A 2018 calendar and watch list for Black moviegoers and film buffs
Sign me the fuck up.
Nearing the end of each year, I like to compile a list of upcoming films that look intriguing to me or that I have been anticipating for months, or even years. This year, I tailored my list to be extensive and hella Black, just for y’all.
Each of these feature a predominantly Black cast, Black performers in the main role(s), Black performers as a significant part of the supporting cast, and/or Black creatives behind the camera and behind the scenes.
On this list, you will find stories about Blackness, told by Black people. Stories about life, told through Black creativity. Futuristic, fantastical, dramatic, melancholic, joyous. Narratives about victory, rebellion, science, spirituality, grace, vengeance, redemption, and everything in between. Here we go!
On election night in 2016 (aka the night white people elected a megalomaniacal, narcissistic, pathological liar and unrepentant sexual predator supported by literal Nazis into the nation’s highest office because white supremacy is a helluva drug), two people meet, discuss their dreams, and fall in love. I hate the title and the premise, but some of you romantics might enjoy it.
(Director: Qasim Basir; Writers: Qasim Basir and Samantha Tanner; Cast: Dijon Talton, Meagan Good, Omari Hardwick, Jay Ellis, Dominique Perry)
Blindspotting (Dramatic Comedy)
Described as “a buddy comedy in a world that won’t let it be one,” the film is loosely based on the experiences of its two writers, Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) and Rafael Casal (The Break Up). A pair of movers must watch as Oakland becomes more and more gentrified with each passing day and each passing job.
(Director: Carlos López Estrada; Writers: Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs; Cast: Daveed Diggs, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Janina Gavankar, Tisha Campbell-Martin)
Come Sunday (Drama)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) portrays a preacher whose congregation becomes extremely displeased with him when, one Sunday, he brings a controversial thought into the pulpit: There is no Hell. I’m sold.
(Director: Joshua Marsten; Writer: Marcus Hinchey; Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lakeith Stanfield, Danny Glover, Condola Rashad, Jason Segel, Martin Sheen)
Monster (Crime, Drama, Coming of Age)
Based on the best-selling and award-winning novel by Walter Dean Myers, Monster follows seventeen-year-old honors student and aspiring filmmaker, Steve Harmon. After being connected to a robbery and a related murder, he must fight to prove his innocence in court.
(Director: Anthony Mandler; Writers: Walter Dean Myers, Janece Shaffer, and Colen C. Wiley; Cast: Kevin Harrison, Jr., Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson, John David Washington, Lovie Simone, ASAP Rocky, Nas, Jennifer Ehle)
Monsters and Men (Crime Drama)
“The aftermath of a police killing of a Black man, told through the eyes of the bystander who filmed the act, an African-American police officer and a high-school baseball phenom [are] inspired to take a stand.” Personally, I’m exasperated with police violence as a plot device, but some people aren’t. This one is for you.
(Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green; Writer: Reinaldo Marcus Green; Cast: Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Chanté Adams, Christopher Jordan Wallace, John David Washington, Giuseppe Ardizzone, J. W. Cortez, Aaron Costa Ganis)
Night Comes On (Drama, Coming of Age)
After being released from a juvenile detention center just before turning eighteen, Angel ends up caring for her ten year-old sister during an ordeal that could put them both in danger and negatively impact their futures.
(Director: Jordano Spiro; Writers: Angelica Nwandu and Jordano Spiro; Cast: Dominique Fishback, Tatum Marilyn Hall, James McDaniel, Journee Brown, Antu Yacob)
Proud Mary (Action, Thriller)
Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) gives her all to every role, and I expect no less from her as a wig-switching, quick-drawing assassin who unexpectedly develops an unlikely friendship with a young boy, sending her work life into upheaval.
(Director: Babak Najafi; Writer: Steve Antin, John Stuart Newman, and Christian Swegal; Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Danny Glover, Billy Brown, Jahi Di’Allo Winston)
Sorry to Bother You (Dark Comedy)
A fantastical and absurdist comedy about the power of code-switching, in which a Black telemarketer becomes successful when he discovers a way to make his voice sound like it has been dubbed by a white person.
