Films to Still Get Excited For in 2019
We're in the homestretch towards the end of the year now, and as the big summer blockbusters (wait...oh, that was it?) draw to a close it seems as though every movie news outlet is declaring 2019 to be nothing but a disappointment. Well, whilst original ideas and box-office statistics are plummeting to new lows putting much of the film industry and Hollywood in general into a state of the unknown, I'd argue it's time to remember what still awaits us on screen. Besides, it's not as if a huge monopolising corporation is quickly taking over the medium company by company and ruthlessly ruling over every aspect of entertainment, slowly washing every ounce of individuality out of the films and television shows that dictate our likes and dislikes, putting them into a position of unprecedented power the likes of which we've never seen before. Hoho.
In reality, the best we as audiences can do is support original ideas or hell, any idea you have an interest in. With that in mind I've put together a list of the fifteen films I'm most excited for that are still to be released in 2019. Yes, some of them are remakes/sequels, but the majority proves that original cinema is far from dead. So I implore you, if any of the following films peak your interest go see them in theatres, or support them on home release (or digital if that's how you choose to live your life, I'm still not a fan). Whilst piracy has and always will be a problem in the industry, it's now having to do battle with the saturation of streaming services and studio interference.
I've arranged these films in ascending order depending on how excited I am for them. Why? It's my website I can do what I want (but thank you so much for visiting).
1) Black Christmas (2019)
Directed by Sophia Takal
Written by April Wolfe & Sophia Takal
Based on Black Christmas by A. Roy Moore
I know starting off with the only remake on the list isn't exactly a good sign, but Blumhouse's upcoming Black Christmas remake just might end up being something special. At the moment all we know is the cast (including 28 Weeks Later's Imogen Poots and The Princess Bride/Saw's Cary Elwes) and crew, with the film being surprisingly announced in only June this year. A hasty production for sure, but director Sophia Takal had already proven she can handle horror with Blumhouse's own Into the Dark series, and the studio itself has a reputation for being respectful whilst still pumping out slashers of a certain quality. It just depends whether we're in for another Halloween or not at this point. But we'll find out on Friday 13th December...
2) IT Chapter Two
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Written by Gary Dauberman
Based on IT by Stephen King
The sequel to 2017's smash hit (the highest grossing horror of all time) was always going to be anticipated. Of course it helped that the preceding film managed to nail the perfect combination of 80s comradery and funhouse scares, bolstered by Bill Skarsgård's defining performance as the titular clown that shapeshifts on the fears of its enemies. With the Loser's Club now 27 years older, an ensemble cast including James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader are returning to Derry in order to face off against the clown that haunted them throughout their childhood.
At over two and a half hours, Muschietti's complete IT saga could end up becoming a rare horror epic that appeals to a broad demographic, and if you ask me the world could use some more epic-length horror that feels like a timeless tale. Whether Chapter Two sticks the landing and maintains the fun quality of the original remains to be seen, but it's refreshing to see a film such as this reach the level of publicity usually saved for whatever MARVEL pumps out next. We don't have long to find out either, which is why this one's so low on the list, as the film's released on September 6th.
Directed by Sam Mendes
Written by Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
If there's any film that could potentially match the intense, personal atmosphere that ruled Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk it's Sam Mendes' 1917. Based on the stories told to him by his grandfather Alfred Mendes, 1917 looks to be a heartfelt and breathtaking portrayal of two young British soldiers tasked with warning the battalion at The Battle of Ypres of an oncoming ambush during the First World War. With Mendes recruiting coveted cinematographer Roger Deakins, one of the best in the business, the visuals alone should be worth the ticket price.
But that's not enough, instead a cast including Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch have been tasked with bring the terrors of the trenches to life. With Mendes assured direction, a talented cast and Deakins' gorgeous visuals this could really be something special. But we won't know until the 25th December...
4) Honey Boy
Directed by Alma Har'el
Written by Shia LaBeouf
There's few actors out there who have had as intense a ride as Shia LaBeouf over the past decade. Whether it's his Hollywood dropout 'not famous anymore' stage or his slow climb back to becoming a serious character actor, he's become one of the presences on screen that demands attention no matter what the subject matter is. It just so happens that the subject matter for Amazon's Honey Boy happens to be a doozy.
Written by LaBeouf during his stint at rehab as a way to explore his troubled relationship with his father, Honey Boy could end up being one of the most cathartic film experiences of all time, especially with LaBeouf himself playing the fictionalised version of his father, with the effects of his behaviour having a lasting impact on Lucas Hedges (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Noah Jupe's performance as young Otis Lort (a fictionalised LaBeouf) is already earning praise alongside LaBeouf's screenplay and supporting performance, as well as Har'el's mystical and poetic direction. This could be something really special. It's coming November 8th.
5) Knives Out
Written & Directed by Rian Johnson
Sometimes all you need is a fun romp in a luxurious mansion with an ensemble cast. That's what Rian Johnson's hoping to fulfill with Knives Out, an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery story about a dysfunctional family gathering at their matriarch's 85th birthday, only for him to be murdered under suspicious circumstances. Whilst I'm not huge on murder mysteries in general, the sense of dry wit and sheer joy on the faces of everyone involved seems reason enough to get excited for this one. Let us not forget either, that outside of Star Wars Rian Johnson has been responsible for the bombastic Looper, the idiosyncratic The Brothers Bloom, and the cold depths that resonate in Brick.
