We look into the crystal ball and see what to anticipate from the movies of 2019!
It is fair to say that there is still a lot of time left on the cinematic calendar of 2018. With awards season only taking its first yawning breath out of Telluride and Toronto, most moviegoers haven’t even seen Hollywood and indie cinema’s biggest heavy hitters. Still, the summer is over and the air is starting to cool, so we think it is a ripe time to already start planning next year’s harvest and the many possibilities therein.
Obviously there are the big studio blockbusters that feature Iron Mans and Spider-Mans alike, plus the triumphant return of Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s superior version of Diana Prince, but there are also a variety of projects from legendary auteurs like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, and up-and-comers such as Jordan Peele and Robert Eggers, that have us intrigued about a year still filled with possibility. So let us take a look into the crystal ball toward 2019…
Two years ago, you didn’t know you even wanted a shared M. Night Shyamalan universe, and now it seems like one of the coolest prospects imaginable. Fresh off birthing the Shyamalan-aissance at Blumhouse Productions, the eclectic filmmaker is connecting his most recent hit, the wonderfully twisted Split, with one of his earliest psycho-drama successes, Unbreakable. And 18 years after the latter’s premiere, its resurgence could never have been more aptly timed.
When Unbreakable was released, the superhero entertainment it deconstructed was still clinging to the fringes of pop culture, now the obsessions of Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price (aka Mr. Glass) have inherited the Earth. And there’s plenty more for Shyamalan to play with today, including McAvoy’s marvelous performance(s) of upwards of 20 split personalities, and the always welcome Sarah Paulson as an enigmatic psychiatrist trying to figure out why folks obsess so over capes and cowls. Add in Bruce Willis and Anya Taylor-Joy trapped again in their antagonists’ impending house of horrors, and Glass has all the makings of a genuine must-see event in the doldrums of January.
The Lego Movie 2
No one expected The Lego Movie to be as good as it turned out being in 2014, and that was in large part thanks to Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s delightfully warped sense of meta-humor. While the duo is only returning this time as producers and one-third of the writing team, we still have reason to hope it can keep the magic going. The only misstep in WB’s Lego universe has thus far been The Ninjago Movie, and unlike that film or The Lego Batman Movie, the studio has taken its time to get this sequel right. With any luck, Emmet and company will discover that everything is still awesome, including a voice cast that features returning Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Nick Offerman, and newcomers Tiffany Haddish and Margot Robbie… as Harley Quinn. Maybe she can be Harley in a good movie now?
Alita: Battle Angel
James Cameron has had Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita manga in development as a film since 2000, with Cameron himself gung-ho to direct for a while. He long ago abandoned that idea as Avatar took over his life, but stuck resolutely with the property. Cameron is still listed as a producer on the upcoming film, with Robert Rodriguez in the director’s chair and Rosa Salazar (The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) landing the role of Alita (the rest of the cast includes Christoph Waltz, Jackie Earle Haley, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, and Ed Skrein).
Manga has been notoriously hard to translate into American mainstream films (see the recent Ghost in the Shell as an example), and while we are interested to see how Alita is brought to life by Cameron’s formidable effects wizards, this one has a big question mark slapped on it.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
It’s been five years since we lasted visited the kingdom of Berk, and now Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is the chief of the village and doing his best to make it a peaceful utopia for humans and dragons alike. But as you might expect, a new menace threatens their existence and forces Hiccup and his dragon Toothless to go in search of a mythical world. Both of the previous films were box office crowdpleasers and critical hits, so there’s no reason to doubt that writer/director Dean DeBlois (returning from his stint on the second entry) won’t deliver again as the Dragon trilogy comes to a conclusion.
If the post-credits scene at the end of Infinity War was any indication, the fate of half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s population may rest on Captain Marvel’s shoulders. (No pressure, Carol!) We should probably meet her then, right? Well, we don’t have much longer to wait. After more than 10 years, Marvel is making a film headlined by a female superhero, with a woman (directing team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) behind the camera. The MCU prequel film is set in the 1990s (complete with a Blockbuster Video location featured prominently in the trailer) and will follow Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, an Air Force officer with combat experience who develops Thor-level strength, relative invulnerability, energy projection, and the ability to fly. (Who needs a fighter jet?)
Also featuring ’90s-era incarnations of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, Marvel is dusting off the old de-ager to give us some glimpses into characters we already know and love as their younger selves. They will serve as a tie to the already existing MCU while we wait for Carol to become relevant in the MCU’s contemporary storyline.
