Amy Adams and Jean-Marc Vallée. Andre Holland and J.J. Abrams. Cary Fukunaga and the insane cast of “Maniac” (including Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, and Justin Theroux). These creative and cast pairings are enticing even before you start talking about the individual stories. Sure, we’re more excited about “Sharp Objects” knowing it’s from the author of “Gone Girl” and “Castle Rock” is off on the right foot thanks to Stephen King’s involvement.
But sometimes all vieweres need to be all in on a show are two people: a talented actor and a brilliant producer, writer, director, or other involved creative entity. The spark between them could create enough magic to fuel seasons of engrossing content, or it could be what separates very good TV from truly great television. The medium in 2018 offers so many of these compelling pairings, but IndieWire has boiled the list down to 25.
Scroll through the following list to see what creator and cast combinations you should be prepared for this year. Some are long-awaited renunions or thrilling partnerships rekindled. Others introduce new partners to one another in what seems like a promising — or peculiar — fit. Make sure to read all the way through and keep an eye out for more coverage on each series as 2018 continues.
Seimetz has been a longtime indie darling, starting from when she produced and directed short and indie films, then going on to appear in projects for Joe Swanberg, Lena Dunham, Adam Wingard, and Shane Carruth, among others. She knows both sides of the camera, and now also has small screen cred having co-written, co-directed, and executive produced the Starz adaptation of Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience.”
All of this experience makes her particularly suited to work with Donald Glover, who is talented as an actor and creator as well having won two Emmys for “Atlanta.” Seimetz directs at least two episodes of the FX series’ second season, the first of which can be glimpsed in this teaser trailer.
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (Netflix) Date: 2018
The Coen brothers are coming to television! Joel and Ethan Coen wrote and directed each episode of the upcoming Netflix anthology series, and though there are many notable stars attached — Zoe Kazan, James Franco, and Liam Neeson, to name just a few — Tim Blake Nelson plays the titular Buster.
The Oklahoma native is no stranger to the Coens. Nelson appeared in their 2000 film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and the three have remained close since. Nelson, who’s directed four films himself since their last collaboration, will play the central figure who ties these frontier stories together.
“Barry” (HBO) Date: March 25
Hader has long been a not-so-secret weapon, working with some of the biggest directors in comedy, from Judd Apatow to David Wain. Now he gets a chance to craft his own directorial style with his new show “Barry.” Playing the hitman who finds a second calling as a member of a valley community theater group, Hader will be stepping behind the camera to direct a few episodes himself. Hopefully this process is was a tad more forgiving to his internal organs than his last big TV gig.
“Castle Rock” (Hulu) Date: Summer 2018
If you’ve seen Andre Holland on screen in anything, you know that he’s an immense talent, capable of finding nuance and subtlety in the most underwritten of characters. So the fact that the “Moonlight” and “The Knick” star is getting the chance at a breakout role in the highly anticipated Hulu series. Executive produced by J.J. Abrams, “Castle Rock” essentially takes the stories of Stephen King and puts them in a blender, creating a world of dense mystery that will undoubtedly deliver equal parts scares and character drama. You can trust Abrams to assemble a great cast for his projects, and him picking Holland is concrete proof of that.
“City on a Hill” (Showtime) Date: 2018
Kevin Bacon may be from Philadelphia, but he’s no stranger to Boston. The beloved “Footloose” star has earned some of his best reviews when playing a Bostonite, be it in “Mystic River,” “Black Mass,” or “Patriots Day.” Now he’s returning to Southie in a new Showtime drama from two men who know a thing or two about Beantown: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. “City on a Hill” is based on an idea from Affleck and writer Chuck MacLean, so this series is a fictionalized account of the Boston Miracle.
“Dietland” (AMC) Date: June 4, 2018
“UnREAL” and “Sharp Objects” creator Marti Noxon got her start on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which means it’s hardly a surprise that her shows tend to be lush with tough women delivering snappy dialogue. Based on the limited amount we’ve seen, “Dietland” looks like it’s not going to skimp on that score, as it’s focused on women, body issues, and the way they can be destructive. Juliana Margulies, after decades of being on television, is keenly attuned to all of these things — ensuring that “Dietland” will be quite the watchable adventure.
“Disenchantment” (Netflix) Date: 2018
After a high-sterical animated episode of “Broad City” and illustrating a book about the imagined contents of famous women’s purses, Abbi Jacobson is making a move to full-time voice actor in the new series, “Disenchantment.” And she’s doing it with the right guy: “Simpsons” and “Futurama” creator Matt Groening. Already picked up for two seasons, the adult-focused cartoon tracks Bean, an alcoholic princess, her elf companion Elfo, and her “personal demon” Luci, who all live in a medieval kingdom known as Beanlandia. What the two might create together is limited only by their imaginations, which means “Disenchanted” could be something really special.
“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime) Date: TBA
Stiller heads to prestige TV, not as an actor but as the guy behind the camera in this miniseries adapted from the story of the 2015 breakout from the Clinton correctional facility in upstate New York. He’ll have a chance to collaborate with Del Toro and fellow actor-turned-director Paul Dano, in addition to Patricia Arquette. Stiller is set to direct all eight episodes, which might be one of the reasons that this is his first high-profile project where he’s not also a co-star.
