Features

50 Most Anticipated Films of 2019

The year’s well underway and we’ve gathered our staff to select all the standouts we’re itching to see in theater. 2018 was an incredible year for growing the diversity of films – not only in terms of casting but in the stories we get to tell. 2019 looks to continue progressive trends with a slew of wild high concept experiments and deep historical documents. There’s something for everyone here. Note that there are many, many films released every year. We had to make some deep cuts to bring the list down to 50. So your favorite upcoming film was likely considered and removed, if it’s not presented here, but we’d still love to hear about it anyway in the comments. These are not in any particular ranking or order but represent some of our highest hopes for the next year.

High Life

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High Life. Dir. Claire Denis. Anticipated: April 12, 2019.

Who: Directed by Claire Denis. Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin.

What: Dad & daughter survival story set in deep space.

Why we’re hyped: We’ve watched the latest trailer about a dozen times and have come to the conclusion that it’s good. Damn good. This has cult status written all over it. It evokes such favorable comparison to the great sexuality of Under the Skin (2014). A24 Sci-Fi Sex Films are a thing and we’re all about it. It’s incredibly interesting what kind of potential Claire Denis has with a cast and premise this airtight. We fully anticipate covering this the remainder of the year and will not be surprised when it emerges on our end of year lists.

The Irishman

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The Irishman. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino.

What: Biographical film about a crime family, sourcing dark American history to tell a vivid tale about the seedy underbelly of crime organizations. Derived from Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses” (2004).

Why we’re hyped: It’s in the very real pleasure we experienced writing out Scorsese, Pesci, De Niro, and Pacino, all in the same line. Set to release on Netflix by the year’s end, like last year’s Roma (2018), this is the film that could solidify streaming platforms as not only the alternative, but the signature place to release your film. Silence (2016) proves the master still holds his form and we expect nothing less from The Irishman.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. Anticipated: July 26, 2019.

Who: Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Margot Robbie, Kurt Russel, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning.

What: Hollywood is changing. An out of work Western star and his stunt double navigate the treacherous waters of a late-1960s Helter Skelter Hollywood.

Why we’re hyped: Looking over its dream cast, this is a film where we expect Tarantino to make a definitive genre statement. The idea of the changing West, glamourized forever on the silver screen and now a byproduct of low Hollywood culture, is thoroughly appealing. When Tarantino is at full capacity – as with Django Unchained (2012) and Inglorious Bastards (2009) – he knows how to make a special kind of picture. Nobody else is going to make this film.

The Lighthouse

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The Lighthouse. Dir. Robert Eggers. Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Robert Eggers. Starring William Dafoe, Robert Pattinson.

What: A black-and-white dark horror story about a lighthouse keeper named Old living in coastal main.

Why we’re hyped: One of the best things to come out of last year’s masterful Hereditary (2018), was the reevaluation of The Witch (2015), the stunning debut of Robert Eggers. Here, he returns with a dark horror fantasy. Starring Dafoe and Pattinson, this alone tells us it’s going to be a certain kind of art film. We cannot wait for more on this clear winner.

Little Women

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Little Women. Dir. Greta Gerwig. Anticipated: December 25, 2019.

Who: Directed by Greta Gerwig. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh.

What: Young women grow into adults at the outset of the Civil War.

Why we’re hyped: We like good strong films that mean something. As far as coming-of-age literature goes, Little Women may be the best one. It took some self restraint not to write above that the film’s starring everyone. It is starring all of your favorite people anyway. This is the surest bet of the year and an obvious awards contender. We’re ready to give it our hearts.

Us

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Us. Dir. Jordan Peele. Anticipated: March 22, 2019.

Who: Directed by Jordan Peele. Starring Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Lupita Nyong’o, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker.

What: A family vacation at a beach house is interrupted by their mirror-image nightmare doppelgangers.

