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Movies To Be Really Excited About In 2019

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The Upside, Jan. 11

STX Entertainment

It’s unfortunate that we have to start 2019 with a reminder that Harvey Weinstein exists, and yet here we are: The Upside was a Weinstein Company movie that premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and it was supposed to open in March 2018 — until the company’s implosion following the public revelations of Weinstein’s monstrousness. The movie is about Phillip (Bryan Cranston), a millionaire with quadriplegia who hires Dell (Kevin Hart), a down-and-out ex-con who shows up for a job interview as a caretaker just to get a signature so he can keep his parole officer happy. I saw the film at TIFF, and Cranston and Hart have a winning rapport as their respective characters learn the lessons about themselves and each other that you can kind of see coming from a mile away. STX Entertainment ultimately rescued the film, and gave it one of the lowest-stakes release dates possible at the beginning of January. But there’s reason to think The Upside could be a hit: It’s an English-language remake of the 2011 French movie The Intouchables, which was an international sensation and the top-grossing movie of all time in France. Really, everything had finally started looking, er, up for The Upside — and then Hart created a PR nightmare when he refused to apologize for his old anti-gay tweets after he was hired to host the Oscars, then quit the job, then apologized, and then talked to Ellen DeGeneres about the Oscars scandal while promoting the movie and somehow made things even worse. Poor The Upside! It cannot catch a break! —Adam B. Vary

Glass, Jan. 18

Universal Pictures

(from left) Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass, James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde, Bruce Willis as David Dunn/The Overseer, and Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple in “Glass,” written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Had there ever been a secret sequel before 2016’s Split? Yes, we’ve all made fun of M. Night Shyamalan’s twist endings, but the end of Split — which revealed through a Bruce Willis cameo that it was set in the same universe as Shyamalan’s 2000 movie, Unbreakable — was fantastic. The trailer for Glass shows Unbreakable’s David Dunn (Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) in a psychiatric institution with Split’s Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). Though Shyamalan has said you don’t need to have seen either movie, I don’t really see how that can be true! Glass is going to be a wild ride (and surely a huge hit, possibly the first blockbuster of 2019). Consider Shyamalan’s comeback complete. —Kate Aurthur

Serenity, Jan. 25

Aviron Pictures

This movie’s release date has been pushed (ugh) to January (ugh ugh!) which is usually a sign of doom. But we’re including it on this list because it stars two Oscar winners (Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway), and because its director, Steven Knight, has created two interesting TV shows (Peaky Blinders and Taboo) and one really riveting movie (Locke). It was riveting to me, anyway. Not everyone was entertained by watching Tom Hardy’s Locke drive in a car, talking on the phone for 85 minutes, but I was! The trailer for this movie looks like a cross between a Liam Neeson potboiler and a 1950s film noir in which McConaughey plays a sucker who murders the new husband (Jason Clarke) of his ex-wife (Hathaway). That’s probably overly complimentary, given the pushed date and the January of it all? But I have a low bar for this sort of movie, personally, so if you’re like me, let’s go. —KA

Miss Bala, Feb. 1

Sony Pictures

This movie is an American remake of Gerardo Naranjo’s well-reviewed 2012 Mexican thriller of the same name. Gloria — who used to live in Mexico, but now lives in Los Angeles — goes home to visit her best friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo), she’s kidnapped by a drug cartel and has to do their bidding in order to stay alive. (Hint: Their bidding is illegal and gets her into trouble with US law enforcement!) Twilight‘s Catherine Hardwicke — who is so skilled, and was sounding the alarm about Hollywood’s gender bias behind the camera in 2015 — is the director, and Gina Rodriguez plays Gloria. In other words, hell yes! Also: Sony made this movie for $15 million (a rarity for a studio film), and Hardwicke made sure the crew and cast were 95% Latinx (unprecedented for a studio movie made in the United States). I know I will be going to see Miss Bala the first day it opens, not only because the trailer looks like it kicks ass but because I want to show support for it. —KA

Velvet Buzzsaw, Feb. 1

Writer-director Dan Gilroy, who was behind the dark drama Nightcrawler, is not saying much yet about what Velvet Buzzsaw is about. Nor is Netflix, which is releasing this movie after its Sundance premiere in January. But here’s the spare logline: “Velvet Buzzsaw is a thriller set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles, where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce.” Well! Now we know everything, don’t we? Here’s what we do know: The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal and (Gilroy’s wife) Rene Russo, who also costarred (to say the least) in Nightcrawler. But it’s an ensemble, one Gilroy compared to Robert Altman’s The Player before he started filming it, and also stars Zawe Ashton, Natalia Dyer, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, and Tom Sturridge. He also told Business Insider that he originally wanted to release it around Halloween, and “that will give you some indication what kind of movie it is.” Hmm. Art world horror? OK! —KA

Cold Pursuit, Feb. 8

Hans Petter Moland directs the American remake of his own Norwegian thriller, In Order of Disappearance, in which a snow plow driver (here, Liam Neeson) takes revenge on a drug gang that killed his son. Laura Dern costars as his wife, and I do hope she gets things to do — the female leads in Neeson movies usually don’t! This trailer looks like good fun, but as readers of previous editions of this list know, I am a sucker for a Neeson thriller, no matter how bad. (And The Commuter truly did test me, and yet here I am again, excited! On second thought, maybe Adam should have written this blurb.) —KA

High Flying Bird, Feb. 8

Stefanie Loos / AFP / Getty Images

Steven Soderbergh

This Steven Soderbergh–directed movie is a reunion between Soderbergh and star André Holland (who both worked on The Knick), and a Moonlight reunion for Holland and (its Oscar-winning) screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney. So those are good things already! Holland plays a sports agent during a basketball lockout, Zazie Beetz plays his colleague, and Vine/Instagram star Melvin Gregg plays their rookie client. It seems from the one-sentence logline that the agent is getting the rookie into some shady business (“an intriguing and controversial business proposition”), but we will have to wait to see. High Flying Bird is the second movie Soderbergh has shot on an iPhone (last year’s Unsane was the first). And this is another Netflix movie (get used to it). —KA

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Feb. 8

Warner Bros.

