This month's notable theatrical releases
Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting this month, listed in alphabetical order.
The 15:17 to Paris Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Thriller | February 9 | Directed by Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood’s follow-up to Sully is another film based on a true story. On August 21, 2015, three Americans traveling through Europe thwarted a terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris. Taking a unique approach, Eastwood cast the actual heroes—Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone—as themselves. Joining them are professional actors including Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Ray Corasani, PJ Byrne, Tony Hale, and Thomas Lennon.
Foreign/Experimental | February 2 | Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
The late Abbas Kiarostami’s final film consists of 24 four-and-a-half minute shorts based around the fixed frame of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Hunters In The Snow” and 23 of Kiarostami’s own photographs. Within each short, the frame comes to life through animation, the computer effects adding animals or snow as music and other sounds bring even more life to the still images. It’s a hint at what the groundbreaking filmmaker still had to offer in his final days.
Annihilation Watch trailer(s)
Sci-fi/Thriller | February 23 | Directed by Alex Garland
Writer-director Alex Garland’s follow-up to Ex Machina is an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s sci-fi novel, the first in his award-winning Southern Reach trilogy. The enigmatic story follows an expedition team (Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson) as they enter Area X, a mysterious place which Portman’s husband (Oscar Isaac) already explored. It’s not a typical sci-fi yarn (as should be expected from Garland), but in this case even the producers disagreed on the tone and ending of the final cut, resulting in Paramount selling the international rights to Netflix, where it will stream just 17 days after its U.S. opening.
Black Panther Watch trailer(s)
Action-adventure/Sci-fi | February 16 | Directed by Ryan Coogler
After making a strong impression in Captain America: Civil War, Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther gets his own movie—one that has become the record-holder for the most pre-release tickets sold of any Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. The hype is real, but can director Ryan Coogler deliver on the promise of Creed and Fruitvale Station with his first big-budget, effects-driven film? The odds are in his favor, as is his impressive cast and soundtrack producer (Kendrick Lamar). The story picks up with King T’Challa returning home to Wakanda, where several factions challenge his place on the throne. Going against him is Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. Protecting the king are Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira as members of the Milaje.
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | February 28 | Directed by Travis Wilkerson
Director Travis Wilkerson investigates his family’s past and American racism in this formally inventive documentary that began as a combination of film and live performance. In 1946, his great-grandfather murdered a black man named Bill Spann and got away with it. Wilkerson uses this as a jumping off point that leads him from Dothan to Abbeville, Alabama and the story of Recy Taylor’s rape, recently covered in the documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor, and referenced by Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes.
Double Lover (L'amant double)
Foreign/Drama/Thriller | February 14 | Directed by François Ozon
The latest from François Ozon divided critics at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and it earned a bit of extra press for its explicit first image and cut (so don’t arrive late to the theater if you’re down for this bit of kink). Coming off the period melodrama of Frantz, Ozon has crafted an erotic thriller (more in the mode of Swimming Pool) about a young woman (Marine Vacth of Ozon’s Young & Beautiful) who falls in love with her psychoanalyst, who happens to have a twin brother who is also a therapist.
Early Man Watch trailer(s)
Animation/Family | February 16 | Directed by Nick Park
From the mind of Nick Park, the director of Shaun the Sheep Movie, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Chicken Run, comes a prehistoric comedy that has earned good early reviews but not the high marks of his earlier work. Still, a chance to see a prehistoric claymation sports movie is rare. Set at the dawn of time, the story follows Dug, a courageous caveman (Eddie Redmayne), and his best friend Hognob as they unite their tribe against Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City.
A Fantastic Woman Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | February 2 | Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Sebastián Lelio’s follow-up to Gloria was the best-reviewed film of last-year's Berlin International Film Festival and winner of the Best Screenplay award. Now it’s an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. The drama, which screened briefly in November to qualify for awards but begins its proper theatrical rollout this week, takes an empathetic look at the difficulties faced by Marina (Daniela Vega in a highly praised performance), a transgender woman set adrift after her lover’s sudden death.
Golden Exits Watch trailer(s)
Drama | February 9 | Directed by Alex Ross Perry
The latest from writer-director Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth, Listen Up Philip) stars Adam Horowitz and Chloë Sevigny as husband and wife and Jason Schwartzman and Analeigh Tipton as another Brooklyn couple whose lives are upset by the arrival of a young Australian played by Emily Browning. Inspired by Eric Rohmer’s relationship dramas, the film received mostly good reviews when it premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, with the score from Keegan DeWitt (who wrote the songs for Sundance 2018’s Hearts Beat Loud) earning special mention.
Loveless Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | February 16 | Directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev
After winning Best Screenplay for Leviathan in 2014, writer-director Andrei Zvyagintsev returned to the Cannes competition last May and won the Jury Prize for this story that draws parallels between a divorcing couple’s neglect for their 12-year-old child and the corruption infecting Russia. It's a current Oscar nominee in the foreign-language category after somewhat surprisingly being submitted by Russia despite what The N.Y. Times’s Manohla Dargis describes as a “vision of breathtaking, casual cruelty that inexorably shifts from the personal into an indictment of a soul-sick country.”
The Party Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Comedy | February 16 | Directed by Sally Potter
Sally Potter’s varied filmography (Ginger & Rosa, Yes, The Man Who Cried, The Tango Lesson, Orlando) continues to diversify with this black (and black-and-white) comedy. Written by Potter, the film features strong performance by Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer, and Cillian Murphy. Capturing the dissolution of a party held at the London home of a rising politician, the film earned good reviews when it premiered a year ago at the Berlin Film Festival.
Western Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | February 16 | Directed by Valeska Grisebach
Written and directed by Valeska Grisebach (Longing), this modern western pits German construction workers installing a hydroelectric plant in rural Bulgaria against the local villagers. Using non-professional actors, Grisebach slowly builds the tension between the groups as newly arrived worker Meinhard mixes with the local population. It’s a novel examination of masculinity and xenophobia in contemporary Eastern Europe.
Bonus picks: Streaming on Netflix
Sci-fi | streams February 23 | Directed by Duncan Jones
Set in future Berlin, the latest from director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code, Warcraft) follows the mute Leo (Alexander Skarsgård) as he searches for his missing girlfriend (Seyneb Saleh). As his quest takes him into the dark shadows of the city, Leo gets involved with Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux), a pair of U.S. army surgeons who have their own mission. Rumored to take place in the same world as Moon though actually written before it, Mute has been a ten-year labor of love for the director, who almost turned it into a comic book.
On Body and Soul
Foreign/Drama | streams February 2 | Directed by Ildikó Enyedi
Hungarian writer-director Ildikó Enyedi's first feature film in 18 years won the Golden Bear for best film at last year’s Berlin Film Festival. The delicate love story follows Endre and Maria, two strangers who meet while working at a very indelicate slaughterhouse and discover they have been sharing the same dream every night. Will they find the same compatibility in waking life?
What do you think?
Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2018, visit our Upcoming Movie Calendar.