FilmSpace: The films you should get excited about in 2019

Film critic Calum Cooper looks at the new film releases he’s most looking forward to this year.

2019 has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start for me. But I take comfort in knowing that there’s a bunch of films I’m really looking forward to seeing this year. Blockbusters are getting bigger, director’s with excellent first movies are already returning with new original pieces, and follow ups to some exciting franchises look set to dazzle once again. I’ve gone through various lists of films due for release in 2019, and I’ve picked 15 that I’m particularly looking forward to. I’ve listed them in order of release date, give or take a month or two as not all of them have confirmed release dates yet. I’ve probably missed out some obvious choices, and I’ll likely be kicking myself for doing so come the end of the year. Nevertheless, let’s crack on and get ecstatic for what’s to come for 2019’s cinema.

Mary, Queen of Scots – 18 January

Technically a 2018 film, but due to the UK’s distribution habits we’re getting it in January. I’m completely embracing my inner Scotsman with this one, but I do think there’s cinematic potential in the story of our infamous queen. With such a strong cast, I’m curious to see what it amounts to. Being a history graduate, I can already tell that historical accuracy is going to be shot to pieces. But as long as it serves the narrative and themes of the story then we should still have something fun on our hands.

Velvet Buzzsaw – 1 February (Netflix)

I’m excited for this film for one primary reason. It reunites actor Jake Gyllenhaal with director Dan Gilroy. The last time they worked together was for Gilroy’s 2014 debut crime thriller Nightcrawler, which has since become my favourite film of the past decade, and one of my new favourite films in general. That alone is enough to entice me into a viewing, but its broken up narrative and supernatural horror concept is another intriguing factor. It makes this film a very different one from Nightcrawler. I was hooked from the start, but I hope it also demonstrates range for Gilroy and his filmmaking.

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World – 1 February

How to Train Your Dragon is arguably DreamWorks’ most consistent franchise with gorgeous visuals, interesting stories, and dramatic moments that are surprisingly deep (e.g. anything with Stoick the Vast in the last film). They’re some of the only films I actively seek out to watch in 3D as the animation is just that stellar, and I’m not making an exception with this one. Its world and characters are so engaging that I was sold even before the mysterious trailers.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part – 8 February

Believe it or not, it was 2014’s The LEGO Movie that first got me into writing film reviews. I had a very dismissive outlook on its initial trailer, yet I was so stunned by how wrong I was when I saw the film that I had to write down my enthusiasm for it. Now we have a sequel, and I am anything but cynical towards it. With Lord and Miller remaining to write the screenplay, and an inventively wacky premise judging from the trailers, this film looks set to be as grand and as funny as its predecessor.

Captain Marvel – 8 March

As well as Avengers, there’s two more MCU films coming out in 2019 – this and Spider-Man: Far From Home. I decided to go with Captain Marvel as I know nothing about her. The premise looks intriguing, her powers seem really cool, and I love Brie Larson. What’s not to be excited about? While it’s true that the trailers haven’t given much away, I don’t mind as I know so little about Captain Marvel anyway. Besides, the MCU has 20 films and most have been, at the very least, passable. I think it’s safe to assume that the company knows what it’s doing by now.

READ MORE FROM FILMSPACE: Calum Cooper’s Top 10 Films of 2018

Us – 15 March

Jordon Peele’s Get Out was one of 2017’s best films. It powerfully showcased Peele’s natural talent for eerie, thought-provoking stories, themes and atmosphere. Us is his newest feature, and it looks horrifying in all the best ways. The setup is intensely creepy, and the possibilities of where it could go are endless. I love a good horror movie, and with the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke leading the film, I’m hoping for another great work from Peele.

Missing Link – 12 April

Laika is a stop-motion Claymation company that doesn’t get nearly enough love for the beautiful, imaginative animations they produce. With esteemed works like Paranorman, Kubo and the Two Strings, and one of the best animations in the past 20 years, Coraline, I genuinely believe that this studio could become to stop-motion what Studio Ghibli is to anime. Missing Link has a rather bonkers sounding idea to it, but it’s one that I’m enthralled to see for myself. With a wonderful cast including Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Emma Thompson, as well as Chris Butler’s direction, it’s a film I plan to pay to see to show my support for this wonderful studio.

