For all those who prefer a hefty dose of #girlpower alongside their popcorn…
The future of cinema looks seriously bright, if these awesome female-led films are anything to go by. And trust us when we say there’s definitely something here to suit all tastes.
Bookworms will want to check out the upcoming adaptations of A Wrinkle In Time, Annihilation, The More You Ignore Me and The Darkest Minds, while period drama addicts have the likes of Mary Queen of Scots and The Favourite to delve into.
If you’re into your biopics, The Post, I, Tonya and Will You Ever Forgive Me? are guaranteed to sate your needs, while those who prefer action-packed flicks should check out Black Panther, Tomb Raider and Proud Mary.
With Mary Poppins Returns in the mix, there’s even a few films to show off to the young feminists in your life – and all of this is just the tip of the #girlpower iceberg.
So, without any further ado, here’s our pick of the films you simply can’t afford to miss in 2018…
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing
Starring: Frances McDormand, Kerry Condon, Woody Harrelson
Think this is your bog-standard revenge thriller? Think again.
Frances McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother who uses the three billboards of the title to admonish the local chief of police, Bill Willoughby (Harrelson), when he fails to find the man responsible for her daughter’s violent murder.
In sequence, they read: “Raped while dying”, “And still no arrests?”, and “How come, Chief Willoughby?”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Willoughby and the townsfolk do not take this well – and removing the billboards suddenly becomes a far more pressing matter than tracking down a killer. Undeterred, though, Mildred refuses to give up, and her battle with Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated.
McDormand’s searing performance has many critics clamouring for her to be awarded this year’s Best Actress gong at the Oscars – and one particularly fussy member of the Stylist team has deemed this “absolutely brilliant” film one of the best she’s ever seen (which means it’s definitely a must-see, in our books!)
When it’s in UK cinemas: 12 January
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks
The Post tells of the tense days leading up to The Washington Post’s decision in 1971 to publish the Pentagon Papers, the government’s secret history of the Vietnam War. The New York Times had broken the story but was prohibited from running the full series after the Nixon administration won a court injunction: which is when The Post took up the story.
Meryl Streep stars as the real-life Katharine Graham, America’s first female newspaper publisher and a truly remarkable woman. In fact, she was the only woman to be in such a high position at a publishing company during the Seventies, which meant that she had no female role models whatsoever, and found it difficult to get her male colleagues and employees to take her seriously.
Despite all of these setbacks, though, it was Graham who defied President Nixon’s order, it was she who decided to run stories about the Watergate scandal when few other journalists dared touch the subject matter, and it was her hard work and determination which led to the truth about the Pentagon Papers being exposed - and Nixon’s subsequent resignation.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 19 January
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
This movie, based on the true story of Molly Bloom (Chastain), opens with the young Olympic-class skier attempting one of the most difficult runs of her sporting career. A stray branch in her path, though, soon puts paid to all her dreams of a gold medal win – and sends her spiralling into the world of underground high-stakes celebrity poker.
After a decade spent running games for Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, the Russian mob, Bloom wakes up in the middle of the night to a phone call: 17 FBI agents are waiting to arrest her, and all of them are wielding automatic weapons. Her only ally is her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Elba), who quickly learns that there is much more to Molly than the tabloids have led people to believe…
A brilliant tale about doing the right thing when the wrong thing is far easier, Molly’s Game is compelling, inspiring and incredibly moving – and sure to resonate with any woman sick of “oppressive men and having to play by their rules”.
When it’s in UK cinemas: this one’s a cheat, as Molly’s Game was released at the very end of December 2017, but it’s still in cinemas now – and a hot contender on this year’s awards circuit. Make sure to check it out while you can.
The More You Ignore Me
Starring: Sheridan Smith, Sally Phillips, Sheila Hancock, Ella Hunt
Penned by former psychiatric nurse and comedy legend Jo Brand, The More You Ignore Me (based on the much-loved book of the same title) promises to be a darkly poignant coming-of-age tale.
Set in Herefordshire in the 1980s, Gina (Smith) is whisked away to a psychiatric facility after she conceives an obsession with the local TV weatherman and clambers – naked – onto the roof of her family home with a guinea pig in her arms.
Distressed by the upheaval, her daughter, Alice (Hunt) struggles to cope with the stigma and loneliness of being the “madwoman’s daughter” – and, when Gina returns home in a medicated fog, the pair find it difficult to reconnect.
