And 2018 will be no exception. Here are 45 films to watch for between now and the end of the year, and the reasons we’ll all be talking about them.
Bisbee ’17 (September 5)
Directed by unconventional documentarian Robert Greene, Bisbee ’17 is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. Greene ventured to Bisbee, Arizona, for the centennial of a 1917 incident in which 1,200 striking miners were illegally deported to New Mexico. It’s an unsettling cipher for America, at a time when the ghosts of our past have revealed themselves in frightening ways.
Bisbee ’17 will premiere in New York City at Film Forum on September 5, followed by a national rollout.
The Land of Steady Habits (September 14)
Nicole Holofcener, best known for ensemble comedies like Please Give, Friends With Money, and Enough Said, dives into more dramatic territory with The Land of Steady Habits. Based on Ted Thompson’s 2014 novel, it’s the story of Anders (Ben Mendelsohn), who has left both his marriage to Helene (Edie Falco) and his investment banking job to find happiness but is finding that neither comes easy.
The Land of Steady Habits will premiere on Netflix on September 14.
I Think We’re Alone Now (September 14)
I Think We’re Alone Now is a post-apocalyptic drama about the last man on earth (Peter Dinklage) and the girl who finds him (Elle Fanning). Directed and shot by Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale), it falls somewhere between a relationship drama and an exploration of what it would be like to be completely alone in the world. And when it takes an unexpected turn midway through, it becomes an intriguing contemplation of what makes us human.
I Think We’re Alone Now will premiere on in limited theaters on September 14, then open wider and on demand on September 21.
A Simple Favor (September 14)
Based on Darcey Bell’s best-selling novel, A Simple Plan stars Anna Kendrick as a mom blogger who is thrown into a tailspin when her glamorous best friend, played by Blake Lively, suddenly disappears. Crazy Rich Asians lead Henry Golding also stars as Lively’s husband. It’s a darker turn for director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, 2016’s Ghostbusters), and early marketing promises a deliciously sexy noir-style mystery.
A Simple Favor will open in theaters on September 14.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (September 14)
As much poem as documentary, RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening is the sort of film for which the word “lyrical” was invented. Ross carefully assembled hours of footage he shot while living in Hale County, Alabama — water dripping down a baby’s stomach, kids goofing off in a parking lot, church congregants singing during Mass, old houses, insects, and more. Together, they act as brushstrokes to create a portrait of a community, capturing a way of life in a place burdened by history.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening will open on September 14 in New York City.
Fahrenheit 11/9 (September 21)
Michael Moore is back with a documentary about the 2016 presidential election and its effects across the country. For Fahrenheit 11/9, he traveled the US to talk to people about Trump’s victory and its effects on them. Moore is a controversial figure whose documentaries garner very mixed opinions from critics and from audiences, but there’s no doubt that people will be talking about this one.
Fahrenheit 11/9 will open in theaters on September 21.
The Sisters Brothers (September 21)
Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly star as a pair of brothers who work as assassins in the Wild West, and who are set on the trail of a thieving prospector in 1851. Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal also star in this darkly comedic film, directed by Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone, The Beat My Heart Skipped), which is as much about sons and fathers as about the Gold Rush.
The Sisters Brothers will open in theaters on September 21.
Smallfoot (September 28)
Usually, it’s humans who doubt the existence of Bigfoot, but in Smallfoot the tables are turned: Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) is a Yeti who is convinced that the mythological creature the Yetis call “Smallfoot” really does exist. The voice cast also includes James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, and Jimmy Tatro.
Smallfoot will open in theaters on September 28.
Monsters and Men (September 28)
Monsters and Men is a terrific triptych with a painful central event: a police shooting of a black man. Each of the film’s three segments revolves around a different character, and the shooting touches each of their lives in different ways. One man (Anthony Ramos) witnessed it; one is a black cop (John David Washington) who’s struggling to figure out how he should feel about it; and one is a rising baseball star (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) who feels a tug toward activism as a result of it.
