After highlighting 50 films that we can guarantee are worth seeing this year, it’s time we venture into the unknown. Rather than regurgitating a list of dated-years-in-advance studio releases, we’ve set out to focus on 100 films we’re genuinely looking forward to, regardless of their marketing budgets. While the majority might not have a set release–let alone any confirmed festival premiere–most have wrapped production and will likely debut at some point in 2019, so make sure to check back for updates over the next twelve months and beyond. Be sure to keep the following one-hundred films on your radar (with release dates, where applicable). If you want to see how we did with our picks last year, head on over here.
100. Matthias & Maxime (Xavier Dolan)
While the five-year stretch that comprised his first five films resulted in Xavier Dolan’s rise in international prominence, the last years haven’t been as kind, with It’s Only the End of the World and The Death and Life of John F. Donovan receiving less-than-stellar reviews and distribution woes. One hopes that Matthias & Maxime–which recently finished production–is a return to form. Starring Dolan, Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas, Pier-Luc Funk, Antoine Pilon, Samuel Gauthier, Adib Alkhalidey, Catherine Brunet, Marilyn Castonguay, Micheline Bernard, Harris Dickinson and Anne Dorval there are no plot details yet, but we imagine it’ll land on the festival circuit this year. – Jordan R.
99. Star Wars: Episode IX (J.J. Abrams; Dec. 20)
After perhaps the best entry in the entire franchise, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, J.J. Abrams has a difficult task ahead of him in following up the much-needed rejuvenation of the Star Wars saga. Considering how safe he played it when it comes to The Force Awakens, hopefully his trilogy-capper will enter more daring territory while keeping the same level of entertainment. And if all else fails, we can’t wait to see Richard E. Grant join this universe. – Jordan R.
98. The Woman in the Window (Joe Wright; Oct. 4)
After hitting a career low with The Darkest Hour, there’s nowhere that Joe Wright can go but up when it comes to his next project. Reteaming with Gary Oldman, but led by Amy Adams, The Woman in the Window finds the director in Hitchcockian thriller territory in the Tracy Letts-scripted adaptation of A.J. Finn’s novel. Also starring Julianne Moore, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Fred Hechinger, and Anthony Mackie, it follows an agoraphobic child psychologist who sees a crime occur at her neighbor’s house. – Jordan R.
97. My Zoe (Julie Delpy)
Though her last film, the French-language Lolo, didn’t gain as much attention stateside as her 2 Days films, Julie Delpy’s next feature will likely reach a larger audience. My Zoe follows “a divorced mother looks to protect her daughter after an unexpected tragedy.” Starring Delpy, Gemma Arterton, Richard Armitage, and Daniel Brühl, expect a festival premiere this year. – Jordan R.
96. The Kindness of Strangers (Lone Scherfig)
This year will mark a decade since Lone Scherfig made a splash with An Education and since then we’ve been waiting for a film that lives up to that debut. Her next feature has quite a bit promise, set to open this year’s Berlinale with the cast including Andrea Riseborough, Zoe Kazan, Tahar Rahim, Bill Nighy, Caleb Landry Jones, and Jay Baruchel. The film follows various storylines that intersect at a Russian restaurant in New York City and hopefully makes for a compelling small-scale drama. – Jordan R.
95. Bad Education (Cory Finley)
Released last spring, the dark comedy Thoroughbreds felt quite accomplished for a directorial debut and now Cory Finley is stepping up his scope with his follow-up. Tackling the true story of the Roslyn superintendent who embezzled over $11 million, it’s written by Mike Makowsky, who actually attended the school at the time of the scandal. Starring Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Ray Romano, Geraldine Viswanathan, Alex Wolff, Kayli Carter, and Rafael Casal, we’d imagine a fall festival bow is in the works. – Jordan R.
94. Queen & Slim (Melina Matsoukas; Nov. 27)
After his break-out in Get Out, Daniel Kaluuya had supporting turns in Black Panther and Widows, but he’s back in a leading role this fall. Scripted by Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas’ directorial debut, Queen & Slim follows a man (Kaluuya) and woman (Jodie Turner-Smith) on a first date who get stopped by a cop and kill him in self-defense, then go on the run. With the makings of an unfortunately timely, thrilling drama, it should be a must-see this fall. – Jordan R.
93. Lucy In The Sky (Noah Hawley)
After an adventurous 2018 with her sci-fi odyssey Annihilation and ambitious pop star drama Vox Lux, Natalie Portman will head to (or rather, return from) space this year. She’s leading Lucy in the Sky (formerly Pale Blue Dot), a drama which follows her character as an astronaut whose life unravels when she returns from a mission. Coming from Noah Hawley, it will mark his directorial debut and we’re curious to see how his experience creating Fargo and Legion translates to the big screen. – Jordan R.