Eighth Grade – 26 April

I’m annoyed at how late we’re getting this film in the UK, but better late than never as they say. Having already been screened in the summer of 2018 for the US and other territories, I’ve heard nothing but acclaim for Eighth Grade. It’s the debut of YouTuber turned writer/director, Bo Burnham, a trend that’s usually a recipe for disaster given The Smosh Movie and F the Prom. However, the film’s study on social anxiety is what draws me to it. Its premise of someone desperately trying to fit in at a crucial point in their life is one that’s frighteningly relatable to me, and no doubt plenty of others based on the reviews. It seems like a very personal film, and I’m an absolute sucker for those. I’ve got a lot of hype for this one, so I pray it’s everything the universe is telling me it is.

Avengers: Endgame – 26 April

Can’t help myself with this entry. I may not be the keenest on blockbusters, and I agree that we may be getting too much of a good thing with the superhero genre. But even I have to side with my inner child when it comes to an Avengers film. The last one was a ton of fun that set a tremendous precedent, being the milestone the MCU was building to, and I hope this serves as a fine conclusion to these films.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 26 July

I’ll confess, a part of me is really unsure what to think of this film. We’ve had so many movies on the Manson Family and their grim history that to do another one seems exploitative at this point. However, Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker I have enormous respect for. Say what you will about his movies, but there’s always a distinctive style to them. He’s claimed that this film is more about the relationship between Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s fictional characters, with the Manson Family acting as background pieces akin to Hitler and the Nazis in Inglorious Basterds. If this is the case then we could have an interesting new take on the flaws of Hollywood and its ideology. Only time will tell, but the possibility of Tarantino dishing out more of his raw wit and talent is something that’s always going to catch my attention.

READ MORE FROM FILMSPACE: The Favourite

Jojo Rabbit – Release Date TBC

God I love Taika Waititi. The man has such a bizarre style with each of his films, whether it be What We Do in the Shadows or Thor: Ragnarok, but I utterly adore it. Jojo Rabbit might be his strangest film yet. Based on the book, Caging Skies, a boy in the Hitler Young, Jojo, starts fantasising about an imaginary friend, a friend who is supposed to be Hitler but is instead played by Waititi himself. When his ideals are challenged by a young girl, Jojo must confront his inner demons, all while this ethnically inaccurate imaginary Hitler tries to reinforce his old beliefs. It doesn’t get weirder than that, yet that’s why I love Waititi as a filmmaker. The film is being marketed as a dark comedy, and the potential is certainly there. Although, I can’t wait to see what else Waititi can do with an idea this completely absurd.

The Irishman – Release Date TBC (Netflix)

Martin Scorsese is hoping to release a Netflix movie this year. It’s about the Irish mobster Frank Sheeran. It’s written by Steven Zaillian, writer of Gangs of New York. It stars Robert DeNiro as Sheeran, as well as Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in one of his first roles since retiring from acting in 1999. Need I say more?

Knives Out – Release Date TBC (estimated 27 November)

Described as a modern take on the classic whodunit mystery, what excites me the most about this film is its rich cast and its gifted director. The cast includes Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Lakeith Stanfield, and Toni Colette among a ton of others. That’s impressive enough, but the film also sees director Rian Johnson returning to his Breaking Bad days, as he dabbles with crime storytelling once again. Whether it’s Breaking Bad, Looper, or Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Johnson’s contagious ambition has always shone through with his films, and I hope Knives Out is going to be yet another ode to this man’s sheer talent as a filmmaker. Speaking of Star Wars

Star Wars: Episode IX – 20 December

The sequel trilogy comes to a close this year. I’ll be sad to see it end, as I’ve come to adore the characters of Rey and Kylo Ren, as well as what this trilogy has done to examine the roots of this beloved franchise, and what it should ultimately stand for. Obviously there have been some detractors because of this, including some particularly ugly cases that truly reveal the worst of nerd culture. But, despite that, I welcome all opinions as long as each side maintains respect for the other point of view. This trilogy hasn’t been perfect, far from it. But, personally, it’s completely revitalised my love for Star Wars. I have no idea where this film could go, and I find that incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens, and I loved The Last Jedi, so I hope JJ Abrams is able to pilot this trilogy towards a satisfying conclusion.

Little Women – Release Date TBC (estimated 25 December)

I know this is the eighth adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, but I just love Greta Gerwig too much. You probably saw from my ravings on my Top 10 Films of 2018 list that I rather enjoyed Lady Bird. So much so that the moment I saw Gerwig’s name attached to this film I was hooked. But it’s not just her natural charisma behind the camera that makes me keen. It’s the cast. Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Emma Watson – the list just goes on. Add on solid source material, as well as a conscious decision to explore theme over narrative here, and we have a recipe for hopefully another charming addition to Gerwig’s filmography.

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