Director Reinaldo Marcus Green seems equally interested in making a visually beautiful film and making a film with a social conscience, and his lead actors turn in sensitive, strong performances that explore how a whole community can be affected by a single devastating event.
Monsters and Men will open in theaters on September 28.
Hold the Dark (September 28)
After children start turning up dead, apparently killed by wolves, Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) is hired by the parents of a 6-year-old boy to find their son. Hold the Dark is directed by Jeremy Saulnier, whose movies like Green Room and Blue Ruin are known for their gritty, grim aesthetic, and it promises more of the same.
Hold the Dark will premiere on Netflix on September 28.
The Old Man and the Gun (September 28)
In what he says is his final role before retiring from acting, Robert Redford stars as Forrest Tucker, a career bank robber who escaped San Quentin at age 70 and has been on the loose, robbing banks again. Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck co-star with Redford in the latest film from David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), which is set in 1981 and styled to look like a film from that era.
The Old Man and the Gun will open in theaters on September 28.
A Star Is Born (October 5)
For his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper took on the much-adapted narrative of A Star Is Born, which first appeared in a 1937 film and was remade in 1954 and 1976. Cooper stars alongside Lady Gaga in the latest version about an aging music star who helps out a young talent, who then begins to eclipse him.
A Star Is Born will open in theaters on October 5.
Roma (October 5)
One of the most hotly anticipated films of the year is Roma, the latest film from director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity). It’s the first Spanish-language film for Cuarón since his 2001 film Y Tu Mamá También. Shot in black and white, the film follows a year in the life of a family living in Mexico City in the 1970s. With Cuarón’s artful eye bringing it all together — he shot and edited the film as well — it looks like a stunner.
Roma will premiere on Netflix on October 5.
Private Life (October 5)
Eleven years after the Sundance debut of her highly acclaimed feature The Savages, Tamara Jenkins returned to the festival with Private Life, a funny, moving film about a couple’s maddening and harrowing struggle with infertility. It achieves a tricky tonal balance by irreverently locating the humor in the suffering — injecting hormones into buttocks, having to deliver semen samples for IVF, readying the house for a home visit from an adoption agency — without making light of those experiences. The result is an accessible and complex portrait of two people whose ardent shared desire for a child leads them in some unconventional directions, and it’s a joy to watch whether or not you can relate to their experience.
Private Life will premiere on Netflix on October 5.
Venom (October 5)
Tom Hardy stars in this long-awaited extension of the Spider-Man movie franchise, which tells the story of journalist Eddie Brock/sentient symbiote Venom, a character first introduced in Marvel’s Spider-Man comics and then again, somewhat notoriously, in 2007’s Spider-Man 3. (Even Topher Grace, who played Eddie/Venom in Spider-Man 3, seems to think Hardy’s interpretation of the character looks like an improvement over his.) Now Venom is getting another shot at big-screen glory, with an origin story that is said to inhabit the same universe as 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Venom will open in theaters on October 5.
First Man (October 12)
For his follow-up to the multi-award-winning 2017 film La La Land, director Damien Chazelle chose the story of Neil Armstrong and NASA’s efforts to land a man on the moon. Ryan Gosling stars alongside Claire Foy and Kyle Chandler in a film that is almost certainly vying for top position in another densely populated awards season.
First Man will open in theaters on October 12.
Beautiful Boy (October 12)
Beautiful Boy stars Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, and Amy Ryan in a drama about a father watching his son struggle with an addiction to meth. It’s the first English-language drama from Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen, and, with its serious subject matter and stellar cast, it will likely be part of awards conversations this fall.
Beautiful Boy will open in theaters on October 12.
Bad Times at the El Royale (October 12)
Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods) wrote and directed this thriller about five strangers with secrets to hide who meet at a hotel on a fateful night. With a cast including Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, and Jeff Bridges, it looks like a strong sophomore venture from Goddard and has the potential to be enormously crowd-pleasing, too.
