2018 was a great year for movies. (Read about my favorites HERE.) So were 2017, 2016, and so on and so forth as far back as long as you care to look. I’m a big believer that every year has great movies if you look for them, and 2019 is shaping up to be another in an unbroken line. With that in mind, here are my 50 most anticipated movies of the upcoming year.
I don’t have a hard and fast criteria for what I include on this list. Maybe there’s an actor I like, or a filmmaker who hasn’t made a movie in years stages a triumphant return to the cineplex. Documentaries with interesting subjects may show up, and in many cases, a bonkers description is enough to pique my interest. Basically, every title on this list intrigues me in one way or another and I look forward to watching them all.
As much as possible, I keep them in chronological release order, or at least as close as I can find. Dates shift, studios delay titles, distributors position prestige titles for end-of-the-year awards consideration, and titles that debut at fests, like Sundance, may or may not come out this year. Even more will be pushed completely out of 2019—a few of these titles feel like they’ve been on the way forever, including a couple that have appeared on previous incarnations of this list.
As usual, some of these will be great, while others will be absolute dreck. That’s just how this always goes. At the end of the year, I inevitably look back and think, “Why was I excited for that awful thing?” I want every movie to be great, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t all get there. Still, considering the Herculean task of filmmaking, I’m amazed any movie exists.
Also as usual, I’m sure by the time December 2019 rolls around, my list of favorite movies of the year will include things I haven’t even heard of yet. That’s also how it goes. Either I miss things, fabulous new talents arise seemingly out of nowhere, or we get surprises from out of proverbial left field. It’s great, discovery is a huge part of why I love movies as much as I do. (I can already think of multiple films I forgot about and that I desperately want to see.)
If movies have taught us nothing, it’s that teens shouldn’t investigate weird cult murders in isolated settings. That never ends well. For proof, look no further than Kimo Stamboel’s adaptation of the popular, Indonesian-mythology-infused videogame DreadOut.
Buffalo Boys—January 11
I mean, it’s an Indonesian-set spin on a western narrative with badass action and martial arts choreography. Of course I’m excited for this movie.
Maybe I don’t love Split, and maybe I don’t love Unbreakable. (I do like them both.) But I’m here for the current Shyamalan-aissance, and I dig watching him work in this low-to-mid-budget genre range.
The Kid Who Would Be King—January 25
Two things about this movie. First, it’s been eight years since Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block, one of the best movies of the last decade. Two, this modernized Arthurian legend looks 100% like the kind of kid-centric high-adventure movie I adored as a child.
The last time Jake Gyllenhaal and writer/director Dan Gilroy teamed up, we got Nightcrawler. Let’s see if they can do it again in this art-world-set thriller.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile—Sundance
Casting Zac Efron as charismatic, Seattle-based serial killer Ted Bundy could either be inspired or a train wreck. Either way, it’s something I want to see.
“A washed-up musician teams up with a teacher and a kids show personality to protect young children from a sudden outbreak of zombies.” Because this stars Lupita Nyong’o I’ll overlook that it also stars Josh Gad.
Miss Bala—February 1
Gina Rodriguez as a badass action heroine caught up in the cartel wars, based on an awesome Mexican film of the same name? Please.
A24 releasing a gritty, down-and-dirty Australian biker thriller? Color me intrigued. A Prayer Before Dawn worked out well for them.
Cold Pursuit—February 8
Liam Neeson as a vengeful snowplow driver. I’ll say that again: Liam Neeson as a vengeful snowplow driver. Enough said. Also, his name is Nelson Coxman and the Norwegian original, In Order of Disappearance, is fantastic.
Lords of Chaos—February 8
In keeping with the chilly theme, comes this long-in-the-works dramatization of the murder, mayhem, and chaos surrounding the early-1990s Norwegian black metal scene. They may all be terrible racists and trash people in real life, but the story is too fascinating to pass up.
