2018 is now behind us and while there were a few standouts, on the whole it felt like a bit of a disappointing year for movies. Not to worry though, 2019 has lots to offer, and if only half of the movies I’m looking forward to this year turn out to be good, it’s looking like a good year for cinema.
This list isn’t necessarily your typical ‘most anticipated’ list, as while I can’t wait for a number of lower-key movies this year such as Velvet Buzzsaw, The Lighthouse and Jojo Rabbit, this will focus on the biggest new movies of 2019. The list will include 20 films and will be listed in chronological order.
1. Glass | January 18th
There is no debating that M. Night Shyamalan has one of the more confusing careers in show business. Having made 90s classic The Sixth Sense and ahead-of-its-time fan favourite Unbreakable, the director then went on to make some of the worst films in recent memory, including The Last Airbender and The Happening. His career started off really strong then with each film went more and more downhill, until it hit rock bottom and began an upwards climb again.
It seems that Glass will either solidify the fact Shyamalan is back, or will disappoint and we’ll have to concede that his best days truly are behind him. I’m nervous for this one as I believe a lot rides on it, and if previous entrant on this list Kevin Smith is to be believed, it’s not exactly easy to pull a heartfelt performance from Bruce Willis nowadays. The trailer looked decent and Shyamalan did a pretty good job with Split, I just hope he can deliver the goods on this one and offer a different look at superheroes than what Marvel and DC are giving us.
2. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part | February 8th
The Lego Movie was a surprise to everyone. It should’ve turned out similarly to The Emoji Movie, but instead people were given something much more creative, witty and emotionally resonant. I’ve said since 22 Jump Street that Lord & Miller are directors to watch (of course I have nothing to prove this), and they’ve impressed with film upon film in recent years.
Not to take any success away from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse directors Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman and Bob Persichetti, but Lord & Miller’s fingerprints are all over that movie. While only Lord was a writer, the pair produced it, and you get the feeling that they’re a lot more than producers. From the self-aware humour to the stylistic animation, Miles Morales’ big-screen debut definitely feels their influence, and they will both be writing and producing The Lego Movie 2. While it will be difficult to capture that lightning-in-a-bottle that was the first Lego Movie, with a stacked cast including newcomers Tiffany Haddish, Margot Robbie, Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot, they certainly have all the right ingredients to do it again.
3. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World | February 22nd
Though How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will almost certainly serve as an emotional and bittersweet end to Hiccup and Toothless’ journey together, it’s one nobody is going to want to miss out on.
The gorgeous animation, endearing performances of Jay Baruchel & co and the straight up good storytelling make these movies a level above most kids films today. They are able to take mature themes and present them in a digestible way, the world-building is brilliant and the action scenes are about as visceral as they could possibly be for an animated film. I can’t wait to see the final chapter in Hiccup and Toothless’ journey, while the female dragon teased in the trailer should also serve to shake things up and keep our beloved characters on their toes.
4. Captain Marvel | March 8th
You don’t need me to tell you what a colossal hit last year’s Avengers: Infinity War was, and judging by its post-credits scene and Marvel’s comments on just how powerful Captain Marvel is, it looks very much as if Captain Marvel is going to be an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to Thanos’ downfall.
Even with the fact that you may need to see Captain Marvel to fully understand Avengers: Endgame, there’s plenty of other reasons to be excited about this one. It marks the MCU’s first female-led movie, a landmark (though overdue) that is of comparable cultural importance to Black Panther. Despite some people’s premature judgement of Brie Larson’s performance, the Academy-Award winning actress will surely do justice in bringing the character to life.
5. Us | March 15th
After the success of Get Out, writer and director Jordan Peele was suddenly the name on everybody’s lips. What would have been a fairly standard thriller was elevated by relevant biting social commentary and a surprising amount of humour, particularly the hilarious supporting character Rod.
Good news for fans of that style then, as Peele’s upcoming film Us will also take the social commentary approach in a new horror film that takes a look at what our worst selves could look like. The trailer dropped only recently and looks like it could be another huge hit with fans. The cast includes Black Panther co-stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, and will likely be another mind-bending experience that you won’t forget in a hurry.
6. Shazam! | April 5th
It’s no secret that the DCEU has had a rough few years, but with the recent success of Aquaman it’s showing positive signs of getting back on track. Shazam! tells the story of a 14-year-old boy who acquires superpowers, but there’s a caveat: when he activates them he also turns into a grown up.
If comedic lead actor Zachary Levi, director David F. Sandberg (director of the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be Annabelle: Creation) and the Big-like premise don’t excite you, maybe the light-hearted and overall new direction will be a welcome breath of fresh air to a genre that has yet to explore this premise on the big screen.
7. Hellboy | April 12th
A lot of audience members understandably seem to be approaching this reboot with an air of caution as the Guillermo Del Toro-Ron Perlman films set the bar high for the character, but the excitement that comes alongside this film is undeniable.
