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Sunday, 3 March 2019

Hello and welcome back to 2019's final post from the Hot List. This week we will be looking at the most exciting new movies set to hit the big screen in 2019 from February onwards, after the cutoff point for this year's awards season.

ephemeric hot list most best hottest anticipated new movies films 2019 exciting

2018, quite the year in cinema. Netflix came into its cinematic own with a film that finally managed not to revile critics. The Academy bent over backwards to show just how progressive and racially sensitive it is, only to then give the big prize to a film that somehow managed to offend a whole lot of people, and the Brits made a splash with a costumed period piece, but not the one everyone was expecting. Lady Gaga got herself past the halfway point to a coveted EGOT that we all know is inevitably coming, and we had our first MCU Oscar winner. And you know what? None of it was all that surprising.

One of the reasons why I always leave this post for the end of the Hot List is to leave time for thorough consideration. This particular blog post has a formidable track record when it comes to predicting cinematic success, and indeed last year's 15 picks ended up with some 30 Oscar nominations between them. So once again the pressure is on to keep this hot streak going. It is fortunate then that 2019 is looking like such a strong year for film, and after much thought I have managed to whittle this down to a lineup of 15 very exciting projects. These range from your typical Oscar prestige pictures, to blockbusters, sci-fi, and some very quirky concepts that defy classification.

So enjoy, the key films to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:

15. Us

hot list best films movies 2019 us jordan peele get out lupita nyong'oLet's start with Jordan Peele's much anticipated follow up to Get Out, Us.

His critically acclaimed directorial debut made Peele one of the hottest names in Hollywood, with a multitude of prominent new TV series and film projects bearing his name. Us is his next major feature film and that makes it one of the most closely watched prospects for 2019.

Lupita Nyong'o and Elisabeth Moss star in this tale of a family vacation that goes horribly wrong when the young family cross paths with a group of "strangers" who somehow look exactly like them. If Get Out was a social satire with horror pretensions, Us sees Peele move much deeper into the horror side of that genre.

Suffice it to say, this looks to be one of the year's most hotly anticipated releases when it his cinemas in March. It will be very interesting to see whether Peele really can consolidate his position as Hollywood It Boy, or if his prior success will prove to be only a flash in the pan.

Release Date: 22 March, 2019

14. The Goldfinch

goldfinch best movies films 2019 ansel elgortThe Goldfinch is director John Crowley's follow up to the excellent Brooklyn, and an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Donna Tartt. It's getting quite a lot of buzz.

Crowley's considerable talents will be complemented by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, a fact which alone makes this film worth watching. Ansel Elgort stars, in a role which is being tipped to take the Baby Driver and The Fault in Our Stars star to a new level, and perhaps, into awards contention.

Elgort will be joined by an able cast which includes Jeffrey Wright, Nicole Kidman, and Sarah Paulson. Expect this to hit cinemas with a very Oscar-friendly October release.

Release Date: 19 October, 2019

13. Brightburn

brightburn superman best films movies 2019 james gunn elizabeth banksSome films deserve to be on this list purely by merit of a fantastic concept. Brightburn offers a twist on the classic Superman origin mythos: alien baby crashes in rural America, two kindly childless farmers find said alien baby and raise him to be a super-powered paragon of humanity.

Brightburn considers what might have happened had this alien baby not been an inherently good natured soul, but something more sinister entirely.

Let's be clear. Brightburn is not going to trouble the awards season next year; a directorial debut from the unknown David Yarovesky, starring the hit or miss Elizabeth Banks, though the presence of James Gunn as producer does lend some heavyweight chops to the production team. No, this is going to be some good old fashioned schlocky horror, but it looks like  a ton of fun.

Brightburn releases this May.

Release Date: 24 May, 2019

12. Fair and Balanced

fair and balanced fox news roger ailes scandal rupert murdoch trump best films movies 2019 jay roach charlize theron nicole kidmanGiven the current politically charged climate, it is perhaps no surprise that every man and their dog wants to have their say with some commentary piece. The topic of the moment appears to be the late Roger Ailes, communications honcho for the corrupt Nixon administration turned Fox News founder, and a man who is credited with having played a starring role in devolving America's political process into the current muddy, propagandistic shitshow that it is.

Specifically, Fair and Balanced looks to focus on the late Ailes' various sex scandals that rocked the latter period of his life, and turned him into one of the major antagonists of the #metoo movement.

Director Jay Roach has had an interesting career trajectory, cutting his cinematic teeth with popular comedies like Austin Powers before moving more recently into hard hitting politics with Recount, Game Change, and Trumbo. Fair and Balanced looked to be his most significant project in that sphere to date.

More to the point, Roach is joined by an absurdly stocked cast which features the likes of Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman (again), John Lithgow, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, and Malcom McDowell. Honestly one of the best lineups of talent I've seen in years.

Release Date: TBA 2019

11. The Laundromat

the laundromat panama papers meryl streep gary oldman soderbergh netflix best films movies 2019The Laundromat has a simple hook, it is the Panama Papers film that has long been inevitable. Steven Soderbergh directs and produces in collaboration with Netflix, and it is clear they are aspiring to create the next heavyweight political drama.

The cast is bristling with big performers, including Meryl Streep (which pretty much guarantees it an Oscar nomination), Gary Oldman, and a supporting cast of James Cromwell, Jeffrey Wright, Antonio Banderas, and David Schwimmer.

Hollywood loves a good political movie, and given the current climate, this one is sure to grab people's attention.

Release Date: TBA 2019

10. Lucy in the Sky

noah hawley fargo legion lucy in the sky best films movies 2019 natalie portman jon hammThis is an interesting one. Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm star in this drama about an astronaut who faces psychological issues upon her return to Earth and spirals out of control, loosely based on a true story.

But what makes Lucy in the Sky particularly interesting is that it makes the directorial film debut of Noah Hawley, currently one of the hottest talents in the TV world for his award winning adaptations of Fargo and Legion.

The man has a midas touch when it comes to television, as it will be very interesting to see how he adapts to the big screen. This could be a breakthrough film.

Lucy in the Sky is expected to release in the latter half of 2019.

Release Date: TBA 2019

9. Jojo Rabbit

jojo rabbit taika waititi thor scarlett johansson sam rockwell what we do in shadows flight conchords best films movies 2019Another potential breakthrough here, this time for director Taika Waititi. The New Zealand-based writer/actor/director first came to prominence in Hollywood with cult horror comedy What We Do in the Shadows, but it was his widely acclaimed production of Thor:Ragnarok that really thrust him into the directorial it-list.

