Apparently Hollywood didn’t get the memo about our delayed spring, because they’re jumping right over that season in order to officially kick off the summer blockbuster season on Friday with Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Maybe you’ve heard of it if you weren’t knocked senseless by the hoopla of the studio’s February release, “Black Panther,” a hit of historic proportions.
So, in a way, the 2018 blockbuster season really began last winter. Still, the next several weeks will be busier and more competitive than ever before.
Here’s a playlist to guide you through the crowded release schedule with some films that look smart, stylish, silly, scary, superheroic or just plain entertaining.
“Hotel Artemis” — If Jodie Foster working a nurse’s whites, age makeup and a big Queens accent doesn’t draw you to this quirky near-future action-comedy, fuggeddaboutit. The basic premise (an homage to John Wick’s outlaws-only haven the Continental Hotel?) is that the Artemis is an exclusive hideaway hostel for very bad people in riot-torn 2028 L.A. The script of this dystopian satire must be good to pull Foster into her first starring role in five years. And the cast features Sterling K. Brown, Charlie Day and Jeff Goldblum as “The Wolf King.” I don’t know what that means, and I want to find out! (June 8).
“Tully” — Charlize Theron, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody reunite after “Young Adult” for this dramatic comedy about the mind-melting demands of modern motherhood. The title character (Mackenzie Davis) is a Mary Poppinsish nanny, caring for Theron’s character, Marlo, minding her new baby and improving every aspect of her life in ways that make you say, “Wait, what, how?” (May 4)
“Ocean’s 8” — An all-female fourth film in the popular heist franchise, it stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter. This time it’s set in New York City’s diamond-studded fashion world instead of Las Vegas casinos, and therefore is very different, right? (June 8)
“Incredibles 2” — Pressing the reset button, Pixar’s animated superhero classic returns with Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) stretching into control of the family’s save-the-world business and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) demoted to a bumbling (though extremely strong) househusband. (June 15)
Smash crash flash
“Deadpool 2” — If superhero movies are going to fill every theater all year, it’s good that a few are raunchy, R-rated goofs. Ryan Reynolds returns as the man who put the X in X-Men, again primed to commit as many destructive acts and offensive wisecracks as inhumanly possible. It’s probably going to offend tender sensibilities in real life, too. T.J. Miller, who has effectively been kicked out of Hollywood after sexual misconduct allegations, an Amtrak bomb threat and assaulting an Uber driver, returns as Deadpool’s buddy, Weasel. And stuntwoman Joi Harris died in a motorcycle accident after losing control and crashing. This should be … interesting. (May 18)
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” — Size matters: small is a lot funnier than big. Marvel’s microscopic mighty man inspired huge laughs in his debut film, having his key fight scene on a tiny choo-choo train. That brand of unpretentious nonsense returns as he’s joined by a flying partner that no villain can swat. (July 6)
“Mission: Impossible — Fallout” — The sixth time’s the charm, as they say. Except that Tom Cruise broke his right ankle during filming. At 55, it’s a bit tougher than before to do your own stunts and cling to an airborne helicopter. Maybe that’s the meaning of “Fallout”? Whatever, the series is back, upping the ante on its signature set pieces and global locations. (July 27)
“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” — Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro reprise their superbly nuanced performances as sneaky, shady “Department of Defense advisers” in the war on Mexican drug cartels. What could go wrong? (June 29)
Laughing through the tears
“Crazy, Rich Asians” — This romantic comedy is set in a humorously grandiose and show-offy world that sounds like a feast of guilty pleasures. The richest, most eligible bachelor in Singapore brings his New York girlfriend home to meet his unimaginably wealthy family, and while there, she finds that all his lady friends are not so friendly to outsiders. Based on Singapore-born, America-raised Kevin Kwan’s popular novel of the same name, it should be a refreshing change, the first Hollywood movie in a quarter-century (and the second ever) with an all-Asian cast. (Aug. 17)
“Eighth Grade” — This sounds like a keenly observed junior version of “Lady Bird.” It charts the final week of middle school for an awkward, sweetly sympathetic girl stumbling down the road of maturity, a process both cringe-inducing and adorkable. (July 13)
“Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” — You can’t make up stuff like this. Art-house auteur Gus Van Sant based his fact-inspired comedy on sardonic John Callahan, who turned to a cartooning career after a drunken crash left him a quadriplegic. Joaquin Phoenix finds mountains of humor and pain in the role, and Danny Elfman’s energetic bebop score deserves a soundtrack album. (July 13)
“Juliet, Naked” — Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd form an improbable romantic triangle in this adaptation of a novel by eternal music fanboy Nick Hornby. Hawke pays a gone-to-seed American rocker idolized by O’Dowd, who comes to hero-worship him a bit less when he shows up in their little English village. Complications erupt. (Aug. 17)
“The Rider” — Lakota riding competitor Brady Jandreau delivers a superlative performance as a rodeo star whose love affair with his calling is cut short by a severe concussion. Rural life offers him few options other than pushing brooms and stocking shelves at the local pharmacy and grocery store. While a second injury could be deadly, he’s reluctant to abandon his beloved sport, moving his father to growl “Go ahead, kill yourself.” Filmed on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, U.S.-based Chinese director Chloé Zhao’s emotionally rich drama is a breakout achievement on all levels. (May 4)
“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” — Ten years after the release of the original, Cher and Lily James join the returning cast, with Meryl Streep and James playing young and golden-age versions of Donna, the title character. Spoiler alert: There’s a lot of singing, or attempted singing, from a catalog of Abba hits. (July 20)
“On Chesil Beach” — Set in 1962, the film stars Saoirse Ronan alongside Billy Howle as young newlyweds from drastically different backgrounds. The story explores sex and the societal pressure that can accompany physical intimacy — in 1960s Britain, anyway — but who cares? They had me at Saoirse Ronan. (May 18)
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” — A biographical documentary about one of the nicest men ever to become a TV star, the late Fred McFeely Rogers, host and creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Enough said. (June 8)