Movies I Wanna See Most: Summer 2018

The summer movie season is always one of my favorite times of the year because it seems people outside those of us who consistently devour movies seem to make a big deal of what's opening in theaters each week. When it's something the masses are interested in it feels like a celebration and no matter how crappy or generic some of these movies might be that attract the masses I can't help but smile about people finding joy and excitement in the cinema. I've always attempted to find a balance between big-budget and indie fare rather than dismiss the blockbusters and only adore the smaller, more intimate movies. I like to try and think in terms of objectives and how well a movie accomplishes the objectives it sets out to accomplish by the end of the film. This seems especially critical when approaching traditional summer popcorn movies. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily more excited for Skyscraper than I am something like Hot Summer Nights, but rather that I'm interested in both for very different reasons. While neither of those titles will be on my list I would place director Brad Bird's follow-up to his 2005 Pixar juggernaut, The Incredibles II, just outside my top ten along with the likes of Rupert Wyatt's follow-up to his The Gambler re-make titled Captive State that stars John Goodman and explores the lives of beings on both sides of a conflict that has been in place for nearly a decade after an extra-terrestrial force took occupation in Chicago. The film has an August release date and was included in my most anticipated of the year as Wyatt's entry in the last Planet of the Apes trilogy is still my favorite and this film seems like a natural progression after Goodman's fantastic turn in 10 Cloverfield Lane, but the absence of any trailer or any promotional material whatsoever makes me wonder if this one might not get delayed. Elsewhere, there is The Happytime Murders from Brian Henson (son of Jim) a dark comedy about the puppet cast of an eighties children's TV show that begin to get murdered one by one, Gary Ross' (Pleasantville, The Hunger Games) take on a Steven Soderbergh heist flick with the star-studded Ocean's 8, and likely Morgan Neville's (20 feet from Stardom) documentary that explores the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host, Fred Rogers in Won't You be My Neighbor?. You won't find the likes of The Equalizer II or The First Purge on my list and none of the broad mainstream comedies such as Tag or Uncle Drew are on there despite the fact I'll no doubt end up enjoying both of them, but like I said, I'm by no means opposed to unabashed blockbusters as is evidenced in my number ten pick...

10. The Meg - Nothing screams summer movie season more than a thrilling shark movie (it was Jaws that ushered in the idea of summer blockbusters, after all) and we've been spoiled with fairly decent ones over the last couple of years including Jaume Collet-Serra's The Shallows and Johannes Roberts 47 Meters Down, but The Meg can't help but feel as if it combines every element of the summer blockbuster and throws it at the wall in hopes of most of it sticking. If you're unaware of what The Meg is or is about it takes Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Bingbing Li, and Cliff Curtis and throws them into an encounter with an unknown danger in the unexplored recesses of the Mariana Trench. Through a series of unfortunate events Naval Captain Statham loses his career, his marriage, and any semblance of honor as his unsupported and incredulous claims that the Carcharodon Megalodon - the largest marine predator that ever existed - is still alive and worse...on the hunt! (8/10)

9. Sorry to Bother You - "An absurdist dark comedy with magical realism and science fiction inspired by the world of telemarketing." That is how first time feature director Bootsy Collins describes Sorry to Bother You. Collins was part of the hip hop band The Coup who hailed from Oakland and who you've likely heard on soundtracks for movies like Superbad and The Losers as well as multiple video games, but Riley was apparently always on the track to be a feature director. And so, what does the seemingly auspicious director have in store for audiences this summer? Well, the official summary for his film explains it as being about an alternate present-day version of Oakland where telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe. Sorry to Bother You thrilled fans at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and with such a unique and distinct voice behind the camera as well as plenty of talent in front of it-including Armie Hammer, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Danny Glover, Omari Hardwick, and Patton Oswalt-all led by man of the moment Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) it would seem this post-Get Out world we're living in is going to be a good one for fans of game-changing cinema. Here's hoping Sorry to Bother You lives up to the hype. (Limited on 7/6)