Plus, there's the cast which features *sharp intake of breath* Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield and Christopher Plummer among others. This could make picking off characters one by one loads of fun on 27th November.
6) Little Women
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Written by Greta Gerwig & Sarah Polley
Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The eighth (!) film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's seminal coming-of-age novel, focusing on four best friends each trying to leave their own mark on the world as individuals, could have so easily fallen to the wayside had it not been for the sheer talent both in front and behind the camera. Coming straight off the wonderful Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig has now established herself as one of the most exciting directors working today, and Little Women's tale of individuality and empowerment feels tailor-made for her to adapt.
Reuniting Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet is one thing, but hooking in none other than Meryl Streep, Sharp Objects' Eliza Scanlen, Emma Watson, Laura Dern and insanely-quickly-rising-star Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, Midsommar) makes Gerwig and Polley's screenplay feel in the safest of hands. I can't wait to see Gerwig's brand of rebellious dialogue and light melancholy applied to her work here on 25th December.
7) Ad Astra
Directed by James Gray
Written by James Gray & Ethan Gross
Much like war films, every year there seems to be a few operatic space dramas competing for the coveted title of 'best' - though in actuality only one every few years tends to embed itself within the minds of the public. Starring the trustworthy Brad Pitt as an astronaut travels to the edges of the solar system looking for his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who went missing during a previous excursion, Gray stated during production of The Lost City of Z (a wonderful film) that he wished Ad Astra to feature 'the most realistic depiction of space travel that's been put in a movie' and if that doesn't excite/terrify you I don't know what will.
Trailer-wise the film seems to be aiming for the philosophical/emotional heights of something along the lines of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, and whilst it's an admirable goal things are definitely looking promising. This one's arriving on September 20th.
8) Itsy Bitsy
Directed by Micah Gallo
Written by Micah Gallo, Bryan Dick & Jason Alvino
If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I think the world would be a better place if there were more films about giant insects - spiders too. Especially spiders. There's just something so cool and creepy about them already that making them the subject of a horror film just seems to naturally make sense. Therefore this independent horror about an evil entity taking the form of a giant spider to terrorise a family in a disused mansion is...well it's music to my ears.
Not only that, but the trailer seems to show a nice mixture of practical monster effects mixed in with CGI in order to create the scares, and if that's the case, then this may just be the best arachnid-fuelled film since Eight Legged Freaks. This is definitely more of a personal pick, it's by no means going to end up being a masterpiece, but I'll be the first one grabbing hold of a blu ray on August 30th.
9) Uncut Gems
Directed by Josh & Benny Safdie
Written by Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie & Ronald Bronstein
I find it an awful predicament that Adam Sandler can truly act. Because that just means that when he instead insists on pumping out unremarkable rom-com after rom-com it means he's so often doing so to almost punish those fans of Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) and Funny People. However, in what could be a major shake up for the Sandman, he's teamed up with Good Time writer/directors the Safdie Brothers for a crime comedy-drama in which Sandler plays a jeweller who goes in far too over his head.
If the Safdie Brothers can keep up the balancing act of chaos and raw emotional power they wrought up from Robert Pattinson in Good Time, Uncut Gems could allow Sandler to find some awards potential. You know, as long as he doesn't follow it up immediately with another excuse for a nice holiday. Sadly there's no trailer and little information about this film so far, but what we do know is that A24 (all hail A24) will be releasing the film on December 13th.
Directed by Bong Joon-Ho
Written by Bong Joon-Ho & Han Jin-Won
The Host, Snowpiercer & Okja Writer/Director Bong Joon-Ho returns again with a film that has not only been selected for the Academy Awards but has also already won the illustrious Palme d'Or as the Cannes Film Festival. I guess you could say this one's a bit of a shoo-in. Joon-Ho's latest focuses on the class system and how greed changes people, when a lower-class family is offered the chance to start earning more than they've seen before.
Much like Joon-Ho's other work, expect deft tonal shifts, stark humour and moments of utter despair that'll presumably be all wrapped up in the neatest of packages. You can unwrap this one 11th October.
11) Daniel Isn't Real
Direct by Adam Egypt Mortimer
Written by Adam Egypt Mortimer & Brian DeLeeuw
Based on In This Way I was Saved by Brian DeLeeuw
Every now and then I'm guilty of falling for a film yet to be released purely due to the visuals. Luckily for me, last year's pick (Mandy) managed to leave a lasting impression and ended up as one of my favourites of the year. Daniel Isn't Real feels like this year's Mandy. The plot centers on student Luke (Miles Robbins) resurrecting his long-dead imaginary friend Daniel (Patrick Schwarzeneggar) in order to help him cope with a traumatising event. I'm assuming as a horror that things don't quite work out.
From the looks of things, expect some neon-drenched hallucinogenic visuals with a slice of ole' Clive Barker-style body horror. Sounds amazing right? Why yes. Yes it does. And it'll be with us on December 6th.
