Spring Movie Preview: 10 Movies Cinephiles Have To Look Forward To

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Last spring was a great time for movies: Get Out, John Wick 2, Raw, Personal Shopper, The Lost City of Z, Logan, Colossal and Split were released. January to April is usually a dead time for movies, but the last few years we've seen a change, more studios are banking on those months to promote movies they are actually confident about. I have yet to see January's 'Paddington 2," but that's already a film that has impressed audiences and critics alike. Here's a preview of what's to come in the next 3 months of cinema:

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Black Panther (February 16th)
 The 18th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the first to star a black superhero. Ryan Coogler's Black Panther is a game-changer of the highest order, a landmark of the superhero genre that that's been more than 2 decades in the making. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), is the king of Wakanda, but when he dons his leather, all-Ebon suit he's the Black Panther. Since this is a Ryan Coogler movie Michael B. Jordan has to be cast in some kind of role, here Jordan plays  is the villanous Killmonger. Want more? The cast includes such stalwarts as Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. As for Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), he forever reinvented the boxing genre in Creed and he seems to have done the same for the superhero movie here. The look of the film is beautifully rendered and was said to be inspired by the architecture and dress of African countries. Coogler even innoates with a few astoundign single take shots. Coogler and his crew make good with the source material, which is inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates' more recent comics. Who'da thunk it? A Marvel movie that celebrates blackness in all its glory. This is a game-changer.

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The 15:17 to Paris (February 16th)
Director Clint Eastwood has helmed fourteen movies since hitting the age of 70. He is still making hyper-relevant films at the near twilight of his career and sometimes breaking the box office in the process with something like “American Sniper.” Case in point his last two films: ‘Sniper and “Sully,” both of which had the classicism of old-school Hollywood filmmaking, and yet, felt vitally alive and current. The resonant theme that bound both was the cost of hero worship. Both films have male characters who feel isolated and flawed, despite being deemed heroes by those around them. It looks like “The 15:17 to Paris,” will be treading that line as well. Eastwood shot the film in the span of a month, which is based on the true story of the three American students who stopped a terrorist attack two years ago in Paris. But in the ballsiest twist in recent mainstream filmmaking, the 87-year-old director has decided to screw conventional Hollywood casting and tapped the actual three real-life American students who stopped the terrorist on the train as the leads of the film. The film was breezily supposed to be ready for an Awards-Season release in December. However, the decision to, instead, release it in February has had people taming down their expectations. Did the WB think that the film just wasn't good enough to be advertised for Oscar season? Who knows.  I'm nevertheless looking forward to “The 15:17 to Paris” would be an understatement, anything Eastwood does is welcome in my books, Oscar season or not. 

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Annihilation (February 23rd)
After test screenings of Annihilation had Paramount execs freaking over the film being “too intellectual” and “too complicated” for audiences, they asked its director Alex Garland to make changes to the ending of the movie, However, co-producer Scott Rudin wanted none of that , as per his contract he has final say, and the intended vision is indeed being released in theaters. Paramount no doubt very nervous about their returns, have asked Netflix to partner with them, the streaming giant will be in charge of half the film's 55 million budget and make the film available in streaming format 17 days after the theatrical release.  Garland is coming off the critical success of his incredible directorial debut "Ex-Machina" and we've heard whispers here and there that, indeed, Annihilation is as accessible as "2001: A Space Odyssey," which means for those that want to venture into the unknown and indulge themselves in thoughtful sci-fi then this is the movie for you. 

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Mute (February 23rd)
Duncan Jones became one of the very exciting directors to emerge from Hollywood with Moon, and Source Code. After a failed attempt at adapting Warcraft, his latest, Mute, looks like a step in the right direction and what the director says is a return to universe he created with Moon. A look at the trailer and it looks and feels like "Blade Runner," It is then not surprising  to learn that Jones has described this latest film as a love letter to "Blade Runner." Set in "Berlin, the future," the film has Leo (Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd) – not able to speak due to a childhood accident – searching for his girlfriend, who has mysteriously disappeared. As he roams what the official synopsis calls  "the dark streets, frenzied plazas, and the full spectrum of the cities shadow-dwellers," he tries to find answers in two army surgeons, Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux). Netflix is distributing Mute on February 23rd, there is a lot of buzz surrounding this movie and, if advanced word of mouth is any indication, we might have winner here.
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Red Sparrow (March 2nd)

Jennifer Lawrence as a former ballerina turned Russian intelligence officer? Joel Edgerton as the CIA agent that falls in love with her? This spy thriller, directed by Francis Lawrence, also stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons.  Based on the popular novel by former CIA operative Jason Matthews, the film reteams J-Law with her Hunger Games director Lawrence. The film has also been stamped with an R rating for strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity, the creatives are going all in with this movie.

