After highlighting 40 films that we can guarantee are worth seeing this year and 30 films we hope will get U.S. distribution, 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 2020, so make sure to check back for updates over the next twelve months and beyond. If you want to see how we did with our picks last year, head on over here.
100. The Hunt (Craig Zobel)
We’ll kick off this feature with a film that was nearly a 2019 release, until Universal Pictures cowardly pulled it at the last second after protest from Donald Trump. Craig Zobel’s The Hunt, written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse, follows a group of globalist elites who hunt down humans for sport. Peculiarly, it seems the conservatives that were offended weren’t looking too closely at The Most Dangerous Game-inspired story, as one of the hunted fights back and starts killing the elite. Starring Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, and Hilary Swank, there’s no update if it will indeed get a 2020 release, but we’d wager it’d be a perfect secret screening at a festival in the coming months followed by an online release. – Jordan R.
99. Those Who Wish Me Dead (Taylor Sheridan; Oct. 23)
After writing Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan embarked on his second directorial feature with Wind River, and although it left much to be desired, we’re hoping a more promising follow-up is in store with Those Who Wish Me Dead. Starring Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Tyler Perry, Jon Bernthal, and Aidan Gillen, the Warner Bros. thriller follows assassins hunting down a teenage murder witness and a survival expert protecting him, all while surrounded by an encroaching Montana forest fire. – Jordan R.
98. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin; Sept. 25)
Aaron Sorkin continues to explore some of the biggest eras in human history with this retelling of the real-life trial of seven men charged with crimes related to Vietnam war protests. Sorkin has assembled an all-star cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Keaton, Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne, Frank Langella, Jeremy Strong, and recent Watchmen breakout Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Sorkin defined the 2010s at the very top of the decade with his script for The Social Network, and all eyes will be on him to see if he can do it again. – Stephen H.
97. Army of the Dead (Zack Snyder)
After spending nearly all of his career in the comic book movie realm, Zack Snyder is ditching the capes and returning to the genre that launched his career: horror. Following his impressive directorial debut, the remake Dawn of the Dead, he embarked on developing a sequel Army of the Dead, which has now, according to reports, morphed into its own original zombie film. Starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Chris D’Elia, and Huma Qureshi, the $90 million, Las Vegas-set project is backed by Netflix and Snyder says, “It will be the most kick-ass, self-aware—but not in a wink-to-the-camera way—balls-to-the-wall zombie freakshow that anyone has ever seen. No one’s ever let me completely loose [like this].” – Jordan R.
96. Chaos Walking (Doug Liman)
Based on Patrick Ness’s 2008 novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, another high-budgeted adventure film from director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) is in the works–or more accurately, in limbo. Starring Spider-Man himself Tom Holland and Star Wars heroine Daisy Ridley as people living in the future on another planet where nearly every woman has been killed by a virus, the film was “deemed unreleasable” by Lionsgate executives, according to reports last year. Will Liman and co. get it in a working state this year? For better or worse, we can’t wait to see the results. – Jordan R.
95. Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 (Hideaki Anno)
After 13 years, multiple back-to-the-drawing-board revisions and one fruitful detour into the Godzilla franchise, anime auteur Hideaki Anno and his studio Khara will finally release the confusingly-titled final (?) chapter in their rebooted giant robot saga this summer. While several minutes of footage were previewed to a fan convention last year–suggesting just how much of a Fandom Event this film is endeavoring to be–the narrative shape and direction of the finished film remain anyone’s guess. Will it be a devastatingly personal maelstrom of apocalyptic visions and avant-garde storytelling, like Anno’s 1997 masterpiece The End of Evangelion? Will it be a baffling orgy of bright colors and fan service, like the previous “rebuild” films? Will its conclusion satisfy that nigh-religious base of worldwide fans, or will the Evangelion faithful soon know the bitterness and division of their Star Wars and Game of Thrones-loving brethren? Whatever the answers, we moviegoers can almost certainly look forward to 100+ minutes of dazzling imagery, in both epic sci-fi battles and tense interior drama scenes, from one of animation’s premier visionaries. – Eli F.
94. I’m Your Woman (Julia Hart)
Rachel Brosnahan has lit the small screen on fire with her Emmy-winning turn on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but now it’s her chance to try it on the big screen with I’m Your Woman. Directed by Julia Hart with a script co-written with her La La Land-producing husband Jordan Horowitz, the film follows a woman and her son who must go on the run after getting entangled with her husband’s crimes. Anyone with even mere interest should immediately check out Hart’s two other fantastic films, Miss Stevens and Fast Color. – Stephen H.
93. Three Floors (Nanni Moretti)
Returning with his first narrative feature in five years, Nanni Moretti’s Three Floors (aka Tre piani) follows three families living in three apartments in the same condo. Adapted from Eshkol Nevo’s novel, which is divided into three chapters for each of the family’s stories, Moretti weaves these tales more tightly together with his take, Cineuropa reports. Shot on location in Prati, Rome, the cast includes Riccardo Scamarcio, Margherita Buy, Alba Rohrwacher, Adriano Giannini, Elena Lietti, Nanni Moretti, Denise Tantucci, Alessandro Sperduti, Anna Bonaiuto, Paolo Graziosi, Tommaso Ragno, and Stefano Dionisi. – Jordan R.
92. Fireball (Werner Herzog)
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.
91. Happiest Season (Clea DuVall)
It’s hard to imagine a more exciting movie couple than Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, two of the most talented (and, well, just plain coolest) actresses around. In Clea Duvall’s upcoming second feature, Stewart and Davis play a couple going back to Davis’s family for Christmas. The problem? Her family is conservative and she’s yet to come out to them. In the 25 years since Home for the Holidays, the “home-for-the-holidays” canon sorely needs a new queer entry, and who could argue with this trio delivering it? – Stephen H.
90. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross)
The Ross brothers’ unconventional documentary style has brought them great acclaim, making them two of nonfiction filmmaking’s most celebrated auteurs. Their newest work looks to explore modern Americana through the lens of a small dive bar in Las Vegas, focusing on the strange, beautiful connections between the regulars, staff, and casual customers. The aesthetic and emotional aims seem to be forged around the blurriness of modern American life, people desperately clinging onto the iconography of cowboys and whiskey while on the edge of a terrifying future. – Logan K.
89. Fabian (Dominik Graf)
While he’s relatively popular amongst his native country of Germany, Dominik Graf is poised to earn more acclaim worldwide after his well-received drama Beloved Sisters. Six years after that film premiered in competition at Berlinale, he’s poised to return with Fabian. The adaptation of Erich Kästner’s novel is set in the 1920s, following an advertising executive who becomes smitten with an actress but then loses his job amidst the country’s economic and political crisis. – Jordan R.