12) The Lighthouse
Directed by Robert Eggers
Written by Robert & Max Eggers
Another film that's already jumped ship with many critics and audience member's hearts when it premiered not long ago at Cannes, Robert Eggers follow-up directorial effort after his barnstorming (literally) debut The VVitch promises just as much dread and most likely even more atmosphere.
With just Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson to keep us company throughout it's runtime, this black and white horror focuses on themes such as isolation, friendship and temptation. Apparently filming was so brutal that Pattinson considered knocking out Director Robert Eggers...but from word of mouth it seems as though all the hard work and suffering has been worth it. The VVitch may have made him one to watch, but The Lighthouse could make him a genre master. It sets sail October 18th.
13) Jojo Rabbit
Written & Directed by Taika Waititi
Based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens
Jojo Rabbit has already assured itself in the hearts of many just from involvement of beloved New Zealand mastermind Taika Waititi, however it's a premise so good that no matter the director this should be on your watchlist. The film follows a lonely, nationalist German boy during World War Two who discovers, to his horror, that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is actually hiding a rogue Jewish girl in their attic. Together with help from his imaginary friend - an idiotic version of Adolf Hitler played by Waititi himself - he must decide whether to act against his own family or not.
If it's anything like Waititi's previous work expect lots of laughs, stark dry humour and to be suckerpunched in the heart when you least expect it. Of course with a supporting cast that includes Sam Rockwell and Stephen Merchant, there's going to be some darn talented Nazi officers up on screen to sway young Jojo in his decision. We're all counting down the days until October 18th.
14) Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Written by J.J. Abrams & Chris Terrio
Alright listen. I know this is the official closer of the Skywalker saga and that everything has come down to this. Of course I know that, and I'm beyond excited for this film. But...I'm just cautiously excited at the moment. I adored The Last Jedi despite what many think and will continue to stick up for it until my deathbed, and my main concern is any retconning that the film has planned. From the promotional material (which could all be lies of course) there seems to be an element of backtracking and undoing a lot of what made The Last Jedi feel so special, and that's the only reason why it's not my most anticipated film of the year.
On the other hand however, J. J.'s direction is sure to offer up some more jawdropping set pieces and beautiful lightsaber battles. The archived Carrie Fisher footage will have us all weeping at the midnight screening and the potentiality of The Emperor's return could bookend the saga in a worthy way. I'm just holding out hpe for the rug to be pulled from under us on this final trip with the gang through a galaxy far, far away...we set of December 20th.
15) Doctor Sleep
Written & Directed by Mike Flanagan
Based on Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mike Flanagan is the most exciting, consistent and brilliant Director working in horror today. Not only does his work combine the slow, tormented ideology of independent horror with the bombastic set pieces and shocks of mainstream releases but his output thus far has been remarkable. To put him in charge of a sequel to what is (arguably) the greatest horror film of all time (again, arguably) - The Shining by Stanley Kubrick - is a stroke of utter genius, and as far as I'm concerned the only question now is how much I'm going to adore it.
Ewan McGregor plays a grown up Danny Torrance, still haunted by the events at the Overlook Hotel when he encounters another girl with his gift, the gift of 'shine'. Meanwhile Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her band of demonic follows who feast on children with the same power, hone in on Danny and young Abra Stone, and it's up to Danny to face both them and his terrifying past. Whilst Flanagan's currently also pumping out the brilliant Haunting of... anthology series on Netflix, I'd love to see a deeper character study within a horror film - something that Doctor Sleep looks to nail in spades. I can't wait for the world to shine again. This one's here October 30th.
Of course, these are just my most anticipated. Disney's Frozen 2 looks as if it's going full Zelda-esque adventure, and I'm completely down for that if true. Zombieland: Double Tap seeks to prove whether or not all of us have grown out of the dumb, v jokes (something tells me we haven't). Sylvester Stallone continues to bring the gore with a Home Alone-ified version of Rambo in Last Blood. Tom Hanks seems as if he's going to heal all the world's problems when he takes on the role of Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. Dreamworks' next animation Abominable looks like something special if it's able to nail the emotional beats hinted at in its trailer. Christian Bale and Matt Damon are going head to head at the races in Ford vs. Ferrari. Disney will hopefully let Maleficent do something evil and wicked in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Terrence Malick brings his melancholic beauty to World War II with A Hidden Life. Edward Norton plays a tourette's addled detective trying to solve a murder in Motherless Brooklyn. The Director of Mean Creek (Jacob Aaron Estes) takes a stab at a supernatural thriller with Don't Let Go. Bonnie & Clyde get a modern comparison in Queen & Slim, whilst Todd Phillips' Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix looks as if it might be able to go against the grain and provided a traumatising character study of one of the best villains of all time.
There's still so much to see. And in a year where, for the first time, it feels as though cinema is starting to wobble into the realms of uncertainty, it depends upon you -the audience - to voice your likes and dislikes. Or else we're all going to end up watching a streaming platform that pumps out nothing but PG-13 blockbusters designed to do nothing but tick boxes and dry up our imagination.
What? I'm not bitter...
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