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Thursday, January 31, 2019

25 Films To Look Forward To In 2019

It's baa--aack! Every January, the GeekRex team sits down and comes up with a list of our most anticipated movies for the rest of the year. Historically, some of these films end up a) never coming out or b) being terrible, but hey! They can't all be winners. So let it be said: we're cautiously optimistic for these 25 films, and here are each of our picks. 


Velvet Buzzsaw
dir. by Dan Gilroy
Release Date: February 1st

While I was surprised by how much I liked Roman J. Israel, Esq., it wasn’t quite the perfect followup to the stellar directorial debut of Nightcrawler. Velvet Buzzsaw seems to take a similar cast and similar feel and apply it to the weird world of art, with a little more supernatural horror thrown in for good measure. The trailer recently dropped for this one, and it only made me more excited; Jake Gyllenhaal as a snobby art critic being haunted by paintings from a mysteriously unknown artist looks fun as hell, a bit like Murder Party with a bigger budget. Throw in creepy looking set pieces, a phenomenal cast including Toni Collette, Daveed Diggs, and John Malkovich, and a bizarre-looking robot and I’m all in.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
dir. by Quentin Tarantino
Release Date: August 9th

A new Tarantino movie is always an event, especially when he keeps threatening to stop directing. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, certainly a play on the two similarly named Sergio Leone movies, focuses on a TV actor and his stunt double trying to find work in Los Angeles, but here’s the kicker: it is set during the events of the 1969 Manson murders. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt have the leading roles, but the really interesting bit is how many people have been cast in roles directly relating to the Helter Skelter murders, including Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate herself, and Dakota Fanning as one of Manson’s cult members. I’ve been a huge fan of Tarantino’s recent period pieces, and this one could not sound more up my alley.

dir. by Brandon Cronenberg
Release Date TBD

The concept is an interesting one: a secret organization uses brain-implant technology to take over people’s bodies and use them to commit assassinations. Now what if I told you that it’s being directed and written by Brandon Cronenberg, son of the ultimate body horror master David Cronenberg? Perhaps most exciting is the casting of Andrea Riseborough in the lead role, an agent who find herself unwittingly stuck in another’s body. She was fantastic in last year’s Mandy but didn’t have much to do, so this may give her the chance to shine even more.

The Lighthouse
dir. by Robert Eggers
Release Date TBD

There’s not much known about the followup to 2015’s The Witch by director Robert Eggers, so I’ll present the facts:
It’s the story of “an aging lighthouse keeper named Old who lives in early 20th-century Maine.”
It stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.
It will be in black and white, and is supposedly being filmed with equipment and lenses from the 20’s and 40’s.
It is categorized as Drama/Fantasy/Horror, and is said to involve old seafaring myths.
It still being such a mystery at this point is part of the excitement, but there’s nothing here that doesn’t point to The Lighthouse being pretty damn awesome.

dir. by Bong Joon-ho
Release Date TBD

This will be Bong Joon-ho’s first return to South Korea since 2009’s excellent Mother, which is something to be excited about in itself since Okja was perhaps disappointing for some of his fans. Here’s what we know: “All unemployed, Ki-taek’s family takes peculiar interest in the Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.” These kind of vague log lines for movies drive me nuts too, but honestly I’d be excited about a Bong Joon-ho movie about the adventures of a wooden board.


High Life
dir. Claire Denis
Release Date: 4/12/19

Claire Denis is a goddamn icon. One of the most insightful and provocative French filmmakers is teaming up with Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, and André Benjamin - better known to many as Atlanta music legend Andre 3000 - for her first English-language film, a sci-fi film tracking the collapse of a mission to explore a black hole. What I expect: Something bleak, kaleidoscopic, and deeply emotionally resonant.  

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
dir. Marielle Heller
Release Date: 10/18/19 

Marielle Heller is among the most exciting young directors working today. After exploding onto the scene with a sweet, sad coming-of-age tale - The Diary of a Teenage Girl - she came out with what was unquestionably one of 2018's best films, Can You Ever Forgive Me? She has a keen eye for flawed characters struggling to find themselves in a broken system, which makes her follow-up - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a biopic of Mr. Rogers later years - a puzzling choice. But the inspired casting of Tom Hanks in the lead role gives me hope... as does the fact that Heller hasn't had a single misstep yet.

Queen & Slim
dir. Melina Matzoukas
Release Date: 11/27/19

Melina Matzoukas hasn't made a feature film, but she did still direct one of the major cultural landmarks of the 2010s: Beyonce's "Formation" video. Hell, Matzoukas was one of the contributors to numerous segments of Beyonce's iconic Lemonade, proving that she has a striking visual sensibility. Here, she makes her feature debut with a script from Lena Waithe. In it, Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Widows) and Jodie Turner-Smith (Nightflyers) are on a first date when a police officer pulls them over and sends their evening together spiraling in a much different direction than either of them anticipated. The collection of up-and-coming talent on this thing is very promising, as is the Oscar season release date Universal is giving this.