Why we’re hyped: Us already has the best trailer for a film this year. Given Peele’s pedigree with Get Out (2017) – which is emerging on all-time best horror lists – we can comfortably situate Us at the top of our list. We have every confidence in this film delivering top-notch horror and biting social commentary. Peele is making horror exciting and new again and we stand behind his work.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Dir. Richard Linklater. March 22, 2019.

Who: Directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig.

What: When a family moves to Seattle, they lose track of their mother.

Why we’re hyped: As a Pacific Northwest based website, we’re incredibly happy for Seattle to be receiving the Linklater treatment. Going by the trailer alone, it plays into the stunning beauty of the city, and especially the Queen Anne neighborhood. It’s also based on a really funny, touching book, and is almost certain to be a winning formula given the assembled cast.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Dir. Marielle Heller. Anticipated: October 18, 2019.

Who: Directed by Marielle Heller. Starring Tom Hanks.

What: Biopic of one of America’s greatest humans and children’s story tellers.

Why we’re hyped: Rarely have we seen better casting than Hanks as Mr. Rogers. It’s damn perfect that the popularly labeled nicest man in show business will capture the nicest man to ever grace television. Last year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) should have come with a standard issue box of tissues with your popcorn and we expect much the same here. We’re all ready for a bit of wholehearted kindness.

Happy Death Day 2U

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Happy Death Day 2U. Dir. Christopher Landon. Anticipated: February 13, 2019.

Who: Directed by Christopher Landon. Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine.

What: Tree must repeat her vicious death cycle.

Why we’re hyped: Groundhog Day (1993) deserves to be a genre. Happy Death Day (2017) knew this well, and that allowed it to be a fun spirited revelation, one of the few good time horror films recently on offer at the cinema. It’s a great formula, allowing true depth for growth. And like the first film’s trailer, the new sample sells itself as poppy fun, while the end product is sure be composed of genuine, cleverly conceived horror.

Velvet Buzzsaw

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Velvet Buzzsaw. Dir. Dan Gilroy. Anticipated: February 1, 2019.

Who: Directed by Dan Gilroy. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, John Malkovich, Billy Magnussen.

What: Greedy art collectors are threatened by supernatural forces restoring karma to the art world.

Why we’re hyped: Jake Gyllenhaal’s reuniting with Nightcrawler (2014) director Dan Gilroy for this absurdist art piece. This is the ideal project for a distributor like Netflix to back. It’s high risk, in that it’s esoteric and weird, hugely likely to attract a cult following. It’s also bankable – people in the know – certainly those who read lists like this and visit fine websites like TheTwinGeeks.com, will feel enlivened by an art film like this. It’s a crucial thing to make. During a time where we feel we need humanity, what we gravely need are genuine and risky expressions of art. Let’s reward people making provocative things.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Dir. Chad Stahelski. Anticipated: May 17, 2019.

Who: Directed by Chad Stahelski. Starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Jason Mantzoukas.

What: John Wick’s a high-valued target for hitmen worldwide.

Why we’re hyped: Please watch this. Now you’re 100% with us. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is the badass of our times, the modern action hero with super slick, well produced films that are a simple good time. Watch as Reeves guns dudes down while riding a horse. Look at all these dogs. Action film of the year? It’s super likely.

Radegund

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Radegund. Dir. Terrence Malick. Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Terrence Malick. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, August Diehl.

What: A conscientious objector refuses to fight for the Nazis.

Why we’re hyped: Apropos of something, Nazi media is back as a national obsession. Terrence Malick has been away for a bit and we’re absolutely ready for him to make a tour-de-force return to the cinema. We’re ready to be thoroughly moved and to shower this film with praise if it lives up to its necessary promise as a historical drama.

Glass

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Glass. Dir. M. Night Shyamalan. Anticipated: January 18, 2019.

Who: Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, James McAvoy [x24], Sarah Paulson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson.

What: Our heroes of the M. Night Shyamalan Twist Universe convene at a mental hospital.

