Straight up, 2019 was a hell of a year for movies. I mean, even if you include all the absurd accolades Joker is getting, we got Little Women and 1917 and Jojo Rabbit and goddamn Parasite. And in the Also Notable But Not As Good department, we also saw the conclusion to the new Star Wars trilogy (it was terrible) and the Infinity Saga of the MCU (pretty good).
Now the question going into 2020 is what are we going to get to keep the strange going. Disney will continue to play it safe and remake its old animated classics and wreak havoc on in the industry at large, but how about the weirdos. Are we going to get a Cats this year? Or maybe another The Lighthouse? We need to get freaking weird, Hollywood.
(Also, we’re only including films we’ve seen footage of. No need to get hyped over a weird grainy photo from 100 yards away or a ten-word logline. And no, the Wal-Mart commercial with Bill and Ted doesn’t count.)
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
In terms of mainstream releases, this might be the standout. Everyone’s curious as to what Margot Robbie can do with an extant character that she’s clearly passionate about, and now we’re going to find out. It’ll also be nice to see her in a role that tips more towards fun than dramatic (though Harley Quinn does have one hell of a tragic backstory, so who knows).
All indications point to it being an appropriately wild time, which is pretty exciting. It might be a nice kick in the pants for the DCEU to cut completely loose. Let them be the oddballs and let Marvel continue to try to turn movies into comics. (Yes, I meant to say it in that order.)
It hits theatres on February 7, 2020.
I don’t know if I’m looking forward to this as much as I am curious. I’m just so baffled as to why it exists. A remake of 2014’s Force Majeure? Like, why? It’s a great film, came out in the last decade, and already full of white people. Is America so averse to subtitles that it needs this?
The answer, obviously and unfortunately, is yes. It also seems that it’s not very good. The reviews from Sundance have come in and it seems that Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have cobbled together a remarkably mediocre film. The cast deserves better. As does the original film. Just go see that, y’all.
It comes out on February 14, 2020.
Another thorough curiosity. I’m fully on board for more Anya Taylor-Joy ever since The Witch and Thoroughbreds. That’s not the question. The question instead is if director Autumn de Wilde and writer Eleanor Catton are up to the task of translate Jane Austen’s novel of the same name to the big screen.
Catton is an established (and incredibly successful) novelist who hasn’t had a screenplay produced before. And de Wilde hasn’t directed a full-on feature before, though plenty of shorts. I mean, undoubtedly they know what they’re doing, but I am hoping that their first-timer statuses allow them to get really buck-wild with the source material. That’d be the best outcome.
Look for it on February 21, 2020.
Guns Akimbo already hit the Toronto International Film Festival where it did…fine. Some people really liked it, apparently. But really, I just need to know for myself. I’m so completely fascinated by actors that don’t have to act anymore. People that became filthy rich from a single franchise and now they can get nuts. (See: Robert Pattinson.)
So yes, an eccentric, dingy action movie with Harry Potter and Sam Weaving (who, after Ready or Not, should be in more things) is right up my alley. The only thing that could be better is if he was in a movie about a farting corpse.
It hits theatres on March 5, 2020.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Fuckin’ cowards. They should have kept Nightmare Sonic. Bowing to the overwhelmingly loud rabble of the Internet is an insane move. The Internet is only ever overwhelmingly loud. That what it does. Never listen to it.
This could have been the Cats of 2020. God, I wish it was. It makes me think of what writer Anthony Oliveira said yesterday about manufacturing reaction. “You cannot fake chaos; you must risk ugliness.” (See also what someone said about working on the Gritty launch.)
It releases on February 14, 2020.
This finally feels like a Disney remake that feels almost interesting. It’s a hard turn away from the animated version, something that categorically can’t be said for releases like Dumbo and The Lion King and Aladdin. It might actually have something—the smallest, tiniest thing but a thing nonetheless—to say.
Or, it might be Disney sanitizing their history of offenses. These remakes are a chance to monetize modern sensibilities while ignoring their unmarketable trespasses. You don’t see them addressing those crows in Dumbo, do you? (Lindsey Ellis has an excellent video on the subject). They’ve similarly excised the entirety of the exceptionally problematic Mushu, too. But I guess we’ll see soon enough.
Check it out on March 27, 2020.
A Quiet Place Part II
The general attitude toward 2018’s A Quiet Place has taken a sort of turn of late. I still think it’s a mighty fine experiment in tension and expectations, even if it is hilariously heavy-handed in many regards. So seeing John Krasinski get another crack at it is an intriguing proposition.
Hopefully, he has some ideas he didn’t use up last time, and hopefully, his cowriters weren’t the ones coming up with all of them. (He’s going full solo writer/director on this one.) But let’s see if he’s learned anything in the intervening years about subtly and nuance. Or are we going to get another whiteboard with WEAKNESSES?!?! written on it.
It comes out on March 20, 2020.
The New Mutants
Dark Phoenix was a failure on so many fronts, not least of all because it leaves us with a bad X-Men taste going into a film that has already been delayed three times. Three times! Not to read into that, but that rarely means anything good is happening.
