In 2016’s Deadpool—a refreshing whiff of unfiltered R-rated sarcasm—Ryan Reynolds got to merge his tongue-in-cheek image with an antihero character who could break the fourth wall and mock other Marvel Comics franchises. The sequel has—somewhat alarmingly—parted ways with Deadpool director Tim Miller (subbing in Tim Leitch, of the listless Atomic Blonde), but Reynolds appears to be in charge. Josh Brolin—also doing megavillain duty in Avengers: Infinity War—plays the bad guy. If the movie is half as inventive as its marketing campaign (which included an issue of Good Housekeeping magazine “guest-edited” by Deadpool), we’ll be fine. (May 18)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Here’s an experiment: Play the trailer for this documentary about Fred Rogers, the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and see how many seconds pass before you burst into tears. Prediction: probably fewer than it took to read that sentence. This film about the beloved TV pioneer, directed by 20 Feet from Stardom Oscar-winner Morgan Neville, won raves on the festival circuit and seems likely to stand as one of the documentary success stories of the year. Old clips (Rogers died in 2003) and new interviews chronicle how such a decent man could have become a TV success, and recall Rogers’ testimony to politicians seeking to defund public broadcasting. Expect sales of cardigan sweaters to skyrocket. (June 8)
After 14 years, director Brad Bird returns for another chapter in the lives of the superhero family (voiced by a just-right cast led by Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson). The twist is that musclebound blowhard Mr. Incredible must play stay-at-home dad while wife Elastigirl basks in the crime-fighting limelight. Given the first Incredibles’ crack comic timing and delirious animation, this one has a good chance at creating sustained bliss. (June 15)
Under the Silver Lake
I’m looking forward to this one because writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows was one of the most assured horror pictures in years. The mood shifts here as we venture into noir territory, with Andrew Garfield obsessing over a murder case involving a billionaire, and also over attractive neighbor Riley Keough (from Logan Lucky) who suddenly goes missing. It sounds like an L.A. mood piece with slanted comedy thrown in, so look for a stylish Chinatown- junior vibe going on. (June 22)
Sorry to Bother You
The Sundance buzz on this indie comedy was giddy, which suggests an ideal piece of non-blockbuster summer programming. Lakeith Stanfield (indelible as a dazed vessel in Get Out) stars as a telemarketer who learns that putting on his “white voice” opens a whole new world. Director Boots Riley takes a slightly surreal approach to something that might have been a one-joke comedy—not a bad tactic, given the success of Get Out. Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer co-star. (July 6)
I realize the American box office has moved past Tom Cruise’s superstardom, but the fact is some of his recent films have been among his best, and he’s shown a dogged insistence on aligning himself with interesting filmmakers (we’ll ignore The Mummy). Here, Cruise cranks out another M:I chapter, teaming up again with M:I—Rogue Nation writer/director Christopher McQuarrie. The story probably has something to do with international espionage … but does the plot really matter, when even the marketing is about Cruise’s willingness to perform unbelievably risky stunts? Superman actor Henry Cavill, who was really born to be in a spy movie (we’ll ignore The Man from UNCLE, too), turns up, and Rebecca Ferguson makes a welcome return to the M:I world. (July 27)
Next rung of anticipation: Solo: A Star Wars Story (gut feeling is that Alden Ehrenreich exceeds expectations as Harrison Ford), How to Talk to Girls at Parties (teen sci-fi punk from author Neil Gaiman and Hedwig director John Cameron Mitchell), and First Reformed (Ethan Hawke as a grieving priest in a well-
reviewed Paul Schrader film).