Why we’re hyped: The film will be out at the time of this publication. Likely also with coverage and our corresponding thoughts about it. So let’s have a laugh and call hindsight 20/20. M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000) is arguably his best work, and Split (2016), arguably a fine comeback piece. Glass is his do-or-die film to reinforce a legacy, or to prove right years of doubts about his twisty plotting. These stakes are all the intrigue we need. Please laugh at this bit if none of the above has applied. Update: We’ve since recorded a lively edition of The Twin Geekscast on Glass. Highly recommended for our thoughts on the film.

Grudge

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Original Grudge (2004) pictured. Grude (2019) Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Nicolas Pesce. Starring Andrea Riseborough, Jacki Weaver.

What: A cursed house promises death for all who enter.

Why we’re hyped: We attended Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing at the North Bend Festival last year. It had a good sense of giallo principles and was a stomach-wrenching exploration of violence and abuse. We cannot wait to see what the same director does with his Grudge revamp, which should prove a timeless format for reinvention. Worth noting, this is the twelfth film in the franchise.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Comic-Con poster. Anticipated: March 22, 2019.

Who: Directed by Michael Dougherty. Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins.

What: All your favorite monsters return for a battle royale.

Why we’re hyped: Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah. We’re in for a monster movie mash-up of Godzilla and all his finest combatants. The last entry leaned too heavily on flaccid human drama while early trailers suggest this is a straight-up bash between series favorites. It’s gonna be a damn fun time. Long live King Ghidorah! May his reign be long and terrible.

Jojo Rabbit

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Jojo Rabbit. Dir. Taika Waititi. Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Taika Waititi. Starring Roman Griffin Davis, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi.

What: A young man’s imaginary friend, an ethnically different Adolf Hitler, pushes him toward nationalistic beliefs, just as he finds a young Jewish boy hidden within his own home.

Why we’re hyped: Taika Waititi directing Scarlett Johansson. Also the director has cast himself as Hitler. It’s going to be a thing.

Ford v Ferrari

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Classic Le Mans match-up pictured. Ford v Ferrari Anticipated: June 28, 2019.

Who: Directed by James Mangold. Starring Matt Damon, Christian Bale.

What: Biopic about the great rivalry between Ford and Ferrari. When Ford were blocked from purchasing Ferrari, they took their frustrations out on the track, culminating in a legendary showdown at Le Mans.

Why we’re hyped: One of the great stories in the history of motorsports, this project is ideal for the big screen. An excellent director like Mangold should have no problem mining high-octane shots and great performances out of a promising cast. We’re throwing our favor behind it early and often – we love how this project’s shaping up.

IT: Chapter Two

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IT: Chapter Two. Dir. Andy Muschietti. Anticipated: September 6, 2019.

Who: Directed by Andy Muschietti. Starring James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Skarsgård.

What: Twenty-seven years after the events of the first film, our crew is drawn together once again by a phone call and must face their manifested fears.

Why we’re hyped: The handling of the second chapter could cement the new It as being the definitive experience, beyond the old made-for-TV adaptation. We have good faith that there’s plenty of room left to explore in the adult chapters. Some of the best segments of the book are still left to explore. Given the right treatment, it may also raise the stock of the first chapter.

Star Wars: Episode IX

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Star Wars: Episode IX promotional shot. Anticipated: December 20, 2019.

Who: Directed by J.J. Abrams. Starring Keri Russell, Adam Driver, Richard E. Grant.

What: The finale of the Skywalker saga.

Why we’re hyped: All roads have lead to this. This is end of the Skywalker saga. We’re going to see an all-out galactic war. There’s plenty left to explore between Rey & Ben. With Abrams at the helm once again, we’re looking forward to a conclusion on-par with the very good The Force Awakens (2015). There’s also the matter of The Last Jedi (2017) feeling self-contained and open-ended for expansion.

