Flavorwire’s 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2019

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All right gang, 2018 is over — whatever the hell that was — so you know what that means: enough with the looking back lists, time for some looking forward lists! To be precise, it’s time to get foamy-mouthed with anticipation over what we have in store for 2019 at the movies, one of the few things in this godforsaken hellscape that hasn’t become a toilet fire over the last couple of years. So here are some of the cinema of the forthcoming year that sounds most promising, based on the personnel involved — a faulty metric, I know, as there’s no way to guess when some unknown of forgotten talent is going to creep up and blow us all away, but, hey, this is what we’ve got to go on so far!

Us

Jordan Peele’s 2017 feature directorial debut Get Out was nothing short of a sensation — a massive commercial success that also garnered near-universal critical praise and four Oscar nominations (and one win, for Peele’s crackerjack screenplay). It seems, at first glance, like he’s playing it safe with his sophomore feature: a return to socially conscious horror, on a modest budget, even slotted into the same low-profile spring release period. But if we learned anything from Get Out, it’s that Mr. Peele loves to surprise us. (March 15)

Little Women

Peele’s fellow first-time Best Screenplay/Director/Picture nominee Greta Gerwig also got right the hell back to work, directing and writing a new screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic. But wait, you’re (maybe) thinking, there’s a perfectly good movie version of that! The Winona Ryder/Claire Danes/Kirsten Dunst one! It’s not even that old! And on one hand, other half of this imagined conversation, you’re correct. And on the other hand, Gerwig has already proven herself a masterful chronicler of the complexity of young womanhood, and, also, she’s cast Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Bob Odenkirk, and Timotheé Chalamet in the damn thing, so we’d like to see what she’ll come up with. (December 25)

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese has been talking about adopting the true story of labor leader and hit man Frank Sheeran (first told in the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt) for so long it seemed like it would never happen, particularly considering the kind of dream Mob movie casting he had in mind: reuniting with Robert De Niro (for the first time since Casino), and reuniting him with Harvey Keitel (for the first time since Taxi Driver), Joe Pesci (who basically retired 20 years ago), and Al Pacino (who’s somehow never been in a Scorsese movie). Given a blank check by Netflix, Scorsese went buck wild, including a massive post-production window to de-age De Niro for flashbacks clear back into the character’s 30s. Will it be worth the wait? Well, if anybody has the capacity to live up to outsized expectations, it’s Martin Scorsese. (TBA)

(Venice Film Festival)

The Nightingale

Australian director Jennifer Kent’s 2014 debut feature The Babadook was one of the most effective horror pictures in recent memory, ably juggling creep-scares and psychological intensity with equal aplomb. She was unsurprisingly courted by big American studios for her sophomore feature, but chose to stick close to home, albeit working on a bigger canvas; this time, she’s telling a story of pursuit and revenge, set in Tasmania circa 1825 (when that Australian state was still a British penal colony). The film’s intensity and aggressiveness caused controversy at the Venice Film Festival last fall, and hurray for that; it will make its U.S. premiere at Sundance later this month. (TBA)

Uncut Gems

For the past two decades, Adam Sandler has been a tough nut to crack. Once his film fame was established, he churned out the laziest possible comic vehicles for his perpetually middle school-aged fans, seemingly for the sole purpose of paid vacations and paychecks for his SNL buddies, resulting in the dire likes of Jack and Jill and The Ridiculous Six . But just when you’re ready to write him off, he’ll turn himself over to a director of genuine talent and skill, and they’ll dig things out of him like Punch Drunk Love, The Meyerowitz Stories, and Funny People. (He’s even great in otherwise bad hired-gun movies like Spanglish and Men, Women, and Children .) So his latest escape from the Happy Madison Correctional Facility is particularly exciting: he’s teamed up with the Safdie brothers, who gave us 2017’s grimy, great Good Time , to play a jeweler in New York’s diamond district who (according to the New York Observer) “must find a way to pay his debts when his merchandise is taken from one of his top sellers and girlfriend.” Lakeith Stanfield (!), Eric Bogosian, Judd Hirsch, and Idina Menzel co-star. (TBA)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Well, this is a tricky one, isn’t it? Quentin Tarantino has always been, at best, a complicated fave, but he did not come out of the Weinstein revelations smelling good. (Like, at all.) On the other hand, he’s tried to make amends and ask for forgiveness, so everyone’s going to have to tend their own garden on this one. And those who want to give him a shot have an awfully intriguing project on the runway: a fictionalized look at the city of dreams circa the Summer of Manson, approaching that story (as Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcast did, memorably) as less of a true-crime tale than a Hollywood story, of thwarted dreams and proximity to stardom. And, as usual, he’s put together a stellar cast, reuniting with Django Unchained’s Leonardo DiCaprio, Inglourious Basterds’ Brad Pitt, Death Proof’s Kurt Russell, and most of his other movies’ Tim Roth. Throw in Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate and Al Pacino in his first Tarantino movie (did Al make a list recently?), and this one could be hard to resist. (August 9)

Knives Out

It’s easy to forget in light of all the “controversy,” but before Rian Johnson reinvigorated (or, if you listen to a handful of particularly loud and dopey “fans,” “ruined”) the Star Wars franchise with The Last Jedi , he was best known for ingenious genre inversions like Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper . And though he’ll return to the Star Wars world soon enough, he took time to get back into his old groove with what Deadline dubs a “contemporary version of the locked door mansion murder mystery,” with a between-Bonds Daniel Craig in the leading role. And the supporting cast is to die for, including Lakeith Stanfield (again!), Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Christopher Plummer. (November 27)

Jojo Rabbit

Much like Johnson, Taika Waititi found himself propelled from cult fave to blockbuster hit-maker with 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, easily the best film in that trilogy (and quite possibly the best Marvel movie to date). That film was so nuts, so improbably funny and uproariously funny and gloriously strange, that it seems like he might actually be able to pull off the dodgy-sounding premise of his latest: he’s writing and directing an adaptation of Christine Leunens’ WWII novel Caging Skies, as well as co-starring as Adolf Hitler (?!), who appears as the imaginary friend of the title character. Jojo is a young recruit into Hitler’s army who discovers his secretly anti-Nazi mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish teen (Leave No Trace’s Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. Also, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Stephen Merchant play Nazis? What is this movie, even?!? Guess we’ll find out! (TBA)

High Flying Bird / The Laundromat

The “one for them, one for me” model is nothing new in Hollywood, but few directors have personified it quite as crisply as Steven Soderbergh, who’s spent his career crafting crowd-pleasers like Erin Brockovich and the Ocean’s movies while filling out his filmography with head-scratchers like Full Frontal and Bubble. (And he’s done a fair number of half-n-halves, like Traffic.) The impressive part is how no matter what the scale, he’s never slumming; his weirdo movies are still goofily entertaining, and his commercial pictures are intelligent and energetic. At any rate, we’re getting one of each this year. Soderbergh made the low-budget sports drama Bird last spring (shooting it, as he did with last year’s Unsane, on an iPhone); it reunites him with The Knick’s André Holland, and will debut at the Slamdance Film Festival (which premiered one of his wonderfully weirdest flicks, Schizopolis) in January before hitting Netflix in February. The streaming service will also handle The Laundromat later this year; it’s a dramatization of the discovery and publication of the Panama Papers, penned by Scott Z. Burns (who wrote Soderbergh’s Contagion, The Informant!, and Side Effects) and starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, David Schwimmer, Jeffrey Wright, Will Forte, and Matthias Schoenaerts. Which will win? In all likelihood, us viewers. (February 8 / TBA)