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Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2019

Written by on January 10, 2019 

50. Little Joe (Jessica Hausner)


After landing on our radar with the formally thrilling, adventurous Amour Fou, we’ve been desperately waiting for Jessica Hausner’s follow-up, and now it looks like it will finally arrive this year. Little Joe, starring Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, and Kerry Fox, is set in the near-future where a plant is invented that begins to psychologically alter those who come in contact with it. This plays out in the story of a mother who is afraid of losing her son, while she also struggles with her own mind. It sounds like wildly different territory from her last film, a period piece, and hopefully it’ll show up at a festival soon. – Jordan R.

49. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller; Oct. 18)


After the success of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?–and no doubt partly due to the mess of a political landscape the world is in at the moment–there seems to be renewed interest in the legacy of Mr. Rogers, who showed us a better world was possible if we all were just kind and accepting of each other. In Marielle Heller’s biopic, Mr. Nice Guy himself Tom Hanks is taking on Mr. Rogers and considering he recently played Walt Disney, what beacon of niceness is left for the Oscar-winning actor to play? Stage legend Maryann Plunkett plays Rogers’ wife, and Matthew Rhys plays a cynical journalist assigned to write a profile of Rogers. That salty warmth you’re feeling are the tears you’ll shed when you see Hanks in the cardigan playing around with King Friday XIII. – Jose S.

48. Mainstream (Gia Coppola)


Proving the Coppola family’s talents continue to be boundless, Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto was a strong directorial debut with a genuine sense of both place and the ennui that comes with coming of age. She’s now returning with her next film Mainstream, starring Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, Nat Wolff, and Jason Schwartzman. While details are sparse when it comes to the script by Coppola and Tom Stuart, the story will follow an “eccentric love triangle and cautionary tale of preserving your identity within the fast-moving internet age.” – Jordan R.

47. Shirley (Josephine Decker)

After the boundary-pushing highs of last year’s Madeline’s Madeline, the anticipation for what director Josephine Decker does next is extremely high. Lucky for us, her upcoming film looks to be just as thrilling and psychologically probing as her last one. Shirley tells the story of a young couple who move into a house with horror writer Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) and her husband (Michael Stuhlbarg) only to find themselves becoming the inspiration for her next novel. Madeline’s Madeline affirmed that we will follow Decker anywhere, and who could not be excited by the pairing of Moss and Stuhlbarg, two of the most acclaimed and prolific actors in recent years. Moss in particular is looking to have a killer 2019, with Shirley, her tour-de-force performance in Alex Ross Perry’s rock and roll drama Her Smell, and a mysterious supporting turn in Jordan Peele’s Get Out follow-up Us. Stephen H.

46. Wendy (Benh Zeitlin)


Beasts of the Southern Wild—a magical realist coming-of-age fable that evokes the socio-ecological milieu of the post-Katrina American south and showcases the extraordinary talent of a pint-sized Quvenzhané Wallis—is one of the most striking directorial debuts in recent memory, so any new film from director Benh Zeitlin warrants attention. Based on the filmmaker’s statements in a New York Times profile, his new film Wendy will be about “a young girl who gets kidnapped onto a hidden ecosystem where a tribal war is raging over a form of pollen that breaks the relationship between aging and time.” In other words, it sounds like Zeitlin’s forthcoming project will be mining similar, environmentally-minded material as Beasts while simultaneously taking the director’s thematic obsessions in bonkers new directions. – Jonah J.

45. Jönssonligan (Tomas Alfredson)


After two of the greatest films of the century thus far, Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, there hasn’t been a fall from grace quite like what Tomas Alfredson experienced with The Snowman. Thankfully, his crime thriller didn’t put him in director jail, rather just provided Film Twitter for endless jokes, courtesy of Universal’s marketing. For his next film, the Swedish director will be taking on a comedy with a reboot of Jönssonligan–itself a remake of the Danish series–which followed a group of criminals, including an explosions expert with alcoholism, as they plan a heist. – Jordan R.

44. Waves (Trey Edward Shults)


Following Krisha and It Comes at Night, Trey Edward Shults is moving in a different direction with his “dramatic musical” Waves. Starring Lucas Hedges, Sterling K. Brown, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Taylor Russell, the film has been described as “an energetic, affecting anthem of contemporary teenage life,” with the story following “two young couples as they navigate the emotional minefield of growing up and falling in love.” Scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network, Gone Girl), their music will be mixed with “iconic contemporary songs” for an ambitious aural landscape featuring almost wall-to-wall, synchronized music. Expect a release later this year from A24. – Jordan R.

43. The Nest (Sean Durkin)


After his extraordinary debut Martha Marcy May Marlene, it’s been quite a wait for Sean Durkin’s feature film follow-up, but it’ll finally premiere this year. The Nest is a psychological thriller-meets-family drama starring Jude Law and Carrie Coon. The story follows an American family in the 1980s who head to an isolated manor in Britain. Shot by Son of Saul cinematographer Mátyás Erdély, the plot synopsis reads: “As the eerie isolation of the house pushes the family further apart, each person descends into a self destructive cycle, leaving everyone unsure if their family will survive this life altering displacement.” – Jordan R.

42. Ford v. Ferrari (James Mangold; Nov. 15)


From 3:10 to Yuma to Logan, James Mangold has sneakily become one of Hollywood’s most versatile directors. Next up on his docket is Ford v. Ferrari, the true story of Ford’s efforts to beat Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France by building a brand new type of automobile from scratch. Christian Bale will play race car driver Ken Miles, while Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, and Tracy Letts take on real-life entrepreneurs Carroll Shelby, Lee Iacocca, and Henry Ford II, respectively. Since it looks like Michael Mann’s own Ferrari project isn’t moving forward, this is a promising alternative. – Stephen H.

41. Prisoners of the Ghostland (Sion Sono)


Have you seen that recent Nicolas Cage quote in the press? You know, the one in which Cage refers to his latest film as “the wildest movie (he’s) ever made.” A rather bold claim after having worked on such films as Vampire’s Kiss, Wild at Heart, Rumble Fish, and even his 2018 output. Well, Prisoners of the Ghostland is the film in question. Marking the English-language debut of Love Exposure director Sion Sono, the plot follows, according to the IMDb, “a notorious criminal (who) must break an evil curse in order to rescue an abducted girl who has mysteriously disappeared.” Given the filmographies of this wild cinematic paring, this project almost seems like a tailor-made choice for Cage and Sono. It’s worth noting that Prisoners of the Ghostland doesn’t begin principal photography until spring 2019, but the director is known to work fast, so we could see it by year’s end. – Tony H.

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