Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all that stuff is fine. But for many of us, we get just a bit excited looking at the upcoming movie schedule. Most production companies save what they think are their best, juiciest movies for release at the end of the year — or even Christmas Day — so they’re in everybody’s mind before awards season.
There are going to be a lot of things going on, from war movies to sequels to intense dramas geared specifically for Oscar/Golden Globe nominations: Little Women (for the 8th time), Cats (yes, the musical, directed by Tom Hooper who directed Les Miserables), Frozen II, 1917 (directed by Sam Mendes, who directed two Bond movies, Road to Perdition and American Beauty), a racecar movie with Christian Bale and Matt Damon, a sequel to Disney’s Maleficent and even a sequel to the classic The Shining. And we always hope there will be a couple surprises pop up, because we know at least a couple of those movies we anticipate will disappoint.
This week we’re sharing our top four personal picks for movies we’re starting to get anxious to see. Your popcorn mileage may vary.
These are Jeston’s picks, and he also likes to speculate what impact the movies may have on the filmmaking world.
- Jojo Rabbit — 1997’s Life is Beautiful showed that even the Holocaust could be the subject of a comedy-drama; Jojo Rabbit is about a young boy in Hitler’s army who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl. “It’s definitely not a good time to be a Nazi.”
I really enjoy Taika Watiti’s directing style. Between Thor: Ragnarok and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, he has a unique way with comedy that has really captured my attention. This also touches on my love for historical fiction. I think this will spark some dialogue about its content, but it will necessarily have an impact on the art of filmmaking. [The director plays Hitler, who has imaginary conversations with the boy. BTW, Scarlett Johansson is also in the movie.]
- Terminator: Dark Fate — Yes, this is the sixth Terminator movie. But James Cameron is involved again — he directed and wrote the first two and wrote this one — and we also have Linda Hamilton back and, of course, Arnold. Wow, it’s been 25 years since the first Terminator movie.
This is a full-blown guilty pleasure. There’s something about James Cameron action movies that spells a good time. Cameron has a tendency to push the artform forward (think of what he helped invent for Avatar) so I think there’s a potential we’ll see some VFX pushing the edge of what we already have.
- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — Tom Hanks plays Mr. Rogers. Scarily appropriate casting. Matthew Rhys of the The Americans is also in it.
I feel like Tom Hanks was born to play Mr. Rogers. I think it will also touch on the importance of dealing with emotions in a positive manner which is something the world needs more of nowadays.
- Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker — If you need a description of the final chapter of the Skywalker saga, then you must have been living in a galaxy far, far away in the other direction.
The end of an era deserves some excitement. I still have memories of seeing the re-releases of the original trilogy when I was a kid and how fantastic this series is, despite all of its flaws. Lots of cool VFX.
Here are the ones grabbing Erica’s attention.
- Joker — Joaquin Phoenix gives Heath Ledger a run for his money as the Joker. Robert De Niro is also in it.
- Zombieland: Double Tap — It’s been 10 years since Zombieland, and all the original cast is back, even Bill Murray. Can this movie be as much fun as the first one? We’ll see.
- Star Wars: Episode IX — Seriously, how can this not be on anyone’s list? Everyone needs to try to see this on the big screen or, better yet, IMAX. Oh wait, Yoda has this to say: “No! Try not! Do or do not, there is no try!”
- Harriet — This is a film about Harriet Tubman, the escaped slave and famous abolitionist who rescued other slaves and was part of the Underground Railroad.
Harriet Tubman’s story was the first to capture my imagination. I remember being in the 1st grade and laying on the floor of the library as the librarian read us her story. I can’t wait to see how 2019 tells her story.
OK, I’m much more interested in the slate of movies scheduled for 2020. Next year is going to be one heck of a year on the big screen! But first, let’s see what interests me so far for the end of 2019.
- Joker — Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and now Joaquin Phoenix. The Joker has been played by 20 or more actors and voice actors. “What doesn’t kill you, simply makes you stranger!” (Heath Ledger’s Joker)
Is it possible that anyone can match Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight? Apparently so.
- Star Wars: Episode IX — Really, what would life be like without John Williams’ Star Wars scores, particularly the Star Wars Theme and The Imperial March?
Star Wars has been a part of my life for 42 years now. Why stop now? When the first movie came out in 1977, I was so enthralled that I took my grandmother to see it.
- The Irishman — Martin Scorsese gives us yet another movie about organized crime, this time involving the historic disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
It sounds like something from someone’s Christmas wish list: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel together in a Martin Scorsese movie. Irresistible. Scorsese also used some de-aging special effects on Di Niro’s character to show him at various ages of his life. We’ll be seeing more of this kind of stuff in the future. Not sure if distribution details are completely ironed out yet, because this is a Netflix deal.
Knives Out — Ensemble murder mystery a la Clue with Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer and more.
This is my wild card pick — a flick that looks like a classic Agatha Christie-like story with plenty of eccentric characters, big names and twists. No blockbuster elements, no wild and crazy special effects, no hand-to-hand combat, no over-wrought dramatic roles looking for Oscar nominations, just a plain ol’ goodtime movie that looks like it could be a lot of fun.
- BIG LETDOWN: Gemini Man — I always look forward to a new Ang Lee movie, he’s one of our great and versatile directors. He’s got two Best Director Oscars (Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain) and one other nomination (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), plus a Golden Globe director nomination for Sense and Sensibility. Oh yeah, 1993’s The Wedding Banquet and 1994’s Eat Drink Man Woman were both nominated for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film. (That’s when I first heard of Ang Lee, and I loved them both. Recommended.)
It’s now been seven years since Life of Pi. Unfortunately, Gemini Man looks like a real story dud. It stars two Will Smiths trying to kill each other. One Will Smith is computer effects of a young Will Smith, much like the de-aging goal mentioned above in The Irishman. This is another indication of where the future of film is headed, although Ang Lee said the fake Will Smith was more expensive than the real Will Smith. That will change someday soon. So I guess I’ll wait for Ang Lee’s next movie which is reportedly the historical boxing drama Thrilla in Manilla, expected to be shot in 3D at 120 frames per second in 4K.