OPENING FRIDAY: INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY
Don’t worry, the first wide release of 2018 isn’t a sign of things to come.
It’s the horror sequel Insidious: The Last Key (PG-13), Chapter 4 in the paranormal activity franchise that went downhill after St. Pete’s own Patrick Wilson left.
Lin Shaye’s parapsychologist is the last original character left, chasing ghosts in her own home. You know a series is DOA when it can’t even whip up a decent haunted house.
Think happy thoughts of much better movies ahead, starting with these 10 to mark on your calendar:
2018 is packed with movies by, for and about women, led by Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy novel. The cast of otherworldly characters includes Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and (drum roll, please) OPRAH!
Say the title fast then ask yourself: Don’t we all? Wes Anderson’s first stop-motion animated movie since Fantastic Mr. Fox is set on a garbage island inhabited by dogs. A litter of celebrity voices includes Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig and Bryan Cranston.
Steven Spielberg makes his overdue return to fantasy filmmaking, shaping a virtual reality world inhabited by 1980s pop culture icons. Tye Sheridan is one game player racing many to discover an Easter Egg fortune. You know E.T. will sneak in somewhere.
Ever wonder how Han Solo met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian? Well, Ron Howard will tell us in another Star Wars standalone movie. Alden Eisenreich (Hail, Caesar!, Rules Don’t Apply) plays young Han while Donald Glover is Billy Dee Williams personified. Someone tall plays Chewie.
Danny Ocean’s sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock) has her own gang and splashy heist in mind, at New York’s Met Gala. Her accomplices include Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and Sarah Paulson. Just stay out of it, Matt Damon.
True story of a Baptist preacher’s gay son forced into church-sponsored conversion therapy. The teenager is played by Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird), his parents by Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Directed by Joel Edgerton, based on Garrard Conley’s memoir.
Ryan Gosling stars as astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to step onto the moon’s surface. Director Damien Chazelle follows his Oscar winning work on La La Land with the year’s most anticipated biopic, a companion piece of sorts to The Right Stuff.
The long-awaited Freddie Mercury biography starring Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek as Queen’s flamboyant frontman. Former director Bryan Singer is banging his head after being fired after sexual misconduct allegations, replaced by Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle).
Step in time to Disney’s sequel starring Emily Blunt as the magical nanny. Mary’s back in the lives of her now-adult charges (Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer), joined by a new busker-pal (Lin-Manuel Miranda). Meryl Streep and Colin Firth are here, plus a spot for Mary’s former dance partner Dick Van Dyke.
Spike Lee’s next joint tells the true story of a black policeman (John David Washington, Denzel’s son) who infiltrated a Colorado chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, eventually becoming its leader. Adam Driver and Topher Grace co-star in what sounds like Lee’s most vital movie in years.
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 The Shape of Water: Nominated for seven Golden Globes including best drama.
2 I, Tonya: Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding skating on thin ice.
3 The Greatest Showman: An original musical about P.T. Barnum starring Hugh Jackman.
4 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: One of 2017’s best films.
5 Lady Bird: Saoirse Ronan shines in Greta Gerwig’s directing debut.
(Dates subject to change)
Jan. 12: The Post; The Commuter; Proud Mary; Paddington 2
Jan. 19: Call Me By Your Name; Phantom Thread; Hostiles; 12 Strong; Den of Thieves; Forever My Girl
Jan. 26: White Boy Rick; Maze Runner: The Death Cure