Happy Death Day 2U—February 14
I never expected Happy Death Day, a teen slasher take on Groundhog Day, to be one of the best horror movies of last year. But it’s a total delight, so I’m more than game for this sequel. If you need a romantic Valentine’s Day date…
Captain Marvel—March 8
Marvel finally, finally has a movie fronted by one of their female superheroes. And it’s set in the 1990s and stars Brie Larson. I am so on board with all of these things.
On the heels of Get Out, Jordan Peele returns with another horror joint. What else is there to know? (Oh, it also stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, Peele says he wants to create a “monster mythology” that’s “twisted and fun,” that trailer is great, and the more details that emerge, the better it sounds.)
I don’t know about this let’s-do-a-live-action-remake-of-a-beloved-animated-film trend, but based on the trailer for Tim Burton’s Dumbo, I’m going to have a good cry.
Captive State—March 29
A sci-fi thriller about an underground resistance opposing an oppressive alien presence that has obvious parallels to the current political climate. This is what sci-fi is for.
Pet Sematary—April 5
I love the original Pet Sematary, but I’m also way into the directors of Starry Eyes reworking the Stephen King classic. And John Lithgow takes on the Jud Crandall role. That rules.
High Life—April 12
Claire Denis is enough to hook me, but her latest is an esoteric, erotic, deep-space-set thriller with a great cast and apparently involves Robert Pattinson, babies, black hole, and semen. Color me very intrigued.
I'm admittedly pretty indifferent to a new Hellboy movie. What I am excited about, however, is a new Neil Marshall movie. Especially one where he gets to play with monsters and that costars Milla Jovovich and Ian McShane.
Under the Silver Lake—April 19
It Follows director David Robert Mitchell’s off-kilter neo-noir has been pushed back and delayed time and again. But we finally get to see it this year—for real, we think, probably—for good or ill.
The Curse of La Llorona—April 19
A horror film based on a spooky-as-hell Mexican folk tale, from the guy who will direct The Conjuring 3, starring Linda Cardellini. Please and thank you.
Avengers: Endgame—April 26
At this point, I’m on the hook for the MCU and I’m definitely curious to see how Marvel plans to wriggle their way out of that Avengers: Infinity War ending.
Detective Pikachu—May 10
John Wick: Chapter 3—May 17
John Wick is my favorite current action franchise—sorry Mission: Impossible—so I’m there from the word go. But there are also more dogs, Anjelica Huston, Halle Berry, Yayan Ruhian, Cecep Arif Rahman, and Tiger Chen this time around, just in case you worried about them upping the badass factor.
Ad Astra—May 24
I hate, hate, hate director James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, but a mysterious, space-set, sci-fi adventure starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, and Donald Sutherland is too much to resist.
Men in Black: International—June 14
Am I particularly excited for another Men in Black movie? No. But all the set photos of stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth make the shoot look like the best damn time, and hopefully that translates to the screen. Also, the surrounding cast is totally insane and I’ll watch the two leads to anything.
Admittedly, I don’t care for Nicolas Pesce’s The Eyes of My Mother. But I’ve often said, he certainly has the style if someone else supplied the substance, so maybe this Andrea Riseborough starring remake of an American remake of a Japanese horror will do the trick.
Toy Story 4—June 21
Spider-Man: Far from Home—July 5
If you make a Spider-Man movie, odd are, I’m going to watch it. Also, the last one was good.
The Lion King—July 29
The New Mutants—August 2
Tales of delays and reshoots haunt this teen mutant adventure, but the idea of a straight-up horror superhero movie is too good to pass up.
Hobbs and Shaw—August 2
I plan to spend most of this movie yelling about Han. Also, one of the guys behind John Wick is in the director’s chair, so the action should kick all kinds of ass.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood—August 9
Love him or hate him, a Quentin Tarantino movie is a cinematic happening.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark—August 9
I’ve never read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, so I don’t have the affection for the source material. But a horror movie produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Trollhunter’s Andre Ovredal, that’s too good to be true.