(Director: Boots Riley; Writer: Boots Riley; Cast: Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Lakeith Stanfield, Omari Hardwick, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Patton Oswald)
Yardie (Crime Drama)
An adaptation of the 1993 novel of the same name. Directed by Idris Elba (Luther), it details the story of a young Jamaican immigrant’s rise to become a drug kingpin on the streets of London.
(Director: Idris Elba; Writers: Brock Norman and Martin Stellman; Cast: Aml Ameen, Fraser James, Mark Rhino Smith, Akin Gazi, Naomi Ackie, Philips Nortey, Shantol Jackson)
Black Panther (Action, Adventure)
You already know what it is. This is the most highly anticipated film on this entire list, and we fully expect it to be Black as fuck. T’Challa returns after his initial appearance in Captain America: Civil War (2016). The cast list alone is more impressive than anything else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black History Month 2018 will be too lit and my body is beyond ready.
(Director: Ryan Coogler; Writers: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole; Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman)
Cloverfield Movie (Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction)
The third installment of the Cloverfield trilogy, preceded by Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). Scientists aboard a space station make a shocking discovery during an experiment involving a particle accelerator. What happens next is a desperate fight for survival. We can probably expect to see the alien beings from the first two Cloverfield movies again. The plot sounds dangerously close to the premise of Life (2017), but I think that it will still be worth the watch.
(Director: Julius Onah; Writers: Oren Uziel and Doug Yung; Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Roger Davies, Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Brühl, Ziyi Zhang, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz)
A Wrinkle In Time (Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Coming of Age)
Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) directs this adaptation of a beloved sci-fi novel. After Meg’s father disappears, she is sent on a journey through space and time by three otherworldly beings in order to find him. With a Black girl who not only has an interest in math and science, but also uses her knowledge and #BlackGirlMagic to save the universe at the center of the story, A Wrinkle In Time is equally as important for Blackness on film as Black Panther. And it drops on my birthday. What a gift.
(Director: Ava DuVernay; Writers: Jennifer Lee and Madeleine L’Engle; Cast: Storm Reid, Rowan Blanchard, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis)
Acrimony (Dramatic Comedy)
This one just barely made the list because of my own personal feelings about Tyler Perry and his body of work (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, all things Madea). But I have too much respect for Taraji to leave it off. In her second appearance on this list, Henson plays a woman who is fed up with her husband’s treachery. I just hope HIV isn’t exploited as a plot device.
(Director: Tyler Perry; Writer: Tyler Perry; Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Lyriq Bent, Tika Sumpter, Danielle Nicolet, Jazmyn Simon, Jay Hunter)
Pacific Rim: Uprising (Action, Adventure)
I’ll be honest. This is really only on my list because John Boyega (Star Wars, Attack the Block) plays the son of Idris Elba’s character from 2013’s Pacific Rim, meaning there’s the potential for more Idris in flashbacks. Also, folks got really upset that Pacific Rim didn’t star a white woman, and I look forward to the racists getting salty again this time around.
(Director: Steven S. DeKnight; Writers: Travis Beachem, Steven S. DeKnight, T.S. Nowlin, Kira Snyder, and Emily Carmichael; Cast: Tian Jing, Scott Eastwood, John Boyega, Adria Arjona, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi)
The Burial of Kojo (Drama, Suspense)
Kojo carelessly causes a car accident that kills his brother Kwabena’s bride on their fucking wedding day. Seven years later, Kwabena returns to seek vengeance against his brother. I love revenge narratives and I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Plus, the still images look amazing and its creator has spoken passionately about self-funding and crafting a Ghana-based film with a plot that does not revolve around “war and disease.” This is sure to be an intense and beautiful film, and I cannot wait for its arrival.
