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Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2019

Written by on January 10, 2019 

10. Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello)


After his divisive, bold Nocturama, Bertrand Bonello is turning to the supernatural for his next film. Titled Zombi Child, it tells the story of a Haitian named Clairvus Narcisse, who was cursed by a voodoo spell to become a zombie, and toggles back and forth among various stories set in 1962 Haiti and modern-day Paris. This investigation of “ethnology and fantasy,” in tandem with the examination of the “origins of the cinematographic genre,” sounds nothing if not fascinating, and given Bonello’s tactile style, is highly anticipated. – Ryan S.

9. Knives Out (Rian Johnson; Nov. 27)


I have been a Rian Johnson fan since Brick, and my appreciation for his work as a writer and director has grown by leaps and bounds with each successive film. The Last Jedi showed that Johnson could handle massive franchise work, and the word that Disney had retained him for a whole new Star Wars trilogy was at once heartening—everyone wants to see the people they admire succeed—and depressing. So imagine how exciting it is that we have this franchise-free picture to look forward to first. The stellar cast–featuring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Colette, and Christopher Plummer–is just icing on the cake. – Brian R.

8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino; July 26)


This will probably be the most unnecessary thing I’ve ever written. Do I need to really explain the reasons to look forward to a movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, starring Margot Robbie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and more names to follow which any film would be lucky to have? A movie set during the Manson years in California? A movie that is already equal parts controversial and enigmatic? Come on. You don’t need a write-up for this one. You already know you want it. – Brian R.

7. Little Women (Greta Gerwig; Dec. 25)


Every generation deserves their own iteration of Little Women. An adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel about the bond between a group of sisters during the Civil War comes around every couple of decades (or more frequently) to remind us of the enduring power of love and friendship. Following in the footsteps of Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Winona Ryder, Saoirse Ronan will be continuing the legacy of era-defining actresses taking on the iconic role of the scrappy and adventurous Jo March when she reunites with Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig. If the prospect of a second Ronan/Gerwig collaboration wasn’t exciting enough, rounding out the rest of the incredibly stacked cast is Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Cooper, Bob Odenkirk, Louis Garrel, and, oh yes, Meryl Streep. – Stephen H.

6. The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch)


After creating one of the greatest vampire films of all-time with Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch followed it up with Paterson, a gorgeous yet quiet drama full of his specific empathetic touch. In usual Jarmusch fashion, he quietly began production on his next film last summer and it finds him returning to the genre world, this time with zombies. Starring Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Chloë Sevigny, Austin Butler, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Craig, Rosie Perez, Caleb Landry Jones, Tom Waits, and Sturgill Simpson, no plot details are known outside of Driver’s and Murray’s characters playing police officers, but if Jarmusch’s take on zombies is anything like vampires, we can expect one of the best movies in its specific genre. – Jordan R.

5. Ad Astra (James Gray; May 24)


Any new film from filmmaker James Gray would (and will) earn a spot on this list, but this one feels particularly special. Positioning itself to be Gray’s sci-fi epic, Ad Astra stars Brad Pitt as Roy McBride, a man who treks into space twenty years after his father (Tommy Lee Jones) left for Neptune. Ruth Negga and Donald Sutherland co-star. Pitt and Gray’s careers have been intertwined for a while now, though this be their first collaboration where Pitt is on-screen. Here’s hoping to a successful step forward. – Dan M.

4. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)


Following up what is perhaps the best film in a stellar career, we thought Kelly Reichardt would move from Certain Women to an adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s black comedy Undermajordomo Minor, announced a few years back. The director has instead gone another route with First Cow, an adaptation of The Half-Life: A Novel from Jonathan Raymond, who has collaborated with Reichardt on the screenplays for Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, and Night Moves. The synopsis reads: “Cookie Figowitz is the hired cook for a group of rough men on a fur trapping expedition in the 1820s Oregon Territory. One night in the woods he meets King-Lu, a mysterious man fleeing from some vengeful Russians. This is the story of their burgeoning friendship in the ever-changing Northwest landscape–and a get-rich-quick scheme involving the first cow in the territory.” Starring Rene Auberjonois, Dylan Smith, Orion Lee, and Todd A. Robinson, production is underway so expect to see it by the end of the year. – Jordan R.

