19 Of The Most Anticipated Films Of 2019
Ah 2019, we’ve been expecting you.
We’ve actually started to feel a little overwhelmed by all the exciting films we need to see this year. Let’s sit down for a minute to take it all in. Rather than go through the whole of 2019, instead we’re only going to talk about 19 of the most exciting films that will definitely see UK cinema screens UK this year.
Let us know which of these films you are most looking forward to, and tell us about any other films you can’t wait to see this year.
Filmmaker Samuel Maoz (Lebanon) conjures up an intelligent dark comedy that inspects the bitter absurdities of war and the impact it has on the people involved.
A desolate military checkpoint is manned by four young soldiers who all try to burn away the hours of boredom that occur between cars arriving for inspection and, every now and then, a lone camel walking by. Meanwhile, the parents of one of the boys are devastated by the news of his sudden death, though the circumstances surrounding this take several unexpected twists.
One of the most celebrated films on the international festival circuit, this is a bold vision of warfare that repels cliche and asks us to look more deeply.
UK Release: 1 March + Members Previews
Ali Abbasi’s Border is the film equivalent of the London’s longest-running play The Mousetrap; the less you know before going in, the better.
What can we tell you, though? Well, it’s based on a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the author of Let The Right One In, so you should know to steady your legs and take a deep breath before going in. Oh, and watch what you eat. This one is for the brave… or should that be the reckless?
UK Release Date: 8 March + Valentine’s Day Previews
Asghar Farhadi (A Separation and The Salesman) raises the stakes with his English language debut, reuniting two of Spain’s finest actors, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, for a tale of a family polluted with lies that have devastating consequences.
Laura (Cruz) returns to her hometown of Madrid for what ought to be a happy occasion, her sister’s wedding, but it is here where her life takes a terrifying turn when one of her daughters is abducted. The ensuing investigation uncovers bitter familial secrets that gives rise to tense confrontations on a scale far greater than we have previously seen from the accomplished Iranian filmmaker. Expect another complex morality play, told with careful domestic observation that elevate Farhadi’s film to far above the average thriller.
UK Release Date: 8 March
Ray & Liz
In 1996 Richard Billingham published Ray's a Laugh, his first book of photography. The sarcastically titled collection featured images of his family, his mother Liz and his alcoholic father Ray, and they stand as a powerful portrait of poverty and resilience.
Billingham’s first fiction feature film Ray & Liz may take place in the '90s in the West Midlands, but its themes of desolation and social abandonment are perhaps as relevant today as they have been in the intervening years, as Britain tries to emerge victorious from a period of austerity the likes of which hit hardest the Ray's and Liz's of this world.
Ray & Liz carries on in the kitchen sink tradition of British film typified by Ken Loach, Alan Clarke and, in more recent years Billingham's new found contemporaries, Cleo Barnhard and Andrea Arnold, honouring Billingham’s upbringing and his candid work as an artist.
UK Release Date: 8 March
Lukas Dhont picked up the award for best first time director with his tender tale about identity and gender and how one often comes to define the other, especially in the young minds of teenagers.
Determined 15-year-old Lara (Victor Polster) is committed to becoming a professional ballerina after starting at a new school. Though supported by her father, Lara's adolescent frustrations and impatience are heightened as she prepares for gender reassignment surgery.
Dhont’s skill is remarkable and his star, Victor Polster, is utterly captivating. Polster got the part through a rigorous gender-blind casting process, that sought to find the right person for the role regardless of their own sex or gender. It’s a performance of incredible maturity, in a film of great power.
UK Release Date: 15 March
The forever maligned horror genre finally had its day when comedian Jordan Peele’s feature debut Get Out switched the game up, delivering not just the best horror of the decade but quite possibly the most on-point film of the decade. Peele pulled off his tricksy horror, serving laughs and frights in perfect balance, twists that satisfy, commentary that bites, and all with the mad audacity that only horror can carry off.
Reuniting with the horror gurus at Blumhouse, Peele revisits the theme of identity horror with his new film Us, this time pitting a new modern family, the Wilsons, against an invasion of sinister doppelgängers. Starring Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Anna Diop, it promises to be another work of genre-mashing invention, terrifying and relevant as only the very best horror films are.
UK Release Date: 15 March
At Eternity's Gate
You can practically smell the oil paints and that late 19th century funk floating through the hard years of Vincent van Gogh’s life, in director Julian Schnabel’s visceral biopic, At Eternity’s Gate. Willem Defoe paints a perfect portrait of a suffering artist and the toll that a life of unrecognised genius took on van Gogh’s health. The master painter lived a life of startling conviction and commitment to his art, and it’s a lesson in how to fail like no other.
UK Release Date: 29 March
The Sisters Brothers
In 2015 Jacques Audiard’s took home the Palme d’Or for Dheepan, a story about a surrogate family of refugees who try to make a better life for themselves in Paris, only to be faced with insurmountable bureaucratic and social obstacles. His new film could not be further from that award-winning work of social commentary.
Adapted from the novel by Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers sees the French auteur make his English-language debut (quite remarkable when you consider that this is the eighth film in a directing career spanning 24 years), a comedy-Western starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly. There’s obviously more to it that meets the eye; this is a far cry from a Holmes & Watson buddy comedy, and it’s refreshing to see Audiard lighten up, delivering a rewarding film of a very different kind.
UK Release Date: 5 April
Jonah Hill makes his director debut with a self-penned coming-of-age story about the hard knocks of youth and skating. The foul mouthed star of Superbad takes us back to the mid '90s and the genesis of that star-making foul mouth. Hill says it's not entirely about him, or his past, but this semi-autobiographical story speaks a truth that is too hard to fake.
