james debate
james debate

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Hello and welcome back to 2020'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 2020 from March onwards, after the cutoff point for this year's awards season.

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

This post has taken longer than usual to produce, for reasons that I am sure will come as no surprise to anyone. With all the craziness going on in the world right now, things like films and games can inevitably seem kind of trivial in comparison. But after giving it some thought, I've come to the conclusion that there is worth in the message that things will return to normal, and that we have much to look forward to when that happens. I complete this preview as a testament that whatever else happens, human creativity and passions endure.

2019 is a year that I think is fair to say was one of the stronger in recent memories when it comes to cinema. From Joker to Jojo Rabbit, Parasite to the Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to 1917, rarely has there been such a wildly eclectic lineup of high quality films, resulting in an awards season that remained uncommonly unpredictable right up until the end. It pleases me to look at the year ahead and see another treasure trove of bold and exciting projects, which should provide something for everyone to enjoy.

I should caveat that the release dates below are accurate as of the time of writing. In recent days we have seen a spate of delays and industry disruption that could easily see them change.

So without further delay, the key films to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:


15. Stardust

hot list best films movies 2020 ziggy stardust david bowie johnny flynn We begin with the first major motion picture concerning the life of legendary songwriter David Bowie.

Stardust will star Johnny Flynn (an impressive likeness and well regarded songwriter in his own right) as a young Bowie circa 1971, the years leading up to the creation of Ziggy Stardust, the work for which Bowie is arguably most well known. The film will be directed by relative newcomer Gabriel Range, with Marc Maron and Aaron Poole set to play supporting roles.

The film's production has not been without its share of controversies, with Bowie's sone Duncan Jones disavowing the project and claiming that the film has not been made with the cooperation of the Bowie estate (and therefore presumably without music rights). There is also the concern that this could just be another musical biopic piggybacking on the recent success of Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody.

So concerns abound, but the source material is there, as is a great story. Here's hoping they can craft it into a worthwhile film.

Release Date: 17 April, 2020


14. Trial of the Chicago 7

trial of chicago seven 7 aaron sorkin best movies films 2020 sacha baron cohen eddie redmayne jeremy strong joseph gordon levitt michael keaton mark rylance The second feature to be directed by legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, Trial of the Chicago 7 is based on the story of the Chicago Seven, a group of defendants charged by the Federal Government with conspiracy to incite anti-war and counter-cultural protests in 1968.

Sorkin, also writing the screenplay, directs an all-star cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton and many others.

Add to this a veteran cinematographer in Phedon Papamichael and an awards friendly September release, and clearly Chicago 7 is expected to be a big deal among this year's cinema.

Release Date: 25 September, 2020


13. No Time to Die

james bond 007 no time to die skyfall best films movies 2020 cary fukunaga phoebe waller bridge daniel craig rami malek The next, and for Daniel Craig the last (this time he apparently really means it), James Bond film is coming, No Time to Die.

This time around directorial duties fall to Cary Fukunaga, best known for True Detective, Maniac, and Beasts of No Nation, while superstar of the moment Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve, Fleabag) writes. Craig will be joined in the cast by Oscar winner Rami Malek, as well as Lea Seydoux, and cast regulars Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, and the rest.

Originally schedule for an Easter release, the ongoing public health crisis has necessitated a delay until November 2020. All the signs so far suggest it will be worth the wait.

Release Date: 12 November, 2020


12. Dune

dune denis villeneuve best films movies 2020 timothee chalamet oscar isaac josh brolin Dune, an epic sci-fi adventure franchise beloved by many, but with a trouble history of adaptations. The 1965 novel was notably made into a film in the 1980s, and a miniseries in the early 2000s, but has generally struggled with screen adaptations, owing to the complexity and ambition of the source material.

In 2020 a new adaptation is coming courtesy of Denis Villeneuve, an Oscar winning filmmaking with a burgeoning reputation following his work on Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, and Sicario. Villeneuve also co-writes the script along with Eric Roth (Munich, Forrest Gump, A Star is Born). Dune will star man of the moment Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem.

Release date is set for December, indicating high expectations not just commercially, but critically.

