2020 is seemingly shaping up to be another big year in cinema, and yes, lots of tentpoles and superhero films, blockbusters, and whatnot, are down the pike. But for me, there’s much more too look forward to than just the next Marvel thing (though I usually still enjoy them well enough). 2020 is seeing the return of many auteurs with many possible riches to come, so let’s begin counting down what I’m anticipating most in the new year.
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Cast: Steven Yuen, Han Ye-ri, Youn Yuh-Jung, Will Patton & Scott Haze
Synopsis: A Korean father (Steven Yuen) moves his family to an Arkansas farm in the 1980s.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Minari has a lot of pedigree attached to it. Lee Isaac Chung has earned his fair share of acclaim, especially with his debut feature Munyurangabo, Steven Yuen is coming off his incredibly haunting performance in 2018’s Burning, and as well the film is back by both Plan B and A24. It’s also a film that promises to be personal for both Yeun and Chung, as Yeun’s family moved to Michigan when he was five and Chung is his family’s first-generation Korean-American and grew up on a small farm in Arkansas himself.
Release Date: It’s premiering at Sundance in January.
Director: Paul Verhoeven (Elle & Robocop)
Cast: Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Lambert Wilson, Daphne Patakia & Clotilde Courau
Synopsis: A 17th-century nun (Virginie Efira) in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. As she’s assisted by a companion, a relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Verhoeven is following arguably his most acclaimed work of his career, in the daring Elle. Verhoeven is a master at mining unexpected depth out of taboo subject matter, and if what we know about Benedetta so far is any indication, he seems to be back on form with a tale of forbidden passion. The film was supposed to premier at the Cannes Film Festival this year, but health problems and the director’s relishing for rigorous perfectionism, saw the film getting postponed until 2020. So it’ll have to be seen if it was worth the wait.
Release Date: A premier at Cannes seems likely.
38. News of the World
Director: Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy & Captain Phillips)
Cast: Tom Hanks & Helena Zengel
Synopsis: During the Civil War-era, a Texan widower and war veteran (Tom Hanks) charts an unlikely friendship with a ten-year old girl (Helena Zengel) who he must reunite with her family.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Paul Greengrass, who is regarded for his visceral handheld visual language and his tendency to tackle ripped-from-the-headlines subject matter, with News of the World seems to be shifting into intriguing new ground. For starters, it’s a Western, a genre Greengrass has never tried his hand at before. It also sees him working from a script by Luke Davies (Lion & Beautiful Boy) and also gives him a chance to work with Tom Hanks again, who the last time they worked delivered one of, if not the, best performance of his career.
Release Date: December 25, 2020
37. The Woman in the Window
Director: Joe Wright (Atonement & Anna Karenina)
Cast: Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Brian Tyree Henry, Wyatt Russell & Anthony Mackie
Synopsis: An agoraphobic psychologist (Amy Adams) witnesses a murder while spying on her neighbors, but everything is not quite as it seems.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Though I’ve been back-and-forth on Joe Wright throughout his career, this one finds him with maybe the most stacked ensemble he’s ever had, finds him reuniting with the great cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (Amélie & Inside Llewyn Davis), working from a script by Tracy Letts (Bug & Killer Joe), and working with composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the first time. But with all that, the film was delayed and pushed by Disney (post buying Fox) to do reshoots after Disney requested to retool the film due to the negative test audience responses to the third act. And on top of that Tracy Letts has said he’s had not involvement in the retooling. So essentially that is why this is a lot lower on the list.
Release Date: May 15, 2020
Director: Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Cast: Tommie Lynn Milazzo & Shay Walker
Synopsis: Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy (Tommie Lynn Milazzo) must fight to save her family, freedom and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Benh Zeitlin announced himself as major talent back in 2012 with feature debut Beasts of the Southern Wild, a tale that melded poverty and magical realism and earned him a Best Director nomination at the 2013 Oscars. The first trailer for Wendy clearly displays that he’s going to be bringing the same raw, mythical wonder to this second at-bat. Wendy has been described as a raggedy, fantastical re-imagining of the Peter Pan story involving precocious children, an island setting, and a struggle against the tides of growing up, and adding the backing from Fox Searchlight this one could offer something special for early 2020.