After the 2014 original Lego Movie, which was so brilliant, the Lego movies have been a bit…not great. I have to whisper so my kids don’t hear me saying that about Ninjago — but honestly, outside of Lego-obsessed kids and their beleaguered parents, who knows what Ninjago is? I question that choice! Anyway, they’re going back to the basics and continuing the adventures of Emmet (Chris Pratt), Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), and Batman (Will Arnett). This time, Lego Duplo invaders from space will try to destroy Bricksburg. Let’s hope it’s awesome. (Sorry! I had to!) —KA

There’s a sense of cosmic justice to the idea of gender-flipping the 2000 romantic comedy What Women Want — starring the (not quite as) disgraced (as one might hope) movie star Mel Gibson — with the indomitable Taraji P. Henson in the lead role instead. But in the process, it appears the “romantic” part of the story has been reduced. Whereas Gibson’s character was a chauvinistic ad exec passed over for a promotion by his eventual love interest (played by Helen Hunt), Henson’s Ali Davis plays an outspoken sports agent passed over for a partnership by…a seemingly random white male doofus she works with. In her frustration, Ali visits a psychic — played by Erykah Badu! — drinks some magic tea, bumps her head, and suddenly can hear every man’s inner thoughts. Honestly, that sounds like a horror movie to me, but the trailers for the movie made me laugh, most of all at Shaquille O’Neal (playing himself) thinking, “Why am I thinking in the third person?” —ABV

Happy Death Day 2U, Feb. 14

Universal Pictures

The original movie, 2017’s Happy Death Day, made more than $122 million on a tiny Blumhouse budget ($4.8 million), so of course there’s an immediate sequel. Also, director Christopher Landon said that before the first movie — which he tried to make for 10 years — came out, he already knew what a second one would be. At the time, he said it would explain why Tree (Jessica Rothe) got stuck in a time loop (and does again, it seems). I’ve heard such good things about Happy Death Day that I wish I weren’t too chickenshit to see it. I’m sloooowwwwwwlllllllly psyching myself into watching it before Happy Death Day 2U comes out, and the clever trailer for it is further convincing me. (Warning: Don’t watch that trailer if you haven’t seen the first one and care about spoilers, because Tree says how it ends.) —KA

Rhythm Section, Feb. 22

Anthony Harvey / AFP / Getty Images

Blake Lively

Blake Lively plays Stephanie Patrick, whose entire family is killed in a plane crash (a plane she was supposed to be on). She is then recruited by an intelligence agency that’s exploiting her desire for revenge on the terrorists who took down the plane. (The “rhythm section” refers to how she is taught to control her breathing and heart rate.) It’s basically a Jason Bourne–style movie (and is based on Mark Burnell’s book franchise), but with a woman, and has a $50 million budget. And Reed Morano, the Emmy-winning director who established the aesthetic of The Handmaid’s Tale, directed it, and it had to shut down production for months because Lively’s hand was injured, and…I’m just nervous for this movie, and want it to succeed! Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown costar. —KA

Mapplethorpe, March 1

Samuel Goldwyn

Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown) plays Robert Mapplethorpe, the revolutionary queer artist who died of AIDS in 1989. Mapplethorpe is the first narrative feature by the acclaimed documentarian Ondi Timoner, who made Dig! and We Live in Public, both of which won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for documentaries. This film follows the photographer through the ’70s and ’80s, during which he became a transgressive, sought-after figure in New York’s art world. (After Mapplethorpe’s death, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati was charged with obscenity for displaying his career retrospective, but that isn’t portrayed in this film.) This movie received mixed reviews after it was at the Tribeca Film Festival in spring 2018, but it seems notable for its subject matter and that it may be released unrated because of its sexual imagery and content. Oh, and it’s interesting to me that Eliza Dushku and her brother Nate Dushku produced this movie! —KA

Captain Marvel, March 8

Marvel Studios

The end of Avengers: Infinity War was so desperately bleak, with half the universe turning to ash and no clear sense of how the remaining heroes could ever put things right again. As everything was literally falling apart, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) grabbed some kind of sci-fi pager, and before he also disintegrated, he sent an SOS to the one person who could possibly save the day/world/universe: Captain Marvel.

And yet, you’d be forgiven for not knowing much about this person. Comics fans know Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, as one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel comics canon. But it’s taken Marvel Studios 11 years to make a movie about her because, well, I’m sure there were many complicated creative concerns involved, and also, before Wonder Woman, Hollywood was convinced people wouldn’t go to movies about a superhero who is also a woman. Dumb! At least now we get to see her in action, played by Room’s Brie Larson, and her first movie will be set in the 1990s. It’ll also serve as something of an origin story for Fury, who appears eye patch–free and played by Jackson with a CG facelift (though, frankly, the man is ageless as it is). Apart from explaining who she is and where she came from, Captain Marvel also needs to set up whatever Carol’s going to be doing in Avengers: Endgame, and account for why she hasn’t been around for the last 20 movies.

That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the indie filmmakers behind Half Nelson, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and Mississippi Grind. The trailers betray little sense of how they will apply that sensibility to a cosmic action spectacular, but they did convince Annette Bening to play an alien, which is a pretty good start. —ABV

Gloria Bell, March 8

I saw Gloria Bell at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and it is an utter delight. As is Julianne Moore’s performance in the title role. The Chilean director Sebastián Lelio, who won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar last year for A Fantastic Woman, directed the English-language remake of his own movie, 2013’s Gloria. At the premiere in Toronto, Lelio explained that he had a meeting with Moore, and she kept talking about how much she loved Gloria, and asked whether he was considering remaking it. He said something like (I’m not putting quotation marks around this because it’s just from my memory), Well, I would if you would star in it. And here we are.

In Gloria Bell, an upper-middle-class Los Angeles woman with adult children goes to discos because she loves to dance, and would also like to meet a man. And she does! Arnold: He’s played by John Turturro, who after playing character roles for years, is a surprisingly appealing romantic lead. Everyone is good in this movie, from Brad Garrett, who plays Gloria’s ex-husband, to Holland Taylor, who plays her mother, to Michael Cera as her son — and sometimes he annoys me! Gloria Bell isn’t a mystery of any kind, but I don’t want to spoil a single thing that happens in it, because you should experience it yourself. I will say this: You will have a smile on your face for 96% of the time you watch this movie. (For the other 4%, your legs may have fallen asleep, or something.) Go see Gloria Bell! —KA

Margin Call director J.C. Chandor cowrote the script with Mark Boal (who wrote the original screenplay, back when Kathryn Bigelow was going to direct this movie). Ex–Special Forces guys (Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal) plan to rob a drug lord, but then everything goes wrong. This movie has gone through many incarnations, but now it will actually exist (on Netflix, no less). I don’t know if this movie is going to be good, but I do know it’s the reason we know about Affleck’s back tattoo. Bless his heart, as Jennifer Garner would say! —KA

