Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a great holiday break and New Year and is killing 2020 so far (I know I’m not so someone needs to).
As the last few 2019 releases finally bring themselves to the UK (Waves, I’ve been waiting forever!), I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the past year in film. You can see my Top 20 on my Letterboxd list here (follow me while you’re at it), but I personally think it was one of my favourites in recent memory. While there was some bad stuff, some of which are Oscar frontunners and if you read this blog at all you know what I’m talking about, there were also some incredible movies put out this year and even some outside of my Top 20 are some of my favourites and that’s when I know that it’s been a good year. When films like A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood and Shazam! (two of my favourites) don’t make the Top 20, it has to be stacked.
While it’s nice to reminisce, it’s a brand new decade and it’s a time for looking ahead to what comes next. 2020 looks to be a big year in film, with a lot of great directors making their returns to the big screen, and a lot of interesting blockbusters that are sure to cause a stir when they finally hit cinemas across the globe.
I compiled a shortlist of 20 and there were a few that I was reluctant to strike off and they’ve basically become honourable mentions at this point.
–A Quiet Place Part II
–Birds of Prey
I can’t wait for all three of these films, but there are 10 others that I’m more excited for, all for a variety of different reasons as you’ll see below. Hopefully I’ll keep this concise, but if you read my Top 50 Films Of The Decade list you know that it’ll be hard for me.
10. The Woman in the Window (dir. Joe Wright)
Okay first up is a film that, from its trailer, has one redeeming quality and that is the queen of acting, Amy Adams. From her Variety ‘Actors on Actors’ interview with Nicole Kidman, she stated that Wright wanted to explore the root of anxiety and how it manifests itself within a person. Amy Adams playing that sounded to delicious to even fathom.
And then it got pushed back from its awards season release date back to a safer May slot due to negative test reactions to the third act. That makes me lose a lot of confidence in it.
The trailer didn’t wholly convince me, even though I’m a big fan of Wright’s work, mostly his earlier works but we’re not here to talk about Darkest Hour. We’re here to talk about Amy Adams-I mean this movie and all the talented people in it!
It feels like the culmination of the female-book adaptation-thriller genre, which opened with 2014’s Gone Girl and continued with 2016’s admittedly lesser quality The Girl on the Train. The Woman in the Window (while sounding like a Bones episode title) feels like it could round out somewhere in the middle of these prior two. I’m doubting it’ll live up to Fincher’s classic, but for me will probably surpass Tate Taylor’s should’ve-been-better Emily Blunt showcase. I like these sorts of films, but they’re becoming a little been-there-done-that for my liking and I’m hoping that Wright manages to put a new spin on something that might get tired very quickly.
Anyway, the cast is great, but the reason that is at number 10 is because of what won’t be there…an original score by Reznor and Ross which would have most certainly uplifted the film. The super-talented Danny Elfman stepped in on their behalf, but I would have loved to see Amy Adams peering through her blinds with Reznor and Ross’ likely blood-pumping score zapped through the film.
I guess we’ll see when it opens May 15th.
9. Run (dir. Aneesh Chaganty)
Remember in 2018 when we all rolled our eyes about another movie that was made entirely on technology screens and was probably going to be groan-inducing? And THEN remember our surprise when Searching turned out to be one of the year’s best, gorgeously blending its cool style with a genuinely gripping thriller/mystery with a great John Cho performance and a killer ending? Yeah I remember that.
So to hear that Chaganty is following that up with a suspenseful thriller starring SARAH PAULSON is thoroughly exciting and I genuinely did not need to know any more because I gave it a spot on this list. Chaganty has proven himself to be an exciting up-and-coming director/writer, and with the divine talents of Ms Paulson, it’s no doubt in line to be a terrific movie. Paulson always picks interesting projects, so I’m very intrigued to see where she does with this type of material, especially given Chaganty’s talents for thriller films. You get the sense that he just knows film and that’s really pleasing to see in an era where some of the most highest grossing films are just carbon copies of their predecessors. Chaganty is a fresh new voice in both the genre and the industry and I cannot wait to see what he does to follow up Searching.
I’m not sure when Run is set to come out in the UK and I have literally no other details about it, but it comes out in the US at the end of this month, January 24th! Go see it, Americans, and support original movies!
8. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things (dir. Charlie Kaufman)
Oh boy, this had to make the list.