92. Going Places (John Turturro)
Per the Coens’ wishes, we won’t ever get a sequel to The Big Lebowski, but the universe of their cult hit will live on in John Turturro’s next directorial effort. Going Places is not only a spin-off featuring the return of his Jesus Quintana character but also a remake of the 1974 French film by Bertrand Blier. Also starring Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, and Susan Sarandon, it will follow the adventures of a trio of sexually deprived misfits. With filming completed back in 2016, we’d be surprised if it didn’t see the light of day this year. – Jordan R.
91. The Story of My Wife (Ildikó Enyedi)
After earning the Golden Bear and an Oscar nomination for On Body and Soul, director Ildikó Enyedi will return this year with The Story of My Wife. Starring Léa Seydoux, the film is an adaptation of Milán Füst’s 1942 novel, which tells the story of a Dutch sea captain who makes a bet that he’ll marry the next person who walks into the cafe he is at. After doing so, questions of infidelity will cause a crisis. Marking the sixth feature from the director, we expect Seydoux’s attachment will lead to even further recognition. – Jordan R.
90. Zola (Janicza Bravo)
Janicza Bravo’s Lemon was one of the most peculiar comedy offerings of recent years, announcing a fresh new voice in independent cinema. For her next feature Zola she’s teaming with A24 for a wild true story. Originally based on a Twitter thread, it tells the tale of a former stripper and sex worker who take a trip from Detroit to Tampa with the promise of dancing at a lucrative club. It turns out the man accompanying them is a pimp who aims to make money from the women. Featuring kidnapping and murder, it has the makings of a strange, intense tale of the South. – Jordan R.
89. Isabella (Matías Piñeiro)
Following up 2016’s charming Hermia & Helena, Matías Piñeiro is preparing his next project Isabella, in which he, as he’s done before, will put his own spin on Shakespeare, this time with Measure for Measure. Production was aiming to begin this month, IONCinema reports, so hopefully it’s done in time for a festival premiere. The original play followed “the titular nun, a woman who is pressured into giving her virginity to a city official threatening to execute her brother for fornicating with his fiancée before marriage.” – Jordan R.
88. Call of the Wild (Chris Sanders; Dec. 25)
Director of How to Train Your Dragon and Lilo & Stitch, Chris Sanders, is making his live-action debut this year with Call of the Wild. Starring Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford and Omar Sy, the Jack London adaptation will incorporate heavy visual effects from The Jungle Book team, so it should be interesting new territory for the director. Scripted by Michael Green (Logan), the film follows prospector John Thornton (Ford) and his journey across the Canadian Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. – Jordan R.
87. Chaos Walking (Doug Liman)
Based on Patrick Ness’s 2008 novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, get ready for another high-budgeted adventure film from director Doug Liman, whose action masterpiece Edge of Tomorrow is only a few years young. If that’s not enough to get you to the theater, try this: it stars cutie Spider-Man Tom Holland and Star Wars‘ Daisy Ridley as people living in the future on another planet where nearly every woman has been killed by a virus. – Jordan R.
86. Fireball (Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer)
After going Into the Inferno with Clive Oppenheimer, the duo will look to the skies for their next cinematic exploration. With production already underway, Fireball finds them exploring sites that may yield “insight into comets and meteorites and help them understand what they can tell us about the origins of life on Earth.” With Herzog’s singular voice, we look forward to his thoughts on the galaxy and, perhaps, our own planet’s demise. – Jordan R.
85. The King (David Michôd)
Timothée Chalamet is getting medieval. The Call Me By Your Name star has teamed with Netflix for David Michôd’s The King for Netflix. Also starring Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, and Lily-Rose Depp, the film is based off the Shakespeare play Henry V, and will be adapted for the screen by both Michôd and Joel Edgerton, who will also star in the film. Chalamet will play Henry V in the titular role and will follow his involuntary rise to power after the death of his brother–all while facing military conflict with France. Michôd’s last Netflix collaboration, War Machine, didn’t go down so well, but hopefully better things are in store for this one. – Jordan R.
84. Honey Boy (Alma Har’el)
Shia LaBeouf is once again getting meta this year, starring in Honey Boy, a film based on his own experiences with his alcoholic father, played by LaBeouf himself. Playing the character inspired by LaBeouf across different time periods in his contentious upbringing as a childhood TV star is both Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe. Directed by Alma Har’el, who last gave us the beautiful documentary Love True, and shot by The Neon Demon cinematographer Natasha Braier, we imagine this will be the talk of Sundance. – Jordan R.
