30 Movies for 2019
Here's a challenge: try to see less than 3 of the Disney movies out this year.
Splitting the upcoming movies into Originals and Sequels/Remakes (and listing them chronologically) it's going to be a close call between the two groups, with Disney likely the real winners, delivering a slew of heavy hitting additions to all of their major subdivisions - from a trifecta of Marvel features to a trio of remakes of their Classic catalogue, with a dusting of Pixar magic, Frozen fever and Star Wars closure to round out a packed year.
Replicas [US Jan]
Keanu Reeves has enjoyed something of a career resurgence almost entirely courtesy of his John Wick franchise, but sci-fi/fantasy - beyond, of course, the first Matrix film - hasn't always been an easy genre for Reeves. Hopefully this likely cautionary tale of a neuroscientist who seeks to bring his family back from a tragic car crash will prove the exception to the rule.
The Favourite [UK 1 January]
The latest curio from The Killing of a Sacred Deer writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos is a power-struggle piece focusing on Olivia Coleman's Queen Anne and her complicated relationships with both Rachel Weisz's scheming long-term lover and confidante and Emma Stone's mischievous newcomer. After Deer and The Lobster, as well as his early, critically acclaimed, Dogtooth, all we can do with Lanthimos' latest is expect the unexpected.Mary, Queen of Scots [UK 18 January]
Continuing the period wars between powerful women, Saoirse Ronan's Mary goes toe-to-toe for control of Scotland with Margot Robbie's Elizabeth I, and after Ronan's Lady Bird and Robbie's I, Tonya, this monumental clash is well worth looking out for, and makes for an intriguing directorial debut from acclaimed theatre director Josie Rourke.
Serenity [US 25 January]
The latest from Locke director Steven Knight was originally scheduled for an early Autumn 2018 release as part of the Sky Original Films brand - promising, after The Hurricane Heist, Anon and Final Score, to be their first bona fide gem - this modern noir mystery goes with the classic premise of the femme fatale who seduces a younger man to kill her husband but feels like it may just have some bigger mystery twists up its sleeve, and is worth watching alone for the dream-teaming of Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway with Diane Lane and Jason Clarke.Green Book [UK 30 January]
Peter Farrelly, most famous for his 'Farrelly Brothers' comedies, makes his solo directorial debut in this potently witty look at the prejudice in the 60s, as Mahershala Ali's pianist is driven around by Viggo Mortensen's bouncer for an eight-week concert tour of the Deep South. Already lapping up critical plaudits on early previews, this looks like it could well be the first 2019 sleeper gem which could hit the shortlist for the best films of the year.
Alita: Battle Angel [UK 6 February]
Taking over James Cameron's project (he wrote it, but was too busy with seventeen Avatar sequels to direct), Sin City's Robert Rodriguez brings this manga to life like nobody else would, blurring the anime line with huge cartoon eyes for his CG-augmented realisation of the titular cyborg character, played by Rosa Salazar, and hopefully delivering on the impressive sci-fi action front with more than just opulent future-tech visuals..The Rhythm Section [UK 22 February]
Based on a series of novels about the spy heroine Stephanie Patrick, and produced by James Bond's EON Productions, The Rhythm Section's tale of a woman who discovers that the plane crash that killed her family was not an accident and decides to adopt the identity of an assassin to find out more could be the start of something special, with Blake Lively - who has proven her survival thriller chops in The Shallows - potentially getting a backdoor entry into her very own Bond/Bourne franchise whilst no one was looking.
Captain Marvel [UK March 8]
Sure, it could be regarded as just another Marvel chapter in their 20 film monolith, and, sure, Wonder Woman has arguably already done the whole solo female superhero outing justice, but there's something momentous about Marvel's first female-driven superhero franchise, with star Brie Larson signed up for a number of entries and likely to make a big impact in this year's Avengers: Endgame. Boasting the now-ubiquitous 80s setting (which is the same as the delayed sequel Wonder Woman '84), complete with Top Gun F-14 Tomcats, Iron Eagle F-15 Eagles and a de-aged Sam Jackson playing a young Nick Fury on the poster, Captain Marvel will likely prove unmissable, not least because it looks like she's going to be headlining Marvel's post-Endgame Avengers Phases.
Us [UK 15 March]
Upcoming writer/director Jordan Peele's eagerly anticipated follow-up to the tremendous Get Out is another horror entry, this time perhaps with a survival edge, as a group of friends - and their families - clash with some strangers at a beach house. Expect tension, twists and more than a little psychological trauma injected into this horror thriller.