Blood on the Tracks

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Bob Dylan. Blood on the Tracks Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Luca Guadagnino. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz.

What: Adaptation of Bob Dylan’s classic Blood on the Tracks album.

Why we’re hyped: The Bob Dylan album is perfect for adaptation. There’s a good reason he’s won a Pulitzer Prize, being such a poetic lyricist. We can only imagine this adapting gorgeously on-screen. Especially with Luca Guadagnino backing the project – who’s had a hell of a trajectory from Call Me By Your Name (2017) to Suspiria (2018) to this. Not enough is known to be certain but it feels like a clear victory for all involved.

Under the Silver Lake

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Under the Silver Lake. Dir. David Robert Mitchell. Anticipated: April 19, 2019.

Who: Directed by David Robert Mitchell. Starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace.

What: Guy spots a woman swimming in his apartment pool and goes on a wild chase to find out about her, following a larger thread than he’d ever anticipated.

Why we’re hyped: We’ve been hotly anticipating Under the Silver Lake so long, it feels like it’s subsequently come out, been properly evaluated, and is slowly building up cult appreciation and a fan base watching through nefarious means. This is Prime A24 material. The kind of project that could only come through vision and never through corporate mandates. Add It Follows (2014) director David Robert Mitchell and this thing reeks of year’s best Indie Darling, even though it also feels like last year’s.

The Beach Bum

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The Beach Bum. Dir. Harmony Korine. Anticipated: March 29, 2019.

Who: Directed by Harmony Korine. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher.

What: Stoner rogue lives by his own damn rules.

Why we’re hyped: Harmony Korine makes deep fried absurdist humor. His neon infused aesthetic intertwines with cracked out premises that make the films near impenetrable for criticism. Like The Beach Bum‘s own character, this is such individualistic work, we cannot help but take it on its own terms. If it’s hard to find the social currency of his work – you cannot be ironic on purpose – we might conclude that this is his authentic vision. An A-list cast is now backing his Millennial nightmare fuel. We’re both excited and concerned.

Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel. Dir. Robert Rodriguez. Anticipated: February 14 2019.

Who: Directed by Robert Rodriguez. Starring Rosa Salazar, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly.

What: Steampunk manga adaptation where a bounty hunter goes on a quest to recover her memory.

Why we’re hyped: Robert Rodriguez has been kicking around making things for a long time. It’s felt like it’s been a while since he’s made something for us. While early opinions have been initially mixed, the project has shown great strides in adapting to feedback and becoming something more than a wide-eyed CGI piece. We’re including it under the premise it might be some of the most fun we have early in the year.

High Flying Bird

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High Flying Bird. Dir. Steven Soderbergh. Anticipated: February 8, 2019.

Who: Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring Zazie Beetz, Kyle MacLachlan, Zachary Quinto.

What: A rookie Basketball players and his agent hatch a controversial business plan during a lockout.

Why we’re hyped: Who owns a sport? Good sports films are often about the game inside the game. High Flying Bird looks to be a fun exploration of the business side of basketball. Picked up by Netflix, it’s felt that Soderbergh is due a big hit, and the trailer suggests great potential from an excellent cast. “You think these fools, these rich white dudes, gonna let the sexiest sport fall by the wayside?”

Rocketman

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Rocketman. Dir. Dexter Fletcher. Anticipated: May 31, 2019.

Who: Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Starring Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard.

What: Elton John biopic.

Why we’re hyped: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) felt about as close to being a cultural movement as you can get without being A Star is Born (2018). That film was finished off by Dexter Fletcher, who’s now occupied with a stunning Elton John biopic. What’s so promising here is the unapologetic flamboyance and earned status, a film that will not apologize for the life it documents. Taron Egerton is fine casting as John, too, and we expect Rocketman will achieve what the Queen movie could not, a place in the hearts of critics.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

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The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. Dir. Robert D. Krzykowski. Anticipated: February 8, 2019.

