It’s 2018 already, and I’ve got a bet to make with you: I bet that you will watch some films next year. I bet £200 on it. I bet £200.01 that you will sit your cheeks down on a seat somewhere, and you will relax in front of a nice movie. Look at it, listen to it, enjoy it. I reckon if I make this bet with a big enough chunk of you lot, then I’ll end up on top - it’s just a hunch, but I’m set to make a killing on this, you fools.
However, a tougher prediction to make is exactly what films you’re going to watch in 2018. Thankfully, I have a list of bangers that I reckon you should watch, and if you read it, it should help my case when I make this other, very specific bet a bit later this week. It’s all a big money-making ploy disguised as a public service - I’m a shyster in film critic’s clothing, it’s the perfect crime.
Anyway, here’s your list (release dates provisional, like your driving licence!):
'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'
Hopefully, you’re familiar with Martin McDonagh, the whizkid behind In Bruges, because that familiarity can nicely segue into a surge of excitement for his latest flick - the critic-snogging Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s a black comedy with Frances McDormand on top offensive form in the central role, and by almost all accounts, it’s a must-watch.
Also, it comes proudly from the Ronseal School of Movie Titles, an establishment with alumni such as Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher and Office Christmas Party, and who doesn’t enjoy a good huff of Ronseal now and again?
In cinemas 12 January
Neeson is punching people again, and this time he’s doing it on a train. I guess this is his Under Seige 2 - and if it’s even as half as good as that, then I’ll be excitedly pummeling myself in the thigh with a cricket bat for the entire duration.
In cinemas 19 January
I’ll tell you one thing - that, just up there - just a few centimetres above this sentence - is one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen. Even if the movie isn’t up to scratch, I’ll still have this trailer, which I have watched well over 50 times, and I can continue my ill-advised love affair with it.
But the movie isn’t going to be rubbish, is it? Black Panther was one of the best things about Civil War, and I’ve been begging for this solo movie ever since. So if you please, let me finish watching the trailer again. And please get out of my room, you should have knocked.
In cinemas 13 February
Here’s one to watch regardless of whether you’re interested, because it’s a ‘good film’ and sometimes you have to put aside that zombie killer nun movie, and watch something that all the know-it-alls think is good. It’s character-building, or something.
So choose this one (like, obviously don’t choose The Phantom Thread because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie look so annoying), because it actually looks rather lovely. The delightful Greta Gerwig directs the also-delightful Saoirse Ronan in a coming-of-ager that at one point was the best reviewed film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes - pretty good reason to give it a shot, eh?
In cinemas 16 February
Based on the book by Jason Matthews, this action thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence as an ex-ballerina who becomes a spy in order to kill some nasty men using her fringe, I think. It’s also got Joel Edgerton in it, which is, without fail, always a good thing.
In cinemas 2 March
I said to my friends the other day: “I have never seen a revenge movie I haven’t liked,” and I stand by the statement, and will for the rest of my life. I will have it etched into my gravestone, taking it with me to the afterlife - all revenge films are good, even if they’re bad.
If you are watching a bad film, like Nicolas Cage’s Vengeance, for example, in which mostly everything is poor, at least you have the core concept of revenge, which has the capability to stir within you an emotion strong enough to override any flaws the movie may have. As such, Death Wish will be great, just as the original Death Wish was, and so too Death Wish II, Death Wish 3, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown and Death Wish V: The Face of Death.
Revenge, the greatest cinematic gift, and also excuse, one could wish for.
In cinemas 2 March
'The Strangers: Prey at Night'
Am I allowed to say that The Strangers is a horror classic, even though it’s only ten years old? Yes I am, and I will, because it’s truthfully one of my favourite horrors out there - when I first saw it, on my own, in the cinema (don’t judge), I shouted so loud at one jump scare that the entire cinema started laughing. Teach me for going to the cinema on my own, I guess.
Anyway, this one looks a bit more rote, and a lot more slasher, but I’m still in - those masks are iconic.
