Just as we’re all scrambling to catch up with the best of 2019’s releases — here comes the 2020 movie slate. Here are 10 movies to watch for; some you’ve heard of, some that maybe you haven’t. Note that all release dates are subject to change, or in some cases are vaguer than vague at this point. Regardless, none of these movies can come soon enough.
Five you’re already waiting for
“Wonder Woman 1984.” Patty Jenkins’ kick-ass 2017 film “Wonder Woman” introduced a new superhero to the DC cinematic universe, and a lot of us were ready for a sequel pretty much immediately. Amazonian warrior princess Diana (Gal Gadot) returns, as does her romantic interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who I remember from the previous film as being dead, but never mind. Set several decades after the previous film’s World War II era, the sequel also stars Kristen Wiig as the villainous Barbara Minerva, aka Cheetah. (June 5)
“Soul.” Every new Pixar movie (particularly a nonsequel) is an event, and this one sounds intriguing — particularly since it’s directed by Pixar master Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up,” “Inside Out”). Jamie Foxx voices a music teacher about to get his big break as a musician — but, after an accident, finds his soul separated from his body. Sounds pretty high-concept, but so did “Inside Out,” which turned out to be sublime. Other voices include Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad and Daveed Diggs. (June 19)
“In the Heights.” Before there was “Hamilton,” a young Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote this musical (with Quiara Alegría Hudes), a Broadway hit from 2008-2011 centering on a Dominican American bodega owner in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Now it’s a movie, directed by Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”). “Cats” didn’t kill the movie musical, did it? We shall see. (June 26)
“Tenet.” I have watched the trailer to Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated next film, and it’s about … climbing exterior walls, and preventing World War III, and maybe spying, and, OK, I really don’t know what it’s about. But it features John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Robert Pattinson and Sir Michael Caine in an excellent yellow tie, and it’s making me think about “Inception” in a very pleasant way. Bring it on! (July 17)
“Dune.” In 1984, David Lynch directed an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, set in a futuristic world ruled by feuding intergalactic nobles. Reception to the film was … mixed. Now, 36 years later, another filmmaker is bravely picking up that dropped sword: Denis Villeneuve, whose science-fiction screen cred is stellar (“Arrival,” “Blade Runner 2049”), works from a screenplay he wrote with Jon Spaihts (“The Darkest Hour”) and Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”); his buzzy cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and Jason Momoa. (Dec. 18)
And five maybe you haven’t heard about yet, but should
“Wendy.” We haven’t heard much from filmmaker Benh Zeitlin since his magical 2012 debut, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” — but now he’s back, with what looks like another eerily beautiful film centered on childhood. This one, inspired by the story of Peter Pan, was filmed on the island of Montserrat, south of Antigua. (Feb. 28)
“The Last Thing He Wanted.” The enormously talented filmmaker Dee Rees (seen her great, Oscar-nominated 2018 drama “Mudbound” yet on Netflix? Or her lovely coming-of-age debut, “Pariah?” What are you waiting for?) based this film on a Joan Didion novel, about a D.C. journalist who gets drawn into her father’s work as a Central American arms dealer. Anne Hathaway and Willem Dafoe star. (2020 TBD)
“Macbeth.” The Coen Brothers filmmaking team usually work together, but for this project, Joel’s working alone (though I suppose you could say that William Shakespeare is his co-screenwriter). Here’s the key detail on this one, though: Denzel Washington as the title character, Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth. I smell fireworks. (2020 TBD)
“Mank.” David Fincher’s first theatrical film since “Gone Girl” six years ago sounds like a movie-lover’s dream: It follows legendary Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) through the development of Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” The screenplay was written by Fincher’s father, Jack Fincher, who died in 2003; this movie — which Fincher had to fight the studio in order to shoot in black and white — has been in the works for a long time. Lily Collins, Amanda Seyfried and Tom Burke (as Welles) co-star. (2020 TBD)
“Passing.” Based on a novel by Nella Larsen, Rebecca Hall’s directing debut is set in 1920s Harlem, focusing on two childhood friends (Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga), one of whom can pass for white. The casting and the literary pedigree (Larsen, a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, died in 1964, but recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in her work) make this a potentially fascinating film, as does the potential of Hall, always a smart and vivid presence on-screen. (2020 TBD)
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