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Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2019

Written by on January 10, 2019 

30. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg)

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The long-awaited return of Exhibition and Archipelago director Joanna Hogg, Souvenir will world premiere soon at Sundance Film Festival. While Tilda Swinton appears in the film, it is actually led by her daughter Honor Swinton Byrne, who stars alongside Tom Burke. The story follows a young film student who finds her first love in a mysterious man as a dangerous relationship begins. Already picked up by A24, they haven’t set a date yet but we can expect it to arrive by the end of the year. – Jordan R.

29. The Last Thing He Wanted (Dee Rees)

Mudbound

It’s no debate that Joan Didion is one of the best writers of the past century. But for someone whose work is rife with rich observations of the personal and political, it’s somewhat surprising that not much of her work has ever been adapted for film before. Thankfully Dee Rees, continuing her relationship with Netflix after 2017’s critically lauded Mudbound, will be rectifying that. An adaptation of Didion’s 1996 thriller about a reporter who inherits her father’s shady business as an arms dealer while covering the 1984 presidential election, The Last Thing He Wanted has the makings to be a complete triumph all around. A cinematic introduction to one of the great voices of our time, one of our most exciting young directors continuing to tackle politically and socially relevant material, and an overdue reminder of just how great a dramatic actress Anne Hathaway can be. – Stephen H.

28. Frankie (Ira Sachs)

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The resort city of Sintra, Portugal known for its pastel-colored palaces and villas is the backdrop for the new drama by Ira Sachs and frequent collaborator Mauricio Zacharias. An all-star cast–headlined by Isabelle Huppert, but including previous Sachs’ ensemble members Marisa Tomei and Greg Kinnear, as well as Pascal Greggory, Jérémie Renier and Brendan Gleeson–play family members on vacation who have to deal with a life-changing event. The film was originally titled A Family Vacation, so the new title indicates Huppert, who plays Frankie, might have a bigger role than originally expected. – Jose S.

27. To the Ends of the Earth (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

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After his madcap and moving Before We Vanish (and its undistributed companion Foreboding), Kiyoshi Kurosawa has made his second film (after Daguerrotype) outside of Japan, titled To the Ends of the Earth. Shot in Uzbekistan, it follows a Japanese TV host whose views change when she voyages to the country for her travel show. From this brief logline, it seems to be more in the vein of his dramas like Tokyo Sonata or Journey to the Shore than his horror pictures, but much of the joy of Kurosawa’s work is in his embrace of the unknown. – Ryan S.

26. Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi)

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Thankfully for us all, Taika Waititi’s time in the Disney-Marvel factory helming Thor: Ragnarok has not diminished the Kiwi filmmaker’s delectably off-kilter sense of humor. With his upcoming film, the mixed-heritage Jewish and New Zealand indigenous director will attempt what no Disney executive would dare: a comedy set in Nazi Germany, starring himself as Adolf Hitler. Well, not precisely Adolf Hitler–an “ethnically inaccurate” caricature of Adolf Hitler, imaginary friend to a lonely 10-year-old boy (Roman Griffin Davis) living amidst the height of Third Reich propaganda. It’s not clear yet if Waititi intends the film to be an explicit satirical jab at current events, but his 2016 film Hunt for the Wilderpeople demonstrated remarkable empathy and insight into the psychology of a troubled young boy, and his talent for pitch-perfect deadpan comedy is beyond all doubt. Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Stephen Merchant are set to fill out the supporting cast; no word yet on whether they have been directed to speak in goofy Germam accents. – Eli F.

25. The Beach Bum (Harmony Korine; March 22)

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In a follow-up to his cult hit Spring Breakers, The Beach Bum stars Matthew McConaughey as Moondog, a stoner along with Isla Fisher, Snoop Dog, Zac Efron, and Jimmy Buffett. From the trailer, this looks oddly like Korine’s most mainstream film to date, although early test audiences report the films vignette structure keeps certain characters from fully developing. Either way, expect a wild ride. NEON plans on releasing the film on March 22, and we would not be surprised to see in SXSW film festival line-up. – John F.

24. DAU (Ilya Khrzhanovsky)

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There’s probably never been anything like DAU, a very long, very mammoth, perhaps actually insane production from director Ilya Khrzhanovsky that saw actors and crew, styled in period-accurate material, recreate Soviet-era Moscow in a 130,000-square-foot warehouse for a number of years — during which time they neither could neither leave nor speak of the modern world — until 2011 and underwent all sorts of post-production finangling. Its premiere can be experienced this month in Paris, featuring the following: 13 feature films; a slate of series; an innovative digital platform; psychological & intellectual, physiological & spiritual, and numerous other experiences are to be explored 24 hours, 7 days a week. – Leonard P.

22 and 23. High Flying Bird and The Laundromat (Steven Soderbergh; Feb. 8 and TBD)

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Fresh off his feature filmmaking break, Steven Soderbergh is back with not one but two films this year, both for Netflix, and each couldn’t be more different. First up, High Flying Bird will debut next month and is another iPhone-shot effort, following André Holland, Zazie Beetz, and Kyle MacLachlan in the world of an NBA sports agent. Then this fall, his scope will increase with this star-studded Panama Papers drama The Laundromat, featuring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Melissa Rauch, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alex Pettyfer, Antonio Banderas, David Schwimmer, James Cromwell, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Parnell, and Will Forte. – Jordan R.

21. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)

parasite

After the gloriously entertaining and emotional Okja, Bong Joon-ho is back with Parasite, marking his return to Korean-language fare. Starring Song Kang-Ho, Lee Sun-Kyun, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-Shik, and Park So-Dam, the story follows two families from different classes who have peculiar characteristics. There’s bound to be many more surprises in store and we can’t wait to discover them, courtesy of NEON, who will distribute the film stateside. – Jordan R.

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