Spring Arts 2018 — Pearls: The movies

Ten alternatives to the spring slate of blockbusters.

click to enlarge Dakota Fanning in Please Stand By. - Magnolia Pictures
Magnolia Pictures
Dakota Fanning in Please Stand By.

Sometimes it seems like every movie coming out is a blockbuster, simply because you’re bombarded by multimillion-dollar promotional assaults on behalf of more big studio risks than ever. But that doesn’t mean Hollywood isn’t kicking out plenty of worthwhile films — like the recent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird — that rely more on saner budgets and word of mouth than beating your attention span into submission. Here are ten to look forward to in the coming months.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower Oscar-nominated Japanese animation director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There) adapts Mary Stewart’s classic 1971 children’s story The Little Broomstick. Expect that iconic big-eyed look and plenty of heart. Rated PG. Jan. 19.

Please Stand By Dakota Fanning and Toni Collette star in this dramedy about a young autistic woman whose Star Trek obsession leads her on a cross-country, ahem, trek to enter her fan screenplay in a writing contest. That quirky, earnest indie feel is in full effect in the trailer, which also features Patton Oswalt as a cop who speaks Klingon. Rated PG-13. Jan. 26.

Winchester Dame Helen Mirren? In a horror movie? Based on the true story of the ever-expanding mansion built by the heiress who thinks it’s haunted by the ghosts of people killed by the guns her company manufactured? That sounds... awesomely terrible. And insanely watchable. Get the popcorn ready. Rated PG-13. Feb. 2.


A Fantastic Woman Already a festival favorite, this Spanish-language drama about an aspiring nightclub singer dealing with the death of her older partner and muse looks beautiful, heartbreaking and redemptive. Bring Puffs. Rated R. Feb. 2.


Gringo Where is Harold? Charlize Theron plays a ruthless pharmaceutical exec who enlists a broke and desperate man (David Oyelowo in a meaty comedic role) to deliver a new THC pill to a lab in, of all places, Mexico. Kidnapping and hilarity ensue. Rated R. March 9.

Love, Simon Current Hot Young Actor Nick Robinson (Boardwalk Empire, Kings of Summer, Jurassic World) is the closeted titular character in this coming of age/coming out adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Rated PG-13. March 16.

You Were Never Really Here A bearded Joaquin Phoenix plays an aging hardcase hired to rescue a young girl from the sex trade in what could be the role that resurrects his post-I’m Still Here career (irony!). The awesome Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ratcatcher) directs. Rated R. April 6.


A Quiet Place John Krasinski helms and stars in a high-concept thriller that some will call “imaginative and ambitious” and others will call “a lot like It Comes at Night.” Also stars Emily Blunt. Not yet rated. April 6. 

Tully It’s the year of Charlize Theron. The Juno team of director Ivan Reitman and writer Diablo Cody reunite for a look at single motherhood in the modern age. Rated R. April 20.

Super Troopers 2 What’s it about? The crew from Broken Lizard’s classic cop comedy being assigned to a border dispute between the U.S. and Canada, but it doesn’t matter, really. Those who know will go. Rated R. April 20.

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