Captain Marvel is also going heavy on the alien Kree storyline, with Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace coming back to play Kree warriors they originated in Guardians of the Galaxy. Crazy Rich Asians’ Gemma Chan will play Kree spy Minn-Erva, with Jude Law appearing as Dr. Walter Lawson, Carol’s mentor who has his own connection to the Kree.
Jordan Peele is making another film… and it’s a “social-horror thriller” that reunites Peele with Jason Blum’s nightmare-factory. Yeah, we thought you’d be interested. As Peele’s follow-up to the zeitgeist-shattering Get Out, which won Peele’s screenplay an Oscar, interest for Us is instantly magnified. While details are being kept under wraps, we know that the film will star Oscar winning Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), her Black Panther co-star Winston Duke, and Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale). Yeah, we’ll save you a seat.
Where’d You Go Bernadette?
Richard Linklater directs a comedy/drama starring Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, and Laurence Fishburne. That’s reason enough to show up, right? The film is based on a novel about a woman (Blanchett) who disappears shortly before she is due to visit Antarctica with her husband and daughter, with all the ramifications that follow.
Linklater has been on a roll for the past seven years or so—Bernie, Boyhood, Before Midnight, Everybody Wants Some!!, and Last Flag Flying have all been solid films—so there’s no reason to think he won’t continue the hot streak with this one.
When Disney released its animated classic in 1941, live action film was nowhere near technologically capable of telling a story like Dumbo. More than 75 years later, Hollywood may be in a place to pull it off, and it’s placing the opportunity in the hands of hit-or-miss director Tim Burton. There’s no denying that Burton is a talented filmmaker. He has soared to visionary heights in his career with visually stunning, narratively affecting films like Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Batman Returns. But he’s also struggled to connect with audiences in recent years, most notably with 2016’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Alice in Wonderland.
The teaser trailer for Dumbo is goddamn beautiful—and Burton has some in front of the camera help with Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, and Eva Green all taking roles in the live action remake—but we’ll have to wait until March to see if Burton’s vision can be sustained across an entire feature film.
So Rupert Wyatt is finally returning to science fiction after making Rise of the Planet of the Apes with this weird, dystopian hybrid look of our current political nightmare–where things are demonstrably getting worse yet our leaders insist the state is “great!”–with movie monster mayhem. Will it work? Who knows, but it at least looks like a therapuetic way to cinematically scream into the void. Also a cast that includes Vera Farmiga, John Goodman, KiKi Layne, and Alan Tuck can’t hurt.
With one magic word, young Billy Batson (Asher Angel) finds himself imbued with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. The catch? He turns into a grown up superhero (Zachary Levi) when it happens. While director David Sandberg is known for creepier, more violent fare (Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out), the comedic tone of the first Shazam trailerindicates it couldn’t be any further from his earlier work… or the mopey pretensions of earlier DCEU misfires like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Mark Strong also stars as the villainous Dr. Sivana, with Jack Dylan Grazer (It) as Billy’s best friend, Freddie Freeman… a name that should also be familiar to comic book fans.
The Stephen King big screen renaissance continues with Pet Sematary, Paramount’s new adaptation of the 1983 horror novel. It tells the story of the Creed family, who move into a house next to a “pet cemetery” where the kids of Ludlow, Maine bury their dead animals. When the family’s cat is killed in an accident, they bury him in the cemetery, only to discover that the kitty has no interest in staying dead. What seems like a miracle quickly becomes a nightmare for the Creeds…
This remake is directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer and stars Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow.
The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle
It takes a lot of chutzpah to re-adapt a story that is responsible for one of the great flops in Hollywood history. Indeed, most millennials might recognize the name “Doctor Dolittle” and think of a forgettable Eddie Murphy star vehicle from the ‘90s, but in actuality it is based on a popular children’s book series from the 1920s. And 20th Century Fox attempted to turn it into an over-budgeted Rex Harrison vehicle in 1967 that was so bad that it, along with Hello Dolly! a few years later, is credited with both sinking the musical genre and Hollywood studio system as we knew it.
Now Hollywood returns to that well with a star bigger than even post-My Fair Lady Harrison, via post (and current) Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. Decidedly not a musical, this Doctor Dolittle is still an extravaganza with an unusual pedigree from writer-director Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) leading a cast that includes Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Antonio Banderas, and the voices of Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Thompson, Octavia Spencer, Rami Malek, Marion Cotillard, and more. Because no great voyage about talking animals can be complete without celebrity voices!