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A Wrinkle In Time (March 9th)
Ava Duvernay's big-budgeted adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic sci-fi children’s novel has been building up considerable buzz since the debut of its trailer late last year. Following tween Meg Murry (Storm Reid) who is looking for missing dad (Chris Pine) by somehow finding a way to zap through space and time, "A Wrinkle in Time" is a film that does not lack ambitions.  Meg gains the help of Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) in her journey, this is a powerful story about a brave young girl trying to defy the odds and put a stamp on her own personal identity. A look at the trailer and sumptuous visuals seem to be promised, aided by top-notch special effects and a director that h asn't missed a step so far in her young filmmaking career (Middle of Nowhere, Selma, 13th). Whether the movie becomes a resounding success or not, you can't help but cheer for DuVernay who is only the third female director in history to be given a budget over $100 million for a movie.

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Isle Of Dogs (March 23rd)
Of all the great Wes Anderson movies, and there are quite a few, I've always a real fondness for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, a stop-motion animation treat from 2009 that was the most formally realized picture of his career. So it is with great joy to behold another film of his that will be in stop motion animation form: Isle of Dogs. If that wasn't enough he has amassed another fantastic cast to take part in this adventure: Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Kunichi Nomura, Harvey Keitel, Akira Ito, Akira Takayama, Koyu Rankin, Yoko Ono (!), Courtney B. Vance (!), Greta Gerwig (!!!), Frances McDormand, Bob Balaban and Liev Schreiber Although plot details are fairly ambiguous about the film, which will premiere this month at the Berlin Film Festival, earlier this year, Anderson had mentioned that the film is “less influenced by stop-motion movies than it is by Akira Kurosawa.”Add to the fact that Anderson is currently at the peak of his powers, his last three films were The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel, and you can't help but put Isle of Dogs at the very top of your most anticipated movies of the spring, hell let's make it of the whole year.

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Unsane (March 23rd)
Fresh off her triumphant turn as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, Claire Foy is about to take cinema by storm. This fall Foy will star in Damien Chazelle's First Man, and she is also set to play Lisbeth Salander in The Girl in the Spider's Web. In the meantime, she stars in this March's Steven Soderbergh-helmed iPhone movie "Unsane." That's right, Soderbergh shot his psychological thriller on an iPhone, Sean Baker-Style. The film has Foy involuntarily committed into an insane asylum, she seems to think it's a mistake and pleads for her case, to no avail. Soderbergh un-retired last year with the light, entertaining "Logan Lucky," this latest endeavor takes him on a darker path, but, if the trailer is any indication, there is stil very much a lot of humor at play in his latest film. The film co-stars Juno TempleJoshua LeonardJay Pharoah, and Amy Irving

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Ready Player One (March 30th)
Steven Spielberg's filmography is incredible; "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "E.T." Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan" and those are all movies released before what I consider to be his peak phase between 2001 and 2005; "A.I." Minority Report," "Catch Me If You Can," "Munich," "War of the Worlds") that's when he really hit his stride as an artist. Coming off his last three serious, slow but artfully constructed movies(Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, and The Post), all part of a Max Ophuls-esque phase the director seems to be going through, his next endeavor feels like a breath of fresh air. Ernest Cline's pop culture masterpiece "Ready Player One." A book which was deemed by some to be unfilmable, has Spielberg taking on a dystopian, overpopulated future filled with virtual reality. The film starts off with the creator an MMO called the Oasis dying but releasing a final video in which he challenges users to find an Easter Egg which, if retrieved, will give the winner a boatload of cash. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) find a clue and we're off to the races with him. 

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Mary Magdalene (March 30th)
Fresh off his feature-directing debut "Lion," Garth Davis' decision to make a movie about Mary and Jesus was perceived as rather odd.  However, the fact that Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix star as, respectively, Mary and Jesus is enough to have any true movie lover root for this film. Two of the best actors of their generation take on a story thousands of years old, but are supposed to bring a feminist twist to the surroundings.  "Mary Magdalene" will be released on March 30th which of course coincides with Easter and Passover, so there clearly is an urge to tap to a certain market with this latest biblical feature.