January is usually a barren wasteland when it comes to new releases. You’re either catching up on Oscar-nominated films that only now made it to your local theater after playing in Los Angeles and New York for months, or you’re wishing you were at Sundance looking at all the buzzy titles coming out of Park City. That’s another way of saying, the new film year truly kicks into high gear in February.
We know keeping track of everything that’s coming out on any given weekend is a hassle, so we wanted to help. We’ve scoured festival programs, plenty of IMDB pages, studio releases and came up with a sampling of projects you should be keeping track of in the year ahead. The criteria? We wanted to find movies that had Latino talent in front of the camera and made no attempt to discriminate when it came to budgets, subject matters, or even genres.
Find below a near-exhaustive list of all the films starring your favorite Latinx actors, from big budget flicks with Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez to small indies with Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna (not together though), as well as plenty of international titles doing the festival rounds we hope make it to the States by the end of the year. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, several Marvel and Disney titles made the list too — guess the Mouse House knows it needs at least one or two Latino supporting players in each of its tentpole projects.
Una mujer fantástica
Opens February 2, 2018
Marina (Daniela Vega), the transgender heroine of A Fantastic Woman, is beautiful, enigmatic, and plunged into a precarious situation after her boyfriend dies unexpectedly in her company. Fifty-seven-year-old divorcé Orlando (Francisco Reyes) wakes in the middle of the night, suffers an aneurism, and falls down some stairs, sustaining injuries that will come to haunt Marina after she takes him to the hospital and attempts to slip away before authorities and family members begin prying. Marina knows she’s regarded with suspicion for her youth, class, and, above all, gender status. She expects to gain little from Orlando’s demise, but the viciousness of Orlando’s son, the cold-heartedness of Orlando’s ex-wife, and the intrusiveness of a detective from the Sexual Offenses Investigation Unit force Marina to not only clear her name, but also to demand the very thing no one seems willing to give her: respect.
La boda de Valentina
Valentina (Marimar Vega) loves her life. She lives in New York City with a great job and a great boyfriend who’s just proposed. So why would she dare go back to Mexico where her family is sure to drive her insane as they always do? Well, because her fiancé wants nothing more than to meet them. And so, Valentina and Jason (Ryan Carnes) head down to meet the possessive father, the drunken brother, the vain step-mother and, most dangerously, the charming if jilted ex. Borrowing from the rom-com tropes we’ve come to love, Marco Polo Constandse’s La boda de Valentina is a classic love triangle story here peppered with the kind of bicultural and bilingual world expat Latinos will surely connect with.
A Wrinkle in Time
Opens March 9, 2018
Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time is already primed to be one of the most talked about films of 2018. Not only is it the first live-action blockbuster directed by an African-American woman, but it features an enviable A-star cast that includes Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Chris Pine. Based on the beloved novel by the same name about a young girl who sets out on a quest to find her missing father and in the process be recruited to fight against the Darkness that threatens her world. Adding to his scene-stealing roles in The Martian and Ant-Man, Michael Peña also stars as a character called “Red” (which we’re hoping means he’s the Man with the Red Eyes, which would mean the actor is going dark for this Disney flick).
Opens March 9, 2018
A soon-to-be-broke middle management guy gets sent to Mexico to deliver the formula for his company’s revolutionary weed pill to the lab in charge of mass producing it. What could possibly go wrong? Well, turns out: a lot. Harold (David Oyelowo) gets kidnapped and has to find a way to stay alive while facing the cartel that’s been edged out of the deal by the very higher-ups (Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron in full corporate shark-mode) that are now scrambling to get him back safely. Full of high-octane action sequences and a biting sense of humor, Gringo boasts the talents of Yul Vazquez, Carlos Corona, Melonie Diaz, Diego Cataño and Rodrigo Corea in supporting roles.
Opens March 23, 2018
A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous mission that’ll take her to the mysterious Area X. She’ll venture into this warped natural world alongside three other women (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez). But very quickly, the secrets that Area X–with its shimmering lights, its bizarre-looking vegetation, and even weirder wildlife—prove to be fatal. Add in the fact that the Biologist signed up for the expedition in hopes of finding out what happened to her husband (played by Oscar Isaac) and you’ve got a taut tight tale that’s sure to become a sci-fi classic.
