From comic book franchises to indie flicks, there's no shortage of incredible films coming our way in 2019.
Record-shattering blockbusters, big-budget Oscar contenders or indie flicks that emerge from obscurity to take the world by storm. Whatever your preference, there is nothing short of a visual feast coming our way in 2019. Led by a crop of superhero movies that have major implications for their cinematic universes and thought-provoking pieces that will broach important issues in society, both franchises and new properties have laid out a tantalizing release schedule for the year ahead. Presented in chronological order, here is the rundown of the most hotly anticipated films of the year thus far.
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High Flying Bird (02/08)
Fuelled by disillusionment with how directors were treated by the industry, independent cinema trailblazer Steven Soderbergh first announced plans to step away from the profession in 2013 but has found it harder to retreat than he expected. Despite his continued revulsion for the micro-management that filmmakers are subjected to today, the man behind the Oceans Trilogy, Solaris, Erin Brockovich and Che has gained a new zeal for movie-making courtesy of the humble iPhone. Hot on the heels of filming his psychological horror Unsane in this very method that he’s championed as “the future", Soderbergh has enlisted Moonlight’s Andre Holland for High Flying Bird. Set to emerge as a Netflix original, the film sees Stephen reunite with The Knick star Holland as a sports agent that tries to capitalize on an NBA lockout by presenting a “rookie client with an intriguing and controversial business opportunity.”
Captain Marvel (03/08)
First alluded to in the post-credits climax of Avengers: Infinity War, each trailer for Captain Marvel has stoked the excitement for her galactic voyage. Portrayed by Brie Larson (Room, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Short Term 12), Nick Fury’s “renegade soldier” that crash landed to earth is part of the Kree race of “noble warrior heroes” and is charged with defeating the villainous Skrulls at all costs. As opposed to the rampant crossover appeal of the past few instalments from the MCU, Captain Marvel differs in both a tonal sense and timeframe by taking us back to the 1990s. Set long before Thanos wielded the Infinity Gauntlet and laid waste to half of all life in the universe, each of the three trailers have been imbued with a sense of mystery around her true origins and where she fits into the interplanetary puzzle before her pivotal role in Avengers: Endgame. Far more than a means of introducing her to the unacquainted, the fact that the events of Captain Marvel took place prior to the entire MCU canon is sure to provide new depth and contextualization for all that transpired in her wake.
From the moment that its trailer transfigured Luniz’ stoner-rap anthem "I Got 5 On It" into macabre nightmare fuel, Jordan Peele had fans clamouring for Us and dissecting each frame or modicum of information with incredible zeal. Based around the suburban Wilson family’s fateful vacation to their beach house, its opening moments may bear all the hallmarks of an idyllic summer but this soon unravels when “the strangers” arrive. The second in Peele’s planned quadrilogy of “social thrillers,” its Rorsach test ink-blots and cryptic imagery has led to speculation spreading like wildfire but all signs point to the film exploring issues around cultural identity and inner duality. Starring Academy Award winner Lupita N’yong’o and Black Panther’s Duke Winston, the ambiguity around what’s on offer and the thrall of whether Peele can replicate the disconcertion of Get Out makes Us one of the most exciting prospects of the year bar none.
The Informer (03/22)
Filmed in London, Philadelphia and Ridgewood, NY, Andrea Di Stefano’s The Informer is poised to be an interesting addition to the dark crime genre. Inspired by the 2009 novel Three Seconds by Swedish duo Roslund and Hellstrom, the new film adaptation translates this tale of blurred lines between criminality and corruption from their homeland to the USA with help from Academy Award nominee Rosamund Pike, Joel Kinnaman, Common and Clive Owen. When reformed convict Peter Koslow is tasked with infiltrating the Polish mob’s drug-trafficking operation, the death of an NYPD cop places his whole life in jeopardy and leads to him voluntarily doing time as a mole. Used as a pawn by a duplicitous FBI, The Informer is driven forward by Koslow’s “plan to escape the clutches of three of New York City's most powerful organizations - the mob, the NYPD and the FBI - in order to save himself and his family.”
The culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fate of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” hangs in the balance this April with Avengers: Endgame. After Thanos exacted his goal and extinguished half of all lifeforms at Infinity War’s climax, the next chapter picks up with the remaining members scattered to the wind and staring down the barrel of uncertain fates. With half of their ranks reduced to dust and Tony cast adrift in the vast expanse of space, it is up to Captain America, Black Widow and Thor to assemble what remnants are left and enact the plan that Rodgers says “has to work, because I don’t know what I’m going to do if it doesn’t.”