88. Jonty (Eric Wareheim)
Although still in pre-production despite being announced early last year, we’re hoping that Eric Wareheim’s first solo theatrical directorial effort gets underway soon, with the backing of A24. Led by Michael Cera, the story follows a coddled kid who embarks on a journey to NYC where he joins forces with an old friend to produce a terrible Broadway play. Scripted by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (Four Lions), it sounds like a delightfully dark comedy. – Jordan R.
87. Arthur Rambo (Laurent Cantet)
Arthur Rambo is the latest film from the Palme d’Or-winning director of The Class, Laurent Cantet, and is cited as being an exploration of the social media generation. It is told through the perspective of a young writer who becomes a sensation in Paris, negatively affected when his old social media profile Arthur Rambo comes back into the spotlight, showing him making hate-fuelled messages throughout the internet. While explorations of social media in cinema from men of a certain age are often misguided, hopefully Cantet’s experience will ensure that something meaningful is said. – Logan K.
86. Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)
One of a couple of films A24 is premiering at Sundance Film Festival, Minari stars Steven Yeun, Han Yeri, Youn Yuh Jung, Will Patton, Alan Kim, and Noel Kate Cho in the story of a Korean American family who moves from the West Coast to rural Arkansas in the 1980s and must adapt to a new way of life. Directed by Lee Isaac Chung, whose debut film Munyurangabo in 2007 was an official selection at Cannes, we’re looking forward to seeing the Burning star shine at the festival with this promising drama. – Jordan R.
85. Summer 85 (François Ozon)
The prolific streak of François Ozon is continuing with his 19th feature, which was shot last year in Normandy. Set in–you guessed it–the summer of 1985, the story follows a group of boys growing up at a seaside resort as the all the experiences of adolescence swirl in their heads. Might the director return to Cannes for a well-timed summer debut? We’ll find out in a few months. – Jordan R.
84. Love After Love (Ann Hui)
One of the most accomplished filmmakers in the world, Ann Hui has her long-awaited next feature coming out sometime in the next year. Based on the short story Aloeswood Incense by Eileen Chang, it follows a young woman from Shanghai who moves to Hong Kong to live with her aunt in search of a proper education and ends having to seduce rich and powerful men. This looks to be a mesmerizing examination of gender and misogyny in China, with Hui seeming like a perfect fit for the narrative. – Logan K.
83. King Richard (Reinaldo Marcus Green; Nov. 25)
The last decade of Will Smith’s career has been a rocky one, which he spent most of meandering between ill-advised high concepts, dull plays at weightier fare, and cash grab appearances in studio tentpoles. Smith in the title role, King Richard follows the father of Venus and Serena Williams, highlighting his journey from their training on the streets of Compton, to their rise as two of tennis’ greatest players. Underseen and unsung in last year’s Gemini Man, here’s hoping this is a continuation of Smith finally settling into his age, and reasserting himself as one of Hollywood’s most valuable talents. – Conor O.
82. Passing (Rebecca Hall)
Although Nella Larsen’s novel, first published in 1929, about a mixed-race woman who passes as white has become a part of the American literary canon, it has never been adapted into a film. In 2019, it was announced that it would become Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut after the actor found a connection between the novel and her own family history. Are Hall’s sensitive portrayals in films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Christine the signs of a good director? Only time will tell. In the meantime, she’s already shown an eye for talent by casting Ruth Negga, Tessa Thompson, and André Holland as her leads. Passing won’t be the first time Hall has visited the Roaring Twenties–in 2013 she made an electrifying Broadway debut in Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, a play from 1928 in which she played a woman who murders her husband. – Jose S.
81. Good Morning, Midnight (George Clooney)
While George Clooney’s directorial output to date has been inconsistent, the recent acclaim for his Catch-22 miniseries and the reception for Lily Brooks-Dalton’s original novel Good Morning, Midnight makes expectations for the film adaptation high. The script by Mark L. Smith (The Revenant) follows a scientist in the Arctic who tries to stop a group of astronauts from returning home to a catastrophe of global proportions. Similar to films like Ad Astra and First Man, the Netflix production Midnight looks to be interrogating the emotional complexity of humanity’s relationship to space and what it says about our own personal consciousnesses/dynamics with the loved ones in our lives. – Logan K.
80. 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.
79. Atarrabi & Mikelats (Eugène Green)
Following the international acclaim of The Son of Joseph, Green’s next feature seems to be following along the lines of his absurdist exploration of religious tales. While not much has been made clear about the film as of yet, the basic premise focuses on two sons of a goddess, who due to their mortal father, cannot be fully taught by the Gods alone and are entrusted to the devil for their education. While one of them embraces the devil’s teachings, the other rejects and escapes his grasps. – Logan K.
78. 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 2020. – Jordan R.
77. Stillwater (Tom McCarthy; Nov. 6)
Since his Academy Award-winning feature Spotlight in 2015 , director Tom McCarthy has been relatively quiet, but 2020 brings not one but two films from the Oscar winner. The first, a Disney+ family feature Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, and the second, the thriller Stillwater. Featuring Matt Damon as an American who travels to Marseille after his daughter is imprisoned for a murder she claims didn’t commit, not much is known about the film. But let’s hope it leans more towards Spotlight and less towards The Cobbler. – Christian G.
76. The Glorias (Julie Taymor)
Academy Award winners Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander will step into the vast shoes of one of the 20th century’s most iconic figures, Gloria Steinem. Directed by theater visionary Julie Taymor, The Glorias will chronicle the life and career of Gloria Steinem from her early years (where Vikander will play the role) to her life now (where Moore will assume playing her). But Moore and Vikander will not be the only actresses playing historical figures in the film as Bette Midler, Janelle Monae, and Lorraine Toussaint will take on the roles of Bella Abzug, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, and Florynce Kennedy, respectively. – Stephen H.
75. Pieces of a Woman (Kornél Mundruczó)
Following the acclaim of his Cannes success story White God and the mixed reviews of Jupiter’s Moon, Kornél Mundruczó’s next feature film is switching languages and countries. It’s centered on a young mother (played by Vanessa Kirby) grappling with grief and guilt after her child died during childbirth. Kirby’s an immensely talented actress and 2020 looks to be a breakout year for her. With a supporting cast including Shia LaBeouf, among others, this will hopefully be a successful English-language debut. – Logan K.
74. The Nowhere Inn (Bill Benz)
St. Vincent’s career has become surprisingly controversial in recent months, with her involvement in the new divisive Sleater-Kinney record causing major stylistic changes, and likely being involved in longtime drummer Janet Weiss’ decision to leave the band. This metatextual film focuses on her with Sleater-Kinney member Carrie Brownstein, both playing themselves, as they try to explore the truth beyond the artifice of performance. If the Sundance-bound film will succeed in those aims is unclear, but it should be interesting regardless. – Logan K.
