25 Must-See Films of 2019

1. Us dir. Jordan Peele (15th March UK, US)

Jordan Peele gave us all the greatest Christmas present of all on December 25th by releasing the first trailer for his much anticipated next venture into horror, Us. The Get Out director had previously let spill 10 films he told lead actress Lupita Nyong’o to watch in preparation for her role that included The Shining, Martyrs, It Follows and The Babadook. The film is being listed as a “monster mythology” that shows a family consisting of Nyong’o and Black Panther star Winston Duke with their two children on holiday when they come across their monstrous doppelgangers. The trailer alone presents enough symbolism and decoding work to formulate an essay so there is no doubt that Peele’s next film will be one of the most interesting and potentially, best films of the year.

 

2. The Turning dir. Floria Sigismondi (UK and USA TBC)

Floria Sigismondi hasn’t released a feature film since 2010’s The Runaways. She’s jumping from 70s girl power rock band biopic to a horror adaptation of Henry James’ 1898 novella ‘The Turn of the Screw’. Classified as a gothic ghost story it stars some of Hollywood’s most sought-after young performers Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) as a pair of orphan children who are cared for by a young nanny (Mackenzie Davis) in a mansion that she believes to be haunted. Shot in Ireland and overseen by Stephen Spielberg who was originally attached to the project back in 2016, Sigismondi’s creepy and jittery style developed in her early work on Marilyn Manson music videos is sure to be put to good use here.

3. Beach Bum dir. Harmony Korine (22nd March, USA)

I think by now most people have seen the picture of Zac Efron with a religious patch-covered denim vest, criminally bad bleached hair and beard tramlines that Riff Raff would be proud of. Most people thought it was a joke. It was in fact a first-look at Harmony Korine’s post-Spring Breakers delve into beach-side Americana, The Beach Bum. It stars Matthew McConaughey as stoner Moondog, a poet who lives life by his own rules. As with any Korine film the plot itself seems very loose from its teaser trailer but it does sport appearances from Snoop Dogg and Isla Fisher.

4. Her Smell dir. Alex Ross Perry (29th March, USA)

Everyone wants to see Elizabeth Moss as a messed up Punk Rock Chick, right? Well Her Smell is going to be that offering. With a loaded cast of bandmates, managers and partners it follows Moss as Becky Something a once-successful rock band lead singer who is trying to get sober and get back in touch with her creative side. It opened at TIFF last year to positive reviews and will be an unusual shake-up in Moss’ character choices.

5. Glass dir. M. Night Shyamalan (18th January UK, USA)

M. Night Shyamalan’s much anticipated follow-up to Split and the merging of a universe created in 2000’s Unbreakable James McAvoy and Bruce Willis’ characters will finally meet in a high security facility alongside Samuel L. Jackson’s character Elijah Price as they are studied by psychologist Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). The trailer suggests the trio rising up against the powers that be, and this is sure to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year- and with Shyamalan at the helm, there’s gotta be a twist.

6. Godzilla: King of the Monsters dir. Michael Dougherty (31st May UK, USA)

Just the other week film fans across the globe were stunned by the new posters released for anticipated 2016 Godzilla sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  The posters showed the 3 ‘Titans’ Godzilla would be up against in his battle to protect the earth. If you thought Godzilla was big, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Mothra, Roden and the three-headed King Ghidorah are the big creatures on board for 2019’s biggest monster movie. Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown take the leading roles as mother and daughter in the film that will set off Summer 2019’s Blockbuster season.

7. Rabid dir. Jen and Sylvia Soska (25th March, UK)

The Soksa Sisters are the Queens of horror and after taking some time to go off and present their own horror game show Hellevator they are back in 2019 with a remake of David Cronenberg’s body horror classic, Rabid. It follows the story of a woman named Rose, who is heavily scarred in a horrific accident. This leads her to seek out alternative treatments and cutting-edge plastic surgery… but something about Rose is different and its not just her face. Horror fans over at SQ are incredibly excited to see a women-directed take on body horror, and after the cult success of their revenge film American Mary, the Soska Sisters are the women for the job.

8. Rocketman dir. Dexter Fletcher (17th May USA, 24th May UK)

If there’s going to be one biopic worth spending your money on in 2019 its gotta be the story of music legend Elton John. Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman will see Taron Egerton take the leading role as the effervescent, camp and complicated musician. The story will chart his rise to the top as a wunderkind of the Royal Academy of Music in the late 60s to the flamboyant stage persona everyone has come to know and love. With a back catalogue of songs recognisable to most of the western world there’s sure to be plenty of performance scenes to rival this last years Bohemian Rhapsody. The trailer advertises the film as ‘based on a true fantasy’, with floating crowds and an almost musical number through the streets appearing in the trailer, this is certainly not going to be your straightforward biopic.

