Tag Archives: Star Wars: Episode IX

Our Most Anticipated Movies of 2019

2018 was mind-boggling. Ever since Black Panther back in February, the year just held strong up through the final days with the likes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. So it’s no small statement to say that 2019 might rival it. In less than a month, we’ll have Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw (on Netflix, no less), followed soon after by the trilogy capper for How to Train Your Dragon. And with Captain Marvel and Us in March, the year will quickly become overwhelming. And it’s not only big budget films, or genre pieces from recent American (and male) darlings. There’s a new Scorsese film, a new Kore-eda film, a new Rees film, a new Joon-ho film, a new Larraín film, and a new Denis film — as well as exciting documentaries and feature debuts we’ll hear about soon at Sundance. With all that said, we couldn’t pick only 10 for our most anticipated list. In fact, we couldn’t even stick with 20. Below these 20 are sets of 15 from us individually, as well as five more honorable mentions (for a total of 55). Inject 2019 into our eyes already:

20. The Truth

Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, After the Storm, Like Father, Like Son, Still Walking, Nobody Knows)
Written by: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Léa Le Dimna
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke
Release date: TBD
Hirokazu Kore-eda directing Ethan Hawke and Juliette Binoche is enough to start wondering if The Truth will bring the acclaimed filmmaker back-to-back Palme d’Or wins.
Levi Hill

19. Ford v. Ferrari

Directed by: James Mangold (Logan, 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line)
Written by: James Mangold, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller
Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Jon Bernthal, Noah Jupe
Release date: June 28, 2019
James Mangold has proven himself as a storyteller who understands the American spirit. Combine that with stylish Ferraris, racing and another Christian Bale transformation, and Ford v. Ferrari could be another piece of Mangold gold.
Kyle Kizu

18. Honey Boy

Directed by: Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue)
Written by: Shia LaBeouf
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Shia LaBeouf, Maika Monroe, Noah Jupe
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)
Shia LaBeouf writes and co-stars with Lucas Hedges in a Sundance premiering semi-autobiographical film about a childhood actor (Hedges) and his relationship with his father (LaBeouf). The film should be a challenging, honest, painful, but ultimately touching exploration of how LaBeouf became who he is today.
LH

17. The Beach Bum

Directed by: Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers)
Written by: Harmony Korine
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, Jonah Hill
Release date: March 22, 2019
For his follow-up to Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine kept his color-soaked stoner aesthetic and added A-list stars Matthew McConaughey (Moondog), Snoop Dogg (Lingerie), Isla Fisher (Minnie), Zac Efron (Flicker), and Jonah Hill (Lewis).
LH

16. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

TriStar Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Written by: Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster
Starring: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper
Release date: October 18, 2019
Can You Ever Forgive Me? felt like a film from a 20 year veteran. That it was Marielle Heller’s sophomore feature just shows how astounding she is. Pair her with an icon for another icon’s story, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is set up to be an affecting journey.
— KK

15. Proxima

Directed by: Alice Winocour (Augustine)
Written by: Alice Winocour
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Lars Eidinger
Release date: TBD
Proxima follows an astronaut as she trains her body and her mind for a year on the ISS. The psychology of astronauts is such an intriguing subject that’s often left behind in massive sci-fi stories, so to see the exciting Alice Winocour take on a more intimate angle — Winocour says the film will focus particularly on saying goodbye to family — with Eva Green will be such a treat.
KK

14. Toy Story 4

Disney/Courtesy

Directed by: Josh Cooley
Written by: Stephany Folsom, Will McCormack
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Keaton, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Patricia Arquette, Keanu Reeves
Release date: June 21, 2019
Initially, a fourth Toy Story movie was a head-scratcher, especially after the exit of Rashida Jones due to “creative” and “philosophical” differences with Pixar. But then came the hilarious promos, as well as the reports of how emotional the film was for all those involved. And the first three films arguably form the greatest trilogy of all time, so why doubt the franchise now?
— LH