Who: Directed by Robert D. Krzykowski. Starring Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston.

What: The greatest legend that never was. Calvin Barr (Elliot) is a much fabled man, who took down Hitler and has now been called to put his expertise to use hunting the equally fabled Bigfoot.

Why we’re hyped: It’s a film titled The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. Come on. We’re beyond excited, this is going to be a fun little exercise in myth-making. Sam Elliott is built for this role. We’re also give it 100% higher chance of releasing than The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

The Cradle

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The Levelling (2017). Dir. Hope Dickson Leach. The Cradle Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Hope Dickson Leach. Starring Lily Collins, Jack O’Connell.

What: A couple expecting their first baby tracks down the wife’s childhood cradle, on a journey that changes the course of their family’s future.

Why we’re hyped: Hope Dickson Leach made a startling, assured debut with 2017’s The Leveling. It was immediately clear she was a singular type of director, already creating highly refined and well-crafted films from the jump. We expect no different here, with Maniac (2018) creator Patrick Somerville co-writing. While little else is known, these tidbits are all we need to justify our theater seats.

Uncut Gems

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From the directors’ prior film, Good Time (2017). Dir. Safdie Brothers. Uncut Gems Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie. Starring Pom Klementieff, Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield.

What: Unknown gems, also.

Why we’re hyped: Had us at Safdie brothers. The absolutely remarkable Good Time (2017) has sold us on their work. That film, unconventional as it is uncomfortable, spells a long and promising career for a great new directing duo. Adam Sandler starring in their work is the most provocative bit we have now. Could he be rediscovering dramatic roots, something akin to Punch-Drunk Love (2002)? These directors certainly have the chops to get that out of him. And not for nothing but it’s being produced by Martin Scorsese.

The Woman in the Window

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The Woman in the Window. Dir. Joe Wright. Anticipated: October 4, 2019.

Who: Directed by Joe Wright. Starring Amy Adams.

What: An agoraphobic woman lives life through Hitchock pictures and her own rear window. Adapted from the book by A.J. Finn.

Why we’re hyped: We loved last year’s best-selling book of the same name. It’s informed by the legacy of great suspense stories on screen and should utilize that DNA to stunning effect. With a performer like Adams attached, we believe strongly that this will be every bit as compelling and fun as the source material. Joe Wright is also excellent at adaptation, his Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), and Darkest Hour (2017).

The Dead Don’t Die

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Bill Murray serves Wu Tang Clan some coffee. From Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) Dir. Jim Jarmush. The Dead Don’t Die Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Jim Jarmush. Starring Bill Murray.

What: Jim Jarmush directs Bill Murray.

Why we’re hyped: Bill Murray.

Hellboy

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Hellboy. Dir. Neil Marshall. Anticipated: April 12, 2019.

Who: Directed by Neil Marshall. Starring David Harbour, Mila Jovovich.

What: Hellboy returns to fight the Blood Queen, who threatens all of humanity.

Why we’re hyped: Let’s call it cautious optimism. While Guillermo Del Toro is not returning to direct (how did that go for Pacific Rim: Uprising, 2018), we’re still willing to buy into a naturally charismatic character like Hellboy. The story had been that it was going for a Hard R. The recent trailer suggests more of a Marvel-like comedy. Whether or not it’s representative, we’ll be digging out the prior films for coverage and be there for the new picture.

The Lion King

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The Lion King. Dir. Jon Favreau. Anticipated: July 19, 2019.

Who: Directed by Jon Favreau. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogan, Amy Sedaris, Donald Glover.

What: The beloved Animation is remade as live action.

Why we’re hyped: Thanksgiving 2018. In the middle of the Football game, everyone stopped. The sound was vacuumed from the room. Your family, in the dead of the moment, collectively soaked in the rousing themes of The Lion King. Perhaps you even nearly put town your bit of turkey. Everyone paid notice. They will all be going to the theater too. The Lion King is a guaranteed success and a couple of us strongly believe in its merits. From what we’ve been shown, this is a careful and deliberate resurrection of a beloved property. Your family’s reaction is all the proof we needed.