It is one of the great injustices of recent years that we never got a Hellboy III from Guillermo del Toro. Both of his Hellboy movies are immensely charming, and the second movie is a gorgeous blend of fantasy and horror. But we’ve already warmed up to the reboot thanks to the presence of director Neil Marshall, director of brilliant horror movies like The Descent and Dog Soldiers, as well as plenty of episodes of genre TV favorites like Constantine, Hannibal, and Game of Thrones. David Harbour (Stranger Things) wears the horns this time, in an R-rated adventure that is said to evoke the moodiness of the original comics, and based loosely on Mignola’s “Rise of the Blood Queen” story.
Other than the fact that that this movie is going to make all of the money, what we don’t know about Avengers 4could fill a book or two (although that hasn’t stopped us from speculating). Will the “disappeared” heroes and villains of the MCU return? (Obviously, yes, as Spider-Man has a movie out a few months later!) Will it involve time travel? (Probably.) Will it be 150 minutes of Thanos tending his crops and waxing philosophical about how “balance” also means not planting corn and wheat in the same field in consecutive years? (Um…)
What we do know is that Avengers: Infinity War defied expectations and delivered an adventure that tempered its fan service with a surprising emotional heft (and a genuine gut-punch of an ending). The Russo Brothers return to write and direct what just might be the final adventure for the original Avengers lineup, a movie that will certainly close a chapter of Marvel Cinematic Universe history that now extends over 10 years. Something tells us that at least a few deaths in this one won’t be easily undone.
This surely ranks as one of the oddest movies on tap for 2019. As the first live action film based on the massively popular Pokémon game and media franchise, it stars Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu, an unusually intelligent and perceptive Pokémon creature who partners with a young man named Tim (Justice Smith) to solve a mystery and find Tim’s father. Pikachu will apparently be a completely digital character, but it remains to be seen just how heavily the film draws from the vast lore of the enterprise behind it. Will Pokémon fans alone be enough to make this film a success? The studio (Warner Bros.) is certainly gonna have to catch ‘em all.
The title may have changed, but here is the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. An classic kind of Hollywood story—even when the 1988 original starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine was released—it is the tale of one graceful and high-rolling con artist trying to train (and muscle out) a crassly inept one. The yarn has already been successfully transferred as a musical to Broadway, so reimagining it now is more than fair game, especially after Hathaway proved to be the stealth comedy MVP in similar territory with 2018’s Ocean’s Eight.
The film moves the story from the French Riviera to the UK and features Hathaway as the queen of manipulation, and Wilson as her less skilled but eager pupil/rival. It could be a bland studio comedy, but we have a hunch it might just talk its way into being something special due to its casting.
So after starring alongside Sir Elton John in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Taron Egerton is playing the Crocodile Rock singer in Rocketman. We know what you’re thinking though: musical biopics are a dime a dozen. But did you know that this is a musical biopic fantasy? Which may just be fancy talk of turning Elton John’s songs into an actual musical, but we’re all here for that. Flipping musical biopic formulae on its head, Rocketman looks like a breath of fresh air that is, well, hopefully out of this world. It also features Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, and Jamie Bell.
John Wick 3: Parabellum
While many loved the original John Wick, we preferred the surreal, even more stylized sequel, which featured not just a series of astonishing action set-pieces but drenched them in a nearly psychedelic concoction of color and atmosphere. We also enjoyed the expanded world-building of John’s (Keanu Reeves) strange but somehow orderly universe. So we have high hopes for the third film in the series, which reunites Reeves, director Chad Stahelski and much of the standout cast, along with new faces like Halle Berry and Anjelica Huston. We last saw John on the run, with a global contract out on him. Will he make his escape and finally find the peace he craves? Can’t wait to find out.
Filmmaker James Gray has had a fascinating career of telling stories about individuals driven into the unknown. Sometimes it is a migration story to strange land, a la The Immigrant, and sometimes it is an explorer compelled to find greatness and oblivion by the mystery within himself, as was the case in the vastly underrated The Lost City of Z. Now Gray teams up with Brad Pitt and 20th Century Fox to trace a journey with a more intergalactic bent.
In some ways, Ad Astra sounds like the fascinating alternative to Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. In both films, a father went to the furthest reaches of the solar system (and maybe beyond?) in search of otherworldly life’s fingerprints—and never came back. But 20 years later, Pitt’s Roy McBride also makes that travel to the orbit of Neptune in search of answers and maybe his long thought to be dead father. And given that papa is credited as Tommy Lee Jones, we imagine he’ll find more out there than just stardust.
“Riffraff, street rat, scoundrel, take that!” While these words may at a glance sound like a cynic’s opinion about Disney’s need to constantly remake its classic animated films, they’re also lyrics that we all expect to be included in Guy Ritchie’s redo of the 1992 Disney Renaissance classic. For millennials of a certain age, Aladdin is a childhood staple as defining as The Lion King (which will also be remade only a few months after this!) However, Ritchie’s take looks to be a little less reverent than that film or 2017’s Beauty and the Beast blockbuster.