Release Date: Is premiering at Sundance, then hitting theaters February 28, 2020.
35. The Last Thing He Wanted
Director: Dee Rees (Pariah & Mudbound)
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Toby Jones & Rosie Perez
Synopsis: A veteran journalist (Anne Hathaway) finds herself in trouble while doing a guilt-propelled errand by her father (Willem Dafoe) which thrusts her into quitting her newspaper job and becoming an arms dealer for a covert government agency
Why You Should Look Out For It: Dee Rees, one of the most exciting filmmakers around, is following up her quite good Mudbound with an adaptation of a novel from highly regarded author Joan Didion, while bringing along an unfairly talented ensemble.
Release Date: It’s premiering at Sundance, but prepare for Netflix to possibly push this for awards contention, I could see it hitting Netflix in the last quarter of 2020.
34. The Nest
Director: Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Cast: Carrie Coon & Jude Law
Synopsis: The life for an entrepreneur (Jude Law) and his American family begin to take a twisted turn after moving into an English country manor.
Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Durkin’s way-too long awaited follow-up to his debut feature Martha Marcy May Marlene, which is one of the eeriest psychological thrillers of recent years. And The Nest sounds like Durkin’s is returning to the psychological grounds for something more strange and ambitious, while also adding astonishing cinematographer Mátyás Erdély (Son of Saul & Sunset). If Durkin can deliver a film that offers more of the same dark magic he concocted in his previous film, we’ll be in for something special.
Release Date: It’s premiering at Sundance in January.
33. Pieces of a Woman
Director: Kornél Mundruczó (White God)
Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker & Jimmie Fails
Synopsis: When a home birth goes tragically wrong, a grieving woman (Vanessa Kirby) is thrust into an emotional inner journey by trying to come to terms with her loss while also dealing with the ramifications in her interpersonal relationships with her husband (Shia LaBeouf) and estranged mother (Ellen Burstyn).
Why You Should Look Out For It: Kornél Mundruczó, the filmmaker behind the Un Certain Regard winner White God, is making his English-language debut with a very intriguing duo in Shia LaBeouf and Vanessa Kirby, and will also feature the follow-up performance for Jimmie Fails after his fantastic debut performance in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
Release Date: Could possibly being hitting the fall festivals, since it’s currently filming, or possibly won’t be ready till 2021, but fingers are crossed.
32. The World to Come
Director: Mona Fastvold
Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Kathrine Waterson, Casey Affleck, & Christopher Abbott
Synopsis: For some reason two pretty different synopsis’ have been going around: one says the film focuses on two women who forge an unexpected romantic connection despite their isolation in the mid-19th century American frontier; the other as well takes place in the 19th-century American frontier, but focuses on two neighboring couples who battle hardship and isolation.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Mona Fastvold, isn’t a household name yet, not even for cinephiles. But there’s potential for that to change. The romantic and creative partner of filmmaker Brady Corbet, Fastvold has seemingly been overlooked by her famous half. But she’s no slouch. She co-wrote The Childhood of a Leader and Vox Lux with Corbet, as well as 2019’s The Mustang. She also wrote and directed the Sundance sleeper hit The Sleepwalker (which I sadly haven’t seen). Fastvold hasn’t directed a film in five years, but her returning project is very intriguing, as she’s teamed with this stellar cast and is working from a script co-writted by novelist Ron Hansen (The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford).
Release Date: It wrapped filming a few months back, so it could possibly hit the fall festival circuit.
Director: Tom McCarthy (Spotlight & The Station Agent)
Cast: Matt Damon & Abigail Breslin
Synopsis: A father (Matt Damon) travels from Oklahoma to France to help his daughter (Abigail Breslin) who has been arrested for murder.