Bad Times at the El Royale will open in theaters on October 12.
The Hate U Give (October 19)
Based on Angie Thomas’s 2017 National Book Award–winning young adult novel by the same title, The Hate U Give is about a teenage girl named Starr (Amandla Stenberg) who sees her childhood friend killed by police and has to deal with the fallout. With a cast including Regina Hall, Issa Rae, Russell Hornby, and Anthony Mackie, the film looks like a moving retelling of an all-too-timely story through the eyes of a teen girl.
The Hate U Give will open in theaters on October 19.
Halloween (October 19)
Jamie Lee Curtis is back for this installment of Halloween, a sequel to the 1978 film in which she also starred. After being haunted by the masked murderer Michael Myers for four decades, she’s ready to face him again. The movie is reportedly a passion project for Curtis, with idiosyncratic director David Gordon Green (Stronger, Prince Avalanche, Pineapple Express) at the helm.
Halloween will open in theaters on October 19.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (October 19)
Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) directs Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, based on the memoir by Lee Israel. McCarthy plays Israel, a successful celebrity biographer who turned to literary forgery and theft later in her career. Richard E. Grant also stars.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? will open in theaters on October 19.
Burning (October 26)
Burning, from Korean director Lee Chang-dong, was one of the most critically lauded films at the Cannes Film Festival this summer, topping many lists and drawing nearly universal praise. It’s loosely based on Haruki Murakami’s short story “Barn Burning,” which was first published in the New Yorker in 1992. It’s gripping and unnerving, a noir-style mystery with no answers that goes in entirely unexpected directions (and harbors a hint of William Faulkner, too).
Burning opens in theaters on October 26.
Monrovia, Indiana (October 26)
For his 41st feature, celebrated documentarian Frederick Wiseman chose the agricultural town of Monrovia, Indiana, as a way to explore small-town America. Wiseman has often trained his camera on American institutions, frequently in large cities, to wryly and wisely show how we live with one another; Monrovia, Indiana seems like a vital addition to his canon in a time when many Americans are thinking and talking about “real America.”
Monrovia, Indiana opens in theaters on October 26.
Bohemian Rhapsody (November 2)
Rami Malek stars as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic that covers the time leading up to Queen’s Live Aid performance in 1985. The movie has run into some controversy ahead of its release — early marketing materials seemed to suggest the film might downplay Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis, sparking an outcry, and director Bryan Singer was fired from the film near the end of production. But it seems to have overcome those hurdles, and Malek’s performance in particular seems like a big selling point.
Bohemian Rhapsody opens in theaters on November 2.
Suspiria (November 2)
Luca Guadagnino follows up last year’s critically lauded Call Me by Your Name with a remake — of sorts — of Dario Argento’s 1977 cult horror film Suspiria. Guadagnino has said in interviews that his film is less of a literal adaptation (which would be hard to do) and more of a recreation of his experience watching it and “being obsessed by it.” Set in a dance company and starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, and Chloë Grace Moretz — and clocking in at a cool two hours and 32 minutes — it seems destined to be one of the most talked-about films of the fall.
Suspiria will open in theaters on November 2.
The Other Side of the Wind (November 2)
The legendary director Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) shot The Other Side of the Wind between 1970 and 1976, but he didn’t finish the film before he died in 1985. It gained a reputation as one of the most troubled productions in Hollywood, plagued by legal and financial woes. Now it’s been completed. Starring Peter Bogdanovich, John Huston, Bob Random, and Oja Kodar, the satire of Hollywood will premiere — where else? — on Netflix.
The Other Side of the Wind will premiere on Netflix on November 2.
Peterloo (November 9)
Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky) returns with a film about the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, in which the British cavalry charged into a large crowd of civilians in Manchester who had gathered to call for parliamentary representation reform. Leigh’s working methods, which emphasize extensive character development in concert with his actors, promise that this film will be anything but a conventional historical film.