Ritchie is leaning into his wheelhouse of street-wise kids born on the wrong side of the palace who are clever enough to still come out on top. Like Sherlock Holmes and King Arthur before him, Aladdin will be given a modern sheen through the anachronistic gaze of its director, although it will still be a musical—complete with Princes Jasmine finally getting her own solo. Further it stands poised to launch its Aladdin (Mena Massoud of Jack Ryan) and Naomi Scott’s Princess Jasmine (Power Rangers) into the stratosphere. However, the big question mark around this production will be whether Will Smith can fill the big blue shoes of Robin Williams. Because for adults, it was Williams’ fourth-wall shattering improv as the Genie that placed Aladdin in a whole new world.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
The general complaint about Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla movie was that it moved at a somewhat slow (okay, glacial) pace. Godzilla of course looked great (not like that miserable 1998 movie) but there just wasn’t enough city-stompin’, radiation-breathin’, MUTO-kickin’ madness for some folks. Well, don’t you worry, kaiju fans, because Godzilla: King of the Monsters turns the Toho up to 11, introducing Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidora to WB’s shared Monsterverse. Oh, and we guess there are some humans in this, too, including Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, and Charles Dance. If you’re not already sold, just go watch that stunning trailer again, which gives characters and concepts many of us got to know via MST3K roastings a mythic quality we never expected. Michael Dougherty, who helped bring the seasonal love letter and greatest horror anthology of the modern era, Trick ‘r Treat, to life is writing and directing, so we’re in good, genre-friendly hands.
X-Men: Apocalypse may have had its weaknesses (we don’t blame you, Oscar Isaac), but Jean Grey (Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner) was not one of them. Jean’s arc as the proto-Phoenix, in which she ultimately embraced her power to take out Apocalypse, was organic, subversive, and, save for a shoehorned-in Wolverine cameo, tightly plotted. Turner is slated to continue her turn as the telepathic, telekinetic teen in Dark Phoenix, presumably taking on a much larger role in the franchise and marking a passing of the baton from one X-Men generation to the next.
Older mutants Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) will all be back, as will younger mutants Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). They’ll be facing off in some capacity against Jessica Chastain’s villain, previously reported to be Lilandra, the Empress of the Shi’Ar Empire (though that has yet to be confirmed). Whomever Chastain is playing, with first-time director Simon Kinberg behind the camera, look for a new phase of the X-Men film franchise universe.
Men in Black 4
Well, here’s an irony. In the month before this, Will Smith will be attempting to replace the memory of Robin Williams in one of his signature ‘90s roles, and a scant few weeks later, it will be up to Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson to try to take over the reins of Smith’s biggest ‘90s franchise vehicle: Men in Black. While this currently untitled picture is more of a sequel with new characters than a complete reboot (Sony’s got bad memories of Ghostbusters’ reception, no?), it is still a fresh start for the franchise.
It also stars a winning pair of thespians who already proved they had crackling comic timing and chemistry in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. Indeed, Hemsworth has long attempted to transition into straightahead comedy after appearing in as a scene-stealing background player in everything from Vacation to, well, Ghostbusters. And Thompson is a star on the rise, and one with impeccable taste considering the projects she’s recently signed onto, including Sorry to Bother You, Annihilation, and Ragnarok. Throw in a returning Emma Thompson and always welcome newcomers like Rebecca Ferguson and Liam Neeson, and we have reasons to listen for this little noisy cricket.
Toy Story 4
The Toy Story movies are unequivocally the gold standard in animated franchises. While making sequels to a beloved classic is always tough, each of the Toy Story follow-ups have become classics in their own right, especially Toy Story 3, which benefitted from its 10-year absence, as opposed to suffer from it. Now nine years after that, enters Toy Story 4. Given that Toy Story 3 concluded with what was clearly intended to be a final trilogy closer, it is a bit risky for Pixar to go back to this well. At least creatively; commercially, it will make all the money.
Further Josh Cooley will be making his feature directing debut by stepping into Pixar’s first and arguably most adored toy chest of characters. There are a lot of question marks about it, but all the major voices are back (including the return of Annie Potts as Bo Peep!), so we’re willing to give this the benefit of the doubt and see what happens.