Why You Should Look Out For It: When Tom McCarthy is on, you get a movie like Spotlight, one of the smartest and most involving procedurals of the decade. When he’s not, you get The Cobbler. Stillwater seems to be his illustrious return to the world of prestige filmmaking. The film sounds like the kind of thoughtful humane drama at which McCarthy excels at. And with Matt Damon once again playing an everyman, he seems like a fine fit for McCarthy’s world, and could possibly have some big awards season buzz (especially since it has an awards prime release date).
Release Date: November 6, 2020
30. No Time to Die
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre, True Detective, & Beasts of No Nation)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Ana de Armas, Lashana Lynch, Rami Malek, Naomie Harris, Jeffery Wright, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, & Christoph Waltz
Synopsis: James Bond (Daniel Craig) has left active service. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright) from the CIA turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) armed with dangerous new technology.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Though there was a heaping amount of behind-the-scenes and production problems, from the early departure of director Danny Boyle, to Daniel Craig’s injury that caused a pause in filming, No Time to Die has plenty reasons to look forward to it. For one, this is Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, leaving the future of the franchise open-ended. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a credited screenwriter and her work on Fleabag has been quite impressive. And Cary Fukunaga is a terrific director and as well has brought on cinematographer Linus Sandgren who’s been on a role recently with his work on La La Land and First Man. It’s hard to ignore all the bumps in the road that this production has had, but that first trailer did offer some heavy intrigue.
Release Date: April 10, 2020
29. The Last Duel
Director: Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, & Gladiator)
Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, & Ben Affleck
Synopsis: Centering on two best friends and Knights (Matt Damon & Adam Driver), and after one goes to war (Damon) and returns and accuses his friend (Driver) of raping his wife (Jodie Comer), King Charles VI then declares to settle their dispute by having the two men duel to the death.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Though the initial announcement came with a contentious response, the intrigue is still there (for me at least). The film is written by Affleck, Damon and Nicole Holofcener, and Damon has said that the film is heavily tackles perspective with each screenwriter writing the perspective for each of the three lead characters. Seemingly looking to explore the oppressively culture of the era, The Last Duel has the chance to be a triumph or a complete trainwreck with the commentary at hand. And it has my interest either way.
Release Date: December 25, 2020
Director: Chloe Zhao (The Rider)
Cast: Frances McDormand & David Strathairn
Synopsis: After the Great Recession makes her lose everything, a woman in her sixties (Frances McDormand), embarks on a journey through the American West, living in a van as a modern-day nomad.
Why You Should Look Out For It: The last time we saw Frances McDormand onscreen, she was giving her Oscar-winning performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. And with her follow-up performance she’s teaming with Chloe Zhao, who as well is following up great work, her second feature The Rider. And throw in Marvel’s The Eternals and it looks like Zhao is shaping up to have a very varied 2020.
Release Date: I’d expect a Cannes debut.
Director: Gia Coppola (Palo Alto)
Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Maya Hawke, Andrew Garfield, Alexa Demie, Nat Wolff, Casey Frey, & Johnny Knoxville
Synopsis: Three lovers struggle to preserve their identities as they form an eccentric love triangle within the fast-moving modern world.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Though the plot and the synopsis are pretty vague, the talent behind and in front of the camera make Mainstream a potentially major indie vehicle for 2020. It’s Coppola’s follow-up to her solid debut Palo Alto that sees her bringing on a nice collective of up-and-comers in Maya Hawke, Alexa Demie and Nat Wolff, and some experienced players in Jason Schwartzman and Andrew Garfield.
Release Date: I could see this premiering at Tribeca in April.
Director: Josephine Decker (Madeline’s Madeline)
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Logan Lerman, & Odessa Young
Synopsis: A famous horror writer (Elisabeth Moss) finds inspiration for her next book after she and her husband (Michael Stuhlbarg) take in a young couple (Logan Lerman & Odessa Young).
Why You Should Look Out For It: Josephine Decker is a filmmaker of unforgettable, rule-breaking experimentation, seen best in her 2018 work Madeline’s Madeline. Shirley is firmly her highest-profile project to date, as she’s adapting a novel and tackling a real-life subject. This project sounds like the kind of out-there psychodrama that feels like a natural fit for Decker, as well as a chance for her to work with high-profile actors like Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Logan Lerman.
