Split Decision: Most Anticipated Films of 2019
Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!
This week’s question:
Which 2019 film are you most looking forward to this year?
I am sure there are big, exciting films opening in 2019, and I want to curb my enthusiasm for them so they don't disappoint. So it is with glee and embarrassment that the film I'm most anxious to see right now is one I have low expectations for: Serenity. It's getting an ignoble January release. (It was originally scheduled for Sept 2018, then Oct 2018, now is getting jumped in one of the worst months to release a film, a sure sign of its absolute lack of quality. You don't keep a film on the shelf because it's sooo good!) Honestly, I really only want to see this neo-noir for Diane Lane's contributions. I find her to be one of the best and most underrated actresses. I really will watch her in anything. (Yes, I've seen Must Love Dogs). I'm less interested in the pairing of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, who will likely chew the scenery, but that could be fun. (I maintain Hathaway seems to constantly be auditioning for Sally Bowles). So, here's hoping this a so-bad-it's-good guilty pleasure.
I have my fingers crossed on Serenity as well, Gary. The release date tells me I should not be excited, but that cast and those trailers are so. good.
2019 will be a year that The Studios either capitalize on my childhood nostalgia or shatter it into a thousand pieces. Marvel is capping off over a decade of my favorite superhero stories, Disney is releasing Lion King andAladdin live-action remakes, Toy Story 4 is finally dropping, Men in Black is being rebooted, Arnold Schwarzenegger is returning to Terminator, JJ Abrams is closing out the new Star Wars Trilogy, and Tom Hanks is playing Mr. Rogers. It's almost laughable how obvious The Studios' efforts to target my demographic are, and yet, they'll get my money nonetheless.
Still, the film I am most excited for is Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Speaking of nostalgia, Pulp Fiction was and is one of the quintessential LA movies for me. Because I never visited Los Angeles as a kid, I had only seen the City of Angels through the lens of the movies that were set there. And having visited in my adulthood, Pulp Fiction still successfully captures all of the youthful promise, and sunshine, and gildedness, and driving (oh, the driving) that LA has to offer.
And so, Tarantino's return to LA is of particular interest to me, because I know he'll do something remarkable there. As if that wasn't enough, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set in the palpable, ridiculous, awesome 1960's, with f'n Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt anchoring the movie, and Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, and countless other A-listers supporting. How could I not be excited?!
As someone who typically hates Quentin Tarantino, I am actually extremely excited for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. That being said, I have to double down on the new Safdie bros. film, Uncut Gems. Apparently they've had this film on the back burner for quite some time, but thanks to the well-received Good Time, it's finally getting made. I'm dying to see how The Weekend, Adam Sandler, Judd Hirsch, Idina Menzel, and Lakeith Stanfield all fit into a movie together.
The new Safdie bros. movie is my #1, but I want to shout out the next American Godzilla movie, because the last one (meaning the reboot of the remake of the American Godzilla, not Shin Godzilla) was a lot of fun (Shin Godzilla was also great). I want to love giant monster blockbusters, but it seems like the only people interested in making them are your Michaels Bay and Rolands Emmerich, who focus on military action. Even Guillermo del Toro fell into that trap, and I really liked Pacific Rim. But the 2014 Godzilla film was terrifying. It's something about the scale of everything that gets to me-- the HALO scene in the last movie did a great job getting the kaiju's size across. The philosophy was muddy-- from what I remember, the atom bomb fed and enhanced Godzilla, who then saved San Francisco from worse monsters, meaning radiation weapons morphed from an existential evil to the world's savior-- but the stretches where people had to run away from a thing too big for their field of vision were solid. It ended up feeling a lot like Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, where there's some light story developing, but the really good parts are just about people figuring out how to react to an unstoppable killing machine. Gareth Edwards isn't directing this one, but the cast is good, the trailer is promising and its sister film, Kong: Skull Island, was a blast.
