The Notable Films Of 2019: T-Z
In this sixth and final volume of DH’s yearly film preview guide we farewell a loud-mouthed matriarch, take another look at Australia’s most famous outlaw, engage in some more zombie fun, revisit Buzz and Woody, deal with the latest version of the T-800, and watch five hunks hunt a Paraguayan drug lord.
There’s also a tattooed up Shia LaBeouf, an imprisoned Jack O’Connell, a very dramatic Adam Sandler, a tripping balls Andrew Garfield, a grumpy Robert DeNiro, an in love Lucas Hedges, a shorn and submerged Kristen Stewart, a telepathic Taraji P. Henson, an agoraphobic Amy Adams, and a bartending Armie Hammer.
This last volume runs from titles beginning with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y & Z. Here’s the list:
“The Tax Collector”
“Suicide Squad” and “Fury” director David Ayer pens and helms this action thriller starring Shia LaBeouf and Bobby Soto and shot over the Summer in Los Angeles. Returning the helmer to the genre he made his name on with the likes of “Harsh Times” and “Street Kings,” this also marks potentially something of a comeback for its star Shia LaBeouf who dons many tattoos and appears near unrecognisable in the first photos from the film. Nothing is really known about the story, but Bobby Soto, George Lopez and a mostly latino cast populate the crime drama which Ayer shot before getting to work on the “Bright” sequel.
It’s hard to remember but “Terminator Genisys” was truly terrible, so bad it made its pretty bad two immediate predecessors look good, so trepidation remains high regarding another movie in this franchise. Yet here we have something different, one that’s following the template of last year’s “Halloween” and ignoring everything post-T2. James Cameron has regained the rights to the series and here returns as producer with “Deadpool” helmer Tim Miller directing and not just Arnold Schwarzenegger but Linda Hamilton also coming back as well. Gabriel Luna is the new Terminator while Mackenzie Davis will play the young lead who is reportedly being setup as a potential main character moving forward if talk of a proposed new trilogy comes to fruition. They have to wait and see how this performs first when it opens in early November.
“Them That Follow”
One of the biggest titles in competition at Sundance this year is this drama about faith stretched to breaking point in one of the more obscure and misunderstood theological communities on the planet. Set in the rugged wilderness of Appalachia where members of an isolated sect of Pentecostal snake handlers risk their lives to attest themselves before God. The daughter (Alice Englert) of the community’s Pastor leader (Walton Goggins) has a secret that could drive her father’s church to ruin and is betrothed to a young believer. Olivia Colman leads the cast, while the project hails from writer Britt Poulton (“Profile”) making her directorial debut alongside Dan Madison Savage.
“Then Came You”
Not to be confused with that other ‘young and sick and in love’ film “Five Feet Apart” also opening this year, this one sees “Ender’s Game” and “Hugo” actor Asa Butterfield as a hypochondriac working as an airport baggage handler who is forced to confront his fears when a British teenager (“Game of Thrones” fan fave Maisie Williams) with a terminal illness enlists him to help her carry out her eccentric bucket list. Nina Dobrev, Tyler Hoechlin, Peyton List, Ken Jeong and Tituss Burgess co-star in the feel-good dramedy opening next month.
“Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy returns with this more family-friendly live-action adventure tale in which an eleven-year-old boy who believes that he is the best detective in town and runs the agency Total Failures with his best friend, an imaginary 1,200 pound polar bear. Based on the popular children’s book series and shot in Portland last summer, it’s highly likely this will be an early title for the Disney+ streaming service.
Author biopics aren’t quite the rage like musician biopics are, and the recent “Rebel in the Rye” starring Nicholas Hoult as J.D. Salinger famously proved a dud critically and commercially. That hasn’t stopped Hoult from trying again, this time playing the younger incarnation of “The Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien for this period drama. The story explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love (Lily Collins plays his love interest) and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. The Great War begins, threatening to tear the ‘fellowship’ apart and all of these experiences inspire Tolkien to write his famous novels. Fox Searchlight is releasing the film in May suggesting they think this will be much more of a commercial play than an awards one.