David Harbour will take over the mantle of the character, and as any Stranger Things fan will tell you, Harbour is one of the most instantly likeable actors out there. Neil Marshall, director of The Descent, will be at the helm, and the film also boasts an impressive supporting cast including Ian McShane. Being a comic book movie not made by Marvel or DC, this really could take advantage of its position and give us a completely different type of comic book story.
8. Avengers: Endgame | April 24th
Last year’s Avengers: Infinity War became the 4th highest-grossing movie of all time, being one of only four films to ever gross over $2 billion worldwide. Considering that Infinity War ended on one of the more memorable cliffhangers in recent memory, it’s pretty much a given that this was going to be on the list.
It’s no secret that Endgame will likely mark the last time that we see some of these characters (or at least the last time we’ll see them being played by their current actors), therefore an awful lot of people are going to show up to see the remaining Avengers do battle one last time. Considering characters such as Black Panther and Spider-Man have sequels in production, I suspect fans will also be keen to find out just how exactly their favourite heroes are going to be brought back from The Snap, and what will become of Thanos.
9. John Wick 3: Parabellum | May 16th
Action movies are a dime a dozen, but good action movies? Not so much. With the first two chapters of the John Wick story falling into that second category, my excitement for John Wick 3 is through the roof. All I’ve seen of this so far is that one shot of Keanu Reeves suited up riding a horse down the highway and shooting some motorcyclist in the head, and that’s all I need to see.
Chad Stahelski and team know exactly what audiences want to see, and they seem intent on giving it to us. So far this series has been something special, and while they may end up oversaturating audiences with The Continental television series and up to five John Wick films in total, as long as I get a solid trilogy, I won’t complain.
10. Godzilla: King of the Monsters | May 31st
Monsters fighting bigger monsters? This is exactly the silliness and big-scale entertainment that summer blockbusters are about. Michael Dougherty will direct the film, and as someone who has done a brilliant job in the past of mixing genres and tones (such as horror with comedy), this should be the kind of nonsensical brilliance The Meg wanted to be, but with a more balanced tone.
With an ensemble cast including such names as Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Bradley Whitford and Charles Dance, there’s absolutely no doubt about the caliber of actors attached to this project, and if that’s a sign of things to come we should be in for one heck of a treat.
11. Men In Black: International | June 14th
Men In Black: International sees the extremely in-favour pairing of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite for the first time since Thor: Ragnarok. Supported by the likes of Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson and Liam Neeson, it’s difficult to imagine this being anything other than a majorly fun time at the movies.
Directed by F. Gary Gray (director of Fate of the Furious), MIB: International clearly has a director who knows exactly what film he’s making and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously in all the best ways. Its box office numbers may suffer a bit due to its release being exactly one week before that of Toy Story 4, but its pre-existing fanbase mixed with the addition of new audience members seeing the film for its updated cast should be enough to ensure that this is one of the biggest films of 2019.
12. Toy Story 4 | June 21st
Admittedly this film seems to have evoked mixed feelings in a lot of people, and understandably so. Toy Story 3 was that rare third instalment in a trilogy that manages to end the three-film journey on a perfect note. On the other hand, each Toy Story movie to date has been a perfectly-wrapped gift from Pixar, and how can I not be excited for a new adventure with Woody and the gang?
A recent teaser introduced us to new toys Ducky and Bunny (played by Key & Peele), while Tim Allen also shared in an interview that Keanu Reeves will play one of the new additions. Early reports stated that this will be a romantic comedy and will take the series in a different direction, while it has also been stated that the script made Tom Hanks cry. Call me cautiously optimistic.
13. Spider-Man: Far From Home | July 5th
It took a few attempts but in 2016 fans were finally presented with the perfect on-screen Spider-Man when Tom Holland made his debut in Captain America: Civil War. Not only is Holland age-appropriate but he also manages to perfectly capture both the geeky nature of Peter Parker and the quippy personality of the wall-crawler.
Mysterio is arguably the most iconic Spider-Man villain to never have appeared in a film yet (with the exception of maybe Carnage). As if the eventual big-screen debut of the character wasn’t enough to get fans interested, the extremely talented Jake Gyllenhaal will play the role of the special effects wizard. Marvel likely won’t want to hide Gyllenhaal’s face so it will be interesting to see how the Hollywood big shot wannabe (Beck, not Gyllenhaal) will look. Add into the mix a new setting with the majority of the film supposedly taking place in London, and the film absolutely deserves a place on this list.
While it does appear from the trailer to simply be a shot-for-shot remake, Disney has promised that there will be new content in the film. From director Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man, Chef, The Jungle Book) comes a perfectly-cast retelling of the 1994 animated classic.