Domino

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Promotional material from De Palma (2015) documentary. Domino Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Brian De Palma. Starring Carice van Houten, Guy Pearce, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

What: The story of a Copenhagen cop in search of redemption.

Why we’re hyped: We’ve all watched the Brian De Palma documentary and are getting thirsty. A De Palma crime film sounds mighty satiating right now. This has all the makings of a good time.

Tolkien

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Tolkien. Dir. Dome Karukoski. Anticipated: May 10, 2019.

Who: Directed by Dome Karukoski. Starring Lily Collins, Mimi Keene, Nicholas Hoult.

What: Explores the years of the favored fantasy author, as an outcast in academia.

Why we’re hyped: Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien is genuinely inspired casting. We loved his parts in last year’s The Favourite (2018) and anticipate another notable turn as the great Tolkien. While a hard part to get right, when an author’s personal status is kept separate from their work, it’ll be a valuable task to show new generations whom their favorite authors were. If it can manage not to Bohemian Rhapsodize its central figure, we may have a clear winner.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Original book artwork. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by André Øvredal. Starring Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Austin Zajur.

What: Popular graphic horror novels are adapted to the screen, inspired by folklore and urban legends.

Why we’re hyped: Long in gestation, this adaptation’s finally taken to filming. It’s had the lasting support and writing involvement of Guillermo del Toro. That blessing is good enough for us. The original source material is evocative, horrifying stuff, and if the film stays close to its inspiration, it could produce plenty of spine-tingling chills.

Pet Semetary

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Pet Semetary. Dir. Kevin Kölsch. Anticipated: April 5, 2019.

Who: Directed by Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer. Starring Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz.

What: Family moves into rural home with a “feature” in the backyard – a cemetery for dead pets.

Why we’re hyped: Sometimes dead is better. But sometimes it’s also worth bringing back a dead thing, like this Stephen King story. It’s good, timeless horror. We love our pets and when they pass, are forever changed by their grief. A good bit of emotional manipulation is twisting that knife and finding another element of fear in it. Affectionately dubbed “Obedient Animal Graveyard” by staff, we’re all in for at least one visit to unbury old memories, and see where we should have left them. Please be better than Pet Sematary II (1992), it needn’t be hard.

Wounds

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Under the Shadow (2016). Dir. Babak Anvari. Wounds Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Babak Anvari. Starring Dakota Johnson, Armie Hammer, Zazie Beetz.

What: New Orleans bartender is haunted after using a cellphone left at the bar.

Why we’re hyped: Under the Shadow (2016) ought to be heralded as a generational horror film. The kind with far-reaching social implications and a will to do something totally new and different. This time Anvari’s blessed with a lovely cast and a great premise. We can’t wait to see what kind of horror is conjured up in his sophomore feature film.

Joker

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Joker. Dir. Todd Phillips. Anticipated: October 4, 2019.

Who: Directed by Todd Phillips. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz.

What: Fallen on hard luck at the stand-up comedy circuits, a performer takes up murder.

Why we’re hyped: After Heath Ledger’s extraordinary turn, this seemed to be the role to get. Nobody exactly wanted it. The first to follow that performance was never going to succeed. With that out of the way, we’re now ready for new interpretations. Joaquin Phoenix is a multidimensional actor. Lynne Ramsay’s brilliant You Were Never Really Here (2018), was our second pick for Film of the Year. Stellar director aside, this nomination came largely due to the strength of Phoenix’s acting, able to get us inside his character’s head, even the darkest parts where we would not like to tread. Giving the same commitment to the Joker could prove something vital and new for a character who’s always deserved an offshoot.

The Best of Enemies

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The Best of Enemies. Dir. Robin Bissel. Anticipated: April 5, 2019.