“Toy Story 4”
With the third film considered a perfect trilogy capper, the idea of another tale in the “Toy Story” universe seems redundant. Nevertheless Pixar greenlit it, even as the film ran into trouble right away first with writer departures and then John Lasseter’s fall from grace. Ultimately Josh Cooley directs and Stephany Folsom pens this new film in which the toys are now living with Bonnie Anderson and are introduced to Forky (Tony Hale), a spork that has been made into a toy. They then all embark on a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends. People are a bit sceptical about this one, but there’s voice cameos from Keanu Reeves, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, Michael Keaton and Key and Peele, along with both Tom Hanks and Tim Allen promising the ending is the most emotional one yet – here’s hoping the series’ impeccable track record continues.
“Trial by Fire”
Launched at Telluride last year to divisive reviews, it’s not clear what the release plans are for this topical drama from “The Last Samurai” and “The Siege” director Ed Zwick and based on David Grann’s famed New Yorker article. Jack O’Connell stars as an uneducated heavy metal devotee with a violent streak and has been convicted of triple homicide in the arson deaths of his three small children. Laura Dern plays a Texas housewife who forms an unlikely bond with him and against staggering odds she fights for his freedom on the basis he was wrongly convicted (and evidence and expert testimony that helped his case were suppressed). Timing will be critical to its success.
Taking a decade to get into production, what was once going to be a Kathryn Bigelow-directed vehicle with basically every actor under the sun attached at one time or another (including Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Mahershala Ali, Tom Hardy, Channing Tatum, etc.) ultimately has turned into something leaner, meaner and very commercial despite the fact Netflix is the one who came swooping in and got the film going after the studios gave up. Mark Boal (“Zero Dark Thirty”) penned and J.C. Chandor (“All is Lost,” “A Most Violent Year”) helms the film in which Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal star as five ex-special ops types who set out to rob one of the world’s most violent drug cartels in the infamous border zone near the Iguazu Falls. Some have not unfairly called it “Ghost Recon: Wildlands” the movie, and ultimately it could be the streamer’s biggest post-“Bird Box” success story.
“Dance Camp” helmers Bert & Bertie return with this Sundance entry set in rural 1977 Georgia where a misfit girl recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime and beyond, so as to win a competition to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record which will be sent off into space. Allison Janney and Viola Davis lead the cast which also includes Mckenna Grace, Jim Gaffigan and Mike Epps while the story hails from playwright Lucy Alibar whose work “Juicy and Delicious” became the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. Amazon Studios has already set a release for just two weeks after its Sundance bow, so it’s going to count on those good reviews.
“The True History Of The Kelly Gang”
No-one is quite sure what happened with “Assassin’s Creed,” but however you felt about the film there’s no denying Aussie filmmaker Justin Kurzel (“Macbeth,” “Snowtown”) is one to keep an eye on. Here he returns home to offer the latest film version of the story of legendary Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. Kelly has been the subject of many films, from the very first feature in existence back in 1906, to Gregor Jordan’s 2003 film starring Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and Naomi Watts. This version however is using Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel as the basis of its story and has managed to snag a hell of an impressive cast including George Mackay, Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult, Charlie Hunnam, Dacre Montgomery, Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis. Already shot last year, this is easily the biggest Australian film of 2019 and expect great things.
With his “Shoplifters” being the Palme d’Or-winning toast of Cannes last year and a likely major contender for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar, along with being a global hit, a lot of eyes are on Hirokazu Kore-eda and his next feature which will be coming sooner rather than later. Currently in production, “The Truth” is his first international film which boasts an impressive cast for its France-set tale including Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, Ethan Hawke and Ludivine Sagnier. The story follows a married couple returning to France from the U.S. when the woman’s mother, a famous French actress, publishes her controversial autobiography. It’s unlikely this will be ready in time for Cannes this year, but a high profile Fall film bow seems highly likely.
A new take on Henry James’ classic gothic chiller novel “The Turn of the Screw” which was previously adapted for the screen to great acclaim with “The Innocents”. Once a passion project for Steven Spielberg, the master filmmaker was reportedly on hand on set in Ireland for at least some of the shoot. The film has ultimately ended up in the hands of “The Runaways” director Floria Sigismondi who has made her name handling episodes of shows like “Daredevil,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “American Gods” in recent years. Jade Bartlett penned this adaptation of the story of a young woman (Mackenzie Davis) hired to nanny two orphans (Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince) and becomes convinced that the old country mansion they live in is haunted by a ghost. Universal could turn it into a horror hit if it handles its release right.