13. Detective Pikachu

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Directed by: Rob Letterman (Goosebumps)
Written by: Nicole Perlman, Rob Letterman
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, Suki Waterhouse, Rita Ora
Release date: May 10, 2019
Ryan Reynolds might be an obvious choice after his (vocal) success with the wise-ass Deadpool, but that doesn’t make this adaption of the video game, featuring the adorable-looking Pikachu and other Pokemon, any less exciting. Think of it as a modern, pop culture heavy take on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
LH

12. Velvet Buzzsaw

Netflix/Sundance Institute/Claudette Barius/Courtesy

Directed by: Dan Gilroy (Roman J. Israel, Esq., Nightcrawler)
Written by: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs
Release date: February 1, 2019 (Sundance premiere)
Regardless of his second feature, Dan Gilroy directed an American masterpiece right out of the gate with Nightcrawler. It’s not only the slow, creeping relevance of the film or the incredible noir stylings, but Jake Gyllenhaal’s terrifying turn. The simple idea of them reuniting is tantalizing, but that it’s for a feature about the often terrifying and visually dazzling contemporary art world takes the anticipation through the roof.— KK

11. Little Women

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Written by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Bob Odenkirk
Release date: December 25, 2019
Through 2018, Little Women has seen the silver screen seven times. Take that, A Star Is Born. But it’s tough not to love the idea of Greta Gerwig adapting the story with her delicate, observant eye and such an outstanding cast after she made Lady Bird, one of the best American films of the 21st century.
KK

10. Midsommar

Directed by: Ari Aster (Hereditary)
Written by: Ari Aster
Starring: Will Poulter, Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Release date: August 9, 2019
Following up the critically acclaimed (and potential Oscar nominee) Hereditary is no small task. Yet, with A24’s backing, an exciting young cast, a Sweden setting, and another tale of horrific pagan cults, Midsommar has all the signs of another creep-fest by the already horror maestro Ari Aster. — LH

9. The Lion King

Disney/Courtesy

Directed by: Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, Chef, Iron Man)
Written by: Jeff Nathanson, Brenda Chapman
Starring: Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Beyoncé, Alfre Woodard, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Keegan-Michael Key, John Oliver
Release date: July 19, 2019
There’s no doubt The Lion King will roar all competitors away from the box office, and take it’s rightful spot on the throne as the top grossing movie of 2019 next to Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: Episode IX. So really, the only thing to hope for is that Jon Favreau takes enough risks to change some elements of the 1994 classic so that it’s not 100% a shot-for-shot CGI (instead of hand-drawn) remake. Other than that, this film is too big to fail. Hakuna matata.
LH

8. Uncut Gems

Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie (Good Time)
Written by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein
Starring: Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Pom Klementieff, The Weeknd, Kevin Garnett
Release date: TBD
Say what you will, but Adam Sandler is a good actor. Seriously. He’s made some stinkers, but for those who have charted his career, it’s clear that when he’s given an original script from an acclaimed filmmaker (Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, Funny People, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)), he brings real depth to his characters. So, who better then than the Safdie brothers — who helped American audiences further see all of Robert Pattinson’s post-Twilight talents — to usher in even more indie goodwill for “character actor” Adam Sandler? Plus, the Netflix special Adam Sandler 100% Fresh, showing Sandler at his funniest and most heartfelt, was the thing I rewatched most in 2018. If the Safdie brothers tap into Sandler’s uncanny balance of hilarity and tragedy, Uncut Gems might be a major critical and commercial leap for all involved.
LH

7. Lucy in the Sky

Fox Searchlight/Courtesy

Directed by: Noah Hawley (Legion, Fargo)
Written by: Brian C. Brown, Elliott DiGuiseppi, John-Henry Butterworth, Noah Hawley
Starring: Natalie Portman, Dan Stevens, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Ellen Burstyn, Colman Domingo, Tig Notaro
Release date: TBD
Between Black Swan, Jackie, Annihilation, and Vox Lux, Natalie Portman has offered some of the most complex, haunted characters of the past decade. With Lucy in the Sky, she’ll now examine the psychology of an astronaut (based on a true story) along with Noah Hawley, the creator of Legion, and likely further prove why she’s one of the absolute best actors of our time.
KK