Although there’s only one trailer to go off at the moment, the sightings of Paul Rudd’s Antman and Jeremy Renner’s rumoured transition from Hawkeye to the katana-wielding Ronin was all it took to send the internet into a frenzy. In the bittersweet words of Tony Stark, “part of the journey is the end” and the conclusion of this war promises to be the most incendiary cinematic experience in Marvel’s rich history if done right.
Detective Pikachu (05/10)
After the egregious missteps of his first appearance as Deadpool in Wolverine Origins, Ryan Reynolds went above and beyond to rectify the studio’s errors and turned the “merc with a mouth” into an immensely profitable franchise. Spurred on by its wilfully sophomoric humour and playful fourth-wall breaks, the fact that Deadpool 2 went on to shatter the records of its predecessor made Reynolds a hotter property than ever, and now Pokemon is looking to use that same wisecracking style to revitalize their big-screen prospects. Set in Ryme City, Detective Pikachu stars Ryan as the titular character like you’ve never seen him before. Met with cautious excitement and bewilderment in equal measure, the CGI/live-action hybrid follows 21-year-old Tim on his quest to uncover the fate of his missing father whilst encountering Charizards, Bulbasaurs and much more along the way. As the icing on the cake, the recent allusions towards the iconic MewTwo filling the role of central antagonist ensures that it will make for an intriguing watch at the very least.
Men In Black: International (06/14)
When Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson first encountered each other in Thor Ragnarok, the innate chemistry between the two was clear for all to see. Now seven years removed from the last incarnation of the series, Sony/Columbia have brought that same rapport to the classic buddy cop format for Men In Black: International. Dubbed Agents “H” & “M”, the film uproots the franchise from American soil in order to foil alien plots across the world. Headed up by Liam Neeson as the chief of the MIB’s UK Branch, the film is rumoured to take the duo to far-flung locales including Morocco and Italy before landing in New York City. Directed by F Gary Gray of Straight Outta Compton fame, there’s even speculation that we’ll be privy to cameos from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the bickering yet lovable Agents K & J.
Toy Story 4 (06/21)
Although the emotional wounds from Toy Story 3 have only just about healed, we’re about to be thrown headlong back into the adventures of Woody, Buzz, and co. with the latest Pixar offering. Revealed through a pair of cagey teasers that gave us very little information aside from the identities of new character ‘Forky’ and cameos from Key & Peele, the latest addition to the saga picks up where we left them after Andy handed the gang down to new owner Bonnie. Set to incorporate Keanu Reeves into the series, the first indication of what’s to come saw the gang harmoniously dancing with one another to Judy Collins’ rendition of the Joni Mitchell classic “Both Sides Now” before things abruptly take a turn for the worse. Although the plot details are being kept under wraps, the notion of Woody finding out “how big the world can be for a toy” and Tim Allen making a comparison to the seminal Gone With The Wind could mean that it’s even more of a tearjerker than the previous film.
Spiderman: Far From Home (07/05)
Less than a year after we saw him evaporate into dust, Spider-Man is not only back but he’s seeing the world like never before. Confirmed to be set after the events of Avengers: End Game-- which suggests a dubious fate for one man in particular-- the new trailer sees Peter Parker trying to outrun his responsibilities as a friendly neighbourhood crime-fighter in order embark on a field-trip with best friend Ned and Zendaya’s MJ. As expected, that old adage about best laid plans comes into play and Spidey finds himself facing new nemeses outside of the familiar confines of New York City. Featuring Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Jake Gyllenhaal’s first appearance in the MCU as Mysterio and a myriad of elemental threats, Tom Holland’s reprisal of the role may have a lot to live up to but all signs point to director Kevin Feige knocking it out of the park once more.
The Lion King (07/19)
As worrisome as a live-action remake of one of our most beloved childhood films is on the surface, Disney have done their utmost to alleviate our fears when it comes to The Lion King. Complete with all of those landmark scenes that fill us with wistful nostalgia, the latest effort from John Favreau is primed to feature voice work from Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogen, Chiwitel Eijiofor, Jon Oliver and even the return of James Earl Jones’ iconic brogue as Mufasa. For as much as the trailer made it seem like a faithful ode to the original, Disney Producer Sean Bailey has clarified that it won’t be a shot-for-shot retelling and will incorporate new scenes and story elements into the classic tale.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (07/26)
Considering its title pays homage to the work of his directorial hero Sergio Leone, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood seems like the sprawling epic he’s always wanted to make. Set against the backdrop of Hollywood in the era when the reign of hippie counterculture was brought to an inharmonious end by The Manson Family’s gruesome crimes, his first production since 2015 liberally flouts the lines between reality and fiction with an elite cast at his disposal. Said to encompass intersecting plotlines in the vein of his masterworkPulp Fiction, the film will mark the first onscreen meeting between Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt who’ll appear alongside a mixture of familiar faces and Tarantino fail-safes, including Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Damien Lewis, Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Timothy Olophant and Margot Robbie as the late Sharon Tate. Given his penchant for B-movie tropes and an abundance of cartoonish violence, there’s no way of knowing exactly what we’re in for but it certainly won’t be mundane.
