Wednesday 1 January 2020

My 11 Most Anticipated Films of 2020

January is upon us once again, so I've decided to look ahead and see what tickles my cinematic fancy in the next 12 months.

Justin Lin is returning to direct the next Fast and Furious sequel.
After monopolising multiplexes last year, expect Disney's march towards world domination to continue in 2020. The Mouse House will once again be releasing a live-action remake of an animated classic, with Mulan set to hit cinemas in March, but it's a step down from the three that were released last year.

Other Disney films in 2020 include two Pixar films, Onward and Soul, a new theme park adventure Jungle Cruise, an adaptation of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl novels and an animated film called Raya and the Last Dragon towards the end of the year. Star Wars is reportedly taking an overdue break in 2020, but Marvel's universe will continue in earnest with Black Widow and Eternals. 

Other franchises set to make a return in 2020 are Fast and Furious, Ghostbusters, Kingsman, Legendary's MonsterVerse (with Godzilla vs Kong), Sony's Spider-man spin-offs (with Morbius and Venom 2), Halloween and The Conjuring.

Other films to look out for in 2020: Little Women, Bombshell, 1917, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, Bad Boys For Life, Midway, A Quiet Place Part II, Bill and Ted Face the Music, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Gentlemen, Richard Jewell, Honey Boy, Motherless Brooklyn, The Invisible Man, Peter Rabbit 2, Trolls World Tour, Scoob, Candyman, Free Guy, Infinite, Malignant, Death on the Nile, The Witches, Respect.

11) The New Mutants (April)

We're starting off with a weird one. For the last two years, Josh Boone's X-Men spin-off The New Mutants has featured on this list. Originally scheduled for release way back in April 2018 (!), this Fox film has been bumped around following rewrites and reshoots, and then Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox threw a Mickey Mouse-shaped spanner in the works.

Will this film ever see the light of day? And the real question is, will anyone care if or when it does? According to IMDb, it is scheduled to hit cinemas in April this year, but I will believe it when I see it. Or, you know, it will feature in this article for the fourth consecutive year. Who knows.

10) The French Dispatch (TBA)

King of quirk Wes Anderson returns with a live action adventure starring all the usual suspects; Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton. Reportedly centred around the staff of an American newspaper operating out of a fictional French city, The French Dispatch also stars the likes of Kate Winslet, Elisabeth Moss, Timothee Chalamet and Benicio del Toro. Other than that,

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed Anderson's last film, Isle of Dogs. But it's his live action stuff that I really look forward to, and it's been a long five years since The Grand Budapest Hotel.

9) Birds of Prey (February)

There's not much good I can say about David Ayer's 2016 film Suicide Squad, other than that Margot Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn was great. The rest can go straight in the bin. Warner Brothers appear to have come to the same conclusion, with Robbie's madcap harlequin headlining her own film this year.

This sequel/spin-off sees Quinn looking to put some distance between herself and the Joker following a messy breakup. Along the way she crosses paths with a troupe of femme fatales and kickass women – Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) – and faces off against gangster Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), otherwise known as Black Mask.

I was keen for this one when it was first announced, as the Birds of Prey stuff on Arrow was a highlight of the show's early seasons, and their New 52 run by Duane Swierczynski is one of the few ongoing comics I've stuck with. That said, this film – which is directed by Cathy Yan – looks to be taking a different approach, with Harley taking centre stage and Barbara Gordon, Poison Ivy and Katana nowhere to be found. Safe to say, I'm curious to see their take, but also a little hesitant.

8) Black Widow (May)

Does anyone else feel like Marvel have missed the boat on putting out a Black Widow movie? If this solo adventure had dropped in the summer of 2014 or 2015, audiences would have been frothing over it. But now, just 12 months after the character bit the dust in Avengers: Endgame, it feels a little superfluous?

Anyway, the Marvel machine must roll on. Cynicism aside, Cate Shortland's Black Widow does look pretty good. Reportedly slotting in between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Scarlett slips back into the tactical catsuit for seventh time for an adventure that, if the recent trailer is anything to go by, sees her return to her Russian roots and revisit some familial struggles. Florence Pugh plays sister Yelena, Rachel Weisz plays mother Melina and David Harbour is father Alexei – and it's this cast that tells me this film will be worth my time.

7) Wonder Woman 1984 (June)

Patty Jenkins' original Wonder Woman film is one of the best origin stories the superhero genre has to offer, with Gal Gadot's wholesome performance and Chris Pine's charming presence bringing warmth and authenticity to an icon of DC Comics.