73. The Old Guard (Gina Prince-Bythewood)
Her first film since 2014’s Beyond the Lights, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard is her first descent into action filmmaking, with a much bigger budget and cast than her films are used to. The prospect of seeing her emotional rhythms qualities as a filmmaker being brought to a big-budget comic book film not in the MCU is tantalizing. The most exciting element of the production, however, is seeing how she works with Charlize Theron, a performer that seems perfect for her directorial style. – Logan K.
72. When the Waves are Gone (Lav Diaz)
Lav Diaz is one of the most acclaimed auteurs of his generation, known for his epic lengths, extensive output, and extensive socio-political commentary against the Filipino government. His latest film looks to continue on his hatred of unjust government authority, framing the overall injustice of authoritarian rule through the perspective of a betrayed friend trying to destroy the man that took everything away from him. As we await news of a festival premiere, the final result is sure to be thought-provoking and beautifully photographed. – Logan K.
71. Paradis sale (Bertrand Mandico)
Bertrand Mandico’s second narrative feature film, following the critically acclaimed The Wild Boys, seems to be continuing his incredibly experimental and audacious style of filmmaking. Escalating in scale and ambition for his sophomore production, Mandico has moved onto explicit science-fiction, grappling with new worlds and a more definitive premise than his previous. While the basic plot details sound like a thriller, it’s to be expected that nothing in the film will adhere to convention. – Logan K.
70. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan)
If, like me, you fell head over heels for the irreverent Swiss Army Man, in which Daniel Radcliffe played a farting corpse, you’ll be glad to know that the filmmakers behind it, known as The Daniels, are back at it together, this time with Crazy Rich Asian stars Michelle Yeoh and Awkwafina. The film has only been described as “an inter-dimension action film,” but honestly with that duo behind the camera and that duo in acting duty, they might as well just take all my money now. – Jose S.
69. One Second and Rock Solid (Zhang Yimou)
Following last year’s Shadow, might we get two new films from Zhang Yimou this year? With majority of his feature films containing some of the most transcendent and awe-inspiring photography you’ll see, Yimou has been productive as of late and since Chinese censors ensured that One Second didn’t get its planned Berlinale showing last year, it’s possible that his film about the cultural revolution will finally premiere this year. And that’s not all. Rock Solid is the film he made in the immediate aftermath of One Second, with Yimou exploring a genre he’s never worked with explicitly before: the gangster film. Yimou himself has described the film as being “very urban, with a very grave and stern realistic style, and the visuals are very unique.” The gangster genre has been a great way for Chinese auteurs in particular to push their political and aesthetic ideologies, and it’s guaranteed that Yimou’s form of gangsterdom will not look like anything we’ve seen before. – Logan K.
68. State of the Empire (Amat Escalante)
While details are still minimal about the new Amat Escalante film, his previous works Heli and the Venice prize-winning The Untamed suggest that whatever he has in store for audiences will be thought-provoking and formally magnificent. Escalante has done substantive work exploring the social injustices that linger underneath contemporary Mexican society, through horrifying monsters or cruel human beings, making the prospect of a new release of his in an even more horrifying climate extremely appealing. – Logan K.
67. The Jonsson Gang (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.
66. All the Dead Ones (Marco Dutra)
This Brazilian period drama exploring the decline of a family at the end of the 19th century looks to be a profound exploration of life, death, and class. Good Manners co-director Marco Dutra’s new film focuses on a mother and her two daughters who made money from coffee farms kept afloat by slave labor after slavery is abolished. It could be misguided to make a story entirely about slave owners’ struggles, but the inclusion of the stories of the newly freed slaves will hopefully ensure that this film justifies its perspective and brings a valuable perspective to the systematic changes caused by liberation. – Logan K.
65. News of the World (Paul Greengrass; Dec. 25)
Paul Greengrass’ output in the 2010s was mixed, with acclaim given towards Captain Phillips, but receiving backlash for his portrayal of a mass shooting in 22 July. Greengrass is an extremely fearless filmmaker who charges right into controversial subjects for better or for worse, meaning the prospect of him tackling America in the aftermath of the Civil War is certainly interesting. Following a newsreader who aims to reunite an orphaned girl with her family, another collaboration with Tom Hanks ensures that there will also be another masterful leading performance. – Logan K.
64. Nightmare Alley (Guillermo del Toro)
It’s always surprising when a filmmaker known for his original work decides to embark on an adaptation, especially if his last project, an awards season favorite like The Shape of Water, was such a resounding success. Luckily, the choice of material in this case is a perfect fit. Director Guillermo del Toro and screenwriter Kim Morgan seem like an ideal pairing for adapting William Lindsay Gresham’s novel, which Edmund Goulding made into a haunting and lurid carnie noir. His film is a classic bordering on cult status, starring Tyrone Powers as a carnival worker turned con-man, complete with images reminiscent of Tod Browning’s Freaks and a shocking film noir structure. These ingredients, with a cast including Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, and Rooney Mara, are intriguing to imagine in del Toro’s hands. – Tony H.
63. 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.
62. The Werewolf (Jim Cummings)
Jim Cummings’ success in the recent independent American film scene has been major, with his social media presence and the acclaim of his Thunder Road short/feature films ensuring that a new work of his will be in the conversation. Cummings’ new feature is about “a police officer trying to prove that a spate of murders is not being committed by a werewolf,” reports Time Out. The director adds, “It’s like David Fincher’s Zodiac as a comedy. With a werewolf.” We imagine this project will show further depth of his craft with a bit more scope and deliver a sophomore success. – Logan K.
61. Red, White, and Water (Lila Neugebauer)
After dominating the early 2010s with The Hunger Games franchise and a string of awards season successes, Jennifer Lawrence has been relatively quiet these past few years. This upcoming film, directed by New York theatre staple Lila Neugebauer who will be stepping behind the camera for the first time, looks to be a return to the Winter’s Bone-era of Lawrence’s career. She is playing a soldier readjusting to life in America after suffering a head injury in Afghanistan. If Lawrence headlining wasn’t enough of a draw, the cast is rounded out by Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond, Samira Wiley, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Jayne Houdyshell, and is being produced by Scott Rudin and distributed by A24. With the news of a possible impending war on the horizon, Red, White, and Water could very well become one of the most timely films of 2020, but also can serve as an introduction to a new directing talent and a reminder of just how great Lawrence can be in in the hands of a worthy story. – Stephen H.