However, the teenager soon comes up with a plan to heal her family, and remove her mother from her heavily-sedated existence – but is the stage set for more heartbreak than Alice can imagine?
It remains to be seen if this will live up to the hype, but if it’s anywhere near as good as the book, we’re incredibly hopeful.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 2 February
Starring: Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman
Marvel films are always big news, but there’s no denying that the Ryan Coogler-directed Black Panther is the most anticipated movie in the franchise.
Set almost immediately after the events of Captain America: Civil War, we see T’Challa (Boseman) return to Wakanda, an isolated country that hasn’t been impacted by colonialism or enslavement. When a deadly adversary arises, T’Challa prepares to go to war – and, thankfully, he has all the power of Nakia (Nyong’o) and the Dora Milaje (an all-female special forces unit) on his side.
Speaking about the project – which doesn’t just feature an elite cast, but also an awesome soundtrack from Kendrick Lamar – Boseman told CBR that he knows how important the film is to people of African descent.
“I feel the energy,” he said. “The image itself opens people’s minds up. You can talk about it all you want, you can have it in a comic book, you can even do an animated series, but when you see real people doing it, it changes something inside of you.
“It’s going to be a big deal because there’s not just black people or people of African descent that want to see it, I think everybody wants to see it. That’s the beautiful thing. I truly believe there are more people who want to see it than don’t want to see it.”
When it’s in UK cinemas: 16 February
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
The directorial debut of Greta Gerwig has been dubbed the greatest film of all time, and for good reason: Lady Bird currently has a 100% ‘fresh’ rating out of 170 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. No other film in history has ever maintained such a unanimously glowing pedigree.
So what’s the story? Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson (Ronan), a high school senior from the “wrong side of the tracks”, longs for adventure, sophistication, and opportunity, but finds none of that in her Sacramento Catholic high school. And, as her careers adviser persists in reminding her, she is a distinctly average student, so she’s unlikely to score the grades she needs for the college placement she dreams of.
As the Iraq War throbs in the background, we watch as Lady Bird attempts to navigate all of those too-familiar millennial girl milestones: her turbulent relationship with her hard-working single mother (Metcalf), her first romance, her participation in the school play and, most importantly, applying for college.
Throw in the deeply nostalgic soundtrack, and you have a recipe for perfection. Read our writer’s full review of Lady Bird here.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 16 February
The Shape of Water
Starring: Sally Hawkins
For those who prefer their dreamy fantasies to come with a side of exquisite melancholy, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is the film for you.
Set in Baltimore in the early Sixties, it focuses on the shy Elisa (Hawkins), who lives in an apartment above an old-fashioned movie theatre. So far, so Amelie, but here’s where things get seriously niche: Elisa works as a cleaner in a top-level government science facility. And one day, when she grows bored and decides to snoop about the place, she discovers a huge water tank – with a mysterious, scaly sea creature imprisoned inside it.
It isn’t long before Elisa has developed a unique bond with her new friend. However, when she learns that the creature’s fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent, she quickly realises that it’s up to her to do everything she can to save its life…
When it’s in UK cinemas: 16 February
Vita and Virginia
Starring: Elizabeth Debicki, Gemma Arterton, Isabella Rossellini
This film is set to bring the love affair between socialite and popular author Vita Sackville-West and literary icon Virginia Woolf to life – and, while little is known about the project currently, we’re hopeful that the stellar cast will do this fascinating true story justice.
When it’s in UK cinemas: a cinema release date has yet to be confirmed
Starring: Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson
I, Tonya has already received rave reviews from critics as the year’s most irreverent – and unexpectedly inspiring – biopic to date.
Based on the life of disgraced skater Tonya Harding (Robbie), the mockumentary film begins with a four-year-old girl being forced into an ice rink by her cruel and dismissive mother (Janney). Despite her mother’s negligence – and, later, her husband’s violent, bullying behaviour – Tonya rises among the ranks at the US Figure Skating Championships, but quickly discovers the sporting community has a big-time bias against her “white trash” background.
Of course, the film shines a light on her ex-husband’s 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, Harding’s biggest skating rival and Olympic teammate. However, instead of focusing on the “whacking” itself, the film digs deep to find the real human story at the centre of a scandal which saw Harding’s career completely destroyed – and reminds us of our complicity in her downfall.
