2019 was a very unusual year for cinema. Two major franchises came to their long-anticipated ends (though to questionable quality), we experienced one of the most lacklustre blockbuster seasons in a long time, one major studio dominated the cinematic landscape to frightening affect, and two of the worst films of the year both featured digital cats. On the flip-side, it also brought the decade to a close with some incredible classics like 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire', 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' and 'The Irishman', and Bong Joon-ho's masterpiece 'Parasite' became the unexpected critical, commercial and awards success of the year.
Which brings us to 2020.
We already have a few great films on the way that the SWITCH team caught in 2019, including Greta Gerwig's divine 'Little Women' and Sam Mendes' war epic '1917', but what else is on the horizon? As always, here are our picks for the films to get excited about in the next twelve months.
'A HIDDEN LIFE'
A film from 2019 still awaiting release in Australia, but when it's a new film from Terrence Malick, you pay attention. His run of films since his transcendent 'The Tree of Life' in 2011 haven't been as well received as his classics, but early responses suggest this is a majestic and devastating return to form from one of the greatest living filmmakers, here taking on the dense complexity of Nazism and nationalism.
This was on last years' list, and it's truly absurd that we still haven't seen it in Australia yet, but Robert Eggers' follow-up to his shattering debut 'The Witch'
arrive on our screens in February, and if the responses from film festivals and its U.S. release are any indication, this is still a film worth including on this list.
I had absolutely no interest in another Austen adaptation, but then I watched the trailer for this new film from director Autumn de Wilde and screenwriter Eleanor Catton, and I'm totally pumped for this one. Anya Taylor-Joy takes on the title role of Austen's beloved and mischievous heroine, with a cast that includes 'God's Own Country'
breakout Josh O'Connor, Bill Nighy, Miranda Hart and babe Callum Turner. With the period film getting a thrilling revamp thanks to 'The Favourite'
and 'Little Women', this might prove to be one of 2020's biggest surprises.
'NO TIME TO DIE'
The first trailer was an editing nightmare, but hidden behind the choppy cuts were suggestions that this could be a winner, with a new dynamic look to the franchise from director (and babe) Cary Joji Fukunaga. It's also Daniel Craig's last hoorah as 007, has a terrific cast and a screenplay polished off by legitimate genius Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Also, if the pattern is anything to go by, because 'Spectre'
was such a non-event, this should be the opposite.
'WONDER WOMAN 1984'
Personally, my interest in superhero movies is basically over at this point... except for this one. 'Wonder Woman'
(2017) had its faults, but Patty Jenkins' direction was not one of them, and for the follow-up, she seems to have been given free reign to do what she wants. And this can only be a good thing. From the trailer, this looks slick, bombastic and bold, and exactly what the DC films need. We're also keen to check out Cathy Yan's Harley Quinn-centred 'Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn'.
Pixar are also releasing 'Onward!' this year, which looks like a Dreamworks rip-off, but it's 'Soul' that's the more exciting project. Little is known about it, but it heralds the return of Pete Doctor, responsible for the studio's last genuine masterpiece 'Inside Out'
(2015), and this looks to continue his exploration of the machinations of the human heart. It will also be scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and if the prospect of the composers behind 'The Social Network' and 'Watchmen' working on a Pixar film doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will.
'IN THE HEIGHTS'
Lin-Manuel Miranda's beloved musical is an energetic burst of fresh air to the medium, but in the hands of director Jon M. Chu, who knocked it out of the ballpark with his slick approach to 'Crazy Rich Asians'
, this looks like something really special. It also couldn't come at a better time for American audiences; a celebration of diversity and culture with a warning of the dangers of intolerance, classism and racism. And by god, it's been years since 'La La Land'
, so we really are due for a great film musical.
We know it's a spy movie... maybe. We know it deals with palindromes... maybe. We definitely know it has John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki, but who knows who they're playing. But 'Tenet' is a Christopher Nolan film. And considering his two post-'Dark Knight' films have proven to be amongst his best work, it would be crazy not to be pumped for whatever the hell this will be.
'LAST NIGHT IN SOHO
Edgar Wright's symphonic 'Baby Driver'
proved to be much more divisive than anticipated, but there was little questions of the immense craft of the film, and it certainly hasn't left any doubts as to Wright's immense talent. It looks like the genre-bending filmmaker is turning his eyes to horror with his latest film, which mixes horror and time-travel in what is certainly going to be a singular film event.
After achieving the impossible with 'Blade Runner 2049'
, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve is taking on maybe the greatest challenge any filmmaker could attempt - to adapt Frank Herbert's sprawling sci-fi masterpiece 'Dune'. All other attempts have failed spectacularly, but Villeneuve might just be the man to shape this monolith into a cinematic form. The insane
cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, Javier Bardem and Charlotte Rampling, all of whom are already singing praises for Villeneuve's singular and uncompromising vision. All things going well, this could be the blockbuster event of 2020.
'WEST SIDE STORY'
Spielberg has been trying to adapt the beloved musical for the screen once again for many years, working with 'Angels in America' playwright Tony Kushner to sharpen its already contemporary edge. Any Spielberg film is an event, but the care he has taken just in regards to ethnicity and gender with this film suggests the legendary director is taking this one very much to heart. There's every possibility this could be a misfire, but just as much that it could be an absolute triumph. My money is on the latter.
We haven't had a feature film from David Fincher since his stunning thriller-comedy 'Gone Girl'
in 2014. That's a long wait from maybe the best director working today, but in 2020 the wait is finally over with this biopic of 'Citizen Kane' screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, written by Fincher's late father Jack Fincher. Gary Oldman plays the title role, and Reznor and Ross are on scoring duties, but it's Fincher we want to see. Netflix are releasing this, so expect a short cinema release before it hits streaming, and Fincher in all his uncompromising glory.
'HOW DO I LIVE?'
One film though is unquestionably the cinematic event of 2020 - the return of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki. His 2013 masterpiece 'The Wind Rises'
was supposed to be his final film, but he's come out of retirement one more time with one more story to tell. Details are scarce, suggesting it looks at a teenage boy coming of age, but when asked about the film, producer Toshio Suzuki said that the film was Miyazaki's way of telling his grandson that "Grandpa is moving onto the next world soon but he is leaving this film behind because he loves you." It is hoped that the film will be completed in time for the Tokyo Olympics, so we aren't even sure if it will
be released in 2020, but personally, there is no film on the horizon I could be more excited about.
This is just a small taste of what's to come this next year, which also includes a blessedly smaller slate from Disney, including Marvel films 'Black Widow' and 'Eternals', the live-action remake of 'Mulan', the much-delayed adaptation of 'Artemis Fowl', and their next animated film 'Raya and the Last Dragon'. There's also yet another reboot of 'Ghostbusters', the Kingsman prequel 'The King's Men', the Aretha Franklin biopic 'Respect', and the follow-up to the unexpectedly successful Halloween reboot, 'Halloween Kills'. Keep your ears open also for all the films we don't know about yet, the gems and future classics that will appear out of the festival circuit.
It looks like we have a lot to look forward to in 2020, so make sure you follow all our reviews at SWITCH to see which ones turn out to be classic and which turn out to be duds. Hopefully more the former than the latter.
But hey, at least we'll finally get to see 'The Lighthouse'.