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50 noteworthy movies to watch for in 2018

Fantasy, heists, animated cavemen, and, of course, lots of superheroes.

Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, Ocean’s 8, and Early Man are all due in theaters in 2018.
Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, Ocean’s 8, and Early Man are all due in theaters in 2018.
Marvel / Disney / Warner Bros. / Aardman

The ink is barely dry on 2017, but we’ll still be watching and talking about its movies for months — the Oscars don’t even happen until March.

Still, a new crop of movies is rolling out. Many of the best films won’t emerge until later in the year, only showing up on critics’ lists and in theaters after they debut at events like the Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto film festivals. But I’ve compiled 50 buzzy movies already scheduled for release in 2018, from superhero films to animated comedies and a lot more.

Here’s to a new year at the cinema.

January

The Commuter

Release date: January 12

Why it matters: Liam Neeson plays a man who gets caught up in a criminal conspiracy on his commute home from work. Jaume Collet-Serra, with whom Neeson worked on movies like Unknown and Run All Night, directs this thriller.

12 Strong

Release date: January 19

Why it matters: With an all-star cast — including Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Taylor Sheridan, Michael Peña, Rob Riggle, Trevante Rhodes, and Elsa Pataky — 12 Strong is a true story of the “horse soldiers,” the first Special Forces team to be deployed to Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Release date: January 26

Why it matters: The third installment in the Maze Runner series, based on the final novel in James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, concludes the series and brings some answers that the characters have been seeking since the beginning.

February

The 15:17 to Paris

Release date: February 9

Why it matters: Clint Eastwood directs another tale of real-life heroism (his last was 2016’s Sully) about the three American men (two of whom were off-duty soldiers) who defused an imminent terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris in 2015. The three men who subdued the gunman play themselves: Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos.

Fifty Shades Freed

Release date: February 9

Why it matters: Christian and Anastasia are back — and she’s pregnant, apparently — in the third installment of the wildly popular Fifty Shades franchise. Fans are excited not just for more of what the first two movies served up, but also to see how awkward the press tour will be.

Black Panther

Release date: February 16

Why it matters: Black Panther opens after the events of Captain America: Civil War, boasts a brilliant cast — Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, and a lot more — and is directed by Creed’s Ryan Coogler. The movie has taken a decades-long path to the big screen and is the first of Marvel’s films to feature a primarily black cast.

Early Man

Release date: February 16

Why it matters: Early Man is the latest feature-length film from writer-director Nick Park and the Aardman animation shop, who previously brought us Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run. In this film, a prehistoric man named Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) must bring his tribe together to oppose their enemy, Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston).

Annihilation

Release date: February 23

Why it matters: Annihilation is Alex Garland’s follow-up to his 2015 film Ex Machina. Starring Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Oscar Isaac, it’s based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer about a team of four women who venture into an uninhabited region known as Area X.

March

Red Sparrow

Release date: March 2

Why it matters: Francis Lawrence (who helmed the final three Hunger Games films and I Am Legend) directs Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) in a sexy spy thriller that also stars Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons, Ciarán Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, and Matthias Schoenaerts.

Alpha

Release date: March 2

Why it matters: Alpha is another film about a prehistoric man, this time set during the last Ice Age and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee. Albert Hughes, who co-directed The Book of Eli, directs. And from the trailer, it looks gorgeous.

A Wrinkle in Time

Release date: March 9

Why it matters: One of the year’s most hotly anticipated films, A Wrinkle in Time is a fantasy adventure film based on the beloved book by Madeleine L’Engle and directed by Selma director Ava DuVernay. Need I say more?

Tomb Raider

Release date: March 16

Why it matters: The franchise based on the video game is getting a reboot with Alicia Vikander in the title role and delightfully named Norwegian director Roar Uthaug at the helm.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Release date: March 23

Why it matters: In this sequel to the 2013 film, Star Wars’ John Boyega leads the cast as a crew saves humanity once again (presumably) from a new Kaiju threat.

Isle of Dogs

Release date: March 23

Why it matters: Wes Anderson returns to animation — his first foray into the medium since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox — for a story about a boy searching for his dog. The all-star voice cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Liev Schreiber, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Courtney B. Vance, Ken Watanabe, Bob Balaban, Yoko Ono, and more.

Ready Player One

Release date: March 30

Why it matters: Directed by Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One is based on the 2011 sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline. Its story is set in a near-future dystopian Earth, where most people spend their time largely in an interconnected virtual reality called the OASIS.