6. Us

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Written by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Elisabeth Moss
Release date: March 15, 2019
Get Out came out of nowhere to gross over $175 million domestically, receive four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), and win Best Original Screenplay. Us won’t have the stealth factor that Get Out had. However, it’s apparent with Us that Jordan Peele is far more than the real deal. Even with what could have been a blank check and even more of a blank page to write and do whatever he wanted, he doubled down on the savage, if slightly funny, horror satire mode he worked to wonders with Get Out. While Us might not reach the box office or Oscar glory of Get Out, it could become, to us, an even more impressive and idiosyncratic horror masterpiece.
LH

5. Knives Out

Directed by: Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper, Brick)
Written by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer
Release date: November 27, 2019
It was hard to believe as the cast for Knives Out came rolling in, with powerhouse after powerhouse lining up. That they were lining up to work with Rian Johnson, however, is no surprise. With Looper, Johnson gave us one of the best original sci-fi films of the past decade. And with The Last Jedi, he arguably gave us the best Star Wars film to date. Knives Out is said to be inspired by the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, and will show us a side of Johnson we haven’t seen before.
KK

4. Ad Astra

20th Century Fox/Courtesy

Directed by: James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant, Two Lovers)
Written by: James Gray, Ethan Gross
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, John Ortiz
Release date: May 24, 2019 (rumored Cannes premiere)
Ad Astra was a bit of an enigma for all of 2018, with a strange January 2019 release date and speculation that it’d open early in December (and in IMAX). So the anticipation is already running high, and for good reason. Gray is a methodical, classical kind of filmmaker that allows you to soak in a film’s world, and feel deeply for his characters. And as Bilge Ebiri wrote for Vulture, filmmakers can get a little more personal, risky, and expressionistic with space films. Throw in DP Hoyte van Hoytema (familiar to space already having worked on Interstellar), Brad Pitt, and the Plan B producing team, and Ad Astra might just be the original epic of the year.
KK

3. Star Wars: Episode IX

Directed by: J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Super 8, Star Trek)
Written by: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Matt Smith, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd
Release date: December 20, 2019
Was Star Wars: The Force Awakens a bit safe? Sure. Did J.J. Abrams successfully relaunch the franchise after the unfathomable damage of the prequels with an exciting adventure filled with amazing new characters and hinting at themes that Rian Johnson would later fulfill? Undoubtedly. Besides Johnson, who better than to take on the monstrous task of closing out not only this trilogy, but likely also the story of the Skywalkers? And Episode IX, following Luke Skywalker’s death as well as the tragic real death of Carrie Fisher — who will appear via deleted scenes from the previous films — will be an especially emotional experience in a galaxy far, far away.— KK

2. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Directed by: Michael Dougherty (Krampus)
Written by: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields, Max Borenstein
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Kyle Chandler, Bradley Whitford, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ken Watanabe
Release date: May 31, 2019
Godzilla: King of the Monsters might not be in consideration for many people’s best-of-the-year list when 2019 comes to a close. And it’s possible that the film will be nothing more than monster-movie mayhem (and fun). Yet, when Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune came on during the first trailer, and Mothra spread her fluorescent wings under the neon blue, this lifelong Godzilla fan wiped tears from his eyes. Does the nostalgia for the memory of a four year old’s first experience with movie magic weigh heavy here? You betcha. But with the thrilling 2014 reboot from Gareth Edwards and the enjoyable (if forgettable) Kong: Skull Island, this franchise appears to understand that to win over our hearts, you just have to let some kaiju (Titans) fight. Long live the King.
— LH