Release Date: It’s premiering at Sundance.
Director: Ben Wheatley (Kill List & A Field in England)
Cast: Lily James, Armie Hammer, & Kristen Scott Thomas
Synopsis: A young newlywed (Lily James) finds herself living in the shadow of her wealthy husband’s (Armie Hammer) pervious wife.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Ben Wheatley doesn’t seem to make the same movie twice, almost, in some ways, reinventing himself with each new project. And now he’s adapting Daphne du Maurier’s seminal Gothic romance novel, or maybe to a bigger crowd, he’s reimagining a story that Alfred Hitchcock already tried his hand at and won his only Best Picture Oscar for it. And so with tackling a bold prospect like this, it’s safe to say I’m at least curious.
Release Date: It’s going to be hitting Netflix sometime in 2020.
24. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Director: Michael Showalter (The Big Sick & Hello, My Name is Doris)
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cherry Jones, & Sam Jaeger
Synopsis: Based on the 2000 documentary of the same name, the deeply controversial televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (Andrew Garfield & Jessica Chastain) seek redemption after their religious empire and marriage crumbles.
Why You Should Look Out For It: For me personally, I find this story pretty fascinating and seeing Michael Showalter is diving into this is a pretty interesting choice for a project like this. With the Tammy Faye role, Jessica Chastain seems to have her best part since maybe A Most Violent Year, and her empathy as an actress will be interesting to see in the role. Garfield’s bombast will firmly be a good fit for Jim Bakker, and to see Showalter team-up with stellar cinematographer Mike Gioulakis (It Follows, Under the Silver Lake, & Us) will be a fascinating pairing. This project will assuredly be an awards heavy-hitter next fall and be a heavy conversation-starter.
Release Date: Almost undoubtedly will debut at the fall festival circuit for an awards push.
23. The Souvenir: Part II
Director: Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir & Archipelago)
Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Joe Alwyn, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Heaton, & Richard Ayoade
Synopsis: Following 2019’s The Souvenir, the sequel picks up in the immediate aftermath that Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) was left in.
Why You Should Look Out For It: If you haven’t seen The Souvenir yet you really should, as its one of the most fascinating films of 2019. But I’m not going to lie the film’s original casting of Robert Pattinson to co-star, as Julie’s new love interest, had me over the moon about this project, but sadly he had to drop out because of his scheduling for The Batman. And it hasn’t been clear which of the new castings (Alwyn, Dickinson, or Heaton) replaced Pattinson, but while none of them are Pattinson they all are sold and can bring some good to this project. But most of all it’s going to interesting to see what Honor Swinton Byrne brings to Julie in this new installment.
Release Date: I’d bet this will probably be hitting the fall festival circuit.
22. On the Rocks
Director: Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides & Lost in Translation)
Cast: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jessica Henwick, & Jenny Slate
Synopsis: A young mother (Rashida Jones) who reconnects with her larger than life playboy father (Bill Murray) go on an adventure through New York.
Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Sofia Coppola reuniting with Bill Murray and tackling the subject of larger-than-life father figures, something she assuredly knows about. On the Rocks looks to be a film that is both freewheeling and melancholic, seeing the director veer away from the fevered melodrama of her last film, the excellent The Beguiled. (This film also marks the first joint venture between A24 and Apple TV+, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out.)
Release Date: I can definitely see this premiering at TIFF in September and starting an awards push from there.
21. Last Night in Soho
Director: Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, & Baby Driver)
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith, Dianna Rigg, & Terrence Stamp
Synopsis: A young girl (Anya Taylor-Joy), with a passion in fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and times seems to be falling apart with shady consequences.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Edgar Wright is supposedly following up his kinetic Baby Driver with a film that takes influence from Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now and Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, so the aesthetic and genre jump is pretty big. The plot particulars are pretty slim, but the prospect of an deeply talented filmmaker like Edgar Wright working in a more potentially wicked register just makes me giddy.