Mary Magdalene

Release date: March 30

Why it matters: Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix reunite for a film about the biblical character of Mary Magdalene, one of the women who followed Jesus. It promises to kick up some controversy — Bible movies that retell stories in new ways usually do.

April

Chappaquiddick

Release date: April 6

Why it matters: Chappaquiddick found early favor with critics when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall. It’s a retelling of the fateful chapter in Ted Kennedy’s life following the fatal car accident that killed campaign strategist Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969.

You Were Never Really Here

Release date: April 6

Why it matters: After debuting at Cannes last summer to positive buzz and winning two awards at the festival (for its screenplay and Joaquin Phoenix’s performance), Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Jonathan Ames’s novel about a tormented hit man searching for a missing teenage girl is finally coming to theaters.

A Quiet Place

Release date: April 6

Why it matters: John Krasinski directs and stars alongside Emily Blunt (his real-life wife) in a horror thriller about a family who lives in complete silence. Noah Jupe (Wonder) and Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) play the couple’s children.

God Particle

No images or trailers are available at this time.

Release date: April 20

Why it matters: God Particle was first slated to come out in October, then in February; now it’s set for April. Like 10 Cloverfield Lane, it’s part of the Cloverfield universe. It’s set on a space station and involves a particle accelerator — and that’s about all we know about it. But that’s plenty to get the buzz started.

May

Avengers: Infinity War

Release date: May 4

Why it matters: The Avengers reunite to save the world and defeat a Big Bad, and that will be enough to get people in the door. (The trailer teases the addition of Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy crew to the mix.)

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The logo for Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo: A Star Wars Story is due in theaters on May 2018.
Lucasfilm

Release date: May 25

Why it matters: After Disney fired Lego Movie directors Chris Lord and Phil Miller from the project and installed Ron Howard in the director’s chair last summer — months into filming — the Han Solo prequel is finally making its way to theaters. Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke star.

June

Deadpool 2

Release date: June 1

Why it matters: Please allow me to reproduce in full Twentieth Century Fox’s plot summary (as listed on IMDB, as opposed to similar but different nonsense listed on a teaser trailer). To say the least, it suggests the sequel to 2016’s irreverent smash hit will replicate its predecessor’s trademark R-rated humor:

After surviving a near fatal knee boarding accident, a disfigured guidance counselor (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Poughkeepsie’s most celebrated French Bulldog breeder while also learning to cope with an open relationship.

Searching to regain his passion for life, as well as a new stuffed unicorn, Wade must battle ninjas, tight assed metal men, and babysit a group stereotypical side characters as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and creative outlets for his very open-minded sex life. He manages to find a new lust for being a do-gooder, a sparkly Hello Kitty backpack, all while earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best 4th Wall Breaking Superhero.

Ocean’s 8

Release date: June 8

Why it matters: Sandra Bullock assembles a crew of badass women — Olivia Munn, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, and Rihanna, no joke! — to pull off a heist at the Met Gala. Put it in my eyes.

Incredibles 2

Release date: June 15

Why it matters: Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back, including little Jack-Jack, for whom Mr. Incredible is now the primary caregiver while Elastigirl is out saving the world.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Release date: June 22

Why it matters: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jeff Goldblum are back for a second installment in the Jurassic World franchise, this time with A Monster Calls director J.A. Bayona at the helm.

Sicario 2: Soldado

Release date: June 29

Why it matters: The follow-up to the 2015 movie brings back Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin for another film about fighting cartels on the US-Mexico border.

July

The Purge 4: The Island

No images or trailers are available at this time.

Release date: July 4

Why it matters: This fourth installment in the Purge franchise is a prequel, recounting the events that led to the first Purge.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp is due in theaters in July 2018.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is due in theaters in July 2018.
Marvel

Release date: July 6

Why it matters: Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man (with Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp) in the follow-up to the 2015 film.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

Release date: July 20

Why it matters: Of all the sequels that Hollywood could make, a Mamma Mia sequel probably isn’t particularly high on most people’s wishlists. But here it comes, with a pregnant Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) learning about her mother’s past.

M:I 6 — Mission Impossible

Tom Cruise on the Set of Mission : Impossible 6 Gemini - in Paris
Tom Cruise on the set of M:I 6 - Mission Impossible in Paris during May 2017
Photo by Pierre Suu/GC Images

Release date: July 27

Why it matters: The Mission: Impossible franchise remains one of the most purely fun action film series in existence, and this new chapter — with the usual star-studded cast led by Tom Cruise — will likely be no exception.

