Let’s face it 2019 is the year of Disney. 2019 sees the release of following Disney movies – Captain Marvel, Dumbo, Avengers: End Game, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Artemis Fowl, Frozen 2, Star Wars Episode 9. I can see 3 or 4 of them breaking the $1,000,000,000 barrier with Toy Story, Avengers: End Game (Captain Marvel is a dark horse for that billion dollars), Frozen, Star Wars being the most likely to smash that barrier.
There’s also a bucket load of sequels outside the Disney monopoly. You have the third or fourth film for the John Wick, Men in Black and How to Train Your Dragon franchises as well as an utterly needless and totally oblivious to irony sequel to Happy Death Day (it would be ironic is this franchise started repeating itself). There is also a sequel to the Lego Movie, 47 Meters Down, Zombieland and I.T to look forward to.
Like every year we have the “huhs?” and the “whys?”. The first “huh?” is the Guy Ritchie adapted Aladdin. I’m not sure what Disney producers added Aladdin with to get the result Guy Ritchie but that’s what the result was. I don’t think it’ll work. The “whys?” are taken up by a remake of an American remake of a Japanese film (The Grudge) but the biggest gripe is the utterly redundant remake of the French heartfelt drama The Intouchables with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in the lead roles. Ugly Dolls also looks awful and that cast list of pop singers and R&B artists promises a hellish experience.
But we’re not here to talk about them or any of the Disney movies. This may surprise you but there are other movies released next year which, more likely than not, will be better movies. There’s a new film from Get Out director Jordan Peele, Sam Mendes is making a World War One movie and there is a new Martin Scorsese gangster epic (don't forget Quentin Tarantino's new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). I don’t mean to be dismissive of these Disney movies, but everyone would have already included them in their lists so I tried to be a bit different.
So, in no particular order, here are 10 movies I am excited for in 2019.
Robert Eggers The Witch was one of the best horror movies of the 21st century. It’s slow and measured pace built the tension and it offered a fascinating look into a family unit torn apart by false accusations of witchcraft. Eggers’ follows The Witch with The Lighthouse, a dark fantasy horror film shot in black and white. Only two cast members are reported to have joined the project and they are Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.
I loved James Gray’s The Lost City of Z as it harked by to the classic, epic adventure stories of David Lean. His next feature seems even more epic as it sees Brad Pitt travel to the planet Neptune to track down his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who went missing searching for extra-terrestrial life. James Gray intended for this film to have the most realistic space travel ever put to screen. Whether or not this is case remains to be seen, but it’s going to look incredible especially with Hoyte van Hoytema as cinematographer.
Asif Kapadia’s documentary on legendary racing driver Ayrton Senna wowed fans and non-fans of motorsport (the very unsporty Mark Kermode even dubbed it ‘sennasational’). His third feature focuses on a sporting legend from the same continent, but from a different sport and different country. This man is Diego Maradona. Quite simply Maradona was one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the game. He was also very controversial as his private and professional life has enough material to fill 20 documentaries rather than solitary one.
Martin Scorsese is returning to the gangster genre with The Irishman which surrounds the assassination of union leader Jimmy Hoffa. This true to life story stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino (surprisingly this is the first time the two worked together). It’s rumored to be Scorsese’s most expensive ever picture with de-aging technology used in the movie’s many flashback sequences. It will be 13 years since Scorsese directed a gangster flick (The Departed – which won him his first Oscar) so anticipation is high for this one. The Irishman will be distributed by Netflix.
I’m quite looking forward to the remake of Stephan King’s Pet Sematary mostly due to how great I.T was (which incidentally part 2 is also released in 2019). The directors assigned to the project are Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer both are responsible for the Cronenberg inspired modern classic Starry Eyes. Whether or not the remake of Pet Sematary will match the quality of I.T remains to be seen. It’ll be a tough ask and it’s unlikely it’ll be as much of a smash hit.
Very little is known about Sam Mendes next feature (1917) except its set during the First World War and it stars up and coming star George Mckay (Marrowbone and Captain Fantastic). In all honesty I don’t need to know more as the name ‘Sam Mendes’ and words ‘First World War’ had me already mentally buying the ticket.
Get Out was amazing. A really smart cult movie that was like if the liberal parents of Guess Whose Coming to Dinner wanted to harvest the brain of Sidney Poitier’s Dr John Prentice. Led by a majority black cast, Us seems to be a home invasion thriller where the home invaders are doppelgangers. They know everything the victims will do. Creepy.
Sorry We Missed You
The benefits system in the UK is even more of a hot topic than it was back in 2016 simply because, since I, Daniel Blake was released the issue has got even worse. We have a government that does not want to fix the problem. Thankfully we have a timely Ken Loach picture that will reveal the shocking circumstances people find themselves thanks to this current government. Will Ken Loach repeat his Palme d’Or success and win it for the third time with Sorry We Missed You? Unlikely but his film will seethe with righteous anger.
Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler was the unexpected hit of 2014. It has a passionate, vocal fan base and people are still discovering it four years later. Even though the success of and reception to Roman J. Israel, Esq was lukewarm it doesn’t stop his next feature, Velvet Buzzsaw, being one of 2019’s films to see. Reuniting with Jake Gyllenhaal and wife Rene Russo, Velvet Buzzsaw, is a horror-thriller in which a supernatural force enacts revenge on anyone who lets greed get in the way of art.
In JoJo Rabbit director Taika Waititi plays an ethnically inaccurate Adolf Hitler in what seems a farcical story where a young boy is devoted to a future in the Nazi party until his anti-nazi (Scarlett Johannsson) mother hides a young Jewish girl from persecution. Waititi’s outstanding success with Hunt of the Wilderpeople propelled him to such great success he was handed the third Thor instalment in the MCU (the best of the three). He returns to a smaller scale project as the film’s strange casting (Rebel Wilson and Stephan Merchant as Nazi officers) promises for some farcical fun.
Outside the English Language
Outside the English speaking countries there is a wealth of potentially great films. One of them is from director Paul Verhoeven whose film (Benedetta) about a nun getting into a sexual relationship with another woman is likely to ruffle a few feathers. I expect accusations to be along the lines of ‘male gaze’.
Jackie director Pablo Larrain has two films coming out named Ema and The True American, the latter sounds a very timely piece about the murder of a Muslim man shortly after the events of 9/11. Ema, a Spanish language film, also sounds interesting.
Like fellow Mexican Alfonso Cuaron with Roma, Pedro Almodóvar has chosen his next project to be a semi-autobiographical about his life as a film director. Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz star.