We know awards season may have only just got into full swing but we’ve seen all of 2019’s best films and are itching for something new to sink our teeth into. And, as the traditional Hollywood studios continue to vie for prominence over upstart indie filmmakers and the increasing silver screen dominance of Netflix, 2020 promises to be yet another stellar year for cinema.
From the war epic that stole two Golden Globes before it was even officially released to blockbusting superhero fare and some very highly-anticipated spy thrillers, these are films to have on your radar in 2020.
Sam Mendes’ take on the classic war film may not be released until later this week (10 January) but it’s already scooped him both Best Director and Best Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes. Frankly that’s recommendation enough for us but, if you need more convincing, how does an all-star cast including Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, George Mackay, Richard Madden, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth sound?
Set at the height of World War One, the film follows two young British soldiers (Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman) who are tasked with crossing dangerous enemy territory to warn a fellow British battalion about a trap they are about to walk in to. This race-against-time tale is set against an unflinchingly raw portrayal of the horrors of war – dead horses and dismembered limbs litter the ground throughout – providing a startlingly effective backdrop to soldiers who, conversely, seek only to not kill or be killed.
Release date: 10 January
With a name like this we were always going to be on board. So it’s a good job that The Gentleman is shaping up to be the kind of proper Guy Ritchie crime caper we all know and love. The basic plot – an American ex-pat opium dealer in London (Matthew McConaughey) attempting to sell his empire to, among others, a Jewish-American billionaire (Kendall Roy) and a Chinese gangster (Henry Golding) while being pursued by a PI-cum-screenwriter (Hugh Grant) – screams Lock, Stock or Snatch. Throw in a healthy dose of humour from the likes of Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery and Colin Farrell and you’ve got the kind of fast talking, quick witted heist movie Ritchie fans have been waiting for.
Release date: 1 January (UK)/24 January (US)
No Time To Die
The one we’ve all been waiting for – Bond is back in 2020 and we couldn’t be more ready for another dose of 007 action. Starring Daniel Craig in his last outing (or is it?) as the superspy, he’s joined by a new 007 agent (Lashana Lynch) and a team of old favourites, including Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, Naomie Harris and Ralph Fiennes, while Rami Malek will assume the villainous mantle.
Not a huge amount is known about No Time To Die but, from what we’ve gleaned from the trailers and promo images, the film is set some time after Bond has retired to Jamaica. He’s called back to hunt down one last high-tech villain bent on world domination – only to discover there are far more devastating secrets waiting to be revealed.
Release date: 11 November
The 24th (yes, 24th) film in the Marvel franchise will hit cinemas in May, this time helmed by Avengers veteran Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Somewhat confusingly, despite being the official start of Phase 4 of the Marvel Comic Universe, the film is actually set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War but, being an origin story, will feature very few familiar Marvel characters.
Instead it will introduce a slew of new female heroes, including Romanoff’s sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and fellow Widow programme alumnus Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), in an action flick that promises to be grittier, slicker and darker than its glossy cape-wearing counterparts.
Release date: 1 May
Wonder Woman 1984
It’s going to be a good year for female superheroes. Hot on the heels of Black Widow, DC will be hoping to build on the success of what is by far its most popular film to date with Wonder Woman 1984. The sequel to the 2017 character reboot, which was set during WWI, the second instalment will see Gal Gadot return as the bulletproof Amazonian but in an entirely different context.
As the name suggests, the film is set in against a technicolour Eighties backdrop and fills in some of the story between the first film and Wonder Woman’s reappearance in Batman vs Superman. Gadot will one again be joined by Chris Pine and Robin Wright while Kristen Wiig stars as new arch-rival Cheetah and Pedro Pascal dons his best sneer as evil tycoon Maxwell Lord.
Release date: 5 June
The last few years have seen a renaissance of truly great horror thanks to the likes of Get Out, Hereditary, The Babadook, It Follows and Us. The first and last on this list, notably, come from the directorial stylings of Jordan Peele who, until a few years ago, was better known for his comedy work but is now credited with the reimagination of modern horror.
It is with great anticipation, then, that we wait for Candyman; a ‘spiritual’ sequel to the 1992 original, which has been co-written and produced by Peele, along with Win Rosenfeld (BlacKkKlansman) and Ian Cooper (Us). Relative newcomer Nia DaCosta has been tapped to direct a cast including Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett in this retelling of the urban legend.
Release date: 12 June
This latest Ryan Reynolds vehicle is high concept and seriously nerdy but we reckon he has the comedy chops to pull it off. Directed by Stranger Things’ Shawn Levy, Reynolds plays a bank employee who discovers he is, in fact, a non-playable character in a violent video game. On paper, it’s an interesting idea backed up by a great cast including Taika Waititi, Jodie Comer and Joe Keery. Time will tell if screenwriters Matt Lieberman (The Christmas Chronicles) and Zak Penn (Ready Player One, Avengers Assemble) can spin it out into a full feature length film but, for now at least, we’re excited.
Release date: 3 July
With a production budget rumoured to be around $225 million, there’s a lot riding on Christopher Nolan’s next flick – especially as it’s going directly up against No Time To Die in the international espionage action film category. Other than that, very little is known about the film’s plot but a quick glance at the cast list gives a good idea of where all that budget is going: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh and Elizabeth Debicki all star. Filming has also taken place in Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway and the UK so we’re expecting some pretty stunning locations shots. This might be one worth shelling out the extra cash to see at an Imax gents.
Release date: July 17
The King’s Man
After the success of the first two instalments in the Kingsman series, our favourite Savile Row-wearing spies are becoming a fully-fledged franchise. Director Matthew Vaughn reportedly has a third film and spinoff TV series in the pipeline in addition to The King’s Man – a prequel set to hit cinemas in September.
Set in the early 20th century, the film is essentially an origin story of the secret service organisation which, it seems, was set up to battle a collective of some of history’s biggest (and, interestingly, real) dictators, criminals and miscreants. Ralph Fiennes features as the Duke of Oxford with Harris Dickinson taking the up-and-coming agent role while Rhys Ifans looks set to put in a stellar performance as Rasputin. Gemma Arterton, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Charles Dance, Stanley Tucci and Daniel Bruhl round out a suitably starry cast.
Release date: 18 September
An entirely new addition to the Marvel Comic Universe, Eternals is based on the Jack Kirby characters first introduced in 1976 and will take the MCU in a much more sci-fi direction that its action-comedy superhero counterparts have done thus far. The titular Eternals are a race of immortal god-like beings locked in a millennia-old battle with the less highly-evolved Deviants and their creators, the Celestials (those with sharp memories may remember Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord is half Celestial). If you want to know any more than that we suggest you look up the source material because Marvel is staying tight-lipped for now.
What we do know, however, is that they’ve chosen Chloe Zhao to direct, signalling a departure from the MCU’s glossy superhero style. Zhao is best known for Songs My Brother Taught Me and The Rider – both of which were critically acclaimed but also small indie pictures with a more singular aesthetic than that we’ve come to expect from the MCU. Of course, the cast is nothing but A-list, featuring Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Salma Hayek, so it will be interesting to see what Zhao can pull off with great talent and a bigger budget.
Release date: 6 November
Still catching up? These were the best films of 2019…
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