1. Avengers: Endgame

Disney/ Courtesy

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Don Cheadle, Bradley Cooper
Release date: April 26, 2019
Amidst all of the complaints of it being an incomplete story (debatable) and fans having trouble with their favorite heroes screwing up (it’s called character development, folks) and dying is the reality that Infinity War is an incredible apocalyptic journey that fully earns its crushing dread. Its pacing is pitch perfect. Its theme of the weight of one life versus billions is carefully handled throughout the entire film. And its writing brings together massive superhero personalities in a way that proves that these storytellers truly know these characters. So, not only is Avengers: Endgame the event film of 2019 — sorry Star Wars — but there’s also the very real and likely possibility that the Russos and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely will deliver another supreme epic that does right by the eleven years of investment in this universe. And if they delve into time travel, as well as the heart of Captain America — the character that the Russos have defined — Avengers: Endgame could wind up as exhilarating as any big budget epic in recent memory.
KK


Kyle’s Next 15:

15. Superpower Dogs

Directed by: Daniel Ferguson (Jerusalem)
Release date: March 15, 2019

14. Ammonite

Directed by: Francis Lee (God’s Own Country)
Written by: Francis Lee
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet
Release date: TBD

13. The Nightingale

Directed by: Jennifer Kent (The Babadook)
Written by: Jennifer Kent
Starring: Sam Claflin, Aisling Franciosi, Baykali Ganambarr
Release date: TBD (2018 Venice premiere, Sundance showing)

12. The Laundromat

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh (Logan Lucky, Magic Mike, The Informant!, Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Sex, Lies, and Videotape)
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Matthias Schoenaerts, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright
Release date: TBD

11. Waves

Directed by: Trey Edward Shults (It Comes At Night, Krisha)
Written by: Trey Edward Shults
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Sterling K. Brown, Taylor Russell, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Release date: TBD

10. Chaos Walking

Directed by: Doug Liman (American Made, Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity)
Written by: Charlie Kaufman, Patrick Ness, Lindsey Beer, John Lee Hancock, Gary Spinelli)
Starring: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Cynthia Erivo, Mads Mikkelsen, David Oyelowo
Release date: March 1, 2019

9. Joker

Directed by: Todd Phillips (War Dogs, The Hangover, Old School)
Written by: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Shea Whigham, Marc Maron, Brett Cullen
Release date: October 4, 2019

8. Newsflash

Directed by: David Gordon Green (Halloween, Stronger, Pineapple Express, George Washington)
Written by: Ben Jacoby
Starring: Seth Rogen, Logan Lerman
Release date: TBD

7. Captain Marvel

Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (Sugar, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Mississippi Grind)
Written by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Jac Schaeffer, Nicole Perlman, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
Starring: Brie Larson, Jude Law, Gemma Chan, Samuel L. Jackson, Lee Pace, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Clark Gregg
Release date: March 8, 2019

6. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Directed by: Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Cop Car)
Written by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, Samuel L. Jackson
Release date: July 5, 2019

5. Fonzo

Directed by: Josh Trank (Chronicle)
Written by: Josh Trank
Starring: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Jack Lowden, Matt Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan
Release date: TBD

4. The Woman in the Window

Directed by: Joe Wright (Darkest Hour, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
Written by: Tracy Letts
Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Brian Tyree Henry, Wyatt Russell, Anthony Mackie
Release date: October 4, 2019

3. Triple Frontier

Directed by: J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, All Is Lost, Margin Call)
Written by: J.C. Chandor, Mark Boal
Starring: Ben Affleck, Pedro Pascal, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund
Release date: March 15, 2019

2. The Last Thing He Wanted

Directed by: Dee Rees (Mudbound, Pariah)
Written by: Dee Rees, Marco Villalobos
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe, Toby Jones, Edi Gathegi, Rosie Perez
Release date: TBD

1. Apollo 11

Directed by: Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13)
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)

Levi’s Next 15:

15. The Dead Don’t Die

Directed by: Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Only Lovers Left Alive, Broken Flowers, Mystery Train, Stranger than Paradise)
Written by: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez
Release date: TBD

14. Radegund

Directed by: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The New World, The Thin Red Line, Badlands)
Written by: Terrence Malick
Starring: August Diehl, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, Bruno Ganz
Release date: TBD