Ford vs. Ferrari
James Mangold’s follow-up to Logan, which for our money might be the finest superhero movie of this decade, reunites him with his 3:10 to Yuma star, Christian Bale. As a true story two-hander, Ford vs. Ferrari jumps back to the 1966 when Henry Ford II decided to take on Ferrari by building one of the definitive American muscle cars, the Ford GT40, for the epic 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Le Mans is a prestigious endurance test in France, and it was up to American engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British driver Ken Miles (Bale) to compete with Italian automotive dominance. The period piece premise and high-stakes racing premise makes this an instant point of interest, as does its cast which in addition to Bale and Damon also features Caitriona Balfe and Jon Bernthal.
All we know about the third film in the Annabelle series–itself a spinoff of James Wan’s ever-growing The Conjuring universe–is that it’s coming out next July, it’s being directed and written by Gary Dauberman (a key writer on all the Conjuring-related movies and both chapters of It), and that a creepy porcelain doll will probably feature heavily in the proceedings. Beyond that, your guess is as good as ours–there’s no cast announced yet and we’re not even sure what the thing will be called. Critics have not been particularly kind to the Annabelle movies but audiences seemed to like them fine, so there’s likely no reason for them to change the formula now.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Homecoming put the “neighborhood” back in “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” And while Avengers: Infinity War expanded Peter Parker’s horizons (among… um… doing other things to him), he’s always most at home in the friendly confines of New York City, right? Right. So of course Far From Home will bring Spidey back to Queens where he can (checks notes)… actually be sent off to London. Well, so much for the neighborhood. Far From Home continues the new Spider-Man movie tradition of focusing on villains who haven’t yet been brought to life on the big screen with Jake Gyllenhaal as a special effects guru gone bad, Mysterio (more on him here). Homecoming director Jon Watts is back, so we expect a similarly bouncy tone this time around, as well as another diverse, comedically literate ensemble cast. But particularly intriguing is the addition of JB Smoove in a lead role. Please… please let him be J. Jonah Jameson.
The Lion King
Lion King may have dropped “Be Prepared” as a song, but it also has Beyonce in its cast as Nala, so we’ll call it even. The Jungle Book’s Jon Favreau is behind the camera for this live-action remake, which will include “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?,” “Hakuna Matata,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” and “Circle of Life.” The impressiveness of the cast doesn’t end at Beyonce. Donald Glover is on board as Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor will play Scar, and James Earl Jones is reprising his role as Mufasa. (I don’t know if my tear ducts can do this again…) Other performers include Alfre Woodard as Sarabi, John Oliver as Zazu, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumba, and Keegan Michael-Key as Kamari.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Supposedly Quentin Tarantino’s penultimate film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood looks the most like a throwback in multiple ways. Featuring some of the same storytelling DNA as Pulp Fiction, this picture returns to a narrative of bizarrely intersecting lives in Los Angeles… but in one that no longer exists. Revisiting to the Hollywood of Tarantino’s youth, the filmmaker embraces the summer of ’69… and how it ended the free love, hippie counterculture of that era just as old school Hollywood was in its death throes.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a faded television star and Brad Pitt as his stunt double as they both look for a new comeback, but what raises the most eyebrows is that DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton is neighbors with Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), the ‘60s bombshell and wife of Roman Polanski who was eight months pregnant when she was brutally murdered by the Charles Manson family. The film risks going to some dark places, yet it likely is not exactly what it appears to be, not least of all because Tate’s sister has given the film and its screenplay her blessing (which she has refused to do for some of 2019’s other grisly “50th anniversary” cash-ins on the Tate murders). This is absolutely one of 2019’s must-see projects.
Much ink has been spilled over whether Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment is doing the better job of pushing the boundaries of the on-screen superhero genre, but the most ambitious work continues to be done by 20th Century Fox. Following the success of the R-rated Western Logan, which was essentially a story about an aging man taking care of his elderly father figure, the X-Men franchise is going full-on horror with New Mutants, hopefully to similarly fantastic results.
Directed by The Fault in Our Stars‘ Josh Boone, New Mutants stars some of the most promising young actors out there—including Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) as Magik, Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) as Wolfsbane, and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) as Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie—as teen mutants locked inside of a psych ward in this loose adaptation of the “Demon Bear Saga.” If the trailer is anything to go by, we’ve yet to see just how truly terrifying mutants can be.
Hobbs and Shaw
Let’s face it: The most interesting element of 2017’s The Fate of the Furious was not the increasingly dour and self-important Vin Diesel, but the rancorous mini-buddy comedy embedded in the film in the form of DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and rogue assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). The undeniable chemistry between two of Hollywood’s leading action/adventure stars seemed to make a spinoff inevitable, although how that will alter the dynamic of the main franchise in the future remains to be seen. For now, we can probably look forward to some hilarious repartee between the Rock and the Dome, not to mention jaw-dropping action courtesy of director David Leitch (Deadpool 2).