Jojo Rabbit, based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, therefore represents a big moment in his career. A chance to make a non-franchise film with major Hollywood backing.

Jojo Rabbit's bizarre concept concerns a young boy living during World War II, whose only means of escapism comes through his imaginary friend, and ethnically inaccurate version of Adolf Hitler. Waititi himself stars alongside Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson. A success here could firmly cement Waititi's place in the A-list of up and coming directors.

Release Date: TBA 2019

8. Ford v Ferrari

ford ferrari logan best films movies 2019 christian baleThe first real heavyweight from this preview: Ford v Ferrari tells the story of the rivalry between the Ford and Ferrari racing teams of the mid 20th Century.

Directorial duties will be handed to James Mangold, who has been on a bit of a hot streak with Walk the Line3:10 to Yuma, and Logan, all films that have been well received critically without really propelling Mangold to the real heights of stardom (though he did get an Oscar nomination for Logan). Ford v Ferrari could be the film that sees Mangold take that next step.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon star, while the script is penned by award winning scribe Jezz Butterworth, who will be well known to those familiar with the London theatre scene.

Ford v Ferrari will hit screens right in the height of the awards season, November 2019.

Release Date: 15 November, 2019

7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

beautiful day in the neighborhood mr fred rogers tom hanks best films movies 2019A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood sees the relatively inexperienced writer/director team of TV's critically acclaimed Transparent helm what otherwise appears to be a fairly significant project, the biopic of Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers).

That team is, of course, director Marielle Heller and writer Noah Harpster in a potentially career making moment. Their credibility somewhat bolstered by the dream casting of Tom Hanks in the leading roll, and Matthew Rhys as Lloyd Vogel a journalist tasked with profiling Rogers.

The film releases in November. Too obvious for Oscar bait? Perhaps, but I'd bet good money on Hanks at least getting a nomination.

Release Date: 22 November, 2019

6. Wendell and Wild

wendell and wild henry selick nightmare before christmas coraline best films movies 2019Pardon the sentiment, but it's about goddamn time. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline are such beloved films, and yet for some inexplicable reason no studio ever seems to want to give their director Henry Selick work.

Well, Netflix finally seem to have seen the vast opening in exploiting that fanbase, and will produce his next feature film Wendell and Wild. Selick will be supported by Hollwood man of the moment Jordan Peele and Peele's long-time collaborator Keegan-Michael Key who will write and star in the film.

Release date is still very much up in the air, but I for one am very excited to see more of this man's unique vision come to the screen, and let's hope it leads to a long and fruitful relationship with Netflix.

Release Date: TBA 2019

5. The Joker

the joker joaquin phoenix batman heath ledger best films movies 2019Let's get straight to the point, the DC comics shared cinematic universe has been an unmitigated dumpster fire since it was launched. And this is coming from someone who has always preferred DC comics to Marvel. So it is a relief to see Warner Bros taking the bold decision to make one-off standalone films outside of the share universe that allows more interesting filmmakers to make sure of these beloved characters free from the shackles of the larger franchise.

The Joker is the first of these productions. Based on the classic Batman villain Joker, this eponymous film serves as a sort of origin story, but done more in the style of a classic crime drama than a superhero action movie. The brilliant Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who slowly loses his mind and turns to a life of crime. Robert De Niro is also on cast, while Todd Phillips of The Hangover directs.

The script from Oscar nominated Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter) promises a far more grounded and twisted take on the classic mythos, one which focuses more on the psychological aspects of the character.

It's a sad fact that Phoenix is always going to have a tough challenge in facing comparisons to the late Heath Ledger's Oscar winning turn in this role. Despite this, I'm excited to see such an original and daring take on such a well known property.

Release Date: 4 October, 2019

4. Queen and Slim

queen and slim master of none get out daniel kaluuya melina matsoukas lena waithe best films movies 2019Queen and Slim, an original drama starring Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner Smith, about a young black couple who are pulled over on a date and are go on the run after they are forced to kill the cop in self-defence.

It would be tempting to dismiss Queen and Slim as just the latest bandwagon film to jump onto the current awards season trend of the moment, especially following a year in which Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Blackkklansman all received awards for covering similar topics. But there is real buzz building that this project could make a splash in 2019, and in particular due to the exciting, fresh talent involved behind the camera.

Queen and Slim will mark feature film writing debut of the Emmy winning Master of None co-writer Lena Waithe, and the directorial debut of Melina Matsoukas, also best known for her DGA/Emmy nominated work on Master of None. Both have cut their teeth with widely acclaimed storytelling prowess on television, and it will be very exciting to see what they can do on the big screen.

Release Date: 27 November, 2019

3. Yesterday

yesterday richard curtis danny boyle beatles lennon mccartney ringo best film movie 2019 ed sheeranTea, rain, red buses, and Richard Curtis movies. Few things feel so quintessentially British, and even fewer things elicit such nationwide approval. Now the legendary screenwriter of Four Weddings, Love Actually, and Notting Hill is back with an utterly bizarre premise to which the only appropriate response is "oh that is so Richard Curtis".

Yesterday ponders the question, what if you woke up and no one remembered the Beatles except you? It stars Himesh Patel as the one person with that knowledge, who hence becomes famous for "writing" all their songs. Lily James, Kate McKinnon, and, oddly, Ed Sheeran co-star.

It is hard to imagine how such a strange concept is going to work on film, but in the hands of such a skilled writer I am willing to suspend disbelief. Making the project even more exciting is the collaboration with the great Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later). This marks the first time the two British icons have collaborated, and we should all be exceedingly excited to see the result.

Release Date: 28 June, 2019

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

once upon a time in hollywood quentin tarantino charles manson sharon tate  leonardo dicaprio brad pitt margot robbie best films movies 2019Arguably the film that everyone is talking about heading into 2019. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the new picture from Quentin Tarantino, an ambitious Hollywood fable of two television actors trying to break into film, set against the backdrop of the Manson Family and the murder of Sharon Tate.

Quite how these two seemingly separate narratives will gel is anyone's guess, but it's clear that the grizzly Manson Family will take more than just second billing. The all star cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Emile Hirsch, Damian Lewis, Bruce Dern, Dakota Fanning, Luke Perry, and Lena Dunham.