83. The Lodge (Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz)
After earning acclaimed for their horror feature Goodnight Mommy, directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz are back this year with what looks to be an even bigger break-out. The Lodge, starring Riley Keough, Richard Armitage , Jaeden Lieberher, and Lia McHugh, follows tells the story of a young woman and her new stepchildren who are menaced by a terrifying supernatural force while spending Christmas in their remote cabin. Shot by Yorgos Lanthimos’ frequent cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis and set to premiere at Sundance, this has the makings of a chilly frightfest. – Jordan R.
82. Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton)
It’s been 19 years since Edward Norton’s directorial debut Keeping the Faith and so there’s no way to know for sure what his directorial style will present as. That being said, Norton is also starring alongside Willem Defoe and Bruce Willis in this period detective yarn with a twist. Based off of a stellar novel from writer Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn is the story of a man with Tourette’s trying to find the person or persons who murdered his mentor. Given the star power and source material, there’s more than enough to look forward too even with the giant question mark hanging over Norton’s directing. – Brian R.
81. The Report (Scott Z. Burns)
The work of Scott Z. Burns will show up a little later on this list thanks to his fruitful collaborations with Steven Soderbergh, the writer has gotten behind the director’s chair for his own drama. Starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Ted Levine, Maura Tierney, and Michael C. Hall, The Report dives into the uncovering of the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation tactics, as discovered by Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Driver). – Jordan R.
80. Against All Enemies (Benedict Andrews)
With iconic roles in films such as Saint Joan, Breathless, and Paint Your Wagon, the cinematic life of French film icon Jean Seberg would be fascinating enough for its own movie. However, this year’s Against All Enemies will be telling a not widely-known part of Seberg’s life. After donating money and associating with various civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the Black Panther Party–and particularly her involvement with activist Hakin Jamal–the FBI launched an investigation into Seberg, harassing, defaming, and blacklisting her along the way. Directed by Benedict Andrews (Una), Against All Enemies looks to be an eerily relevant exploration of the intersection of art, activism, and the government institutions that rail against them, and providing Kristen Stewart with an incredibly juicy role as Seberg. – Stephen H.
79. Untitled Lav Diaz Film
For Lav Diaz’s next film, he resurrecting a 20-year-old screenplay loosely described as a political thriller. Says he: “I felt an urgency, and objectively, with the distance of time, it seems to me that there is a kind of premonition, immediacy, since my film provides for the rise of a new despot Filipino.” Filming has already wrapped, so expect it on the festival circuit this year. – Jordan R.
78. Divine Love (Gabriel Mascaro)
Sundance Film Festival certainly has beefed up their world cinema offerings this year and one of the highlights looks to be the latest film from Neon Bull writer-director Gabriel Mascaro. Divine Love, set in the near-future of 2027, takes place in a dystopian Brazil and follows a religious woman who helps save couples from divorce, only to be confronted by a crisis in her own marriage. – Jordan R.
77. The History of the Kelly Gang (Justin Kurzel)
Justin Kurzel’s debut feature Snowtown was one of the most striking true crime dramas of this decade, an impressionistic tour de force of Australia’s most infamous serial murder case from the perspective of the troubled teenager who became killer John Bunting’s reluctant accomplice. Now, Kurzel finally reunites with Snowtown screenwriter Shaun Grant to return to the world of Australian crime, this time traveling all the way back to the 19th century to tell the story of notorious outlaw, bushranger and folk hero Ned Kelly. Aside from being based on the historical novel of the same name by Peter Carey, and featuring a cast of Australian and English cinema’s brightest stars including Russell Crowe and Nicholas Hoult, we still know relatively little about the film–but its subject matter and pedigree suggest a raw, ruthless and evocative journey into the lawless underworld Australia’s own Wild West. – Eli F.
76. Velvet Buzzsaw (Dan Gilroy; Feb. 1)
While his last film Roman J. Israel, Esq. didn’t earn as much acclaim as Nightcrawler, this writer found it to be a more fascinating, idiosyncratic character study. Dan Gilroy is now back with his third film, Velvet Buzzsaw, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and Toni Collette in the story of the strange world of fine-art trading. The release on Netflix so soon after its Sundance premiere doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence, but we’re hoping for the best. – Jordan R.
75. Guest of Honour (Atom Egoyan)
Although his output may be uneven as of late, Atom Egoyan’s latest Guest of Honour, announced last year during TIFF, is said to explore the relationship between a father (David Thewlis) and his 20-something daughter (Laysla De Oliveira) who wants to remain in jail for a sexual assault she didn’t commit. The film sounds like a return to form for Egoyan, this time working from his own script with notes of some of his best works including Exotica, Adoration, The Sweet Hereafter, and his first study of a perverse family unit, Next of Kin. – John F.
74. Untitled Miranda July Film
A woman’s life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they are planning in Miranda July’s upcoming project, produced and released by Annapurna. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Debra Winger, and Richard Jenkins the film is pitched as a crime drama but we expect it’ll retain the quirky and moving touches of July’s work including her previous films Me You and Everyone We Know and The Future. – John F.