It's gotta be John Wick: Parabellum for me. Or John Wick: Chapter 3. Not sure what title they're running with at this point, nor do I care. I just need to see Keanu dual wielding pistols from atop a horse, drenched in both rain water and neon light, and surely everything will immediately be right with the world. At the very least, my brain is sure to erupt into flames upon sight of that glorious image, and I'd be happy to go out like that. Please immolate my synapses, Mr. Wick, I beg of you.
So far as 2019 releases go, I'm more than a little stoked for the May release of John Wick: Chapter 3. Having placed the previous installment at #4 on my Top Ten of 2017, and going so far as to declare it "termite art par excellence" (thus prompting the ghost of the late Manny Farber to haunt me for the rest of my days), my investment in the baroquely violent adventures of Keanu Reeves' gun-slinging ronin certainly eclipses that for any other franchise in commercial cinema today. I can't possibly fathomChapter 3 will surpass its predecessor like Chapter 2 did, but here's hoping the next round of balletic mayhem doesn't follow the lead of Spider-Man 3. And let's be honest, we're all anxiously awaiting the sight of Keanu riding a horse in Midtown. That's gotta be worth the price of admission alone.
One more to add to my previous list–Ad Astra, a new space movie from James Gray and starring Brad Pitt. Gray proved that he could imbue a wide scope adventure epic with a lot of emotional intimacy in The Lost City Of Z, so I can't wait to see how he fares among the stars. You also never know what you're going to get from Pitt, so I am curious to see what happens here.
I must echo the sentiments everyone has for the new Tarantino flick. I'm too much of a Tarantino nerd and too much of a true crime junkie to put anything above it in terms of anticipation. A new Tarantino movie is ALWAYS cause for celebration, and after his most recent movie, The Hateful Eight, and his vocal support of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's clear that the auteur has a lot more on his mind than just style. I think he's the right guy to tell a story about sordid Hollywood history that may push some contemporary buttons. I can barely contain my excitement.
In an extremely close second comes Happy Death Day 2U, the sequel to one of the biggest cinematic surprises of the last few years. So often, high-concept horror films exist as fun gimmicks with nary an eye toward any sort of depth, but Happy Death Day found the perfect balance. It's scary, funny, and oh so cleverly designed, all anchored by a performance from a truly great "final girl," Jessica Rothe. Well Rothe is back, as is director Christopher Landon (who picked up writing credit for the sequel). If the trailers are any indication, this is going to be an even higher-concept horror yarn, complete with gallows humor, time jumps, and a ton of glorious blood and guts! I can't wait to squeal amongst a theater full of horrorhounds as Happy Death Day 2U works its magic.
I can't wait to cry my eyes out at the "live action" aka "realistically animated" Lion King. The original movie has been my favorite movie since I was 4 years old and I watch it at least once every 6 months. I also watch Lion King 1 1/2 and Lion King 2 on a regular rotation. I've seen the broadway show twice. I hold my rabbit up like baby Simba at least once a month. Scar is the best Disney Villian. It's a cartoon Hamlet, which is also very important to me.
We're a Lion King household.
And by "we" I mean the royal we.
The cast is INSANE. Billy Eichner taking the torch from Nathan Lane as Timon? Staaaahhhhhhhp. But will it be a musical? Will hyper realistic looking animals sing and swing from vines? Will we actually see Hyenas eat Scar? I can't wait.
Honorable mention to Zombieland 2. The original is perfect. Woody Harrelson is perfect. Twinkies are... perfect?
As always, there are a ton of films coming out this year I am pumped for. The one I am most intrigued by based on the trailers I’ve seen so far is Detective Pikachu, because I still don’t understand the why, but it looks like it could be good worldbuilding combined with a small scale story. We’ll see.
But there is only one real answer here, and that is Star Wars IX. If Rian Johnson were helming, I’d be writing this in all caps, but I am praying for Abrams to stick the landing. There’s so many places this film could end up, and a satisfying conclusion to Kylo Ren and Rey’s stories would mean more to me than however the Avengers figure out how to cut off Thanos’ hand. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.