19 Films We're Still Looking Forward to in 2019
At the start of the year we looked with hungry eyes at all the great films that were laid out ahead of us. Now we stand mid-way through the year, bellies half full, taking in all the films that 2019 still has to serve up. Here are 19 of our most anticipated films still to come this year.
Blinded by the Light
Despite its inherent glamour, Luton has yet to have its fair showing on screen. Gurinder Chadha corrects this oversight, adapting Sarfraz Mansoor’s memoir of growing up in the commuter town. As Thatcher’s Britain collapses, whipping up National Front skinheads and sending the nation to the dole queue, who’s a second generation Pakistani Muslim to turn to for succour except New Jersey’s finest, Bruce Springsteen? On the face of it, there’s little to connect The Boss and Javed (Viviek Kalra, making a winning debut). Yet Springsteen always speaks to the dignity of outsiders and people barely getting by, and the film has the bittersweet, feel-good triumph of Springsteen’s best songs. Just as in Bend It Like Beckham, Chadha crafts unique British experience into a universal, charming tale.
Blinded by the Light plays on our screens from 9 August + Previews 3 & 7 August
With Barbara and Phoenix, Christian Petzold demonstrated his skill at scraping back preformed historical narratives, telling searchingly ambiguous, personal stories about post-war Germany. Transit takes this one step further, unhitching himself from the past as we know it. This existential thriller about a man who assumes the life of a deceased writer elides multiple time frames, telling a mysterious, Kafka-esque story of displacement. Is this a film about the Second World War or the current migrant crisis? Initially disorientating, through Petzold’s careful accumulation of aching details, Transit becomes an impactful meta-level story of the effects of war and the nightmare of exile.
Transit plays in our cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from 19 August + Members Previews 10–12 August
Pain & Glory
As he nears his seventies, Pedro Almodóvar uncovers his own memories, casting Antonio Banderas as his on screen equivalent. As one of his early films is restored, Salvador Mallo (Banderas) reconsiders the gap between the enfant terrible who made it, and the venerable director he is now. What could have been indulgently self-referential instead proves bewitching, both because of the specificity of the memories – especially of his mother, brilliantly portrayed by Penelope Cruz – and the lack of vanity in the self-portrait. Shot with his trademark warmth and eye-popping colour, this is a richly told story about time and ageing.
Pain & Glory plays in our cinemas from 23 August
Joanna Hogg’s woundingly honest take on a corrosive romance confirms her as one of the UK’s best directors. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, The Souvenir finds her working on a larger canvas, yet retains her sensitive ear for the darker currents beneath everyday conversation. Aspiring film student Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is slowly seduced by the charismatic but unreliable Anthony (Tom Burke), who opens up new worlds for her, yet drags her down to bitter depths. The Souvenir is an evocative recreation of ‘80s Britain with a slew of pitch perfect performances (Tilda Swinton and Richard Ayoade among them).
Joanna Hogg joins us for Q&A events at Curzon Bloomsbury, Curzon Oxford and Curzon Mayfair (with Tom Burke and Honor Swinton Byrne).
The Souvenir plays in our screens and on Curzon Home Cinema from 30 August + Previews 24, 26 August
“The view may be beautiful, but you can’t eat it.” Second homers come into conflict with Cornish fishermen in Mark Jenkin’s formally stunning film. While the plot is pure kitchen sink, the aesthetic is absolutely idiosyncratic: shot on black and white 16mm film, with all sound rendered off-set. With almost tactile grain, the images take on an alien, absorbing quality, while the plot has plenty to say about the divisions in modern Britain.
We’re lucky to be joined by director Mark Jenkin at Curzon Soho and Oxford to talk about the handmade process of creating Bait, which was selected for the Berlinale competition.
Bait plays on our screens from 30 August
It: Chapter Two
The Stephen King renaissance continues (autumn also sees the screen adaptation of The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, starring Ewan McGregor) as the twenty-seven year curse – and a blood-curdling clown – rise once again in Derry, Maine. The first film proved genuinely terrifying, wringing scares both from real childhood trauma and nameless evils that lurk in a kid’s imagination. Having gathered together a superb young troupe in the first film, the casting of their adult selves is pitch perfect (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader among them), matched with the budget to do justice to King’s notoriously baroque finale.
IT: Chapter Two plays in our cinemas from 6 September
James Gray is a director with an untameable CV. From relationship chamber pieces like Two Lovers to adventure stories like The Lost City of Z, his red thread is always Terence Malick-like wonder and incredible performances. Ad Astra – starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut sent to the farthest reaches of space to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones) – is another order of magnitude in scope to his previous work. Like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival or Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, this looks to combine visually ambitious sci-fi with deeper questions about our humanity, an intergalactic Heart of Darkness.
