2019, at first glance, looks like an orgy of reboots, remakes and sequels. I say give it a second look. Sure, there are ten superhero movies releasing this year, three of them in the same month. Disney is making at least five movies bound to make more than a billion dollars worldwide (see top image). And three of its upcoming movies are remakes of animated classics translated faithfully to live action and CGI images. However, look beyond them, look between their release dates, and you will find a treasure trove of movies with intriguing premises, stellar casts, and fimmakers with unique voices. And that is not even counting movies we don’t yet know about, movies by yet to be known filmmakers that come out of nowhere and take over film festivals.
In assembling this list, I first made a larger list of all the films I was really excited for, then cut down as many as I could, making some painful edits along the way. That still left me with a 20 movies long list. Looking at a list of movies hitting theatres (or in one case, Netflix), I just felt this deep happiness, for even though some of them won’t live up to their promise, there’s just such a wealth of brilliance, and variety of brilliance ahead of us that whatever does end up working will be enough to make every Friday special. It’s truly a treat for fans of all flavours of film.
Instead of describing each film in detail, I’ll highlight the key elements that make these films worth looking forward to, or rather that have me personally excited to see them. It’s also evenly balanced between blockbusters and auteur cinema, which I promise is not by design. 2019 just happens to be evenly balanced.
10. The Irishman
What it is: Netflix original crime drama.
- Directed by Martin Scorsese.
- All-star cast of crime veterans Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel.
- Oh I’m not done listing the cast, there’s still Anna Paquin, Bobby Canavale, Ray Romano and Jesse Plemons.
- Cutting edge de-aging VFX from Industrial Light and Magic.
Release Date: TBA
9. Toy Story 4
What it is: The toys adjust to life without Andy in the fourth installment, directed by Josh Cooley.
- Pixar has proven adept at making sequels, with the Incredibles and Toy Story franchises.
- The return of Tom Hanks as Woody as well as the entire lovable ensemble.
- That beautiful, beautiful teaser with perfectly chosen music.
Release Date: June 21
8. Bulbul Can Sing
What it is: Indian, specifically, Assamese coming-of-age drama.
- Directed by Rima Das, who made one of the most moving films of 2018, Village Rockstars.
- Addresses the emerging sexualities of adolescent girls, a rarity in Indian cinema.
- Deals with LGBTQ issues, a rarity in Indian cinema.
- Has already garnered strong reviews at film festivals.
Release Date: TBA
7. Captain Marvel
What it is: Superhero space movie set in the 90s, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
- That classic reliability that comes from the directors and the franchise both having a good track record.
- The lead, Brie Larson, one of the finest actors working today.
- A chance to get to know a younger Fury, as well as the big screen return of Agent Coulson!
- The movie’s place as an essential segue from Avengers: Infinity War to Avengers: Endgame.
Release Date: March 8
6. Gloria Bell
What it is: A spirited middle-aged woman dances and loves and lives life to the fullest.
- That spirited middle-aged woman? Julianne Moore. I’m already sold.
- Director Sebastián Lelio is on a roll with 2017’s A Fantastic Woman and 2018’s Disobedience.
- With those two films focusing on a trans woman and a lesbian couple, Lelio has proven himself a genius at telling stories of women on the fringe of norms of acceptability.
- Rave reviews from festivals, unsurprising for an A24 production.
Release Date: March 8
5. Star Wars: Episode IX
What it is: Culmination of the Rey trilogy that started with The Force Awakens.
- J. J. Abrams returns as director, which is good news since even those of us who enjoyed The Last Jedi did not always love it the way we loved The Force Awakens.
- There is a lot of potential for exploration of what it means to be a Jedi knight here, because of where The Last Jedi left off.
- Final goodbye to General Leia.
Release Date: December 20
4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
What it is: A quirky dramedy adapted from a novel.
- Richard Linklater is one of the finest directors alive, and has been knocking it out of the park this decade with Bernie, Before Midnight, Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some and Last Flag Flying.
- Stars Cate Blanchett. Hearing Linklater dialogue from her is bound to be a treat.
- The trailer looks great, and it’s based on a book I’ve heard great things about.
Release Date: March 22
3. Spider-Man: Far From Home
What it is: Globe-trotting Spidey adventure directed by Jon Watts.
- Sequel to the spectacular Spider-Man: Homecoming, starring the amazing Tom Holland.
- The villain, Mysterio, is portrayed by the ultimate Jake Gyllenhaal.
- Seeing the state of the world after the events of Endgame.
- It gets bumped many spots higher because of my extreme Spider-Man bias. I love this character, especially in this incarnation.
Release Date: July 5
2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
What it is: Period drama about an actor and his stunt double, set in 1969 Los Angeles.
- Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
- The actor and his stunt double are played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt respectively.
- Cast also includes Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen among others.
Release Date: July 26
1. Avengers: Endgame
What it is: You know what it is.
- It is, as Tony Stark would put it, “The end of the path I started us on.” The 11-year path.
- Directed by The Russo Brothers, the finest directors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- It’s also supposedly the conclusion to a 3-movie arc for the Hulk that started with Thor: Ragnarok.
- Return to the core Avengers roster.
- Hawkeye is back! But as Ronin!
- How will they unsnap the snap?
- Who will die in the process? (This time for good.)
- Perhaps most importantly, as the trailer indicates, we can expect a very emotional story for Tony.
- Part of the journey is the end.
Release Date: April 26
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful 2019! I know I will.