UK Release Date: 12 April
Paolo Sorrentino reunites with The Great Beauty star Toni Servillo for this maybe-it-is, maybe-it-isn't tale about a certain Italian politician. Telling two intersecting stories, Loro follows the rise and fall and rise again of a prominent figure in Italian public office, meanwhile a young upstart with dreams of power and influence tries to orchestrate a chance meeting with his idol, Berlusc... we've said too much.
With hedonistic parties where government officials are on their worst behaviour and a sales pitch so convincing it will make you want to buy into an Italian timeshare, Loro is a return to the decadence of The Great Beauty, with Tony Servillo giving an uncannily good central performance that sits safely on the right side of Dead Ringers.
UK Release Date: 19 April
Remember being 14? Yeah, exactly. Eighth Grade takes us back to those cringing, awkward, panic inducing years of school. Only we had it easy. Spare a thought for today’s teenagers and the forever-judging eye of social media. But among all that squirming anxiety, writer/director Bo Burnham’s zippy script finds the humour and pathos of those teenage years, while newcomer Elsie Fisher is a revelation as the naive young vlogger, Kayla. So maybe you could convince us to go back to being 14 years old for a couple of hours after all.
UK Realise Date: 26 April
Brady Corbet announced himself as a highly ambitious filmmaker with his 2015 director debut Childhood of a Leader. Clearly he had learned a great deal under the tutelage of Michael Haneke (Funny Games), Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin) and Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen), in whose films he had starred.
For his second feature, Corbet has created another audio-visual spectacle, assembling a supergroup fronted by Natalie Portman, with Jude Law, Willem Defoe, Christopher Abbot and Stacey Martin in support of an astonishing performance. Shades of Black Swan flutter by as Portman takes to stages big and small as a Gaga-esque singer; fabulous, talented, tragic and heading towards a career milestone that could make or break her. Soundtracked with original songs from the queen of power pop, Sia, moments of haute-horror lead to cathartic purges of big emotion. It’s an experience, beautiful and tragic.
UK Release Date: 3 May
Toy Story 4
Well this really needs no introduction. So, instead, let’s just ponder Forky, and the likelihood that we’ll get to know him in the new film.
UK Release Date: 21 June
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to controversy, reaching back to the release of his hyper-violent debut, Reservoir Dogs. His new film, his ninth or tenth feature (depending how you cut it), has been courting controversy since it was first announced.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood takes a trip back to Los Angeles, 1969, when the cold-shower shock of the Manson Family murders brought the free love movement of the late 1960s to a grisly end. With Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino and Lena Dunham starring alongside QT regulars Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell and a near endless list of familiar faces, all making an appearance in impossibly cool style, we’re reminded that no one plays this Hollywood game quite like Tarantino.
UK Release Date: 29 July
“Gloria, you’re always on the run now” sang Laura Branigan, urging the eponymous Gloria to take it easy. The search for true love is long and arduous.
After the one-two hit of A Fantastic Woman (2017) and Disobedience (2018), Sebastián Lelio is back with his second film in the English language, remaking one of his own films no less. The original, which carried the slightly briefer title Gloria (2013), is given a US makeover, returning with more than just a Bell to its name. Following Paulina García into the title role is Julianne Moore, bringing her A-game, truly, as a woman carving out her new prime, battling the tired old bullshit thrown her way by chump men, just trying to live her best life.
This kind of film doesn’t come round often enough, with a story that places the complexities and wisdom of a middle-aged women at its centre. Gloria Bell is a welcome change of focus, a lastingly funny, meaningful film with sincere and believable characters, great performances and the power to restart the disco movement in a way that Mamma Mia! can only dream of. We’ve already got Branigan on repeat.
UK Release Date: 7 June
The most affecting film yet from Joanna Hogg (Unrelated, Archipelago, Exhibition). A beautifully realised, slow-sneaking sucker-punch of a film that is both droll in humour and emotionally devastating.
Film student Julie (Honor-Swinton Byrne) is a young woman on the periphery of various friendship groups using her camera to both capture and distract from the discomfort she seems to feel in her life. Enter: Anthony (Tom Burke), a quite unexpected party guest. What starts out platonically soon becomes something raw, a great love even, but not the kind of great love we usually find in film. Hogg does not judge her characters and whilst this might be too languorous for some, we think its intelligent cinema at its most magnificent.
UK Release Date: 30 August.
In the ’90s this was all we dreamed about. Take a Goodfellas base of DeNiro, Pesci and Scorsese, turn up the Heat with Pacino, leave film fans to bake for two or three decades and you’ve got yourself a major mob movie just like Marty used to make.
Based on the true crime memoir, I Heard You Paint Houses, by Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a prolific hitman for the New York mob, adapted for the screen by Steve Zaillian, The Irishman has us all in a bit of a tizzy, gorged on anticipation and a dash of nervous sweat.
UK Release Date: We’ll ask Netflix
Dolor y Gloria
As if Asghar Farhadi’s pairing of Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz for Everybody Knows wasn’t enough, at the end of summer Pedro Almodovar reunites Antonio Banderas and Cruz for his new drama, Dolor y Gloria. We have a trailer, but it doesn’t reveal much more than evidence of this being a verifiable Almodovar film. But it doesn’t take much more than that to get us excited.
UK Release Date: Late Summer
Okay, we should come clean here. The book was good, but we’re not sure it made it to our classics shelf (yes we have one of those), despite the Pulitzer Prize.
Nonetheless, we are intrigued to see the pairing of Ansel Elgort and Finn Wolfhard in this adaptation of Donna Tart’s bestseller. Elgort plays Theo, a boy who loses his mother in an art museum bombing and, on impulse, steals a tiny painting, the twittertular (sorry) Goldfinch. As we follow his life, through various eccentric associations the painting remains a constant source of attachment for good and evil.
UK Release Date: October 2019