73. Bad Hair (Justin Simien)
After the success of Dear White People both on film and TV, Justin Simien will return this year with a horror satire that is inspired by Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Get Out.“[Bad Hair] follows a girl from Compton who doesn’t have the right look,” said Simien last year. “She doesn’t have the right hair, she doesn’t have the right face, she doesn’t have the right skin color. She wants to be a VJ in the late ’80s, early ’90s and she makes a bit of a Faustian bargain with this woman who takes over the network where she’s at and she ends up with this hair, this weave in her head, that may or may not have a mind of its own.”
72. All Light, Everywhere (Theo Anthony)
Theo Anthony’s Rat Film was one of the most fascinating documentaries of recent years, exploring the contentious history of Baltimore through the unexpected analogies of the rat population. He’ll likely return this year with All Light, Everywhere, which “explores the past, present, and future relationships between technology, vision, and power. From arcane theories of sight to the emergence of virtual reality and police body camera programs, the film takes a kaleidoscopic investigation into how the reality of what we see is constructed through the tools that we use to see.” – Jordan R.
71. Jeanne (Bruno Dumont)
The prolific Dumont is back again–and with another sequel. “The girl was 8 when she starred in Jeannette, and she’s going to be 10 in Jeanne. And the very idea that you could have a 10-year-old burn on a pile of wood, well, the audience’s interest in the whole myth could be revamped,” Bruno Dumont told us this year. “And that’s what’s important. Remember there’s about 600 films on Joan of Arc. We’ve seen everything already! So I think there’s a lot of strength in the whole idea, and I think it’s going to change it all. Just imagine a little girl riding a horse, leading men to the war, confronting old sirs, members of the clergy… That to me is extraordinary. And it gives me so much enthusiasm. It’s a risk, of course, but you have to take a few in life.”
70. Triumphant Return (Juan José Campanella)
Juan José Campanella hasn’t directed a live-action feature film since 2009’s Oscar-winning The Secret in Their Eyes, and for his return to feature films, he’s decided to remake Argentinean cult classic Yesterday’s Guys Used No Arsenic, which had the misfortune of premiering the same week a right-wing coup overthrew President Isabel Perón in 1976. The plot centers on an aging movie star living in a mansion with her husband, former doctor, and a business partner, all of whom she’s trying to get rid of. The Spanish/Argentinean co-production features an almost entirely Argentinean cast, Campanella suggested his remake will open up the original’s themes and it will no longer focus on a battle of the sexes. – Jose S.
69. Luxembourg (Miroslav Slaboshpitsky)
With his Haneke-esque drama The Tribe putting him on the radar, helmer Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy is back this year with Luxembourg, a Chernobyl-centered project that producer Anna Katchko describes as concerning “the lives of people living in the exclusion zone today.” The drama stems from citizens’ fears and risks of contamination, which has the makings of an even more horrific story than conjured in his last film. – Jordan R.
68. All You Need is Love (Danny Boyle; June 28)
There’s a trace of comedy running through much of Danny Boyle’s work and for his next film, it looks to be a bit more full-blown. He’s teamed with Richard Curtis for a new musical comedy starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, and Ana de Armas. Set in the 60s/70s, it is reported to follow someone who believes they are the only person to remember The Beatles. Boyle got a taste of the Bollywood in a very small portion of his Best Picture winner, but we’re intrigued to see what he brings to a full-on musical. – Jordan R.
67. Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Richard Linklater; March 22)
After back-to-back features that went quite overlooked, Richard Linklater is returning with the Cate Blanchett-led adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The story is narrated by the 15-year-old-daughter of an agoraphobic architect and mother named Bernadette Branch who goes missing prior to a family trip to Antarctica. Also starring Kristen Wiig, the book is an entertaining journey and the film, which makes a perfect role for Blanchett, will likely have much more commercial appeal than his spiritual sequel to The Last Detail. – Jordan R.
66. Where is Anne Frank (Ari Folman)
Ari Folman, one of Israel’s finest animators and filmmakers, is best known in the States for his 2009 film Waltz with Bashir, a rattling, intimate, genre-defying wartime memoir which combined animation, documentary and drama techniques into a searing postmodern stew of history, memory, and intangible trauma. While that film may have been his most personal work, Folman has also long been fascinated with the Anne Frank story, recently writing a graphic adaptation of her memoirs intended to be accessible to young and adolescent readers–including controversial passages in which Frank ponders and interrogates her own sexuality. Folman’s return to big-screen animation will follow in a similar vein, while combining the intimacy and melancholy whimsy of Frank’s memoir with the experimental layering of fiction, reality and memory of Folman’s previous work: the film follows Kitty, the imaginary best friend to whom Frank addressed much of her diary, as she suddenly becomes a real person in a modern-day Amsterdam and sets out to find her beloved Anne. Though accessible to a wider audience than Folman’s previous work, this bittersweet urban fairy tale is likely to be no less challenging, introspective, or emotionally wrenching. – Eli F.