Release Date: September 25, 2020
20. Green Knight
Director: David Lowery (A Ghost Story & The Old Man & the Gun)
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Barry Keoghan, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson & Erin Kellyman
Synopsis: A fantasy retelling of the medieval story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) and the Green Knight.
Why You Should Look Out For It: David Lowery is another filmmaker who seems quite committed to never making the same movie twice. And Green Knight seems to be another stylistic switch-up, seeing the auteur venturing into the realm of medieval fantasy. It wouldn’t be surprising if Lowery somehow takes the story and turns it down some unconventional lanes, but his reteaming with cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo and with A24 all accumulate into a very promising project.
Release Date: I’m not sure I really see this as an awards movie, so maybe a possible Cannes debut and then a Summer release? I’m just very unsure.
19. Da 5 Bloods
Director: Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing & BlacKkKlansman)
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Giancarlo Esposito, Clarke Peters, Jean Reno, Delroy Lindo, & Paul Walter Hauser
Synopsis: A group of veterans from the Vietnam War return to the jungle to find their lost innocence.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Spike Lee is following up one of the biggest hits of his career in BlacKkKlansman, with a partnering with Netflix and a presumably unorthodox take on the Vietnam conflict.
Release Date: An awards push from Netflix seems likely, so the fall festival circuit seems likely as well.
18. The Card Counter
Director: Paul Schrader (First Reformed & Auto Focus)
Cast: Oscar Isaac
Synopsis: A gambler and former serviceman (Oscar Isaac) sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Paul Schrader is following up First Reformed, my number one film of 2018, and a film that brought his career to new life after about a decade stuck in the gutter of diminishing efforts. And those diminishing efforts are probably why this project isn’t higher on the list, but then again Schrader is also one of cinema’s greatest screenwriters and he’s teaming with Oscar Isaac, so I’m in.
Release Date: I’m not sure this will even be released in 2020, as it hasn’t even started shooting yet, but one can only hope.
17. The Trial of the Chicago 7
Director: Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game)
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordan-Levitt, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Michael Keaton, Mark Rylance, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Frank Langella, Alex Sharp & Thomas Middleditch
Synopsis: Based on the true story of the Chicago Seven, a group of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to anti-Vietnam War and countercultural protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Why You Should Look Out For It: After being tossed around for over a decade, Aaron Sorkin’s script for The Trial of the Chicago 7 is finally being brought to the big screen by nonother than himself. It’s a script that was originally going to be made back in 2007 with Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair, but then the writer’s strike happened and the movie faded away, until now. To be frank, the only reason that this project isn’t higher on the list is because Sorkin’s directing it: I found his last/first directorial effort, Molly’s Game, to be solid but not outright great, making me just a hair apprehensive. But with this massively talented ensemble, and rich material that tackles real-life social injustices for him to sink his teeth into, this one could see Sorkin hitting it out of the park both on the page and in the director’s chair.
Release Date: September 25, 2020
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives & Cemetery of Splendor)
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Jeanne Balibar, & Daniel Giménez Cacho
Synopsis: Not much is known by it’s said that the protagonist is woman from Scotland (Tilda Swinton), who, while traveling in Colombia, begins to notice a series of strange sounds.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Apichatpong Weerasethakul doesn’t make movies so much that he makes ineffable, practically transcendent experiences that are pretty impossible to categorize. And while plot particulars are slim, just saying “Weerasethakul & Tilda Swinton” sells me on this project alone. Then just adding on that cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Call Me by Your Name & Uncle Boonmee) is shooting this and that NEON is distributing it, only hypes me up more.
Release Date: A Cannes debut is possible.
15. The French Dispatch
Director: Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, & The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Kate Winslet, Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Jeffery Wright & even more.
Synopsis: A love letter to journalists spanning multiple decades and set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories throughout decades published in “The French Dispatch” magazine.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Wes Anderson is one of the perennial filmmakers of today, someone who’s work cinephiles mark their calendars and look forward to. And though he’s coming off one of his lesser works, Isle of Dogs, this upcoming project contains the one of the most stacked ensembles of the year and contains all the promise.