Tarantino is best known for his heavily stylised, hyper-violent filmmaking, and it will be curious to see how he approaches a story of true crime (one would hope with some semblance of dignity). This film releases in July and it is going to be a big one.

Release Date: 26 July, 2019

1. The Irishman

best films movies 2019 the irishman martin scorsese robert deniro al pacino harvey keitel joe pesciOur number one pick for 2019 is the new film from legendary director Martin Scorsese, The Irishman.

This is a biographical crime film based on the novel I Heard You Paint Houses, and it features arguably the greatest of all Scorsese casts. This includes Robert De Niro, Al Pacino (incredibly the first time Scorsese has directed him), Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, and Bobby Cannavale. It's basically a who's who of the great Italian-American actors.

Eyebrows were raised when Netflix scored the exclusive rights to this film, but after Roma hit the awards season in a big way last year, all such doubts have been dispelled. Netflix has shown that it is capable of producing top class cinema, and with The Irishman they have all the tools to create something very special.

Release Date: TBA 2019

So there you have it folks: The 2019 Hot List. Here's to a fantastic year, and the Hot List will return in 2020!

Sunday, 24 February 2019

oscars 86th academy awards 2014

Welcome back to The Ephemeric. Today we will take a break from our annual Hot List in order to bring you some last minute Oscar predictions (don't blame me, not my fault the Oscars are two weeks earlier this year)!

This year's event has been tragically scandal-ridden, even by the Academy's standards. As a result, the ceremony will have no host for the first time since 1989. Given that the alternative was Kevin Hart, I think it's fair to say we dodged a bullet there.

Regardless, this evening is still mostly about the films. So for you, our loyal readers, please find below predictions for the big night. You may not have seen the big films this year, or be familiar with the latest hype tearing through tinseltown; if so consider the following a crib sheet for what lies ahead this weekend, and perhaps even a sneak peek at who might just be walking away with the big prize.

Best Picture


  • Black Panther
  • Blackkklansman
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • A Star is Born
  • Vice
And the winner: Green Book
Who should really win: Blackkklansman

Best Director

  • Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
  • Paweł Pawlikowski – Cold War
  • Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
  • Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
  • Adam McKay – Vice
And the winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Who should really win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale – Vice 
  • Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born 
  • Willem Dafoe – At Eternity's Gate 
  • Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
And the winner: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Who should really win: Christian Bale, Vice 

Best Actress

  • Yalitza Aparicio – Roma 
  • Glenn Close – The Wife 
  • Olivia Colman – The Favourite 
  • Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born 
  • Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
And the winner: Glenn Close, The Wife
Who should really win: Olivia Colman - The Favourite 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali – Green Book 
  • Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman 
  • Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
  • Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
  • Sam Rockwell – Vice 
And the winnerMahershala Ali, Green Book   
Who should really win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book   

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams – Vice 
  • Marina de Tavira – Roma 
  • Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk 
  • Emma Stone – The Favourite 
  • Rachel Weisz – The Favourite 
And the winnerRegina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Who should really win: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Original Screenplay

  • The Favourite – Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
  • First Reformed – Paul Schrader
  • Green Book – Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly
  • Roma – Alfonso Cuarón
  • Vice – Adam McKay
And the winnerThe Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
Who should really win: Vice, Adam McKay

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • BlacKkKlansman – Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener 
  • If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins
  • A Star Is Born – Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters
And the winner: BlacKkKlansman, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Who should really win: BlacKkKlansman, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee

So there you have it, The Ephemeric's picks for the year. Enjoy the Oscars this weekend, and when the results go as predicted, remember that you heard it here first! Coming up next week, I stop procrastinating and finish the Hot List!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2019 Hot List. I hope you enjoyed last week's entry covering the essential theatre of 2019. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting new music due for release in the coming year.

best anticipated new music 2018 albums hot list

In an ordinary year, coming up with 15 highly anticipated new bands and albums can be a challenge. One of the reasons why I always leave this post until the end of the Hot List is to give a little extra time for things to be announced. This year is clearly not an ordinary year, and I have had a hell of a time whittling down this list from some 30-odd down to 15. So a very exciting year ahead, with some promising new acts, some old favourites, and on this website they've been worked down to just the real creme de la creme.

So without further ado, here is our list of the top albums to keep an eye on in 2019, starting with number 15:

15. Coldplay

coldplay new album 2019 best most anticipated musicWe'll start with a easy crowd pleaser, Coldplay are apparently due to release a mysterious 8th studio album during 2019. The details are largely limited to speculation at this point, but collaborators and people close to the band have seemingly confirmed that this it happening, and sooner than we might expect.

This comes after frontman Chris Martin seemingly retired for the fiftieth time, and it will be no surprise to see that after a well earned holiday he is once again dusting off the old songwriting chops.

No name as of yet, but we are told that the sound will be "surprising", indicating a move perhaps into more unusual musical territory, or perhaps something of a more electronic nature more akin to Mylo Xyloto era Coldplay.

Release Date: TBA 2019

14. Ese and the Vooduu People (New band)

ese and the vooduu people debut album 2019 best most anticipated musicNow for the first of our highlighted newcomers of 2019. The Brixton-based electric soul band Ese and the Vooduu People are tipped for excellent things in 2019, having made waves with their powerful live show in 2018.

Having featured on many pundit's most exciting lists for the year, they will now be making the festival circuit alongside a number of prominent names, and a debut LP is expected soon after.

That album is expected sometime in the first half of 2019, but in the meantime you can enjoy some of their early tracks Dynamite and Fairytale.

Release Date: Q2 2019

13. Sea Girls (New band)

buoys panda bear pandabear new best most anticipated album 2019Another new band tipped for big things are Kent crooners Sea Girls.

This is one of those bands that seem to be everywhere all of a sudden. Having featured in BBC's Sound of 2019, as well as Spotify's curated picks of the year, they now look set to make a splash at some of the bigger festivals this summer, and a first album can't be far behind.

You can find a bunch of their work on Spotify right now, but our pick of the lot is All I Want to Hear You Say, a fine tune that showcases the band's potential. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Release Date: February, 2019

12. Broken Bells

broken bells 2019 album best most anticipated new musicFor those who are not in the know, Broken Bells is the experimental side project of underground wunderkind turned A-list producer Danger Mouse, and The Shins frontman James Mercer.