13. Native Son

Directed by: Rashid Johnson
Written by: Suzan-Lori Parks
Starring: Nick Robinson, Sanaa Lathan, Margaret Qualley, Ashton Sanders, Kiki Layne, Stephen McKinley Henderson
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)

12. IT: Chapter Two

Directed by: Andy Muschietti (It, Mama)
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Teach Grant, Andy Bean, Xavier Dolan
Release date: September 6, 2019

11. The King

Directed by: David Michôd (War Machine, The Rover, Animal Kingdom)
Written by: David Michôd, Joel Edgerton
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Thomasin McKenzie, Lily-Rose Depp, Tom Glynn-Carney
Release date: TBD

10. The Irishman

Directed by: Martin Scorsese (Silence, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Departed, Casino, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver)
Written by: Steven Zaillian
Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jack Huston
Release date: TBD

9. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Directed by: Mike Mitchell (Trolls), Trisha Gum
Written by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Matthew Fogel, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Michelle Morgan, Dominic Russo
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Nick Offerman, Channing Tatum, Tiffany Haddish, Will Arnett, Charlie Day
Release date: February 8, 2019

8. Parasite

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho (Okja, Snowpiercer, Mother, The Host, Memories of Murder)
Written by: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-sik, Park So-dam
Release date: TBD

7.  How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Directed by: Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon 2, How to Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch)
Written by: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Gerard Butler, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera
Release date: February 22, 2019

6. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Directed by: Joe Talbot
Written by: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Jimmie Fails
Starring: Danny Glover, Finn Wittrock, Thora Birch, Tonya Glanz, Mike Epps, Tichina Arnold, Rob Morgan, Jonathan Majors
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)

5. Jojo Rabbit

Directed by: Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows)
Written by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Taika Waititi, Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Rebel Wilson
Release date: TBD

4. The Lighthouse

Directed by: Robert Eggers (The Witch)
Written by: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Release date: TBD

3. High Life

Directed by: Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In, 35 Shots of Rum, Beau travail, Nenette and Boni)
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Geoff Cox
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth, Lars Eidinger
Release date: April 12, 2019 (TIFF premiere)

2. Dumbo

Directed by: Tim Burton (Big Eyes, Frankenweenie, Corpse Bride, Ed Wood, Batman Returns, Batman, Beetlejuice)
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Eva Green, Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Alan Arkin
Release date: March 29, 2019

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Directed by: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man)
Written by: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina
Release date: TBD

Honorable mentions:

Ema

Directed by: Pablo Larraín (Jackie, Neruda, No)
Written by: Guillermo Calderón, Alejandro Moreno
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Mariana Di Girolamo, Santiago Cabrera, Mariana Loyola
Release date: TBD

Gemini Man

Directed by: Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense and Sensibility, The Wedding Banquet)
Written by: Billy Ray, Christopher Wilkinson, Stephen J. Rivele, David Benioff, Andrew Niccol, Darren Lemke, Jonathan Hensleigh
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong
Release date: October 4, 2019

Last Christmas

Directed by: Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Bridesmaids)
Written by: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Michelle Yeoh, Rebecca Root
Release date: November 15, 2019

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Directed by: Bi Gan (Kaili Blues)
Written by: Bi Gan
Starring: Sylvia Chang, Tang Wei
Release date: TBD (2018 Cannes premiere, 2018 TIFF showing, 2018 China premiere)

Men in Black: International

Directed by: F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious, Straight Outta Compton, The Italian Job, The Negotiator, Set It Off, Friday)
Written by: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani
Release date: June 14, 2019

Featured image via Warner Bros.

J.J. Abrams brought back to write and direct ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

In a move that not many expected, but that seems as in line with Lucasfilm’s most recent decisions as any, J.J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has been hired to direct the final installment of the new trilogy from a galaxy far, far away, announced via a press release on StarWars.com.