“It was like being abused all over again, only this time it was by you,” says Robbie-as-Harding, describing what it felt like to find herself at the centre of the resulting media storm. “All of you. You’re all my attackers, too.”
When it’s in UK cinemas: 20 February
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriquez
Based on the phenomenally successful 2014 novel of the same name, Annihilation sees a team of four women (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist and a surveyor) venture out into Area X, an environmental disaster zone where the laws of nature do not apply.
Each woman has her own reasons for joining the dangerous, secret expedition – but will any of them find what they were expecting? More importantly, will they be able to work together and find out what really happened to the all-male team that preceded them?
When it’s in UK cinemas: 23 February
Starring: Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean, Esme Creed-Miles
Following the death of her father, Alice (Wilson) returns to the family home, a tenant farm in North Yorkshire, for the first time in 15 years. She soon discovers that her brother, Joe (Stanley), has allowed the place to become a ruin after driving himself to near-breakdown – a condition which is only exacerbated when Alice declares that she believes the farm is rightfully hers.
As the siblings descend into open warfare, their troubled past is slowly unveiled – and we quickly come to realise that each has their own personal reasons for insisting that they, and only they, deserve the property.
There’s no denying that this fiercely intelligent film deals with its difficult subject matter with acute sensitivity – although the violent ending may shock some cinemagoers.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 23 February
A Fantastic Woman
Starring: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes
Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman sent shockwaves rippling through last year’s Berlin film festival – and for all the right reasons.
Marina (Vega) and Orlando (Reyes) are hopelessly in love and planning for their future together. When he suddenly falls ill and passes away, Marina is left heartbroken – but finds herself unable to mourn her lost love when his extended family, wary of her status as a trans woman, begin to treat her with suspicion and outright hostility. They threaten to throw her out of her home, order an investigation into Orlando’s death and forbid her from even attending his funeral.
Marina, though, has spent her entire life fighting for her right to her own identity – and she’s more than prepared to fight for her right to grieve, too. But will she be able to change the minds of Orlando’s family (and the world) to show them the truly fantastic woman she really is?
When it’s in UK cinemas: 2 March
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Hannah John-Kamen, Dominic West
Videogame-to-movie adaptations tend to get a bad rep, but the Tomb Raider film seems set to take the franchise in an entirely new – and empowering – direction.
Forget what you know about the pixelated character of old: this Lara Croft (Vikander) is the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, intent on solving the puzzle of his mysterious disappearance – even if it means venturing across a treacherous ocean to a fabled tomb on a storm-tossed island. Armed with only her sharp mind, blind faith and inherently stubborn spirit, Lara must learn to push herself beyond her limits as she journeys into the unknown – and earns her name of tomb raider.
Unlike in the original games, this version of Lara promises to be far more human. Hopefully, this means that she will finally become a symbol of female self-empowerment as opposed to an object of male sexual desire. Fingers crossed, eh?
When it’s in UK cinemas: 16 March
Starring: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Mary Magdalene (Mara) is one of the most intriguing and misunderstood spiritual figures in history – particularly as, despite zero supporting evidence in the Gospels, she was later pointed out to be a fallen woman or a prostitute.
This film, however, is set to offer up an authentic and humanistic portrayal of a young woman in search of a new way of living. Constricted by the social hierarchies and gender roles of the day, Mary defies her traditional family to join a new social movement led by the charismatic Jesus of Nazareth (Phoenix). And, as we all know, she soon finds a place for herself within the movement and at the heart of a journey that will lead to Jerusalem – and a famously tragic ending.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 16 March
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Danny Glover, Jahoi Di’Allo Winston
Black action heroes are few and far between – and female black action heroes? Even rarer. So, yes, suffice to say we’re very excited to see Proud Mary hit cinemas this year.
The story follows Mary (Henson), a hitwoman working for an organised crime family in Boston. However, when a professional hit goes awry, Mary’s life is completely turned around – and she’s forced to reassess her priorities in a big way.
Speaking about the project to Cinema Blend, producer Paul Schiff explains: “It’s not only a thriller with action, and an exciting ride, but there’s also a genuine, real human relationship and real emotional experience at the core of the story.
“Folks who are interested in the action will certainly get what they want, but they’ll get a lot more than they expected because there will be a very moving and emotional experience at the core.”