Release Date: 18 December, 2020


11. Nightmare Alley

nightmare alley guillermo del toro best films movies 2020 bradley cooper cate blanchettNightmare Alley is the next picture from Guillermo del Toro, his first since winning the Oscar for Shape of Water. While that film may be far and away del Toro's greatest success, he has a long history of the bizarre and macabre from Pan's Labyrinth to Crimson Peak. While my expectation is that this will be more of the same, it is interesting to note how different the source material is from his usual fare.

The original novel follows a con-man and female psychiatrist who trick people into giving them money, but includes none of the supernatural elements that we might associate with a del Toro film. One can only hope that he maintains his characteristic directorial flair, even as he moves into more traditional genres.

The cast includes a lineup of strong performers, including Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, and Willem Dafoe. Release date is TBA.

Release Date: TBA 2020


10. Next Goal Wins

next goal wins taika waititi best films movies 2020 michael fassbender elisabeth moss Taika Waititi is having something of a moment, the New Zealand filmmaker and actor has come a long way from indie comedy hits like Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows to running the Thor franchise for Disney and, of course, his Oscar winning success with Jojo Rabbit.

His next film, Next Goal Wins, is based on the true story of Dutch football coach Thomas Rongen and his efforts to take the American-Samoa national team, then considered the worst in the world, to the 2014 World Cup.

Michael Fassbender stars as Rongen, and he will be joined by Elisabeth Moss, Armie Hammer, and long-time Waititi collaborator Rhys Darby.

Release date is still TBA.

Release Date: TBA 2020


9. In the Heights

in the heights hamilton musical lin manuel miranda jon chu best films movies 2020 When it comes to films that will make a lot of money, In the Heights has got to rank up there as a sure thing. This is an adaptation of the Lin Manuel Miranda stage musical, the one he made before Hamilton.

This project has had something of a turbulent production history. Originally cancelled in the early 2010s, only be resurrected following the success of Hamilton by none other than Harvey Weinstein. Then all that happened, and this projected ended up over at Warner Bros.

In the Heights will be directed by Jon Chu, a man best known for the rather forgettable Step Up franchise of dance films, but who more recently has found his break in the world of serious filmmaking with the critically acclaimed Crazy Rich Asians. The former will stand him in good stead for directing a musical, while the latter showed him to have some genuine talent as a filmmaker. I think this is in good hands.

Release Date: 26 June, 2020


8. Irresistible

irresistible jon stewart steve carell best films movies 2020The return of Jon Stewart, legendary comedian and former host of The Daily Show who has largely remained on the sidelines (in terms of showbiz anyway, he has been very influential as an activist) following his retirement.

Irresistible is a political comedy starring fellow Daily Show alumnus Steve CarellRose ByrneTopher GraceChris Cooper and Natasha Lyonne, which sees two prominent political strategists take national politics to small town Wisconsin, turning a local race into a battle for the soul of the country.

This marks the second feature film to be directed by Stewart following 2014's impressive Rosewater. If that hard hitting political drama seemed strangely outside the comfort zone for Stewart, Irresistible will be right up his alley.

Release date is set for May 2020, right in the thick of the Presidential election.

Release Date: 29 May, 2020


7. West Side Story

west side story steven spielberg ansel elgort best films movies 2020 If you're like me, your first thought here was probably "do we really need another adaptation of West Side Story?" And you would be right, but this is Steven Spielberg, and Spielberg doesn't make a film unless he has something worthwhile to say.

Spielberg is not the only legend on this project, with the screenplay penned by the Pulitzer Prize winning Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America and co-writer on Munich.

The presence of such luminaries makes a great opportunity for star Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver) who has been threatening to break into Hollywood's A-list for some time. This could be the one that puts him into the stratosphere.

West Side Story will release this December, the thick of the awards season.

Release Date: 18 December, 2020


6. Tenet

tenet christopher nolan best films movies 2020 john david washington robert pattinson michael caine kenneth branagh Tenet sees director Christopher Nolan return to the familiar action/thriller territory of Inception following his award winning turn with Dunkirk. The plot line is simple: "a secret agent is tasked with preventing World War III through time travel". Sounds like classic Chris Nolan mind-bending shenanigans.

