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Indian-American filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan first gained major acclaimed for his 1999 supernatural horror drama The Sixth Sense. That film was a commercial and critical success and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. His next big feature released in 2000, the ambitious Unbreakable, kickstarted the modern comic book movie boom alongside Bryan Singer's X-Men, also released the same year. Shyamalan's Unbreakable, which co-stars Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, is a serious-minded deconstruction of the superhero subgenre before movies like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Jon Favreau's Iron Man, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy made it the industry mainstay it is today. He finally follows up this with Glass, continuing the story 19 years later.
Over the last 12 months, I've seen more than 110 new releases — that's over nine days of time in total spent watching movies — and I'm happy to report that it's been an exceptional year at the cinema. In fact, I could probably make a Top 50 Best Films of 2018 list and still leave off a few notable titles. Just think about it – we got to see vital new work from visionary filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Alex Garland, Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Lee, Lynne Ramsay, and newcomer Boots Riley, whose Sorry to Bother You is one of the most unique and refreshingly original movies of the year. We witnessed fantastic performances by Lady Gaga, Ethan Hawke, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Mahershala Ali, Richard E. Grant, as well as Christian Bale. We saw breathtakingly beautiful films like Roma, The Favourite, If Beale Street Could Talk, and First Man – works of flawless craftsmanship by cinematographers and production designers alike.
Created by Paul Norris & Mort Weisinger, Aquaman debuted in 1941's More Fun Comics #73. In his Golden Age appearances, Aquaman is described as a human being who lives and thrives under the water and can speak with sea creatures "in their own language." During the late '50s and 60s, Aquaman was established as a founding member of the Justice League and was a mainstay on Hanna Barbera’s Super Friends, which ran from 1973 to 1986. In the '90s, the wholesome seahorse-riding superhero was re-imagined as the brooding King of Atlantis. Fast-forward to 2011 and The New 52, DC's relaunch of their entire superhero line, and Geoff Johns' cutting-edge revival of the character, which serves as the basis for Aquaman, the third live-action movie featuring the character, following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.
Based on characters created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, the new Sony Pictures Animation movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, offers an entirely different take on Marvel's beloved web-slinging superhero, which was first introduced by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962. Produced by the filmmaking team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (of 21/22 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie series), the story centers on African-American/Puerto Rican teenager Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore of Dope and Netflix's "The Get Down") as he tries to fit in at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Miles' father, Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry of Widows and If Beale Street Could Talk), is a straight-laced police officer and his mother (Luna Lauren Velez) is a hard-working nurse — both loving parents who are proud of their son's achievements, and really want to see him succeed studying at the school for gifted students.
When Creed was released in 2015, co-writer and director Ryan Coogler (of Fruitvale Station and Black Panther) pulled off a seemingly impossible task: staying true to the spirit of the film’s iconic predecessors while forging its own path — not unlike the odyssey of its protagonist, Adonis "Donnie" Creed (Michael B. Jordan), searching for an identity and fighting for an opportunity to prove his own self-worth. The film reinvigorated and expanded the Rocky series by returning to its underdog roots and became a fable for a new generation; the rebirth of the American Dream. Now, director Steven Caple Jr. steps in to tell the next chapter in Creed II, an inspiring and affecting sequel that isn't another bum from the neighborhood.
Originally based on the popular UK television series from the 1980s created by Lynda La Plante, Widows is directed, co-written, and produced by British filmmaker Steve McQueen, whose 12 Years a Slave won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture. McQueen's films, including Hunger, a historical drama about the 1981 Irish hunger strike, and Shame, a drama about a sex addict coming to terms with his traumatic past, are always concerned with pain and suffering. McQueen's latest, the heist-thriller Widows set in Chicago, is an entertaining departure from his signature brand of Criterion Collection-ready misery porn, but still finds time to explore grief and despair with his characters, amidst the explosions and shoot-outs.
