Our Ten’s List: Most Anticipated Films of 2019, Pt 2.
We hit the second half of the year loaded up with ten more movies to look forward to.
Godzilla was our last pick for the most anticipated films of the first half of 2019, so it’s time to get right back at it and refill the list. Luckily, the back half of 2019 has even more to chose from than the front nine. Obvious winners like IT Chapter 2 and Joker make the list, but we have quite a few smaller gems looking to find their audiences as well. If anything, this list is packed with more diamonds in the rough than big blockbusters. Sorry, fans of Angry Birds 2…though I’m pretty sure we can find a spot for it on our companion “Least Anticipated” list!
We’ll break it down month by month so you can plan your trip to the theater in advance. That means the picks aren’t necessarily ranked from favorite to least…or else we’d probably end the list somewhere around October, hint hint.
Most Anticipated Films of 2019, Part 2.
10. The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil. (Jun 7)
A fearsome crime boss becomes the target of a serial killer. He must team up with his nemesis on the police force to catch the monster.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good thriller out of South Korea, which seemed to be creating classics in the genre every other day. Director Won-Tae Lee is an up-and-coming talent, known for his somber prison drama, Man of Will. The trailer looks like Lee is showing his versatility, with a crime thriller full of tough nosed characters, over the top action, and big set pieces. It can get a little overblown, especially the mannerisms of the detective, but I love the energetic vibe this project is giving off.
9. The Dead Don’t Die.
A series of supernatural omens haunt the sleepy town of Centerville, culminating in the dead rising from their graves. An all-star cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover and The RZA must band together to save their town from the ravenous dead.
Jim Jarmusch writing and directing a zombie flick? Cool. Jim Jarmusch assembling the cast to beat all casts for his zombie film? Very fucking cool. When Jarmusch tackles genre films, like he did to the western in Dead Man and the chambara samurai film in Ghostdog, he tends to bring his A-game. I can’t wait for this bad boy.
8. Child’s Play.
An overworked mother (Aubrey Plaza) rewards her latchkey son with the toy of his dreams: Chucky, an smart-device enabled doll billed as everyone’s best friend. Unfortunately, Chucky turns out to be the toy of his worst nightmares.
Horror remakes are iffy. We’ve had some nice reinventions such as Fede Alverez’s take on Evil Dead and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria…but we’ve had a spate of lackluster reboots like Pet Sematary and Fright Night. The first trailer for Child’s Play hit all of the right notes: Mark Hamil’s Chucky is sinister and creepy, the protagonists feel worth investing in, the music is well matched to the tone, and the kills hinted at are gloriously over the top. Director Lars Klevberg is mostly unknown, although his horror flick Polaroid was a solid debut. I have my fingers crossed for this one.
An American couple visit an idyllic village in Sweden to attend their traditional midsummer festival. What begins as charmingly quaint turns alarmingly psychotic as the local cult draws them in to their elaborate ritual.
Ari Aster blew people away with Hereditary, and Misdommar seems like a great follow up. The visuals are gorgeous, the sense of setting is tight, and the tension resonates like a live wire. The creepy “folk horror” genre seems to be making a comeback recently, recalling classics like The Wicker Man…the good one from the 70’s, not the pants-shittingly crazy one with Nicolas Cage in the 2000’s!
6. Them that Follow.
A secluded Appalachian sect of Pentecostal snake-handlers devolves into suspicion and terror when the pastor’s daughter confronts the unspoken rules and secrets of the community.
Another horror/thriller with a cultist vibe and a fantastic sense of setting. The cinematography looks superb, and the cast features an interesting blend of characters from Olivia Colman to Jim Gaffigan. The directing duo behind this feature are both new, having collaborated on a short film previously. I’m looking forward to seeing this smaller picture make a splash in a month dominated by largely forgettable summer fluff.
5. The Kitchen.
Three women married to the mob take control of the family business when their husbands are sent to prison.
I’m intrigued by this film. At first blush, it seems strikingly similar to last year’s under-appreciated gem Widows. The trio of leading women –Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elizabeth Moss – have been up and down in my book lately…but all have some really fantastic roles under their belt. I like the tone director Andrea Berloff (who worked on the gritty gangster film, The Blood Father, as well as Straight Outta Compton) is setting in the trailer. Despite the leading women being mostly known for comedy, the trailer is as serious as a heart attack.
