Feb. 16 — “Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler
Ryan Coogler started off his career with the heart-shattering “Fruitvale Station” and then jumped confidently to studio filmmaking with “Creed.” Now, he steps into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for “Black Panther.” Every trailer so far has been ridiculously badass, and with Coogler having co-written the film, an all-star group of Black actors making up the cast and Kendrick Lamar producing the film’s soundtrack, “Black Panther” will not only be one of the biggest films of the year, but it will be a cultural landmark as well.
March 9 — “A Wrinkle in Time,” directed by Ava DuVernay
The Oscar snub of Ava DuVernay in the best director category for “Selma” is still painful, but DuVernay just kept moving. She is a force — two years after “Selma,” she released the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” while also running the OWN TV show “Queen Sugar” and directing a Jay-Z music video. This spring, we’ll get her next picture, the grand, visually dazzling journey of “A Wrinkle in Time,” which will mark the first $100 million film directed by a woman of color.
Aug. 3 — “The Equalizer 2,” directed by Antoine Fuqua
It may be easy to think of actors such as Liam Neeson and Tom Cruise as the driving forces behind the action genre. But don’t sleep on Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer,” nor the film’s director, Antoine Fuqua, who has made films such as “Training Day,” “Shooter,” “Southpaw” and, most recently, “The Magnificent Seven.” And considering Fuqua’s vivid and controlled directing jobs on each, “The Equalizer 2” should offer yet another immensely entertaining action flick.
Nov. 16 — “Widows,” directed by Steve McQueen
It has been far too long since Steve McQueen’s most recent feature, the Oscar best picture winner “12 Years a Slave,” a film that sent ripples through the industry. His next, “Widows,” might be a bit of a turn for the director. Not only is it led by four women, following them as they reclaim their lives after the debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, but the thriller element will also be a chance for McQueen to show off a different side of his directing skills. McQueen is a director that sticks out whenever he’s a part of a conversation, so “Widows” is one to mark down.
Nov. 21 — “Creed II,” directed by Steven Caple Jr.
Steven Caple Jr. may only have one feature under his belt, with the 2016 film “The Land,” but so did Ryan Coogler when he directed “Creed.” Caple was reportedly personally picked by stars Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, and it feels more emotionally centered for a Black filmmaker to take the reins after Coogler rather than Stallone, who had, at one point, announced that he was directing. (Although Coogler is expected to return in some kind of producing role.) This is Adonis Creed’s story, and Caple could have his time to shine as he guides Adonis through the spotlight.
“Sorry to Bother You,” directed by Boots Riley
Activist, rapper and poet Boots Riley has already screened “Sorry to Bother You” at Sundance Film Festival, and the film, while not universally acclaimed, has been one of the most buzzed about for its apparent singularity. IndieWire calls it “a whip-smart satire of racial dynamics,” the Hollywood Reporter says it “scores points for originality and wacky creativity,” and the New York Post says “director Boots Riley is one to watch.” But Riley would be one to watch regardless of whether or not the film went to Sundance. His voice has been prominent and impactful across various platforms and mediums of art. “Sorry to Bother You” — which features Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, a cocaine-snorting Armie Hammer and human-horse mutants — will only be an expansion of that.
“Monsters and Men,” directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green
Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “Monsters and Men” has also already screened at Sundance, receiving plenty of its own acclaim. The story picks up in the aftermath of the police killing a Black man, and many critics say that the film is affectingly intimate while also pushing toward a larger scope of injustice without necessarily giving all of the answers. Essentially, “Monsters and Men” is said to speak about so much that is reality for so many.
“I Am Not a Witch,” directed by Rungano Nyoni
“I Am Not a Witch” also comes out of Sundance. Yet the film has actually already traveled far, premiering in May 2017 at Cannes Film Festival and releasing in the U.K. in October, where director Rungano Nyoni, born in Zambia, grew up. It won three British Independent Film Awards, including best director for Nyoni, and was nominated in the best debut category by BAFTA. It has yet to be released to the public in the United States, and its success should be more than enough reason to anticipate its arrival. Following a young girl exiled from her village after being accused of witchcraft, the film has been praised as a vividly stylistic and bold story.
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” directed by Barry Jenkins
“Moonlight” was an absolute revelation, brimming with empathy, told with such tranquil yet powerful love. Its Oscar best picture win was a triumph and pushed Barry Jenkins into the spotlight. This year, he’s returning with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” an adaptation of the James Baldwin novel of the same name. Following a young woman as she tries to prove her fiance innocent of a crime, the film should yet again show the unparalleled storytelling power of Jenkins, whose career is, really (and excitingly), just getting started.
“Black Klansman,” directed by Spike Lee
Right now, it’s not guaranteed that “Black Klansman” will release in 2018, as a date has not been set and Spike Lee has another film, “Pass Over,” that premiered at Sundance and will likely come first. But “Black Klansman” started shooting in October 2017, which should likely allow enough time for it to come out before the end of the year. The film is of such note for a few reasons. Firstly, this is Lee we’re talking about. But the story itself is harrowing, following a Black police officer who infiltrates the KKK. And did we mention that it’s produced by “Get Out” director Jordan Peele?