As we close out 2019, it’s time to put together a few Top 10 lists based on my key entertainment passions – film, TV and film scores.
I’m taking a little swerve with this final list to look ahead and think about what films we have coming up in 2020, and why I’m excited about them and, maybe, this might get you a little excited too.
So here we go. 12 movies for 12 months, by UK release date. Almost…
The first big spectacle of the year will be Sam Mendes’ war drama 1917, a one-shot epic set during WW1 in which two privates go on a death defying journey beyond enemy lines in Europe to deliver a crucial message.
Trailers look astonishing, early reviews have been hugely positive, and the craft behind Mendes’ approach seems extraordinary. After his Bond excursions, 1917 could be a return to the critical big time for this celebrated British director.
Also look out for: Bombshell, Just Mercy, The Lighthouse, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, The Personal History of David Copperfield, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Queen & Slim.
February: Color Out of Space
Two words: HP Lovecraft. Two more words: Nicolas Cage. Two extra words? Richard Stanley.
Excited yet? You should be. Cage might be known these days more for schlock than acclaim, while Stanley is about as cult a working director as you can find (this is his first movie since the infamous 1996 disaster The Island of Doctor Moreau), but Lovecraft stories are *extremely* weird and this one, about a rural Massachusetts family who are affected by an alien meteorite that crashes in their garden, could bring Lovecraft to the masses in B-movie fashion.
Also look out for: Parasite, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, Sonic the Hedgehog, Dark Waters, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, The Invisible Man, True History of the Kelly Gang.
The latest original offering from Pixar from director Dan Scanlon, director of the sequel Monsters University.
Set in a world in which magic is dying, Onward suggests a conflict between the world of fantasy and fairytale and the march of science, and could open up a brand new Pixar world of characters to enjoy. Boasting entertaining trailers, as ever a strong voice cast headed up by Tom Holland, and the usual Pixar visuals to die for, Onward could be a new lease of life for a company in danger of becoming too reliant on sequel ballast to keep them afloat.
Also look out for: The Way Back, A Quiet Place: Pt II, Mulan
April: No Time to Die
Nobody does it better and after delays and the usual production difficulties for cinema’s longest running franchise, Daniel Craig is back to do it again for the last time as James Bond.
No Time to Die looks set to build on Spectre‘s attempt to weave together Craig’s entire run as 007 into one (almost seamless) whole as a retired Bond, learning dark truths about Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann–the woman he gave it all up for–is dragged back into the spy life by MI6 to help take down the mysterious evil scientist Sarin, played by rising star Rami Malek. A propulsive trailer suggests plenty of bang for the buck so here’s hoping Craig ends a largely successful tenure on an all time high.
Also look out for: The New Mutants (if you’re lucky), Promising Young Woman, Proxima, Antebellum
May: Black Widow
One of the most puzzling Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings of recent years, giving Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanova aka Black Widow her own film after–spoilers–she died in Avengers: Endgame.
Nevertheless, assuming this is indeed a prequel and the MCU haven’t undone her demise (don’t write that off), the omens look promising for a belter of a stripped back spy-fi thriller for Natasha, flanked by the rising Florence Pugh as her sister, Rachel Weisz as a mentor (and probably the baddie), and almost certainly appearances from Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner & Robert Downey. Jr somewhere in the mix. Expect good things.
Also look out for: The Woman in the Window, Saw reboot, Fast & Furious 9, Artemis Fowl.
June: Wonder Woman 1984
The nascent DCEU is now working hard to pretend the Batman vs Superman/Justice League debacle never existed and is doubling down on what DC did get right over the last few years.
Wonder Woman 1984 is the answer. Gal Gadot back as Diana Prince in a sequel bringing the Amazonian forward from WW1 into the shiny, retro 1980’s, along with Chris Pine back as WW1 fighter pilot Steve Trevor somehow displaced in time (sadly undoing his moving demise at the end of Wonder Woman). The first film was a touch overrated for me but with a strong whiff of Stranger Things-style nostalgia to the trailer, this will no doubt be an entertaining slice of superhero action.
Also look out for: Candyman, Soul, In the Heights.
Outside of the latest Bond movie and Dune (more on that later), Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is the film to anticipate in 2020.
Following on from the brilliant streak of Dunkirk, Interstellar (which *is* great, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and The Dark Knight Rises (again…), Tenet feels like Nolan heading back into Inception territory. The mind-bending 10 minute IMAX prequel ahead of The Rise of Skywalker introduces John David Washington’s spy in time-bending, thrilling fashion and the trailer looks like a puzzle to decrypt, but there is no doubt in my mind this will be another visual Nolan spectacular. He is, after all, one of the greats.
Also look out for: Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Top Gun: Maverick, Jungle Cruise, Morbius
August: Bill & Ted Face the Music
Now here’s a throwback! If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, Bill & Ted will be part of your pop cultural touchstone base, so this long-awaited third outing will be hugely anticipated.
Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter back in their iconic roles (still one of Keanu’s after all this time), flanked by a strong cast and what looks to be a fun script they’ve had a blast making, Bill & Ted Face the Music could be a real summer highlight. A trailer can’t be far away now either.
Also look out for (in September too): The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The King’s Man, Last Night in Soho, Without Remorse, The Many Saints of Newark.
October: Halloween Kills
After the success of the recent David Gordon Green reboot of Halloween, which positions itself as the real sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original, so begins a two-part final final finale for this enduring horror franchise.
Yeah, right! I’ll believe you can finally kill homicidal mental patient Michael Myers when I see it, but with Jamie Lee-Curtis reprising her signature role as Laurie Strode again and the promise of the same level of quality, we could be in for two of the best Halloween films in a franchise which has given us more terrible sequels than great ones. The omens are good…
Also look out for: Death on the Nile, The Witches
November: The Eternals
While Black Widow may be long overdue, The Eternals is really where Phase Four of the MCU begins, and a lot may ride on Chloe Zhao’s film.
Introducing a brand new set of characters to the universe in the titular Eternals, ancient beings over a 7000 year span of history who battle their evil opposites the Deviants, Zhao’s film is headlined by Angelina Jolie and a cast including Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani and Salma Hayek. Much like Guardians of the Galaxy was a big risk that paid off, so too will Marvel be hoping this largely obscure comic property will find an audience to carry the MCU into new territory. The jury remains out…
Also look out for: Godzilla vs Kong
It’s hard to look past this as *the* film of the year to be excited about: Denis Villeneuve adapting Frank Herbert’s seminal science-fiction epic Dune.
Dune is my favourite novel. It is magnificent, but it is complex, esoteric and relies heavily on visuals. Who better to capture such aspects than Villeneuve, whose entire career feels like an audition tape for this. The first of a two-part adaptation of Herbert’s original tome, and maybe of a huge book series if successful, Dune boasts a majestic cast of heavyweights headed in this case by Timothee Chalamet & Rebecca Ferguson in key roles, and if Villeneuve has pulled it off, could be the most incredible sci-fi epic in decades. Fingers remain crossed…
December (again): West Side Story
To close out the year, we enter the trusted hands of Steven Spielberg for his adaptation and remake of the classic musical, West Side Story.
Memorably filmed in 1961 with Richard Beymer & Natalie Wood in the signature roles, here filled by Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler, this Broadway musical is going to be a toe-tapping way to see of what could be a pretty terrific first year of the 2020’s for cinema.
Also look out for: Coming 2 America
What are the films you’re most excited about for 2020?