60. The World to Come (Mona Fastvold)
Westerns made in the 21st century are often existentialist and contemplative of the loneliness that the desert provides, intimate with character relationships and less focused on violence or conventional narrative arcs. The World to Come seems to follow the trends of films such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and texts like Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, focusing on the intimate connection between two people in a place so far from the rest of civilization, and how that eventually alters their entire lives. Following her impressive debut The Sleepwalker and honing her craft with partner Brady Corbet, it’ll be unsurprising if this is a sleeper success. – Logan K.
59. Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg)
Brandon Cronenberg has already managed to stand on his own and not be tied down to his father David’s work. His first film Antiviral was a marvelously chilling and well-directed science fiction horror film with a career-best performance from Caleb Landry Jones. Cronenberg has returned to the sci-fi genre and has brought Christopher Abbott and Andrea Riseborough along with him. His Sundance-bound premiere looks to explore existential themes through a high concept narrative, and is certain to contain some of the grisliest violence of 2019. – Logan K.
58. Titane (Julia Ducournau)
We’ll tell you upfront: we know almost nothing about Julia Ducournau’s second feature Titane, starring Vincent Lindon and Agathe Rousselle. However, our anticipation is still sky-high. After her gripping debut Raw, the French filmmaker is embarking on her follow-up, which has already been picked up by Portrait of a Lady Fire and Parasite distributor Neon. With the plot following a son thought to be missing for ten years reuniting with his father, juxtaposed with gruesome murders taking place nearby, it’s an intriguing setup with what are sure many mysteries contained. With production beginning in April, it could be wishful thinking this will arrive by the end of the year, but our fingers are crossed. – Jordan R.
57. The White Tiger (Ramin Bahrani)
Compared to the quaint but powerful work in the prior decade, the last ten years for Ramin Bahrani has been one of a higher profile, directing star-studded projects like At Any Price, 99 Homes, and the quickly forgotten Fahrenheit 451. He’ll now be adapting another major novel with The White Tiger. Starring Priyanka Chopra-Jonas and Rajkummar Rao, the film follows a tea shop worker and driver who climbs the social ladder to become a successful businessman in deceitful ways. After a shoot this past fall in India, expect this to turn up at festivals later this year. – Jordan R.
56. Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon (Ana Lily Amirpour)
Amirpour’s breakout success with A Girl Who Walked Home Alone at Night and the less well-received, but still distinctly impressive The Bad Batch has set her up as one of the best visualists in modern cinema, a filmmaker with a grasp on aesthetic brilliance regardless of genre. Her new film has an increased budget than her previous, making it enticing to any fans of her photography, and seems to have the most emotional narrative of her films to date. The focus on a girl with special abilities running away from the government isn’t the most original but it’ll be no surprise if she delivers another success. – Logan K.
55. Tesla (Michael Almereyda)
Director Michael Almereyda’s career has oscillated between contemporary Shakespeare adaptations and biopics, with often the latter genre being his most successful. He re-teams with his Hamlet and Cymbeline star Ethan Hawke for this year’s Tesla. Despite this film coming just after the middling The Current War, Almereyda has always been an offbeat filmmaker (see his beautifully strange Stanley Milgram film Experimenter). Hopefully Tesla can capture some of that same magic, especially with Hannah Gross, Eve Hewson, and Jim Gaffigan in the ensemble and cinematographer by Sean Price Williams (Good Time, Her Smell). – Christian G.
54. Untitled Velvet Underground Documentary (Todd Haynes)
Todd Haynes’ exploration and knowledge of music has been evident in his narrative features, particularly in I’m Not There and Velvet Goldmine. As one of the defining artists of his time, he shows a great understanding and appreciation of classical rock music, making him arguably the perfect person to make a documentary on The Velvet Underground. If anyone can explore Lou Reed and his legendary band in the most attentive and profound ways, it’s Haynes. – Logan K.
53. Rebecca (Ben Wheatley)
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again,” opens Daphne Du Maurier’s magnum opus Rebecca and the subsequent adaptation crafted by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940. It was an adaptation so emotionally stirring and indelible that no director has attempted to remake it–until now. Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Kill List) and his singularly unique vision can only promise a wholly different experience than previous adaptations of the work. Lily James heads the cast as the second Mrs. De Winter and Armie Hammer as her new husband Maxim De Winter. Coming back to Manderly after all this time will be a welcome return for audiences this year when it arrives on Netflix. – Margaret R.
52. Druk (Thomas Vinterberg)
Any upcoming feature with Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg at the helm is a cause for celebration, and to reunite with the star of one of his most famous films The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen, only solidifies the anticipation. Druk conveys the trajectory of an experiment four teachers conduct in which they ingest and sustain a certain amount of alcohol intoxication per day to open their minds, where their problems will seemingly shrink and their creativity increase as a result. With a premise like that, Druk promises to be one of the year’s most thought-provoking features. – Margaret R.
51. Untitled Adam Leon Project
It’s hard to find substantial information on the new Adam Leon film, following his acclaimed sophomore feature Tramps. Details have been kept under wraps, with the title not even getting revealed to the public yet. However, his incredible screenplays and vividly beautiful depictions of New York’s streets (with the addition of Mission: Impossible – Fallout star Vanessa Kirby in the leading role) seems to guarantee success later in the year. – Logan K.
50. The Last Duel (Ridley Scott; Dec. 25)
Despite a few unsuccessful efforts, the majority of Ridley Scott’s recent output has been a success. From the darkly delightful The Counselor to the crowd-pleasing The Martian, Scott has honed his prolific vision and now after a bit of a break, he’s back. The prospect of him collaborating with Nicole Holofcener, Adam Driver, and Matt Damon among others is enticing, particularly since the 14th century France-set tale The Last Duel seems to call back to his classic debut feature The Duellists. No one should be surprised if this dominates next year’s best-of lists. – Logan K.
49. 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. A work-in-progress version recently premiered at Mar del Plata International Film Festival, so we can expect a final version to arrive this year. 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.
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. The Devil All the Time (Antonio Campos)
Antonio Campos has been a divisive auteur since his directorial debut Afterschool, exploring disturbed and heartbreaking subjects with distance and occasional introspection. His film Christine offered empathetic insight into a suicidal woman’s last few weeks, making it clear that he’s capable of portraying the distress of post-war trauma that his next film will be exploring. Adapted from the acclaimed 2011 novel, this Ohio-set film is likely to explore controversial subjects and emotional distress with elegance and occasional overwhelming terror. Starring Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Eliza Scanlen, Bill Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett, Harry Meling, Douglas Hodge, and Jason Collett, it’ll arrive on Netflix later this year. – Logan K.
46. The Story of My Wife (Ildiko 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.
45. The 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 on board 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.
44. Manor House (Cristi Puiu)
Acclaimed Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu’s latest work Manor House aka Malmkrog, his first since the well-received Sieranevada, seems to be based around a stripped-down philosophical discussion between five individuals in a castle in Transylvania. Puiu has never been interested in conventional narrative filmmaking, his work going completely towards abstract engagement with philosophy. With this 1900-set film shot back in 2018, hopefully we’ll see it at Cannes. – Logan K.