8. Eighth Grade - In the number eight spot is another film from a first time feature director that debuted at Sundance this year to rave reviews. Having been a Bo Burnham fan for some time now (seriously, check out his special on Netflix called Make Happy if you haven't already) it was exciting to hear the talented writer/comedian/musician would be furthering his artistic endeavors to writing and directing films, but how this endeavor might turn out was undoubtedly going to be up for question. Starring Elsie Fisher of Despicable Me fame as a teenager trying to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year before leaving to start high school, the film looks to chronicle the experiences of modern youth, how their identities are intertwined with their social media accounts, how they manage trying to become someone exceptional in a field where everyone seems destined to be exceptional, and the no doubt startling realization that not everyone who chases their dreams will come out the other side both happy and successful. The trailer gives this exploration the sense this is a deeply compassionate take on contemporary adolescence and I can't wait to see both how much I might relate as well as how much I might discover. (Limited on 7/13)

7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - It feels as if no other summer blockbuster has been met with as much initial criticism as director J.A. Bayona's (The Impossible, A Monster Calls) follow-up to Colin Trevorrow's 2015 re-boot of the Jurassic Park series. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has seemingly already been ostracized from the summer movie season by many critics and fans for touting what some have referred to as a dumb and repetitive storyline as many of the images from the trailers released share similarities to that of what we saw Spielberg use in his own sequel, The Lost World, which many consider the reason Jurassic sequels should have never become more of a thing in the first place. That said, I had a hell of a good time watching the first Jurassic World in IMAX three years ago and found it to be the epitome of pure, B-movie fun. This goes back to that idea of assessing films based on how well they accomplish the objectives they clearly set out to achieve and Jurassic World certainly had no ambitions beyond being anything more than a fun action/adventure movie that featured dinosaurs and endearing characters. Say what you want about the new characters, but Chris Pratt is one of the most likable guys working the big screen today and that charm along with my eagerness to see Bayona pull the rug out from under all the early haters make me very excited to see what type of theatrical experience Fallen Kingdom will offer audiences. (6/22)

6. First Reformed - Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, and is eclipsed by its nearby parent church with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence. Co-starring Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer writer/director Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) First Reformed is said to be inspired by the works of Carl Th. Dreyer, Robert Bresson, and Yasujir┼Ź Ozu to which Schrader has crafted a work around an emotional/spiritual/existential crisis. As a cradle Catholic and someone who still practices, but with natural and sometimes hard to overcome reservations, movies that deal in crisis of faith involving priests or anyone who has had their lives dictated by the church are inherently fascinating and First Reformed is no different. It doesn't hurt that the early word on this thing has been out of this world fantastic. (Limited on 5/18)



5. Deadpool 2/Ant-Man and the Wasp - One might wonder about the absence of Avengers: Infinity War on this list, but given that Marvel behemoth was moved out of the first slot in May to the last weekend of April (a smart move, as it will give the movie more room to breathe and what are essentially three weekends to itself before anything else major hits) it is technically no longer within the realm of the summer movie season schedule which has, since I can remember, always started with the first weekend in May and ended somewhere around the mid-point in August. Now, of course Infinity War is still very much going to be the biggest movie of the summer and is indisputably a summer title, but by declaring as much it gives me room to highlight some other movies you might not otherwise know are in the pipeline. If this really bothers you then just know I would have lumped Infinity War into this list by adding it alongside its fellow MCU title Ant-Man and the Wasp which I am genuinely excited for and the sequel to 2016's surprise smash, Deadpool, which continues to look better and better with each trailer. I'm always anxious to see what the summer comic book movies have in store and this year is no different as each are very different in their particular objectives. Infinity War is obviously the biggest movie event of the year and the biggest we'll see until next May when the untitled sequel AKA Avengers 4 hits theaters, but Deadpool 2 will be a nice reprieve from everything Infinity War represents while still existing within the genre and Ant-Man and the Wasp just looks like...fun. (Deadpool 2 arrives on 5/18, Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on 7/6)