During an interview in 2010, Queen guitarist Brian May announced that a film about the legendary British rock band was in the works. Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Brüno) was set to play Freddie Mercury, with Peter Morgan (The Queen and Frost/Nixon), writing the screenplay. In 2013, however, Cohen left the project due to creative differences. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that director Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle) would helm the biopic with Ben Wishaw as Mercury. That fell apart, too. Then in 2015, writer Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, The Darkest Hour) signed on to the seemingly doomed project. The film was soon fast-tracked by 20th Century Fox, with director Bryan Singer and actor Rami Malek set to play Freddie. And now Bohemian Rhapsody, a paint-by-numbers biopic that feels less like a definitive telling of Queen's rise to fame and more like Oscar Bait Mamma Mia!™.
After watching John Carpenter’s 1976 action-thriller Assault on Precinct 13 at the Milan Film Festival, film producers Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad put up the $300,000 budget for the young up-and-coming filmmaker to write, direct, and score a movie about a psychopath who stalks babysitters. Carpenter and his then-girlfriend Debra Hill began drafting a script for The Babysitter Murders, which was later renamed to Halloween after Yablans suggested setting the movie on Halloween night. And the rest is history. The 1978 independent film grossed $70 million at the worldwide box office and became the blueprint for every slasher flick since. Now, 40 years later, David Gordon Green (of George Washington, All the Real Girls) looks to capture some of the macabre magic of Carpenter's classic with his own Halloween — a direct sequel that ignores the seven sequels before it and resurrects the iconic characters of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers.
American producer, screenwriter, and filmmaker Drew Goddard began his career as a writer on the hit television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, and Lost. He made his foray into film by writing the 2008 found-footage creature feature, Cloverfield. It wasn't until his directorial debut with 2012's The Cabin in the Woods, however, that Goddard's talent for creating strong characters and deconstructing genre conventions fully manifested. Now, after most recently producing Netflix's Daredevil series and writing the screenplay for Ridley Scott's 2015 space film, The Martian, for which he earned Oscar and WGA nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Goddard is back in the director's chair for Bad Times at the El Royale, a spirited, subversive thriller steeped in '60s nostalgia (and paranoia) with an incredible cast and a killer soundtrack.
Co-written and directed by actor Bradley Cooper, 2018's A Star is Born is the third remake of William A. Wellman's 1937 film, which earned seven Academy Award nominations at the time. George Cukor's 1954 adaptation, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, was nominated for six. And the 1976 version, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, earned four. Between the three films, only two Oscars were won: Best Writing (Original Story) in 1938 and Best Original Song in 1977. As producer, director, screenwriter, and star, Cooper is following in Streisand’s footsteps and, if history is any indication, his directorial debut will earn several award nominations, and deservedly so. Not only is Cooper's A Star is Born the premiere of a filmmaker with a unique voice but it solidifies Lady Gaga as the preeminent entertainer of the day.
There's a line in 1987's original Predator movie that sums up the machismo and bravado of '80s action cinema. Blain, played by professional wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura, is a member of an elite military rescue team on a mission to save hostages in guerrilla-held territory. In the aftermath of a jungle-leveling firefight, a fellow soldier informs Blain, "You're hit. You're bleeding, man." With a plug of chewing tobacco in his jaw, the gruff, cocksure commando ripostes, "I ain't got time to bleed." Written by brothers Jim and John Thomas and directed by John McTiernan (of Die Hard), Predator grossed $98 million in its initial release, cementing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s box office bona fides and turning its eponymous antagonist, an extraterrestrial trophy hunter designed by special make-up effects creator Stan Winston, into a sci-fi icon.
After seeing Steven Spielberg's Jaws as a teenager, Steve Alten went straight to his local public library and checked out every book he could find on great white sharks. In those texts, he stumbled upon a black-and-white photo (seen here) of scientists seated in the massive, reconstructed jaw of a megalodon — the prehistoric cousin of the Great White shark, believed to have been extinct for more than two million years. The image of a 75-foot-long shark that could swallow a Volkswagen whole never left Alten's mind, and 22 years later he published his first novel, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, a science-fiction horror story about a prehistoric megalodon shark that rises from the depths of the Mariana Trench to hunt once again.