Let’s review shall we?
-Charlie Kaufman is adapting an acclaimed psychological/horror novel.
-The cast includes Jessie Buckley (hello), Jesse Plemons (HELLO), and Toni “I am your mother” Collette (HELLO!)
-Not to mention that secret rising star Abby Quinn also makes an appearance. Go watch After The Wedding.
-It’s being photographed by Łukasz Żal, the genius behind the cinematography in Cold War and Ida.
What more could you want?
Thankfully, I don’t know too much about the story or the characters (hence why it’s so low down on the list), so it’ll be a total surprise and I think I’m going to try and avoid the trailer for this one, although that’ll be near impossible since Netflix insist on showing you every trailer for everything as soon as you open the site. Fingers crossed though.
Again, not sure when we’ll see this considering it hasn’t been in post-production for too long, but Netflix have said to expect it in the first quarter of 2020 which is highly exciting!
7. Antlers (dir. Scott Cooper)
Okay, let’s be honest with ourselves here. Pretty much the only reason this film was even on my radar was because of Keri Russell. I can admit that, but I saw the trailer and I genuinely can’t wait to see it.
Produced by Guillermo del Toro, Antlers is what is described as a “supernatural horror film” which aren’t typically up my alley but there’s enough intrigue in the trailer, as well as the talents involved in the film, to keep my excitement levels high. Any crew that recognise the extraordinary talents of Keri Russell deserve my attention. And while this may turn out to be another sub-par horror film, my initial reaction is positive, because it seems like it’s something a little fresh which is always good. Cooper is plenty capable behind the camera so that won’t be an issue, and there’s a lot of talent supporting this film, including Academy Award-winning editor Dylan Tichenor to keep the film in place.
So while Antlers might not be the next Hereditary in terms of modern horror’s quality, it’s one that I’m looking forward to all the same, and seeing Keri Russell in a movie on the big screen will never get old.
Like most movies, there’s no word on a UK release date yet so I’ll likely have to wait a while, but it’s scheduled for April 17th. Get excited and go see it.
6. Promising Young Woman (dir. Emerald Fennell)
Can we just take a second to talk about how this came out of nowhere and looks absolutely terrific?
It was on my radar, like most things that Carey Mulligan does, but I wasn’t truly excited about it until I saw that trailer. I knew from the second it finished that this was probably going to be one of my favourites of the year. With a stacked cast and a really cool premise, Promising Young Woman may shape up to be something truly special.
Emerald Fennell, as stated in the trailer, is best known for her work on Killing Eve, show-running the second season and executive producing. That should tell you all you need to know about good this is going to be. Fennell is writing, producing, and directing this and I for one cannot wait. Mulligan seems to be turning in a performance like we’ve never seen from her, and she has an army of talented actors at her disposal including Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, Laverne Cox, Jennifer Coolidge, Alfred Molina, and Chris Lowell just to name a few, there are definitely some I’ve missed.
With a take on revenge that calls to echo what’s happening in the world, Promising Young Woman is, well…promising.
Oh and the trailer using Archimia’s string quartet version of Toxic? EVERYTHING.
After premiering at Sundance, the film will open seemingly on the same day as Antlers, April 17th, so there’s an amazing double feature for you all!
5. West Side Story (dir. Steven Spielberg)
I can’t think of more of an odd couple than Steven Spielberg and West Side Story. The two just don’t mesh in my mind. But considering how much I love the original movie and the musical, there’s very little that Spielberg could do to ruin this.
Headed by Ansel Elgort as Tony and newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria (who by the way is so funny on Twitter I already love her), this remake is one that I’m not immediately discounting. I’m a fan of Elgort’s singing voice and I consider myself cautiously optimistic to hear how he takes on Something’s Coming. From what I’ve heard of Zegler, she seems to be an exceptional find and I’m very excited to see what she can make of the character. And yet another seemingly great casting choice is Brian D’Arcy James as Officer Krupke. I can already see it in my mind.
With Kaminski obviously back to shoot it and Kushner penning the script, Spielberg has assembled his usual crack squad to hopefully produce what it going to be one of the year’s most entertaining movies as well as a worthwhile remake. I’m not sure it’ll surpass the original in my eyes, but I’m hoping to have a good time and consider it worthy of being made.