Five Feet Apart, March 22

Haley Lu Richardson (so good in The Edge of Seventeen) and Cole Sprouse costar in Five Feet Apart, in which they both play teens with cystic fibrosis who can’t get too close lest one make the other sick. From the trailer, it seems that she is careful, he is a rebel, and WAIT A DAMN SECOND, this movie was directed was directed by Justin Baldoni, aka Rafael from Jane the Virgin! Who knew? As for Five Feet Apart, it’s been nearly five years since the similarly themed weepie The Fault in Our Stars, and I’m already crying. —KA

Us, March 22

Universal Pictures

Much like my cowriter — and friend! — Kate, I have enough dread and anxiety in my real life that I do not as a rule seek them out in horror movies. And yet, here I am, quivering with total excitement (and abject fear) at the prospect of Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out, because whereas Peele’s Oscar-winning debut was more of a thriller about race, the trailer for Us makes abundantly clear that it is a full-on horror film. It’s about a vacationing family, headed by Black Panther costars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, who are confronted by, well, I’m going to go with the worst versions of themselves. At a preview screening for the trailer, Peele said that Us is about how we are “our own worst enemy,” and creepy scissors and Elisabeth Moss are also somehow involved. Get Out was a perfect movie perfectly timed to its moment, so it was going to be a tall order for any follow-up to match it, but I kept getting goosebumps writing this entry, which I take as a very good sign. (Full disclosure: Peele’s brother-in-law is BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti.) —ABV

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, March 22

Brilliant architect Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) abandons her career in Los Angeles, moves with her equally brilliant husband (Billy Crudup) to Seattle, devotes her life to their daughter Bee (newcomer Emma Nelson), and clashes with her uptight neighbor Audrey (Kristen Wiig). Starved for something greater in her life, however, Bernadette disappears just as Bee is about to leave for boarding school, and the journey to find her leads to Antarctica. I’m not sure if cowriter-director Richard Linklater’s low-key, straightforward aesthetic was the best fit to adapt Maria Semple’s beloved, best-selling comic novel, but any chance to see Blanchett play a genius is a chance worth taking. —ABV

Captive State, March 29

Focus Features

From what the internet has gleaned, Captive State is the story of what things are like 10 years after an alien invasion, specifically in Chicago. John Goodman plays a cop who has gone along with the aliens and their insidious messaging, and Ashton Sanders (Chiron in the middle section of Moonlight) plays Gabriel, who tries to resist the aliens’ conditioning and joins a rebel organization. Captive State has a clever viral marketing campaign, and the teaser trailers make it look so good. My fingers are crossed. And here’s a fun fact: Erica Beeney, who wrote The Battle of Shaker Heights, the movie starring Shia LaBeouf that was featured in Project Greenlight’s second season, cowrote Captive State with her husband, Rupert Wyatt (the movie’s director). —KA

Dumbo, March 29

Walt Disney Studios

In Disney’s relentless campaign to make live-action remakes of its beloved animated classics, there appear to be two kinds of movies: those that strive to recreate their source material, like Beauty and the Beast, and those that try to reinvent it, like Maleficent. The latest, Dumbo, appears to be leaning more toward the latter, but that’s pretty much by necessity: At just 64 minutes, the original 1941 Dumbo’s slight storyline barely features any human characters and saves the title elephant’s miraculous skill of using his giant ears to fly for its climax. Oh, and then there’s the scene with the pack of crows that are clearly coded as offensive black stereotypes. Yeah, no. Instead, director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Ghost in the Shell, Transformers 2, 3, and 4) appear to have jettisoned the talking animals in favor of a human story, with Colin Farrell as Dumbo’s caretaker, and Batman Returns stars Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, playing respectively a wealthy showrunner named V.A. Vandevere and a circus ringmaster named Max Medici. Also Eva Green is a trapeze artist, because of course she is. —ABV

Pet Sematary, April 5

Paramount Pictures

Stephen King’s work has long been popular to adapt as movies, but in recent years — particularly with the horror boom — the trend has exploded. With Pet Sematary, the plot of the 1983 King novel (and the 1989 Mary Lambert–directed movie) is creepy as hell. A doctor and his family (two kids, one cat) move to a big house in Maine, right next to a dangerous road that semitrucks use to speed. In the woods behind their house, there’s also a pet cemetery and a malevolent burial ground that can bring the dead back to life. Nothing good comes of this! The remake of this new adaptation has had a long road to your screen, and I do get the appeal of the story. But the catchphrase of Pet Sematary is “sometimes dead is better,” and that’s kind of how I feel about this movie. —KA

Shazam!, April 5

Warner Bros.

Billy Batson (Andi Mack’s Asher Angel) is a young kid in the foster system who gets summoned by the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), who then gives Billy the ability to become an adult superhero (played by Zachary Levi) when he says the wizard’s name. Like, all he has to do is say “Shazam!” and then, poof, he’s Zach Levi in tights. It’s a perfectly silly conceit for a superhero movie, though I’m intrigued that horror filmmaker David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation) is directing this, so maybe it’ll be darker than the trailer suggests. Anyway, here’s some amusing useless trivia: The title character for this DC Comics adaptation was once called Captain Marvel before the Captain Marvel of Captain Marvel was called Captain Marvel. —ABV

Hellboy, April 12

The original version of the Hellboy movie franchise — directed by Guillermo del Toro, starring Ron Perlman, and based on the Mike Mignola comics — came to an abrupt end in February 2017 when del Toro tweeted that his hopes for a third movie were dead forever. But then a few months later, a reboot was announced, starring Stranger Things’ David Harbour and directed by Neil Marshall. (Marshall directed The Descent and also the widely derided, except by me, Doomsday in 2008 — so yay!) From my casual observations, it seemed like when the reboot was first announced, the fandom was not thrilled, but maybe they’re warming up to it now. Without any personal stake in this, I will say that this movie has a pretty great cast for a genre movie, with Ian McShane, Daniel Dae Kim, Sophie Okonedo, Sasha Lane, and Thomas Haden Church costarring — I mean, Milla Jovovich is playing a character named Nimue the Blood Queen, for god’s sake! —KA