Ad Astra plays on our screens from 18 September
From somewhere over the rainbow comes this brilliant comeback showcase for Renée Zellwegger, playing Judy Garland as she stands at a crossroads. Thirty years from The Wizard of Oz, she takes a five week stage engagement in London to save her from insolvency. From theatre director Rupert Goold (a man with a genuine feel for London backstage life), Judy is an honest portrayal of Garland from many angles: a mother carrying the scars from her own exploited childhood, a Hollywood survivor struggling to find an outlet, and a star with an undeniable talent. Zellwegger (voicing some of Garland’s favourite songs herself) brings the necessary complexity and depth, scratching beneath the surface of an icon, while also recreating the magic that granted her that status.
Judy plays on our screens from 4 October
Batman’s arch-nemesis has proved a plum, career-defining role for many an actor, from Heath Ledger’s coiled spring of chaos to Mark Hamill’s outlandish comic book id, to Jack Nicholson’s grinning menace in Tim Burton’s outing. Now it’s the turn of Joaquin Phoenix. Bringing the kind of damaged, brooding intensity he’s specialised in work by Paul Thomas Anderson and Lynne Ramsay, this looks to be Joker by way of Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, a broken soul who’s a lightning rod for a poisonous zeitgeist. Robert de Niro (whose performance in The King of Comedy is surely a key reference point here) and Zazie Beetz are the angels and demons on his shoulder, in what looks to be a compelling reimagining of one of comic book’s iconic villains.
Joker plays in our cinemas from 4 October
The Day Shall Come
Though it’s been nearly a decade since his incendiary debut Four Lions (and longer still since Brass Eye and The Day Today), Chris Morris’s film has become only more prescient in the years since. The Day Shall Come is superficially similar: an intensively researched comedy about extremists and the forces that act upon them. Moses (Marchánt Davis) is ready to lead an insurrection against the ‘accidental dominance of the white race’, except he has no money, no plan and (almost) no followers. Meanwhile, desperate for an arrest, FBI agent Kendra (Anna Kendrick) inflates the importance of this one man jihad. Morris, whose brand of chaotic irreverence couldn’t be more fitting for the fake news era, manages the considerable feat of imbuing every character with humanity, while still offering their follies on a platter.
The Day Shall Come plays in our cinemas 11 October
Lulu Wang’s poignant story of family has become a breakout indie hit in the United States (where it trumped Avengers: Endgame’s per screen average!). Anyone who saw Crazy Rich Asians will have had their eye caught by Awkwafina, the fast-talking insider best friend. Both confirming her stardom and departing from her established foul-mouthed persona, The Farewell sees her show remarkable sensitivity as Billi. When her beloved grandmother (veteran actor Shuzhen Zhou) is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, the family decide to keep the diagnosis from the matriarch. Leaving her home in New York to return to her native China, the family ostensibly gather for a wedding, but in reality to say their final goodbyes. Billi’s bittersweet ‘grief for the living’ forms the emotional core of what is a brilliant ensemble piece that tells an uncommonly deep story of families across cultures.
The Farewell plays in our cinemas from 11 October
Olivier Assayas’s pleasingly unsettled career contains films as distinct as terrorist thriller Carlos and haunting-by-text-message ghost story Personal Shopper. Another spin of the genre roulette wheel lands him on this bed-swapping comedy of manners, set in the world of French publishing as it adapts to the age of e-books. Léonard’s (Vincent Macaigne) latest novel is turned down by Alain (Guillaume Canet). But that’s bearable because he’s sleeping with his actor wife (Juliette Binoche, on hilariously blithe form). What follows is a witty and self-referential story of character’s dealing matching their own pretensions and aspirations against the reality of their petty moral infractions. As you might expect for a film whose subject is the making of literature, its cast of characters are in no short supply of bon mots.
Non-Fiction plays in our cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from 18 October
What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire
Eschewing top-down reportage, documentarian Roberto Minervini goes deep inside the lives of four New Orleans residents, giving us a street-level view of life in poverty. Shot in crisp black and white, we first follow Judy, who has overcome long-term drug addiction to realise her dream of opening a neighbourhood bar. Brothers Titus and Ronaldo run wild in the streets, yet find themselves touching the edges of a society where violence is a daily threat for young black men. Fans of RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening will find similarly empathetic, visually arresting filmmaking here, capturing lives lived with hope in often hopeless contexts.
