As 2019 draws to a close, a brand-new slate of movies awaits us, spanning musicals, thrillers and superhero follow-ups. Here are our most-anticipated titles – all coming soon to a cinema near you.
Queen & Slim
Universal Pictures/Andre D. Wagner
When you see a cop car pull over a black driver accused of a traffic violation – siren wailing, blue lights flashing – your stomach drops. The American police’s ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ philosophy when it comes to dealing with unarmed people of colour has been the subject of multiple hard-hitting movies (Fruitvale Station, The Hate U Give, Monsters and Men…) and, more despairingly, traumatic real-life incidents. So when Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith find themselves being interrogated in their vehicle by a trigger-happy state trooper in Queen & Slim, you’re conditioned to expect the worst. In actual fact, the couple, returning home after an unexciting Tinder date, manage to retaliate against the offending policeman, accidentally killing him in self-defence. This sets off an unconventional road movie, with our black Bonnie and Clyde begging, borrowing and stealing their way towards Cuba, and gradually falling in love en route. Shot through with heart-stopping tension and a gorgeously evocative soundtrack featuring new music from Lauryn Hill and Megan Thee Stallion, Queen & Slim is an urgent call to arms that’ll have you joining in its rousing Black Lives Matter chorus by the end.
‘Queen & Slim’ is released in cinemas on 31 January 2020.
Courtesy of Universal
Premiering at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, this anxiety-inducing thriller sees the venerable actress Jean Seberg (played by Kristen Stewart) transition from a demure ingénue to an outspoken activist, pursued by the FBI for her unyielding politics. Getting her start in Hollywood after winning a nationwide talent contest, the Iowa-born Seberg soon traded the US for France, where she became synonymous with cinema’s experimentally daring New Wave movement thanks to her now legendary role in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 masterpiece Breathless. Upon returning home, Seberg lent her stardom to leftist causes, from black rights to anti-Vietnam war protests, and found herself targeted by the government, who destroyed her reputation. Judging by the trailer, this biopic will be a thorough investigation of Jean Seberg’s tragically short life that showcases a sensational performance from Stewart.
‘Seberg’ is released in cinemas on 10 January 2020.
Courtesy of Courzon
The winner of Cannes’ coveted Palme d’Or is a scathing class-warfare satire from the South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, who has wowed audiences (and a growing online fanbase known as the Bong Hive) with sharp political critiques throughout his career, as in the stirring dramas Snowpiercer and Okja, which condemn the horrors of social segregation and the meat industry respectively. Without going into too much detail – for this unpredictable thriller is best consumed with minimal prior knowledge – Parasite concerns a destitute Seoul family making a living folding pizza boxes who, one by one, see their luck change when they are employed by a household of gullible one-percenters. Much intrigue ensues. Over in the US, Parasite has become the highest-grossing foreign-language movie of the year and is the all but inevitable recipient of the newly renamed Best Interntaional Film Oscar.
‘Parasite’ is released in cinemas on 7 February 2020.
Toni Anne Barson
“Time has come for a new protagonist” reads the teaser for Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film set in the world of international espionage. Beyond this 40-second trailer – which was leaked online over the summer then swiftly taken down – very little is known about the inventive auteur’s latest project, other than that it is an action-thriller starring Robert Pattinson, John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki and Clémence Poésy. Information about the movie may be scant but, given the excellence of the film-maker’s oeuvre, from the stunning sci-fi saga Interstellar to the mind-warping interlocking dreamscapes of Inception, anticipation is sky-high. If this movie is anything like Nolan’s previous ones, expect flawless special effects propelled by a thought-provoking, futuristic plot recounted in an episodic narrative that bends the concept of time.
‘Tenet’ is released in cinemas on 17 July 2020.
Wonder Woman 1984
Courtesy of Warner Bros
Three years after Gal Gadot first donned her Wonder Woman armour, breaking many a box-office record in the process, the Amazonian superhero is returning for another mission. In this sequel to her DC hit, the director Patty Jenkins is jumping back in time to the 1980s (somewhat similarly to the way Captain Marvel navigated the Nineties in her 2019 standalone movie). With minimal promotional material available, we must content ourselves with this graphic, rainbow-hued image (above) for now. Fans are theorising that the Eighties setting implies Wonder Woman will be working as a spy during the Cold War for her latest outing. Time will tell, but with Kristen Wiig, Robin Wright and Chris Pine joining Gadot for the next instalment, we’re eager to find out.
‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is released in cinemas on 5 June 2020.