Well, isn’t this the cutest thing? Black-ish’s Marsai Martin thought of this idea, a reversal of Big and 13 Going on 30. Jordan Sanders, a stressed-out tech executive (Regina Hall), wakes up on the morning of a big presentation as her 13-year-old self (Martin). Issa Rae plays Jordan’s tortured assistant, the only person who knows what’s happening. Martin is an executive producer! Tina Gordon, the Drumline screenwriter, directs. Martin told the Hollywood Reporter that she had the idea for Little after she fired an agent who told her to “just chill” during a hiatus. Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is a producer, as is the prolific hitmaker Will Packer. —KA

Avengers: Endgame, April 26

Marvel Entertainment

Who is going to die? That’s all I keep thinking about with this film, especially after Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige promised that Avengers 4 would provide a “definitive ending” to the saga laid out in the 22-movie Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, I’m not sure how definitive an ending can be with a new Spider-Man movie debuting less than three months later, despite the fact that Peter Parker turned to dust — along with half the universe — at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. But Chris Evans has been pretty clear that he’s done playing Captain America after this film, and things look bleak as fuck for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in the first trailer for Endgame. And if people think Endgame is going to be about undoing the ending of Infinity War, well, the films’ screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely told me that it (probably!) won’t: “[Endgame] doesn’t do what you think it does,” Markus said. “It is a different movie than you think it is.” Eeeeeeek! —ABV

Troop Zero, Spring TBA

Amazon Studios

Mckenna Grace (Fuller House) plays Christmas Flint, a girl in 1977 Georgia who wants to join NASA. When she gets her chance — this part of the plot description confuses me a little, admittedly — she recruits a troop of other girls to join a talent competition, with the stakes being that the winners get to record a Golden Record that will be sent into space on NASA’s next mission. Lucy Alibar, the cowriter of Beasts of the Southern Wild, adapted her own play Christmas and Jubilee Behold the Meteor Shower. Viola Davis, Allison Janney, and Mike Epps also star, and the avant garde team Bert & Bertie direct. I don’t know what this movie is, but I want to see it! —KA

Wine Country, May TBA

Instagram

Siren! Siren! This is Amy Poehler’s directorial debut in a movie she’s also starring in! Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, and Maya Rudolph go on a ladies trip to Napa to celebrate one of the friends’ 50th birthday. But then they start fighting, and wonder whether they’re really friends. I cannot wait to watch the shit out of this on Netflix. —KA

UglyDolls, May 3

STX Entertainment

The Uglydoll toys came out in 2001, and the movie rights were originally bought in 2011 by Illumination, the company behind Despicable Me. After several more detours — at one point Robert Rodriguez was going to direct this movie — STX became the studio behind the film, Shrek 2’s Kelly Asbury signed on to direct, and Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Janelle Monáe, Nick Jonas, Pitbull, and more were cast. Moxy (Clarkson) is very happy in Uglyville, but then she ventures out and discovers Perfection, where Lou (Nick Jonas) is in charge of the perfect dolls. He’s presumably also in charge of making the UglyDolls feel like shit about themselves — until everyone learns important lessons. This sounds sweet. Also, yay, Kelly Clarkson is starring in a movie! —KA

Pokémon Detective Pikachu, May 10

Warner Bros.

When the first trailer for this movie dropped in November, the internet went crazy — oh, the memes! They were so fun, particularly the ones that were A Star Is Born mashups, with Jigglypuff as Ally. Pokémon Detective Pikachu also has a plot. Tim (Justice Smith of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), a former Pokémon trainer, goes in search of his missing father, with the aid of Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). I predict that this movie might actually be good, but please do make fun of me if I turn out to be wrong. —KA

The Sun Is Also a Star, May 17

Warner Bros.

This movie is based on Nicola Yoon’s best-selling book from 2016, a finalist for the National Book Award. (Yoon wrote Everything, Everything as well.) Here, Natasha (Yara Shahidi) is a regimented New York City teenager who is trying to stop her family from being deported to Jamaica. In the course of one day, she meets Daniel (Charles Melton) — another practical sort, but with the heart of a poet — and they begin to fall in love. The book is told from their alternating points of view as they keep running into each other. Ry Russo-Young directs. (Have you noticed how many more women directors there are this year compared to previous years? It actually feels like something has changed.) —KA

Aladdin, May 24

Walt Disney Studios

I have no idea what to make of Guy Ritchie directing a live-action musical based on Disney’s 1992 animated classic, with Will Smith stepping into Robin Williams’ formidable shoes as the genie. People freaked out at Entertainment Weekly’s cover story on the film when it looked like Smith wouldn’t be blue, prompting Smith to promise his character would mostly be blue — and CG! — in the film. OK! All I know for certain is the actor playing Jafar, Marwan Kenzari, is really, really hot, which, again, OK! —ABV

Booksmart, May 24

Vivien Killilea / Getty Images

Olivia Wilde

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play smarty-pants best friends who realize they’ve missed out on all the fun of high school and try to make up for that in one night. Dream team Billie Lourd and Noah Galvin play fellow teens. Booksmart is Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. —KA

Brightburn, May 24

Sony Pictures

What if Superman were evil? That’s the premise of this superhero horror film, produced by James Gunn — his first project since getting fired from directing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 due to bad tweets — and written by Gunn’s brother Brian and cousin Mark, who also wrote Journey 2: The Mysterious Island together. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman (The Office) play parents who rescue a baby who crashes to Earth, only to realize as he hits puberty that his supernatural powers make him a menace rather than a hero. —ABV

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, May 31

Warner Bros.

This sequel to 2014’s Godzilla is the third movie in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, which also included 2017’s Kong: Skull Island (and will include 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong). With the Earth on the brink of environmental extinction, a broken family — played by Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, and Millie Bobby Brown — go in search of the Titans, the monsters that might save the world. Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins return from the first Godzilla, but there’s a new director for this one, with Michael Dougherty (Krampus) tagging in for Gareth Edwards. —KA

Rocketman, May 31

Paramount Pictures

The release of Rocketman, the story of Elton John’s rise, means there will be two biopics of flamboyant ’70s pop stars in a one-year period! Bohemian Rhapsody is the other one, obviously. And Dexter Fletcher, Rocketman’s director, is who Fox hired to take over Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was fired, so there’s that too. Life is funny sometimes. I was not a fan of Bohemian Rhapsody, for reasons my colleague Pier Dominguez summarized perfectly, but I look forward to Rocketman with fresh eyes. Taron Egerton plays John, Jamie Bell plays John’s longtime cowriter Bernie Taupin, and (somewhat confusingly!) Bryce Dallas Howard plays John’s mother. (Is that in flashbacks? Help!) There are some red flags about this movie, like how much John has been behind it from the start, and that Egerton is singing rather than lip-synching. But…fresh eyes! —KA