A week ago, Lucasfilm and previous director Colin Trevorrow parted ways. Trevorrow had been on the project for over two years and had written the screenplay with his writing partner Derek Connolly. But rumors began to surface, especially after the critical failure of Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry, that Trevorrow could be ousted. Last month, Jack Thorne, co-writer of the upcoming Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay film Wonder, was brought on to rewrite.

It seems as though the script will be overhauled, as Abrams has been tasked to write Star Wars: Episode IX with Academy Award-winning writer Chris Terrio. Terrio won the Oscar for the Ben Affleck-directed Argo, and has written scripts for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League. Abrams co-wrote The Force Awakens with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt.

In the days after Trevorrow departed the ninth episode, fans and critics offered up potential replacements. The internet seemed to come to a consensus that they wanted Ava DuVernay, director of Selma13th and the upcoming Disney film A Wrinkle in Time. Rian Johnson, director of eighth episode Star Wars: The Last Jedi, popped up in serious rumors, so much so that the director ended up explicitly saying that he had no plans to return.

But it was likely that Abrams was already hired, or at least just had to sign on the dotted line, by the time Lucasfilm came out to announce Trevorrow’s exit. This will be Abrams’ first film since The Force Awakens and he will produce through his production company Bad Robot.

In the press release, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy made this official statement:

“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy.”

In an announcement on Twitter hours later, Lucasfilm has officially pushed back the release of the film from May 24, 2019, to December 20, 2019. The seemingly large script revision likely meant that production couldn’t start as early as Kennedy had hoped. Now, Abrams will have 27 months to complete the picture instead of 20 months, and the December release will fall in line with the releases of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The film will now compete with the second weekend of Wonder Woman 2, which is set to release on December 13, 2019.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore.

Who should Lucasfilm hire to direct ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’?

With Colin Trevorrow exiting ‘Star Wars: Episode IX,’ who should Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm hire to replace him? Our staff offers some suggestions:

Levi Hill (Deputy Editor and Co-Chief Film Critic) — Rian Johnson

Gage Skidmore/Courtesy

To me, this was a tough choice. Why? Because there are quite a few big-budgeted directors that I think could make one hell of a Star Wars movie. Take, for example, what Guillermo del Toro could do with a massive budget and the freedom of world-building that Star Wars has been able to conjure up. Yet del Toro is also an idiosyncratic director that, in my opinion, works best when working from his own deliciously imaginative script. Then, rumored directors or writers like Sam Esmail or Stephen Daldry wouldn’t be bad choices, with Esmail in particular being an intriguing prospect — due to his love for one of the greatest sci-fis of all time (Fritz Lang’s Metropolis) as well as showrunning for the smartest sci-fi (sort of) show on TV right now, Mr. Robot.

Also, who wouldn’t want to see Ava DuVernay follow up A Wrinkle in Time with the biggest franchise of all-time?

But all of that to me is superfluous, because as much as any of us want to see another director take on Star Wars, the answer is likely right in front of us — and it’s not a bad thing. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi hasn’t even been seen by the public yet (and anyone, probably), but the film has already generated an immense amount of buzz from its one unbelievably beautiful and rousing trailer. To be fair, anything Star Wars related will generate buzz, but I know I’m not the only fan with the belief that the Johnson directed film could end up being the best in the entire series. But most importantly, Rian is an auteur that Lucasfilm has seemingly had no problems with on or off set. There have been no rumors about temperamental producers, slow-paced editors or wayward actors. That alone proves that Rian is passing in flying colors and that, to me, means he is the right and only choice to finish this highly touted new trilogy.

Kate Halliwell (Editor-At-Large) — Mimi Leder

Sarah E. Freeman/Courtesy

I’m not going to waste my time complaining about how male directors like Colin Trevorrow continue to fail upward in Hollywood, managing to turn flops like whatever The Book of Henry was into massive blockbuster deals, while talented female directors go to movie jail after just one underperforming film.

Okay, actually… just a quick rant.