Donald Glover will play Simba while Beyonce ,Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver and Seth Rogen to name a few will also feature, as James Earl Jones returns to voice Mufasa. While fans are divided on whether or not these new Disney films are technically live action or animation, one thing’s for certain: Mufasa’s death scene is going to be even more tear-inducing when he looks lifelike. Aladdin and Dumbo are also being given the live action treatment this year, and are also set to be among the biggest films of the year.
15. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood | July 26th
It’s always an event when Quentin Tarantino has a new movie out. Even more so when that movie features Leonardo DiCaprio in his first role since his Academy Award-winning performance in 2015’s The Revenant. When you then surround DiCaprio with a cast including Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Al Pacino to name a few, it’s safe to say this is about as hyped as I can personally get for a film.
The plot takes place in 1969 and as such will likely feature yet another masterfully-crafted soundtrack that reflects the era. It features DiCaprio as a struggling actor while Pitt plays his stunt double as the pair attempt to make a name for themselves during the Helter Skelter reign of terror. While the Charles Manson murders being a backdrop to the main plot and the inclusion of real-life victim Sharon Tate (played by Robbie) has some fans worried, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the man who made a movie about blowing up Hitler one of the most critically acclaimed films of the 21st century.
16. It: Chapter 2 | September 6th
It became the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie of all time in 2017, and it took fans and critics by storm. There may have only been a couple of truly terrifying scenes i.e. the garage scene, but it was the Stranger Things/Stand By Me effect that had most people charmed.
I saw the film three times but did I go back for Pennywise? No. I went back because of the camaraderie between the main characters. While the child actors won’t be the main stars of this film, heavy hitters James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and more have stepped in to play the adult versions of the characters. It is also said that It: Chapter 2 may delve into the weirder and more abstract elements of the book, which could go either way, but I say why not commit to the madness?
The Joker is arguably the most recognisable villain there is. Like many others, I’m not sure an origin story for the Joker is necessary. In fact, I’d say it’s positively unnecessary. After all, the Clown Prince of Crime himself once said, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”.
That said, Joker is being made whether we like it or not, but what I can confidently say is that they couldn’t have picked much better of an actor than Joaquin Phoenix. If anyone can play deranged, he can (see The Master or You Were Never Really Here). Whether the film will be narratively ambiguous and hint at various origins or just straight up tell us what happened to turn an ordinary guy into the embodiment of chaos remains to be seen, but I have everything crossed that this turns out great.
18. Zombieland 2 | October 11th
I watched Zombieland for the first time about 2 years ago, and went in with little-to-no expectations, having watched a slew of zombie-comedies trying to capitalise on the success of Shaun of the Dead. Imagine my surprise, then, when I left it feeling like it was one of my favourite films I’d seen in a long time. As with all zombie stories, the ones that work best are never about the zombies themselves. They’re about the human characters and their relationships with one another.
Zombieland is a lesson in character-based storytelling, with the only real plot being “we need to get from here to there without being eaten”. It was sweet, laugh out loud funny, action-packed, emotional and features an absolutely legendary cameo from Bill Murray. Zombieland 2 supposedly follows a rescue mission with the 4 leads all expected to return, only this time the threat is “super zombies” who are bigger, stronger, faster and tougher than those in the 2009 film. As long as this is another road trip movie that gives me those character moments I loved so much in the first, it’s bound to be one of my favourites of the year.
19. Star Wars: Episode IX | December 19th
While The Last Jedi proved to be an extremely divisive entry in the space saga, the return of J.J. Abrams should put doubts to rest for those who loved The Force Awakens but were left cold by Rian Johnson’s subversive sequel.
It’ll be interesting to see how Abrams treats Johnson’s answers to the questions raised in Episode 7. Will he retcon what Episode 8 told us by giving us new answers regarding Snoke and Rey’s parents? Or will he let Johnson’s interpretations remain canon? Episode 9 is also said to feature a fitting send-off for Star Wars legend Carrie Fisher. If for nothing else it has to be worth seeing for that, but here’s to hoping Episode 9 can pull a Luke Skywalker and restore peace to the galaxy.
20. The Irishman | TBA
Frankly, it’s baffling to me that more people aren’t talking about this: a Scorsese-directed crime film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci. On paper, you couldn’t ask for more talent in one project, but the aforementioned talent isn’t even the biggest talking point when it comes to The Irishman.
Industrial Light & Magic are trying to do something groundbreaking when it comes to visual effects. It’s said that the majority of the film will feature the lead actors as appearing up to 30 years younger than they really are. This de-aging technology has been used before in Tron: Legacy on Jeff Bridges, or more recently in Captain America: Civil War to bring youth to Robert Downey Jr, but those effects have either been of questionable quality, or in much smaller quantities. If this goes right (and with a budget in the region of $175m you’d hope it would) this could truly be a game changer.