In cinemas 9 March
Now, we’ve already had two Tomb Raider movies, and as we all know, they were of the common-or-garden variety, so no judgement if you weren’t regularly jolting awake at night screaming “WHEN’S THE NEXT TOMB RAIDER MOVIE”.
Still, they’ve done another one anyway, and, lo! It actually looks, erm, alright? Alicia Vikander is a top choice to play the rebooted hero, and it seems they’re heading down Old-Faithful Avenue with a ‘gritty’ reboot, which certainly worked for the games.
I’m excited, especially if there’s a scene where she climbs to the highest point she can find, just so that she can swan dive straight off a cliff and break her neck on purpose for no reason.
In cinemas 16 March
'Game Over, Man!'
Workaholics has finished now, which was probably a good idea seeing as it was running out of steam (regardless of the fact that one of the single best episodes they ever did was in the final season), but that doesn’t mean that Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine and Anders Holm also cease to exist. Which is good news, because this way they can still make stuff, like their first proper movie together.
Game Over, Man! is essentially a send-up of Die Hard, with the guys seemingly reprisinging their Workaholics characters (fine by me) while dealing with a hostage situation.
Maybe I’m the wrong person to ask here, but I’ll watch and enjoy anything with this lot in. And you should too.
On Netflix 23 March
'A Quiet Place'
Did you see Lights Out? It was really scary and good and fun and everyone liked it. Well this is that, but with sound instead of lights. I’m fully in, so in, I don’t think I’ll ever come out.
In (not if I’ve got anything to do with it) cinemas 6 April
'You Were Never Really Here'
Joaquin Phoenix has a beard again, everyone, which means he’s doing a load of acting and you’d better listen up, private, because you’re in for a bumpy ride. In this case, it’s one on the express revenge train to Redemption, US - your driver today is an embittered hitman, and the refreshment bar can be found in carriage four, where you’ll be able to choose from a selection of violence, suffering and critical acclaim.
It’s straight from the deft hands of Lynne Ramsay, who directed and wrote the harrowing We Need to Talk About Kevin, so you know your dopamine levels are going to be seriously depleted after this one. What a fun day out!
In cinemas 6 April
Not to be confused with the one where Casey Affleck wears a sheet over his head for the whole thing, this one is instead based on the gut-bustingly terrifying stage show of the same name. It’s a trilogy of spooky tales, and it’s from the same lot behind the play, so I have full faith in this. Scare me, film people, SCARE ME WITH SOME LOUD BANGS, I DARE YOU.
In cinemas Friday 13 April (what a risk)
'Avengers: Infinity War'
DON’T REALLY NEED TO TELL YOU ABOUT THIS DO I IT’S THE HULK AND HIS MATES HEADBUTTING EACH OTHER.
In cinemas 27 April
'Solo: A Star Wars Story'
Now, there’s been a bit of a hoo-hah behind the scenes of this one, what with a mid-filming switcheroo of directors - from The Lego Movie’s Chris Miller and Phil Lord to Ron Howard (that weird ginger kid from Happy Days - supposedly he’s a director now), but I’ve still got high hopes.
Firstly, it’s not like they’ve given it to Uwe Boll, and secondly, Donald Glover is in it, as well as Woody Harrelson - all good signs, I think. But perhaps most importantly: I do not care about Star Wars, so will have no violent urge to yank my spine out through my mouth if Chewbacca’s hair isn’t long enough or something.
In cinemas 25 May
The first Deadpool was good, wasn’t it? Lovely and childish, just how I like it.
Hopefully they’ll do it again - Ryan Reynolds is a reliable bank, and this new violent-movies-can-actually-make-loads-of-money thing is still in full-swing, so I’m on cloud 9. Sign me up.
In cinemas 1 June
'Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom'
CHOMP! Uh oh!
In cinemas 8 June
'Sicario 2: Soldado'
Oh wow, OK, we’re back on solid-gold trailer territory again. This sequel to the very good original jumped a significant way up my need-to-see list once I clapped my dumb, square eyes all over that promo there - I am excited about this in a disturbing, vibration-heavy way.