3. Radegund (Terrence Malick)


Described as a period film set against the backdrop of the World War II, Terrence Malick’s Radegund will almost certainly be an operatic exploration of Austrian Franz Jägerstätter (August Deal) refusal to fight for the Third Reich. Co-starring the late great Michael Nvqvist, Radegund is a departure from Malick’s recent works set in Oklahoma and Texas and was lensed in 2016 in Poland and Italy with more focus on scripted narrative when compared to his other cinema-as-memory experiments. The film is currently in post-production, where one can argue all Malick films are truly born. – Jordan R.

2. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)

Scorsese De Niro

Netflix has become a mixed bag when it comes to the output of directors it entices with creative liberty. For every Roma or Buster Scruggs, there’s a Hold the Dark. With The Irishman, the streaming service has landed arguably its biggest fish yet in Martin Scorsese. Based on the novel I Heard You Paint Houses, Scorsese’s 9th collaboration with Robert De Niro follows Frank Sheeran, a hitman, friend and bodyguard to mobster Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino, in his first film with the director), who later confessed to Hoffa’s murder. While the much publicized digital de-aging of its stars is enough to give one pause, the film also reunites Scorsese with Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci, positioning it to be, at best, another potential masterpiece for the auteur, and at worst a fascinating curio in his career. – Conor O.

1. Uncut Gems (Josh and Benny Safdie)


Following up their terrific Good Time (our #1 film of 2017), the brothers Safdie continue to evolve as filmmakers, working with larger budgets and talent while, we expect, maintaining the emotional honesty that has been a cornerstone of their films since The Pleasure of Being Robbed. Reteaming with A24, Uncut Gems is a crime drama starring Adam Sandler as a diamond district store owner whose life is turned upside down following a heist. With an impressive supporting cast including Judd Hirsch, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Eric Bogosian, and reportedly The Weeknd in his first film role, the Darius Khondji-shot Uncut Gems sounds like another must-see from two of the most exciting filmmakers working in American cinema today. – John F.

Honorable Mentions

There’s a handful of Sundance premieres we’re curious about, including Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Ms. Purple, To the Stars, Light from Light, Them That Follow, The Death of Dick Long, and Judy & Punch. Check back soon for our full Sundance preview for more. In terms of Hollywood wide releases, we’re curious about the untitled Roger Ailes film, Triple Frontier, The Goldfinch, Toy Story 4, The Kid Who Would Be King, How to Train Your Dragon 3, Flarsky, Stuber, and Limited Partners.

There’s also a selection of independent and foreign titles, including Craig Roberts’ Eternal Beauty, the Hong Kong omnibus Eight & a Half from Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, John Woo, Ringo Lam, Anne Hui, Sammo Hung, Yuen Woo-ping & more) Mati Diop’s Fire Next Time, Cristi Puiu’s Malmkrog, Roman Polanski’s J’accuse, Nadav Lapid’ Synonymes, Quentin Dupieux’s Le daim, the Isabelle Huppert-led Pure as Snow, Rebecca Zlotowski’s An Easy Girl, Christoph Waltz’s Georgetown, Sally Potter’s untitled new film, Michael Snow’s Cityscape, and Andrew Ahn’s Driveways.

Not Finished in Time?

There’s also a batch of films that may not be finished in time for a 2019 premiere, including Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Abel Ferrara’s Siberia (although his new film Tommaso may see the light of day), the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All at Once, Olivier Assayas’ Wasp Network, Craig Zobel’s The Hunt, Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island (which begins a second phase of production later this year), Antonio Campos’ The Devil All the Time, Kirsten Johnson’s Dick Johnson, Miguel Gomes’ Selvajara, and Francis Lee’s just-announced Ammonite starring Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet.

Continue: The 50 Best 2019 Films We’ve Already Seen


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