4. IT, Chapter 2.
The children of the Losers Club return to their home town of Derry, decades after having battled the monstrous clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). Despite their victory, IT is still alive, and anxious to lure them back to for a rematch.
There was trepidation that the second half of this two-part movie couldn’t possibly match the excellent first film. The young cast was perfect, and Skarsgard nailed every creepy mannerism of the role Tim Curry made famous, making it his own. The trailer goes a long way to quieting any doubts – the adult cast is spot on, the young cast seems to have plenty left to contribute to the story, and Skarsgard seems even more invested in the role of Pennywise. The scares in the trailer feel a bit cheeky, like a Sam Raimi take on modern horror tropes, but still have director Andres Muschietti’s stamp to them. I’m looking forward to floating on down to Derry Maine for the second half of this series.
All it takes is one bad day to change your life. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) has seen a lifetime of bad days trying to make it as a failed comedian on the rough streets of Gotham City. The crime and the isolation start to turn the quiet man into something darker…
Playing the Joker seems to be like playing Hamlet – it tends to attract big talent and big egos. We’ve seen the crown prince of crime played fantastically…and horribly. I like Joaquin Phoenix to be on the good side of the, er, ledger. He plays broken, dangerous characters fantastically. Director Todd Phillips has a long track record…of raunchy comedies. Seeing a director outside of their comfort zone could lead to something memorable. In the trailer it seems that he’s cribbing heavily from Martin Scorcese’s early, gritty psychological films like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. A film with so much upside and downside is a risk, and risky film making feels more and more rare these days, especially in the comic book adaptation business.
2. Doctor Sleep.
Danny Torrance, now an adult, has a troubled relationship with his gift, “The Shining.” Battling the same addiction to booze that led to his father’s psychotic break, Danny discovers a cult that draws strength by feeding on the power of children with the same gift of the shining.
Stephen King is certainly hot again at the box office, so it’s not surprising that the sequel to The Shining is getting a film treatment. Despite King’s famous gripes, Kubrick’s take on The Shining is perhaps the greatest film derived from his work. This film has a solid cast featuring Ewan MacGregor and Rebecca Ferguson, and a talented horror director in Mike Flanagan. Flanagan got his start with a tight short film that went on to become his debut, Oculus, and has already adapted one King novel, Gerald’s Game, and another big horror adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. There’s not much solid info right now, but early snippets were praised as capturing the style of Kubrick’s iconic film.
1. Knives Out.
A detective visits the estate of a peculiar family, searching for clues into death of the family’s patriarch.
For as much as I absolutely hated The Last Jedi, I generally love Rian Johnson’s work. Brick is one of my all-time favorite neo-noir films, and Looper is endlessly watchable. He’s certainly a director not afraid to take risks. He’s got another fantastic cast assembled for this murder mystery, including Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Christopher Plummer. I think Johnson is really in his element when it comes to slick crime dramas, so I’m really hoping this baby clicks.
Jojo Rabbit. (October)
A young boy who adores Adolph Hitler so much that the dictator is his imaginary friend has his naive faith in the Reich tested when he learns that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.
Well…that sounds…weird. Leave it to Taika Waititi to bring this very surreal dramatic comedy to the screen. Based on a his screenplay adaptation of the novel Caging Skies, Waititi directs and stars as the imaginary version of Hitler. Surrounded by an electric cast including Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson, I like the odds for Taika to make Jojo Rabbit the controversial success story of 2019.
Lucy in the Sky. (To Be Announced)
A female astronaut (Natalie Portman) returns from an existential experience in space to the mundane surface world to find her life falling apart.
Early footage from this film looks powerful. Portman conveys a deep psychological nuance to her character, who is both inspiring and terrifying as an emotionally fraught lead. This film could go anywhere, as it is supposedly based in part on the story of the astronaut who wound up driving cross country in a diaper to kidnap her old flame and fellow astronaut (here played by Jon Hamm) after he started a new relationship. There are several noted comedians on cast, such as Nick Offerman and Tig Notaro…so it could play a bit like a farce, although the trailer seems more intent on being the harrowing story of a woman coming apart at the seams set to gorgeous visuals.