The cast this time around will include Blackkklansman star John Davd Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Himesh Patel, Aaron Taylor Johnson, and of course long-time Nolan collaborator Michael Caine. Tenet will, however, mark a rare Chris Nolan film without brother and long-time collaborator/screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, with Chris taking on writing responsibilities himself as he did for Dunkirk.

Tenet is set for a July release, and is being billed as the summer blockbuster to keep an eye on for 2020.

Release Date: 17 July, 2020


5. Soul

soul pixar best films movies 2020 pete docter jamie foxx tina fey Pixar Studios have two films set for release in 2020, but it is Soul which looks to be the more exciting prospect.

This one is directed by Pixar legend Pete Docter, director of Up and Inside Out and stars Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey. The great Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will team up once again to deliver the score.

Soul is classic high-concept Pixar storytelling. Foxx plays a jazz musician who suffers an accident which results in his soul being separated from his body and sent to "the great before". There he must race against time to be reunited with his body before it is too late.

Soul is aiming for a summer release, and looks set to be another great entry in the Pixar canon.

Release Date: 19 June, 2020


4. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

ghostbusters 3 three ivan jason reitman bill murray dan aykroyd paul rudd finn wolfhard carrie coon ernie hudson best films movies 2020 It is finally happening. We are finally getting a real sequel to the classic Ghostbusters films of the 1980s. We can now officially pretend that awful Paul Feig reboot never happened, because we have a real sequel and it looks good. It's just a shame they couldn't make it happen before the death of Harold Ramis.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife will be directed by the son of original filmmaker Ivan Reitman, and acclaimed filmmaker in his own right, Jason Reitman (Juno, The Frontrunner, Up in the Air).

The film follows a new cast of characters, starring Paul Rudd, McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard (of Stranger Things fame), and Carrie Coon as a family who stumble across their deceased Grandfather's (presumably Ramis' Egon) old ghost catching materials, and presumably hell literally breaks loose.

Ghostbusters releases this July, and I am very, very excited about it.

Release Date: 10 July, 2020


3. Mank

mank david fincher citizen kane herman mankiewicz gary oldman amanda seyfried lily collins best film movie 2020 If there is one thing Hollywood loves, it's films about films. Mank is a biopic of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, writer of Citizen Kane. This is the latest film of David Fincher and the big tentpole of Netflix's 2020 film lineup.

Mank will star Gary Oldman as the lead, with Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, and Charles Dance in supporting roles. This also marks another collaboration between Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the score (they're having a busy year!).

Release date is still TBA, but one would expect a release in the latter stages of the year for awards season. A film about films, and such a beloved film as Citizen Kane at that, is almost guaranteed success.

Release Date: TBA 2020


2. News of the World

news of the world tom hanks paul greengras best films movies 2020 News of the World sees director Paul Greengrass team up with Tom Hanks for the first time since Captain Phillips. This is based on the novel of the same name.

This historical drama sees Hanks play a Texan traveling across the wild west shortly after the end of the American Civil War, who agrees to return a kidnapped girl, Helena Zengel, to her family on the other side of the country, facing off against the tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces.

Greengrass co-writes the screenplay along with Luke Davies, seen mostly recently with the acclaimed Lion.

Release date is set for an awards-friendly Christmas day.

Release Date: 25 December, 2020


1. The French Dispatch

best films movies 2020 french dispatch wes anderson timothee chalamet benicio del toro adrien brody adrien brody frances mcdormand tilda swinton bill murray And finally we have the new film of Wes Anderson. French Dispatch is a love letter to journalism, set in the outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional French town in the mid 20th Century.

The cast features a typically well-stocked lineup of big names, including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Saoirse Ronan, and of course all the usual Wes Anderson collaborators such as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and many others.

Love him or hate him, a new film by Anderson is always worth seeing, for the style of filmmaking if nothing else. Anderson will be joined once again by long-time cinematographer and collaborator Robert Yeoman.

Release date is set for July 2020.

Release Date: 24 July, 2020



So there you have it folks: The 2020 Hot List. Chin up, things will get better, and the Hot List will return in 2021.








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