“The First” (Hulu) Date: 2018
An insanely ambitious series deserves two men with equally grand ambitions. “The First” focuses on the first (hey, that’s the title!) manned mission to Mars with aims of long-term colonization, but “House of Cards” showrunner Beau Willimon’s new Hulu original doesn’t abandon the people waiting on Earth. Starring Sean Penn and Natasha McElhone, both creator and star are known for their activism as much as their art and often use one to fuel the other. How “The First” balances environmental concerns and adventure could define its overall impact.
“Howards End” (Starz) Date: April 8
Oscar winner Kenneth Lonergan has won accolades for both directing and writing, and most recently for his screenplay for the drama “Manchester by the Sea” starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. He’s also had experience writing period pieces, having immersed himself in 19th century America for Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York.” Lonergan turns his historical writing skills to adapting E.M. Forster’s, about social conventions, codes of conduct, and relationships in England during the turn of the century.
Hayley Attwell, like any self-respecting Brit, is more than familiar with wearing a corset or flouncy clothes for period pieces. The “Captain America,” “Agent Carter,” and “Black Mirror” star will bring the right amount of grit and personality to fit “Howards End” and what Longeran has done with Forster’s story.
“Kidding” (Showtime) Date: TBA
The actor-star pairing that gave us the 2004 classic “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is set to reunite once again for this Showtime dark comedy. Carrey’s set to play a children’s TV icon whose life and franchises are falling apart. The show’s not guaranteed for a 2018 release, but it is part of the network’s planned upcoming programming sleep. If you’re still somehow on the fence about this reunion, the show also promises to include puppets and Catherine Keener. We’re already sold.
“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” (Amazon) Date: August 31, 2018
Coming off three solid-to-great series — “Colony,” “Bates Motel,” and “The Strain” — “Lost” scribe Carlton Cuse is tackling one of his most ambitious journeys yet. “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” will be the first TV iteration of the popular novels, but John Krasinski will be the fifth actor to play the CIA analyst-turned-operative. Krasinski is a hot commodity after earning raves for his directorial feature “A Quiet Place,” but can he live up to the high standards set by Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin? Can the show match the quality of the books, let alone the high bar set for Amazon originals that are based on beloved novels? With these two hot hands at the helm, there’s a good shot.
“Killing Eve” (BBC America) Date: April 8
Sign us up for anything Phoebe Waller-Bridge puts her creative energies behind. The actress, writer, playwright, and director had created and starred in two of our favorite comedies from 2016: “Crashing” (not to be confused with the HBO series) and Amazon’s darkly comedic “Fleabag,” which landed on IndieWire’s Best New Shows of 2016 list and earned Waller-Bridge a place in our Best Breakthrough Performances that year as well.
With everything she touches, Waller-Bridge is daring, honest, and powerful, especially when it comes to representing the female experience. Imagine our joy then when we discovered that she’s thrown her considerable talents as an executive producer into BBC America’s thriller “Killing Eve,” based on the novels by Luke Jennings. In the series, “Grey’s Anatomy” alum Sandra Oh stars as a sharp MI5 security officer who has yearnings to be a spy and who becomes obsessed with a killer known as Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Who better than to bring this cat-and-mouse story to life than the person responsible for “Fleabag”?
“Lost in Space” (Netflix) Date: April 13, 2018
Based on his film work, Neil Marshall might not seem like the obvious choice for a family-friendly space adventure. But the director of “The Descent” and “Doomsday” is no stranger to crazy, which is exactly what you’re lucky enough to get when you cast Parker Posey as the new Dr. Smith in an updated “Lost in Space.” The upcoming Netflix sci-fi drama definitely maintains all the vestiges of the original series, but in the modern era of television, a show about survival needs real stakes and grounded performances. Those are things that both Marshal and Posey excel at.
“Legion” (FX) Date: April 10
Ana Lily Amirpour is basically the master of mixing seemingly disparate genres and making them work together in a beautifully mad way. Her feature film debut “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” was described as an “Iranian Vampire Spaghetti Western” and presented a Tarantino-type brashness mixed with outlaw romanticism. Her follow-up, “The Bad Batch,” was a similar mishmash of genres, which she described as “a post-apocalyptic cannibal love story set in a Texas wasteland.”
This is all to say that she was a no-brainer candidate to direct an upcoming episode of Noah Hawley’s trippy “Legion,” which challenges the viewers in a way that no other comic book property has on TV to date. Dan Stevens has already proven himself to have remarkable range in his past projects (from “Downton Abbey” to the excellent thriller, “The Guest”), but he embodies his most complex and exciting role to date with David Haller, a man who is gifted/cursed with psychic abilities and who once was infected by a parasitic mutant. To have Amirpour get to play in Hawley’s world with Stevens as her partner will no doubt be a wild treat.