Under the Silver Lake [US 19 April]
From A24 Films and David Robert Mitchell, the writer/director of the striking horror gem It Follows, comes this neo-noir murder mystery starring Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough. After his last film, this is sure to garner a lot of attention, and expect striking cinematography, unsettling tones and a superior score courtesy of returning It Follows composer, Disasterpiece.
Ad Astra [US 24 May]
Writer/Director James Gray has unleashed a number of superior noir thrillers, the highlight of which likely has to be the criminally underrated We Own the Night, and here he tackles his first sci-fi outing with the epic Ad Astra, which sees Brad Pitt's astronaut go searching for his father, Tommy Lee Jones, who disappeared on a mission to find alien life on Neptune.Once Upon a Time in Hollywood [UK 26 July]
Tarantino's latest boasts arguably his biggest cast yet, with DiCaprio and Pitt headlining this tale of murder and mania in Hollywood around the time of Charles Manson's killing of Roman Polanski's wife, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Bringing familiar younger incarnations of the likes of Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee and Polanski himself to life with an all-star supporting cast that ranges from Pacino to Dakota Fanning, Damien Lewis to Luke Perry, Scoot McNairy to Timothy Olyphant and James Marsden, as well as Tarantino regulars Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell and Bruce Dern.
Spies in Disguise [US 13 September]
Blue Sky Studios - who have been struggling to find a hit beyond their Ice Age franchise - but who did a tremendous Peanuts adaptation, take the animated short Pigeon: Impossible and adapt it into a full-length feature, with Will Smith voicing a super-spy who has to save the day despite having been transformed into a... pigeon. While we wait for sequels like Bad Boys III and Bright 2, 2019's double-serving of child-friendly offerings (this and Disney's Aladdin remake) may prove his best hits in years.
Knives Out [US 27 November]
After the controversy of The Last Jedi, previously acclaimed writer/director Rian Johnson gets his Knives Out for this mystery crime thriller, with an ensemble cast including Captain America's Chris Evans, The Shape of Water's Michael Shannon, and Daniel Craig, following a delay in production for Bond 25.The Irishman [TBC 2019]
Not just Netflix's most expensive production, but also master auteur Martin Scorsese's most expensive production, putting together what once could have been the ultimate dream team, uniting Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci all in the same film for the first time, The Irishman tells the story of trade union and mob wars in the Hoffa era and could either be the greatest film that many of these have done in a long time, or another miss for Netflix. Fingers crossed for the former.
THE SEQUELS & REMAKES
Glass [UK 18 January]
Nobody saw Split coming, with flagging once-genius director Shyamalan coming full-circle to turn 2000's Unbreakable into the decades-spanning trilogy that nobody knew was even being made. After the tremendous Split, the return of Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson to this unlikely franchise could be a momentous - perhaps even epic, given the rumoured original 3 hour runtime - milestone event. Certainly, it'll likely be the first film in years which audiences are actually going to want to see despite the fact that Bruce Willis is in it.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part [UK 8 February]
Hilariously irreverent, and spawning one of the greatest interpretations of Batman ever, The Lego Movie was great fun for kids and adults alike, working in myriad pop culture references and societal commentary that will fly way above the heads of the children who are enamoured by the primary colour pop of the extravagantly busy affair. This Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic sequel looks unmissable.
Dumbo [UK 29 March]
The first in a trilogy of arguably unnecessary live action remakes of their classic gems (with Sword in the Stone planned for next year, this is the Disney film that Will Smith dropped to do Aladdin instead (the safer bet), with director Tim Burton hoping for a colourfully big hit, and Disney hoping to sweep up the younger crowd whilst everybody else is busy watching their Captain Marvel blockbuster whilst waiting for the next Disney film on the list...Avengers: Endgame [UK 26 April]
The only thing that really kept Avengers: Infinity War back from being the best movie of 2018 was the slight uncertainly as to how things were going to be resolved in 2019's Endgame. With Ant Man & the Wasp hinting at Quantum Realm solutions, and Captain Marvel clearly pipped to come in to save the day, the only disappointment evident so far is the announcement of a Spider-Man sequel to be released just a couple of months after this supposed Endgame (and after the cataclysmic events of Infinity War). Still, this is likely to be one of the best films of 2019, and one of the best superhero movies of all time.
John Wick 3: Parabellum [UK 17 May]
Continuing on from his on-the-run situation in the second film, Keanu Reeves's legendary assassin tries to escape New York with a massive bounty on his head and no friends left to turn to. After the first two, expect this to be bone-crunching and headshot-popping galore, with its returning cast - including Lawrence Fishburne, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick - now supplanted by the likes of Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos, The Raid's own Mad Dog, Yayan Ruhian, and even Anjelica Huston. It may not win any awards, but it'll likely end up being the best action film of the year.