Release Date: This seems most definitely to be an awards contender, so expect it the fall festival circuit and then hit theaters in the last quarter of 2020.
Director: Joel Coen
Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Brendan Gleeson, & Corey Hawkins
Synopsis: An adaptation of Shakespeare’s revered play.
Why You Should Look Out For It: This is Joel Coen’s, of the Coen Brothers, first solo effort without his brother, Ethan. For many cinephiles it came as a crazy, head-scratching shock to hear that announcement, but it also made it even more intriguing. I can’t imagine what take Joel has on Macbeth, but all I hope is that its something we haven’t seen before. He’s brought on Denzel Washington to be appear in his first Coen-related project and his wife Frances McDormand (no stranger to the Coens universe) to handle the duties as Lady Macbeth, and with A24 distributing it, this one has Oscar potential all over it.
Release Date: I could see this premiering at TIFF, or maybe AFI Fest in November since the movie hasn’t started filming yet.
13. The Devil All the Time
Director: Antonio Campos (Christine & Simon Killer)
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Eliza Scanlen, Haley Bennett, & Henry Melling
Synopsis: In the post-WWII 1960s in the town of Knockemstiff, Ohio, we see a slew of characters and plotlines that spans over two decades and all center on mentally disturbed people all suffering from the war’s psychological damages. One of those sees, Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård), who out of desperation to save his dying wife (Haley Bennett), turns to prayer which succumbs to sacrifice. His son Arvin (Tom Holland) is growing from a kid bullied at school into a man who knows when to take action. The cast of characters also includes a serial killer couple (Jason Clarke & Riley Keough), a faith-testing preacher (Robert Pattinson), and a corrupt local sheriff (Sebastian Stan).
Why You Should Look Out For It: Antonio Campos is one of the most unique filmmakers around, often delivering uncomfortable viewing experiences that center on tormented mindscapes, as seen in movies like Afterschool and Christine. And with his adaptation of Donald Ray Pollack’s southern potboiler, The Devil All the Time, he seems he may have found his most uncompromising project yet. From what I’ve heard about the book, it has structure that’s going to very difficult to adapt to the screen, but with Campos and this extraordinary ensemble attached, it, at the least, will be intriguing.
Release Date: I could see this premiering at Cannes then hitting Netflix in the late summer-early fall.
12. After Yang
Director: Kogonada (Columbus)
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin Min, Haley Lu Richardson, & Clifton Collins Jr.
Synopsis: A father (Colin Farrell) and daughter (possibly Haley Lu Richardson) band together to come to the aid of an ailing family member, Yang (Justin Min), who just happens to be a robot.
Why You Should Look Out For It: After his deeply moving, calming, and utterly incredible debut, Columbus, Kogonada immediately became a filmmaker to watch. And with him now hopping onto the A24 train with this project, jumping into the sci-fi genre and bringing back Haley Lu Richardson and bringing on Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith, After Yang is one of 2020’s most promising projects.
Release Date: A premier at the fall festival circuit and late 2020 release seems likely, given A24’s release history.
Director: Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge & Holy Motors)
Cast: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, & Simon Helberg
Synopsis: The peaceful life of a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and a world-famous opera singer (Marion Cotillard) gets turned upside down with the birth of their daughter, Annette — who harbors a curious talent.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Just the fact that Leos Carax is making a musical with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard is pretty much all you should need. (If you haven’t seen any of Carax’s movies, do yourself a favor and get on that and you’ll see why.)
Release Date: I could definitely see this premiering at Cannes.
10. Untitled Mike Mills Project
Director: Mike Mills (Beginners & 20th Century Women)
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix & Gaby Hoffman
Synopsis: Though most of the plot is being kept under wraps it’s being said that the film revolves around a documentary filmmaker (Joaquin Phoenix) whose latest project involves gifted children, and the project finds him bonding with his smart-yet-sensitive nephew, whose father struggles with bipolar disorder and is in the grips of a manic episode.
Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Joaquin Phoenix’s follow-up to his work in Joker and Mike Mills follow-up to the criminally underrated 20th Century Women. And judging by Mills’ past work, this could very well see Phoenix exploring more introspective shades in the vein of his work in Her.
