Wednesday, December 5, 2018

My Most Anticipated Films of 2019

2018 has been one of the best years for film in my lifetime, period. So 2019 has a lot to live up to. But, there are a lot of things we know about on the horizon that might just give it a fighting chance. Let's take a look at some of the films I'm most looking forward to in the coming year.

 10. Untitled Men in Black Spin-Off

Despite the details of this film still being pretty sparse, there's still enough here to get me excited. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are out, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson are in. The two Thor Ragnarok alumni are teaming up once again for what appears to be a soft reboot for the Men in Black franchise. With director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) at the helm, keep your eyes on this as more details trickle out.

 9. Pet Sematary

Admittedly, I have somehow never gotten around to watching the original film based on the Stephen King story. The talent behind the camera of this remake thrills me. It is directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, the duo that directed the criminally underseen horror film Starry Eyes in 2014. More exciting for me personally is the writer that penned the script for this take; David Kajganich, who wrote the screenplay for 2018's Suspiria, one of my favorite films of the year. With the combined powers of these three people, I think this remake has the potential to be supremely haunting.

 8. Hellboy

As much as I would have loved for Guillermo Del Toro to have been able to close out a trilogy of Hellboy films, I'm maybe equally as excited for this reboot. This reboot sees Stranger Things' David Harbour donning the horns and sideburns as the titular Hellboy, which is perfect casting, with all  due respect to Ron Perlman. Directing is Neil Marshall, who directed one of the all-time great horror films The Descent, and has directed a lot of television, including some of the most acclaimed episodes of Game of Thrones, Hannibal, and Westworld. The supporting cast is also stacked, featuring Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element), Sasha Lane (The Miseducation of Cameron Post), and Ian McShane (Deadwood, Game of Thrones).

7. Joker

With the exception of maybe Wonder Woman, DC Comics and Warner Bros. have almost exclusively made horrific missteps in their journey to build a successful comic book universe on the silver screen. Perhaps the most egregious misstep of all was allowing director David Ayer and Jared Leto to do...whatever they were going for with The Joker's portrayal in Suicide Squad. But in an interesting move, Warner Bros. announced a standalone Joker film, directed by Todd Phillips, and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime. The film is totally separated from their larger universe of superhero films, and exists in its own bubble. Phillips isn't a director that necessarily instills me with a lot of confidence; he directed The Hangover films and a handful of much less successful comedies. But especially in recent years, we've seen many comedy directors transition to more serious fare and be quite successful. The real selling point here is Joaquin Phoenix, the greatest living actor we have today, portraying The Joker. It's a character so ripe for interesting exploration, and Phoenix can embody the correct sort of psychotic energy that could make this a can't-miss performance next year.

6. Us

This is another project sort of shrouded in mystery as of right now. But it is written and directed by Jordan Peele, and is his first follow-up to Get Out. It will star Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) and Winston Duke (Black Panther). That's more than enough for me.

5. The Nightingale

This film is the long awaited follow-up from director Jennifer Kent, after the runaway success of her debut feature film The Babadook. It follows the story of an Irish female convict named Clare that chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, after he commits a gruesome crime against her family. This one has been screening at select festivals throughout 2018, and will play at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, so hopefully it will finally make it somewhere where I can see it in the coming months.

4. It: Chapter 2

It already feels like so long ago that Pennywise came back to haunt us in the far away land of 2017. But the much anticipated sequel is now just around the corner, picking back up with the Losers' Club as adults, and their second encounter with the Dancing Clown. Director Andy Muschietti returns, as does Bill Skarsgard, reprising his role as Pennywise. It was always going to be a gargantuan task to find adult actors who could successfully measure up to the great young actors that were cast in the first film, but i think they may have done it. Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader play some of the adult versions of the kids. I just can't wait to be horrified all over again.

3. Captain Marvel

It's been a damn long time since I was so genuinely excited about a blockbuster superhero release. The first Marvel superhero film to not only have a female star at its center (Academy Award winner Brie Larson), but to be directed by a woman (Anna Boden, co-directing with Ryan Fleck). Boden and Fleck were the creative force behind the incredible film Half Nelson, that earned Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination in 2006. I have been full on board the Brie Larson train since her hilarious performance in Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and everything she has done since then has only exemplified her greatness. From Short Term 12 and Room, to her side-eye presentation of Casey Affleck's Oscar, to her profound work in empowering women, there is no greater real-life hero to play the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

2. Little Women

Yeah, I bet most people didn't see that coming, and neither did I. Once again, the planets have aligned and blessed us with a totally unimpeachable mix of director and cast. Greta Gerwig's follow up to Lady Bird, and an adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, this new interpretation stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter), Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep , Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Eliza Scanlen (Sharp Objects), and Laura Dern (The Tale). I don't think you could ask for a more prolific cast of women right now, and also Timothee Chalamet.

1. Detective Pikachu

In direct opposition to my typical art house leaning sensibilities, I would be lying to myself if I said anything other than Detective Pikachu was my most anticipated film of 2019. Arguably, there is nothing more formative in my childhood than the presence of Pokemon. And unlike the cool kids that though it was uncool to love the star of the show, Pikachu was always my favorite. And the interesting thing that they've done in this film is give him a little hat.

In all seriousness, I expect Detective Pikachu to be the Paddington of 2019, which is to say a fun, wholesome romp that fills out hearts and gives us a reason to feel good in an otherwise fairly awful time. Ryan Reynolds continues his trend of just incredibly fun roles as the titular Pikachu (what a sentence!). It is also being written by the insanely talented Nicole Perlman, writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, and the upcoming Black Widow film. In all my life, I never thought I'd see a Pokemon movie of this scale, and especially one that rendered the monsters in hyper-realism, and one that does that so well without making them horrifying.


That's the list! Of course, there will be smaller, independent films that pop-up throughout 2019 that I'm sure will be fantastic, but it's hard to get optics on those this far in advance. But, even in their absence, I think there's still a whole lot coming in 2019 to look forward to, and I hope you agree.