Danger Mouse, of course, legendarily bootlegged a mash up of Jay-Z and The Beatles called The Grey Album, and has since worked with artists such as Gorillaz and Adele, formed one half of Gnarls Barkley and produced a number of his own award winning solo material.

Broken Bells will release their as yet untitled third studio album this summer, and have so far released the excellent single Shelter. While we await further details, you can remind yourself of the band's talents with previous tracks The High Road and After the Disco.

Release Date: Summer 2019

11. "Miss Universe" by Nilufer Yanya (New band)

nilufer yanya miss universe debut best new most anticipated album 2019The next newcomer for 2019 is Nilufer Yanya. The London-based singer-songwriter has been making a name for herself with a series of tender, semi-acoustic pop tracks.

A successful 2017 EP and well received single releases for The FloristBaby Luv, and Small Crimes have set expectations high, and she finds herself among many pundits' top picks for the year. A full debut album, Miss Universe, is now expected to release in March.

Her musical style is wonderfully understated, and her voice lends an R&B soulfulness to an interesting blend of influences. It will be exciting to see what comes next.

Release Date: March 2019

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers

red hot chili peppers new album 2019 best most anticipatedThe great grandpappy of American funk-rock is back, and Red Hot Chili Peppers will be releasing a 12th studio album in 2019.

First slated for release last year, the as yet untitled record was halted in early development by the disruption caused by the California fires. Now the band have announced a major tour throughout 2019, with the album finally due to release afterwards, in the latter half of the year.

One knows what to expect from this band: the sort of casually catch rock and roll music that most can appreciate, that mix of hard funk and sweet melodies. By the Way is often credited as setting the tone for modern Chili Peppers, and they have scarcely strayed from this formula since.

Release Date: Fall 2019

9. Thom Yorke

thom yorke radiohead new solo album best new anticipated music 2019Thom Yorke, best known as lead singer and writer of Radiohead, is undoubtedly British rock royalty. Such is the diversity and experimental flair of his work, that the word "rock" can only really be used here loosely, even more so when it comes to his solo career.

We last saw Yorke go solo back in 2014, and his as yet untitled 2019 release looks set to get into that most trendy of musical past-times: political commentary in the age of Trump/Brexit. Hey, if it's good enough for Sir Paul, it's good enough for you.

Expect this to drop later on in the year, and until then go ahead and enjoy last year's Suspiria, a track that presumably will not feature on the actual LP, but nevertheless might provide insight as to where Yorke is right now, musically.

Release Date: TBA 2019

8. "Good at Falling" by The Japanese House (New band)

the japanese house face like thunder good at falling debut album best new anticipated music 2019Three years in a row on the Hot List, but The Japanese House are finally about to release their debut album Good at Falling.

Theirs is a well defined sound, dreamy, layered synth pop with melancholy vocals. They've produced some really excellent work so far, songs that strike a balance between the powerful and delicate. Check out Clean and Face Like Thunder for a little taste of what they're about, as well as the first singles from the actual album Saw You in a Dream and Follow My Girl.

Hyped as one to watch by many of the industry's pundits for a number of years, we're all pretty excited as to what the final product will deliver. This album drops in March.

Release Date: March 2019

7. "Five" by White Lies

five white lies new album best most anticipated new music 2019While White Lies have perhaps never quite reached the commercial heights that were expected at the time of their much ballyhooed debut (see excellent first single Death), the ten years since To Lose My Life... has seen the Ealing-based indie rockers quietly chugging along with a series of high quality tunes and highly praised live show.

The band's fifth studio album Five is due for release in February, and they are sounding bigger and bolder than ever. Dizzying lead single Time to Give sounds like Jim Morrison came back to life and recorded a new The Doors album with its cascading riffs and rich vocals.

Release Date: February 2019

6. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird (New band)

jade bird something american lottery new debut albums 2019 best most anticipatedA veteran of last year's Hot List, Jade Bird's debut album is finally set for release this spring, and that's a good reason to be excited.

A singer-songwriter in the style of an Amy Macdonald, but with more of the Alanis Morissette vocal rawness about her. Rolling Stone calls her the next big thing in country music. It's easy to see why when she releases great numbers like Lottery and Uh Huh.

A highly successful EP now under her belt, attention is being turned to the debut album. Definitely one to watch.

Release Date: April 2019

5. Caravan Palace

caravan palace swing house miracle new album best most anticipated music 2019The retro-fusion genre of electro-swing is exceptionally trendy these days, and no group is more well known for this style of music than Parisian musicians Caravan Palace.

Widely hailed among the trailblazers of this genre with tracks like Jolie Coquine, Lone Digger, and Rock it For Me. Their's is a sound characterised by the blending of the jazzy swing influences of the early 20th century with the electronic techniques of modern dance music.

We wouldn't expect the band to stray too much from the sound that made them a success, however first new single Miracle appears to hint at a move towards a more mainstream pop style. Let's hope they don't overdo it.

Release Date: Summer 2019

4. "Notes on a Conditional Form" by The 1975

the 1975 notes on a conditional form new album best most anticipated new music 2019 music for carsThem? Again? The 1975 released A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships only last year, and it turned out to be a great record with songs like It's Not Living if It's Not With You, and TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME. Despite this, we are already getting a follow up, Notes on a Conditional Form.

As it turns out, these two albums were originally conceived as part of a single collection, Music For Cars, which was previewed on this blog this time last year. Ultimately, and for whatever reason, the band decided to split this into two separate LPs.

All I know is that if this year's addition is as strong as the first, it will be a very fine album. However, history and common sense tells us that when a band splits an album in two, the second half rarely impresses as much as the first.

Release Date: May 2019

3. MorMor (New band)

mormor 2019 new album best new anticipated musicThe final new artist of this year's preview, Toronto songwriter MorMor has become something of an overnight sensation since the release of last year's EP Heaven's Only Wishful.

It's easy to see why. MorMor's intimate approach to songwriting is at once fresh and eclectic; see titular track Heaven's Only Wishful and Waiting on the Warmth. A full LP is now due for release in 2019. So far only the one track has been revealed, Pass the Hours and it's another very fine song indeed.

MorMor has that mix of buzz, talent and timing that seems to be lining up perfectly, and there is the real expectation that 2019 could see him take that next step into stardom.

Release Date: TBA 2019

2. "Father of the Bride" by Vampire Weekend

vampire weekend father of the bride new album 2019 best new anticipated musicOne of the year's bigger releases belongs to Vampire Weekend, returning after six years for their fourth studio album, Father of the Bride.