August

The Predator

Predator director Shane Black with the movie’s cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, and Trevante Rhodes
Predator director Shane Black with the movie’s cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, and Trevante Rhodes
Twentieth Century Fox

Release date: August 3

Why it matters: Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys) directs an installment in the Predator series that’s set between Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010), with a cast featuring Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, and Trevante Rhodes.

The Meg

A scene from The Meg
A scene from The Meg
Warner Bros.

Release date: August 10

Why it matters: Every summer needs its own shark movie. This year’s is directed by National Treasure’s Jon Turteltaub and stars Ruby Rose, Bingbing Li, and Jason Statham, and its shark looks really big.

September

Robin Hood

Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton in Robin Hood
Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton in Robin Hood
Lionsgate

Release date: September 21

Why it matters: Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton star in a “gritty” remake of the Robin Hood story, with Otto Bathurst (who has directed episodes of Black Mirror and Peaky Blinders) at the helm.

Smallfoot

Release date: September 28

Why it matters: An animated comedy about a yeti who is convinced that humans really do exist, Smallfoot features the voice talents of Zendaya, Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi, and — in a bit of a twist — Channing Tatum.

October

A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star is Born
Warner Bros.

Release date: October 5

Why it matters: Bradley Cooper directed and stars alongside Lady Gaga in the remake of the 1937 film.

First Man

No images or trailers are available at this time.

Release date: October 12

Why it matters: La La Land and Whiplash director Damien Chazelle takes on the story of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), the first man to walk on the moon. Claire Foy and a host of other talented actors also star.

The Jungle Book

Andy Serkis in The Jungle Book
Andy Serkis in The Jungle Book
Warner Bros.

Release date: October 19

Why it matters: Andy Serkis directs another remake of The Jungle Book and stars as Baloo. Cate Blanchett plays Kaa, the snake; Christian Bale plays Bagheera, the panther; Benedict Cumberbatch plays Shere Khan, the tiger. That’s pretty promising.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

No images or trailers are available at this time.

Release date: October 19

Why it matters: The latest installment in the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series stars Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander.

November

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Sophie Turner in X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Sophie Turner in X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Twentieth Century Fox

Release date: November 2

Why it matters: The next addition to the X-Men franchise features Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) developing powers that corrupt her and force the X-Men to make some tough decisions.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Release date: November 2

Why it matters: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren star in a live-action adaptation of the famous ballet.

Mary Queen of Scots

Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots
Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots
John Mathieson / Focus Features

Release date: November 2

Why it matters: Saoirse Ronan plays Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie plays Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots, penned by House of Cards creator Beau Willimon.

Mulan

No images or trailers are available at this time.

Release date: November 2

Why it matters: This live-action remake of the Disney animated film stars Yifei Liu and has Whale Rider’s Niki Caro at the helm.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Claudia Kim, Zoë Kravitz, Ezra Miller, and Callum Turner in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Claudia Kim, Zoë Kravitz, Ezra Miller, and Callum Turner in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Warner Bros.

Release date: November 16

Why it matters: The sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is highly anticipated by many Harry Potter fans — and simultaneously controversial thanks to Johnny Depp’s starring role. But the rest of the cast is a killer, and there could be plenty of magic to come.

Creed II

No images or trailers are available at this time.

Release date: November 21

Why it matters: Michael B. Jordan returns as Adonis Johnson, this time to seek revenge on the man who killed his father. Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson return, too.

Widows

No images or trailers are available at this time.

Release date: November 16

Why it matters: Widows is a likely awards-season juggernaut, directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) from a screenplay by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn.

December

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Release date: December 14

Why it matters: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an animated Spider-Man film, written and produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) and featuring the voice talents of Liev Schreiber, Mahershala Ali, Shameik Moore, and Brian Tyree Henry.

Aquaman

Aquaman is due in theaters in December 2018.
Aquaman is due in theaters in December 2018.
Warner Bros.

Release date: December 21

Why it matters: Jason Momoa, Nicole Kidman, and Amber Heard star in Aquaman, helmed by horror director James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring), which sounds pretty great.

Mary Poppins Returns

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson in a production still from Mary Poppins Returns
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson in a production still from Mary Poppins Returns
PA Images via Getty Images

Release date: December 25

Why it matters: Emily Blunt stars as Mary Poppins, and the rest of the cast is absurdly stacked with talent: Dick Van Dyke, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Ben Whishaw, Angela Lansbury, Emily Mortimer, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Rami Malek will play Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, due out in December 2018.
Nick Delaney/20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Release date: December 25

Why it matters: Rami Malek stars as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, and Aidan Gillen plays the band’s manager, John Reid, in this film about the years leading up to Queen’s legendary 1985 Live Aid performance.

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