It’s a film writer’s pleasure to get a sneak peak at what’s coming to the big screen before anyone else. So in the spirit of bringing some hype for the new year, here’s what to keep an eye out for in the upcoming months.
Mexican director Manolo Caro’s filmography includes an array of humorous, romantic comedies with insanely good soundtracks, including Tales of an Immoral Couple and Elvira I Will Give You My Life But I’m Using It. And his Netflix show The House of Flowers is just hilarious. His next release, Perfect Strangers, takes on a theme that frequently runs through his work: the discovery of secrets between couples. A group of best friends get together for a seemingly mundane dinner until the hostess proposes a game: Everyone must read their text messages that come in during the meal. Secrets, suspicions and surprising twists come out into the open. (Release date: Jan. 11.)
THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA
Living in California, I tend to forget how tough the rest of the country has it when it comes to LGBT acceptance and expression. But in The Gospel of Eureka, a small Arkansas town named Eureka Springs is the exception to the rule that anywhere outside of a blue state is accepting toward gay people. It’s a unique place where one’s Christian values can overlap with being gay, and plenty of upstanding community members are freely and openly LGBT. In this doc, stories of various lively townspeople are highlighted, culminating in the set-up and staging of a live passion play that’s part drag show, part religious theater. (Release date: Feb. 9.)
FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY
Based on the true story of WWE Superstar Paige, Fighting With My Family tells the story of her upbringing in a close-knit family of wrestlers in Norwich, England. Feeling awkward and strange everywhere else, Paige is absolutely obsessed with the contact sport, and she and her brother Zak try out for a place in the WWE, but they are dismayed when only Paige makes the cut. Now having to journey on her own, the precocious young bruiser must find her inner strength to stay in the league and make her family proud. It features (and is produced by) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, finally returning to his wrestling roots. (Release date: Feb. 22.)
Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe shocked the world with his breathtaking black-and-white images of suggestive male parts, but his body of work spanned a broader range of subjects, from portraits of New York’s punk luminaries (including his onetime partner and muse, Patti Smith) to soft still-lifes. The shy artist’s life is fleshed out here by Matt Smith, from his carefree bohemian days experimenting with a camera with Smith to his serious artistic practice that landed him in many a censorship scandal in the late 1980s and ’90s. (Release date: March 1.)
WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY
Not since A Quiet Passion, Terence Davies’ 2016 biopic on one of the most mysterious, reclusive poets of all time, has there been a proper film on Emily Dickinson. While I wouldn’t call Madeleine Olnek’s upcoming flick a traditional biopic, it still gives the late writer a nice chance to breathe on the big screen. Molly Shannon portrays Dickinson with joie de vivre and warmth while in love with her friend Susan (Susan Ziegler). Even if it’s purely fiction, it might be the type of film Dickinson would appreciate. (Release date: March.)
Yes, this is officially a remake of the 1989 Stephen King horror film, which was directed by Mary Lambert. This version, directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, retells the tale of the Creeds, a young family who move to a small Maine town, and the strange series of events that follow their arrival, among them dead animals who return to life after being buried in the nearby pet “sematary.” As the original Lambert version is regarded as one of the best adaptions of King’s work, this flick will definitely be one to check out. (Release date: April 5.)
Hellboy is back to save the world, and although Ron Perlman is no longer the man behind the demonic makeup and prosthetics, David Harbour fills the iconic boots and horns just as well. Creator Mike Mignola apparently cosigned on this new iteration (sadly, without Guillermo Del Toro behind the helm), so it seems promising, per the already-released trailer. Add in an incredible cast that includes Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim and Sasha Lane, and this film looks like a helluva good time. (Release date: April 12.)
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
I’m not one for sequels or reboots, but Tessa Thompson in a suit? Count me in. The actress is phenomenal in whatever she’s in, whether it be in indie comedies such as Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You or as an ass-kicking superhero in Thor: Ragnarok. Any opportunity to see the actress kick more ass and smirk is a worthwhile one. Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani and Rebecca Furguson also star, making this potentially the blockbuster of the season. (Release date: summer.)
Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers the Orange County DIY music scene, film, arts, Latino culture and currently pens the long-running column Trendzilla. Born, raised, and based in Santa Ana, she loves bad movies, punk shows, raising her plants, eating tacos, Selena, and puns.