This remake of the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell 1987 comedy keeps the premise intact: A spoiled, wealthy yacht owner is thrown overboard and becomes the target of revenge from his mistreated employee. Only, in this 2018 version, we’re getting Anna Faris as Kate, the wily employee who loathes the playboy Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez) and decides to take advantage of the situation when he suffers from amnesia. This being a romantic comedy, you probably know where it’s all headed, but few things are as funny as seeing Faris and Derbez trading quips in this sun-kissed beachside flick.
Avengers: Infinity War
Opens May 4, 2018
Offering up the biggest, most superhero-stacked film yet, Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the latest phase of Marvel films. That means we’ll not only see Chris Evans’ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man team up yet again, but we’ll finally see the Avengers meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy (including Zoe Saldana’s Gamora) as well as the Wakanda warriors. Word has it even Benicio del Toro will be reprising his role as The Collector, who, last we met, had one of the infinity stones that give the film its title.
Sicario 2: Soldado
Opens June 29, 2018
In this follow-up to Denis Villeneuve’s drug cartel/border agent thriller, we meet up again with Josh Brolin’s federal agent Matt Graver as he continues to fight the drug war fight. Of course, this being a sequel, he re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro, who’s played by Benicio del Toro. More Zero Dark Thirty-looking than the original (we learn, for example, that the U.S. government has deemed drug cartels terrorist organizations and will thus be dealing with them as such), Sicario 2: Soldado is sure to spark the same kind of heated debates about how the border is portrayed in media as the dour Emily Blunt film that came before it.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Opens July 8, 2018
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues expanding, fans are getting a second helping of the Paul Rudd-starrer Ant-Man. This time, as the title suggests, the story will also focus on his fellow crime-fighter, Hope van Dyne aka the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) as they take on a mission that will shed light on the van Dyne’s past. Returning for this big screen outing is Michael Peña as the fast-talking and outright hilarious Luis, a friend of Scott Lang’s from his past as a petty criminal.
Alita: Battle Angel
Opens July 10, 2018
Based on the graphic novel Gunnm By Yukito Kishiro, Alita: Battle Angel is the kind of visually inventive sci-fi fare that’s right up the alley of its main creators: writer/director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Sin City) and writer/producer James Cameron (Avatar, The Terminator). Set several centuries into the future Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in a scrapyard where a cyberdoctor, Ido (Christoph Waltz), reawakens her, telling her little about who she is or where she comes from. With no memory herself, Alita soon begins learning about the world anew and making an unlikely friendship with street-smart Hugo (Keean Johnson). Eventually, danger comes calling when the powers that be begin hunting Alita just as she realizes she’s got strong fighting abilities. Part Fifth Element and obviously visually echoing its Manga-style origins (Alita has big, expressive eyes), this may be Rodriguez’s most ambitious project yet.
Opens July 13, 2018
The fifth installment of The Conjuring series is headlined by none other than Oscar nominee Demián Bichir. The Mexican actor plays Father Burke, who is investigating the mysterious suicidal death of a nun. True to its genre, Burke ends up having to confront Valak, a demon who has taken the blasphemous form of a nun. Set in 1952 at the Cârța Monastery in Romania, the film also stars Taissa Farmiga and Bonnie Aarons.
Opens August 10, 2018
While few details are available on the remake of the infamous Al Pacino flick Scarface, we know at least two things: Joel and Ethan Coen (of No Country for Old Men fame) wrote the script and Diego Luna has been cast as Cuban refugee Tony Montana, who becomes a drug kingpin in 1980s Miami—and who would like you to say hello to his little friend.
