2019 turned into a great year for movies after a sluggish start, in my opinion, so my excitement for movies has been renewed and with the turning of the calendar, it is time to turn an eye towards 2020 and what great things it might have to offer us cinematically. If you are wondering how I have moved onto 2020 before sharing my top films of 2019, fear not, I have not closed the book on last year just yet, with a handful of films I am still hoping to catch up with prior to posting my end of year list. I will hopefully post something Oscar weekend to put a bow on things.
As for 2020, I have a total of 155 films on my current “watchlist”, but many of those have likely already been pushed to later years, and a number of others will get pushed by years end as well. I will do my best to avoid those and stick to ones that are solidly in for 2020, but no promises can be made. And of course, I don’t want to bore readers with that full list of 155 films, so I will focus on the handful (still over 50!) I am most excited for. If you are curious for the full list, you can find it here, on Letterboxd, which is a wonderful resource for making movie lists, and generally interacting with other film lovers over the best movies around.
- Black Widow (Cate Shortland)
- The Eternals (Chloe Zhao)
As ever, there are multiple superhero entries to expect this year, including three films directed by women! Black Widow brings Scarlett Johansson her own movie as the titular character, while bringing in Cate Shortland, whose 2012 film Lore was one of my favorites from that year. Plus Florence Pugh is in it! And she’s is really great!
The Eternals, sees the first studio project from very promising indie directer Chloe Zhao, whose film The Rider was my favorite film of 2017. Two new Marvel movies, two great opportunities for great female directors. Very excited to see how these turn out.
- Mank (David Fincher)
- Rebecca (Ben Wheatley)
- Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee)
- Eurovision (David Dobkin)
- I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman)
- Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard)
- The Prom (Ryan Murphy)
- Spencer Confidential (Peter Berg)
The new era of cinema is….streaming! Like or not, it’s where the industry is going, and after a very successful few years for Netflix, 2020 appears to be set to be a banner year as they have partnered with multiple auteur directors and have a great slate of films set to hit your small screen this year.
New films from David Fincher (Mank), Ben Wheatley (Rebecca), Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), Charlie Kaufman (I’m Thinking of Ending Things), Ron Howard (Hillbilly Elegy) and Peter Berg (Spencer Confidential), as well as the highly anticipated The Prom from Ryan Murphy. Netflix started as a fledgling studio, but they have build up a lot of respect over the last few years, getting notable filmmakers to utilize their audience and platform. With this slate of films in 2020, I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Sequels We Never Knew We Needed
- Bill & Ted Face the Music (Dean Parisot)
- Coming 2 America (Craig Brewer)
- Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh)
- The King’s Man (Matthew Vaughn)
- Legally Blonde 3 (Jamie Suk)
- Trolls World Tour (Walt Dohrn)
- Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski)
- Minions: The Rise of Gru (Kyle Balda)
- Godzilla vs. Kong (Adam Wingard)
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Jason Reitman)
There are a lot of titles here with which we are very familiar, but for some of them, it has been a loooong time since the last entry in these series. There is a lot of money to be made by studios on nostalgia, and most of these fall under that category, including Tom Cruise’s return to the cockpit in Top Gun: Maverick, Eddie Murphy capitalizing on his resurgence after Dolemite is My Name in Coming 2 America, Reese Witherspoon rebooting her popular Legally Blonde franchise after nearly 20 years, and even the return of Bill & Ted after nearly 30!
Sequels We Can’t Wait to See
- The Quiet Place Part II (John Krasinski)
- Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins)
- No Time to Die (Cary Joji Fukunaga)
- Fast & Furious 9 (Justin Lin)
Many of these are long standing franchises, such as No Time to Die, which will be the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, and Daniel Craig’s swan song as the famed character. And a ninth(!) Fast & Furious movie! People love these action films and they have been among the most consistently brilliant action movies of the last decade, so there is good reason. John Krasinski reprises his surprise horror hit The Quiet Place, which will likely be one of the biggest releases of the year. Oh, and another superhero movie directed by a woman, Wonder Woman returns for her much anticipated sequel!
- Artemis Fowl (Kenneth Branagh)
- Jungle Cruise (Jaume Collet-Serra)
- Mulan (Niki Caro)
- Onward (Dan Scanlon)
- Soul (Pete Docter)
- Raya and the Last Dragon (Paul Briggs & Dean Wellins)
There is always buzz around the Disney/Pixar movies, and this year has an interesting mix of films. The live action rendition this year, Mulan looks really great based on the early trailer, while the Pixar films are a different story. Onward looks odd, but here is hoping it’s better than it looks. And of the animated films, Raya and the Last Dragon sounds more interesting than both Onward and Soul. However it plays out, I’m sure Disney will have at least a few hits on their hands with this slate of films.
- Dune (Denis Villeneuve)
- Tenet (Christopher Nolan)
- Bad Blood (Adam McKay)
- Macbeth (Joel Coen)
- Nightmare Alley (Guillermo del Toro)
- The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson)
- West Side Story (Steven Spielberg)
- In the Heights (Jon M. Chu)
- The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)
- Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright)
- Next Goal Wins (Taika Waititi)
- Pop. 1280 (Yorgos Lanthimos)
- First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)
- The Last Duel (Ridley Scott)
- The Last Thing He Wanted (Dee Rees)
- On the Rocks (Sofia Coppola)
- Stillwater (Tom McCarthy)
There are certainly other films mentioned earlier that will be strong contenders during next year’s awards season, but these are the best of the rest. A grab bag of very buzzy films if you will. Some of these are among the most highly anticipated of the year, with buzz surrounding their productions for years in some cases. Some truly heavy hitters in this category with filmmakers like Villeneuve, Nolan, Coen, Spielberg, Ridley Scott, et al.; all people the Academy have loved over the years. By the end of the year, the Oscar contender list will certainly look a lot different with surprise contenders and heavy hitters disappointments. But this is a good starting point.
Foreign Language Intrigue
- About Endlessness (Roy Andersson)
- Blossoms (Wong Kar-wai)
- Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
- One Second (Zhang Yimou)
- Shulan River (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
- Swimming out till the Sea Turns Blue (Jia Zhangke)
- The Truth (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
- Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai)
These are mostly self-explanatory. New films from great foreign language directors. The list is very heavy in Asian influence, so I will be interested to see what comes out of Europe and other regions as well, as I’m sure there will be great treasures.
While I may have listed out more than 50 films I am excited for in some capacity in 2020, I have surely left off countless others. If you love movies like I do, you should be excited for what is to come in 2020 just as I am. Here is to another great year of movies!
And look out for my upcoming 2019 list to close the book on last year, which is a phenomenal year once again for movies!