Dark Phoenix, June 7

20th Century Fox

As I wrote last year, she typed ominously, “what X-Men fans hope will be a corrective to the dreadful Last Stand, X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be the directorial debut of Simon Kinberg, who has overseen the franchise for years. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, and Sophie Turner all return.” And that wasn’t the only X-Men movie Fox held in 2018: As I wrote last year, she typed semi-hysterically, “In The New Mutants, an X-Men superhero horror movie, young mutants (Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, and Charlie Heaton among them) are held captive in a facility.” That one is currently scheduled for Aug. 2, but who knows! —KA

Flarsky, June 7

Kevin Winter / Getty Images, Michael Kovac / Getty Images

In Flarsky, Seth Rogen plays Fred Flarsky, a down-and-out journalist who decides to pursue his childhood babysitter Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) as she runs for president. O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel, June Diane Raphael, Andy Serkis, and Alexander Skarsgård (as the prime minister of Canada, ha) costar. This movie was going to come out in February, but after positive test screenings, Lionsgate moved it to a summer spot. —KA

Men in Black: International, June 14

Sony Pictures

There was a fleeting moment when it looked like Sony Pictures was going to mash together its Men in Black and 21 Jump Street franchises, an idea so delightfully preposterous that it was destined to never happen. Instead, Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite for a more prosaic expansion of the 22-year-old (!) franchise that, as the straightforward title suggests, extends the MIB agency from the US to the world. Or at least London. Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson costar, and F. Gary Gray directs. I love everyone involved, but I don’t know. The best parts of Men in Black movies were when they were funny. The trailer is…mildly amusing? We’ll see. —ABV

Toy Story 4, June 21

2010’s Toy Story 3 had a perfect — perfect — ending that left me and pretty much everyone sobbing into their popcorn. Since, Pixar has revisited Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the rest of the gang in a series of shorts, but this full-on sequel has really gone through it, losing original writers Will McCormack and Rashida Jones because they felt, as they said in a statement, that “women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice” at the studio. That news came on the heels of allegations that the film’s original director, John Lasseter, had a pattern of inappropriate physical contact with Pixar employees, which eventually led to Lasseter — who cofounded Pixar, and ran it for decades — to depart the film, and the studio.

Now Josh Cooley, who directed the Inside Out short Riley’s First Date?, is making his feature debut with Toy Story 4. Back when Lasseter, Jones, and McCormack were involved, the film was going to be a love story between Woody and Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who we learned in Toy Story 3 had been given away. That story may still be in play, but all we know for certain is that Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key play a pair of carnival toys named Bunny and Ducky, and Tony Hale plays Forky, a kindergarten art project in an existential crisis because he’s a plastic utensil that has been fashioned into a toy. All of these things are great, and so despite the behind-the-scenes turmoil, I remain cautiously optimistic that the perfect — PERFECT — ending of Toy Story 3 was not in vain. —ABV

Spider-Man: Far From Home, July 5

Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

Tom Holland

It’s a little weird to talk about this movie without understanding how Tom Holland’s Peter Parker comes back to life after Avengers: Infinity War, but clearly he does. We know the film takes place abroad while Peter’s on a school trip, and apparently Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury — also resurrected! — recruits Peter to team up with a…mysterious gentleman named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal). Beck is really the Spider-Man villain Mysterio, so don’t expect their partnership to last very long. Gyllenhaal’s own relationship with the web-slinger, by the way, is a little thorny: For a couple weeks in 2003, he was on deck to replace Tobey Maguire for Spider-Man 2, until Maguire either healed from an injury or stopped stonewalling Sony for more money, depending on who you ask. Gyllenhaal even recently appeared to joke about the whole thing when he confirmed he was playing Mysterio on Instagram.

Meanwhile, after Infinity War and the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Far From Home will be the third movie prominently featuring Spider-Man in just over a year, and that’s not counting the blockbuster success of Venom — based on a character from the Spidey universe — or the wildly popular Spider-Man video game for the PS4. Is there such a thing as too much Spider-Man? We will find out! —ABV

Stuber, July 12

Valerie Macon / AFP / Getty Images

Kumail Nanjiani

Dave Bautista plays a detective chasing a killer, and Kumail Nanjiani plays the Uber driver who picks him up and gets sucked into the chase. Stuber is Nanjiani’s first leading role since The Big Sick (in which he also drove for Uber, actually), and as far as we can tell, the first time a Pakistani American has led a huge studio comedy. —KA

The Lion King, July 19

Walt Disney Studios

What is there even to say about what will surely be not only one of the biggest movies of the year, but a cultural phenomenon? You can call these live-action versions of Disney animated classics a cynical cash grab, or you can think, Holy shit, I cannot wait to see this movie! Also, the casting is perfect, with Donald Glover as the older Simba, James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa, Beyoncé as the older Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as the villainous Scar, and lest I just list everyone, here’s the cast list. The new voice cast took a page from the musical adaptation of The Lion King, which cast many more black actors than the original animated movie — a good thing. —KA

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, July 26

Isaac Brekken / Getty Images

Leonardo DiCaprio and Quentin Tarantino

Given his lifelong obsession with movies, it’s surprising to realize that this will be Quentin Tarantino’s first movie explicitly about the entertainment industry. Set in 1969, the film follows Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), the once popular star of a TV Western, and Rick’s long-term stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they struggle “to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognize anymore,” according to the statement Tarantino released when announcing the film. Once Upon a Time will also in some way be about the infamous Tate murders orchestrated by Charles Manson; Margot Robbie will play Sharon Tate, who, in Tarantino’s movie, is Rick’s neighbor. Given the fairy tale–like title and Tarantino’s penchant for playing loose with history, it’s unclear how much he’ll keep to the grisly facts of that event, but I’m already filled with such dread about it. Tarantino has assembled quite a cast, though, including Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, Tim Roth, Damian Lewis (as Steve McQueen!), and Lena Dunham. This is also his first movie without Harvey Weinstein, and given Tarantino’s fraught history with what he knew about Weinstein and his own controversial behavior on movie sets, well, he’s certainly not shying away from subject matter that will cause him to engage with those issues even more. —ABV

