Films to watch out for in 2019: From Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to the Beyoncé-starring Lion King

Some of the movies we'll likely be talking about when the 2020 Oscars roll around

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 29 December 2018 09:33 GMT
(Sony Pictures)

With 2018 coming to a close, it’s time to look ahead at the films to have on your radar as the new year rolls around.

Not that this past year in film has been one to disregard. There were the movies that became firm awards favourites – The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread – and it was a strong year for comedy, with Game Night and Blockers managing to impress audiences as well as critics, while horror continued its 2017 renaissance with releases such as A Quiet Place and Hereditary. There was the standard dose of Marvel box office domination in the form of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, plus the inevitable deluge of sequels (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Incredibles 2, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Mission: Impossible – Fallout… the list goes on).

Next year has its own fair share of such things: there’ll be more Marvel films, and even more sequels (did someone say Star Wars?). But there are also foreign-language films worth looking out for, and the return of some big hitters, with new films from Quentin Tarantino, Karyn Kusama and Moonlight director Barry Jenkins.

We’ve compiled the 15 key releases to look out for in 2019.

Glass, 18 January

Dir: M Night Shyamalan; Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson

Glass - Trailer 4

M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) pulled the ultimate fast one in 2016, revealing that horror thriller Split was, in fact, a sequel-of-sorts to his 2002 acclaimed drama Unbreakable. The results of said surprise will be seen in Glass, which brings back Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson and James McAvoy’s characters for the most unexpected of follow-ups.

Destroyer, 25 January

Dir: Karyn Kusama; Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany​

Destroyer - Trailer

Nicole Kidman is earning serious acclaim once again for her role as LAPD detective Erin Bell in Destroyer, the latest film from The Invitation director Karyn Kusama. Kidman’s cop learns that the leader of a gang she once went undercover to infiltrate has re-emerged; expect her to add another Oscar nomination to her ever-growing tally.

Vice, 25 January

Dir: Adam McKay; Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell

Vice trailer

Christian Bale has piled on the pounds again, this time for awards frontrunner Vice, in which he plays former vice president Dick Cheney. Directed by The Big Short’s Adam McKay, fresh from his executive producing stint on HBO hit Succession, the film boasts Golden Globe-nominated performances from Amy Adams and reigning Best Supporting Actor champ, Sam Rockwell.

Burning, 1 February

Dir: Lee Chang-dong; Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo

South Korean director Lee Chang-dong’s mystery has been winning rave reviews since its festival debut at Cannes back in May. This three-hander – based on a short story by Haruki Murakami – marks a career-defining moment for former Walking Dead star Steven Yeun, who delivers a truly unsettling performance. Avoid reviews: it’s best experienced with as little knowledge as possible.

If Beale Street Could Talk, 18 February

Dir: Barry Jenkins; Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

If Beale Street Could Talk - Trailer

Barry Jenkins follows up his Oscar-winning drama Moonlight with this adaptation of James Baldwin’s heart-wrenching page-turner. It follows a young African-American woman (KiKi Layne) who attempts to clear the name of her wrongly imprisoned husband (Homecoming’s Stephan James) before the birth of their child.

Captain Marvel, 8 March

Dir: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck; Starring: Brie Larson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law

Captain Marvel - Trailer 2

This will be the year in which the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally unveils its standalone female superhero (Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp had to share title privileges with Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man). Room star Brie Larson takes on the part of Captain Marvel, with a 1990s-set origin story that’ll show how Carol Danvers gained superhuman abilities. Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening and Jude Law co-star.

Us, 15 March

Dir: Jordan Peele; Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss

All eyes are on the multi-talented Jordan Peele following the success of his 2017 sleeper hit Get Out. It sounds like he’s sticking to his winning formula with Us, a horror about a mother and father whose serene trip to a beach house “turns to tension and chaos when some shocking visitors arrive uninvited”.

The Sisters Brothers, 5 April

Dir:Jacques Audiard; Starring: John C Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Riz Ahmed​

The Sisters Brothers marks the first English-language film from Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) and follows John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as assassin siblings who get embroiled in the California Gold Rush. The darkly comic western also reunites Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed.

Avengers: Endgame, 26 April

Dir: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson

Avengers: Endgame - Trailer

Next year is a huge one for Marvel fans, as the fourth and final Avengers film – the one it’s all been building to – is unleashed upon the world. Not much is known other than Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is on hand to help Captain America (Evans) and Black Widow (Johansson) reverse Thanos’s destructive finger-snap that turned half the characters to dust at the end of Infinity War. Expect tears.

Eighth Grade, 26 April

Dir: Bo Burnham; Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson

After what feels like aeons, Eighth Grade – the feature film debut from American stand-up comedian and writer-director Bo Burnham – finally makes it to the UK. It charts the struggles of a young teen, Kayla Day, played flawlessly by Golden Globe-nominated newcomer Elsie Fisher. If there’s any justice, this’ll make her a star.

Toy Story 4, 21 June

Dir: Josh Cooley; Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack

Toy Story 4 - Teaser Trailer

Next year will see the release of the fourth instalment of Toy Story, touted by Pixar as the final outing for Woody, Buzz and friends. Things will pick up where they left off in 2010: with our heroes – plus new additions Forky, Ducky and Bunny – under the care of Andy’s family friend, Bonnie.

The Lion King, 19 July

Dir: Jon Favreau; Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, John Oliver

First look at Jon Favreau’s all-new The Lion King movie

Disney certainly isn’t holding back on its live-action remakes. Next year will see not one, but three arriving – the most anticipated surely being The Lion King (the others? Dumbo and Aladdin). Directed by Jon Favreau, who steered The Jungle Book to success in 2016, The Lion King will feature the vocal talents of (deep breath) Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen and James Earl Jones, the original voice of Mufasa who here returns to breathe life into this new incarnation.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 26 July

Dir: Quentin Tarantino; Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Tarantino’s latest
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Tarantino’s latest (Sony Pictures)

After three years, Quentin Tarantino is back. This time, he’s set his sights on 1960s Los Angeles for a feature about the Manson family murders, which saw the tragic slaying of Sharon Tate (here played by Margot Robbie). The bustling ensemble includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Damian Lewis and Dakota Fanning.

It: Chapter Two, 6 September

Dir: Andy Muschietti; Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader

IT Trailer 2

One of the year’s most hyped sequels arrives in the form of It: Chapter Two, which will catch up with the adult versions of the kids introduced in the 2017 smash hit. Set twenty years later, the characters – now played by James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader – return to Derry to put an end to killer clown, Pennywise (happily still played by Bill Skarsgård).

Joker, 4 October

Dir: Todd Phillips; Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro

Joaquin Phoenix plays a failed stand-up turned murderer in ‘Joker’ (Warner Bros)
Joaquin Phoenix plays a failed stand-up turned murderer in ‘Joker’ (Warner Bros)

On the surface, Joker is just another film based on a character from a comic book series. Look closer, however, and you’ll find what looks to be a King of Comedy-style character study starring Joaquin Phoenix as a man who turns to murder after failing as a stand-up. Robert De Niro and Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz co-star, with The Hangover’s Todd Phillips directing.

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