65. The Art of Self-Defence (Riley Stearns)
Riley Stearns’ debut Faults was a sly surprise – a baleful and laser-precise cult of personality comedy that also offered two great character actors – Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead – the roles they’ve deserved their entire career. Bringing together an equally adept cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, and Alessandro Nivola, Stearns’ second film follows a man who enlists in a mysterious dojo after being attacked on the street. Billed as a dark comedy set in the world of karate, it should be a pleasure to see Stearns plumb the nightmarish psychology of the martial arts underworld. – Michael S.
64. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Celine Sciamma)
After taking on the tumultuous period known as adolescence in Tomboy and Girlhood, Celine Sciamma turns to the 1760s for his next feature, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Starring Adèle Haenel, the film follows a woman who is tasked with painting a wedding portrait of a bride-to-be, though her subject is not allowed to know of the commission. As the painting process occurs, their bond grows tighter leading up to the wedding. Sciamma has shown a keen, initiate vision in her previous films, which we expect to carry through here. – Jordan R.
63. Roads (Sebastian Schipper)
After making waves with his one-shot thriller Victoria, director Sebastian Schipper is back to prove he can impress outside of a marketable gimmick. His new feature, Roads, features Dunkirk star Fionn Whitehead who leaves his family’s holiday in Morocco to helm a Congolese man (Stéphane Bak), who is on the search for his brother. Set to be Schipper’s English-language debut, it wrapped some time back, so expect to see it soon. – Jordan R.
62. Ema (Pablo Larraín)
Chilean director Pablo Larraín had a major 2016, releasing three films in the United States with The Club, Neruda, and his English-language debut Jackie. With his post-9/11 drama The True American delayed, he embarked on a smaller feature in his native country. Ema is a dance-focused drama starring frequent collaborator Gael García Bernal and newcomer Mariana Di Girolamo. The script written by Guillermo Calderon (Neruda) and Alejandro Moreno follows Bernal as a dance choreographer and Di Girolamo as his schoolteacher wife. As they face the hardships of a failed adoption, they will express themselves through dance. – Jordan R.
61. Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles)
Co-directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho, who gave us 2016’s gorgeously-realized, politically-minded drama Aquarius, his next film follows a documentary filmmaker who is depicting a Brazilian village. Seemingly imbuing genre elements, it’s revealed that the locals harbor dangerous secrets. We imagine this one will find the director returning to Cannes. – Jordan R.
60. Walking to Paris (Peter Greenaway)
Peter Greenaway has been working on his latest feature for the last few years—with initial production beginning as far back as 2015—so here’s hoping that Walking to Paris finally sees the light of day this year. Starring Carla Juri (Wetlands, Blade Runner 2049), the film follows the life of sculptor Constantin Brancusi, who journeyed across six countries in Europe by foot. With Greenaway’s epic scope and singular style, we imagine this will be an adventure like no other in 2019. – Jordan R.
59. The Passenger (Corneliu Porumboiu)
After his hilarious documentary Infinite Football last year, Corneliu Porumboiu returns to narrative filmmaking this year with The Passenger. The noir thriller is said to have shades of comedy as we follow a Romanian policeman who gets lost in translation when he ventures to a Spanish island in order to help a detained Bucharest businessman. – Jordan R.
58. Proxima (Alice Winocour)
Her visually and aurally arresting drama Disorder went painfully overlooked a few years back, but we imagine Alice Winocour will reach a wider audience with her next film. Proxima, starring Eva Green and Lars Eidinger, follows an astronaut who is preparing to go on a journey and must deal with the pending separation from her daughter. – Jordan R.
57. Missing Link (Chris Butler; April 12)
Laika is the current reigning champion of stop-motion animation, and running off the heat of a string of critical hits that tend not to make as much money as they deserve. Still, every movie has been a handcrafted work of art with enough wit and heart to make them instant classics, and there’s no reason to think the streak will end with their latest film, Missing Link. Laika thrives off of exploring and celebrating oddity, and the titular man-ape should provide plenty of fodder for heartfelt examinations of humanity as well as stirring jokes of the visual and verbal kind. – Brian R.