Peterloo will open in theaters on November 9.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (November 9)
Hacker Lisbeth Salander returns, now played by The Crown’s Claire Foy, in this installment of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. Along with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), Salander — who is a survivor of severe emotional and physical abuse — tries to exact revenge for other abused and battered women. The series is always popular and provocative but may prove especially so in 2018 — particularly with Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez at the helm.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web will open in theaters on November 9.
Widows (November 16)
Steve McQueen follows his Best Picture–winning 2013 film 12 Years a Slave with Widows, a heist drama he co-wrote with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, based on a TV series from 1983. The film is the story of four widows — played by Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo — who finish a heist after their husbands, all armed robbers, are killed in the attempt. With four outstanding actresses in rich roles, this movie is sure to offer both awards-season material and plenty of artistic possibility.
Widows will open in theaters on November 16.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16)
The sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them once again stars Eddie Redmayne as zoologist and Hogwarts dropout Newt Scamander, as the wizarding world finds itself embroiled in a dangerous internal war. J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for the film, which also stars Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore and, in a particularly controversial bit of casting, Johnny Depp as the notorious wizard supremacist Gellert Grindelwald.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will open in theaters on November 16.
Creed II (November 21)
The highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Creed, which rocketed Michael B. Jordan to stardom, finds young Adonis Creed (Jordan) training with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to face Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago. The film is directed by relative newcomer Steven Caple Jr. and executive-produced by Ryan Coogler, who directed Jordan in the first film as well as this year’s monster hit Black Panther. Tessa Thompson also returns as Creed’s girlfriend, Bianca.
Creed II will open in theaters on November 21.
Ralph Breaks the Internet (November 21)
The delightfully self-aware trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet makes it clear that this sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph has lost none of its predecessor’s gleefully meta charm. This time, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), and their video game character buddies find themselves embarking on a new adventure after finding a wifi router in their arcade.
Ralph Breaks the Internet will open in theaters on November 21.
Robin Hood (November 21)
Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, and Ben Mendelsohn star in this adaptation of the old Robin Hood story. Past adaptations have ranged from animated to comic to irreverent, but this one looks like it’s leaning on some realism to tell the well-trod story.
Robin Hood opens in theaters on November 21.
The Favourite (November 23)
To follow up his films The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Yorgos Lanthimos visits 18th-century England, where Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) discover that their happy companionship is threatened when Sarah’s cousin Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) arrives. This story, rendered in Lanthimos’s signature deadpan style and with lush production design, seems poised to be one of the most wonderfully wicked pleasures of the fall season.
The Favourite opens in theaters on November 23.
Shoplifters (November 23)
The Cannes Film Festival jury awarded its top prize, the Palme d’Or, to the critical favorite Shoplifters. It’s perhaps an unlikely candidate: an intimate and accessible drama about a family of small-time petty crooks from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. But as the story unfolds, a mystery seems to emerge almost imperceptibly from the family’s ordinary interactions, and it becomes something else altogether. With strong performances and an engaging narrative, it’s an unforgettably poignant film.
Shoplifters opens in theaters on November 23.
If Beale Street Could Talk (November 30)
Barry Jenkins follows his Best Picture–winning 2016 film Moonlight with If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the extraordinary novel by James Baldwin, a love story set in 1970s Harlem. Any film by Jenkins would have positive buzz, but with a cast including major talents Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Brian Tyree Henry, Regina King, and newcomer KiKi Layne, the anticipation for this one has already reached a fever pitch.
If Beale Street Could Talk opens in theaters on November 30.
Mary Queen of Scots (December 7)
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) as Queen Elizabeth I, starring alongside Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians), Guy Pearce (Memento), and David Tennant (Doctor Who)? In a lush tale of palace intrigue written by House of Cards scribe Beau Willimon and directed by Donmar Warehouse’s Josie Rourke? Where do we sign up?