And that’s a shame because the idea of a horror film in the X-Men world is goddamn terrific. We need more genre films in mainstream series. Let creators indulge in working outside the bounds of audience expectations. The truly scary part is that we have no idea if the version we’ll be seeing is the one with the more terrifying bits.
It will (finally) release on April 3, 2020.
No Time to Die
Listen, okay, it’s Daniel Craig, one of the most successful runs of the character. It’s Cary Fukunaga, one of the most exciting filmmakers working right now. And it has Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a co-writer, who just has an incredible eye for impactful and efficient dialogue. This movie has everything going for it.
Plus you throw in some acting heat with Rami Malek and Ana de Armas, joining returning faces like Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Léa Seydoux, and Christoph Waltz. It’s an absolutely bonkers cast. Gosh, I hope this is good.
It hits theatres on April 10, 2020.
Still kind of weird to me that this is an outright action movie. The character always lent herself more to a subdued, psychological bent. But that was Red Sparrow, and that was terrible. Also, this is Disney, and action is safe.
But this does have a terrific cast. As long as you can look past Scarlett Johansson’s penchant for being an absolute idiot that loves to reinforce a racist system, there’s Rachel Weisz amidst her comeback tour, David Harbour going full David Harbour, and Florence Pugh coming off of an unbelievable year. So, maybe there’s hope.
It comes out on May 1, 2020.
All you need to know is that REDACTED is back.
Look for it on May 22, 2020.
There’s only room enough for one Pixar movie on this list, and it’s not the one that looks like a tired Dreamworks vehicle for the Hollywood Chris that belongs to a bigoted and discriminatory church. Also, this just looks good. More stories involving jazz, please.
It is kind hilarious, though, how clear the calculus is that led Pixar from Up, a story about fulfilling a long-dead dream; Inside Out with its conceit focusing on the complex interactions and manifestations of emotions; and Coco, a movie that heavily features a physical representation of the afterlife. It’s like they just asked hey, why not all of them at once.
It releases on June 19, 2020.
Top Gun: Maverick
I mean, what else is there to say. It’s obvious at this point that the world’s most famous Scientologist just knows how to produce compelling action. Somewhere deep in his bones, he knows the closer he edges to that woodchipper, the better the shots can be, and put in the hands of a Christopher McQuarrie or, in this case, a Joseph Kosinski, you get stunning results.
It’s fascinating just how well Kosinski fits the bill here, actually. We already know he can do exactly what’s needed: retrofit a timeless, classic bit of nostalgic aesthetic into a modern tableau. He did precisely that for Tron: Legacy, after all. But now it’ll be interesting to see how he does with physical shooting instead of post-production.
It hits theatres on June 26, 2020.
Wonder Woman 1984
We’ve all got a lot of questions, quite frankly. Like, why are the 80s such a hot destination for media nowadays? Didn’t people look at it as a backward decade of gross aesthetics and sensibilities? Does she ride lightning at the end there? How does Pedro Pascal look simultaneously slimy and hunky? Oh, also, how is Steve Trevor back?
And honestly, I’ve very into finding out the answers to all of these. I would love to know what else director Patty Jenkins has up her sleeves for this character. The first one had one of the best sequences of any movie that year. It’ll be interesting, though, to see what effects bringing the screenwriter of 2005’s Doom and 2010’s The Expendables does to it. Hmm.
Look for it on June 5, 2020.
As much as this looks like an ideal sort of carefree summer romp with some of the hottest actors out there right now, this trailer only makes me mad. And sad. I’ve been kicking around this idea since high school. I’ve obsessed with the idea of stories that no one hears ever since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
But that’s beside the point, I guess. No one wants to hear about my failings right now. (Unless… you do? Anyone a producer out there? I mean haha just kidding. Unless…) It’s written by one of the most consistent blockbuster screenwriters out there (so long as he’s not being held back by a terrible co-writer), but I’m not sold on Shawn Levy, even after his extensive career of doing exactly this thing. Let him do another Real Steel already, you cowards.
Expect it to release on July 3, 2020.
Really, who the fuck can tell what’s happening. All I know is John David Washington is an incredible actor, Elizabeth Debicki needs more roles, and Christopher Nolan definitely has a clock fetish.
Also, I guess, there’s an organization that sends agents back through time to prevent World War III.
It releases on July 17, 2020.
The King’s Man
Ralph Fiennes doing action is all well and good, but we all know what we really want: Colin Firth doing more action. Obviously, with Matthew Vaughn behind the wheel, it’ll look good, but having Harry Bright punch someone in the face is so much more fun than Amon Göth doing the same thing. But at least we’re getting Stanley Tucci, so that’s something.
I’m also hard-pressed to think of something more indicative of Vaughn’s preference of aesthetic over substance than using Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” in a trailer for a movie that glorifies violence during wartime just because it’s metal as fuck and fits the action.
It’s slated for release on September 18, 2020.