We won’t be done debating the best and worst of 2017 in popular culture until the Oscars on March 4, and maybe even not then: After all, we’ll have at least one news cycle of debating whether the Academy got it right. But pop culture doesn’t pause with the dawn of a new year, and I’m already well into the process of being excited for 2018. Here are 10 of the new shows, books and movies that have already earned a spot on my calendar. I’d love to know what’s got you full of anticipation.
1. “The Chi”: I’ve loved Lena Waithe’s writing and acting on “Master of None,” even when I haven’t loved the show as a whole, and I’ve been following her as far back as her writing for “Bones.” So I anticipate with particular pleasure seeing what she does now that she’s got her own show, particularly “The Chi,” which is set in her hometown of Chicago. Early glimpses of the footage suggest that it’s going to look gorgeous, too: It’s exactly what I’m craving in the middle of this cold winter.
2. “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”: I’ve written before that showrunner Ryan Murphy is basically the Ken Burns of camp: a hard-working auteur with a unifying theory of America intent on tackling different aspects and eras of our culture and politics. His latest adventure explores crime, homophobia, fashion, HIV and Miami. Whether you like it may depend on how much time you’re comfortable spending in the mind of serial killer Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss), but Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz and Ricky Martin are wonderful as, respectively, Gianni Versace, his sister Donatella and Antonio D’Amico, too.
3. “Black Panther”: Yeah, yeah, I had a kind of grumpy 2017 when it came to superheroes. But I can’t resist the prospect of seeing the fictional nation of Wakanda on the biggest screen possible. And I would follow director Ryan Coogler into literally any movie.
4. “Sharp: The Women Who Made An Art of Having An Opinion,” by Michelle Dean: I’ve been reading this intellectual history of writers ranging from Susan Sontag to Nora Ephron with tremendous pleasure. At a moment when women’s voices have sparked a major movement and a reevaluation of American workplace culture and sexual norms, it’s useful to step back and see the ways other women found to make themselves heard, and to reacquaint ourselves with the different styles and traditions they embraced. The response to the Trump era and to #MeToo will inevitably be fractious and probably even contentious among women ourselves. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
5. “The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America,” by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois: There are few plays that have affected me more deeply than Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.” I absolutely cannot wait to dive into Butler and Kois’s oral history.
6. “Chappaquiddick”: The first trailer for John Curran’s exploration of Mary Jo Kopechne’s death and Ted Kennedy’s (Jason Clarke) attempts to save his freedom and his political career is out, and it’s suitably lacerating. Part of reckoning with sexual harassment and the long-term tolerance of misbehavior by prominent men, especially those who championed women in other areas of their lives, is looking at what we excused in the past. “Chappaquiddick” looks like it will make a significant, and uncomfortable, contribution to that conversation:
7. “The Female Persuasion,” by Meg Wolitzer: Wolitzer is another one of those artists where I don’t even have to think for a moment about the subject of her work or whether I’m interested in a particular scenario: I’m just automatically in. Knowing that “The Female Persuasion” is, in part, about the influence one generation of feminists on another is just further inducement to dive in.
8. “Annihilation”: Director Alex Garland, plus a cast that includes Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, in a movie based on a novel that was clearly crying out to be an overwhelming visual experience. Do you even have to ask? 2017 didn’t give us enough genuinely weird-feeling science fiction. I’m looking forward to getting truly lost in “Annihilation.”
9. “A Wrinkle In Time”: I always feel a certain amount of trepidation about adaptations of books that struck me hard as a child; reading is such a private experience, especially when you’re young, that it can be hard to imagine that anyone else saw the words on the page in precisely the same way when they read them. But I am so delighted that Ava DuVernay is getting to execute this passion project on such a large scale, and with such an utterly delightful cast, including Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine (the best Chris), Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Peña and Bellamy Young. If there’s a crew I’d be happy to have compete with one of my oldest and most intense cultural memories, it’s this one.
10. “Ocean’s 8”: Sometimes, you just need to get a group of ridiculously well-dressed ladies together to steal some extremely extravagant jewelry from the Met Ball, okay? “Ocean’s 8” is scheduled to come out halfway through 2018, as if the powers that be in Hollywood know that they’re going to owe us a couple of hours of fabulous catharsis. I’m already counting the days: