was assured in its direction and storytelling, using teen slasher tropes and an overbearing parental fear of teen promiscuity to make for a frighteningly dark (and darkly humorous) viewing experience. Even though it was set in modern day, it felt of a different era, and that will work well for Mitchell's latest, a Los Angeles-set neo-noir that, if not a horror film, remains persistent in echoing a unique time period. The cast, anchored by Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough, feels relatively strong, and the film reconnects Mitchell with his Myth of the American Sleepover (and now Academy Award winner for Moonlight) producer Adele Romanski. —Erik Luers

Director Steven Soderbergh.

24. Unsane

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Never one to shy away from experiments (like last year’s interactive series for HBO, >Mosaic), Steven Soderbergh has turned his directorial hand to horror for the first time with Unsane. It’s not the genre experimentation that take Soderbergh furthest outside the box here; it’s the fact that the film was shot in secret on an iPhone. In it, the excellent, Emmy-winning Claire Foy (The Crown) plays an involuntary mental ward patient who faces her greatest fear. —Liz Nord

25. Wendy

Director: Benh Zeitlin

2018 must be the year of sophomore features because here we have yet another exciting second project from a director who made waves with their debut. Wendy is Benh Zeitlin’s first film since Beasts of the Southern Wild, and much like Beasts its roots seem to lie in magical realism. In it, a young girl is kidnapped and taken to an ecosystem where pollen stops the aging process. We can only hope it provides us with just as much imagination and heartache as its predecessor. —Jon Fusco

26. Widows

Director: Steve McQueen

Five years removed from his Best Picture Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, McQueen goes from the 19th century to the 21st with Widows, an updated remake of a 1980s two-part British crime drama. Now set in Chicago, the film follows the respective widows of four dead criminals, determined to carry out the mission their husbands fought to the death (and failed) to achieve. The film, written by superstar novelist and screenwriter Gillian Flynn  (Gone Girl), feels like an early favorite for awards consideration—I know, I know, let the film come out first— thanks in no small part to an expansive cast featuring Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Andre Holland, Jacki Weaver, and Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo. Long-time McQueen collaborator Sean Bobbitt returns to lense the film. —Erik Luers

27. A Wrinkle In Time

Director: Ava DuVernay

It’s hard to imagine the kind of sci-fi time loop you’d have to be stuck to have missed that this film is coming out in 2018. That’s exactly the kind of hype that might keep it off of our list (as would the Disney involvement), but we’re buying in, just like we did for Blade Runner 2049. It’s not just for hype’s sake though. It’s because we loved the classic Madeleine L'Engle book on which it’s based, because director Ava DuVernay and star Oprah Winfrey are both singular talents who have already successfully collaborated on Queen Sugar and who will bring entirely fresh perspectives to the fantasy genre, because the rest of the cast is pretty darned stellar too, and because Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi will certainly give the film the epic score it deserves.—Liz Nord

28. You Were Never Really Here

Director: Lynne Ramsay

How brutal will this film get? When I included the preview in our Trailer Watch column last month, I describe the latest from We Need to Talk About Kevin director Lynne Ramsay as "depicting a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Or, to be more clear: a hit man on the verge of a nervous breakdown." Starring Joaquin Phoenix in full vengeful, sad-puppy warrior mode, this looks like a nihilistic, gory blast. Premiering at last year's Cannes Film Festival (where it copped Best Actor and tied for Best Screenplay), it's been described as the heir apparent to Taxi Driver,  and the hyperboles appear to have been earned.—Erik Luers

Which film is your most anticipated for 2018? And given the number of movies making their way to theaters (and digital devices) over the next twelve months, perhaps we missed a few? Let us know in the comments below.

Your Comment


Sorry. Can’t take any list seriously that considers “Reese Witherspoon” to be part of a stellar cast. She’s a horrid actress.

January 10, 2018 at 8:42PM

Henry Barnill
Director of Photography

I amn't agree with you

January 11, 2018 at 5:59AM, Edited January 11, 5:59AM

Films Family
Films Family

1st The name "Steve McQueen" should be retired for use in film. Even if the new version doesn't have a middle name. He can be "Steve X McQueen" or "Steve McQueen 2" 2nd, "12 Years a Slave" was an AWFUL movie. Its considered a great movie because it covers a sensitive subject but it's still garbage. What's the message... slavery is bad??? Slavery sucks??? White people are evil??? Those themes have been beaten to death in countless movies over the years. Furthermore, it is a blatant ripoff of Alex Haley's "Roots".
Spoiler Alert: the only interesting part of the movie is a line in the credits about the main character helping with the underground railroads. I haven't seen too many main stream movies cover the underground railroads. Furthermore, we think of white people who owned slaves as evil. But we're never put into their mindset of the time. How about adding some empathy to these characters. Every good villian should be empathizable. For example, we understand the motives of Mr. Glass from "Unbreakable", the scientists in "12 Monkeys", The Joker in "The Dark Knight."

To summarize: I will not be seeing Steve X McQueen's new movie!

P.S. I don't condone slavery or racism. I just REALLY dislike "12 Years a Slave"

January 13, 2018 at 8:23AM, Edited January 13, 8:23AM


This year preparing a lot of interesting movies for us :)

January 17, 2018 at 9:30AM

Christine Meany