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james debate

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. Bombshell (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, Bombshell (formerly titled 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 (Le Mans 66)

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!

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