Critical darlings and "soundtrack kings" with a back catalogue of surprising depth and quality. Still primarily known for A-Punk from way back in the day, but with such wonderful tracks as Ottoman and Step under their belts, this is one of those easily likeable bands that one appreciates more the more you look into their work.

New album, is due for release in the Spring, and while we don't even have a full track listing yet, you can get a taste for what's to come through lead single Harmony. Just don't look at the video if you don't like bugs. Should be a good one.

Release Date: TBA 2019

1. M83

m83 hurry up dreaming new album 2019 most anticipated best new musicA cause for excitement in any year, a new album from French group M83. Is it synth? Dream-pop? Retrowave? M83's music defies outright classification, but they are most commonly associated with that dreamy neo-80s vibe, like a modern twist on a John Hughes movie soundtrack, see one of my all time favourites: Kim & Jessie.

This glib summary does a disservice to the compositional talents of Anthony Gonzalez, whose album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming remains one of the great records of recent years, with hits like Midnight City and Wait. Recently Gonzalez has even been earning plaudits for his excellent soundtrack and film score work.

However you choose to describe their work, M83 is simply one of the most compelling musical acts around, and Gonzalez one of the best technical producers in the industry. We don't yet know what form or style this new album will take, but I personally can't wait.

Release Date: TBA 2019

So there you have it folks: 2019 in music. Tune in next week for this year's final Hot List, where we look at the most exciting new movies in 2019!

Monday, 28 January 2019

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2019 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting theatrical productions coming to the stage in the coming year.

best anticipated new theatre theatrical production 2019 hot list
2018 was a year in which the National Theatre dazzled, and the much vaunted new state of the art Bridge Theatre fizzled. In the latter case, we've seen more duds than hits in the company's short life to date, and unless things turn quickly one has to wonder how long it will be until a new artistic director is brought on board. For the National's Rufus Norris, however, the story is quite different. The standard of production over the past 12 months has been excellent, and in 2019 it looks like we may be in for another strong year.

But this is a boom time for theatre in London, and increasingly it is the smaller companies producing the most impressive work. The Almeida has been on a strong run for the last few years under Rupert Goold, while the recently refurbished Hampstead Theatre has been quietly assuming a position of pride as one of London's most underrated stages.

Here's our list of the top 15 theatrical productions to keep an eye on in 2019, starting with number 15:

15. "The Tragedy of King Richard II" by William Shakespeare, at the Almeida

london best theatre 2019 king richard 2 ii shakespeare simon russell bealeThe appeal is clear. Simon Russell Beale is one of his generation's most legendary stage actors, and there is nowhere he feels more at home than in the works of William Shakespeare. His is the uncanny gift of being able to make the otherwise obtuse language flow as naturally as modern English.

He stars as the titular protagonist in a minimalist new production of Richard II, the familiar tale of vanity and political opportunism alongside a very impressive Leo Bill as Bolingbroke.

Sadly this show is almost at the end of its run, so you will need to be quick to get tickets. For those who do manage to get to it, this is sure to be a main event of the theatre year.

14. "Small Island" by Helen Edmundson and Andrea Levy, at the National Theatre

london best theatre 2019 small island nationalHelen Edmundson adapts the Orange prize winning novel from Andrea Levy.

Very relevant given the recent hubbub over the Windrush scandal and associated tensions,  Small Island sets out a tale of three interconnected stories set on opposite ends of the world, exploring the intricate history of the UK and Jamaica.

Production stars CJ Beckford, Jacqueline Boatswain, and Phoebe Frances Brown, while the NT's artistic director Rufus Norris himself directs. Booking opens end of January and the show will run from February until July.

13. "Berberian Sound Studio" by Joel Horwood and Peter Strickland, at the Donmar

london best theatre 2019 berberian sound studio donmarThe always excellent Tom Brooke stars in this new adaptation of Berberian Sound Studio, adapted by Joel Horwood from the original film script of Peter Strickland.

A darkly comic tale of a documentarian sound engineer turned horror film producer. This production co-stars Eugenia Caruso and Enzo Cilenti.

Tom Scutt makes a directorial debut, having worked backstage on a number of the Donmar's better recent productions. Runs throughout February and March, booking is now open.

12. "The Damned" by Ivo van Hove and Luchino Visconti, at the Barbican

london best theatre 2019 the damned van hove barbicanThe award winning Ivo van Hove is one of theatre's biggest names, and his latest is an adaptation of Luchino Visconti's screenplay.

Van Hove directs the esteemed Parisian theatre company Comedie Francaise, back in the UK for the first time in 20 years.

Running for just a short spell in June, The Damned is a debauched story of German industrialists, and how their deepening collaborations with the nascent Nazi Government leads to ruin. This dark alliance is a springboard for the disintegration of of society, with clear and disturbing parallels to current events.

11. "Alys Always" by Lucinda Coxon and Harriet Lane, at the Bridge Theatre

london best theatre 2019 alys always bridgeLucinda Coxon adapts Harriet Lane's gripping thriller, Alys Always in a new play that's set to take prime position in the Bridge Theatre's offerings this year. Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Life on Mars) stars along with Robert Glenister, an actor who will be very familiar to fans of London theatre.

Following an unlikely and devastating encounter, Frances finds herself suddenly intertwined into the world of fame and privilege. A tale which explores the gulf between the entitled and the rest.

Production runs throughout March, so book now.

10. "Dear Evan Hansen" by Steven Levenson, at the Noel Coward Theatre

london best theatre 2019 dear evan hansen noel coward broadwayThe next big Broadway musical to transfer to London.

Dear Evan Hansen is the story of a socially anxious highschooler who yearns to fit in with his peers, and finds his opportunity by concocting a fake tragedy with which to make himself the centre of attention. As that lie spirals out of control, Evan Hansen faces a difficult reckoning.

The original production amassed an impressive 7 Tony awards, and transfers to London's Noel Coward Theatre this November. Casting has yet to be announced. This is sure to be a big ticket.

9. "White Pearl" by Anchuli Felicia King, at the Royal Court Theatre 

london 2019 white pearl royal courtAn unusual proposition. White Pearl is an Australo-Thai comedy about institutional racism, set to be staged in the Royal Court Theatre's more experimental downstairs theatre.