It: Chapter Two
The terrors of your childhood never really went away, so why would they for Pennywise survivors? Yep, the Losers Club is back in this second half of Andy Muschietti’s epic adaptation of the Stephen King novel. Whereas that book is split in two crosscutting narratives—a Boomer childhood in the late 1950s and a then-contemporary middle aged horror crisis in the mid-1980s—the filmmakers wisely decided to cut this sprawling yarn over two films: a childhood transitioned to the ‘80s and now a modern adulthood today.
Thus It: Chapter Two continues its story with a real novelty in the horror genre: an A-list cast. Muschietti’s original leading lady, Jessica Chastain, returns as Beverly Marsh all grown-up, and she is being joined by James McAvoy as Bill, Bill Hader as Ritchie, and Xavier Dolan cameoing as new Pennywise mark, Adrian Mellon, among others. Plus, Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, of course. When Pennywise returns from his three-decade nap to begin his slaughter of Derry’s children once more (now more sadistically than ever), the Losers are summoned home from disparate lives to face the boogeyman they all forgot existed. What a tangled web the universe weaves, as gleaned in the first footage of It: Chapter Two we’ve viewed.
Untitled Danny Boyle Project
He may no longer be directing James Bond, but director Danny Boyle still has a 2019 movie in the works, and one that sounds a little more creative too. Working alongside filmmaker Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed Love Actually and About Time, and is here handling the screenwriting duties, this film is currently guarded under a shroud of secrecy. However, we do know that it is a film about the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, if not an out-and-out musical. Given Curtis’ passion for ‘60s rock (see: PirateRadio), this makes Boyle’s vision for that era of Boomer anthems all the more intriguing, as does its star Lily James who just went supernova as the MVP in last July’s Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. The film also stars comedy monarch Kate McKinnon and Blade Runnerbreakout Ana de Armas, so we have a hunch this one might just rock.
Elizabeth Banks steps behind the camera for this adaptation of the iconic 1970s series about three female detectives working for a mysterious billionaire named, you guessed it, Charlie. Here, Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott (Power Rangers), and Ella Balinska star as the eponymous Angels who, in this version, are part of the Townsend Agency, a security and intelligence agency that has teams of Angels around the world.
In addition to directing duty, Banks will play Bosley… but not the film’s only one. Patrick Stewart has also recently been cast as a Bosley in the film’s reimagined world. We were on board with the Charlie’s Angels movie reboot even before Patrick Stewart was cast as Bosley; Sir PatStew is just icing on the cake. (Note: McG, director of the thoroughly enjoyable 2000 and 2003 Charlie’s Angelsfilms, is on board too.)
From the director of The Hangover trilogy and producer Martin Scorsese, get ready for Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. No, you haven’t been huffing Smilex, Warner Bros. is actually rolling the dice on a Joker solo movie. The catch? This one doesn’t take place in the shared DC Extended Universe, and has nothing to do with the version of the character made infamous by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad. Instead Joker is a smaller film, telling how “a man utterly disregarded by society” becomes the Clown Prince of Crime… albeit in a Gotham City that looks remarkably like New York City circa Taxi Driver. If WB can resist the urge to pepper this with too much bat-fan service, and instead play up the psychological horror, Joker could end up being the most pleasant superhero (ahem, supervillain) movie surprise since Deadpool.
A sequel to Zombieland? Who ever thought we’d get that? While the sleeper zombie comedy hit (how often can you write that?) was a surprise darling of 2009, no sequel ever materialized and seemed pretty caput after a so-so television adaptation.
But now, in time for the 10th anniversary, everyone is coming back, including Oscar nominated Jesse Eisenberg, Oscar winning Emma Stone, thrice Oscar nominated Woody Harrelson (it’s been some decade!), Abigail Breslin, and director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The latter pair showed they know that rare alchemy for comedy sequels via Deadpool 2, and just discovering what “Zombie Kill of the Week” is going on 10 years after Tallahassee got his Twinkie should be a joy. (Please, let Twinkies last 10 years… and Bill Murray zombie corpses).
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
If you were born at any point in the ‘80s or early ‘90s, then Are You Afraid of the Dark? is as important a childhood staple as any urban legend. Acting as a tween version of The Twilight Zone, each episode starred a group of the most deadly serious theater kids you’ll ever see (they were Canadian, after all), as they took turns in a cultish ritual with strict bylaws of telling ghost stories around a campfire.
