Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Preston Barta // Editor
With each new year the moviegoing cycle is reset. It may not always be for the better, but 2017’s titles show a lot of promise.
Here are 10 movies that have me eager for what’s to come in the new year:
Release date: Mar. 10
I may have already seen this film at Fantastic Fest back in September, but let me just say if it were released before 2016 came to a close, I probably would have put this crazy, heartfelt cannibalistic coming-of-age movie at the top of my best of the year list. Now, you can look for it on this year’s best-of.
Release date: Mar. 10
A little over 20 years ago, director Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 127 HOURS) dazzled us with a visionary, kinetic tale of Scottish heroin addicts in TRAINSPOTTING. Come spring, Boyle and his band of weirdos — led by Ewan McGregor — are returning for a new chapter about reconnecting with friends and getting into more trouble.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Release date: May 5
Who knew a Marvel movie with virtually no known characters would be one of the biggest sensations of 2014? But then again, when you have the charming Chris Pratt leading an unlikely team of heroes — including a wisecracking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a dancing tree (Vin Diesel) — why did we ever doubt it? The trailer for VOL. 2 already has us salivating, so of course it’s on this list.
Release date: July 7
Who didn’t love Tom Holland’s rendition of the web-slinger in last year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR? He was so quippy and full of energy — everything that makes Spider-Man fun and great to watch. Although the character is recast every five years or so, Holland seems like the perfect fit for the role. It also helps that he has Marvel Entertainment and Robert Downey Jr. (who’s reprising his role as Iron Man here) to back his talents.
Release date: July 21
All you need is Christopher Nolan’s name on a poster and people come lining up, including myself. Nolan has always had a gift for mixing intelligent storytelling and big-screen spectacle. Most of everything he’s done before has been built in fiction, and now he’s taking on a grounded World War II drama. Color me excited.
BLADE RUNNER 2049
Release date: Oct. 6
Ridley Scott’s original BLADE RUNNER wasn’t quite the success back in 1982. However, since then, the film has reached cult status and has become a sci-fi favorite due to its imaginative, dark view of the future and classic noir touch. Add Ryan Gosling, director Denis Villeneuve (ARRIVAL) and the industry’s best cinematographer, Roger Deakins (SICARIO), in its sequel, and you’ve got something special.
Release date: Nov. 10
Both individual THOR films aren’t the best things to fire out of the Marvel cannon, but the character of Thor has always been one of the most amusing and truly funny characters on the Avengers roster. With kooky New Zealand director Taika Waititi (HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE) calling the shots, this third THOR entry might finally have the home it deserves to be a memorable superhero giant.
STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII
Release date: Dec. 15
THE FORCE AWAKENS jump-started the franchise’s engine again in a big way by giving it the love and nostalgic feeling fans have been wanting since RETURN OF THE JEDI. Thinking about all the lingering questions we were left with at the end of THE FORCE AWAKENS and with Rian Johnson (LOOPER, BREAKING BAD episodes) stepping into the director’s chair this round, EPISODE VIII is one massive “duh, we’re there.”
Release date: TBA
Aaron Sorkin is one of the greatest screenwriters out there, if not the greatest. He has a particular language that is so profound and life-impacting. So anything penned by him is a definite must see. It’s only more fascinating that Sorkin is making his directorial debut and attaching an all-star cast (Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera and Chris O’Dowd).
Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Project
Release date: TBA
Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson reuniting with his THERE WILL BE BlOOD star Daniel Day-Lewis is enough to get any cinephile shaking with anticipation. While there aren’t many details available on their untitled film – other than that it’s about the 1950s fashion scene – Anderson and Day-Lewis are all it takes to have me grinning from ear to ear.
SPLIT (Jan. 20) – our review here
GET OUT (Feb. 24)
LOGAN (Mar. 3)
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Mar. 17)
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (Apr. 14)
WONDER WOMAN (Jun. 2)
BABY DRIVER (Aug. 11)
LOGAN LUCKY (Oct. 13)
DOWNSIZING (Dec. 22)
COLOSSAL (TBA) – our review here