“Marvel’s Luke Cage” (Netflix) Date: June 22
Lucy Liu may not have auteur cred yet, but she’s certainly had experience directing, first with one of the best episodes of CBS’ “Elementary” in the past year, but also the short “Meena,” which tells the story of a an a young Indian girl sold into prostitution. That she is a woman of color and has experience in front of the camera as an action star also makes her a unique fit for one of Marvel’s most progressive properties, “Luke Cage” on Netflix. Mike Colter is just plain entertaining to watch as his charisma vies with his muscles for mesmerizing screen time. We can’t wait to see how Liu handles such a fun and energizing property, not to mention a star with personality to spare.
“Maniac” Date: Summer 2018
Listen, if you look at “Maniac” objectively, the most exciting combination of creative and talent is director/executive producer Cary Fukunaga and Oscar-winner Emma Stone. Pairing the “Beasts of No Nation” helmer with a proven talent like Stone, especially in whacky fantasy worlds within the mind of a mental patient, is a bulletproof combo. Hell, even Jonah Hill is the No. 2, but subjectively speaking, Justin Theroux is the main draw here. He may not have an Oscar, but his last series regular gig was on the best show of the last five years (if not longer), so his return to TV is automatically the most exciting aspect of “Maniac.”
“Patrick Melrose” (Showtime) Date: May 12
German director and screenwriter Edward Berger may not initially seem like the right fit to adapt Edward St. Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical series of five novels that comprise the “Patrick Melrose” series, but he’s proven himself to be able to walk that tightrope of tension for his acclaimed series “Deutschland 83.”
“Patrick Melrose” will pair Berger with an actor who has already proven to be an expansive performer who can handle almost any challenge. In the darkly comic and yet hopeful limited series, Benedict Cumberbatch will play a man who struggles (but not too hard) with substance abuse, a symptom of the trauma that he had suffered at the hands of his own father in childhood.
“Sharp Objects” (HBO) Date: Summer 2018
The last time Vallée took the reins of a bestseller adaptation starring an Academy Award-nominated actress, the show was so good they had to make a second season of it. Time will tell if the story and reception of “Sharp Objects,” adapted from Gillian Flynn‘s novel, will inspire the same kind of reaction. But having a director with a distinct ethereal style paired with the powerhouse combo of Adams and Patricia Clarkson, there’s sure to be plenty of psychological material for everyone to sink into on both sides of the equation.
“Succession” (HBO) Date: June
Sandwiched between the director’s two political efforts in the film world — his Dick Cheney biopic is scheduled to land at some point this year — McKay is turning his sights to this fictional story of disputed power. This time he’ll also have help from someone else who has previously dived into the world of deep another imaginary power struggle: “In the Loop” writer Jesse Armstrong. And with the sinister underbelly of a media conglomerate with its control up in the air, Cox stars as the patriarch trying to keep his business and family together. Based on what we know of what comes early in the season, it’s sure to be an intense physical challenge for star Brian Cox.
“Trust” (FX) Date: March 25
Boyle directed the opening three episodes of this version of the Getty kidnapping saga, connecting him with an impressive ensemble cast. Aside from Sutherland as the thrifty billionaire patriarch, “Trust” also stars an instantly iconic Brendan Fraser as the fixer tasked with finding and reclaiming the missing Getty child. As Ben Travers put in his review, “it feels like Fraser has been ready and waiting to play this part. The actor hits each telling shift in Fletcher’s casual nature just right.”
“Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (Network) Date: TBD 2018
Sometimes the easiest way to refer to nearly every DC Comics-based show on television is as the Berlanti-verse, as the former writer of “Everwood” and “Brothers & Sisters” has become the lynchpin of now at least a half-dozen series all based on comics. As opposed to the original series, which was more of a sitcom, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” will likely take on dramatic elements, but “Mad Men” alumni Kiernan Shipka shouldn’t have any trouble straddling that balance, as she’s proven herself to be quite capable at both. It’s almost…magic.
“Sweetbitter” (Starz) Date: May 6
Ry Russo-Young, a director from the indie world whose credits include “Before I Fall” and “Nobody Walks,” might be the perfect director for the upcoming Starz drama, as her actor-focused approach may give Caitlin FitzGerald the sort of true breakout moment she’s deserved for quite some time. She’s an actor capable of immense self-posession, and Russo-Young’s talents for letting women be messy on screen is likely to be a bonus here.
“Yellowstone” (Paramount Network) Date: June 20
Both Sheridan and Costner have done some of the best work of their careers in wide open American spaces. Sheridan wrote “Hell or High Water,” while some of Costner’s best work of this century came in “Open Range.” Together, they’re pairing on “Yellowstone,” a ten-part modern western that’s the next big prestige jewel in the shiny new Paramount Network crown. From the opening glimpses of this show that we’ve gotten so far, it’ll also be wrestling with another fixation for both men in their past work: the ability for humans to do evil things.
“The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix) Date: 2018
When the My Chemical Romance co-founder’s graphic novel series comes to life, it will be with a veteran superhero as its star. But while Ellen Page already played Kitty Pride in the “X-Men” universe, “Umbrella Academy” sounds like a different beast, leaning more into family and character issues than high-octane adventures.
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