Aladdin [UK 24 May]
Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin sees Will Smith step into the late Robin Williams' shoes as the genie (a tough act to follow), in Guy Ritchie's first Disney feature, and arguably first child-friendly feature, hoping to finally do justice to the original One Thousand and One Nights folk tale.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters [UK 31 May]
Legendary's MonsterVerse - which kickstarted with Gareth 'Monsters' Edwards' 2014 Godzilla reboot and continued with 2017's King Kong reboot, Kong: Skull Island, and which is expected to come to a head with 2020's Godzilla vs. Kong - goes big with its Godzilla sequel, seeing its legendary prehistoric monster clashing with the likes of the giant Pteranodon-like Rodan, the giant moth-like Mothra and the three-headed King Ghidorah dragon.Toy Story 4 [UK 21 June]
Disney/Pixar's benchmark franchise - which arguably had the perfect ending in the third movie - returns for a fourth entry with an all-star cast that now also includes a surprisingly John Wick-like Keanu Reeves. Expect to be holding back tears once again.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix [UK 7 June]
It's been a bumpy ride for 20th Century Fox's Marvel comic book superhero team, whose first entries arguably redefined the whole superhero genre almost two decades ago but whose latest soft reboot series (which was superbly integrated with the older movies courtesy of the time-bending Days of Future Past) has undergone one of the worst entries in their entire 12-film run with Apocalypse. Fingers crossed that their second attempt at adapting the seminal Dark Phoenix saga from the comic books doesn't go down in flames like their first in X-Men III: The Last Stand, and similarly take the whole franchise down with it.
Spider-Man: Far From Home [US 5 July]
After Captain Marvel in March and Avengers: Endgame in April, it's hard to see how audiences would be particularly interested in yet another Marvel entry just a couple of months later, particularly a seventh Spider-Man film (8 if you count Venom, and 11 if you count the Civil War/Avengers team-ups) in 17 years. Worse still, the mere existence of a film featuring one of the primary characters whose fate was in the balance at the end of Infinity War is something of an insult to those wanting to suspend disbelief for the potentially wide reach of Thanos' universe-shattering master plan. All that said, after the likely punishing impact of Endgame, it may well be nice to return to web-slinging fun.
The Lion King [UK 19 July]
The third live action Disney classic remake is arguably going to be the biggest hitter, with the classic Lion King tale getting the Jon Favreau treatment after Disney were so happy with his work on Jungle Book (not to mention kick-starting their entire MCU).Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw [UK 2 August]
Perhaps one of the most fun summer movies of 2019 could well come from a non-Vin Diesel-starring Fast & Furious entry. Sure, Diesel may have almost single-handedly transformed the once low budget - and even practically straight-to-DVD - franchise into a global action blockbuster contender heading towards double-figures in terms of numbers of chapters, but audiences were truly wowed by the clash and chemistry of action superstar heavyweights Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson, with this reteaming likely to prove a great fun outing that may well lead to a blockbuster spin-off franchise of its own.
It: Chapter Two (UK 6 September)
Director Andy Muschietti's sequel to his 2017 Chapter One will conclude his interpretation of the Stephen King book, and, in effect, remake of the memorable 80s TV adaptation, and after such a tremendous child-driven first salvo, it'll be interesting to see if the adult counterparts - with a perfectly chosen Jessica Chastain joining James McAvoy as the biggest players in the piece - will live up to the expectations, and standards, already set.
Frozen 2 [UK 22 November]
A long six years after the 2013 Disney hit redefined the obsessions of a generation of young kids around the world, and they've finally embarked upon a sequel - citing the quest for a worthy story as the reason for the delay. With the primary cast returning, expect this to be the Christmas movie of 2019. Well, at least until Disney's other Christmas movie gets released...Star Wars IX [US 20 December]
Generating some of the most divisive reactions in the entire four-decades-spanning series, The Last Jedi appeared to be the start of the end of Disney's Star Wars steamroller reboot franchise, leading to their first flop with Solo, and no new standalone entries in the works. Following the inauspicious departure of The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, the concluding chapter of this reboot saga sees The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams returning to - for some - save the series and - for others - sail it off into the sunset on a boat of borrowed ideas and safe fan-service. Either way, this one's unlikely to flop, although after the last couple of features it'll take some manner of good word of mouth to see the kind of turning-up-in-droves attendances that even Lucas' flawed prequels commanded.
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