Television is full of incredible female directors right now, many of which started in film and had to transition to TV after being shut out of opportunities in Hollywood. Since the news about Trevorrow broke, names like Ava DuVernay, Mimi Leder, Michelle MacLaren, Lesli Linka Glatter, Reed Morano and many more have been bandied about online — but how reasonable is it to think that a female director may actually get this job?

For my money, I’d give the film to Mimi Leder in a heartbeat. Whether crafting incredible shots on HBO’s The Leftovers or directing high grossing blockbusters like her 1998 film Deep Impact, Leder has been one of Hollywood’s most reliable directors for decades.

But let’s be real — it’s a pipe dream. Would someone like Leder, MacLaren, Morano or Linka Glatter absolutely slay this job? Of course. Do they deserve it? Absolutely. Will they actually get it? Not on your life.

When the untitled Han Solo film went through a similar director swap just a few months ago, the studio turned to Ron Howard — basically the safest, least inspired choice in the book. Press releases concerning Trevorrow’s exit have cited irreconcilable differences with Kathleen Kennedy and other producers of the film. Obviously, these directors aren’t getting the opportunities to do what they want with their Star Wars movies, no matter how inspired (or not) their vision may be. So as much as I’d like to see a female director take on Episode IX and show all of Hollywood what they’re missing, I’m selfish enough to want to keep my favorite female directors where they have the freedom to do what they want. And, for the most part, that’s on TV.

From The Handmaid’s Tale to HBO’s new (and incredible) The Deuce to Homeland and Breaking Bad, these ladies have proven themselves incredibly valuable in helping create and maintain the peak TV era. While Leder and others are still making movies — Leder’s upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic starring Felicity Jones is set for 2018 — it’s TV where they can really strut their stuff.

So I’m not getting my hopes up. Give it to Howard, or Rian Johnson, or whatever white man will make the studios happy, if you must. I’ll be hanging with my girls at home on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon and wherever else they can truly do their thing.

Harrison Tunggal (Associate Editor and Co-Chief Film Critic) — Patty Jenkins 

Gage Skidmore/Courtesy

Do fired Star Wars directors become Force ghosts? Is this gif, this gif or this gif a better representation of the current state of Lucasfilm? Regardless, the production company behind the galaxy from far, far away continues to lose directors like Anakin loses limbs. A tentpole film losing its helmer is nothing new though, and somewhat analogously, Wonder Woman lost its first director, Michelle MacLaren, because of her creative differences with Warner Brothers. As we all know, Patty Jenkins replaced MacLaren and delivered one of the best superhero films of all time, suggesting that Jenkins knows how to cooperate with the demands of a studio. Whether Jenkins’ sock-folding can live up to Kathleen Kennedy’s high standards remains to be seen, but Jenkins has demonstrated an aptitude for storytelling within the rigid confines of an established universe. Hiring Jenkins would also allow her to close a trilogy hinged on Rey, a move that could make Rey even more inspiring and iconic than she already was. Just imagine the “No Man’s Land” scene but with the Force-wielding awesomeness of Rey. I want that scene more than Luke wants his power converters. Additionally, choosing Jenkins is a choice predicated on the assumption that Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be a darker film, just like The Empire Strikes Back. With that in mind, what was Wonder Woman if not a film that lifted its titular heroine from the darkness of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Jenkins’ Episode IX could do something similar, bringing Rey out of the darkness of The Last Jedi. If the tone of Wonder Woman was any indication, Jenkins can meld rollicking excitement and fun with darker moments of dramatic weight — if that doesn’t scream Star Wars, then I’m a trough of bantha fodder.

