The Final Year/The Post, 19 January
“I wanted to see if it was possible to do a movie about people in power as they’re facing the end of that time in office,” says director Greg Barker of his Obama documentary The Final Year. Following the former president’s top advisors – among them Secretary of State John Kerry – over their last 12 months in the job, it’s like a real life version of The West Wing, but with the added dramatic irony of knowing Trump is around the corner. It’ll make a good double bill with Steven Spielberg’s The Post, a film about an administration trying to remain in power by shutting down press access to information. Released the same day, the Meryl Streep/Tom Hanks drama details the Washington Post’s battle with Nixon’s Whitehouse to report on leaked papers detailing America’s disastrous involvement in Vietnam.
Phantom Thread, 2 February
Having announced his retirement from acting after years of threatening to quit, Daniel Day-Lewis bows out in style, literally, by re-teaming with his There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson to play a sartorially elegant dressmaker who becomes embroiled in a twisted relationship with his latest muse (Vicky Krieps) in 1950s London. It’s a film about the disruptive nature of relationships and Anderson’s direction is as meticulous as the couture.
The Shape of Water, 14 February
After mainstream misfires Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak, Guillermo Del Toro returns to Pan’s Labyrinth form with this 1950s-set fantasy about a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) who falls for a sea monster (Doug Jones) being kept under wraps by the CIA. Co-starring Richard Jenkins as Hawkins’ closeted neighbour/best friend, the film uses Cold War paranoia to ground its misfit empowerment message in something scary, real and sadly still relevant. “This is a great time to put out this movie because it’s about the invisible people of that time,” agrees Jenkins.
Lady Bird, 16 February
“The title of this movie had been Mothers and Daughters; that was the grand love story for me,” says Greta Gerwig of her directorial debut. Revolving around Saoirse Ronan’s eponymous protagonist as she prepares to leave for college, Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical, awards-tipped coming-of-age comedy celebrates the love-hate relationship between the self-named Lady Bird and her harassed mother (a brilliant Laurie Metcalf). “There’s no great big drama at the centre of it,” observes Ronan, who will also appear this year as Mary Stuart in Mary Queen of Scots (14 September). “Lady Bird just opens her arms to us and lets us in for a year-and-a-half of her life.”
You Were Never Really Here, 9 March
When Lynne Ramsay took to the stage of this year’s London Film Festival to introduce her Cannes-winning new movie she seemed intent on remaining true to its title. Refusing to even let the festival’s programmer get a question in – “I don’t wanna talk; that’s why you make films” she said – she scarpered after saying a few quick thanks and imploring the audience not to hang around for a Q&A. Less than 90 minutes later it was clear that having quit/been fired from the Natalie Portman western Jane Got A Gun, Scotland’s most enigmatic filmmaker was back with a vengeance. A lean, mean abstract thriller about a hitman (Joaquin Phoenix) hired to save a politician’s kidnapped daughter, the film subverts every genre cliché in the book, features Phoenix at his most intense and reconfirms Ramsay’s status as one of the best directors in the world.
Unsane (23 March) / Ocean’s Eight (22 June)
“I get that it sounds like something I would do go off and do,” says Steven Soderbergh. Rewind to July 2017 and the just-out-of-retirement director is refusing to confirm or deny a much-reported story that he’s recently shot a secret movie on an iPhone. With Unsane’s release imminent, though, take this as proof of the film’s existence; just don’t expect anything normal from the Claire Foy-starring film. What’s not in doubt is the fact that Soderbergh is very much back. In addition to Unsane, he’s serving as producer on the Sandra Bullock-led Ocean’s Eight, an all-female spin-off from his biggest hit, which he was overseeing while shooting his 2017 redneck heist movie Logan Lucky. “It was a little odd to be bouncing back and forth between the two,” he says. “But I’m really happy with where the Ocean’s film is. It’s really fun, but a completely different universe. Nice clothes. More money.”
Isle of Dogs, 30 March
No animated film looks more delightful than Wes Anderson’s latest stop-motion film. Set in a
near-future Japan where dogs have been quarantined because of “canine flu”, the dystopian epic revolves around a pack of dogs — voiced by Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum and Anderson regular Bill Murray — who help a young boy track down his missing hound. Take that Pixar.
Avengers: Infinity War, 23 April
“This is really the culmination of the last ten years of the Marvel Universe,” says Joe Russo, co-director with his brother Anthony of this first instalment of the two-part sequel to Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Juggling practically all the characters from all the various Marvel franchises – Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr Strange – the film, which was partially shot in Edinburgh, is unique in blockbuster filmmaking. “We’ve never had this many characters from this many franchises with this much emotional connection to the audience – and this much emotional baggage – in one movie,” says Russo, who cites Robert Altman’s sprawling, multi-character films as key influences. “We’re hoping that the scale lives up to the fans’ expectations,” he says.