The Turning
dir. Floria Sigismondi 
Release Date: TBD

The Turn of the Screw is one of the most famous horror novels of all time, and at least one of its many adaptations - 1961's The Innocents - is, itself, a landmark of 60s horror. It would seem like there isn't much left to mine from Henry James' classic novella. But the cast is killer - Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire, Tully) is the harried governess, with the two creepy kids in her care played by Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project). Director Floria Sigismondi hasn't made many features since 2010's so-so rock biopic The Runaways, but she's been active in TV, including prestige shows like The Handmaid's Tale and American Gods. I'm interested to see what she can bring to an updated classic.

The Nightingale
dir. Jennifer Kent
Release Date: TBD 

Look, The Babadook is a straight-up modern-horror masterpiece, and if you aren't excited for literally whatever Jennifer Kent does next, you aren't paying attention. The Nightingale finds her stepping away from horror and into a period piece revenge thriller that looks to be, if anything, even more disturbing than her children's book monster. In it, a young Irish woman, recently released from prison, tracks a British military man across Australia seeking bloody revenge for what he did to her family. Kent is playing in the sandbox of Ozsploitation classics like Wake in Fright, here, and I'm genuinely thrilled to see how she branches out.


Captain Marvel 
dir. Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck 
Release date: March 8 

I think I'd be less excited for this if it was happening at the end of the year, but slotting this film just before part 2 of Infinity War has me really looking forward to how Captain Marvel will debut Carol Danvers' role in the MCU and how that could eventually play into the massive team up finale coming shortly after. I also love Brie Larson and the sort of 90s throwback aesthetic I've seen in the trailers thus far. 

dir. Jordan Peele
Release Date: March 22 

Fresh on the heels of his successful horror film Get Out, writer/director Jordan Peele has another movie in the same, eerie vein coming our way this year. Trailers are already out and they look incredibly creepy, featuring doppelgangers trying to take over the lives of a family. I don't know much more than that about the movie, but it looks like a mix between Get Out with a bit of supernatural/science fiction a la The One I Love

Godzilla: King of the Monsters 
dir. Michael Dougherty 
Release date: May 31 

I wasn't super impressed with Gareth Edwards' take on Godzilla, which seemed to feature.. not a lot of Godzilla. Dougherty's filmography is nothing in itself worth getting excited about, either. But what this movie seems to has going for it, based on previews, is the inclusion of a lot of classic Godzilla monsters AND television's favorite Dad, Kyle Chandler. So I'm cautiously optimistic about this one and very, very curious. 

The Kitchen 
dir. Andrea Berloff 
Release date: September 20 

Based on the Vertigo miniseries by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, the synopsis for The Kitchen sounds a little bit like 2018's Widows: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Hadish, and Elisabeth Moss play the wives of mobsters who decide to take over the business when their husbands are arrested. In addition to McCarthy, Haddish, and Moss, it stars Common, Domhnall Gleeson, and Margo Martindale. This one could admittedly go either way since it's Andrea Berloff's directorial debut, but the combination of cast and premise have definitely captured my attention. 

Star Wars: Episode IX 
dir: J.J. Abrams 
Release date: December 20
Star Wars has had some director issues in the last few years, but I found Abrams' first rendition on star wars a perfect blend of homage, simple and well done storytelling, and really well-defined characters. I think he set the stage for this trilogy perfectly, and I'm really looking forward to see how he'll close it out. This one was supposed to be Carrie Fisher's film, though, so it'll be sad to see this one go on without her. 


Happy Death Day 2U
dir. Christopher Landon
Release Date: February 13

2017's Happy Death Day was a nice little surprise.  Mixing the basic conceit of Groundhog Day with your typical 80's slasher turned out to be a very fun idea.  What could have been a typical, by the numbers film, was raised significantly by Jessica Rothe's starring role as Tree.  The concept hasn't changed much this time around, except now Tree's circle of friends are stuck in the same day over and over with a new killer on the loose.  Director Christopher Landon also took on scripting duties for this film, so hopefully some of the more mediocre aspects of the first film can be wiped away with a new writer.  Nevertheless, the first trailer for this movie was great and this should be another hit for Blumhouse.