Dora the Explorer, Aug. 2

Paramount Pictures

Maybe it’s because I’m a decade too old to have watched much of Nickelodeon’s longest-running animated series — which aired from 2000 to 2014 — but I’m perplexed about whether a live-action version of this show will work. Isabela Moner of the Nick show 100 Things to Do Before High School plays the globe-trotting Dora, who’s dealing with, uh, starting high school. That is, until she needs to rescue her parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) in South America, a quest that also involves a lost Incan civilization. Mexican stars Eugenio Derbez and Adriana Barraza also appear, and James Bobin (The Muppets, Flight of the Conchords) directs. Will it be weird if Dora starts talking to the audience like she did on the show? Or will it be weirder if she doesn’t? —ABV

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Aug. 2

In 2017’s The Fate of the Furious, Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs — first introduced in Fast Five — and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw — first introduced at the end of Fast & Furious 6 — really butted heads. But now they’re teaming up and…OK, I tried, but I cannot get past this title. How is the Fast & Furious franchise “presenting” Johnson and Statham’s characters? Are they going to sing and dance? Because it sure sounds like they’re going to sing and dance. Honestly, this franchise gleefully abandoned common sense and logic several movies ago — Shaw spent the climax of The Fate of the Furious in a gunfight on a giant jet plane while carrying a baby in a car seat — so why shouldn’t there be a musical number or three? This movie is still in production as I’m typing these words. Director David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde) could be reading them right now. There is still time, David. Give the people the all-singing, all-dancing Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw movie they — we — deserve! —ABV

Artemis Fowl, Aug. 9

Walt Disney Studios

I read the first Artemis Fowl book by Eoin Colfer, and god help me, I remember none of it. And the teaser for this Kenneth Branagh–directed movie did not jog my memory! Thank god for Wikipedia summaries. Ferdia Shaw plays Artemis, a scheming 12-year-old criminal, who with his bodyguard, Butler (Nonso Anozie), goes into the fairy underworld to kidnap a fairy and hold her for ransom. Artemis’s father is missing, his mother has gone insane in his absence, and the Fowls have lost their money, so Artemis has some problems he needs to fix! Shaw was cast after a massive search for the lead role, Branagh told Nerdist (there are some other fun facts in that story, if you’re interested). Judi Dench, Josh Gad, and Hong Chau also star. —KA

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Aug. 9

At long last, there will be a film adaptation of Alvin Schwartz’s kids’ horror classics, with Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro as one of the screenwriters. (He is also producing.) A cast of mostly unknown teens unite to solve a series of murders in their town. These books — there were three, in 1981, 1984, and 1991 — were terrifying, and often land on the American Library Association’s most challenged books list. Since Schwartz’s stories were always extremely short and were cribbed from already existing urban legends, I imagine the script’s story is original to the film. —KA

It: Chapter Two, Sept. 6

Instagram

You know the expression, “when I tell you I screamed”? When I tell you I screamed at the first It — well, you actually probably already know, because that is how loud it was! Holy. Fucking. Shit, did that movie scare me. I am not a horror person, but I did feel like I needed to see Andy Muschietti’s It because of what a huge hit it was. So I chose to watch it in the bright light of day with my friend Ryan, who is a horror person. All that meant was that we both screamed! That fucking Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), he just comes out of nowhere sometimes! (I am thinking in particular of when he bursts out of the screen — we screamed!) Anyway, you get it. At the end of the first movie, the Losers Club vows to come back to fight Pennywise, should he ever return. (And 27 years later, he does.) The first movie was so successful that Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader join the cast this time as the adult versions of Beverly, Bill, and Richie, respectively. —KA

In this animated film inspired by the 2009 short Pigeon: Impossible, Will Smith plays Lance Sterling, the world’s best spy. When Lance has to go into hiding, his gadget guy, Walter (Tom Holland), turns Lance into a pigeon because no one will find him — but then Walter has trouble changing him back. Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan, Rashida Jones, and DJ Khaled are among the voice cast. Just look at that crazy trailer! —KA

The Kitchen, Sept. 20

Warner Bros.

Based on a 2015 comic of the same name, The Kitchen is a comedic crime drama about three women in 1970’s Hell’s Kitchen who take over their husbands’ criminal duties after they’re arrested by the FBI. Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss play the trio of women, who surprise themselves by how into crime they become. So, like Widows, but also funny? The Kitchen is the directorial debut of Andrea Berloff, who cowrote 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. —KA

Downton Abbey, Sept. 20

Cast and crew preparing to shoot a scene in a very recognisable bedroom! Can you tell us who it belongs to? #DowntonAbbeyFilm

06:00 PM – 06 Nov 2018

I like that the movie version of Downton Abbey can get even Town & Country into the “here’s everything we know so far about…” business. When we last saw our friends at Downton, Bates and Anna had a baby (achieving a glimmer of happiness), and Edith finally got married (same). Lord Grantham accepted Cora’s desire to work, and Lady Mary was happily remarried to Henry. Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Michelle Dockery all return, as do Allen Leech, Joanne Froggatt, Laura Carmichael, and Matthew Goode — and now I’m basically just listing names! Here’s the cast list. Michael Engler, the prolific TV director, directs the Julian Fellowes–written screenplay, which is set in fall 1927. —KA

Judy, Sept. 27

Roadside Attractions

In my mind this movie has been in the making for years and years (does anyone else feel that way too?), but it was only October 2017 when it was announced that Renée Zellweger would play Judy Garland in this adaptation of Peter Quilter’s musical End of the Rainbow. It focuses on a short period in the late ’60s when Garland went to London for a five-week series of concerts. She had her young fiancé, Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), in tow, and was generally a mess. Rufus Sewell plays her third husband (of five), Sidney Luft, and Michael Gambon plays Bernard Delfont, the theater owner who booked Garland and had to wrangle her. Obviously, I am dying to see this movie! Oh, and one more thing that thrills me: Bella Ramsey — also known as Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones, a total fan favorite and human meme — plays Lorna Luft, Garland’s (non–Liza Minnelli) daughter. (Minnelli, by the way, totally hates this movie.) —KA

It’s a premise — an assassin is targeted by a younger clone of himself, who knows his every move — that has vexed filmmakers since Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer first tried to make the movie in 1997. The studio even went through an elaborate attempt in the early 2000s to invent technology that could convincingly create a younger CG version of a living actor’s face. Ultimately, Disney moved on, but Bruckheimer didn’t, and now he’s finally made this movie with Paramount, David Ellison’s company Skydance, and director Ang Lee — who hasn’t made a proper action blockbuster since 2003’s Hulk. Will Smith is a great choice to play the assassin, but we all know what he looked like as a younger man, so the bar is pretty high for however Lee and his team have rendered Smith’s clone. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong also star. —ABV