This historical drama is set 20,000 years in the past—during the last Ice Age. It tracks what may be the first bond between a man (in this case Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Keda) and a canine (a gray wolf). Offering a stark look at caveman life—this is no Ice Age; landscapes are barren and humans wear pelts and furs to stay warm—Alpha also co-stars Chilean actress Leonor Varela and Canadian actress Mercedes de la Zerda.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, this latest Disney fantasy film follows a young girl who finds a Nutcracker doll among the family’s gifts and is charged by her parents to take special care of it. Taking its cue from recent flicks like Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia, this snow-capped film looks to transport audiences to a magical realm where there’s a rat army and a slew of gingerbread soldiers. Add in the costumed and corseted characters played by Keira Knightley (Sugar Plum Fairy), Helen Mirren (Mother Ginger) and even Eugenio Derbez (Hawthorn) and you’ve got a candied-concoction of a blockbuster.
Opens November 16, 2018
Arguably one of the most anticipated films of 2018 is Steve McQueen’s Widows. Starring Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo, Elizabeth Debicki, and Michelle Rodriguez as the eponymous widows, this thriller follows the four women as they take on the heist that got their husbands killed.
Opens November 21, 2018
Ryan Coogler may not be returning to helm the sequel to his wildly successful sequel/reboot to Rocky, but we are damn excited to see Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson reprise their roles as Adonis and Bianca. Add in the fact that this boxing flick will feature Rocky IV‘s Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) whose son Adonis will be going up against.
Mary Poppins Returns
Opens Christmas Day 2018
Here’s how Disney is billing the return of the practically perfect in every way nanny: “In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.” Starring Emily Blunt as the nanny and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, the Disney sequel hopes to capture the whimsical spirit that’s made the colorful film a classic. Oh, and the Hamilton star and creator also went ahead and worked on new songs for the Rob Marshall-directed film, so expect the music to be as vibrant as that of the original.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Release date TBD
Based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight is set in Harlem and follows a young woman trying to prove her fiancé’s innocent of a crime while carrying their first child. The film is stacked with talent, including Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco, Ed Skrein, and Regina King. But more thrillingly, it features Chilean Pedro Pascal, Emily Rios, and even Diego Luna.
Collin is trying to make it through his final days of probation for an infamous arrest he can’t wait to put behind him. Always by his side is his fast-talking childhood bestie, Miles, who has a knack for finding trouble. They grew up together in the notoriously rough Oakland, a.k.a. “The Town,” which has become the new trendy place to live in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. But when Collin’s chance for a fresh start is interrupted by a life-changing missed curfew, his friendship with Miles is forced out of its comfortable buddy-comedy existence, and the Bay boys are set on a spiraling collision course with each other on this drama from Mexican-born director Carlos Lopez Estrada.
The Kindergarten Teacher
Stuck in Staten Island, married to a kind but oblivious husband, and living with kids that mostly ignore her, 40-year-old Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) plods through her days teaching kindergarten with growing numbness. Her one source of joy is an evening poetry class across the bay in Lower Manhattan. But one day everything changes—Lisa discovers that a five-year-old boy in her class may be the poet she can only dream of being. She becomes fascinated. Could this child be a prodigy? A Mozart? Fascination turns to obsession as Lisa pushes boundaries to protect the boy from a banal life she knows too well. In a harrowing climax, Lisa risks her career, her family, and her freedom to nurture his genius and possibly tap into her own. The pic also stars Rosa Salazar and Gael García Bernal.
Pájaros de verano
Set in Colombia in the 1970s, right when the demand for marijuana is set to explode, Ciro Guerra’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent ditches the black and white aesthetic of his previous film for the colorful world of the Guajira desert. Yet again, though, he’s set his sights (alongside co-director and producer Cristina Gallego) on a story about the way Colombian history intersects with its indigenous population. Birds of Passage follows an Wayuu indigenous family who takes a leading role in the budding new drug trade, and discovers the perks of wealth and power, but with a violent and tragic downside.
Monsters and Men
One night, in front of a bodega in Brooklyn’s Bed–Stuy neighborhood, Manny Ortega (Anthony Ramos) witnesses a white police officer wrongfully gun down a neighborhood street hustler, and Manny films the incident on his phone. Now he’s faced with a dilemma: release the video and bring unwanted exposure to himself and his family, or keep the video private and be complicit in the injustice? This is the feature film debut of African-American and Puerto Rican director Reinaldo Marcus Green.
