What will cinema look like in THE WORLD OF TOMORROW? Don’t ask us, we’re only thinking about the next year or so. In the final part of this terminal scratching of our seven-year itch, Ron Swanson takes a look into his crystal ball, which is industry slang for ‘back issues of Screen International’.
After seven years of MostlyFilm, I asked if I could mark our goodbye by highlighting seven films in the future that I think are worth looking out for. I set myself some rules – no films that have played anywhere in the world yet, so anything at Berlin (bye bye Isle of Dogs) or Sundance, or last Autumn’s festivals (so long Custody) and no sequels or franchises. Not all of these seven films will turn up in 2018, but I’ll be knocking down the door to see them when they do arrive.
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Starring Michael B Jordan
Michael B. Jordan is a great screen actor. He showed this in his work on seminal TV shows The Wire and Friday Night Lights and his breakthrough film performance in Ryan Coogler’s indie-hit Fruitvale Station. When Coogler and Jordan teamed up again, in Creed, they produced one of the great pieces of popular cinema in a generation, a soulful, thoughtful blockbuster full of depth, heart and charm. The two men clearly get the best out of each other and their third collaboration – Black Panther – is still breaking all kinds of box-office records.
Their next project, Wrong Answer, is a step back towards the scale and pace of Fruitvale Station: the story of a teacher who gets caught up in a systemic cheating scandal in the Atlanta public school system. The true story provoked lots of questions of morality, honour, integrity and the standardisation of education targets and their impact on, and service to, society as a whole. They seem like themes that Coogler is ideally placed to tackle, and the role of an idealistic, but compromised, man trying to do his best while knowing that doing so means committing a crime could see Jordan get his rightful dues as one of the best actors of his generation.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and Nicholas Hoult
Lanthimos is on an extraordinary run of rich, provocative and outstanding films, dating back to Dogtooth, and incorporating a couple of sly, sneaky and thoroughly vital English language films in The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. His style has become instantly recognisable and there’s no doubt that people’s expectations and interest would have been highly piqued no matter what he chose to do next.
But… the idea of him working his particular kind of magic on a period drama, one liberally sprinkled with lust, betrayal and royal intrigue is absolutely intoxicating. The film is set in Queen Anne’s court and the shifting of power between her two closest female friends, played by Weisz and Stone. Lanthimos coaxed Weisz’ best performance in years in The Lobster, and the role of Sarah Churchill could be her best and richest role in a very long time. Lanthimos’ skill is such that even if he chooses to tell the story in a traditional way, he’ll bring a frisson of the unexpected and exciting to the project that should make this one of the best period dramas in decades.
The Little Stranger
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Will Poulter and Ruth Wilson
The last time novelist Sarah Waters’ work was adapted for big screen, the result was Park Chan-Wook’s extraordinary The Handmaiden. The Little Stranger sees an equally accomplished filmmaker in Lenny Abrahamson taking on Waters’ 2009 novel of the same name.
The project is intriguing for a number of reasons – the book was a departure from some of the themes of Waters’ earlier works, and undoubtedly the film will involve Abrahamson working in a different genre than before. It also provides him with a stellar cast with which to tell the story of a young doctor from a working class background befriending an upper-class but poverty-stricken family in the aftermath of World War 2.
How Abrahamson blends in the social aspects of the story with the gothic and ghostly elements of the plot will be fascinating to see, but given the litany of successes in his career so far, which have seen him move from micro-budgeted Irish indies like Adam and Paul, Garage and What Richard Did to the Oscar-winning Room, there’s little doubt that he has the talent to make it work.
An Uncivil War
Directed by Dee Rees
Starring Carey Mulligan
2019 should be a good year for feminist icons on film. Not only is Dee Rees following up the outstanding Mudbound with An Uncivil War, a biopic of Gloria Steinem; but Mimi Leder is making On the Basis of Sex, a film about the journey Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to take to become the first female US Supreme Court Justice.
Rees’ (and Mulligan’s) excellent work in Mudbound makes An Uncivil War the more exciting project in my eyes, though, not to mention the fascinating story of Steinem’s life. As a feminist, now in her 80s, Steinem has seen, first-hand, some of the biggest changes in Western society, and been one of the most recognisable faces of the feminist movement.
Rees will have plenty of amazing material to work with, including Steinem’s links with the CIA, her changing perspective on Trans rights, her pro-choice activism and her successful career as a journalist and magazine editor.
Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
Starring Suzan Anbeh, Judith Chemia and Roman Kolinka
Mia Hansen-Love is maybe Europe’s most accomplished director, with four absolutely outstanding films on her CV. Her latest film Maya is the story of a photographer, who is captured and held in Syria for a number of months, and upon his release travels to India.
Kolinka offered strong support in both Eden and Things to Come, Hansen-Love’s previous two features, and steps into the lead role here. Hansen-Love has dealt with big emotional issues throughout her career, from the death of a husband in Father of my Children to finding yourself being less valued as you age in Things to Come. She is certainly capable of handling the heaviness of this subject matter, and there is no doubt that she will find a fascinating way to frame it.
Directed by Jennifer Kent
Starring Sam Claflin and Aisling Franciosi
Jennifer Kent’s previous film, The Babadook, certainly marked her out as a talent to watch. It was part of a wave of much-loved indie horror movies that included It Follows, The Witch and Raw. Kent hasn’t wasted too much time in switching genres and making her follow-up.
The Nightingale is an Australian Western, a film that follows The Fall and Game of Thrones cast member Aisling Franciosi in the role of a young convict, who teams up with an Aboriginal loner to find, and take revenge upon, the soldier who murdered her family.
With Sam Claflin (coming off a career-best performance in the sadly under-seen Journey’s End) in a lead role, there’s a real excitement about the film, which could see the director’s already impressive reputation soar.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Starring Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Diego Luna, Teyonah Parris, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco and Pedro Pascal
Moonlight was a phenomenon, so what are the chances that Barry Jenkins can follow it up with another masterpiece? Well, you can’t fault his choice of project – Jenkins is adapting James Baldwin’s novel set in Harlem in the 1970s, and has assembled a terrific cast – and much of his Moonlight crew – to bring Baldwin’s work to the screen.
The central story of the film is a love story, between Fonny and Tish. That love is tested when Fonny is falsely accused of rape, and imprisoned, largely due to the actions of a racist cop. The book also focuses on the importance and resilience of family units. Moonlight certainly proved that Jenkins is an outstanding essayer of love stories, and of difficult, complex and loving familial relationships.
It’s hard to imagine a much better director for the material, and with Stephan James and Kiki Layne largely unknown in the lead roles, I would bet on Jenkins (who is also one of the most entertaining film people to follow on Twitter) to strike gold once more.