Before you’re like, “Wait, didn’t Jared Leto just play the Joker in Suicide Squad?”, yes, he did. This Joker movie, however, is set outside the established DC Films universe, whatever that means. So now that we have that out of the way: Joaquin Phoenix’s version will reportedly be a failed Gotham City stand-up comic in the 1980s who goes insane, and before you’re like, “Wait, isn’t that kind of the plot of Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy?”, yes, it kind of is. Scorsese was involved with the development of the film with cowriter-director Todd Phillips (the Hangover trilogy), and Robert De Niro, who played the failed comic in The King of Comedy, is playing a talk show host in this Joker. All of which is to say that this sounds like a dark, human-scaled departure for a comic book movie, and I, for one, am here for it. —ABV

The Woman in the Window, Oct. 4

Valerie Macon / AFP / Getty Images

This is based on the 2018 best-seller of the same name by A.J. Finn (a pseudonym for the former William Morrow editor Daniel Mallory), which Fox bought the rights to before it was even published. Amy Adams plays Anna Fox, a psychologist who is agoraphobic, hasn’t left her house in months, and self-destructively drinks and takes pills. She’s lost her own family because of her problems. Shortly after new neighbors (Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman) move in nearby, she witnesses what appears to be a violent crime. Not only does no one believe Anna, but she doubts herself. Like Rear Window, but with a woman’s self-hatred. —KA

The Goldfinch, Oct. 11

Rob Kim / Getty Images

Ansel Elgort

I have spent a good amount of time worrying about the adaptation of Donna Tartt’s 2013 novel The Goldfinch, which I’ve thought would be a better limited series than a movie. It’s nearly 800 pages, after all! So I’m desperately worried about what’s going to be cut out. But I just need to let it go! Talented people are behind this movie, like producer Nina Jacobson (the producer of The Hunger Games movies, as well as Crazy Rich Asians) and director John Crowley (the director of the wonderful Brooklyn). And the casting seems good, with Ansel Elgort as Theo, Luke Wilson as Theo’s drunk father, Sarah Paulson as his stepmother, and Jeffrey Wright as Hobie. (That last choice is particularly brilliant.) So we know that part of the movie will be in Las Vegas with his father, which is where Theo will meet Boris (Dunkirk’s Aneurin Barnard), and then he’ll go back to New York City to be in the world of Hobie, and of course the key thriller event of the story needs to happen…but will we know these characters as well as we need to? There I go worrying again — I will stop now, and trust that all will be well. —KA

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Oct. 18

Sony Pictures

Fred Rogers — the gentle yet iconic figure of children’s television — has been having a moment. There have been two recent documentaries about him, the Academy Awards favorite Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and the lesser known Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like. Now, Tom Hanks will play him in the narrative feature (and obvious Oscar bait) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The story is about Rogers’ friendship with Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a lost magazine journalist who profiles him. (Lloyd is based on Tom Junod, who wrote a lovely 1998 cover story about Rogers for Esquire magazine, “Can You Say… Hero?”) Marielle Heller directs, adding to her increasingly excellent portfolio, which began with 2015’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl and continued with last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? —KA

Charlie’s Angels, Nov. 1

Matthias Nareyek / Getty Images

Kristen Stewart

This Charlie’s Angels reboot — directed by Elizabeth Banks — stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska as the three Angels. It is torture that we don’t know yet whether the three Angels will be based on the original characters — specifically, will Stewart make Sabrina the lesbian she always was? I’m also confused by this Hollywood Reporter story that says Banks is playing both Bosley and Charlie Townsend, the mysterious (and never-seen) owner of the detective agency. There are two other Bosleys as well, played by Patrick Stewart and Djimon Hounsou: I guess it’s a code name. Also, please note that this is a big year for Naomi Scott, with Aladdin coming out in May (she plays Jasmine). —KA

Sonic the Hedgehog, Nov. 8

Paramount Pictures

Look, why not make a live-action/animation hybrid movie starring Ben Schwartz as Sega’s speedy video game mascot? Why not cast Jim Carrey as Sonic’s nemesis Dr. Ivo Robotnik? Why not make Sonic look like a furry with toned legs and a giant head? Why not inspire the internet’s worst fan art instincts? WHY NOT? —ABV

Last Christmas, Nov. 15

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images, Vivien Killilea / Getty Images

Can just the idea of a movie, plus the actors and its creative team, inspire the Cozy Feeling? It turns out, yes! The title is taken from the Wham! song, and the movie will feature previously unreleased George Michael music. (Cozy.) It’s a “holiday romance set in London,” according to the very cozy logline. And it stars Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, is directed by Paul Feig, and was written by Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings. Cozy AF! —KA

Frozen 2, Nov. 22

Walt Disney Studios

We don’t know much about Frozen 2, but the creative team (codirectors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck) and the main cast of the original movie are all back for more. In November, Lee told Variety that Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) will travel “far out of Arendelle” for the sequel’s story, and Buck has said that Elsa will have more fun in this one. Whatever that ends up meaning, Frozen 2 will be one of the biggest movies of the year. (And there does seem to be some leaked art from the sequel, but I don’t want to get in trouble, so this image is from Frozen.) —KA

Knives Out, Nov. 27

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Daniel Craig

Rian Johnson, whose most recent movie was Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is perhaps going back to the mystery roots he established with 2005’s neo-noir, Brick. I say “perhaps” because the plot of Knives Out has been kept very secret! What we do know is that it’s a contemporary whodunnit mystery with an all-star cast. Daniel Craig and Lakeith Stanfield play detectives, and the rest of the cast — Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and many more — will be playing…well, we’ll just have to see who they’re playing! —KA

Queen & Slim, Nov. 27

Chris Delmas / AFP / Getty Images

There are so many things that are so incredibly compelling about this movie. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith (Syfy’s Nightflyers) play the titular Slim and Queen, who are on a first date when they’re pulled over by a cop and end up killing him in self-defense. Instead of turning themselves in, they go on the run. Lena Waithe wrote the script, and Melina Matsoukas — who has directed so many great episodes of HBO’s Insecure, and several of Beyoncé’s most recent videos, including “Formation” — will make her feature directing debut. Exciting, right? So when I tell you that Waithe worked with infamous fabulist James Frey on the story, based on an original treatment by Frey, just concentrate on all the great things about this project. —ABV

Cats, Dec. 20

Javier Tovar / AFP / Getty Images, Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