Who: Directed by Robin Bissell. Starring Sam Rockwell, Taraji P. Henson, Wes Bentley.

What: Civil rights activist squares off against KKK in a battle for integration.

Why we’re hyped: Taraji P. Henson is a remarkable figure in film. She blends wonderfully between comedy and drama and continues to impress. Like with Hidden Figures (2016), we expect this to be a career defining role. What better backup for a strong black woman than Sam Rockwell? Rockwell has excelled too at playing White Middle America. While, for anyone else, playing a KKK member sounds risky, the film sounds worth its weight in social currency. Look, we’re still getting over how well Rockwell transformed into George W. Bush. in Vice (2018). Rockwell would be like a chameleon if chameleons just turned into different racist white dudes. Notably, his most outstanding of the bunch came in his sympathetic white racist in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2017) for which he won an Oscar. We’re watching for a repeat performance.

Midsommar

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Hereditary (2018). Dir. Ari Aster. Midsommar Anticipated: August 9, 2019.

Who: Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Will Poulter, Florence Pugh, William Jackson Harper.

What: Young lovers are on a summer vacation that takes a dark twist.

Why we’re hyped: We’re still shook by last year’s Hereditary (2018). It landed on The Twin Geeks Film of the Year selection and proved that Ari Aster is a name to watch. If this happens to make it by years end, we’ll be there, tensing ourselves into his gifted sense of horror. This is more of a director’s note. We’re following all future projects by Aster very closely.

Knives Out

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Rian Johnson. Knives Out Anticipated: November 27, 2019.

Who: Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans.

What: Modern whodunit.

Why we’re hyped: While our staff remains equally divided on the merits of The Last Jedi (2017), we’re all basically on board for more Rian Johnson. There’s a firm understanding of the cinema in his work and Star Wars only feels like the beginning of a long and storied career. When he directed the greatest episode of modern television, Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias”, it was all over in our hearts. A modern whodunit sounds like the perfect low-pressure showcase for a director about to show us their sense of technique. Features a stunning dream cast on par with the best casting of the year.

Hobbs & Shaw

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Hobbs & Shaw. Dir. David Leitch. Anticipated: July 26, 2019.

Who: Directed by David Leitch. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby.

What: Following The Fate of the Furious (2017), two fan favorites find an unlikely alliance in their own spin-off film.

Why we’re hyped: Here’s the thing: the deal with Fast & Furious is that it casts a wide net. It has a large crew that covers many demographics for good reason. Taking only a slice of that and re-purposing it feels like some kind of “jumping the shark” moment but in a series otherwise full of those, we are not too worried. Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby certainly add their own interesting dynamic. Can’t we just call it Fast & Furious? Dwayne Johnson’s real life cousin and WWE Star Joe Anoa’i (Roman Reigns) has joined the cast, as The Rock’s brother, adding an interesting family dynamic to a series all about family.

Antlers

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Keri Russel. Antlers Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Scott Cooper. Starring Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas.

What: Horror based in Oregon concerning supernatural ancestral forces.

Why we’re hyped: From the director of Crazy Heart (2009) and Hostiles (2017), comes a supernatural horror film with an able cast. There’s tons of potential in Scott Cooper mining the horror genre. Hostiles shows he has a hell of a knack for storytelling and captivating us with American folktales. Let’s see how his filmmaking translates between genres.

Parasite

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Parasite. Dir. Joon-ho Bong. Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Joon-ho Bong. Starring Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-Jeong Cho.

What: Korean family drama; plot unknown.

Why we’re hyped: Joon-ho Bong is one our most talented Korean directors. Work like Snowpiercer (2013) emphasized such a nuanced understanding of form and space and we’re ready for him to return to more serious work after the divisive Okja (2017). Unclear as of yet what the parasite element exactly is – except the director has said it does not involve aliens or odd creatures – which leaves humans as the parasites.