West Side Story
Steven Spielberg has remade the Romeo & Juliet-inspired musical West Side Story, bringing the forbidden romance to a whole new generation (no easy feat considering the 1961 movie has long been enshrined as a beloved classic). Scribed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, this adaptation follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, retelling the timeless tale of two rival New York gangs – the white, xenophobic Jets and the American Dream-chasing, Puerto Rican Sharks – laying their claim to the New York streets they call home, while threatening the blossoming relationship between the star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria with their mutual hatred. Taking on the lead roles are Ansel Elgort (in desperate need of a hit after his 2019 flop The Goldfinch) and Rachel Zegler, the 17-year-old newcomer who beat out 30,000 actresses to land the iconic part, and went viral with her powerful cover of ‘Shallow’ from A Star is Born after she was accused of autotuning her singing. Watch this space, she’s a star in the making. Rounding off the cast are Rita Moreno – who won an Oscar playing Anita in the first movie – and a clutch of Latino Broadway stars, putting paid to whitewashing criticisms that have beset previous iterations.
‘West Side Story’ is released in cinemas on 18 December 2020.
Marvel has made a habit of poaching indie film-makers to lend artistic credence to its large-scale blockbusters, from Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) to Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok). The comic-book studio is continuing this trend with its forthcoming feature The Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao, who broke out two years ago with the critically acclaimed cowboy flick The Rider. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden and Kit Harrington, the film follows its namesake characters (a race of immortal celestial beings) across thousands of years and, according to Marvel’s president Kevin Feige, will “pull back the cosmic curtain on the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] in ways you can’t imagine”. We’re particularly excited about the movie’s increased diversity, which seems to be a key component of the fourth phase of the studio’s interconnected superhero franchise, since Scarlett Johansson is finally getting her own Black Widow origin story, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie has come out and Natalie Portman will soon taking up the hammer as a female Thor.
‘The Eternals’ is released in cinemas on 6 November 2020.
Courtesy of Mubi
“When you know what I’m doing and why, you will be horrified.” These words, equal parts seductive and alarming, succinctly sum up their speaker Ema, played with a steely resolve by the Chilean actress Mariana Di Girolamo. Eerily alluring she may be, but our slippery protagonist escapes easy categorisation. She is a reggaeton dancer, setting alight the Valparaíso streets with her explosive movements (and the fiery jets spurting from her flamethrower). She is a grieving mother lamenting the loss of her adopted son, who she returned to child services after tiring of his destructive pyromania. She is an intense lover in her romance with Gaston (a laconic Gael García Bernal). Ema constructs an elaborate prism of subterfuge – reacting to situations with a calculated unpredictability akin to Gone Girl’s canonical antiheroine Amy Dunne – that is mesmerising to watch. Awash with acid-bright colours and hypnotic dance sequences, the movie is an adrenaline-jolting marvel, burning with raging passion.
‘Ema’ is released in cinemas and on Mubi in spring 2020.
Hell really is other people in the horror director Robert Eggers’ latest feature, in which a lighthouse keeper (a flatulent, pipe-smoking Willem Dafoe) and his apprentice (a bristly, moustachioed Robert Pattinson) drive each other insane when marooned together on a deserted island in 19th-century New England. The movie is a brilliantly rendered two-hander, filmed in a boxy aspect ratio that replicates its characters’ deeply felt claustrophobia, with stark black-and-white cinematography to drain the unforgiving landscape of any colour or vitality. A disorienting swirl of dreamlike images – open graves and curling tentacles – The Lighthouse is a provocative, probing study of human relationships that echoes as loudly as the sonorous blare of its lonely foghorn.
‘The Lighthouse’ is released in cinemas on 31 January 2020.
Distinguishing himself as a sci-fi master with the superlative Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve is heading into outer space once more to adapt another fantastical book, Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune. Leto (Oscar Isaacs) accepts stewardship of the desert planet Dune, home to ‘the spice’, the universe’s most coveted substance that has the power to lengthen human life and speed up cognitive function. Despite knowing that this offer to take over Dune is a trap set by his enemies, Leto brings his wife (Rebecca Ferguson) and young son (Timothée Chalamet) along for the ride. Arguably the most resonant studio movies of recent times have repackaged and reevaluated the science-fiction genre (Ad Astra, anyone?), and with Villeneuve’s penchant for visionary storytelling and breathtaking visuals, his Dune looks to be similarly spectacular.
‘Dune’ is released in cinemas in late 2020.
From Harper's Bazaar U.K.