If you haven’t seen the Broadway musical Cats in person, then you probably only know it by its showstopper “Memory.” If you have seen it, then you know the story is kind of like how I imagine it must be inside a cat’s brain: a jumble of random impulses that is somehow pleasing and bewildering at the same time. How director Tom Hooper (Les Misérables, the film), who adapted the show with Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, the film and the stage musical), is going to make a coherent feature film out of this material is beyond me. But he has at least assembled quite the clowder of actors: Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, leader of the Jellicle cats; Idris Elba as the villainous Macavity; Ian McKellan as the ancient Gus the Theatre Cat; Jason Derulo as the (can we call a cat sexy?) rebel Rum Tum Tugger; Taylor Swift as the flirtatious Bombalurina; and Jennifer Hudson as the decrepit former glamour-puss Grizabella, who sings “Memory” at the end. I cannot wait to be completely baffled by this musical! —ABV

Star Wars: Episode IX, Dec. 20

Being a Star Wars movie on top of being a J.J. Abrams movie means there’s double the secrecy around this new one. For the first time since The Force Awakens, though, the franchise has something to prove, because of the relatively poor box office for Solo: A Star Wars Story. This is also the movie Kathleen Kennedy fired Colin Trevorrow from cowriting and directing, with Abrams taking charge. This film will be the end of the Skywalker movies, and might also set up where the new movies will go. Episode IX will also have to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, which Abrams has said will be done through unseen footage (with permission from her family). Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams all return. For me, the biggest question about this movie is whether the franchise’s toxic fandom will continue to escalate, or whether those rancid people will accept the new world of Star Wars as it is, not as they wish it would be. —KA

Do we need another version of Little Women? Probably not. Have I screamed with excitement with every announcement about this movie? Yes, I have! Greta Gerwig directs, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen play the March sisters (Jo, Meg, Amy, and poor Beth, respectively). Timothée Chalamet plays Laurie, Laura Dern is Marmee, and Meryl Streep is Aunt March — I mean, how perfect is this? Gerwig wrote the screenplay from Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, and apparently it will focus more on the March sisters’ lives as young adults than previous adaptations. What a wonderful Christmas present for all of us. —KA

Late Night, 2019 TBA

Emily Aragones

You know how sometimes you don’t realize you need a thing in the world until it’s sitting right in front of you? Well, it wasn’t until the above press image from Late Night of Emma Thompson as Katherine Newbury, an iconic late-night talk show host, that I realized that Emma Thompson should be an iconic late-night talk show host. That is an alternate universe I would very much like to live in; instead, I’ll just have to see this film about how Katherine finds herself in trouble for her all-male writers room, so she hires Molly (Mindy Kaling, who also wrote the script) as her single female writer, and the result changes both of their lives. Though Sony’s Stage 6 Films will release the film internationally later this year, the film is still seeking domestic distribution. It will debut at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and I will be first in line. —ABV

Miranda July project, 2019 TBA

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Evan Rachel Wood

It’s been eight years since filmmaker Miranda July’s last feature, The Future, but she’s been busy with an email art project, a novel, an app, and acting in 2018’s Madeline’s Madeline. Now she’s made this (as yet untitled) crime drama for Annapurna Pictures about a woman named Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) whose parents (Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins) are criminals. Gina Rodriguez plays the outsider who joins the parents’ latest heist, which upends Old Dolio’s life. This is something I would watch as a TV series that runs for 10 years, but, sure, a movie will work, too. —ABV

Tolkien, 2019 TBA

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty Images

Nicholas Hoult

This movie, from Chernin Entertainment and Fox Searchlight, has been in development since 2013, but now it has completed filming. Nicholas Hoult plays the young J.R.R. Tolkien while he is at school before World War I, gathering inspiration for the Lord of the Rings books. Lily Collins plays Edith Bratt, whom Tolkien later married. In the original conception of Tolkien, the movie would reflect “how Tolkien created his books’ elaborate world, including his time as a soldier in World War I,” which is sort of an amusing idea when you remember he created Smeagol. —KA

Native Son, 2019 TBA

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Matthew Libatique

Richard Wright’s classic 1940 novel about systemic racism has been adapted anew for film, but updated for today. The Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Suzan-Lori Parks wrote the screenplay, and the visual artist Rashid Johnson directed it. Ashton Sanders (middle Chiron from Moonlight!) will play 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, who lives with his family in a one-room apartment in Chicago. Bigger’s life is already hard, but after he meets Mary (Margaret Qualley) and Jan (Nick Robinson), young white progressives, things get even worse. Native Son will premiere at Sundance this month, and A24 will distribute it later in the year. —KA

Highlights from Netflix’s undated 2019 slate

Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez / AFP / Getty Images, Niklas Hallen / AFP / Getty Images, Rob Kim / Getty Images, Max Nash / AFP / Getty Images, Kevin Winter / Getty Images, Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Unlike pretty much every other film distributor, Netflix doesn’t sweat staking out release dates in advance, so much of the company’s considerable 2019 slate is currently pegged only to a season. At some point over the summer, Netflix will debut Dolemite Is My Name!, a biopic of blaxploitation pioneer Rudy Ray Moore, starring Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, and Tituss Burgess.

Then at some point in the fall, we’ll get the drama All Day and a Night, about a young convict who looks back on his life in three separate narratives; it stars Jeffrey Wright, The Get Down’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders, who has quite a year in store with two other films in this preview. Master of None cocreator Alan Yang will make his feature directing debut with Tigertail, a multigenerational drama based on Yang’s own family. Steven Soderbergh will premiere his second film of the year, The Laundromat, a dramatization of the massive 2015 Panama Papers financial scandal, starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Will Forte, David Schwimmer, and Jeffrey Wright. Dee Rees will follow up her 2017 Netflix epic Mudbound with The Last Thing He Wanted, an adaptation of Joan Didion’s novel about Elena McMahon (Anne Hathaway), a journalist covering the 1984 presidential campaign who becomes embroiled with an arms deal in Central America; Ben Affleck, Rosie Perez, Toby Jones, and Willem Dafoe costar. Timothée Chalamet will get his Shakespeare on in The King, a retelling of Henry V costarring Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily-Rose Depp, and Joel Edgerton, who wrote the script with director David Michôd. And we will finally get to see The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s long-in-the-works crime drama starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, and Harvey Keitel, about Frank Sheeran (De Niro), the mob hit man who claimed he killed Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Phew! —ABV

UPDATE

Jan. 09, 2019, at 22:54 PM

This post has been updated to clarify that although Late Night will be distributed by Stage 6 Films internationally, the film still needs domestic distribution. An earlier update included the release date for Booksmart.

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