43. Wild Mountain Thyme (John Patrick Shanley)
Based on John Patrick Shanley’s Tony-nominated play Outside Mullingar, Wild Mountain Thyme is about two farmers (Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan) who must negotiate unrequited love and a struggle to sell property in Ireland. The play was a two-hander on Broadway, but Shanley, who will assume directorial duties for the film, has expanded the story to include characters played by Jon Hamm and Christopher Walken. Shanley’s work (which includes Moonstruck and Doubt) is always a treat, and the combination of two of the most likeable stars in Hollywood could make Wild Mountain Thyme a possible surprise success. – Stephen H.
42. Little Fish (Chad Hartigan)
Science-fiction stories have long explored a fascination with memory. Films like Marjorie Prime and Blade Runner have directly explored the impact that being allowed to remember causes living beings. The things we remember are fundamental to making us human. It’s natural that in works about synthesis with technology or adventures in the cosmos, memory is something that filmmakers think of. Taking a different direction following Morris from America, Hartigan’s Little Fish is about a pandemic that erases memories and focuses on the love between two people haunted by the possibility that one will forget the other. Starring Olivia Cooke and Jack O’Connell, if the director’s third feature lives up to its potential, it will be one of the essential films of 2020. – Logan K.
41. Election 3 (Johnnie To)
After premature retirement reports, the absurdly prolific genre shapeshifter Johnnie To laid those rumors to rest with the release of his latest film, Chasing Dream, in Hong Kong late last year, and is currently shooting an anthology film with an unimpeachable set of collaborators–but there’s even more excitement for the long-awaited third installment of his Triad in-fighting crime film series, Election. In production since 2016, details are spare but it’s tantalizing to imagine how To has conceptualized the changing criminal landscape in the ten plus years since the second film. – Michael S.
40. On A Half Clear Morning (Bruno Dumont)
You can never pin Bruno Dumont down. His shift from austere arthouse titles to broad comedy came as a shock back when Li’l Quinquin premiered in 2014, and just as he settled into a groove with films like Slack Bay, Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, and Quinquin sequel Coincoin and the Extra Humans, he surprised us again with the graceful Joan of Arc (a tonally different sequel to Jeannette). But the man doesn’t seem to stop working, as last fall he wrapped shooting on a new film that sounds like another change of pace. This time, Lea Seydoux stars as a TV celebrity and journalist whose life spirals out of control after a series of events. Most of what’s known about the story comes from various sources and translations so details aren’t exactly clear at the moment. That should likely change by May, where On A Half Clear Morning will likely screen somewhere at Cannes, and hopefully one of the most exciting filmmakers working today can find another way to surprise us. – CJP
39. The Witches (Robert Zemeckis; Oct. 9)
I couldn’t care less that this adapts a Roald Dahl story, nor that said story was once brought to screen by Nicolas Roeg. A triumphant decade of live-action filmmaking (it’s not just me!) prompts immediate interest in what Robert Zemeckis brings next, even if “next” is just expertly blocked and edited compositions. Starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Rock, the Alfonso Cuarón- and Guillermo del Toro-produced feature is set to arrive this fall. – Nick N.
38. Prisoners of the Ghostland (Sion Sono)
Have you seen the 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. – Tony H.
37. Kajillionaire (Miranda July)
Miranda July has been busy this past decade with numerous projects, but we haven’t seen a feature film from her since the very beginning of the ‘10s. She’s now finally returning, backed by Brad Pitt’s Plan B, with a heist film that will world premiere at Sundance. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins, and Debra Winger, the film follows a con artist family who has groomed their daughter to pull off their schemes. When a new face enters the picture, things change. The prospect of July taking on some genre elements has us mightily intrigued, and we imagine she’ll bring a fresh new perspective to the con film. – Jordan R.
36. The Many Saints of Newark (Alan Taylor; Sept. 25)
“Lately, I get the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.” So laments mafioso baby boomer Tony Soprano in the very first episode of David Chase’s epochal TV series bearing his name. But while The Sopranos was the definitive postmodern mob saga, this fall’s The Many Saints of Newark–written and produced by Chase alongside Sopranos veteran Lawrence Konner, and directed by fellow series alum Alan Taylor–will turn back the clock on Chase’s intricate parallel universe of feuding East Coast crime families to the waning years of the Cosa Nostra’s heyday, the political and social turmoil of the 1960s and 70s. Following the travails of legendary mobster Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), father of Michael Imperioli’s wayward Christopher, The Many Saints is likely to be more of a stand-alone drama occupying the same fictional universe than a “prequel” in the George Lucas sense. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any familiar characters from the show; among them is a young Tony Soprano, played by none other than the late, great James Gandolfini’s own son Michael. – Eli F.
35. The Girl and the Spider (Ramon Zürcher)
One of the greatest debut features of the 2010s was Ramon Zürcher’s The Strange Little Cat in 2013, a quiet and small-scale family drama told with an almost Tatiesque approach to form, abounding with precise and elusive humor. After seven years, Zürcher is back with The Girl and the Spider, which reportedly deals with an apartment move that becomes “a poetic ballad about transience in what’s being described as a ‘tragicomic catastrophe.'” This sounds right up Zürcher’s alley both narratively and tonally, and the results are highly anticipated; expect to see this at one of the sections in either Berlin or Cannes. – Ryan S.
34. 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 at Sundance. The Nest, starring Jude Law and Carrie Coon, follows American family in the 1980s who head to an isolated manor in Britain. Shot by Son of Saul cinematographer Mátyás Erdély, we’re looking forward to seeing what Durkin has crafted for his long-awaited return. – Jordan R.
33. West Side Story (Steven Spielberg; Dec. 18)
It seems that 2020 will be the year of West Side Story, with a new Broadway revival (directed by Ivo Van Hove) opening in the late winter, and a film adaptation of the 1957 musical directed by Steven Spielberg premiering at the end of the year. Although the 1961 adaptation is one of the most beloved musicals of all time, the new version allegedly has a script (by Tony Kushner) that resembles the musical more closely. He cast Ansel Elgort as Tony, but Spielberg went the Broadway route and cast David Alvarez and Tony nominee Ariana DeBose as Bernardo and Anita, respectively. The role of María went to newcomer Rachel Zegler, a Colombian American actress who was chosen from among 30 thousand young women who auditioned for the role. – Jose S.
32. 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 and it’s set to premiere at Sundance. – Jordan R.
31. Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright; Sept. 25)
After building his career on canny blends of various genres and comedy, Edgar Wright appears to be embracing a full-on approach to the former, first with his previous film Baby Driver in 2017 and now with Last Night in Soho. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Tomasin McKenzie, and Matt Smith, it is apparently a psychological horror film involving McKenzie’s character traveling in some way to the heady atmosphere of Swinging Sixties London. Details are relatively scant, aside from references to Don’t Look Now and Repulsion, but seeing Wright in this new mode sounds quite promising. – Ryan S.
30. Dune (Denis Villeneuve; Dec. 18)
We can already grant this one merit over its franchise-hopeful brethren: there’s real capacity for disaster. If adapting Dune is one thing–prior big-screen renditions of Frank Herbert’s long, terminology-dense tome didn’t land with a large audience–Denis Villeneuve’s choice to base a film on its talky, politics-heavy first half and save the worm-riding battles for later is simply insane. And whatever might be said about the overbearing seriousness of his films, a hard sci-fi epic with spot-on casting (Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Harkonnen, Javier Bardem as Stilgar) is ripe with possibility. To which end remains to be seen, but I expect something far less desperate for affection than, say, another Oscar Isaac-starring space adventure. – Nick N.
29. Let Them All Talk and Killswitch (Steven Soderbergh)
Will it be another two-film year for the prolific Steven Soderbergh? In between his extensive viewing and reading habits, he found time to make one film this past fall: the Deborah Eisenberg-scripted film Let Them All Talk, which stars Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges, and Gemma Chan. The film, which has been picked up by the forthcoming streaming service HBO Max, “tells the story of a celebrated author (Streep) who takes a journey with some old friends to have some fun and heal old wounds. Her nephew (Hedges) comes along to wrangle the ladies and finds himself involved with a young literary agent (Chan).” Then, next month, he’ll be embarking on a shoot for Kill Switch, described by writer Ed Solomon as “a 70s style noir crime drama set in Detroit in the 50s.” Starring Don Cheadle, Josh Brolin, and Sebastian Stan, with Soderbergh’s quick editing schedule, we expect it to turn up by the end of the year. – Jordan R.
28. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman; March 13)
Eliza Hittman’s previous film Beach Rats is staggeringly insightful and empathetic, showing a great formal leap as a filmmaker while maintaining the humanist traits that make her stand out as an artist. The prospect of her making another work about a teenager, this time a pregnant girl searching for an abortion clinic, almost guarantees emotional devastation and necessary compassion. The appearance of Sharon Van Etten in the cast only increases excitement for her third feature. – Logan K.
27. Selvajaria (Miguel Gomes)
Miguel Gomes, who made three of the most ambitious and acclaimed films of the 2010s with his Arabian Nights trilogy, is one of the leading Portuguese auteurs, with his work being idiosyncratic, incisive, and often masterful from start to finish. The prospect of Gomes making a historical war film, focusing on a revolution against the Brazilian republic in 1897, seems to be pushing his formal skills while remaining his political integrity and insight into class. – Logan K.
26. Green Knight (David Lowery)
Continuing an eminently impressive run, David Lowery has shown himself to be a keen purveyor of both bare emotion and playful whimsy. No stranger to the fantastic, Green Knight finds the Pete’s Dragon and A Ghost Story helmer teaming with A24 again, retelling the classic medieval yarn of Sir Gawain and the otherworldly Green Knight, with Dev Patel and Alicia Vikander leading. Ever a sharp storyteller, especially with the right talent, the possibilities that a full-fledged fantasy could yield in Lowery’s hands is a thrilling prospect in its own right. The fact that it was once in the hands of Terrence Malick makes the project all the more exciting. – Conor O.
25. Siberia (Abel Ferrara)
Abel Ferrara’s recent run of narrative features ranks up with the best films of his entire career. The lack of funding he receives has led to greater formal and thematic experimentation, making the prospect of him finally getting the chance to film the long-delayed Siberia even more tantalizing. His continued work with frequent collaborator Willem Dafoe ensures that there will be a phenomenal leading performance, on top of likely existential contemplation and mournful beauty. – Logan K.
24. Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee)
After his Oscar-winning BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee is returning to the war genre for the first time since Miracle at St. Anna with the Netflix production Da 5 Bloods, starring Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Giancarlo Esposito, and Norm Lewis. The director’s trademark commentary on the rampant cruelty of American racism and imperialism will almost certainly be present here, a film about four black war veterans who return to Vietnam to search for their missing commander and hopefully find treasure. Lee rarely misses and the potential for a politically insightful and emotionally devastating film seems limitless. – Logan K.
23. Dick Johnson Is Dead (Kirsten Johnson)
The mesmerizing Cameraperson told a heartbreaking narrative through the utilization of disjointed, seemingly random footage over 20 years of documentary shoots. Over the course of the film, fragments of Johnson’s father Dick were incorporated, eventually leading into overwhelming contemplation of mortality and life’s innate tragedies. Johnson’s next film is entirely built around her father, creating a work designed around trying to preserve his life forever through cinema. It won’t be a surprise if this is a masterpiece. – Logan K.
22. Macbeth (Joel Coen)
Two of the most formidable actors of all time, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, will take on two of the most classic roles in the canon: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This new adaptation will be written and directed by just Joel Coen without his brother Ethan and will be distributed by A24 with Scott Rudin backing. It’s unclear whether this new adaptation will be a literal one (like the recent 2015 version with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard) or a more original story that is inspired by Macbeth, but either way, we can’t wait to see McDormand and Washington go toe to toe. – Stephen H.
21. Ammonite (Francis Lee)
Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan have been on similar trajectories for quite some time. They are both international actresses who got their start at a young age and they have, perhaps beside Keira Knightley, been the go-to actresses of their respective generations for period pieces. They both received Oscar nominations for playing red-hair heroines in critical darlings (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Lady Bird). With Ammonite, their paths will officially cross on screen as a geologist and fossil hunter who begin a romantic affair in 1800s England. Directed by Francis Lee, who helmed 2017’s underrated God’s Own Country, Ammonite looks to be a promising pairing of two of the finest actresses working. – Stephen H.
20. 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 had a killer 2019 with her tour-de-force performance in Alex Ross Perry’s rock and roll drama Her Smell, so we’re expecting great things await. – Stephen H.
19. Swimming out till the Sea Turns Blue (Jia Zhangke)
Jia Zhangke’s last 10 years of filmmaking showed him reach unparalleled levels of quality, with his last two features being undisputed masterworks. His upcoming film seems to go back to the documentary elements of 24 City, embedding the spiritual journey of the Chinese people over seven decades through the lens of three of the country’s most acclaimed novelists. Details are currently sparse but Jia is one of the greatest filmmakers alive, and this premise will hopefully bring out all of his strengths. – Logan K.