Release Date: A fall festival debut seems very likely.
Director: Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Ford & Killing Them Softly)
Cast: Ana de Armas, Bobby Cannavale, Adrien Brody, Julianne Nicholson, Sara Paxton, Scott McNairy, & Garrett Dillahunt
Synopsis: A fictionalized chronicle of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas).
Why You Should Look Out For It: Andrew Dominik is one of the best directors working today, and he’s adapting Joyce Carroll Oates’ very unconventional historical novel, a project he’s been trying to get off the ground for years. (Dominik has described the narrative as a Polanski-esque “descent-into-madness.”) He’s found an inspired choice to play Monroe in Ana de Armas, who’s currently receiving raves for her great performance in Knives Out, and he’s teamed with on-the-rise cinematographer Chayse Irvin (BlacKkKlansman).
Release Date: Once again, this one seems very likely for a fall festival debut.
8. Untitled Jonathan Glazer Holocaust Film
Director: Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth, & Under the Skin)
Synopsis: A WWII Auschwitz story that reportedly focuses on a Nazi officer who has become enamored with the camp commandant’s wife.
Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s a Jonathan Glazer film, pure and simple. With only three films over a nearly two-decade career, he undoubtedly takes his time but next year it seems we might finally get the fourth. Glazer is notoriously secretive and not much is known about this project, even the cast. It’s rumored that this new project is loosely inspired by author Martin Amis’ acclaimed novel The Zone of Interest, which is set in Auschwitz. The 2014 novel grapples with the discomfiting idea of love blooming in a barbaric place and explores the contradictions of the human soul. If this is indeed what he’s adapting, audiences will be in store for something unquestionably challenging and uncomfortable.
Release Date: Since it doesn’t start shooting till 2020 there’s a chance that it might not even be released in 2020, but I still dare to dream.
7. The Last Planet (Rumored Title)
Director: Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, & A Hidden Life)
Cast: Géza Röhrig, Mark Rylance, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tawfeek Barhom, Ben Kingsley, Joseph Fiennes, Numan Acar, & Aidan Turner
Synopsis: The story of Jesus Christ (Géza Röhrig) told through parables.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Given how his films have dove deeper and deeper into spirituality, it’s not that shocking to see Terrence Malick finally go fully biblical. He’s following up his best work in years in A Hidden Life, and has brought on a very intriguing ensemble to bring these parables to life. In the center as Christ is the great Géza Röhrig, who faintly acts but was incredible in 2015’s Son of Saul. By his side as the Apostle Peter is Mathias Schoenaerts, and maybe the most interesting member of the cast is Oscar-winner Mark Rylance as Satan (who’s suggested that he’s playing multiple versions of the adversary). The looming question though is whether or not Malick is working from a set script as he did on A Hidden Life, or is returning to his more exploratory side? In either case, Malick grappling with the life of Christ has the potential (maybe guarantee?) to be an enthralling experience.
Release Date: Even though shooting has wrapped, the likelihood that this will be released in 2020 is very unlikely knowing Malick’s long editing process, but I’m still hoping.
Director: David Fincher (Seven, Zodiac, The Social Network)
Cast: Gary Oldman, Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Amanda Seyfried, Tuppence Middleton, & Charles Dance
Synopsis: Follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s (Gary Oldman) tumultuous development of Orson Welles’ (Tom Burke) 1941 masterwork Citizen Kane.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Just the fact that it’s a new film from David Fincher should be enough, but I guess I can explain more. It’s his first film since 2014’s Gone Girl, and although he’s been doing great work in the TV world with Mindhunter, it’s great to see him back on the big screen. This will also be his first movie in black and white (he’s brought on Mindhunter cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt), the script is written by Fincher’s late father, former chief editor of Life Magazine, Jack Fincher. And we also have Tom Burke following up his real-great in this year’s The Souvenir playing Orson Welles and have Gary Oldham leading the whole charge. So, we’re going to be in for something.
Release Date: This will certainly be another big awards contender for Netflix, so prepare for a last quarter of 2020 release.
