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#BizTrends2018: 15 big screen trends

Daniel Dercksen gives his top 15 international and local big screen film trends for the year ahead.

Real-life exploitations

Real-life stories on the big screen this year explore the scandals of an ex-Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game in Molly’s Game; hockey player Eric LeMarque is trapped in a snowstorm in 6 Below; figure skater Tonya Hardin causes uproar in I, Tonya; a filmmaker and underdog’s work ethic is questionable in The Disaster Artist; and Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the years leading up to Queen's legendary appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985.


All The Money In The World follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather to pay the ransom; 15:70 To Paris takes us into the real-life terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris; and 7 Days In Entebbe tells the true story of one of the most daring hostage rescues in history.


Steven Spielberg brings us a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership of the first female publisher of The Washington Post; Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House is a true life spy thriller that looks at the investigation which led them to the Watergate scandal; Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is upended when his mentor dies in Roman J. Israel, Esq; Winston Churchill faces The Darkest Hour, and U.S. Special Forces are sent to Afghanistan right after the September 11 attacks to take down the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies in 12 Strong.

Local trends

South African films strike a personal chord this year with Inxeba (The Wound), an exploration of tradition and sexuality set amid the Xhosa rights of passage into manhood; Raaiselkind investigates the death nine-year-old autistic boy who is found dead in the bath tub; Zulu Wedding pays loving tribute to the richness of African culture; Asinamali looks at the hardship of prison life is told through the experiences of the inmates; Catching Feelings is a dark South African romantic comedy which follows an urbane young academic and his journalist wife as their lives get turned upside down when a celebrated and hedonistic older writer moves into their Johannesburg home with them; Five Fingers For Marseilles is a Western-inspired tale of an outlaw who seeks redemption; Meerkat Maantuig features a fearful young hypochondriac with an overactive imagination; Susters tells of three sisters who reconnect after the death of their mother; and Wonderlus looks at what happens when a wedding ends in shambles and a group of friends and enemies have to piece together what happened the previous night. There’s also Thys En Trix, Nommer 37, Stroomop, and Die Ellen Pakkies Storie.

Trendy gnomes

House gnomes are the only ones who can protect a town in Gnome Alone and the legendary Sherlock Gnomes has to solve the mystery of missing garden gnomes.

Animals in action

A solitary Rottweiler police dog goes undercover in Show Dogs; a military combat dog saves lives in Iraq in Megan Leavey; Peter Rabbit is a mischievous and adventurous hero with attitude; Dinos rebel in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; Isle of Dogs follows a boy's odyssey in search of his dog; and a miniature horse has three days to fulfill his lifelong dream of earning a spot on Santa's team in Elliot: Littlest Reindeer; and Goodbye Christopher Robin explores the creation of Winnie The Pooh.

Love rules

A wife devotes her life to her disabled husband in Breathe; a teenage Italian boy falls in love with an older man in Call Me By Your Name; teenage romance blossoms in Midnight Sun, Everyday, and Ladybird; old couples rekindle their relationships in Hampstead and The Leisure Seeker; a young man falls in love with an older woman in Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool; and Fifty Shades Freed is the third and final installment of the erotic romance between Christian and Anna.

Biblical trends

Rooney Mara plays Mary Magdalene in an authentic and humanistic portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history; and Paul, Apostle Of Christ follows the epic story of the man who went from persecutor of the church to a follower of Christ.

Monster mania

A woman falls under the spell of a mysterious, scaled creature in The Shape Of Water; an evil witch turns a happy family into a Monster Family; Natalie Portman encounters dangerous creatures in Annihilation; Anne Hatheway is drawn to a giant creature in Colossal; and Dracula and his clan return in Hotel Transylvania 3.


Classics get a makeover in Death Wish, Papillon, A Star Is Born, Predator, Scarface, Robin Hood, Mary Queen Of Scots, Halloween and The Grinch.


It’s a bumper year with a feast of sequels: Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Cloverfield Movie, Pacific Rim Uprising, Deadpool 2, Oceans Eight, The Incredibles 2, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, Mission: Impossible 6, Equalizer 2, Johnny English 3, and Jungle Book Origins.

Looking at the past

History is revived in Alpha, where a young hunter finds himself broken and tames a lone wolf during the Ice Age; activist and director Ai Weiwei captures the global refugee crisis in Human Flow; and Early Man is set at the dawn of time.


An American writer and art-lover James Lord is asked by his friend, the world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti to pose for The Final Portrait; and Loving Vincent is an animated drama film about the life of painter Vincent van Gogh.

Superhero worship

Cinephiles need superheroes and this year there’s loads of action with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War (Part I), The New Mutants, Tomb Raider, Ant-Man & The Wasp, Alita: Battle Angel, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Aquaman, and Bumblebee.

Looking to the future

Downsizing imagines what might happen if, as a solution to over-population, scientists discover how to shrink humans to 13 cm; a mysterious astral traveller’s journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe in A Wrinkle In Time, and Ready Player One explores an expansive virtual reality universe.

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About Daniel Dercksen

As a freelance film and theatre journalist for more than 30 years, published playwright and creator of the independent training initiative The Writing Studio, Daniel Dercksen received the number one spot for most popular lifestyle contributor for 2012, 2014 and 2015, and 2nd spot in 2016 on