Paramount mining this ‘90s kid property for a nostalgic reboot is smart, as is tapping Gary Dauberman (It, Annabelle) to write the screenplay. However, since its announcement, Dauberman’s focus seemed to switch toward making Annabelle 3 his directorial debut, and no one is now attached to direct this. So we wouldn’t be surprised if it gets bumped to 2020 or later.
Sonic the Hedgehog
2019’s entry into the video game movie sweepstakes is a live action/animation version of the long running Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Could this be the movie that finally breaks the video game movie curse? (No, Ready Player One doesn’t count.) If anyone can do it, it’s Sonic, a character who already has a long and successful history in comics and animation to go along with his pixelated adventures. The good news is that Ben Schwartz will voice Sonic, a perfect match of voice to character if we’ve ever seen one. The bad news is that the insufferable Jim Carrey is Dr. Robotnik, who will presumably be on a quest to make sure animals in Sonic’s world can’t get vaccinated or something. And hey, Deadpool’s Tim Miller is executive producing, so at the very least this will have a sense of humor.
Do we really trust Roland Emmerich to faithfully replicate one of the most decisive battles in the Pacific Theater of World War II after he made a nearly unwatchable hash out of another historical moment with Stonewall and couldn’t even come up with a decent sequel to Independence Day in 20 years? The Battle of Midway was last glamorized in a 1976 epic starring Charlton Heston (it was the second film ever to utilize the theater-shaking Sensurround technology) and no doubt a modern retelling would benefit from all the tools now at filmmakers’ disposal. But Emmerich has proven to be both tone deaf and cinematically inarticulate with several of his most recent films, so we’re hoping this one doesn’t crash and burn either.
Like the Alien and Predator franchises–two other classic sci-fi concepts that served as benchmarks for 1980s action and sci-fi cinema–the Terminator series has been the victim of unabated diminishing returns with nearly every new entry in the series either distorting or bending the continuity beyond recognition and taking it further away from the elegance and dynamism that defined the first film or two. Four years after the last trainwreck, Terminator: Genisys, the T-800 is getting another reboot. But there are some hopeful signs with this one: James Cameron himself took an active hand in developing it after staying away from the franchise for years, Deadpool’s Tim Miller is directing, and Linda Hamilton is returning in her signature role as Sarah Connor. And of course we can never discount the thrill of seeing Arnold at his most iconic as well. We’ll go with “cautiously optimistic” this time around.
Do you want to build a snowman? Because you finally will be able to with the long anticipated sequel to Frozen. Here is the sequel to the biggest animated movie of all-time, yet as it is coming out a full six years after the first one, many of its original core audience who were singing “Let It Go” all year-round are now teenagers. Will it still play as well to them and a new crop of wee ones? Of course it will.
Unlike the many mediocre cash-in Frozen shorts that have been inundating Disney and Pixar’s features, it is reassuring that Walt Disney Animation Studios took its time with this, much like Pixar’s success at making the generations-spanning Toy Story 3. The entire creative team is back, including Jennifer Lee as co-director and writer, Chris Buck in the other director’s chair, and Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez as songwriters. The film also of course includes Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff as the four central characters. This will make a truckload and with any icy luck, be at least in the same ballpark of quality as the cultural touchstone that was the 2013 movie. And if it is, you can be sure in another 15-20 years Disney will be remaking it in live action too.
And $962 million later, you bet your ass there is going to be another Jumanji movie, complete with Dwayne Johnson (in his third film of 2019), Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and director Jake Kasdan all returning, along with two of the previous film’s screenwriters. We know nothing about the plot, except that it will presumably pick up where Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle left off and may (according to rumors) explore the origins of the game itself. Expect more high-concept shenanigans from the cast (the best part of the previous film) and start printing the box office cash now, especially after the last one was one of the biggest industry lessons about blockbusters in years…
Star Wars Episode IX
Episode IX is the culmination of everything Disney has been building up to since purchasing Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars in 2012. Building off of The Last Jedi, Episode IX will continue Rey’s story as she learns more about the Jedi and her mysterious Force abilities. Meanwhile, the First Order is still in power under the leadership of Kylo Ren, who fulfilled his destiny by ridding the galaxy of his master in cold blood.
Directed by J.J. Abrams, who took over from Colin Trevorrow, from a script by himself and Chris Terrio, Episode IX promises to be the biggest Star Wars movie yet, as it brings an end to the Skywalker Saga and perhaps even balance to the Force. The film stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and the late Carrie Fisher, who will return for Episode IX thanks to unused footage shot for The Force Awakens. Billy Dee Williams will also return as the sweet-talking con man, Lando Calrissian.