4. Under the Silver Lake - Director David Robert Mitchell burst onto the scene in 2014 with his retro horror flick It Follows and scored a ton of points with both critics, film enthusiasts, and genre lovers everywhere so it was always going to be exciting to see what such an exciting new voice would come up with next. To answer the question of what he would do next it seems Mitchell has concocted something truly fascinating with Under the Silver Lake, a film that centers on a man named Sam (Andrew Garfield) who becomes obsessed with the strange circumstances of a billionaire mogul's murder and the kidnapping of a girl. Riley Keough looks like the epitome of a post-golden age Hollywood bombshell in the role of the mystery girl and Topher Grace stars as Sam's friend who helps him with the investigation surrounding Keough's character. Besides this being Mitchell's follow-up to his debut feature that struck a chord with many, myself included as I loved the look and tone of It Follows, Under the Silver Lake is equally intriguing for the reasons it might have attracted Garfield to the project. Garfield, in his post-web-slinging career, has been slowly building a reputation of strong and interesting choices through working with collaborators that have a clear vision of what they are creating and saying and it would seem his latest venture is no exception. Consider me hooked. (Limited on 6/22)

3. Solo: A Star Wars Story - It would seem that with the frequency in which we are now receiving Star Wars films and Star Wars-related material that it would become less and less special and that isn't to say there isn't a time when that feeling will set in, but despite the fact that The Last Jedi just debuted on home video less than a month ago and the fact Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in just over a month it is difficult as a life-long Star Wars fan to not be excited about a new Star Wars movie (even if I wasn't a huge fan of the last one). Outside of the fact this thing looks pretty spectacular from a visual standpoint (it was shot by Arrival cinematographer Bradford Young) there isn't much to go off of as far as how the final product will turn out given its rocky production. If you've been living under a rock you may not be privy to the fact that original Solo directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie) were essentially given the boot with less than a month to go in principal photography. Lucasfilm, and more specifically Kathleen Kennedy, then brought in Ron Howard to re-shoot much of the film and complete production. To that end, it will be interesting to see where Solo falls in terms of quality, but while I would have loved to have seen Lord and Miller's version of a Star Wars movie it will be just as nice to go into a Star Wars film with low stakes where the most you're hoping for is to simply have a good time. (5/25)

2. Hereditary - If A Quiet Place has been the breakout hit of the year so far, get ready for Hereditary to become the breakout hit of the summer as it seems this new horror film from writer/director Ari Aster (making his feature directorial debut) is destined to go down as one of the scariest and most disturbing experiences audiences have had in some time. Having premiered in the midnight section at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, it instantly became the sort of sensation you couldn't help but hear about if you pay attention to movie news. Several viewers, rattled by the traumatic story of a grieving mother (Toni Collette) whose family is haunted by an ominous presence, immediately crowned the film one of the scariest movies ever made with such praise taking to the internet and in turn making it one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. Distributor A24 seemingly knows it has a potentially massive hit on their hands too (and if you've noticed a fair amount of their films are ones I'm highly anticipating) as they have mapped out a marketing campaign that included ominous deliveries to movie-goers at the SXSW festival in Austin last month where reactions were again in communion with those initial reactions from Sundance. A24 clearly expects the hype to pay off big by releasing the film nationwide on June 8th as the distributor is typically one to stagger their releases by region, but while this day and date wide release didn't work for last summer's It Comes at Night, Hereditary feels like it's playing in a bigger ball park and I can't wait to see this bet pay off should it be all we've heard it is. (6/8)

1. Mission: Impossible - Fallout - The full length trailer for the sixth Mission: Impossible movie is by far the best trailer I've seen this year and is absolutely thrilling to take in on the big screen and yet, somehow, this movie still feels like an underdog going into the season. These movies have only become more thematically interesting over the years if not maintaining the level of quality set by the J.J. Abrams third installment in 2006 if not even occasionally surpassing that standard (2011's Ghost Protocol is the series highlight). With this latest film the series allows a past director to return for the first time in its twenty-two year history as Christopher McQuarrie, who last made 2015's Rogue Nation, must genuinely have a great working relationship with star Tom Cruise as this will only be McQuarrie's fourth film to ever direct with only one of those not featuring Cruise as the star. McQuarrie made his name first as the writer of Bryan Singer's 1995 cult hit, The Usual Suspects, and he has the sole screenwriting credit on Fallout as well. Fallout's story sees Cruise's Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, racing against time after a mission goes wrong. There is certainly evidence to suggest Hunt's past is beginning to catch up with him though, and the addition of Henry Cavill as well as more jaw-dropping stunts make what is the sixth movie in a series, a sequel number one would typically relegate to equal crap, but that this franchise along with the Fast and the Furious have been proving wrong for some time now, the movie I'm most excited to see on the big screen this summer. (7/27)