This month of the year might have the worst reputation when it comes to movie releases. It comes right after awards season (November through January), and before big summer releases. It is a time of the year known for being slow and where studios tend to dump whatever else they have in store. But, this year, we have gotten some delightful surprises coming. In particular, Black Panther and Annihilation.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Black Panther is already posed to become another Marvel Studios phenomenon, and it might just be its biggest to date. Directed by indie-darling Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station and Creed) and written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story: Versace), the film features an all-star cast. The cast is formed by Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis (should I continue…?). Black Panther has critics (who already saw the movie in press screenings) raving and audiences anxiously waiting.
Update: we saw the movie this week and it is our favorite Marvel movie to date. Even for those who are not into the superhero genre, the film is engrossing and more grounded than other action packed films.
Director: Alex Garland
Annihilation is packed with a great, female-centric cast including Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson. The film follows a group of scientists who decide to adventure into an environmental disaster zone to investigate a mysterious disappearance. Surprisingly, Paramount decided to release Annihilation in February (unfortunately only in some markets), and to mitigate any possible losses it made a deal with Netflix to avoid having to distribute the film internationally. The decision came after some test-screenings done last year, which deemed the film “too intellectual” for mass audiences. To be fair, Alex Garland’s previous feature film Ex-machina did just alright in the box office, grossing under $36 million and with a $15 million budget. But, Paramount marketed Arrival more aggressively and propelled it to make over $200 million, which shows it is possible for intellectual films to resonate with the audiences. Annihilation might not make a great deal of money in its limited release, but it has critics raving in their initial reactions.
Director: Paul King
Yes, we know, technically Paddington 2 was released in January. But, it deserves to be included in this list because 1) it is still in theaters and 2) it is the best movie of 2018 so far. Just like its prequel, it follows the story of Paddington, a super adorable bear from Peru, who moved to London to find a better life. The movie presents a nuanced exploration of what it means to be an immigrant. Paddington 2 adds Hugh Grant to its cast, who gives an extraordinary performance as the villain of the film. The movie is visually beautiful, featuring extremely fun scenes reminiscent of Wes Anderson films. It is also better than its predecessor, which is rare of sequels. Unfortunately, the movie did not get a lot of love in the box office, probably due to its release date. It was released at the same time as Jumanji and Ferdinand – and it also required younger kids to be familiar with the original film.
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