Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: What are your hopes for the movies of 2018?
Candice Frederick (@ReelTalker), Freelance for The Daily Beast, Vice, The Mary Sue
I don’t want films that star women, and especially women of color, to be merely splashes in the pan. I want them to always be a part of the conversation, and to be respected in the same way other films are. This year we’re expecting a number of promising films that are directed, written, or headlined by women and women of color. I hope the hype around them goes beyond their release dates as we continue to push the industry further.
Stephen Whitty (@StephenWhitty), The Star-Ledger, New York Daily News
I’d love to see more movies by and about people who don’t often get to tell their stories on screen — and fewer complaints from critics that a movie is “problematic” because it presents a character’s awful behavior without explicitly condemning it. Delivering a moral is a choice, not an obligation.
Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker
My biggest hopes involve changes that include the world of movies but go beyond them to society at large; the great Hollywood movies of the nineteen-thirties were a cinematic New Deal inseparable from the political one, yet both left many of the era’s most grievous injustices unaddressed (or hardly addressed), and then there was war. So let’s keep it small: the combined budgets of “Get Out” and “Lady Bird” wouldn’t pay for craft services on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” so I hope that these films’ successes (both in acclaim and in money) will encourage a wide range of filmmakers to make low-budget movies of personal passion and creative daring—and a wide range of financiers to make it possible; because that’s where new artists and new ideas are likeliest to come from.
Manuela Lazic (@manilazic), Freelance for Little White Lies
There’s always a lot of work to be done in cinema when we talk about the industry, especially in Hollywood but also other national cinema industries. The latest developments regarding rampant misogyny on and off screen, as well as the economic changes brought on by streaming platforms, nonetheless make me hopeful in some particular ways. The things that I believe could progress in 2018 look something like this:
-More support for women and minorities who have suffered abuse in this industry (and elsewhere); no more shame for them, only compassion and help.
-More support and understanding for each other as we clean up our closets and get rid of all the predators that we have forgiven before; hold ourselves accountable.
-More films directed by women and more chances for female directors to make more than one film; let women make good *and bad* films too!
-More female leads, which would make for better characters for all the talented actresses out there who are tired of playing wives and moms or damsels in distress for a man to feel better or worse about himself.
-Less franchises, more original scripts.
-If franchises must continue, let women direct them and inject them with some real emotions and rid them of their useless and disgusting sexualization of women.
-Less 80s-inspired films and TV shows and more new ideas.
– Netflix could help develop original ideas by giving its money to young talent instead of giving it all to the bros who will create the most shockingly bad and thus most (hate)watched films on the platform.
-Less pasty-faced male leads a la Ansel Elgort and more trained and talented young men and women. They are out there! Don’t cast social media celebs!
Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@chrisreedfilm), Hammer to Nail/Film Festival Today
My hopes for 2018 include the vain one that something other than a CGI-driven fantasy or superhero film take the top box-office slot. Ha! Like that will happen. But if we must stick to the general order of things, then I’m rooting for “Black Panther” (though its February release gives me pause) and “A Wrinkle in Time” (ditto on the March release) to do well, provided they are good, which I hope they will be. With Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) and Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) at the helms, respectively, there’s a good chance they will not disappoint. But wouldn’t it be great if some other, more challenging, fare emerged from the pack to reach the cineplex audience?
For me, I’m especially looking forward to “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” from Terry Gilliam (“12 Monkeys”), who once before tried to make this, a disastrous enterprise chronicled in the amazing “Lost in La Mancha”; “The Kindergarten Teacher,” from Sara Colangelo, whose little-seen “Little Accidents” was a powerfully affecting debut; the documentary “Hal,” from first-timer Amy Scott, about the late, great Hollywood director Hal Ashby; “Ophelia,” a revisionist look at “Hamlet,” from Claire McCarthy (“The Waiting City”); “If Beale Street Could Talk,” from Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”); “You Were Never Really Here,” from Lynne Ramsay (“Ratcatcher”); “Widows,” from Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”); “Roma,” from Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity”); and many others, some of which I have no doubt not even heard of yet, but which I may catch at SXSW (the one major festival I can always attend). I found 2017 to be filled with a great depth and breadth of marvelous films (witness my lengthy “best of” list), and my true hope for 2018 is that it be at least as good.