In cinemas 29 June
'The Incredibles 2'
Pixar has a mixed record when it comes to sequels (Toy Story 2 = good; Cars 2 = not so good), so I would forgive you (I am a priest, I can do stuff like this) for erring on the side of caution with this one.
But hey, does a bad film really matter? Not so much, when taking into account the many more important issues and problems going on in this disintegrating planet. Not really a big deal, when it comes down to it, is it? Oh, you’ve wasted two hours, maybe a tenner, you’ll get over it. Still think this’ll be good, though.
In cinemas 13 July
'Alita: Battle Angel'
I don’t really know what’s going on here and that woman’s eyes are freaking me the hell out, but Ed Skrein’s in this one, so I’ve already packed a bag full of contraband Haribo and I’m camping out in the Vue car park. See you in there, slow-coach!
In cinemas 20 July
'Ant-Man and The Wasp'
Ever since I burned my first ant underneath a magnifying glass as a child, I had been looking for a movie about a tiny man who fought bad guys on model train sets, so when Ant-Man came along, I was ecstatic. As such, I also become highly charged when thinking about the sequel.
It’s coming from much of the same team as the original (minus Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish’s welcome input), and there’ll be a much larger focus on The Wasp this time around, presumably including a scene where she gets all excited about a free jar of jam but then gets her feet stuck in it and dies.
In cinemas 3 August
You’ve not seen many people as excited about this film as me. Like, you’ve probably seen kids jumping up and down on their tip-toes and screaming when the ice-cream van comes - imagine that, except the child is a grown man, and the ice-cream van is one thousand ice-cream vans. That, there, is exactly one eighth of how excited about this film I am.
In cinemas 3 August
It’s Jason Statham vs A SHARK and if that’s not something you want to see (really? You don’t want to see Jason Statham kick a shark?) then you’re beyond help, I rate. There’s nothing to be done for you.
“Doctor, doctor, I don’t want to see Jason Statham punch a shark in the head.”
“You should not have come here, I cannot help you, you are a lost cause, dust, an echo of life - a distant, rapidly fading memory that shall register as nothing but an insignificant blip on this planet’s history.”
OF COURSE YOU WANT TO SEE JASON STATHAM GET A SHARK IN A HEADLOCK.
In cinemas 10 August
'The Happytime Murders'
Muppets killing each other, basically. The only people not interested in this are the exact same people that wouldn’t want to watch Jason Statham break a shark’s spine with a whisk, and I have no time for them.
This movie, however, I have time for - lots of it, as it happens, because it’s been on the slate for about ten years now. I’ve followed it since day one, so I’m - to use a water-skateboarder’s term - ‘stoked’ to see it.
In cinemas 17 August
'The Equalizer 2'
The first Equalizer (as in the first Denzel one) was top-drawer, in my unrefined opinion. Great bit of revenge, lovely slice of vengeance, whopping great chunk of avenging courtesy of our man Washington, and his trusty corkscrew.
Essentially, all they need to do is - this is literally it - more of the same. Just do it again, everyone. Do it all the same again, and I’ll be happy. It’s not rocket science.
In cinemas 24 August
As much as I like Topher Grace (I genuinely do, not a joke), his chance to play Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis was squandered and shattered and given about five minutes of screen time. The greatest foe Spidey has ever faced was reduced to a little tiny weeny incy wincy cutey patootie bit at the end of an already not-that-good-at-all-really film - what an insult.
Still, we’re getting another chance to see the big bad up on screen, and this time it’s Tom Hardy filling the symbiote’s boots, which is great because Venom has a fucking stupid voice, and so does Tom Hardy!
In cinemas 5 October
Look, you can tussle with me over this, you can scrap me, you and me could have a good old wrangle over this, but: I liked Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, so there. A lot of people didn’t though, so the reboot (also a sequel) has changed hands to, well, Danny McBride. Yeah, that’s Eastbound and Down’s Danny McBride, the comedy man, the funny fella, the prat-faller.