IT: Chapter Two (09/06)
Historically speaking, horror revamps and sequels have a tendency to go awry but 2017’s It successfully resurrected one of Stephen King’s most ghastly creations for a new generation. After step one went without a hitch, the team behind Pennywise’s modern adaptation has reconvened and are hellbent on expanding on his pre-existing lore. Picking up 27 years after the heinous events of the original, the shapeshifting spectre of Derry, Maine rears his heads once more to retrieve the souls of “the loser’s club” that had escaped his murderous clutches. Starring James McAvoy, Bill Hader and Jessica Chastain as the adult versions of the children, IT: Chapter Two will breathe new life into the franchise and sees the acclaimed Bill Skarsgard donning the clown make-up and prosthetics once again.
On the subject of clowns, the multidimensional Joaquin Phoenix has been handed the reins to DC’s iconic harlequin of hate in the forthcoming Joker. Billed as an origin story, the filmmakers have taken the controversial move of definitively naming the mysterious master criminal as “Arthur Fleck” and are heading in a far darker direction than modern comic book movies. As opposed to the highly-strung and cartoonish bent of Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad, Phoenix's ability to invoke terror and unease has already served him well in the small snippets of footage we’ve received. A film that remains shrouded in secrecy, its success is believed to be a deciding factor as to whether Joaquin will get to reprise the role in Matt Reeves' The Batman which will look at the exploits of a youthful caped crusader.
Star Wars Episode IX (12/20)
When it comes to Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, it would be no exaggeration to say that is one of the most polarising films of the past decade. Lauded by some as a work of genius and utterly detested by others, Disney have now opted to return George Lucas’ life’s work into the safer hands of sci-fi stalwart JJ Abrams. Expected to wrap next month, the film has been postponed from a proposed May 2019 unveiling back to the tried and tested December release. On account of the usual NDA’s and information lock-out that always precedes a new episode, plot details are practically non-existent but what we do know is that Billy Dee Williams will be in line to board The Millennium Falcon one last time as Lando Calrissian. After her untimely death in December 2017, many feared that Carrie Fisher’s legendary General Leia Organa would be omitted but her brother recently confirmed that she’ll be present courtesy of “never-before-seen” footage. Described as the final film to focus on the “Skywalker Clan,” if the last two Star Wars movies are anything to go by then the battle between The Resistance and The First Order is sure to conclude in electrifying, if possibly contentious, fashion.
All Day And A Night (TBA)
The directorial debut of Black Panther writer Joe Robert Cole, All Day and A Night has all the makings of a harrowing yet enthralling watch. Written by Cole himself and produced by the team behind The People Vs OJ Simpson and Crazy Rich Asians, this Netflix property will explore a young prisoner named Jah’s childhood, the days before his arrest for homicide and his time behind bars as he comes to terms with the magnitude of his actions. Focused on Jah’s search for “clues to his way forward in life and his survival” it stars Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, The Equalizer 2) as Jah, Yahya Abdul Mateen (The Getdown, Aquaman) and The Handmaid's Tale’s Kelly Jenrette among others.
The Irishman (TBA)
The ninth-- and likely final-- collaboration between Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, this long-time passion project of the director is finally coming to fruition thanks to Netflix in 2019. With a packed-out cast of stars that ranges from Scorsese favourites such as Bobby Cannavale, Joe Pesci and Stephen Graham alongside Al Pacino, Anna Paquin and Action Bronson, the project had the highest budget of any film in Marty’s storied career and will see Pacino and DeNiro reunite for the first time since 1995’s Heat. Based upon Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses, the film (that Scorsese has openly labeled as “risky” in nature) will follow the life of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a notorious Bufalino crime family assassin that is linked to the deaths of Jimmy Hoffa and John F. Kennedy. For all that he’s veered into new territory over the years, Scorsese is synonymous with crafting insightful accounts of life in the mob and so anticipation levels are understandably high. Primed for a limited cinema release before its emergence on Netflix, much of its exponentially high-budget is said to be a result of aging its elderly cast members down to 30 for scenes set way back in 1959.