Jenkins has taken her time with this new film, which is a refreshing – it would have been all too easy to churn out a lazy sequel while the first was still fresh in our memory.

With a new setting – as the title suggests, this film takes place in the colourful 1980s – and a new villain in the form of Kristen Wiig's Cheetah, Wonder Woman 1984 will feel significantly different from the muddy fields and war-torn landscapes of the First World War.

6) The Lighthouse (February)

Australian audiences have been made to wait for Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse, but A24's psychological horror film starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers who are driven insane while stationed on a remote island during a fierce storm will finally grace our shores in February. Based on what I've read, it will be worth the wait.

Eggers' debut film The Witch is one of my favourite horror films from the last ten years, and with The Lighthouse receiving acclaim across the board since it premiered at Cannes, I'm keen to see what weird shit he's cooked up for his sophomore effort.

5) Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise has been promising audiences a sequel to Top Gun for years, and in 2020 that promise comes good in the form of Joseph Kosinski's Top Gun: Maverick.

Cruise is back in the cockpit as ageing airforce instructor Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell, and in typical Cruise fashion, has ensured lots of the aerial stunts have his mug front and centre. And you know what, hats off to him – the stuntwork will no doubt astound in the same fashion as the Mission Impossible series.

The recent trailer promises plenty of choreographed dogfights, head-spinning camerawork, dreamy motorcycle rides, homoerotic sports and a reprise of Harold Faltermeyer original Top Gun theme. Maybe a certain Kenny Loggins will also stop by? We can only hope.

4) No Time To Die (April)

I mean, I guess I'll see the new Bond film. No specific reason at all.
While promoting 2015's Spectre, Daniel Craig famously said he would rather "slash [his] wrists than play James Bond again".

Five years and the promise of a $25 million payday later, Craig is returning to the role for the fifth and final time in No Time To Die, making him the longest serving Bond actor since Roger Moore.

After Spectre underwhelmed, the prospect of another Bond adventure wasn't anywhere near the top of my wishlist – but slowly but surely, No Time To Die has piqued my interest. First of all, they've swapped Sam Mendes (who aced Skyfall but phoned it in on Spectre) for Cary Fukunaga; then they cast Ana de Armas, who was great in Blade Runner 2049 and stole the show in Knives Out; and then we learned Jeffrey Wright's Felix Leiter would be back in some capacity.

Sure, some of the elements from Spectre – like Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz – remain, and the inclusion of Rami Malek is post-Oscar stunt casting if ever I saw it, but No Time To Die looks good, I'm not going to lie.

3) Last Night in Soho (September)

Writer/director Edgar Wright is one of Britain's most exciting exports of the last 20 years, and has made a name for himself through some truly terrific action comedies, such as Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Baby Driver.

However, Wright looks set to leave comedy behind in 2020, with his upcoming film Last Night in Soho billed as a psychological horror. Set in 1960s London and centred around a young girl (presumably played by Anya Taylor-Joy, from The Witch and Split) who encounters her idol before things turn grim, the film sounds sinister, atmospheric and 100 per cent my jam. Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie, Diana Rigg and Terence Stamp also star.

2) Dune (December)

The only photo on the Dune IMDb page. No idea how it got there.
Now, I don't know anything about Dune. I've never read the original novel or seen David Lynch's cult adaptation from 1984, which famously flunked upon release. But after the likes of Blade Runner 2049, Arrival and Sicario, I trust in director Denis Villeneuve, so any upcoming project with his name attached – particularly one of this scale – has me interested.

Reportedly the first in a two-part adaptation, Villeneuve's Dune will take in the epic scope of Frank Herbert's novel, and will include the likes of Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem amongst its cast. Other than that, we've seen nothing – no stills, no posters, no trailers. The film is either under lock and key or one massive prank being pulled by Warner Brothers. Either way, we'll find out this December.

1) Tenet (July)

Robert Pattinson and John David Washington on the set of Tenet.
Christopher Nolan returns to loopy science-fiction later this year with Tenet, a film that is billed as an espionage thriller with elements of time travel and evolution. What that means in terms of plot is anyone's guess at this stage, with an intriguing trailer keeping things tightly under wraps.

So what can we expect from Tenet? Well, the cast is a pretty tidy one, with the likes of John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Himesh Patel and regular Nolan alumni Michael Caine along for the ride. Hoyte van Hoytema (Ad Astra, Dunkirk) is serving as director of photography while Ludwig Goransson (Black Panther, The Mandalorian) is providing the score. Armed with a reported budget of $225 million, I'm intrigued to see what Nolan has cooked up – it's rare an original film of this scale finds its way into theatres.

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