“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral”
Following eleven films over fourteen years in which he’s played the part, Tyler Perry is retiring his iconic character of Madea with this farewell feature which was actually shot over two years ago and is now being shuffled out. In the film, a joyous family reunion turns into a nightmare as Madea and the crew travel to backwoods Georgia and unexpectedly plan a funeral which threatens to reveal sordid family secrets. Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely and KJ Smith co-star.
Delivering one of 2017’s best films with the high energy crime drama “Good Time,” excitement is high for Josh and Benny Safdie’s return which this time boasts Martin Scorsese as a producer and Darius Khondji as the cinematographer. Probably even more so than “Punch Drunk Love,” this will be Adam Sandler’s biggest acting departure to date in a story set around New York’s Diamond District and dealing with a high stakes crime. Sandler’s supporting cast is stellar – Lakeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, Judd Hirsch, Eric Bogosian, Pom Klementieff and musicians like The Weeknd and Trinidad James. A24 will release the film theatrically with Netflix handling the release around the rest of the world.
“Under the Silver Lake”
After multiple delays, “It Follows” director David Robert Mitchell’s follow-up film starring Andrew Garfield is finally coming to the U.S. in April after having opened in many other countries in 2018 to very average reviews which praised Garfield’s performance and the film’s technical flourishes but dismissed the script for its lack of depth and substance. Shot back in 2016, the former Spider-Man plays a young man who sets out on a quest to investigate the sudden disappearance of his neighbour (Riley Keough), only to stumble upon an elusive and dangerous large-scale conspiracy. Topher Grace, Jimmi Simpson and Callie Hernandez co-star in the film which runs a longer than expected 140 minutes but god bless A24 who’re sticking behind it nonetheless.
One of the most under wraps films of this year, and not just because disgraced comedian T.J. Miller is the male lead, this $65 million action adventure has been dubbed “The Abyss meets Aliens” and follows a crew of underwater researchers who must scramble to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory. Most interesting is that Kristen Stewart leads the cast and, combined with the reboot of “Charlie’s Angels,” marks a welcome move by the actress into more mainstream action fare. William Eubank, who helmed the underseen sci-fi tale “The Signal,” directs the film which also stars Vincent Cassel and John Gallagher Jr. and has yet to set a release date.
“Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Project”
When “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting” director Danny Boyle dropped out of helming the next James Bond film over creative differences, he immediately jumped onboard this musical – his first effort in the genre. Boasting a script by British institution Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”), the story is set in the 1960s and 1970s follows a struggling musician (Himesh Patel) who thinks he’s the only person on Earth who can remember the music of The Beatles. Cue what could essentially be an “Across The Universe” remake but without the surrealist imagery. Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ana de Armas and yes Ed Sheeran co-star in the film which is targeting an early Fall release.
“Untitled Drake Doremus Project”
While 2011’s “Like/Crazy” was a breakthrough film for him, Drake Doremus’ follow-up romantic dramas from “Breathe In” to “Equals” to “Newness” and “Zoe” have all scored mixed to outright bad reviews and rather terrible box-office. Nevertheless he keeps trying and this time enlists Shailene Woodley to star as a thirtysomething woman in present-day Los Angeles who navigates love and heartbreak over the course of one year – in the process unlocking the secrets to her life in a sudden turn of events. Sebastian Stan, Jamie Dornan and Matthew Gray Gubler co-star in the film which only began shooting in the Fall so probably won’t hit until late next year.
“Untitled Miranda July Project”
Only her third film following 2005’s “Me and You and Everyone We Know” and 2011’s “The Future,” author and artist Miranda July returns with a caper tale in which family of amateur con artists invites an outsider to be involved in their biggest heist to date. July, coming off a supporting role in “Madeline’s Madeline,” has enlisted Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Gina Rodriguez for her shenanigans with Annapurna set to release it later this year.
“Untitled Noah Baumbach Project”
Having made the jump to Netflix with “The Meyerowitz Stories,” art house filmmaker Noah Baumbach quickly closed a deal for his next film just weeks after that one’s launch. Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta and Merrit Wever co-star in the film which he’s keeping secret as per usual though storywise is said to revolve around the divorce of a young couple (Driver, Johansson) who end up in a court battle and one-up themselves. Sounds essentially like a far more grounded and dramatic “The War of the Roses”. Expect a festival launch bar the usual issues that fests have with streaming service films.