18. C’mon C’mon (Mike Mills)
Mike Mills movies tend to sound unbearable on paper, making his actual alchemy–long story short: it’s no secret that time comes for us all and anybody who thinks it won’t be unfathomably sad has another thing coming, but the reasons to be happy are real–that much more fantastic. Will any of that apply to his latest? I have reason to think so, and watching Joaquin Phoenix try his hand won’t hurt. – Nick N.
17. Untitled Tsai Ming-ling Film
As one can guess from the “title” (or lack thereof), not much is known about what Tsai Ming-Liang has cooking up next. After retiring from “traditional filmmaking” in 2014, Tsai has kept himself busy with non-fiction and experimental works like Afternoon and Your Face, and he appears to have another work ready to go this year. So what do we know about his new film? There were rumors that it was going to premiere at Venice last summer (where his 2003 film Goodbye Dragon Inn had a special screening), but nothing surfaced. Either way, anyone familiar with Tsai’s masterful work will anxiously await whatever he ends up doing next. And if you’re unaware of Tsai or haven’t seen any of his films, you need to correct that immediately. The fact that news of a new film from him even existing is enough to put him on this list should be taken as a sign of how good he is. –CJP
16. Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)
Chloé Zhao is arguably the most definitive contemporary filmmaker capturing the experiences of everyday rural Americana. Her masterpiece The Rider showed a specific subset of American life in a quiet intensely powerful way. Her next film before heading into the MCU seems to continue her interest in the ways individuals find solace and loneliness in the vastness of the American West. Teaming with a professional actress (Frances McDormand) in the leading role for the first time seems to ensure defining work from both women. – Logan K.
15. The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson)
To list the entire cast of The French Dispatch would take up the entirety of this paragraph, but let’s just say if you are a fan of the ridiculously stacked ensemble of Wes Anderson’s previous films that you will be just excited by this one, and then some (and then some more). Details have been kept pretty tight around The French Dispatch, but we do knw that it follows three intersecting storylines spanning from 1925-1975 and is a “love letter to journalism.” – Stephen H.
14. Untitled Hong Sang-soo Film
I’ll guess: a verbose, caustically funny story of male-female relationships gone awry, maybe with a little bit of structural sleight-of-hand foregrounding the impossible gap in all romantic endeavors. It will be quiet, filled with long shots of people holding conversation at a table, appear to end as soon as it began, and supersede at least 90% of the movies on this list. Shooting was underway in November, so expect a premiere very soon. – Nick N.
13. The Souvenir: Part II (Joanna Hogg)
It’s hard to get excited about sequels to perfect films, but if we have faith in anybody pulling it off, it’s Joanna Hogg. If you’ve seen The Souvenir, you know it is undoubtedly one of the finest movies of 2019, and while it stands alone just fine on its own, the idea of Hogg letting us continue to see how Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) evolves from the devastating events of the first film shoots this film to the top of the film world’s most anticipated films. Even more enticing is the casting of Harris Dickinson, Charlie Heaton, and Joe Alwyn, not to mention the return of scene-stealers Tilda Swinton and Richard Ayoade. – Stephen H.
12. Tenet (Christopher Nolan; July 17)
Of course there stands reason to expect an overly technical, sexless, somber movie–that’s just keeping with Christopher Nolan’s MO. But the first preview for Tenet, his (maybe?) secret-agent time-travel actioner, stands out for some not-insignificant reasons: it’s the rare time he’s had an entirely charismatic set of actors at the helm; the score is not by Hans Zimmer, an overbearing presence who’s become such a cliché he literally has a composition-churning factory; and if there’s a lot of exposition that will compartmentalize much of this movie’s intrigue, at least the device for its delivery is Martin Donovan. Also, did you see that car accident run in reverse?! Whee! – Nick N.
11. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman)
Charlie Kaufman is one of the most acclaimed screenwriters in modern history, creating existentialist high-concept masterpieces over two decades of professional writing. His output has been limited lately, but his return to writing and directing for the first time since Anomalisa seems to be a perfect comeback. The film being centered on the fragmentation of the central relationship as they journey through an unexpected detour seems to trace back to his stellar work as Eternal Sunshine’s writer, while also pushing his aesthetic and thematic visions further into the future. – Logan K.
10. On the Rocks (Sofia Coppola)
Sofia Coppola reunites with her Lost in Translation muse Bill Murray for her ninth directorial effort, which centers on “a young mother who reconnects with her larger than life playboy father on an adventure through New York.” The young mother will be played by Rashida Jones, and the film marks a possible new territory for Coppola and her cast, with many comedic actors being involved including Marlon Wayans and Jenny Slate. On The Rocks will also be the first collaboration between A24 and Apple, and we’d expect it to arrive at a major festival first. – Stephen H.
9. After Yang (Kogonada)
Kogonada will follow up his tender, formally striking drama Columbus with After Yang, a sci-fi drama starring Colin Farrell and Haley Lu Richardson, backed by A24. An adaptation of the Alexander Weinstein sci-fi short story Saying Goodbye to Yang, the film will follow a father and daughter as they try to save the life of their robotic family member. We can’t imagine a more well-suited follow-up for Kogonada as he hopefully retains his level of intimacy on a slightly less strictly human scale. With production completed last summer, expect a festival bow soon. – Jordan R.
8. Mank (David Fincher)
Anything new from David Fincher would spark our curiosity considering his six-year absence from filmmaking after 2014’s Gone Girl. His newest, Mank, follows the life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman, as he attempts to write Citizen Kane, a film which Fincher cites as one of his favorites. In keeping with the subject and period setting, Fincher plans to present Mank as his first black-and-white feature, with backing from Netflix. Tom Burke (as Orson Welles), Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton, and Charles Dance round out the supporting cast, the latter reuniting with the director for the first time since Alien 3. – Tony H.
7. The Perfumed Hill (Abderrahmane Sissako)
The first film of his since the overwhelming critical success Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako’s follow-up is sure to have a huge impact on the festival season in 2020, following a shoot last year. Described as a love story between Africa and China, we expect another thoughtfully profound, politically insightful, and beautifully-shot experience that keeps the Mauritanian director’s name in the conversation of the greatest working filmmakers. – Logan K.
6. Bergman Island (Mia Hansen-Løve)
After having one of the most exciting directorial careers the last decade, Mia Hansen-Løve will kick off the 2020s with her long-anticipated drama Bergman Island. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth, Anders Danielsen Lie, Joel Spira, and Clara Strauch, the film revolves around an American filmmaking couple who retreat to the island for the summer to each write screenplays for their upcoming films in an act of pilgrimage to the place that inspired Ingmar Bergman. As the summer and their screenplays advance, the lines between reality and fiction start to blur against the backdrop of the Island’s wild landscape. While we imagine a Cannes debut could be in store, now is the time to beg for a U.S. distributor to pick up her severely overlooked previous drama, Maya. – Jordan R.
5. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Two names: Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Tilda Swinton. There’s nothing more to say, no further arguing necessary to explain why Memoria is one of the most anticipated films of the year. This particular collaboration has been years in the making, with the two almost working together shortly after Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the Palme d’Or in 2010, and after one decade it’s finally happening. Plot details are sparse, but this will be a departure for Weerasethakul, who is shooting in Colombia and largely in English, making this his first feature outside of his home country of Thailand. And in good news, back in November film distributor NEON announced it pre-bought US rights to the film, which pretty much guarantees that Memoria will be Weerasethakul’s biggest release to date (some extra good news: after being unable to work on Cemetery of Splendour, regular cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is back). It would be a shock if Memoria didn’t wind up premiering at Cannes, where it will likely be a frontrunner for the Palme d’Or. – CJP
4. Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven)
Following up Elle, Paul Verhoeven’s next film Benedetta 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 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. After post-production was delayed last year, we expect the film is now ready for a Cannes debut this year. – Jordan R.
3. Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
With just a few feature films under his belt, scattered over a 20-year career, Andrew Dominik has masterfully crafted stories that explore legends and genres in achingly somber and subversive ways. In 2020, he’ll unveil his long-gestating look at another legend: Marilyn Monroe. Based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name, Blonde is a fictionalized gaze into the personal life of Monroe, including her potential assassination. Starring Ana de Armas as the Hollywood bombshell, and shot by BlacKkKlansman and Lemonade DP Chayse Irvin, the biopic is shaping up to be a welcome, long-awaited return for the filmmaker. – Conor O.
2. Undine (Christian Petzold)
The new film from Christian Petzold, following his masterpiece Transit, reunites leads Franz Rogowski and Paula Beer to perform in a narrative that’s a deviation from his traditional work. A contemporary version of the myth Undine, it focuses on a modern version of the water spirit who is torn by the primal need within her to kill her ex-partner and journey back to the sea, and her desire to remain human and love her new boyfriend. It’s sure to be as thoughtful and heartbreaking as Petzold’s recent works, with his descent into fantasy elements likely pushing his stellar aesthetics even further. – Logan K.
1. Annette (Leos Carax)
Leos Carax, who doesn’t work at a clip I’d exactly call brisk, tried for years to mount this Sparks-penned musical before finally rolling cameras in 2019. Little is known outside details from a New Yorker profile of star Adam Driver, though the readiness with which I laugh at the thought of him playing a stand-up comedian itself warrants attention; factor in Sparks producing some of the world’s wittiest and powerful pop / rock for fifty years and you’ll understand why it’s sitting so high. For a possible preview, check out The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, their rock opera following the iconic director’s perilous experiences in Hollywood. – Nick N.
Even at 100, there’s a number of films we’re looking forward to that just missed the cut. On the Hollywood side, we’re curious what Cary Fukunaga will bring to the Bond franchise with No Time to Die (April 8), the life of Pete Davidson will get the Judd Apatow treatment with The King of Staten Island (June 19), Jaume Collett-Serra will hopefully inject some fun into a Disney tentpole with Jungle Cruise (July 24), and speaking of Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (June 26) will find Joseph Kosinski flying high. Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin is also back with Wendy (February 28), which is coming to Sundance along with the Carey Mulligan-led Promising Young Woman (April 17). Also earlier in the year we’ll get the Elisabeth Moss-led The Invisible Man (Feb. 28), from Upgrade director Leigh Whannell. Tom Hanks will kick off the summer with Greyhound from Get Low director Aaron Schneider (May 8).
Bill & Ted will Face the Music (August 21) and Craig Brewer reteams with Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes for Coming 2 America (December 18). We’re also hoping Pixar gets their mojo back with Onward (March 6) and Soul (June 19), and, after their last duds, let’s cross our fingers that Taiki Waititi (Next Goal Wins), Joe Wright (The Woman in the Window, May 15), and Sean Penn (Flag Day) deliver with their new films. Following up The Big Sick, Michael Showalter returns with both The Lovebirds, reteaming with Kumail Nanjiani, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield. Gunpowder Milkshake, directed by Big Bad Wolves duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, will likely be arriving. Charlie McDowell (The One I Love) is also back with Gilded Rage as is Azazel Jacobs (The Lovers) with French Exit. The thriller Born to be Murdered, starring Alicia Vikander, John David Washington, and Vicky Krieps, is also in post-production.
On the international circuit, we’re looking forward to new films from Radu Jude (Uppercase Print), Karim Aïnouz (Algerian by Accident), Agnieszka Holland (Charlatan), Quentin Dupieux (Mandibules), Sally Potter (The Roads Not Taken) and, after anticipating them for a few years, hopefully Ari Folman’s Where Is Anne Frank? and Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi’s Luxembourg finally premiere.
Rounding out our honorable mentions, we imagine Clint Eastwood will probably attach himself to a project around June of this year and have it in theaters by December, once again.
Likely Won’t Be Ready
There’s also a number of films which are in various stages of development and/or production that will likely not be ready this year, including Paul Thomas Anderson’s high school-set drama, which doesn’t shoot until this spring/summer, Terrence Malick’s hugely-anticipated Biblical drama The Last Planet, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, Paul Schrader’s Oscar Isaac-led The Card Counter, Jean-Luc Godard’s next film surrounding the Yellow Vest movement, Robert Eggers’ The Northman, plus new animated features by Don Hertzfeldt, Hayao Miyazaki, Sylvain Chomet, and Dash Shaw. Netflix announced they’ll be making another film by Jeremy Saulnier, Rebel Ridge starring John Boyega, but no release date was confirmed. Lisandro Alonso’s highly anticipated Jauja follow-up Eureka is now eying a 2021 completion, while Yorgos Lanthimos has been attached to a few projects, but none have been confirmed as his next quite yet.
We also imagine Hou Hsiao-Hsien might take more time with Shulan River and Wong Kar-wai is rethinking the first iteration of Blossoms. Ruben Ostlund’s The Triangle of Sadness shoot will continue through much of the year so we expect a Cannes 2021 bow. There are also many auteur-driver films we’re not sure of the status on after being announced in the past few years, including Terence Davies’ Benediction, Claire Denis’ Denis Johnson adaptation The Stars at Noon, as well as new projects by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, João Pedro Rodrigues, Nadav Lapid, Todd Field, Brian De Palma, Park Chan-wook, Gus Van Sant, Joachim Trier, Alain Guiraudie, Todd Solondz, Kirill Serebrennikov, and, most anticipated of all, Elaine May’s Crackpot starring Dakota Johnson.
Which films are you most looking forward to this year?