My Most Anticipated 2019 Movies

As it turns out, two things can be true at once. First, with the aid of a couple different subscription services, I’ve been able to see more movies from the current year to date than ever before (89 as of this writing). I’ve seen all kinds of things, but there are plenty of films I haven’t caught up with yet. Five of them appeared on my “most anticipated” list for 2018. In other words, I’ve only seen half of that top ten, easily the poorest showing since I started this exercise. Why did I decide to see 84 other movies instead of those five, you ask? As always, there are a number of factors that can’t be reliably predicted, though I hope I’m getting better at knowing when movies from different parts of the world will reach me. Everybody Knows will hit U.S. theaters this February; The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and Ophelia are both in limbo, having been dismissed by the few who have seen them. The remaining two films have been delayed altogether. Scorsese’s The Irishman should hit Netflix at some point in 2019. As for the next Terrence Malick movie, trying to guess when and where it will finally bow is a game I have yet to master.

So I press on. The odds are good that, in another few months, I won’t be able to name all ten of the following films off the top of my head. Anticipation, particularly when projected over an entire year, is basically junk science. For every Before Midnight or Interstellar that I correctly highlighted as a potential favorite, there have been two or three disappointments. I don’t mind that. These lists have no greater purpose than to highlight movies that look interesting to me. So here are some of those. It should be a good year. I couldn’t bring myself to include Detective Pikachu as a guilty pleasure, but I’ll put it out there right now that Detective Pikachu will be one of the 80 or so other movies that I’ll see when it arrives in my neck of the woods.

  • The Dead Don’t Die
  • Release: Not set
  • With Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi
  • Director: Jim Jarmusch

2019 Movies 1This zombie movie, rather than Zombieland 2 or World War Z 2, makes my list for the obvious reason that it’s a Jarmusch movie, not a belated sequel. I’m really not sure what he’ll do with the genre. Erudite vampires were a natural fit for him, but mindless cannibal hordes? I don’t want to guess; I’m sure it will be amusing.

  • First Cow
  • Release: Not set
  • With Rene Auberjonois, Dylan Smith, Orion Lee, Manuel Rodriguez
  • Director: Kelly Reichardt

The Playlist put this movie on their list, so if it doesn’t premiere next year, I won’t be the only one with egg on my face. Shooting was supposed to begin in early November and conclude just over a week ago, and knowing the scale of Reichardt’s past movies, it’s not a stretch to expect the whole process to be completed in time for a 2019 release. Regardless, it will be another western from the woman who made Meek’s Cutoff.

  • Gemini Man
  • Release: October 4
  • With Will Smith, Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, Linda Emond
  • Director: Ang Lee

Ang Lee directing a thriller about an assassin fighting a clone of his younger self sounds fun enough as it is. But apparently the idea, which has been kicked around Hollywood for twenty years, is that the “clone” will be a CGI character, utilizing the “de-aging” technology that’s been seen in some notable recent blockbusters. It’s a technology I haven’t liked much so far, but this looks to be a creative, and perhaps even introspective, use of it.

  • The Last Thing He Wanted
  • Release: Not set
  • With Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe, Ben Affleck, Toby Jones, Rosie Perez
  • Director: Dee Rees

Like Rees’s last movie, Mudbound, this will be heading to Netflix — one of many reasons that dastardly company will keep getting a subscription out of me for the foreseeable future. I really liked both Mudbound and Pariah, and this one, a political thriller adapted from the Joan Didion novel, looks intriguing.

  • Little Joe
  • Release: Not set
  • With Ben Whishaw, Emily Beecham, David Wilmot, Kerry Fox, Sebastian Hulk
  • Director: Jessica Hausner

These next two movies will (ostensibly, at least) be the English-language debuts for a couple international masters of “slow cinema.” This one is being described as “science fiction,” with a premise similar to that of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I can’t wait to see what Hausner does with the slow-rolling horror of that idea.

  • Memoria
  • Release: Not set
  • With Tilda Swinton
  • Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Plot details are even sparser for this movie, but they’re probably already sufficient. This movie will explore the Colombian jungles (the director’s first movie outside of Thailand), with Swinton and at least one other character whom Apichatpong describes as “maybe an alien, I don’t know.”

  • Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements
  • Release: Not set (Will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival)
  • Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky

This is my Sundance pick for the year. It’s time for another lesson in expectations and reality. The 2018 Sundance Festival produced five movies that I would eventually come to rank among my favorites of the year. None of them made my “most anticipated” list a year ago. The festival also produced a movie called Ophelia that, as I’ve mentioned, I haven’t been able to see yet. So I’m just throwing this documentary out there because I find the concept interesting and poignant. I hope I don’t forget all about it in a few months.

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Release: July 26
  • With Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino
  • Director: Quentin Tarantino

2019 Movies 2If I were ranking these, this would have to be number one, and it wouldn’t be very close. This is already the movie title that Tarantino was born to make, and maybe the premise will be invigorating for him as well after a decade of arguable decline. A sprawling film about Manson-era Hollywood is going to be pretty much impossible to ignore, like it or not. The subject matter and setting put this closer to Pulp Fiction than anything else Tarantino has made, so that’s exciting.

  • Parasite
  • Release: Not set
  • With Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam
  • Director: Bong Joon-ho

After Snowpiercer and Okja, two ambitious and international films that I didn’t love as much as his earlier work, Bong Joon-ho is getting back to the basics with a Korean family drama. The distribution company Neon has secured the rights to this film, making it more likely that I’ll actually be able to see it next year.

  • You Are My Friend
  • Release: October 18
  • With Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper, Wendy Makkena
  • Director: Marielle Heller

2019 Movies 3This Fred Rogers biopic (which might be released under a different title when all is said and done) seems like a no-brainer. This year’s Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? has already been terrifically successful, though I wasn’t as enchanted with it as I’d hoped to be. I liked Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, so I’m hopeful that she’ll do something more interesting than the standard hagiography. I think I’m more skeptical of the Hanks casting than most (he’s too big!), but I’m sure he’ll be able to summon some twinkles in those eyes of his.

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