When your directorial debut is not only a critical and commercial smash, but makes the nomination list for Best Picture at the Oscars, you can bet filmmaker Jordan Peele was feeling the pressure on his follow-up. Now he finally delivers with this horror tale that looks like a mash of “The Strangers” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. The story follows Adelaide and Gabe Wilson (“Black Panther” pair Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) as they take their kids to Adelaide’s old childhood beachside home in Northern California for the summer. After a day at the beach with the neighbors, Adelaide – who’s haunted by a lingering trauma from her past – becomes increasingly more paranoid that something bad will happen to her family. As night falls, the Wilsons see four figures holding hands and standing silently at the bottom of their driveway – figures that are uncanny copies of them looks wise.
MGM’s new film adaptation of the musical based on the 1983 film about a pair of young Californian lovers from different backgrounds who defy their parents and friends to stay together. Jessica Rothe, Josh Whitehouse, Mae Whitman, Peyton List and Chloe Bennet star in the project, but it’s the presence of controversial YouTube star Logan Paul that has caused the film to be shelved with still no known release date. Rachel Lee Goldenberg, who helmed that downright odd Will Ferrell-Kristen Wiig Lifetime telemovie “A Deadly Adoption,” directs the project.
“Valley of the Gods”
Polish helmer Lech Majewski (“The Mill and the Cross”) helms this new fantasy drama which stars Josh Hartnett and John Malkovich in the story of a reclusive trillionaire who has the ability to alter reality, and his would-be biographer. The film follows three storylines that tie into Navajo legend, specifically the Hittite legend of Ullikummi. John Rhys-Davies, Charlotte Rampling, and Berenice Marlohe co-star in the film which was shot back in 2016 but has taken a long time due to the low budget and extensive effects work required.
Set to premiere at Sundance in January ahead of a Netflix release in February, this $21 million drama sees the re-teaming of “Nightcrawler” writer/director Dan Gilroy and that film’s stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. This will be slightly more of a black comedy/horror sojourn though, one set in the world of contemporary art in Los Angeles and said to be very much an ensemble piece. In the film, a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered and a brutal supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art. Zawe Ashton, Natalia Dyer, Tom Sturridge, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Billy Magnussen co-star.
Darkly comedic thriller in which Bill Skarsgard and Maika Monroe play a pair of amateur criminals who break into a suburban home, and stumble upon a dark secret that two sadistic homeowners (Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick) want to keep quiet. Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s script for the film made the Black List in 2016 and it has already been selected for this year’s South by Southwest film festival.
“Waiting for the Barbarians”
The newest film from “Embrace of the Serpent” and “Birds of Passage” filmmaker Ciro Guerra is an adaptation of this celebrated post-colonialism themed novel by J. M. Coetzee (and not the Philip Glass opera also based on the work). The story is set in a tiny frontier settlement where a loyal servant of the Empire witnesses its cruelty and commits an act of rebellion. What is known is that it’ll be his first with a major cast including Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson, Mark Rylance and Joe Alwyn.
“The War with Grandpa”
“Hop” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” director Tim Hill has somehow talked Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour into this family comedy about a boy who has been forced to give up his room to his grandfather (De Niro) and so devises a series of outrageous pranks in an attempt to make him move out – but Grandpa doesn’t give up easily. Rob Riggle and Cheech Marin also star in the project which is was both produced by MoviePass Films and got caught up in The Weinstein Company collapse which has led to it being delayed at least a full year from its initially planned Easter 2018 release.
Lucas Hedges, Sterling K. Brown and Taylor Russell star in this new romance drama about two teenage couples navigating the emotional minefield of falling in love, a project that hails from “Krisha” and “It Comes At Night” director Trey Edward Shults. The project is described as an “energetic, affecting anthem” which will be almost entirely synchronized to music, along with blending iconic contemporary songs with an original score. However, it will NOT be a musical. Like with Shults’ previous two films, A24 will distribute.
“We Have Always Lived in the Castle”
Following her debut with 2013’s “Concussion,” filmmaker Stacie Passon has subsequently been doing TV work but now finally returns with this adaptation of “The Haunting of Hill House” author Shirley Jackson’s novel. The story follows reclusive New England sisters (Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario) caught off-guard by the arrival of cousin Charles (Sebastian Stan) who plans to steal the family fortune. The film premiered at the L.A. Film Fest last Fall to solid but not particularly special reviews.