56. Salt of Tears (Philippe Garrel)
I first thought I knew nothing of Salt of Tears‘ plot, and then I realized that’s entirely wrong: it’s a Philippe Garrel film, which means it will involve a man, a woman, maybe another man and another woman, frank explorations of desire and sexuality in all their incompatibility with society, etc. Lo and behold, this synopsis from our friends at Ion Cinema: “documents a young man’s amorous rendezvous with three different women as he goes to and returns from college, while meanwhile exploring the relationship of father and son.” Sometimes you just know. Just as I know I’m onboard with his recent run of short, funny-but-not black-and-white moral tales, with which this would seem to fit directly; the further he goes down this path the more I get from them the sense of emotionally expunging with a wise friend. – Nick N.
55. 1917 (Sam Mendes; Dec. 25)
After back-to-back James Bond movies, and directing one of the decade’s buzziest plays in the West End and Broadway, Sam Mendes is back with his very first screenwriting credit: a WWI drama starring George McKay (Captain Fantastic) and Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones). Even though details of the plot are still under wraps, executive producer Steven Spielberg has already called it a “daring and ambitious” movie. When making a war film one could certainly have worse endorsements than Spielberg who’s made some of the greatest works of art about the World Wars. – Jose S.
54. Ahmed (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
After their first foray into mixing genre with their trademark careful, devoted examinations of singular individuals in 2016’s underrated The Unknown Girl, the Dardenne brothers appear to be taking further steps with Ahmed, which according to reports “concerns the radicalization of a Belgian boy and his scheme to kill his teacher.” Though the Dardennes have never shied away from the present moment, this seems to be perhaps their most direct engagement yet, and the results of this uncharted expedition are eagerly anticipated. Expect this, like almost all of the brothers’ other films, at Cannes. – Ryan S.
53. Radioactive (Marjane Satrapi)
The incredible tale of Marie Curie comes to life this year in Radioactive. Directed by Marjane Satrapi, the film will detail how Curie went on to become one of the most important figures of our time for her research into radioactivity, becoming the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. While seeing Curie’s story come to life is most definitely exciting, one of the most exciting prospects regarding Radioactive is the lead performance of Rosamund Pike. After her stunning work in Gone Girl back in 2014, Pike returned to form last year playing another iconic Marie–Marie Colvin, famed war photographer in A Private War. A truly exceptional actor, taking on a truly exceptional woman. – Stephen H.
52. Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach)
May Ken Loach never stop working! The 82-year-old socialist filmmaker, who’s been averaging a film every two years this decade is now turning his eye to the “gig economy” by telling a story of a family who find themselves in financial problems following the 2008 financial crash. Kris Hitchen, who previously appeared in Loach’s The Navigators, plays Ricky, a husband/father who buys a van and starts a delivery service to make ends meet. Loach’s previous film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2016. – Jose S.
51. The Personal History of David Copperfield (Armando Iannucci)
The Death of Stalin was the perfect dark comedy for our dark political times, and for his next film Armando Iannucci is taking the unexpected route of adapting Charles Dickens. “I want to make a film that doesn’t feel hidebound by the conventions of a costume drama or a period drama,” the director said of his take on the orphan-turned- author David Copperfield. “I want to start again. I want it to feel real and present, even though it’s set in 1840 in London. I want it to feel immediate and current. And therefore I want the cast to be much more representative of what London looks like now, and I want a lot of the behavior in the film to feel current and contemporary.” Starring Dev Patel, Peter Capaldi, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Aneurin Barnard, Ben Whishaw, Morfydd Clark, Gwendoline Christie, and Benedict Wong, production concluded a few months ago, so we should see it by fall festivals. – Jordan R.
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.
40. Wounds (Babak Anvari)
After gaining attention with his horror feature Under the Shadow, director Babak Anvari is returning to Sundance Film Festival this year with a higher-profile project. Starring Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson, Wounds follows a bartender in New Orleans who picks up a phone left at his bar and a series of strange, disturbing occurrences begin to unravel. Backed by Annapurna Pictures, it will be intriguing to see two of Luca Guadagnino’s collaborators team for what looks to be a dark psychological mind game. – Jordan R.
39. The Thousand Miles (Sylvain Chomet)
One of our greatest animators looks to be returning this year. Sylvain Chomet’s newest project is reportedly a combination of live-action and animated material inspired by writings and drawings that Federico Fellini created from his dreams, and follows an early-80s-set plot concerning “a pair of aging brothers who, separated by the twist and turns of life, reunite through their shared life-dream to compete in Italy’s Mille Miglia – a Brescia-to-Rome-and-back vintage car rally, said to be the world’s most beautiful road race.” – Jordan R.
38. John Wick: Chapter 3 (Chad Stahelski; May 17)
After two films of kinetic, neon-infused vengeance, John Wick has now become a newfound action institution; a genre unto itself (see: Atomic Blonde, Hotel Artemis, Polar). With Chapter 3 (or Parabellum), director Chad Stahelski places Keanu Reeves’ canine-loving assassin in a veritable Escape From New York, with a global contract hanging over him. With newcomers Halle Berry, Jason Mantzoukas and Anjelica Huston, one can expect the Wick-verse to expand in scope, and undoubtedly triple its body count. – Conor O.
