Trying to guess which of the films coming our way in the coming year are going to be the winners and which ones are going to be the duds is always fraught with difficulties. Trailers can make even the most tedious old tat look enticing and by the end of the year a good number of interesting films will have slipped under the radar and as a consequence they’ll be the ones we really end up loving. So with that in mind, let’s stick the old neck on the block and say these are the twenty films opening in the UK in the next year that I’m most looking forward to. And we can reconvene in the summer for a half-time round up and a full list of the best of the year next Christmas to see just how badly wrong I got this…
The recent-ish vogue for space travel films (Gravity (2013), Interstellar (2014), The Martian (2015), Capsule (2015) at al) continues with this high profile offering starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut who travels to the edge of the solar system in search of his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones).
Alita: Battle Angel
Robert Rodriguez takes on this big budget remake of the Japanese animated cyberpunk thriller Gunnm (1993) which we reviewed here. Rosa Salazar takes the title role and James Cameron had a hand in the script, though don’t let that put you off…
The search for the next Harry Potter continues as Kenneth Branagh takes on Eoin Colfer much loved fantasy novel about the 12-year-old boy genius Artemis and his search for his father who may have been abducted by fairies.
So who survived? And how are they going to bring back those much-loved characters for their appearances in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or will they even bother? Without question the biggest box office earner of 2019.
A different sort of take on superheroes and specifically a darker take on the Superman origin story – Elizabeth Banks stars in this tale of an alien baby stranded on Earth. But will it be our saviour or the destroyed of Mankind?
Marvel’s first female-led blockbuster (it should have been Black Widow…) stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers who finds herself imbued with superpowers as two alien races clash over the Earth. Expect this to lead directly into Avengers: Endgame.
The Curse of La Llorona
The Mexican legend of the ghostly crying woman is adapted by Michael Chaves and produced by James Wan. How closely it’ll actually stick to the original story is anyone’s guess but I’m a sucker for la llorona films so let’s keep our fingers crossed that they don’t screw this up.
The Dead Don’t Die
I’ve never been a huge fan of Jim Jarmusch but rather liked his take on vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) so a second vampire film, starring Adam Driver, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton is certainly an intriguing prospect.
On paper, this tale of an aging hitman battling a younger clone of himself doesn’t sound all that enticing but it’s directed by Ang Lee so it could turn out to be more interesting than it sounds. Starring Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen. It appears to have nothing to do with the 1970s invisible man television series of the same name.
M. Night Shyamalan may have made some iffy films in his time but this follow up to both Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016) promises a new spin on the superhero film. And with a cast headed by Bruce Willis, James McAvoy. Samuel L. Jackson and Anya Taylor-Joy that alone should be worth a couple of hours of our time.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
So long as they give the monsters a bit more screen time (there’s plenty of them this time, Godzilla being joined by Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah) this should be a winner. The trailers are breathtaking and make an awful lot of promises – let’s hope the film keeps them.
Normally a remake of a film that was perfectly good and didn’t need an upgrade would be one to avoid. But this reboot of Mike Mignola’s comic book hero is being directed by the great Neil Marshall and stills of David Harbour as the eponymous hero have raised hopes.
The Kid Who Would Be King
Joe Cornish’s first film since 2011’s Attack the Block is an updating of the King Arthur legend in which a young boy (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Andy’s son) finds Excalibur and battles the evil Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). With Patrick Stewart as Merlin which is surely enough to pique anyone’s interest.
One Cut of the Dead
A bit of a cheat as this one has already been playing festivals but it gets a wider UK release in January and looks like it might be one of the horror highlights of the year. A Japanese found footage zombie film, it comes trailing rave reviews and is apparently a pretty wild experience.
As with Hellboy, one has to wonder why anyone felt the need to remake a film as good as David Cronenberg’s Rabid but this new version comes from the always interesting Soska Sisters which at least suggest that we’ll get something a bit smarter and more worthwhile than the usual reboot. Laura Vandervoort, one-time TV Supergirl, takes the Marilyn Chambers role of the young woman infected by a mysterious parasite.
It looks like DC Comics may have finally lightened up a bit and realised that above all else comic book adaptations should be fun and not dreary psychological treatises. Zachary Levi stars as Billy Batson who finds that when he says the word “shazam” he turns into a costumed crime fighter.
Toy Story 4
Pixar return to their best-known and most-loved franchise with a fourth outing for Woody, Buzz et al who hit the road for this latest adventure.
untitled Terminator sequel
After too many tedious and uninspired sequels it looked like the Terminator franchise might have been well and truly dead. But this latest installment, still lacking a proper title, is directed by Tim Miller of Deadpool (2016) fame, stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and most intriguingly is being pitched as a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), completely ignoring the events of the other films.
Jordan “Get Out” Peele’s new horror film. Surely I don’t need to say anything else about this one?
Little is known about this belated sequel to 2009’s surprise comedy hit but the main cast (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg) are all returning as are original director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick so that bodes well. Here’s hoping we get another guest star as hilarious as the one that graced the first film…
All this and re-issues, to British cinemas at least, of Alien (1979) and Ringu (1998), means 2019 is already shaping up to be quite the year for genre releases big and small. Others will be looking forward to Star Wars, Men in Black and It sequels, remakes of Pet Semetery and those live-action Disney do-overs The Lion King and Dumbo but not for me I’m afraid, though I’ll bet they’re the only ones likely to challenge the Avengers at the box office. Time will tell…