Release date TBD
It’s been five years since Alfonso Cuarón’s masterful Gravity stormed into theaters and ended up netting him a Best Director Oscar. After going big, he’s going back to his roots for his latest, Roma. Set in the 1970s in Mexico, the film chronicles a life in the year of a middle-class family. With behind the scenes footage making it look like he’s channeling the Halconazo, and with talk that the film is roughly inspired by his own coming of age, we truly can’t wait for Roma to come out.
Sorry to Bother You
Release date TBD
Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a 30-something black telemarketer with self-esteem issues, discovers a magical selling power living inside of him. Suddenly he’s rising up the ranks to the elite team of his company, which sells heinous products and services. The upswing in Cassius’s career raises serious red flags with his brilliant girlfriend, Detroit (played by Panamanian-Mexican-American actress Tessa Thompson), a sign-twirling gallery artist who is secretly a part of a Banksy-style collective called Left Eye. But the unimaginable hits the fan when Cassius meets the company’s cocaine-snorting, orgy-hosting, obnoxious, and relentlessly optimistic CEO, Steve Lift (Armie Hammer).
Irene is raising four rambunctious sons in a home that is physically crumbling but warm and happy. As Irene simultaneously shelters her sister Sonia (who just left a volatile marriage), supports her own husband through a financial crisis, and plans her own long-awaited high school graduation, Irene’s eldest son, Fernando, suddenly announces he has been recruited by a professional handball team in Germany and will be leaving in just three weeks. Consummate caretaker Irene prickles at the idea of emancipating the 16-year-old so he can travel and live alone, and she becomes increasingly anxious about what her future holds.
Release date TBD
Set in 1985, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ follow-up to Güeros stars Gael García Bernal as part of a group of criminals who break into the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City to extract 140 pre-Hispanic pieces from their showcases. While based on the real life heist that shocked the art world back in the 80s, Ruizpalacios has made it clear he’s taken some artistic license, going beyond mere changing the names of those involved to evoke something closer to what Terence Malick achieved with Badlands in terms of a film that’s both real and fictional at the same time.
Release date TBD
Here’s the kind of remake we can get behind. In this summer 2018 release, Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) herself headlines the American take on Miss Bala. That Mexican film focused on a young woman who finds herself hostage to a gang while taking part in the Miss Baja contest. Dealing with the drug trade and offering a stark look into this criminal world across the U.S.-Mexican border, this Cannes film is being remade by Catherine Hardwicke, of thirteen and Twilight fame.
The Queen of Fear
Release date TBD
Eccentric yet lovable Robertina is a celebrated theatre actress whose one-woman show is set to open in a week. Occupied with half-hearted rehearsals, she tries to distract herself from her husband’s unexplained absence, even as her underlying anxieties threaten to overwhelm her. When she discovers a close friend from her past is dying, she doesn’t hesitate to drop everything and fly across the world to visit him one last time. Their bittersweet reunion forces Robertina to re-examine her priorities and the opulent lifestyle she has fashioned for herself. Steeped in subtle absurdist comedy and featuring a remarkable lead performance at its core, The Queen of Fear is unafraid to explore apprehension and theatricality, questioning what it means to unravel in a world that is so tightly wound.
Where Life is Born
Release date TBD
Carlos Reygadas is starring in his next project. Titled Where Life is Born, the flick finds the Mexican director playing Juan, a husband in a couple who have an open relationship. Of course, things get complicated when his wife falls for someone else. And to add to the eerie if playful authentic feel of it all, Reygadas’ real life partner, Natalia Lopez, will play his wife in the film.
Release date TBD
Tati and Renet are high school students who share an instant connection over social media that deepens during a class trip. Their nascent relationship screeches to a halt the next day, though, once Tati discovers that her lost phone has resulted in the leaking of an intimate video to the entire school. Desperate for answers and frustrated at the shaming that ensues, Tati tries to hold her head high even as her resolve threatens to crumble. Simultaneously, Renet grapples with instability at home, where his separated parents vie for control over what is best for their children, and their fragmented parenting starts to take its toll.