37. The Day Shall Come (Chris Morris)
Anyone who’s seen Chris Morris’ work knows he’s a comedic genius. Shows like The Day Today and Brass Eye brilliantly satirized the news before The Daily Show even existed, his sketch comedy series Jam is a singular achievement, and his feature debut Four Lions somehow mined big laughs from suicide bombings. Now he’s back with a secret film he shot last summer with Anna Kendrick, and while there’s no other information on the production (save for an Instagram photo of Kendrick in an FBI uniform), this will be one title to keep an eye on this year. Morris has an incredible track record as a writer and director, and the fact that he has a star like Kendrick on board means this could be his long overdue breakthrough in North America. – C.J. P.
36. Waiting for the Barbarians (Ciro Guerra)
This year will kick off with Birds of Passage, the newest film from Embrace of the Serpent director Ciro Guerra, but we don’t expect it to be his only feature this year. Notable for its major cast—including Robert Pattinson, Mark Rylance, Joe Alwyn, and Johnny Depp—the story of his newest film follows a Magistrate working in a distant outpost who begins to question his loyalty to the Empire. One imagines a Zama-esque odyssey and with Guerra’s incredible eye, expect something special. Production kicked off this past fall, so this one could see the light of day at festivals soon. – Jordan R.
35. Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie (Richard Phelan and Will Becher)
Following up one of the most delightful films of 2015, the next film in the Shaun the Sheep franchise carries the subtitle of Farmageddon and, yes, these sheep are going to space. Directed by Richard Phelan and Will Becher, the Aardman Animations story follows a peculiar visitor landing in the quaint town of Mossingham and the adventure that ensues. If it even has an ounce of the visual ingenuity and charm of its predecessor, expect it to be the year’s finest animation. – Jordan R.
34. Roubaix, A Light (Arnaud Desplechin)
Following his complex, wild Ismael’s Ghosts, Arnaud Desplechin’s next film is Roubaix, a Light, a detective story that centers around a police chief in the eponymous town — Desplechin’s birthplace, where some of his past films have been set — trying to solve the murder of an old woman. According to our most recent interview with Desplechin, it may be heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, which sounds very promising indeed. Look for this, in all likelihood, at Cannes. – Ryan S.
33. Harriet (Kasi Lemmons)
After ascending to fame with her powerhouse performance in Broadway’s The Color Purple (garnering a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy along the way) Cynthia Erivo will be taking on what could be the role of a lifetime in Kasi Lemmon’s Harriet Tubman biopic. Lemmons also assembled a strong supporting cast including Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, Clarke Petes, Joe Alwyn, and Jennifer Nettles. It’s long past due for Harriet Tubman’s story to come to the big screen, and we cannot wait to see what Erivo, who broke out last year with supporting roles in Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale, will do with this powerful story. – Stephen H.
32. Untitled Noah Baumbach Film
Every film Noah Baumbach makes is shrouded in both anticipation and mysterious. While much isn’t known yet about his upcoming film (it still has no title) we do know that it concerns the aftermath of a divorce and features a killer cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Merritt Wever, and Ray Liotta. Baumbach is a master of depicting the everyday lives of the lonely and the neurotic, and it’s going to be a treat to see what he’s cooked up this time with such exemplary actors. – Stephen H.
31. Midsommar (Ari Aster; Aug. 9)
After breaking out last year with his debut feature Hereditary, Ari Aster has reteamed with A24 for his next film, described as an “apocalyptic breakup movie.” The film will follow a young couple’s vacation to a Swedish village, where they discover the residents’ peculiar traditions and rituals. As one of the main characters carries pain from a recently deceased loved one, these rituals become cloaked in a sense of dread. Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, and Will Poulter, it will get a prime summer release, so get ready to get terrified. – Jordan R.
30. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
20. Gemini Man (Ang Lee; Oct. 4)
Finding new life with Ang Lee after lingering in development hell since the ‘90s, Gemini Man sees Will Smith v. Will Smith in a sci-fi thriller featuring an aging hitman forced to contend with a clone of his younger self. Given his ever-eclectic filmography, Lee’s involvement adds some inspiration to the proceedings. Win, lose or draw, his films are wrought with ambition, so here’s hoping he can lift Smith from the ashes of Bright and Suicide Squad. – Conor O.
19. The Daughters of Fire (Pedro Costa)
Pedro Costa’s long awaited follow-up to Horse Money was actually featured in our list of the most anticipated films of last year, but we’re still anticipating The Daughters of Fire, which is said to involve a group of sisters, a return to Fontainhas (where he previously shot three films, including his monumental Colossal Youth), and some filming in Cape Verde. Given the beguiling, abstruse nature of his work, this vagueness is understandable, but whatever direction Costa chooses, we will follow. – Ryan S.