After shaking me to my bones with Hereditary, it’s time to see what Ari Aster has for his sophomore feature. And it stars Florence Pugh, who has quickly become an actor I’ll go out of my way to watch.
Angel Has Fallen—August 23
I hope Gerard Butler tells someone to go back to Fuckheadistan again.
It: Chapter Two—September 6
The first chapter of Stephen King’s beloved horror tome was awesome. Most of the team is back. Plus, the cast now includes Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jess Weixler, James Ransone, and more. Looks like we’re all going to float again.
A Joker origin story that sounds like it is at least inspired-by The Killing Joke? Sure, why the hell not? And come on, Joaquin Phoenix’s Clown Prince of Crime can’t be any worse than Jared Leto’s, can it?
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood—October 18
Weeping seems to be a common thread in this list, and a Mr. Rodgers biopic starring Tom Hanks is tailor made for uncontrollable theatrical sobbing.
Sure, the last few…haven’t been great. Still, if I ever get to the point where I’m not at least marginally excited for a Terminator movie, I’m probably dead. And Linda Hamilton is back, so…
Knives Out—November 27
Following up The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson returns to noir and mystery, and brings Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, and a ton more along for the ride. I’ll watch whatever Johnson does, but he’s put together maybe the best cast of the year to boot.
Star Wars: Episode 9—December 20
I will also always be excited for a Star Wars movie. Always. Especially because The Last Jedi is one of the best in the saga, even if I don’t love Solo.
I don’t know if it’ll be good, I don’t know if it’ll be bad, but a big screen adaptation of Cats starring Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen is sure to be some kind of spectacle to behold.
Prisoners of the Ghostland—2019
Madman Nicolas Cage teams up with lunatic Sion Sono for a movie that Cage calls maybe “the wildest movie I’ve ever made.” Sold. Sold. Sold one more time. And this is just one of many, many potentially awesome Nic Cage movies coming in the next calendar year. (See also: Prima, Running with the Devil, and basically any other film he appears in.)
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead.—2019
On the surface, this sounds like another rote family drama, but rest assured, in Ben Wheatley’s hands, we’re in for a twisted saga of family power dynamics, bleak comedy, and darkness we can’t yet foresee.
Following up his heavy metal horror romp, Deathgasm, Jason Lei Howden returns with Guns Akimbo, in which Daniel Radcliffe must fight strangers to the death in order to save his kidnapped girlfriend. Sounds like a hoot.
Girl With No Mouth—2019
Turkish director Can Evrenol makes straight-up nightmare fuel. Following on the heels of Baskin and Housewife, he returns with a movie about a gang of kids all missing body parts. Sounds perfect.
An alternate universe 1995 where a disease kills all adults and two gangs of rival punks throw down for survival, turf, and awesomeness. Count me 110% in.
“A boy receiving treatment for his auto-immune disorder discovers that the house he's living isn't as safe as he thought.” That’s not much to go on, but considering director Ciaran Foy (Sinister 2) directed Citadel, one of the most underrated and affecting horror movies of the last decade, it’s one I must see.
Body at Brighton Rock—2019
Before she remakes Night of the Comet, Southbound standout director Roxanne Benjamin will grace us with an indie horror thriller about a park ranger.
Following up Okja, Bong Joon-ho returns with Parasite, which, while still a bit shrouded, has a great cast and Bong Joon-ho at the helm. I’m sure it’s going to rule and be much stranger than the longline—a family where each member has “unique characteristics”—implies. My guess is superheroes or powers. Whatever it is plot wise, it’s a new movie from director Bong. That’s all I need to know.
Robert Eggers (The Witch) returns with a fantasy horror drama about early 20th century lighthouse keepers and sea-faring myths. One of the characters is just named Old and it stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Sign me up. Sounds like we may be in for some Lovecraftian shenanigans. (Also, Pattinson almost decked Eggers during filming, so that’s fun.)