Ad Astra

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Brad Pitt, but in space. Ad Astra Anticipated: May 24, 2019.

Who: Directed by James Gray. Starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga.

What: Man searches the outer reaches of space for his father and the truth about a threat to human life.

Why we’re hyped: Space may not be the final frontier but it’s turned out to be an excellent place for human dramas. In the last decade, we’ve collectively found that something as big as space can reveal everything about the inner turmoil of a man, reducing us into our basest parts, turning our emotions toward our greatest source of optimism and human achievement. Ad Astra pits Brad Pitt into space – and don’t lie, we’re all going to the theater for that.

Serenity

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Serenity. Dir. Steven Knight. Anticipated: January 25, 2019.

Who: Directed by Steven Knight. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane.

What: Fishing boat captain gets drawn out of his depths into a web of deceit by his ex wife.

Why we’re hyped: Serenity may be our greatest hope for the dry early-year season. We’re all about a tense nautical adventure and hope it delivers after the rough waters of several delays. Early trailers promise a riveting thriller that could prove just the right diversion during an empty time of the month. Update: We’ve seen Serenity and it goes well beyond what the trailer suggests. It’s a fascinating genre-bender of a picture. Sure to be widely divisive.

Motherless Brooklyn

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Shooting Motherless Brooklyn. Anticipated: Second half of 2019.

Who: Directed by Edward Norton. Starring Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton.

What: Adapted story of a detective with Tourette Syndrome in 1950s New York.

Why we’re hyped: Edward Norton has been trying to bring this story to screen forever. It’s adapted from the book of the same name by Jonathan Lethem. Flawed detectives always make the greatest noir subjects. And this detective’s awfully flawed, uttering absurd and sacrilegious language that would make Brooklyn’s mother blush. Once we found out what the project was and explored the book, it had to stay on our list.

The Rhythm Section

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The Rhythm Section. Dir. Reed Morano. Anticipated: November 22, 2019.

Who: Directed by Reed Morano. Starring Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown.

What: A woman’s family is killed in a coordinated plane crash. She will have her revenge.

Why we’re hyped: This is a story about grief and the reclamation of the self. There’s plenty to chew on in the book of the same name, by Mark Burnell. It suggests a perfect formula for adaptation, where a woman’s story can breath with cinematic freedom. Dark and plodding, we expect a transformative role for Blake Lively, who’s having a great time with her roles as of late.

Detective Pikachu

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Detective Pikachu. Dir. Rob Letterman. Anticipated: May 10, 2019.

Who: Directed by Rob Letterman. Starring Suki Waterhouse, Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton.

What: A boy befriends a talking Pikachu, whom only he can understand, and they undertake the greatest detective case and adventure of their lives.

Why we’re hyped: The Pokémania of the ’90s may seem to have been subdued but consider this: Pokémon now has its largest userbase and reach through Pokémon Go. Now is the time to strike the social current. So they’re making a detective film? The first live action production in the franchise despite an exhaustive number of entries, this promises to be far more heartwarming and rise well beyond common expectations. Expect a sly Ryan Reynolds – as Pikachu – to make this the surprise crowd-pleaser of 2019.

Toy Story 4

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Toy Story 4. Dir. Josh Cooley. Anticipated: June 21, 2019.

Who: Directed by Josh Cooley. Starring Patricia Arquette, Keanu Reeves, Tom Hanks.

What: A new do-it-yourself doll is added to the toy chest and our friends go on a journey of discovery.

Why we’re hyped: For many, Toy Story was an ideal trilogy. The series is certainly sentimental among our staff. There is a feeling that this is a branch too far. We still have faith in Pixar’s incredible character and world building to save the day. And the early preview trailers are filled with the delight and wonder so often missing from modern animations. The best news is the addition of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key to the voice talent, ensuring the comedy resonates with an entirely new generation. They say to leave childish things behind but sometimes, you can take them with you.

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