What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire plays in our cinemas from 18 October
By the Grace of God
François Ozon (Swimming Pool, Jeune & Jolie) changes tack after his provocative thriller L’Amant Double. Told with impressive clarity, this is the real life story of the trial of sexual abuses by Catholic priest Bernard Preynat, and the group of survivors who band together to oppose him and the church’s cover up. Exploring four very different experiences of men who suffered abuse by the priest, we see their tentative union push back against the institutions (the legal system, the church, their families) that reject their right to justice. Highly controversial in France (where its release was nearly blocked by the figures it depicts), Ozon’s film is a morally righteous story that will resonate with fans of Spotlight.
By the Grace of God plays in our cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from 25 October
Sorry We Missed You
As he enters his fifth decade in filmmaking, Ken Loach is still as righteously angry and relevant to the moment. In Loach’s sights this time around are zero hour contracts. Ricky (Kris Hitchen) hopes for better things for his family when he becomes a ‘contractor’ as a delivery driver. His wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) is a nurse, unable to give her elderly patients the time they deserve under the punishing timetable of her contract. Small challenges that the couple faces become overwhelming because of their precarious work, and Loach lays bare the true human consequences of deregulated labour practices. Working again with I, Daniel Blake screenwriter Paul Laverty, Sorry We Missed You will light the same fire in your belly, a necessary reproach to the reshaping of work in the twenty first century.
Sorry We Missed You plays in our cinemas from 1 November
Emma Thompson – not content with jerking tears every yuletide with her private Love, Actually breakdown – co-writes this rarest of modern beasts: a top-flight romantic comedy. Set during the festive season and featuring the music of the dearly departed George Michael (including new unreleased tracks), we follow Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke as Kate, whose final item in a long list of bad life choices is working as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Tom, played by Henry Golding – who has past form in melting hearts in Crazy Rich Asians – swans into her life, starting a romance that’ll turn her life upside down. Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and co-starring Michelle Yeoh and Broadway royalty Patti LuPone, we can only hope this becomes another heart-warmer worthy of an annual festive rewatch.
Last Christmas plays in our cinemas from 15 November
Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns has excellent track record in building methodical yet compelling stories that personalise world events, with the likes of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and Paul Greengrass’s The Bourne Ultimatum under his belt. In The Report, we follow the epic quest to deliver the Senate’s report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program AKA The Torture Report. Adam Driver brings an edgy, complex intensity to Daniel James, a man on an obsessive drive to bring the details of the US’s overreach of force to light. Managing to make the writing of a 6,000 page document grip like a thriller, we see James and Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Benning), defy a hostile party and security forces who seek to cover their brutal torture under a black mass of redactions. A deeper look at the moral bankruptcy of the Bush era than Vice, it also reminds us of the high price of doing the right thing.
The Report plays in our cinemas from 15 November
Rian Johnson, taking a break from helming some minor series called <checks notes> Star Wars, indulges in a delicious take on the stately home murder mystery. It’s Agatha Christie by way of Quentin Tarantino, and the cast alone is enough to inspire feverish anticipation (with Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, LaKeith Stanfield, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer walking the wood-panelled halls). Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc is sent to the country pile of a mystery novelist, who has been murdered ahead of his 85th birthday. Staff and family come under suspicion in this hilarious and stylishly mounted whodunit.
Knives Out plays in our cinemas from 27 November
The trailer that broke the internet shows its full hand just in time for Christmas. One of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most beloved musicals, adapting TS Eliot’s whimsical poems into an elaborate story of mischievous cats of all stripes. Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) has strong form wrangling the West End’s finest following his adaptation of Les Misérables, and he has assembled a deep bench of talent for this adaptation. Ian McKellen, Judi Dench bring stately class; Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo add pop pizzaz; and Jennifer Hudson lends her Oscar-nominated pipes to the role of Grizabella. Can Hooper stare down the detractors and capture some of the magic of this rich fantasia that has made this one of the longest running musicals in history? December will tell!
Cats plays in our cinemas from 20 December
[Words by Duncan Carson]
There's plenty to see in the second half of 2019, and a Curzon membership pays for itself if you visit us just four times in a year, plus there are lots more added benefits, including...
• Four free tickets
• Discounted cinema tickets for you and a guest
• Discounted food and drink
• Discounted rentals on Curzon Home Cinema
• Free access to Curzon12
• Exclusive members previews at special prices
• Priority booking for special events
• No booking fees
It’s easy to join, or to renew your membership, and it takes just a few minutes.