Like many of you, we normally end the year with a backlog of films that we haven’t managed to catch. Whether that be due to life commitments, certain films not screening in our vicinity, or simply having too much choice – we never quite manage to satisfy our cinematic needs and desires. Our 2020 Big Film Preview trims the cinematic fat off, throws off the dead motion picture weight and focuses on the masterful high quality releases that you should prioritise on your filmic calendar for next year.
Waiting for the Barbicans
Cast: Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson.
Director: Ciro Guerra
Embrace of the Serpent’s Guerra directs this drama that sees a British magistrate begin to question his allegiances to the Empire.
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson
Director: Taika Waititi
The polarising responses to this film have only intrigued us further – with Taika Waititi’s wartime coming of age tale looking like one of the most talked about upcoming releases.
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Yvan Attal, Gabriel Sky, Anthony Mackie
Director: Benedict Andrews
French New Wave icon Jean Seberg becomes a target by the FBI in the 60s due to her involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal. This sounds like a fascinating little-known true life story.
Cast: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince
Director: Floria Sigismondi
This updated take on Henry James’ classic novella looks like a fresh, visceral update and with the excellent Mackenzie Davis leading, we’re massively anticipating this one.
Cast: Tara Westwood, Junko Bailey, David Lawrence Brown
Director: Nicolas Pesce
With Nicolas Pesce on-board – the filmmaker behind the bone-chilling Eyes of My Mother and unsettling Piercing – we are intrigued to see what he does with the established territory of The Grudge world.
A Hidden Life
Cast: August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon
Director: Terrence Malick
Malick’s first feature since 2017’s Song to Song hits cinemas early 2020 and follows the story of Austrian Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector, who refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II.
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeriia Karaman
Director: Robert Eggers
It seems like every country has had The Lighthouse other than the UK (down with country specific release dates!), but that has only built our anticipation for the latest feature from Eggers – the man behind The Witch.
Cast: Portia Doubleday, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale
Director: Jeff Wadlow
There isn’t a Ricardo Montalban in sight in this horror update of classic fantasy soap opera Fantasy Island. It looks grizzly exploitative fun that hits UK cinemas February.
Colour Out of Space
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Q’orianka Kilcher, Joely Richardson
Director: Richard Stanley
Nicolas Cage re-teams with the producers of Mandy for this visceral horror which follows the consequences of a town being hit by a meteorite.
The Invisible Man
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Director: Leigh Whannell
Leigh Whannell steers this intense Blumhouse version of Universal’s classic Invisible Man story. After the hugely misjudged Dark Universe attempt, it feels like the studio has got their head screwed on with this brutal update.
True History of the Kelly Gang
Cast: George MacKay, Essie Davis, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Justin Kurzel
An all star cast assemble in the blisteringly visceral trailer for True History of the Kelly Gang from Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth). This Australian western sees outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang flee from the authorities in the 1870s.
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
A stormy reunion between a daughter and her actress mother, Catherine, against the backdrop of Catherine’s latest role in a sci-fi picture as a mother who never grows old.
No Time To Die
Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
Cast: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas
Director: Scott Cooper
Based on the story “The Quiet Boy”, written by Nick Antosca, Antlers sees a small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, become entwined with a young student harbouring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences
Cast: Janelle Monáe
Director: Christopher Renz and Gerard Bush
Janelle Monáe and Southern Gothic horror? It sounds like a match made in heaven. The singer-songwriter and actress teams-up with Christopher Renz and Gerard Bush for Antebellum, a horror from Lionsgate, which hits cinemas on April 24th.
Cast: Jennifer Ehle and Morfydd Clark
Director: Rose Glass
This British horror, written and directed by Rose Glass, stars Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle. The official synopsis notes:
“Saint Maud is a chilling and boldly original vision of faith, madness, and salvation in a fallen world. Maud, a newly devout hospice nurse, becomes obsessed with saving her dying patient’s soul — but sinister forces, and her own sinful past, threaten to put an end to her holy calling.” The trailer promises a hugely intense watch which looks set to assert Glass as a filmmaker to watch out for. The casting of the ever fantastic Jennifer Ehle is also another massive draw for us and this looks like a deliciously grizzly two-hander between her and Morfydd Clark.
Woman in the Window
Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Amy Adams, Gary Oldman
Director: Joe Wright
We’re getting a Rear Window tease from this story of an agoraphobic woman living alone in New York who begins spying on her new neighbours, only to witness a disturbing act of violence.
New Saw Film
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols, Chris Rock
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Darren Lynn Bousman returns to the world of Saw for this fresh take on the long-running horror series which has been co-written by Chris Rock and stars Samuel L. Jackson. This one hits cinemas May 2020.