4. Mank (dir. David Fincher)
The dead speak! Father Fincher has returned to bless us with a new movie, his first in 6 years.
As with any David Fincher release, I am excited. One of my favourite directors, Fincher is a force to be reckoned with in the industry, his meticulous craft producing some of the finest work of the 21st century. But here it’s the story I’m not too sure about. Written by his late father, Mank tells the story of Herman J. Mankiewicz and the problems he faced writing the classic Citizen Kane.
Armed with some of his usual team, Baxter, Reznor, and Ross, Fincher looks to make another modern masterpiece, this time by recounting a tale of old. The cast looks pretty great too, you just know Gary Oldman is going to eat this up. And more exciting, Amanda Seyfried is back! I know, I know she’s been consistently acting forever, but I’ve missed her taking on exciting projects like First Reformed and Lovelace. Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton, and Charles Dance are also in the movie, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a great ensemble.
I don’t really know much more, but the mere mention of David Fincher’s name invokes some reaction within me and I’m instantly excited by whatever he’s going to give us when Netflix release it at some point this year.
3. Black Widow (dir. Cate Shortland)
Yes, I’m aware of how predictable I am.
Yes, I know there’s a good chance that this movie will amount to just being ‘good’ rather than the masterpiece I’m expecting.
But Queen of 2019 Florence Pugh is in it and who am I to resist her?
I always love seeing Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and she’s provided some of my favourite moments of the MCU and it’s about time she got her own movie. I know she’s said that if it wasn’t for the development of the prior movies she wouldn’t have had as good a grasp on the character so the standalone came at the right time, but we’ve been waiting for this. While not the prequel I anticipated as it’s supposedly set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, I’m still looking forward to seeing more than a glimpse of Natasha’s past as hinted as in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She’ll be reuniting with her family and people from her past and that’s just exciting. Plus…Rachel Weisz!
So yes, I’m MCU trash and will be seeing this movie as soon as humanly possibly and probably multiple times, but what are you gonna do? I have to stan.
2. Tenet (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Okay, I’ll come clean.
I’m a moderate Nolan fan. Not a huge Nolan fan because a lot of his movies have very obvious flaws that always manage to take me out of them and rarely do I feel connected to his movies and that’s something I need.
As I’ve stated in my Joker review (go read it), The Dark Knight is a masterpiece. But I’m in the minority when I say that it’s his only one. Some cite Inception and Interstellar and Dunkirk, or even The Prestige, but they’re all bogged down by a different facet that means I can’t love them as much as I might want to. Interstellar came very close, but a lengthy first act and a deeply flawed screenplay can’t save amazing visuals and great performances (plus young Timothée Chalamet).
But Tenet looks like it might have a little bit of all of these movies which hopefully spliced together might make Nolan’s second masterpiece.
Or maybe Elizabeth Debicki is in it and that’s enough for me.
I joke, but that really is a contributing factor…
Tenet looks to be the right amount of mind-bending and the right amount of entertaining, something I didn’t find with Inception even though I find it to be impeccably crafted. Tenet is something I still don’t know the story of and I don’t want to watch any more trailers if I can avoid them which I probably can’t considering cinemas love playing Nolan trailers. With an exciting cast, a compelling set of behind-the-camera talents, Tenet looks like it might be another extremely solid flick from Nolan, and hopefully it goes above and beyond and becomes something I love.
Tenet is scheduled for release on July 17th.
1. Dune (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Do I even have to say it? Let me just list some of these cast members for a second.
Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgârd, Javier Bardem, Jason Momoa…
And that’s not even all of them.
And with a score by Hans Zimmer, cinematography from Greig Fraiser, and editing from Villeneuve’s trusty Joe Walker, there’s not much that can prevent this from being a technical marvel and just an all around masterpiece.
Maybe the fact that the novel is deemed unadaptable might cause issues, but if I’m right in thinking that they’re planning to do it in two parts, that might just work.
I don’t know a lot about Denis’ plans on how to make Dune work, but I’m extremely confident in a director who hasn’t a set a foot wrong in his career and who, in 7 years, make 6 films that range from ‘great’ to ‘masterpiece’.
Dune is currently set to open on December 18th.
What films are you guys excited for in 2020? As always, come talk to me about them on Twitter @Jamie_Carrick_, I’d love to hear them!
Here’s to a great year in film and a great year of semi-consistent posting on this blog…a guy can dream.