Seven years ago the indie fantasy tale “Beasts Of The Southern Wild” was the toast of Sundance and had a brief awards run before it quickly vanished from the conversation. Now, finally, filmmaker Benh Zeitlin is back with this story of a young girl who is kidnapped and taken to a mysterious island with pollen that stops the ageing process. There, she and another child from a different world fight to maintain their grip on freedom and joy. Much like his first film, it’s a cast of unknowns dealing in a story that’s a part portent of ecological disaster and part realism-drenched magical fantasy. Fox Searchlight has the film and will likely give it a splashy premiere at a festival in the near future.
“What Men Want”
Adam Shankman takes Nancy Meyers’ 2000 comedy “What Women Want” starring Mel Gibson and remakes it, but with a gender swap. In this case it’s a woman, “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson as a successful sports agent, who is the one who gains the ability to hear men’s inner thoughts following her drinking a potent concoction given to her by a shaman. Previously boxed out by her male colleagues and overdue for a well-deserved promotion, her new ability sees her racing to outsmart her colleagues and sign the next basketball superstar – but the lengths she has to go to will put her relationship with her best friends and a potential love interest to the test. Aldis Hodge, Tracy Morgan, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Max Greenfield, Kellan Lutz, Pete Davidson and a host of other names co-star in the film which is already projected to score a solid opening in early February.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”
Richard Linklater’s new comedy-drama film adapts Maria Semple’s novel which follows the lives of one family after the odd disappearance of the agoraphobic architect, wife, and mother Bernadette Fox right before a holiday to Antarctica. Bee, Bernadette’s 15-year-old daughter, tries to piece together what happened to her. The project is seemingly aiming for more of a commercial than awards play despite the involvement of producers/distributor Annapurna, the film nevertheless is well stocked with actors including Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristin Wiig, Judy Greer and Laurence Fishburne. The film’s been delayed three times now, well over a year, suggesting it’s going to be a difficult sell.
“The Woman in the Window”
Acclaimed playwright and actor Tracy Letts teams with filmmaker Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Darkest Hour”) for this adaptation of A.J. Finn’s thriller novel. The “Rear Window”-esque story stars Amy Adams as an agoraphobic child psychologist who witnesses a crime while spying on her neighbors (Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman), leaving her to determine whether to alert the police. Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry and Anthony Mackie co-star in the film which boasts a Reznor/Ross score and looks set to scratch the itch of those “Gone Girl,” “Girl on the Train” and “Sharp Objects” fans.
One of the more impressive horror debut films of recent years was Babak Anvari’s Iran-set “Under The Shadow” which showcased a promising new talent. Now, with the help of Annapurna, he’s following that up with this film which debuts at Sundance ahead of a late March release. The story follows a New Orleans bartender (Armie Hammer) whose life begins to unravel after a series of disturbing and inexplicable events following his picking up of a phone left behind at his bar. Dakota Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Karl Glusman and Brad William Henke co-star in this adaptation of Nathan Ballingrad’s novella “The Visible Filth” and it appears as if Anvari isn’t straying too far outside of what worked for him the first time.
Acclaimed actor Idris Elba’s directorial debut, which was released in the UK to very mediocre reviews back in August, is set in 1970s Kingston in Jamaica and 1980s Hackney. Former “Sense8” star Aml Ameen plays a young Jamaican man named D who has never fully recovered from the murder, committed during his childhood, of his older brother Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary). D grows up under the wing of a Kingston Don and music producer named King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd). Fox dispatches him to London, where he reconnects with his childhood sweetheart, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), and his daughter whom he’s not seen since she was a baby. He also encounters the man who shot his brother and embarks on a bloody, explosive quest for retribution.
An adaptation of David Kushner’s Rolling Stone piece about a Twitter thread chronicling a stripper’s wild road trip to Florida that was to be directed by James Franco, and ended up in the hands of Janicza Bravo (“Lemon”). Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo and Jason Mitchell will co-star in the project which could be one of the wilder films of the year.
A decade on since the zombie comedy hit, the original team including the film’s director Ruben Fleischer, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (who’ve since gone on to pen “Deadpool”), and four key stars (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin) are all reuniting for this follow-up which completed its script last year and came together with filming about to kick off ahead of an October release. Zoey Deutch and Avan Jogia are joining them this time out, while “Ghostbusters” stars Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd are also onboard playing themselves.
ALSO COMING IN 2019
“The Tracker,” “UglyDolls,” “The Upside,” “Viena and the Fantomes,” “The White Crow,” “Wish Dragon,” “Wonder Park,” “Zeroville”
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