Wonder Woman 1984
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig
Director: Patty Jenkins
Wonder Woman gets a gleefully jolt of neon-tinged glamour in this eighties set sequel. This will undoubtedly capture some of the fun of its predecessor.
Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tony Todd, Teyonah Parris
Director: Nia DaCosta
A “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror film ‘Candyman’ that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighbourhood where the legend began.
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Leroy McClain, Forest Whitaker
Director: Liesl Tommy
Aretha Franklin’s life-story gets the big screen musical treatment in Respect.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Julian Hilliard
Director: Michael Chaves
With Farmiga and Wilson back on-board to lead the third straight Conjuring film, we’re excited for the Conjuring universe to get back on track after a slight dip in quality after The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona.
The King’s Man
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Ralph Fiennes, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Matthew Vaughn delivers the third film in The Kingsman series, one which actually serves as a prequel to his previous two. With the charismatic Harris Dickinson in the lead role, what is not to like?
Death on the Nile
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Following the enjoyable Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh reprises his role as Poirot for this tale of a murder of a young heiress on the Nile.
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Kyle Richards
Director: David Gordon Green
2018’s Halloween was an absolute triumph in our eyes that got the series back to where it should be – as the foremost long-running horror series. The fact that we are getting not one by two sequels to it fills us with sheer delight!
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Octavia Spencer
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel gets its second big screen outing. The story tells of a young boy who inadvertently ends up in a hotel filled with witches when vacationing with his grandmother. Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch will be fulfilling our gay fantasies.
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.
A Rainy Day in New York
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Liev Schreiber
Director: Woody Allen
Woody Allen’s as yet unreleased 2019 film sees a young couple arrive in New York for a weekend where they are met with bad weather and a series of adventures and misadventures.
Cast: Louis Garrel, Christoph Waltz, Wallace Shawn
Director: Woody Allen
Plot details are currently under-wraps for Allen’s Rifkin’s Festival which is filmed in Spain and stars Christoph Waltz.
An Officer and a Spy
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel, Emmanuelle Seigner
Director: Roman Polanski
In 1894, French Captain Alfred Dreyfus is wrongfully convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil’s island. Polanski’s latest saw him win the Grand Jury Prize in Venice.
Cast: Jude Law and Carrie Coon
Director: Sean Durkin
Life for an entrepreneur and his American family begin to take a twisted turn after moving into an English country manor. Premiering at Sundance 2020.
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Susse Wold, Maria Bonnevie
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Danish auteur Vinterberg re-teams with the country’s finest export Mads Mikkelsen for this new drama. The premise has us intrigued as it notes four teachers decide to embark on an experiment where they each sustain a certain level of alcohol intoxication during their everyday life, believing that all people in general would benefit from a bit higher Blood Alcohol Content. As a result, their working experiences are turned upside down.
Cast: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Nick Jonas
Director: Doug Liman
A dystopian world where there are no women and all living creatures can hear each others’ thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise. No women? Guess Nick and Tom are going to have to try to reproduce for the sake of humanity.
Cast: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Melvil Poupaud, Isabelle Nanty
Director: François Ozon
Ozon directs this coming of age tale set in 1980s Normandy.
Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Béatrice Dalle, Mica Arganaraz
Director: Gaspar Noé
Two actresses, Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg, are on a film set telling stories about witches – but that’s not all. ‘Lux Æterna’ is also an essay on cinema, the love of film, and on-set hysterics.
The Sound of Philadelphia
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Maika Monroe, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ryan Phillippe
Director: Jérémie Guez
A grieving brother turns to his family’s criminal connections to seek revenge against the person who killed his sister. Ryan and Matthias in the same film? Crushes collide!
Boys in the Band
Cast: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer
Director: Joe Mantello
A group of gay men who gather in a NYC apartment for a friend’s birthday party. After the drinks are poured and the music turned up, the evening slowly exposes the fault lines beneath their friendships and the self-inflicted heartache that threatens their solidarity.
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Viggo Mortensen, Hannah Gross
Director: Viggo Mortensen
A conservative father moves from his rural farm to live with his gay son’s family in Los Angeles. A lead role for Henriksen in 2020 in a high profile project is something we did not necessarily think we’d see, but we’re happy it’s coming.
Cast: Awkwafina, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep
Director: Ryan Murphy
A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theatre stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom.
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Logan Lerman, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Josephine Decker
A famous horror writer finds inspiration for her next book after she and her husband take in a young couple. Moss as Shirley Jackson is divine casting so we cannot wait to see how this one turns out.
Cast: Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Vanessa Bayer
Director: Tara Miele
Sienna Miller leads this thriller which sees new parents forced to confront a trauma from their past. This makes its Sundance premiere next month.