(Director: Sam Blitz Bazawule; Writer: Sam Blitz Bazawule; Cast: Joseph Ostiman, Kobina Amissah-Sam, Ama K. Amebrese, Anima Misa, Henry Adofo, Joe Addo, Mamley Djangmah)
Avengers: Infinity War (Action, Adventure, Science Fiction)
T’Challa and many other players from the aforementioned Black Panther will make another appearance in this massive MCU installment, and I know that I will be overjoyed to see them again. Also, Tessa Thompson reprises her role as Valkyrie that she initially played in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), along with Idris Elba as Heimdall, aka the Harriet Tubman of Asgard.
(Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo; Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely; Cast: Every Damn Body)
Untitled Deadpool Sequel (Action, Adventure, Comedy)
This is the description Twentieth Century Fox submitted to IMDb: “After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor – finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best Lover.” So… yeah… At least we know that Domino will be portrayed by Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz.
(Director: David Leitch; Writer: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick; Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Zazie Beetz, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic, T.J. Miller)
Night School (Comedy)
A group of ne’er do wells and class clowns attend night school to get their GEDs and get up to a bunch of shenanigans in the process.
(Director: Malcolm D. Lee; Writers: Kevin Hart, Matthew Kellard, Harry Ratchford, Glenda L. Richardson, Nicholas Stoller, and Joey Wells; Cast: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Keith David, Romany Malco, Yvonne Orji, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Bresha Webb, Ben Schwartz, Rob Riggle)
Smallfoot (Animated Family Comedy)
It has a simple and compelling premise: a curious yeti sets out to prove that humans really do exist. Sign me the fuck up.
(Director: Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig; Writers: Glenn Ficara, Karey Kirkpatrick, Sergio Pablos, John Requa; Cast: Zendaya Coleman, Yara Shahidi, Common, LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez, Channing Tatum, Danny DeVito, James Corden)
Creed II (Action, Drama, Sport)
Michael Bae Jordan is back at it! In the next chapter of his story, Adonis Creed seeks revenge against Ivan Drago, the man who killed his father, going up against him in the ring with Rocky at his side. Tessa Thompson also returns to reprise her role as Bianca, sure to be another supporting presence for Adonis. Ryan Coogler’s Creed (2015) was phenomenal and I have high hopes that this installment, though helmed by a different director, will be just as good.
(Director: Steven Caple, Jr.; Writers: Sylvester Stallone and Cheo Hodari Coker; Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren)
Widows (Crime, Drama, Thriller)
Steve McQueen directs his first feature length film since the Academy Award winning 12 years A Slave in 2013 (and his first ever feature film without Michael Fassbender). In this crime drama, four Chicago women find that they have something in common: debt left behind from their dead husbands’ criminal activities. They form a collective to take it on together, refusing to go quietly.
(Director: Steve McQueen; Writers: Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn; Cast: Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Andre Holland, Brian Tyree Henry, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Jon Bernthal, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson)
The exact release dates of the remaining films included below have yet to be announced as of my compiling this exhaustive—albeit certainly not complete—list. However, the studios appear to have slotted them for 2018.
*Still in production and could potentially be held for release until 2019
A Girl From Mogadishu (Drama)
Aja Naomi King (How To Get Away With Murder) will star as Ifrah Ahmed in this film based on her testimony. After escaping war in Somalia, Ifrah became one of the world’s most renowned international activists against gender violence and Female Genital Mutilation. The project is written and directed by a white woman, and I do not have high hopes that it will not have at least some traces of “Western white woman saviorism.” Even so, it might be an interesting watch.
(Director: Mary McGuckian; Writer: Mary McGuckian; Cast: Aja Naomi King, Martha Canga Antonio, Barkhad Abdi)
Been So Long (Romance, Musical)
Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum) in her musical debut is described as “neon-soaked” and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they talmbout, as much as I tend to shy away from romance narratives.
