The first half of 2019 is officially done, so now it’s time to look forward. We still have another six months of movies ahead of us and there are plenty of exciting titles to look ahead. We have number of movies from some of the best filmmakers and biggest stars in the world, with some looking for Oscar glory. I couldn’t possibly name all the exciting movies coming out, so I am only going to name the cream of the crop, my ten most anticipated movies for the rest of 2019. This is an eclectic group of films, yet you can find me at every opening night screening for each and every one of these. Again, I was forced to leave some off, but these are the ones that could shake up
10 – JOKER (Todd Phillips, October 4)
- Color me intrigued. The idea of a Joker origin is an interesting one and with writer/director Todd Phillips wanting to give us a darker, grittier Joker set in a real world with practical effects, it sounds even more fascinating. The great Joaquin Phoenix plays our titular character and it is one that could cause some surprising Oscar buzz come the fall, as it is sure to be a performance Phoenix sinks his teeth into. This could be a disaster or it could be the surprise hit of the fall and the start of something great for DC.
9 – THE KITCHEN (Andrea Berloff, August 9)
- Andrea Berloff makes her directorial debut with The Kitchen, a gangster film looking at the wives of New York gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s who continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison. Sounds like the East Coast cousin of 2018’s Widows, and that’s a good thing. Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss (who is having one hell of a 2019), and Tiffany Haddish play the trio of wives carrying on the family business and Domhnall Gleeson, Common, Bill Camp, and Margot Martindale round out the cast. I’m excited to see McCarthy, Moss, and Haddish work together and see how their performances, particularly Haddish who hasn’t had a role like this yet in her growing career. This could be a surprise late-summer hit.
8 – PARASITE (Joon-ho Bong, October 11)
- Winner of the Palme d’or (best film) at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Parasite is one of the hottest titles on the festival circuit. The film looks at an unemployed family who become entangled in an incident after becoming interested in a wealthy neighboring family. Director Joon-ho Bong, known by most audiences for his excellent Snowpiercer, is said to have made a smart, twisted film that could be his best film to date. I am hit and miss on past Palme winners of this decade, but Parasite seems like one that will be a hit.
7 –FORD V FERRARI (James Mangold, November 15)
- James Mangold is a director who feels like he has been riding the cusp of greatness for almost two decades now. With films like Girl, Interrupted, Identity, 3:10 to Yuma, and Logan, Mangold is a director who has worked with a wide array of actors in a wide array of genres. Ford v Ferrari could be the film that puts Mangold over the edge and puts him on the awards trail. Starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari looks at American car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Bale) as they battle corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. The film looks gorgeous and promises strong performances and a great story. This could be a big Oscar player at the end of the year.
6 – AD ASTRA (James Gray, September 20)
- James Gray is one of the most underrated directors we have working today. Gray has dabbled in a lot of different genres, like adventure, crime, romance, and now he takes his talents to a new genre: sci-fi. Brad Pitt stars as an astronaut who travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. Gray’s films are visually stunning and thought-provoking and Ad Astra looks to be his biggest, most ambitious film to date.
5 – KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson, November 27)
- Say what you will about The Last Jedi (I love it), but Rian Johnson is one hell of a filmmaker. Rocking the independent world back in 2005 with Brick and flipping the time travel genre on its head in 2012 with Looper, Johnson knows how to make unique genre films with great visual flourishes. Johnson’s latest is a classic whodunnit, as a detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. Johnson got a stellar cast for this one, with Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, LaKeith Stanfield, and Christopher Plummer starring in what is arguably one of the best ensembles of the year. I love whodunnit films, I love Rian Johnson as a director, and I love this cast.
4 – GEMINI MAN (Ang Lee, October 4)
- Gemini Man is a movie that features two men in need of a smash in director Ang Lee and star Will Smith. I would argue that Lee hasn’t made a great film since Brokeback Mountain in 2005 (say what you will about Life of Pi, he didn’t deserve a Best Director Oscar for that mediocre movie) and Smith hasn’t been truly great since 2007’s I Am Legend, though he’s shown brief instances of brilliance in some less-than-mediocre movies. Gemini Man sounds like a metatextual film for Lee and Smith, as it looks at a hitman (Smith) who faces off against a younger clone of himself (Smith with some great de-aging technology). Both of these men were once great. Smith was the biggest star in the world and Lee was a prominent, Oscar winning director who challenged his audience and made audacious films. But have the two lost their touch? Have we pushed them to the side for younger artists inspired by what they did? Lee shot this film in 4k, 120 frames-per-second (like he did his last film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), an unprecedented way to make a film but one that pushes the limitations of the medium. Let’s see if Gemini Man can bring Lee and Smith back to where they used to be.
3 – ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD (Quentin Tarantino, July 26)
- Every time Tarantino makes a movie it’s an event. With the unique, endless dialog, fascinating characters, and stylized violence, nobody makes a movie like Tarantino, so you can’t help but get excited about his latest feature. Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood, the director’s ninth feature film, brings Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt to the big screen for the first time, as they play an aging movie-star (DiCaprio) and his stunt-double (Pitt) attempting to find fame in the final years of the Golden Age of Hollywood in 1969. What Tarantino has in store for us is a mystery. Along with DiCaprio and Pitt, the cast is incredible, with the likes of Margot Robbie, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, Damien Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Michael Madsen, and Al Pacino, and the film features multiple storylines, one including Charles Manson and his cult. Nobody makes movies quite like Tarantino, making them all the more exciting.
2 – THE IRISHMAN (Martin Scorsese, TBA)
- The biggest cinematic mystery of the year is Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic. All we’ve gotten so far is a couple of stills and a teaser trailer that didn’t show us anything. The movie stars cinema icons Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino (his first time working with Scorsese), Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel and tells the story of a mobster (DeNiro) who recalls his possible involvement in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Netflix gave Scorsese a large budget for this one ($140+ mil) and the film is going hard on the de-aging technology, as DeNiro, Pacino, and the rest of the legends are getting the treatment. Scorsese is my favorite director ever and I will be excited about anything he puts out, especially when he dives into the crime genre, but I’m particularly intrigued in The Irishman and seeing what Scorsese can do with Netflix’s freedom, a gigantic budget, and this new technology.
1 – STAR WARS: EPISODE IX – THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (JJ Abrams, December 20)
- Normally, any Martin Scorsese movie would be number one on any Most Anticipated list. But, there is one franchise that trumps Scorsese and that is Star Wars. This is a franchise near and dear to my heart, even with all their flaws. The Rise of Skywalker is the finale of the latest Star Wars trilogy and what is going to happen in this movie is a complete mystery. After the divisive response to The Last Jedi and the hiring of JJ Abrams as director, we have no idea what is in-store for us. Will the film redact The Last Jedi? Will Abrams continue the story from where Rian Johnson took it? What does the title even mean? Is Emperor Palpatine back? What is going to happen with Princess Leia now that Carrie Fischer is no longer with us? These are just basic questions and not even diving into the story and plot about Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, and the rest of the Resistance and New Order. In a year where we have already seen Avengers: Endgame and the finale of Game of Thrones, The Rise of Skywalker is yet another finale to a legendary franchise and series.
Follow Kevflix on Twitter and Instagram, @kevflix, and on Facebook by searching Kevflix.