Release date TBD
Pedro and Eva arrive at the Vistamar mega-resort to “heal” their lives. Settling into a private villa with their young son, they’re surprised to find another family at the door; a clerical mistake has left them double-booked. The families make do, attending the resort’s time-share seminar and enjoying its pools and activities, and they are catered to by the staff of “leisure experts,” including Andres and Gloria, an estranged, middle-aged couple. While Gloria advances her career, Andres toils in a laundry job, dubious of the resort’s new corporate ownership. As Pedro becomes paranoid that his family is being pried away from him, he and Andres band together to expose the sinister forces at work in the tropical paradise. The film stars Luis Gerardo Méndez (Club de Cuervos), RJ Mitte, Miguel Rodarte, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Montserrat Maranon, and Andrés Almeida.
Release date TBD
Pablo Trapero (The Clan) has recruited Edgar Ramírez and Bérénice Bejo for his latest. As per Variety’s synopsis of the film: “The film sees Bejo’s character, Eugenia, return from Paris to the family’s rural estate, La Quietud, after the father is hospitalized following a stroke. There she reencounters her younger sister, Mia, (Martina Gusmán) and their mother, whom she hasn’t seen in 15 years. Old rancors, resentment, still rankle between the siblings, but their love has survived the geographic distance and is bulwarked by their common trauma by a tragic past and a troubled relationship with their parents.”
Release date TBD
In 1989 Havana, Russian literature professor Malin (Rodrigo Santoro) gets a mysterious note at the university with orders from the government sending him to a local hospital, where he learns he is expected to act as translator between the Cuban doctors and the families of young patients from the Chernobyl disaster. Initially raging against his new role, Malin is forced to stay on, and he eventually becomes deeply devoted to his patients. But while he becomes “king of the kids” at the hospital, his relationships with his pregnant wife and young son suffer. Meanwhile, life around all of them shifts as the “Special Period”—the economic crisis in Cuba that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union—begins. Rooted in the little-known true story of how twenty thousand Chernobyl victims were eventually treated in Cuba, Un Traductor immerses an emotional drama in crisply shot, beautifully realized period detail of Havana in 1989.
We The Animals
Release date TBD
Us three, brothers, kings inseparable. Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood. Their parents (Sheila Vand and Raul Castillo) have a volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over, leaving the boys fending for themselves. As their parents rip at one another, Manny and Joel ultimately harden and grow into versions of their father. With the triumvirate fractured, Jonah—the youngest, the dreamer—becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape. Driven to the edge, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own. With a screenplay by Dan Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar based on the celebrated Justin Torres novel, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by strikingly layered performances from its astounding cast, elements of magical realism, and unbelievable animated sequence
Todos lo saben
Release date TBD
After his last two films won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film (A Separation and The Salesman), eyes were on Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi to see what he’d do next. We’d never have guessed that he’d recruit real-life couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem to shoot a Spanish language thriller about a Spanish woman who returns to her hometown with her Argentinean husband and her family in tow. But, that’s where we’re at. And to offer even more colorful casting for the Spain-set flick is perhaps the most famous Argentinean actor of the moment: Ricardo Darín.
Drawing from hundreds of hours of footage, filmmaker Rudy Valdez shows the aftermath of his sister Cindy’s incarceration for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend—something known, in legal terms, as “the girlfriend problem.” Cindy’s 15-year mandatory sentence is hard on everyone, but for her husband and children, Cindy’s sudden banishment feels like a kind of death that becomes increasingly difficult to grapple with. Valdez’s method of coping with this tragedy is to film his sister’s family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones—moments Cindy herself can no longer share in. But in the midst of this nightmare, Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist. He and his family begin to fight for Cindy’s release during the last months of the Obama administration’s clemency initiative. Whether their attempts will allow Cindy to break free of her draconian sentence becomes the aching question at the core of this riveting and deeply personal portrait of a family in crisis.