It is surprising, yet refreshing to see the theatre get behind a largely unknown writer. Another promising sign of the theatre's revival under Vicky Featherstone. This is Anchuli Felicia King's international debut, having earned plaudits in New York and at the National Play Festival.

Casting has yet to be announced but Dana King will direct. This production will run through May and June.

8. "Three Sisters" by Cordelia Lynn and Anton Chekhov, at the Almeida

best theatre 2019 three sisters chekhov almeidaThe first of two productions of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters that I am previewing on this blog. Anton Chekhov is one of the great playwrights, and Three Sisters is considered by many to be among his best works.

Cordelia Lynn's new adaptation of the original text explores those traditional Chekhovian themes: class divide, stasis, the clash of the modern world with the old. Scenes will contrast between the original period setting and modern London, presumably with some contextual commentary.

Cast includes Patsy Ferran and Pearl Chanda. The production will run from April through June, and is open for booking.

7. "The end of history..." by Jack Thorne, at the Royal Court Theatre

london best theatre 2019 end of history jack thorne harry potter royal courtBack to the Royal Court and a production that is sure to make a few headlines. The End of History is the new script from Jack Thorne, a writer most publicly notable for his adaptation of Harry Potter to the West End.

Thorne turns his talents to a much more intimate setting with what sounds to be a traditional family genre. The children come home from school and a reunion is had. Some politics get discussed, some drama presumably gets unearthed. Thorne is building quite the name for himself as a writer, and it will be intriguing to see what he makes of it.

Production starts in June and runs through August.

6. "All About Eve" by Ivo van Hove and Joseph Mankiewicz, at the Noel Coward Theatre

london 2019 best theatre all about eve van hove noel cowardAnother entry for Ivo van Hove, who this time teams up with the great Gillian Anderson in a new adaptation of All About Eve.

This is being billed as a razor sharp exposé of the dark heart of show business. Anderson takes on the role made famous by Bette Davis on the silver screen, and it will be interesting to see her take on a darker, more scheming role than we are used to seeing from the award winning actress.

Production runs from February through May at the Noel Coward Theatre.

5. "Peter Gynt" by David Hare and Henrik Ibsen, at the National Theatre

london 2019 best theatre peter gynt national ibsenThe National Theatre brings a radical new version of the classic play by Henrik Ibsen to the stage.

In David Hare, the National has a veteran of such adaptations - most recently his much acclaimed adaptation of The Master Builder, which was previewed right here on the Hot List a few years back. This version looks set to transpose the epic tale into a modern setting starring James McArdle.

This will definitely be a blockbuster of 2019 theatre. Runs from June to October, with bookings opening this month.

4. "Rutherford and Son" by Githa Sowerby at the National Theatre

best theatre 2019 london rutherford and son roger allam nationalLes Miserables' original Javert, the legendary Roger Allam returns to the National Theatre in the lead for Rutherford and Son. He stars alongside Justine Mitchell, a familiar face for regular patrons of the National.

Also returning to the National will be director Polly Findlay, most recently seen with productions of Antigone and As You Like It.

The script from Githa Sowerby remains a topical and relevant tale for the modern age, one of class, gender, and generational divides. .

Tickets are on sale for May onwards, and you can book starting next week.

3. "Three Sisters" by Inua Ellams and Anton Chekhov at the National Theatre

london best theatre 2019 three sisters chekhov nationalAnd it's a hattrick for the National Theatre, as well as our second adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters to make this list.

This adaptation by the up and coming Inua Ellams looks a little further outside the box than the Almeida's effort, transposing the drama somehow to 1960s Nigeria against a backdrop of the Biafran Civil War. At the very least, this sounds like an original take on the classic play, and with Ellams seen as something of a rising star following the success of The Barber Shop Chronicles, we're curious to see how it turns out.

This one is coming later in the year, with dates set to be announced at a later date.

2. "Shipwreck" by Anne Washburn at the Almeida

shipwreck anne washburn almeida trump london best theatre 2019With Anne Washburn you know you're going to see something very original and interesting. It might not always work, but it will be clever and fresh and worth watching. We saw it with Washburn's baffling yet creative Mr Burns, and last year's excellent The Twilight Zone adaptation. This year, Washburn gives us a new play, Shipwreck.

This new play, starring Khalid Abdalla sees the audience as a fly on the wall for a fictional dinner with the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, set on an old crumbling farmhouse in rural America. A suitably surreal premise that is expected to take the form of a "nightmarish comedy".

Shipwreck will run through February and March.

1. "Sweat" by Lynn Nottage at the Donmar

london best theatre 2019 sweat lynn nottage trump donmarBut our number 1 play to see in 2019 is the Donmar's new production of the Pulitzer prize winning Sweat.

Lynn Nottage's script forms a timely and nuanced account of life among America's "forgotten people", in impoverished rust-belt country. Economic displacement, the loss of blue collar jobs, and a fear of immigration and trade. While the play wisely never mentions Trump by name, this tale nevertheless makes for essential viewing for anyone seeking to understand his appeal, or the desperation which has motivated many to buy into his rhetoric.

Sadly, the show's run is coming to an end in February, but anyone who still has a chance to see it, must do so.

So there you have it folks: 2019 in theatre. Tune in next week for our next instalment of the Hot List, covering the essential new music coming up in 2019!

Monday, 21 January 2019

Hello and welcome back to the Hot List. This week we will turn our attention to the videogame industry, previewing for you our loyal readers the most exciting videogames set for release in 2019.

new videogames games gaming 2019 ephemeric

Interactive media is becoming increasingly mainstream. Last year saw prestigious institutions like the V&A and the Smithsonian stage major exhibitions, while the Royal Albert Hall now somewhat routinely holds concerts of videogame music. Outlets like Netflix are blurring the line between gaming and traditional media by incorporating interactive elements, while simultaneously the wave of augmented reality games on mobile blur the lines between media and reality.

This is an increasingly diverse industry. Casual games you pick up on your phone for five minutes, deep RPGs and sims that can last hundreds of hours. Art house, mainstream, indie and big budget blockbusters. They even make games for people who don't play games. 2019 is the perfect demonstration of this diversity. We've got a strong line up of mobile games,  indie titles and sprawling AAA epics. It's even rumoured that the next generation of consoles could be revealed in 2019.