Consider us sold.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 23 March
A Wrinkle in Time
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, so it makes sense that Disney are bringing it to the silver screen.
The magical story centres on Meg Murry (Reid), a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone missing after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract.
Joined by a schoolmate and her younger brother, the brave 13-year-old sets off on a journey across space and time to save him - finding help in the form of supernatural beings, Mrs Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs Who (Kaling), and Mrs Which (Winfrey).
And the girl power vibes don’t stop there, either: Selma director Ava DuVernay is the director of the science fiction fantasy, while Frozen’s Jennifer Lee penned the script. All in all, a recipe for sheer cinematic pleasure.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 23 March
The Children Act
Starring: Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci
Fiona Maye (Thompson) is a hard-working High Court judge who specialises in family law cases – and the heart of the film focuses on the moment she is asked to preside over the case of Adam Henry (Whitehead), a teenage boy in hospital suffering from leukaemia.
Doctors believe that a blood transfusion will save his life, but Adam and his parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their religion prohibits the mixing of blood.
It is a dilemma that is set to have profound personal consequences for Fiona – and highlight the importance of the British Children Act of 1989, too.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 13 April
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Anne Hathaway
Ocean’s 8 is a spin-off from the Ocean’s Trilogy but, changing focus from Danny Ocean (George Clooney), this film follows his estranged sister Debbie (Bullock), as she leads a group of eight remarkable women in pulling off a heist at the Met Ball.
Speaking about the film’s badass characters, Bullock has said: “Everyone has their speciality. What’s fun is that it’s not their whole life. They haven’t been able to do what they’re brilliant at because the industry, if you can call it the industry, the industry of crime hasn’t really allowed them to excel and execute what they’re good at […] and here comes Debbie Ocean who enlists the help of them – but not because she only wants females.”
When it’s in UK cinemas: 22 June
I Think We’re Alone Now
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning
Reed Morano – as in, yes, she of The Handmaid’s Tale fame – directs this intriguing and “bizarro” post-apocalyptic film, which focuses on Del (Peter Dinklage), a man who finds himself utterly alone in the world. And we mean this quite literally: the rest of the human race has been wiped out, he lives in a small, empty town, and his only company comes in the form of books, movies and, y’know, the dead bodies he stumbles across on a regular basis.
It sounds bleak, but Del is content in his solitude. So when Grace (Fanning) comes crashing into his life and threatens to turn his newfound sense of order upside down, he doesn’t… well, he doesn’t exactly want her to stay. Which we’re sure any introvert can relate to.
When it’s in UK cinemas: I Think We’re Alone Now will make its worldwide premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 19 January. However, a cinema release date has yet to be confirmed.
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams
Disobedience may have made headlines for the six-minute sex scene between Ronit (Weisz) and Esti (McAdams) – particularly as it sees the former delicately spit into the latter’s mouth – but the story is definitely worthy of your attention, too.
Ronit is a first-class photographer working in New York City, shooting the sort of people she never dreamed she’d meet. But, when she learns that her father has passed away in London, she’s forced to return home to the Orthodox Jewish community in which she grew up in. Feeling like an outsider in her own home, she soon finds herself reconnecting with faces from her past – and is shocked to learn that her childhood best friend, once a fellow rebel with a desire to change the world, is now a quiet and committed housewife.
However, as she and Esti spend more time together, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to their friendship – and subsequent drifting apart – than anyone around them ever realised.
Teaching us an important message about overcoming our fears to embrace our true selves, Disobedience is the sort of quietly powerful that’s guaranteed to stay with you long after the credits roll.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 24 August
The Darkest Minds
Starring: Gwendoline Christie, Mandy Moore, Amandla Stenberg
Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of the Kung Fu Panda sequels, is the unstoppable force behind the hugely-anticipated adaptation of YA novel The Darkest Minds – and it’s just the first of what looks set to be an epic box office trilogy.
Ruby (Stenburg) never believed that she would survive the outbreak that killed most of America’s children, but she did. In doing so, though, she set herself apart from countless others, as she also inherited dangerous powers that she has no control over.
When her parents discover this, they send her to Thurmond, a government-run “rehabilitation camp” for “kids like her” – and she quickly realises that, if the people in charge learn the true extent of her powers, something terrible will happen.