Missing Link
dir. Chris Butler
Release Date: April 12

You can't go wrong with Laika.  While their animated films may not always be the highest grossing of a particular year, they're consistent in turning out great content that wins over critics and the audiences who do give it a chance.  Missing Link sees the adventures of an explorer (Hugh Jackman) in search of the legendary sasquatch (called Mr. Link in the film), played by Zach Galifianakis.  April is already pretty stacked as it is, so Missing Link's box office potential isn't great, but Laika + Bigfoot is a combination that is too intriguing to resist.

Avengers: Endgame
dir. Joe and Anthony Russo
Release Date: April 26

It all has been leading to this.  It seems like we were saying the same thing about Infinity War a year ago, but this time we really mean it.  Over 10 years and 20+ movies later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed the way superhero movies are made and action franchises are built.  As much as Infinity War had to live up to, Endgame's expectations are past the stratosphere.  Here's hoping the characters we have come to know and love over the last decade aren't forgotten in all the spectacle.  We also better finally get to hear Chris Evans shout, "Avengers Assemble!"

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
dir. André Øvredal
Release Date: August 9

If you don't recognize the title of this film, you would almost certainly recognize the cover of the book it is based on.  A children's horror anthology, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was the first exposure many of us had to horror (at least in literature), with illustrations that still haunt some of our nightmares.  Guillermo del Toro is producing this film with a relatively unknown director and cast (Dean Norris is the movie's biggest name).  The plot of the film is still under wraps and no trailers have yet to be released.  All excitement for this film is purely based on the producer and the source material.  Hopefully I don't regret this pick.

It: Chapter 2
dir. Andy Muschietti
Release Date: September 9

Other than maybe Get Out, it's hard to find a mainstream horror film from the last 5 years that was bigger than It.  Merchandise from the first film is still rolling out.  Thanks to a brilliant cast of kids and an absolutely terrifying Bill Skarsgard, we now get to see what happens to the Losers Club almost 30 years later.  With big names like Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader attached, it's hard not to get excited for the return of Pennywise.  Andy Muschietti returns to the director's chair despite claims years ago that he wasn't interested in the adult half of Stephen King's novel.  This one has a lot to live up to.  If it matches the previous film, I'd say we probably haven't see the last of the dancing clown.


Jojo Rabbit
dir: Taika Waititi
Release date: TBD

Taika Waititi, with Thor: Ragnarok, made what is one of the best adventure films of all time - superhero or otherwise - and that was following on the heels of maybe the best horror-comedy ever made in What We Do In The Shadows. With his latest, Waititi takes on Hitler - both in text and as a character - which sees a young boy during World War II whose lone friend is an imaginary (and ethnically inaccurate) version of the dictator. A Polynesian Jew playing the most monstrous figure in global history sounds like something that's gotta be seen to be believed.

dir: Todd Phillips
Release date: October 4th

While I need another Batman movie like I need a hole in my head, and Phillips has yet to really do anything that makes me stand up and take note, it's hard for me to not be at least a bit intrigued by the idea of Joaquin Phoenix (one of our finest actors) jumping into a comic book period piece as probably the world's most popular supervillain. It's a strange-enough mix of cast (including Marc Maron and Frances Conroy), filmmaker, concept (it's totally separate from the rest of what DC Films is up to), and tone, that it's probably my best hope this year for a somewhat different superhero-experience.

The Truth
Dir: Kore-eda Hirokazu
Release date: TBD

Kore-eda Hirokazu jumps into English language for the first time, with Ethan Hawke, Juliette Binoche, and Catherine Deneuve in tow. After catching the Palme d'Or winning Shoplifters, I'll follow Kore-eda just about anywhere, and if you pair him with both Hawke and Binoche, who are coming off career-best performances, and the long too-dormant Deneuve, this sounds like a powerhouse of a film just waiting to happen. Might Kore-eda join the ranks of foreign filmmakers who find domestic success? We can only hope.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
Dir: Jon Watts
Release date: July 5

Spider-Man: Homecoming, upon a rewatch, revealed itself to me as one of the better efforts of the Marvel canon - with its veritable charms, perfectly-pitched lead, and strikingly depth-filled antagonist all clicking with me in a way that it hadn't before. With that said, it leaves me delighted and excited to catch its sequel, which finds Peter and friends in Europe on a school trip (holy cow!) and coming face to face with Mysterio! I say it once more for the crowd in the back, MYSTERIO!!

The Irishman
Dir: Martin Scorsese
Release date: TBD

Scorsese has been relatively quiet since Silence came and blew me away with its restrained power, but he's finally back with his long-awaited collaboration that reunites Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro (along with Joe Pesci) in a story focused on the death of Jimmy Hoffa. Another organized crime classic from the master would be swell, especially since it'll be on Netflix and I can watch it from the comfort of our couch.
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