Mary Queen of Scots opens in theaters on December 7.
Under the Silver Lake (December 7)
A twisted postmodern neo-noir that’s set in contemporary Los Angeles but folds itself back onto classic Hollywood tropes, Under the Silver Lake — from It Follows director David Robert Mitchell — garnered very mixed reviews at its Cannes debut this summer. (I loved it, despite its flaws.) Starring Andrew Garfield as a hapless, aimless hipster who finds himself investigating the disappearance of a Marilyn Monroe–styled girl next door (played by Riley Keough), it’s blatantly knowing in how it recycles the tropes Hollywood has pressed on its women characters. But it poses the possibility that pop culture is all recycling anyhow, and there might not be any way out of that. It’s cheerily pessimistic and imaginative, and you’ll either love it or hate it — but you won’t want to miss it.
Under the Silver Lake opens in theaters on December 7.
Aquaman (December 14)
Jason Momoa’s take on Aquaman, the fish-whispering king of the sea, was one of the few bright spots in 2017’s Justice League. Now he’s getting his own solo film — directed by horror/action auteur James Wan, no less — to bring some over-the-top underwater drama to Warner Bros.’ DC superhero universe. Aquaman looks to be a straight-ahead origin story for Aquaman, a.k.a. Arthur Curry, and features an expanded role for Amber Heard’s Mera, who also made her debut in Justice League. They’ll be joined by Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Ludi Lin, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Nicole Kidman as Aquaman’s mother, the Queen of Atlantis.
Aquaman opens in theaters on December 14.
Mary Poppins Returns (December 19)
Siblings Jane and Michael Banks are all grown up, and Michael has children of his own, when their former nanny (now played by Emily Blunt) returns to help them recapture some of the magic of their childhood. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Emily Mortimer, Ben Whishaw, Angela Lansbury, and Dick Van Dyke round out the constellation of luminaries in the musical film’s cast.
Mary Poppins Returns opens in theaters on December 19.
Welcome to Marwen (December 21)
Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) is known for his innovative use of special effects, which is in full display in the trailer for Welcome to Marwen. Steve Carell stars as a man who responds to a violent assault by constructing a miniature World War II village in his backyard, into which he escapes in his imagination.
Welcome to Marwen opens in theaters on December 21.
Holmes & Watson (December 21)
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reunite (after Step Brothers) for Holmes & Watson, a comedy about the legendary mystery-solving duo — Sherlock Holmes and John Watson — set in their later years. The popularity of Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson seems endlessly adaptable, and this entry will likely serve up ripe comedic fodder for the talented pair.
Holmes & Watson opens in theaters on December 21.
Cold War (December 21)
Cold War was my favorite film at the Cannes Film Festival in May, a decade- and continent-spanning, pristinely shot romantic tragedy from Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, who was awarded the directing prize for the film. Set in Europe in the early decades of the Cold War, the film balances its captivating central characters and their fiery love with the grand sweep of the places and times they find themselves in. It shows how those two things twine together, country and ideology pushing and prodding their characters into shapes that ultimately determine their fate.
Cold War opens in theaters on December 21.
On the Basis of Sex (December 25)
Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg got the documentary treatment earlier this year in the box office hit RBG, and now she’s getting a biopic too. Ginsburg is played by Felicity Jones, with Armie Hammer as her husband, in a film directed by the prolific Mimi Leder (The Leftovers, Deep Impact).
On the Basis of Sex opens in theaters on December 25.
Destroyer (December 25)
Nicole Kidman looks virtually unrecognizable in the latest film from director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body). In this crime thriller, Kidman plays an LAPD cop who went undercover with a dangerous gang. Twenty years later, she hasn’t recovered from the trauma of the experience. Sebastian Stan and Bradley Whitford also star.
Destroyer opens in theaters on December 25.
Author: Alissa Wilkinson