Top 20 culture picks
Want to make the most of 2018? We've curated the best new TV, music, theatre, film, books and art for the year ahead.
How’s this for a January blues-buster – welcome to our curated guide to the best film, music, TV, art, books and theatre for the year ahead. There’s an insane amount of exciting stuff going on we’ve painstakingly pared it down to the 20 best cultural moments and events to enliven your 2018. Result? All killer, no filler!
The new spin-off from Ocean’s 11 looks a lot of fun – Ocean’s 8 (out June) is a fully female (hurrah) reboot, with Sandra Bullock playing Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney’s original con Danny Ocean. Light-fingeredness apparently runs in the family, and the action centres around Debbie’s raggle-taggle crew of criminals – including Cate Blanchett, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter – attempting to steal millions of dollars worth of jewellery at the Met Gala ball in New York.
Next up, another lady on the wrong side of the law – Margot Robbie plays disgraced ’90s US figure skating champion Tonya Harding in camp but poignant biopic, I Tonya (out 20 February). Remember her? She’s the charmer who paid someone to break the leg of her rival Nancy Kerrigan in a story that horrified America. Watch out for CJ from The West Wing – aka Allison Janney – unrecognizable as Tonya’s abusive mother.
Meanwhile, fashion fiends will love Phantom Thread (out 2 February) starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a ridiculously charismatic 1950s couturier, loosely based on Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. DDL is known for his method-acting – he learned butchery for The Gangs Of New York and confined himself to a wheelchair for My Left Foot – and for this role he actually learned to make bespoke gowns. He’s apparently retiring after this movie so catch him while you can. And finally, one for the little ‘uns. Pixar’s new movie, Coco (out 19 Jan), is inspired by Mexico’s Day Of The Dead and sees a troubled young boy searching for his late great-great-great grandfather, a famous musician. It’s not as gruesome or scary as it sounds, and the visuals are breathtakingly gorgeous. Just add popcorn.
These days the nearest I get to ocean-faring is a packed P&O ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg but in the early 20th century, travelling by boat was fabulously glamorous and romantic. The V&A’s new exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style (3 Feb- 10 June) celebrates the golden age of the big boats, looking at their design and cultural impact. Exhibits include Goyard luggage once owned by the Duke of Windsor, 1920s bathing suits and a door panel from the first class lounge of the Titanic. Oxford’s Ashmolean museum explores the same era in America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper (23 March – 22 July) in their hotly tipped spring exhibition, with many of the glorious, vibrant Jazz Age paintings featured having never been seen outside of the US before. Finally, for something completely different, I’ll be moonwalking down to the National Portrait Gallery for Michael Jackson: On The Wall (28 June – 21 October). The exhibition marks what would’ve been MJ’s 60th birthday and features artwork inspired by Andy Warhol and Grayson Perry among others. Shamon!
Having watched Christian Slater (swoon) dazzle in Glengarry Glen Ross at The Playhouse over the Christmas hols, I can confirm there’s something very special about seeing a major Hollywood star up close on stage. Enter stage right, Carey Mulligan, star of Suffragette and An Education, in Girls & Boys at the Royal Court (8 February – 17 March). This one-woman play (no pressure, Carey!) charts the disintegration of a woman’s marriage. If that doesn’t sound quite tense enough for you, how about Frozen? No, not that one, rather the story of the disappearance of a 10-year-old child, with monologues from the mother, a serial killer and a psychiatrist. Suranne Jones stars – we’re still scared of her after watching Dr Foster – at Theatre Royal Haymarket from 9 February – 10 March. The darkness continues over at The Old Vic with Mood Music (previews from 21 April), which explores the seamy underbelly of the music industry, with Rhys Ifans playing a music producer. Light relief anyone? You need Flight Of The Conchords! The hilariously hapless New Zealand comedy/musical duo, Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, tour the UK 5 March – 3 April, stopping by at Milton Keynes theatre on 13, 14, 15 March.
Calling all ageing goths! I’ve already booked tickets for the 40th anniversary concert of The Cure on 7 July at Hyde Park. Goldfrapp, Interpol and The Editors provide stellar support at this one-day festival, which is part of the always-ace annual British Summer Time gig series. If Robert Cure and his wonky lipstick don’t float your boat, headliners on other days include Eric Clapton, Michael Bublé and Bruno Mars. Is it time to bring sexy back? I think it is. Fortuitously, Justin Timberlake releases his first album in five years, Man Of The Woods on 2 February, just before he performs during the Superbowl (remember when he caused Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at this event?). We’ll take him over Ed Sheeran any day, thanks. Finally, we’d like to introduce you to Billie Eilish, 2018’s hottest of hotshots. The LA singer is on the longlist of the BBC’s authoritative Sound of 2018 list (previous winners include Adele and Sam Smith). She’s just 15 but writes brooding, brilliant songs about serial killers and bullying – think a mini Lana Del Rey.
One of the most anticipated novels of the year is Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey (out 3 May). Her last one, Elizabeth Is Missing, was the biggest-selling debut of 2015, no less. This new one tackles mother and daughter relationships when Jen’s 15-year-old, Lana, goes missing for four days, before returning unharmed. Or is she? On a different note, it’s always worth listening to what Zadie Smith has to say. Feel Free (out 2 Feb) is her new book of short essays – perfect for those hectic times when you need a book you can briefly dip into – in which she eloquently ponders on everything from Brexit to Bieber. Lastly, a book with the subtitle Memoirs Of A Former Wild Girl is always going to be my kinda book and Love & Troubleby Claire Dederer (out 22 Feb) doesn’t disappoint. Endorsed by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, it finds the 44-year-old writer unpicking her midlife crisis, when she suddenly starts yearning for her misspent youth. I think we could all do with a bit more sex, drugs and rock’n’roll in our lives, right?
Only a lunatic would leave the house at this time of year so let’s pull on our slankets and talk telly. Once you’ve caught up on The Crown, McMafia and The Miniaturist (my Christmas TV highlight, no contest), stand by for a host of televisual treats coming our way. If you loved last year’s The People vs OJ Simpson, which managed to be as accomplished as it was frothy, look out for The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story for more glitzy ’90s celebrity murder mystery fun. (The fashion designer was shot on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion in 1997.) The cast includes Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez and, er, Ricky Martin and it’s on BBC2, date tbc (TV schedulers are notoriously secretive about when shows will start).
Talking of murders (and why are we so obsessed with death on TV, I wonder?), Sharp Objects is a US thriller (HBO/Sky Atlantic, airing in the summer) based on the debut novel by Gillian Flynn, who wrote mega-hit Gone Girl. Amy Adams stars as a troubled journalist who returns to her home town, where a lot of dead bodies are piling up…. And now a blast from the past (with yet more dead bodies, ahem). Having been within licking distance of Christian Slater last week, I rewatched Heathers – remember the 1989 movie about high school cliques that takes a very dark turn? Turns out it’s back on our screens, still called Heathers (Paramount Network, early 2018) but re-imagined as a 10-part drama series, with one of the original cast, Shannen Doherty, turning up in a cameo. I’m officially intrigued. See you on the sofa.
Words: Kerry Potter