Forced to take her destiny into her own hands, Ruby plans a daring escape. All of which sounds like heart-pounding stuff, sure, but it’s what happens after she breaks free that changes her life forever…
When it’s in UK cinemas: 14 September 2018
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant
Melissa McCarthy is famed for her physical comedy, but she’s set to take her first steps into drama with Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Based on the rise-and-fall of Lee Israel, the film details how the writer’s career is thrown into disarray after an ill-received (and unauthorised) biography about Estée Lauder is utterly panned by critics. Unable to support herself, Israel came up with a daring plan: to forge over 400 letters from deceased famous playwrights, actors, and writers, and sell them at the highest possible price.
When one of her letters raises suspicion, Israel is forced to take her mission even further – but how extreme can things get before she’s caught?
When it’s in UK cinemas: 24 October
Mary, Queen of Scots
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Gemma Chan
Mary, Queen of Scots has taken the traditional historical drama format and turned it completely on its head, helping to elevate this tale of 16th Century scheming to entirely new levels.
The story, for those who aren’t up to date on their Elizabethan history, focuses on the young and confident Mary Stuart (Ronan) and her attempt to wrestle the English throne out from under her cousin, Elizabeth I (Robbie). Needless to say, her plan is quickly foiled – and Mary soon finds herself condemned to years of imprisonment in a strange country, with her life at the mercy of the very same woman she attempted to betray.
With a screenplay from House of Cards’ Beau Williamson, you can expect nothing but political intrigue and smart, powerful women doing their best to make their mark in a man’s world. Oh, and lots of luxe costumes, too.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 2 November
Starring: Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Steward, Fiona Shaw
Based on a true story, Lizzie tells the tale of Lizzie Andrew Borden (Sevigny), a teenage girl who gained infamy after being tried and acquitted for the violent 1892 murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts.
In a bid to show a more complex side to Lizzie’s character, though, the film promises to explore the bloody murders through the lens of her blossoming – and seemingly indelible – relationship with the family’s housemaid, Bridget Sullivan (Stewart). However, when you consider the fact that Bridget was the very same person who claimed to witness Lizzie murder Andrew Borden and his wife, Abby, with an axe, you have all the makings of a gothic psychological thriller that’s guaranteed to captivate audiences and keep them guessing throughout.
When it’s in UK cinemas: Lizzie will make its worldwide premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 19 January. However, a cinema release date has yet to be confirmed.
Starring: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman
Another period drama, sure, but this “bawdy, acerbic tale of royal intrigue, passion, ency and betrayal” is set to be very different to the likes of Downton Abbey.
Set in the 18th century court of Queen Anne (Colman), we see her secret romance with the Duchess of Marlborough (Weisz) thrown into disarray with the arrival of the young and beautiful Abigail (Stone).
Starring three of our current best actors, and with The Lobster’s Yorgos Lanthimos on board as director, this sounds like an absolute corker. Dig out your best ruff and make sure you book a cinema ticket early when it comes out later this year.
When it’s in UK cinemas: a cinema release date has yet to be confirmed.
Mary Poppins Returns
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda
As fans of the original 1964 film will remember, Mary Poppins was practically perfect in every way.
Played by Julie Andrews, she sailed gracefully onto the silver screen by means of a flying umbrella – and lovingly helped Jane and Michael Banks to reconnect with their parents.
Now, over 50 years later, the magical nanny is set to return, thanks to Disney’s upcoming sequel, aptly titled Mary Poppins Returns – and, this time, Emily Blunt is in the titular role. However, unlike the sugary-sweet original, the much-anticipated sequel is set to pay homage to the Penelope Travers’ original book series of the same title. Which means that, no, they won’t be diluting the harsher aspects of Mary Poppins’ character.
On paper, the independent and free-spirited Poppins was stern, vain, cross, and often frightening; she constantly snapped at the children, threatened them, and, while she often used her magic to create wonder, she also employed it as an unusual form of discipline over the Banks children.
In one particularly memorable scene from the books, she transported one of her wards into the picture on a china bowl – and told them that they would never be able to escape.
Blunt, addressing that her version of Poppins will be far truer to the books than the 1964 Disney film, said: “She’s a little meaner, yes.”
We’re so here for this.
When it’s in UK cinemas: 25 December
Images: Rex Features