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Sarah Gadon, Christopher Abbott
Director: Lawrence Michael Levine
Black Bear is a suspenseful meta-drama. An expecting couple (Sarah Gadon & Christopher Abbott) is confronted with an out of town guest Abigail (Plaza), a filmmaker suffering from writer’s block who seeks solace in the woods but finds herself at the centre of a twisted love triangle.
Four Good Days
Cast: Mila Kunis, Glenn Close, Stephen Root
Director: Rodrigo García
This drama sees a mother help her daughter through substance abuse. It’s set to be a gritty character drama allowing for excellent performances from Kunis and Close.
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, Timothy Hutton
Director: Julie Taymor
A feature film based on feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s best selling memoir, My Life on the Road, telling the story of her itinerant childhood’s influence on her life as a writer, activist and organiser for women’s rights worldwide.
The Last Thing We Wanted
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Ben Affleck, Anne Hathaway
Director: Dee Rees
A veteran D.C. journalist loses the thread of her own narrative when a guilt-propelled errand for her father thrusts her from byline to unwitting subject in the very story she’s trying to break. Adapted from Joan Didion’s namesake novel.
Cast: Imelda Staunton, Carla Juri, Alec Secareanu
Director: Romola Garai
Another Sundance midnight horror that has caught our eye is Amulet which sees a homeless soldier offered a place to stay in a decaying house with a young woman and her ill mother. Obviously strange things begin to happen. This stars Gods Own Country’s Alec Secareanu and screen icon Imelda Staunton.
The Night House
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis-Hall
Director: David Bruckner
Rebecca Hall leads The Night House which follows a widow beginning to uncover her recently deceased husband’s disturbing secrets.
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Usher and Tom Wilkinson
Director: Andrew Heckler
February 28th 2020 sees the release of Sundance Audience Award winner Burden. The project stars Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Usher and Tom Wilkinson and pairs them with writer-director Andrew Heckler on his debut feature.
Sound of Metal
Cast: Olivia Cooke, Riz Ahmed, Lauren Ridloff
Director: Darius Marder
Riz Ahmed and masterful sound design seem to be the stars of Sound of Metal which sees a heavy metal drummer find his life in freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Valerie Mahaffey
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Not a French version of Brexit, but a drama that sees Pfeiffer as an ageing Manhattan socialite living on what’s barely left of her inheritance who moves to a small apartment in Paris with her son and cat. We’re always on board for more Michelle Pfeiffer lead roles.
Cast: Corey Hawkins, Christoph Waltz, Annette Bening
Director: Christoph Waltz
Early reviews for Christoph Waltz’s debut directorial feature film have been somewhat positive as he directs the story of ambitious social climber who marries a wealthy widow in Washington D.C. in order to mix with powerful political players.
Cast: Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans
Director: Todd Stephens
That cast is a dream. Dynasty icon Linda Evans? Cult cinema God Udo? Jennifer Coolidge, one of the most impressive comic actors of her generation? Filming completed in August 2019 for this tale of a flamboyant small town hairdresser.
Prisoners of Ghostland
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Imogen Poots
Director: Sion Sono
Nicolas Cage is at his best when the vehicle he is starring in is as mad as his performance – that seems to be the case with Prisoners of Ghostland. Cage plays a notorious criminal must break an evil curse in order to rescue an abducted girl who has mysteriously disappeared.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Vincent D’Onofrio, Andrew Garfield
Director: Michael Showalter
Televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker is a camp icon (just check out the documentary of the same name as the upcoming biopic) and its a delight to see her life story getting the big screen treatment. The film will see Chastain star as Tammy Faye and focus on she and her husband seeking redemption after their religious empire and marriage crumbles.
Cast: Katheryn Winnick, Heather Graham, Tommy Lee Jones
Director: April Mullen
After getting hired to probe a suspicious death in the small town of Wander, a mentally unstable private investigator (Jones) becomes convinced the case is linked to the same ‘conspiracy cover up’ that caused the death of his daughter. Tommy Lee Jones hasn’t lead a serious drama for some time so we’re excited to see him take on his first lead role since The Homesman.
Cast: Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Possessor follows an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies – ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients.
Cast: Mel Gibson, Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts
Director: Joe Carnahan
A retired special forces officer is trapped in a never ending time loop on the day of his death. Here we see Gibson back where he belongs – front and centre of an action flick.
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Alexander Skarsgard
Director: Robert Eggers
Eggers’ earthy and visceral style is the perfect aesthetic for this Viking revenge saga set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century. Plus Nicole Kidman and vikings, that’s something we need in our lives.