So here it is, the 15 key videogames to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:

15. Mario Kart Tour (iOS, Android)

mario kart tour iphone android 2019Nintendo's sudden embrace of mobile gaming has taken many by surprise, but it makes perfect business sense. No matter how successful their Switch or handheld endeavours may be, there will always be more people who own a mobile phone. With that in mind, so far these releases have been relatively unambitious, highly simplified attempts at a Nintendo game (see Mario Run).

It is hoped that this may change with Mario Kart Tour, due to release sometime by March 2019, and rumoured to be a fully featured, multiplayer capable entry in the legendary racing series.

Mario Kart is one of those games that appeals to everyone, including those who might otherwise not play many games. That combination of fun, accessible gameplay, and addictive multiplayer shenanigans makes each entry a timeless classic. The prospect of being able to partake from anywhere, on iOS and Android, is tantalising.

Release Date: March, 2019

14. Imperator: Rome (PC)

imperator rome paradox crusader kings europa universalis 2019 pcParadox have built for themselves a niche in the game dev world, and it's a niche they occupy with sensational success. While the old masters of historical gaming, Civilisation, Anno and even something like Call of Duty, have increasingly trended away from realism and complexity towards casual, cartoonish styles, Paradox have done the opposite. Their brand of historical gaming is strategy of such depth and detail that it has spawned its own genre, grand strategy.

Paradox's feudalism and colonialism simulators, Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV respectively, are the gold standards of the genre. Their newest title Imperator: Rome seeks to bring that same love and care to a classical historic setting, in a game which looks to combine features of both.

Starting in pre-Roman times circa 450 AUC, players will be able to control any province across a vast map of Europe (or even Rome itself) and guide them through history in a simulation which includes character and dynasty management, war, trade, and governmental politics. This looks like a typically deep and detailed Paradox simulation, and I'm very excited to dive in.

Release Date: TBA 2019

13. Age of Empires IV (PC)

age of empires iv pc 2019Who says videogame companies never listen to the fans? The Age of Empires series has always held a fond place in the hearts of old school strategy fans, and in particular the 1999 classic Age of Empires II to this day retains a surprisingly devoted fanbase and active multiplayer and modding communities. So much so, in fact, that Microsoft even deemed to make one of the community's more popular mods an official expansion, some 15 years after the game's release.

It seems Microsoft's newfound embrace of the franchise was not limited to just fan-made expansions and HD re-releases, and have announced Age of Empires IV, the first entry in the series since 2005. Little is known about the sequel, but the teaser trailer appears to imply a vast swathe of history will be covered, showing artwork from the bronze age right through to the colonial era.

Release date is still to be announced.

Release Date: TBA 2019

12. The Elder Scrolls: Blades (iOS, Android, PC)

elder scrolls blades ios android game 2019 pc
Four games in, and we have another mobile title. Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls series is legendary, with Skyrim still ranking among the world's best selling games, some eight years after first release. The latest entry in the series, Blades, seeks to begin a whole new obsession, by bringing The Elder Scrolls to mobile devices.

Translating such a vast, sprawling experience to a handheld format might sound like an impossible task, but there's a deceptively deep game waiting here. In addition to the usual dungeon crawling and questing, Blades features procedurally generated maps and a new, never ending "abyss" mode. Add to this a whole new "town" feature, which tasks players with rebuilding and developing a ruined town, the expansion of which provides new quests and options, and can be shared with other players. There is a great deal of interesting sounding content here, and streamlined into a friendly, mobile interface.

The design ethos here seems very much to be a more flexible Elder Scrolls experience. If you want to sink endless hours into customising and expanding your game, you can do so. If you want to pick it up for five minutes and enjoy a bit of questing, you can do that too.

Release Date: TBA 2019

11. Heaven's Vault (iOS, PS4, PC)

heaven's vault 80 days game inkle meg jayanth ios pc Sticking with a mobile theme, we come to the newest title from Inkle. When it comes to mobile games, Inkle come with real pedigree. Their previous game 80 Days ranks among the finest written works of interactive fiction, and remains my all time favourite travel game.

The success of that title has allowed Inkle to be somewhat more ambitious with the follow up. Heaven's Gate is not simply a gussied up interactive novel, but a fully realised virtual experience. Heaven's Gate sees you explore a dead world, trying to unlock the secrets of a time long since past in a unique blend of sci-fi and archaeology,

Can a small studio make the jump to such a big budget project? Can a team known for its prose and simplicity show a flare for full gameplay? These are fair questions, but from what I've seen so far I am hopeful. If the writing is half as good as 80 Days, this will be a story well worth experiencing.

Release Date: June 2019

10. Sunless Skies (PC, Mac)

sunless skies sunless seas fallen london failbetter alexis kennedy kickstarter best game 2019In case you have not yet picked up on this, I am a sucker for games with excellent writing, and few in the business are better at writing than Failbetter.

Their newest title Sunless Skies follows on from their hit debut Sunless Seas, adapting the macabre, Lovecraftian setting of the predecessor into a neo-Victorian sci-fi exploration game unlike anything you will have seen before.

Explore, trade, and adventure your way across the Reach. Meet interesting characters and delve into the world's history. Sunless Skies has been in early access for a while now, with reviews so far promising. Will finally see its full release by end of January, and I'm pretty excited for that.

Release Date: January 2019

9. Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

harry potter rpg magic awakened pc xbox ps4I'm going to make a confession now: I was never really into Harry Potter. I never read the books, and I didn't see the films until very recently. Nevertheless, when early footage leaked of this still yet to be officially revealed game, Harry Potter: Magic Awakened, I was intrigued.

A full, story driven game in which players design their own character and live the life of a young wizard. RPG elements allow for extensive customisation, skill and power training, and branching decisions. Choose your house, your friends, and generally immerse yourself in one of fiction's most beloved universes. It has obvious appeal.

While the leak generated a good deal of buzz, there is still very little known about this game. We don't even really know who is making it, although rumours abound. Despite this, the word on the ground is that development is actually fairly far along, with an intended 2019 release still on track.

Release Date: TBA 2019

8. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)

fire emblem three houses 2019 switchA few years ago and Nintendo's relatively obscure fantasy franchise was on the ropes. Years of poorly selling iterations, many of which never even made it to western markets, had put the developers on the brink of closure. Then came along the 3DS's fantastic Fire Emblem: Awakening.