5. Nightmare Alley
Director: Guillermo del Toro (The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, & The Shape of Water)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Toni Collette, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, David Strathairn, Richard Jenkins, Holt McCallany, & Ron Pearlman
Synopsis: An adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel, which sees in a carnival-set environment a corrupt con-man (Bradley Cooper) team up with the carnival’s mentalist (Toni Collette) to trick people into giving them money.
Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s del Toro’s follow-up to his Best Picture winner The Shape of Water, and after the runaway success that, that film was the filmmaker could have done anything and it appears he’s been given the proverbial blank check and he’s decided to take a stab at a classic, hard-boiled noir, a genre that will no doubt display the filmmakers talents at mood and the macabre. He’s brought on his most starry ensemble for a film that is said will be less supernaturally-inclined than his past work, and he’s described the project as being very R-rated and also an “underbelly of society” type of movie. Whatever it is he’s cooking up, a del Toro movie is always a feast of something special.
Release Date: Though it has started shooting yet, I could very well see this get a Holiday release in December.
4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Director: Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York & Anomalisa)
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemmons, Toni Collette, & David Thewlis
Synopsis: An unexpected detour causes a woman (Jessie Buckley) who is trying to figure out how to break up with her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to rethink her life.
Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Charlie Kaufman tackling Ian Reid’s disquieting tightrope walk of a novel: it’s a study of a relationship in its death throes that begins as an acrid black comedy and slowly becomes a terrifying thriller (Jesse Plemmons recently called the shoot “delirious”). I’m just beyond thrilled to see the brilliant Kaufman go-to-town on material of this nature and see him team with cinematographer Lukasz Zal (Ida & Cold War) will be deeply intriguing.
Release Date: A fall festival debut seems likely, followed by a release on Netflix.
Director: Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight, & Inception)
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine, Clémence Poésy, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, & Martin Donovon
Synopsis: An action epic revolving around international espionage and time travel.
Why You Should Look Out For It: This might be the biggest movie of 2020. With a budget sitting at a whopping $225 million, making it one of the most expensive original movies of all time. Shooting in seven countries with a massive cast, an incredible cinematographer in Hoyte van Hoytema (Her, Interstellar, & Dunkirk), Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was called “unreal” by Robert Pattinson last month and when that trailer arrived this month, many minds were blown. With things still being kept under wraps, Tenet could prove to be Mr. Nolan’s most elaborate undertaking to date, which is more than enough to have it this high on the list.
Release Date: July 17, 2020
2. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, The Master)
Synopsis: Set in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s, the film is set to be an ensemble piece but it’s protagonist is set to be a high school student who also happens to be a successful child actor.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Any new film from Paul Thomas Anderson, possibly the greatest American director working today, is cause for celebration and calendar marking. This new project sees Anderson going back to his roots, returning to the ’70s milieu of Boogie Nights. The movie will also be Anderson’s first look at high school life, but him returning to a sprawling ensemble and rumored to involve interlocking-vignettes in the vibe of his own 1999 film Magnolia. While no has joined the cast yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if some big names come aboard the project with a slew of updates coming in the months.
Release Date: It’s not expected to start shooting till the first quarter 2020, so this might not even come out next year, but here’s to dreaming.
Director: Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, The Arrival, Blade Runner 2049)
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, & David Dastmalchian
Synopsis: An adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal science fiction novel, that tells the story of a son (Timothée Chalamet) entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.
Why You Should Look Out For It: Denis Villeneuve has quickly ascended to not just the top of modern sci-fi filmmakers, but just filmmakers in general. His last work, Blade Runner 2049, was one of the most bravura studio films of the decade, and now he’s tackling Dune, which may even top that film in its grand and immersive sci-fi opera qualities. The sheer scope of Herbert’s dense and demanding novel will definitely be Villeneuve’s most difficult task. But he’s brought on 2020’s most astonishing ensemble, teamed up with cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher & Rouge One) for the first time, and all together has made it my most anticipated film of 2020.
Release Date: December 18, 2020