Still, from what I’ve heard so far, I reckon he’s the man for the job - he’s a huge fan, and he’s got the full blessing of John Carpenter, so I’ve got high hopes. And not once, ever, in my entire life, have my expectations ever been let down. I am so lucky.
In cinemas 19 October, quite near to a CERTAIN SPOOKY DATE hint hint nudge nudge stab stab
'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'
Yeah, I know Spider-Man: Homecoming was only last year, but Sony still sort of have the rights to the webbed one, so you better believe they’re making a Spider-Man film regardless. Marvel may have Tom Holland for the time being, hanging out in live-action land, but that’s not going stop an animated Spidey movie being made, is it?
So here you go, a CGI web-slinger flick, following the Miles Morales iteration of the character, with the film taking place after (sound the spoiler alarm!) Peter Parker’s death. The movie stars Shameik Moore (Dope, The Get Down) as Spider-Man, Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as the bad guy, I guess, and it’s written by Phil Lord, of The Lego Movie fame. I think it will be *OK*.
In cinemas 14 December
'24 Hours to Live'
Do you ever find yourself sitting alone there, in your rocking chair, gazing out the window, the remnants of a pork pie on your lap, at peace with the world, when suddenly, a sharp pain shoots through your heart, your breath becomes dangerously short and you desperately grasp at your neck, your entire body going into shock? And then you realise why this is happening, and why you are about to die, you have remembered: they only made two Crank movies.
Thankfully, the following statement will work as an epi-pen of sorts: 24 Hours to Live is Crank, but with Ethan Hawke. That’s good isn’t it? You can relax now. Have another pork pie. They’re good for your heart.
Release date TBA but it’s already out in the US so it’ll be soon, I rate
When I heard that Gareth Evans (director of two of my favourite films of all time: The Raid and The Raid 2) had opted to directed a NON-MARTIAL ARTS FILM for his next venture, I was suitably, and understandably, disappointed. However, I then heard the magic word ‘revenge’ and was immediately and unplacatably excited once more.
Religious cults, Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, violence - well done everyone on pulling a mighty bait-and-switch on this particular bozo! You got me there! My face, dripping with egg, egg everywhere, egg coming out of my eyes, my mouth, I am suffocating on egg, seriously help, call an ambulance, this is too much egg. NO SERIOUSLY.
Netflix release date TBA
Chance The Rapper in a film about a serial killer who only targets pizza delivery boys? Haha, I’LL HAVE A PIZZA THAT.
The use of capitals there, was because I shouted that. I shouted it to make sure you recognised it as a joke, a quip, a humorous pun. The louder something is, the more likely people are to laugh at it, I’ve always found. MY LIFE.
Release date TBA
And here it is - the film I’m most excited about seeing this year (perhaps ever). If this is bad I’m packing it all in, eating my hat, eloping, living in a cave, anything - just gonna give up.
But it won’t be, will it? It won’t be, because it stars Tony Jaa (Ong Bak), Iko Uwais (The Raid), Tiger Chen (Man of Tai Chi), Scott Adkins (my favourite actor of all time), Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite) and Jeeja Yanin (Chocolate). Have you seen a better action cast than that before? No, you have not, because it’s the greatest martial arts team ever put together and this movie will bang so hard it’ll knock your skull out through your mouth.
It doesn’t even matter what it’s about, I don’t even care. It’s like worrying about the design on a plate that has a fry-up on top of it - not important. Christ I am beside myself.
Release date TBA
That’s 31 whole films there. Quite a lot, in the grand scheme of things. Some people probably don’t even watch 30 movies in a year, do they? One film every two weeks and you wouldn’t manage it. But hey, you can make time, right?
Of course, if for any reason, any of these films are not good, please do not wield your pitchforks in my direction - I just think they’re going to be good. I make no guarantees. I’m not made of crystal balls.