The musical that was once the longest-running show in Broadway history (until 2016) is getting the feature film treatment, hopefully proving that the muscial movie revival is here to stay for awhile. Based on the T.S. Eliot’s novel Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and written by composed musical theater icon Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Cats is the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles on the night they decide which cat will ascend to “the Heaviside layer” and come back to a new life.
Yeah, it’s kind of weird. But that hasn’t stopped some serious talent from signing on. The King’s Speech and Les Miserables director, Tom Hooper, is directing the film from a screenplay by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall. In front of the camera, Jennifer Hudson, who won in Oscar in 2017 for Dreamgirls, will play Grizabella, which means she gets to sing “Memory.” Other cast signed on include: Taylor Swift, James Corden, and Ian McKellen. Color us intrigued, provided that Hooper has learned filming a musical sequence requires more than leaving the camera at a slanted angle in extreme close-up…
After Lady Bird, we would follow whatever Greta Gerwig made next, however it was still a surprise that she signed on to write and direct the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Having enjoyed a recent BBC/PBS miniseries and at least three major Hollywood adaptations over the decades—including a fairly definitive one in 1994 starring Winona Ryder that was produced by many of the same execs as this project—the deck would seem fairly stacked against this project. However, the more we hear about Gerwig’s approach, the clearer it is that this will be a fresh perspective.
Revisiting the classic American coming-of-age tale of the four March sisters who grew up in a liberal conclave of Massachusetts during the Civil War, Gerwig is eschewing a straightforward retelling of the novel’s plot by focusing on the latter half of the book and its narrative of young women entering the world… especially at a time when the world expected them to get married and stay at home, raising children. This approach recontextualizes the story and has attracted A-list talent across the board, including Lady Bird alums like Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, in addition to Meryl Streep, Florence Pugh, and Emma Watson. The fact that Streep is taking a central role with a character usually relegated to the background—Great Aunt March—suggests this Little Women can find a big way of reinventing a classic.
Call of the Wild
There have been a number of adaptations of Jack London’s classic 1903 novel but this is set to be the first full-length animated version of the story of Buck, the pampered pet who becomes first a mistreated sled dog and then a fierce and primal warrior. Harrison Ford, and Dan Stevens will appear as the primary human characters, John Thornton and Hal, in this hybrid of live action and CGI animation, but it remains to be seen whether director Chris Sanders (The Croods) retains the harshness and violence of London’s story (not to mention the now politically insensitive portrayal of Native Americans).
It’s a strange world indeed when a crime epic directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino–the latter working with Scorsese for the first time ever–finds itself a home with a streaming service like Netflix and not a major Hollywood studio. De Niro (in his ninth collaboration with Scorsese) stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor leader who was heavily involved in the corruption of the Teamsters Union by the mob and claimed to have been the man who killed Jimmy Hoffa. Visual effects needed to make the principals look decades younger in flashbacks have reportedly led the budget to soar to a stunning $175 million, with Netflix betting that these actors directed by this filmmaker, in the genre he’s most known for, will bring in the viewers… and potentially the awards. We admit it: We can’t wait for this one either.
Untitled Noah Baumbach Project
So Noah Baumbach, one of the most interesting voices in indie cinema in the 21st century, is making another Netflix film after the delightful that stars Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, and Ray Liotta. Not much is known other than it tracks an unfolding divorce spread across New York and LA, but we’re already in.
If we are being completely honest, . A perfect distillation of dread, despair, and an incredibly perverse euphoria, it is the rare treat that can have its devilish cake and eat it too, acting as both the most authentic rendering of Puritan superstition ever put onscreen and a modern day fable of feminist liberation. Either way, it was a shocking work that made first-time director Robert Eggers immediately a name to watch going forward.
And so we have: The Lighthouse is Eggers’ sophomore effort that is also a horror film steeped in folklore and mythology, this time of a nautical bent. Starring Willem Dafoe as a lighthouse keeper simply called “Old,” as well as Robert Pattinson as another lighthouse employee we’d wager could be named “Young,” The Lighthouse looks to mine slightly more recent New England campfire tales for its early 20th century setting on the rocky shores of Maine.
Kiwi director/actor/writer Taika Waititi, coming off both the brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople and the delightful Thor: Ragnarok, gets back to his quirkier, more eccentric roots for this oddball World War II comedy about a 10-year-old German boy (newcomer Roman Griffin Davis) who struggles to figure out his place in the world and turns to an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi) for consultation. Yes, it sounds strange and even a little dicey on paper, but Waititi has enough tricks up his sleeve to make us eager for whatever he comes up with next. It doesn’t hurt that Scarlett Johansson is starring either.