Kyle Kizu (Editorial Director) — Spike Jonze

aphrodite-in-nyc/Courtesy

I’m going to mutter the three words that doom anyone making a pitch for something/someone they know will likely fail to sell: Hear me out. If not for anything else, I’d want Lucasfilm to choose Spike Jonze simply because of the endless “wait, what the fu**?!” reactions on Twitter. But honestly, Jonze could do something wildly special with a Star Wars film. His four films are all intensely visual (as are all of his music videos) with Where the Wild Things Are showing that he can manage large scale CGI and Her displaying his absolutely masterful visual and stylistic rendering of setting (his Los Angeles is a quite distinct and singular futuristic vision). If he were to have the galaxy to play with, we could surely expect a captivating manifestation of bizarre — Star Wars needs bizarre — and utterly delightful imagination, the likes of which, after two merely decent visual Star Wars films, the franchise desperately needs. But visuals only matter so much and, thankfully, Jonze handles character with care and grace. With Her, the director offers one of the most tender, joyful and tragic character journeys of recent memory, and those three qualities are absolute must-haves when it comes to the final installment of any trilogy, let alone a Star Wars one. Jonze could dig deep into the vulnerable emotion of both the galactically massive, nearly 40 year journey of Luke, which might come to a close in Episode IX, as well as the intimate, explorative and raw discovery that is the journey of Rey unfolding before us. Now, the only thing that’s left to prove for Jonze is his ability to direct action, and I have an odd place in his career to point to. Spike Jonze has dabbled in feature films, music videos and documentaries. But he’s also directed skateboard videos. Yes, you read that right. Skateboard videos. And one particularly breathtaking shoot that handled intense choreography of action is the introduction to Fully Flared. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I think he could shoot the hell out of an explosive X-Wing dogfight and an epic lightsaber duel.

 

Do you agree with any of these choices? How would you have answered this week’s question? Sound off in the comments below.

Photos via aphrodite-in-nyc, Sarah E. Freeman and Gage Skidmore.

Feature image via Gage Skidmore.

Colin Trevorrow departs from ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

When The Book of Henry released to intense critical derision and faired rather poorly at the box office, many pundits and fans questioned whether Colin Trevorrow, who also directed Jurassic World and Safety Not Guaranteed, was the right choice to helm the final installment of the brand new Star Wars trilogy. Well, today, announced through an official statement on StarWars.com, Colin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm have officially parted ways.

The statement reads:

“Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.”

Directors have been a particular problem for Disney, Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, or perhaps vice versa. While Gareth Edwards retained sole directing credits, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story underwent massive reshoots under the guide of director Tony Gilroy. Most recently, earlier this summer, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired from the Han Solo standalone film, starring Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover as Solo and Lando Calrissian respectively. That decision cited “creative differences,” as does this one, and soon after, Lucasfilm hired Ron Howard, who is currently directing the remainder of the shoot as well as the scheduled reshoots. Whether or not Lord and Miller will be credited as directors is currently a mystery.

Episode IX recently brought on Jack Thorne, writer of the upcoming Jacob Tremblay, Julia Robert and Owen Wilson film Wonder, to rework the script, which had started with Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly. Perhaps the shift there points to where the split lies between Trevorrow and Lucasfilm, but the exact reason is yet to be known, and likely never will be.

As the news broke, many critics and journalists jumped to Twitter to suggest names and one popped up repeatedly: Ava DuVernay.

DuVernay’s upcoming film is A Wrinkle in Time, a Disney-produced, $100 million+ budgeted blockbuster, so the connections seem to be there. In addition, in an interview with Nerdist, JJ Abrams touted her as a good fit for the universe while promoting The Force Awakens.

DuVernay was also rumored for Black Panther, of Disney’s other massive sub-studio Marvel. The reported reasons for DuVernay not working on that film were creative differences, so, with Kathleen Kennedy and the other executives/producers at Lucasfilm and Disney seemingly holding strict creative control, the fit might not be so snug.

Star Wars: Episode IX, yet to be titled, is set to release on May 24, 2019, which means that a director must be brought on soon to comfortably stay on schedule. Ron Howard boarded the Han Solo film, which is set to release on May 25, 2018, within days of the announcement of Lord and Miller’s firing, so Lucasfilm might already have another director lined up. The world will get eighth episode Star Wars: The Last Jedi on December 15 of this year.

Featured image via Red Carpet Report and Mingle Media TV.