For those unfamiliar, Fire Emblem is a series of turn-based strategy in a fantasy setting. What makes this series stand apart are the characters. Players build a team of characters each of whom are fully customisable with the ability to switch up classes and gear, fully fleshed out with the ability to generate dynamic relationships and stories. But the most important element is simple: permadeath. When one of these characters die, they stay dead, making each decision more impactful, and your relationship with that character all the more direct and personal.

Awakening was quickly followed by the well received Fire: Emblem Fates, and an apparently highly lucrative iOS version Fire Emblem: Heroes, but one thing has been notably missing from this newly revitalised franchise, a proper home console edition. In 2019 this will be rectified, with the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses for Switch.

Release Date: TBA 2019

7. The Artful Escape (Xbox One, PC)

the artful escape francis vendetti annapurna edith finch david bowie best game 2019Award winning film studio Annapurna made their debut in videogaming with the spellbinding What Remains of Edith Finch. This year they will look to follow up this success with their second title The Artful Escape.

The concept is quite unique. Players take the role of aspiring folk musician Francis Vendetti on a journey to reinvent his musical and stage persona. The result has been described by the game's lead developer as "David Bowie traveling off from London on an interstellar trip to create Ziggy Stardust".

In terms of actual gameplay, this takes the form of a musical platformer which sees Vendetti's performances depicted as journeys through mind-bending fantastical and sci-fi landscapes, with occasional rhythm-based music sections to pass. Frankly it's stunning to look at and listen to, with a pleasurably relaxing pace to it.

Release Date: TBA 2019

6. Afterparty (PC, Mac)

afterparty oxenfree pc mac best game 2019With the release of 2016's excellent Oxenfree, Night School Studio became one of the hottest new game devs in the industry. Afterparty marks their first major project since that breakthrough, and further refines the formula that made their debut such a success.

So what was so good about Oxenfree? The art style, the characters, the dynamic, well written dialogue. It was a remarkably slick and engrossing graphical adventure for a team of such limited experience.

This follow up looks to be more of the same: a witty narrative journey following two newly deceased twenty-somethings in a pub crawl across hell itself. Release is expected sometime this summer. Looks like great fun.

Release Date: Summer 2019

5. Witchbrook (PC)

witchbrook stardew valley spellbound starbound chucklefish best game pc 2019
I'm really not all that into wizards, and yet here we are for a second time. This one looks particularly special. From the people behind Starbound and the wildly successful Stardew Valley comes Witchbrook, a wizard academy RPG/life sim in the mould of a Stardew Valley, with combat reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda.

Much in the same vein of a Stardew Valley, the concept of Witchbrook is less of a focused singular narrative, and more of a "here's a fun, interesting world, go live in it, enjoy being in it". While there will be a main storyline, with fleshed out lore and characters, the idea is very much for this to be a more open ended experience.

While further detail is thin on the ground at this time, the title has apparently been in development for a few years now, with release anticipated for sometime in the coming year.

Release Date: TBA 2019

4. Sable (Xbox One, PC, Mac)

sable best pc game 2019 80 days meg jayanthI love a good indie game, but few make a debut as eye-catching as Sable. Produced by two lifelong friends in their basement, Sable promises to be a contemplative adventure focused around exploration, with a Gibli-esque aesthetic and stunning hand-drawn art style.

It's certainly one of the best looking games to pop up in recent years, but such an insular game is always going to succeed on the merit of its storytelling. It is fortunate then that the award winning Meg Jayanth is behind the story. If she can build the world of Sable with the same flair and aplomb as Sunless Seas or 80 Days then it could be a memorable experience.

Releasing initially on Steam, with a later launch on Xbox Live, we should see this one close to the summer.

Release Date: Summer 2019

3. The Outer Worlds (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

the outer worlds fallout new vegas best game pc xbox ps4 2019 obsidianFew things are as exciting as reading "Obsidian" and "new RPG" in the same headline. When the original creators of Fallout put their skills to work, the result is rarely anything short of excellent. Case and point, the team's last foray into the world of Fallout (now wholly owned by Bethesda), Fallout: New Vegas is considered by many to be the best in the series, while their more recent Pillars of Eternity series went on to become one of the most successful examples of crowdfunded game design.

The Outer Worlds is an entirely new IP, very much in the format of the recent 3D Fallout titles. Set in a deliciously colourful future where mega-corporations have begun to explore and colonise distant worlds, players create their own character, pilot a spaceship, and explore those worlds. That same sense of humour and satirical writing is present, along with Obsidian's typical flair for branching storytelling and player-driven plot design.

What makes an Obsidian game special is that focus on player-agency. Players should be able to play whatever kind of character they want, however they want, and their actions and behaviour should have a real, tangible impact on the world around them. From what we've seen, this is going to be wildly good fun, and we expect it to drop in the latter half of 2019.

Release Date: Fall 2019

2. Starfield (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

starfield bethesda fallout best game 2019 pc xbox ps4But in close competition with the original creators of Fallout, the current owners of Fallout! That's right, Bethesda's next big single player title is also a spacefaring RPG, Starfield.

Most of the details of this title remain shrouded in mystery, but rumours suggest a grand space opera in the style of a Mass Effect or Star Wars, with open-world exploration built around the same concepts as Bethesda's tried and tested Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series. Quite how this will adapt to a game which allegedly features multiple worlds and the ability to fly a spaceship is anyone's guess, but the few teasers we have seen point again to titles like Mass Effect for hints.

Despite the radio silence, Starfield has apparently been in development for a number of years at this point, having entered early production just after the release of Skyrim. The suggestion being that this is much farther along than one might otherwise expect. We could see a release in time for Christmas this year.

Release Date: Late 2019

1. Cyberpunk 2077 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

cyberpunk 2077 rpg game 2019 pcWhile the latest project from CD Projekt Red, a developer best known for the celebrated Witcher trilogy of games, did not make release in 2018, we did at long last get a first full preview.

Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG set in a tantalising Cyberpunk setting in near future California. The impressive reveal trailer at last year's E3 showed off a seamless, living open world, and a series of quest and character design systems that allow for a remarkable level of player agency. It is said that every mission will have multiple paths to completion, allowing for a high variety of playstyles and roleplaying options.

While a firm release date has proven elusive, rumours abound that 2019 will be the year, fuelled in part by a now deleted tweet from European retailers. This is further supported by comments from the developer's most recent financial results, which suggested that the game was at quite an advanced stage, with release near.

Release Date: TBA 2019

So there you have it folks: 2019 in videogames. Tune in next week for the most exciting new theatrical productions coming this year!

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