9. Captain Marvel dir. Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (8th March UK, USA)

The next Marvel film for release certainly isn’t going to be one you’ve never heard of, but a particularly important addition to their filmography. Brie Larson will be taking the coveted role of Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers in their first female-led superhero film. Set in 1995 (making way for some great style/music choices, obviously), the film follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel and saves the earth from two battling alien worlds. This one is a particularly important one for the Screen Queen’s gang as it’s co-directed by a woman, Its Kind of a Funny Story’s Anna Boden. Expect plenty of Captain Marvel coverage/hype from us in the near future.

10. Little Women dir. Greta Gerwig (25th December USA, 17th Jan 2020 UK)

Ever since it was announced that Greta Gerwig would be directing a new version of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, Little Women, film twitter has not stopped talking about it. With a cast comprised of young Hollywood faves Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet as well as seasoned pros Meryl Streep and Laura Dern this is a stacked cast that will once again be tackling the lives of a group of sisters growing up in post-Civil War America.

11. Pet Semetary dir. Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer (5th April UK, USA)

Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s adaptation/remake of Pet Semetary in April is the starting point for a year of Stephen King adaptations. Adapted from the 1983 novel it follows the story of the Creeds, who move into a large, rural house by the side of a very dangerous road. More dangerous still is the creepy ‘Pet Semetary’ that is off the beaten track not far from their house. When their family cat dies and is buried there, it sets off a chain of events that shake the family. Mary Lambert’s 1989 version of the film was renowned for its creepy visual effects, namely Church’s light-up eyes. Its going to be interesting to see how this adaptation fares with such big boots to fill.

12. Hellboy dir. Neil Marshall (12th April UK, USA)

When David Harbour first posted pictures of his dad-bod gone ripped transformation for 2019’s Neil Marshall Hellboy adaptation, the internet went crazy. The lead up to the trailer’s release saw multiple exciting on-set photos and promotional materials (mainly a seriously cool poster) that got the world hyped for a new, darker R-Rated imagining of the Guillermo Del Toro staple. Harbour’s half-demon is joined by Sasha Lane and Daniel Dae-Kim as they fight against Nimue the Blood Queen (horror action hero Milla Jovovich) who wants to destroy mankind.

13. It: Chapter Two dir. Andy Muschietti (6th September UK, USA)

Long Live the King! Andy Muschietti is back this year with the much-anticipated follow-up to 2017’s terrifying smash-hit IT, and continuing on the Stephen King Universe craze. Chapter 2 has yet to release a trailer or even a poster but will follow the grown-up Losers Club when Pennywise the Clown (a deranged Bill Skarsgaard) threatens to come back to Derry. Taking the adult roles is a stellar cast of Jessica Chastain (Bev), James McAvoy (Bill), Bill Hader (Richie), Jay Ryan (Ben), James Ransone (Eddie), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike) and Andy Bean (Stan). 2019 is sure to be a fantastic year for the horror genre.

14. The Nightingale dir. Jennifer Kent (January, Sundance Film Festival)

The Nightingale’s Sundance Premiere this month will mark the return of The Babadook director Jennifer Kent, this time with a period piece set in 1825 in Australia. The film follows a young girl Clare, an Irish convict who is out for revenge across the Tasmanian wilderness. A clip released from its first premiere at Venice Film Festival in 2018 shows lead actress Aisling Franciosi on horseback wielding a shotgun and slowly following a young aboriginal man’s path. This one seems gritty and dramatic which will be a brilliant pairing considering the great character work Kent derived from her actors in The Babadook.

15. Joker dir. Todd Phillips (4th October UK, USA)

There has been many a screen-test, on set-photo and videos leaked from the set of Todd Phillips’ unusual looking take on DC’s infamous character, The Joker. The surprising pairing of known funny-man Phillips, director of The Hangover trilogy, and serious acting chameleon Joaquin Phoenix has been taken as a bit of a joke by some hardcore DC fans. While Heath Ledger’s rendition of the character is still the most beloved, Phillip’s and Phoenix promise that this will be a much different, grittier character study that focuses on The Joker alone, on his rise from failed comedian Arthur Fleck to the psychotic criminal terrorising the streets of Gotham.

16. Brightburn dir. David Yarovesky (24th May UK, USA)

Superhero films and horror films are the two genres that regularly dominate the box office, so why has no one ever bothered to properly combine the two? David Yarovesky is here to answer that question with Brightburn, a sinister horror take on the Superman origin story. The film stars Elizabeth Banks as a woman who rescues a child that crash lands to earth, but instead of being the hero to save the day, the child becomes something much worse.

17. The Irishman dir. Martin Scorsese (TBC)

Martin Scorsese is currently taking Netflix on a wild ride with his passion project The Irishman, which has been in development for over 10 years. The mob epic is currently reported to be costing Netflix over $175 million due to expensive post-production costs (also probably why there isn’t a confirmed release date yet), namely the de-ageing of the films stars Al Pacino and frequent collaborator Robert De Niro. In true Scorsese fashion the film follows the true story of a notorious gangster, Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran (DeNiro) who in later life confessed to the murder of his trusted bodyguard Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), who had previously been thought missing. The film will chart their friendship from when they first met 30 years prior, up until Hoffa’s disappearance. The film also boasts a stacked secondary cast consisting of Joe Pesci, Jesse Plemons, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Stephen Graham and Anna Paquin.

18. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile dir. Joe Berlinger (26th January, Sundance Film Festival)

Who’d have ever thought that one day we could say that we were being given a Ted Bundy biopic starring High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron in the lead role, Phil Collins’ daughter Lily as his long-term girlfriend and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory in potentially his most serious role yet? Well the very long-winded Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile will be attempting to deliver just that, with a different take on prolific American serial killer Bundy’s story- by viewing it from the perspective of his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins). The film will be premiering at Sundance this month and charts Bundy’s notorious killings and attempts to defend himself in court against lead prosecutor Larry Simpson (Jim Parsons) and Judge Edward Cowart (John Malkovich), all the while Kloepfer is in denial of her lover’s crimes. Efron certainly possesses the charisma to pull off one of the most unlikely-looking serial killers of the 20th century and we’re interested to see him step up to the plate for such a complex role.

19. Miss Bala dir. Catherine Hardwicke (1st February USA, 15th March UK)

After a four year break from feature films, Catherine Hardwicke is back in 2019 with Miss Bala. Based on the Spanish language action-thriller, the film will see Gina Rodriguez as the title character as she is dragged into the world of cross-border crime after meeting drug traffickers. Used as a decoy for multiple criminal activities and with a desire to free herself from a world she never dreamed of, Miss Bala will be a new step for Rodriguez as she jumps into the shoes of an action heroine.

20. The Kitchen dir. Andrew Berloff (20th September USA)

Andrea Berloff’s The Kitchen is set to be this year’s Widows, with a packed ensemble cast focusing on 1970s gangsters’ wives picking up jobs while their husbands are in prison. Aside from sounding incredibly stylish it might just have one of the most brilliant female-led casts of the year with Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy and Annabella Sciorra taking their husbands places as top criminal players.

21. Velvet Buzzsaw dir. Dan Gilroy (27th January Sundance Film Festival, 1st February Worldwide on Netflix)

Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy is pairing back up with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo this year for what promises to be one of Netflix’s most anticipated offerings of the year, Velvet Buzzsaw. Its description sounds like a spiritual counterpart to 2016’s Nocturnal Animals in that the film will explore the dark underbelly of the high-art world in a supernatural horror-thriller where greed and morality collide.

22. Native Son- dir. Rashid Johnson (24th January Sundance Film Festival)

When the Sundance screenings announcement was made, Film Twitter seemed particularly excited about the Ashton Sanders-led adaptation of Richard Wright’s influential 1940 novel, Native Son.  Directed by artist Rashid Johnson in his directorial debut it appears that Johnson and screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks have updated the story for a contemporary audience. Sanders will play Bigger Thomas, a young black man growing up in poverty in the South Side of Chicago. Bigger Thomas was written to encompass the systemic disadvantages placed upon black people in a society created by and for white people. The original book was called a ‘protest novel’ by James Baldwin and has been touted as an important moment in the original Civil Rights Movement and referenced in today’s Black Lives Matter movement.

23. The Lighthouse dir. Robert Eggers (TBC)

Very little is known about The Witch director Robert Eggers’ next feature, even this sneaky picture of the titular Lighthouse barely gives anything away. The Lighthouse is listed as a fantasy horror (so not unlike The Witch) that will follow an ageing lighthouse keeper named Old, played by Willem Dafoe. And that’s pretty much all there is to know right now, Robert Pattinson is the only other actor listed on the film’s IMDB but for us, this film has enough intrigue to keep us guessing till its release.

24. High Life dir. Claire Denis (12th April USA)

Audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September were raving about Claire Denis’ retro sci-fi drama High Life, but the film will not be seeing its theatrical US or UK releases until later this year. Robert Pattinson plays a father who struggles to live in deep-space isolation with his young daughter. Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth and Andre Benjamin also star.

25. Midsommar dir. Ari Aster (9th August, USA)

After Ari Aster lit a fire under the horror genre’s ass in 2018 with the grief-driven cult picture Hereditary, his next film will still be staying within the realms of horror and focusing on a young woman who goes on a summer trip with her boyfriend and things don’t exactly go to plan. As of yet there are no images or a trailer for this under-wraps film but it is led by some of the most sought-after young actors working right now: Florence Pugh (Lady MacBeth), Will Poulter (Detroit) and Jack Reynor (Sing Street).

 

 

by Chloe Leeson

Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screen Queens. She hails from the north of England (the proper north that people think is actually Scotland but isn’t). Her lifesource is Harmony Korine’s 90s Letterman interviews and Ezra Miller’s jawline. She is a costume designer for hire who spends way too much time watching bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Stand by Me and Pan’s Labyrinth. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff and logs them on letterboxd here

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