(Director: Tinge Krishnan; Writer: Che Walker; Cast: Michaela Coel, Ashley Thomas, Arinzé Kene, Rakie Ayola, Ronke Adekoluejo, George MacKay, Joe Dempsie, Luke Norris, Sophia la Porta)
Black Klansman (Biography, Crime, Historical Drama)
John David Washington (Ballers) will portray Detective Ron Stallworth in an adaptation of his 2014 memoir. A Black cop successfully infiltrates a local Colorado chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, somehow becoming its leader. Directed by Spike Lee (Chiraq, She’s Gotta Have It), with Jordan Peele (Get Out) attached as a producer. Now, I have never liked Spike Lee and I don’t plan on starting now, and Stallworth medium-key seems hotep-esque. Though I do not have high hopes for this film, I included it on the list for those who might be interested in the story.
(Director: Spike Lee; Writer: Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott; Cast: John David Washington, Corey Hawkins, Laura Harrier, Adam Driver, Topher Grace)
A warden in a men’s maximum security prison develops an unusual friendship with one of the death row inmates whom she is soon scheduled to execute. Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage) and Wendell Pierce (The Wire) are both exceptional, underutilized performers, and I am eager to see them take on these roles.
(Director: Chinonye Chukwu; Writer: Chinonye Chukwu; Cast: Alfre Woodard, Wendell Pierce, others TBD)
Fahrenheit 451 (Futuristic Science Fiction Drama)
In this imagined future, firemen are tasked with burning books. Michael Bae Jordan (Creed) portrays Guy Montag, a fireman who begins to question these actions after meeting a young woman who captivates him. Rebellion ensues. Based on Ray Bradbury’s novel and a remake of the 1966 adaptation of the same name.
(Director: Ramin Bahrani; Writers: Ramin Bahrani and Amir Naderi; Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sofia Boutella, Laura Harrier, Michael Shannon, Lilly Singh, Grace Lynn Kung, Martin Donovan)
Based on the childhood of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, the film’s writer, director, and co-star. A Nigerian boy is “farmed out” by his parents to a white British family so that he might have a better life than they could give him. He instead becomes the leader of a white skinhead gang. I love Adewale. He’s grossly underrated and underutilized (see: Suicide Squad and Concussion), and I am excited to see how he will shine in his own story. This could be an alternative for those who want to avoid Spike Lee’s Black Klansman.
(Director: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje; Writer: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje; Cast: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Damson Idris, Genevieve Nnaji, Kate Beckinsale, Jaime Winstone, Cosmo Jarvis)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Drama, Crime, Romance)
Under the careful and artful direction of Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Teyonah Parris (Dear White People) will bring James Baldwin’s novel to life on the screen as Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who must race against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence as she carries their unborn child.
(Director: Barry Jenkins; Writer: Barry Jenkins; Cast: Teyonah Parris, Regina King, Michael Beach, Colman Domingo, Dave Franco, Finn Wittrock, Ed Skrein, Pedro Pascal)
Prince of Darkness* (Historical Drama)
Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) will star in this drama based on the life of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, the 19th century businessman who became the first African American millionaire.
(Director: TBD; Writer: Steven Baigleman; Cast: Don Cheadle, others TBD)
Seacole (Historical Drama)
Renée Elise Goldsberry, of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation Hamilton, is rumored to be attached to star in this story about Mary Seacole, a Jamaican doctor who worked with statistician Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War.
(Director: Charlie Stratton; Writers: Marnie Dickens, Diane Houston, and Charlie Stratton; Cast: Renée Elise Goldsberry (rumored), others TBD)
The Kitchen* (Futuristic Crime Drama)
It’s written by Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), so I’m already sold on that point alone. Set in London in the year 2040. The cost of living has risen astronomically, most labor has been computerized and automated, and the Welfare State has been completely eradicated. The poor have been pushed to the rundown high rises in the section of the city called The Kitchen. A man named Izi has been stealing in order to support his family and is forced to go even further and take on the bourgeoisie when his young son falls extremely ill. I am VERY excited about this one and I hope they eat the rich.
(Director: Kibwe Tavares; Writer: Daniel Kaluuya; Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, others TBD)
The stories that we have to tell and play a part in are abundant. So, mark your calendars and brace yourselves. It looks like 2018 will be a great year for Blackness in film.