Kyle Turner (@TyleKurner), Paste Magazine
All movies are about the time in which they were made, but on the nose retorts to contemporary climate does not always good art make. So, rather, may hope is that those who have previously not been given enough support, visibility, or resources, the voices of the marginalized, are given more opportunities to tell their stories, and more people in power support those voices financially. I also hope that unchecked toxic masculinity and patriarchy continue to be dismantled in the film industry and beyond, just in life in general. Also, I hope they start handing out anti-anxiety medication at screenings.
Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic), Nonfics, Film School Rejects
For somewhat selfish reasons as I want more people to be interested in my website and documentary criticism in general, I hope that there are more docs in the conversation regularly this year, as they have been in the past. 15 years ago the modern doc explosion kicked off promisingly, and although more people are apparently watching nonfiction content today thanks to Netflix and other outlets, there’s not as much discourse or even buzz online about much of them outside of true crime series (they also aren’t seen as much theatrically, which is a shame).
Last year there was a lot of praise for “Faces Places” in mainstream criticism, and I’ve probably seen more sharing of recommendations of and gratitude for being recommended “Dawson City: Frozen Time” than anything else in some time, but the latter especially was still left out of most end-of-year write-ups. I know it’s not just the quality or content of recent docs that’s a problem and I don’t exactly want just breakout attention for twist-filled features or manipulative stories or docs about filmmaker and the movies (obviously film critics and movie people love those more subjectively than objectively). One that I hope people will talk about this year (though it debuted at Sundance last year) is “Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?,” which now has something of a gateway thanks to Oprah’s recognition of Recy Taylor at the Golden Globes this week. It’s a phenomenal personal essay film and one that goes deep on the topical discussion of racism in America.
Christian Blauvelt (@ctblauvelt), BBC Culture
More than anything, I pray the new hope for blockbuster cinema that “The Last Jedi” represents is built upon in 2018. So-called “tentpole movies” can still have an incredible power to unite us in conversation, even if those conversations can be divisive, as those for “The Last Jedi” have been. I love that Rian Johnson’s film, in its very DNA, seems to court those conversations, to embrace the unifying power of blockbuster cinema to be a talking point, when most blockbuster filmmakers seem to have little interest in their movies being anything other than “awesome” and blandly inoffensive stepping stones to even more awesome forthcoming installments. Above all, “The Last Jedi” shows how great blockbuster filmmaking can be when the result is actual movies, not episodes (despite the Episode VIII in the title). Less awesome blockbusters and more good ones, please.
I also think that film critics have to do all they can to make their readers aware of the virtues of critical thinking – and stand up to the kind of Cinema Sins nitpicking that all too many think is film criticism but certainly isn’t. So many film fans think that identifying “plot holes” or applying weaponized YouTube-caliber snark to label “everything wrong with [insert movie here]” is film criticism. That mindset approaches a film like a math problem. They want to “solve” the film, not review it. That makes a would-be cinephile the 21st Century equivalent of the “let’s pick it apart” viewers who Hitchcock dismissed way back when as “the plausibles,” people for whom suspension of disbelief depends upon airtight literalism. Don’t be that person. Don’t engage in the nitpicking that Susan Sontag called “the intellect’s revenge upon art” then pass it off as film criticism. Whatever critics can do to steer film culture to a place that encourages viewers to see the cinematic forest as well as the trees, so much the better.
David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich), IndieWire
There are so many viable answers for this question, but since I’ve had the benefit of seeing my colleagues’ responses before writing my own, I’ll use this space to express a hope that isn’t explicitly mentioned above: I would love for a foreign-language film (or two) to make a real dent in the American zeitgeist, especially if it revived a general interest in subtitled cinema. While the future of indie filmmaking might be a lot brighter than most pundits care to imagine, the box office returns for foreign fare were really bleak in 2017, and the closing of the Lincoln Plaza Cinema sure isn’t going to help that situation in 2018. With a new crop of international titles ready to come our way at Berlin and Cannes and all points beyond, it would be great if some of them — any of them — could find an audience here in the States. How about we start with “Foxtrot?”