18. Domino (Brian De Palma)
The long parabola of Brian De Palma’s career has seen him emerge from the art film fringes in the 60s and 70s, to the absolute forefront of American cinema in the 80s and 90s, to something of a marginal figure in the 00s and 10s. His acclaim is not doubted, yet Domino is only his second film in the last ten years. Still, the fact that a new De Palma is even on the way at all is cause for delight, and De Palma acolytes will be happy to know that his latest is a police thriller set in Scandinavia whose story incorporates elements of global terrorism. Appropriately weighty for a director accustomed to grandiose, sweeping films. Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice Van Houten are the main cast members, so here’s to yet another instance of De Palma turning trash into art. – Nate F.
17. About Endlessness (Roy Andersson)
During the five-year wait since A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, the closing chapter of Roy Andersson’s Living trilogy, the filmmaker hasn’t exactly been resting on his laurels. Andersson began production as early as February 2017 on his newest work About Endlessness, another lovingly handcrafted vision of life as grotesquely surreal comedy. Although Andersson doesn’t consider the film another chapter of his Living trilogy, we can almost definitely expect a similar visual approach, save for the inclusion of title cards and some mysterious voiceover this time around. As we reported as early as 2016, About Endlessness is earmarked for release at some point this year, making it, just as any Roy Andersson film is, as highly anticipated as anything on the 2019 calendar. – Tony H.
16. The Truth (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Coming off his Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is embarking on his French-language debut, featuring two of France’s greatest stars. Led by Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, and Ethan Hawke, the meta story involves a star of French cinema (Deneuve) and the relationship with her daughter, played by Binoche. Hawke will play the role of Binoche’s husband. Shot by cinematographer Eric Gautier, who most recently worked on Jia Zhangke’s Ash Is Purest White, expect another return to Cannes for the director. – Jordan R.
15. Dry Run (Todd Haynes)
Following up his family adventure Wonderstruck, Todd Haynes is adapting The New York Times article about Rob Bilott, an Ohio lawyer who uncovered how the chemical company DuPont had polluted drinking water in the region, which opened up a bigger investigation regarding chemicals that were used in everyday productions for decades. Set to star Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, and Tim Robbins, it will be different territory for Haynes, who is known for often co-writing or developing all of his movies. Dry Run will be an exception to that, with a script first written by Matthew Carnahan with a rewrite by Mario Correa. With an extras casting call posted just last week, it seems like things are moving faster than expected on the project and we could see it by year’s end. – Stephen H.
14. Us (Jordan Peele; March 22)
With the harrowing Get Out, Jordan Peele announced himself as a frontrunner in contemporary American horror. With Us, he looks to start a bit of a streak. Following a couple (Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) who vacation with their kids at a beach house, only to be confronted with some uninvited guests, Us has been shrouded in an expected bit of secrecy. Should its deliciously sinister marketing ring true, Peele has us in for a terrific bit of terror. – Conor O.
13. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers)
Director Robert Eggers immediately caught our attention with his debut horror feature The Witch, a beautifully textured and enigmatic folktale featuring a star-making turn by Anna Taylor-Joy. This year, he returns to the world of horror with his sophomore effort, The Lighthouse, a “fantasy horror story set in the world of old sea-faring myths.” Shot on 35mm black-and-white film stock and boasting a cast which includes Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson (who said in a recent interview that working with Eggers was “the closest I’ve come to punching a director”), we know tantalizingly little of The Lighthouse’s plot, except the cryptic longline: “The story of an aging lighthouse keeper named Old who lives in early 20th-century Maine.” Yep, that’s good enough for us. – Tony H.
12. Bendetta (Paul Verhoeven)
Following up Elle, Paul Verhoeven’s next film will tell the story of a 17th-century nun who suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She develops a romantic love affair with a fellow nun assigned to help her through the visions. Based on a book by Judith C. Brown, the writer Gerard Soeteman recently distanced himself from the project due to the extreme sexual aspects of the film, so if that doesn’t increase your anticipation, I don’t know what will. – Jordan R.
11. Pain & Glory (Pedro Almodóvar)
Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz are often thought of as Almodóvar’s muses, but other than their cameos in I’m So Excited, the stars have never headlined one of his films together. That is until now, the iconic pair star in Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory) which the director has referred to as “his most personal work” to date. Centered on the experiences of a filmmaker dealing with mortality, the women in his life, and the “unmeasurable emptiness” he faces in the midst of a shoot, the film’s specific synopsis remains a mystery, but as with all things Pedro it will be worth the wait. – Jose S.
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)
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.
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.