As a new year approaches, so does hype for what movies are in store for us! 2018 really delivered on the superhero front with “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Aquaman” and yes, even the guiltily pleasurable “Venom.” Less impressive were animation offerings: “Isle of Dogs,” “Early Man” and “Incredibles 2” stuck to formula and stereotype, failing to live up to their respective auteurs’ previous innovations. One can only hope the disappointments become a quick thing of the past. Below you’ll find ten of the most anticipated genre films of 2019.
(Releases Jan. 18, 2019 from Universal Pictures)
This is the third part of a trilogy no one knew existed until it was sprung upon us in perfect M. Night Shyamalan fashion. At the end of “Split,” it’s revealed that Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) and his 23 personalities exist in the same universe as “Unbreakable’s” David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his arch-nemesis Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). Adding in the only actor equipped to handle a plethora of personalities – the singularly sublime Sarah Paulson — is a stroke of casting genius. With four thespians pitted against one another in grand genre-bending calamity, there is nothing holding audiences back from except a nearly unendurable month-long wait.
9. “Captain Marvel”
(Releases March 8, 2019 from Walt Disney Studios)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe finally churns out a female-led origin story, with the amazing Brie Larson filling the Captain’s boots. Set in a time when “blockbuster” had more than one meaning to society, we’ll see Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) train the hero most likely to pry Thanos’s thumb of control loose in present day. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of “Captain Marvel” is that many are discovering who exactly this mysterious woman is. While the trailers elude to alien roots, Captain Marvel appears more patriotic than any Earthling we’ve been introduced to aside from the obvious “Captain” of familiarity.
8. “It: Chapter Two”
(Releases Sept. 6, 2019 from Warner Bros)
Thanks to Andy Muschietti’s spectacular adaptation of Stephen King’s “It,” storm drains will never again be walked past with confidence. That is but one of many ways the titular killer clown reshaped the contemporary horror culture. With a lovable ensemble that gallantly protects their town against It’s omnipresent evil, you can bet horror fans will be rendered ecstatic upon reuniting with them in adult form. The most popular King movie ever made – sorry, “The Shining” fans – “It” reshaped the way studios could market a horror tentpole. Instead of hackneyed scare tactics, why not crowd-please them?
(Releases Oct. 4, 2019 from Warner Bros)
Rising from the DCEU ashes is Joaquin Phoenix as the title villain in this offshoot standalone. The low-budget character study/origin story approach for Batman’s ultimate nemesis offers plenty of conceptual intrigue. Removed is the pressure of world-building or connecting to prior films. This is a clean slate for Warner Bros to rebrand and newly compete against the juggernaut that is Marvel. One advantage the movie is its character’s history with Oscar: every live-action movie that features the Joker has received at least one Academy Award. That prestige booster alone – not to mention the fascination of seeing how this performance differentiates from Heath Ledger’s legendary take – will peel eyes towards Todd Phillips’ psychological foray into madness.
6. “Frozen 2”
(Releases Nov. 22, 2019 by Walt Disney Studios)
Breaking box office records while shattering Disney Princess tropes, “Frozen” was a gargantuan success on par with global phenomenons “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast.” It overtook child merchandising for several years and reinvigorated the studio’s dated storytelling brand. Elsa (Idina Menzel) is among the most inspirational animated heroines ever created, a queer icon and overall feminist trailblazer thanks to writer-director Jennifer Lee. As long as the sequel doesn’t rest on its own hype machine, moviegoers of all ages should once again sing their troubles away in dazzling fashion.
5. “Toy Story 4”
(Release June 21, 2019 from Walt Disney Studios)
Judging by the early word from stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, this fourth installment in the successful Pixar franchise might be the first animated film to take a legitimate stab at “Best Picture.” If the ending delivers an even more heart-wrenching blow than the third movie, it could very well claim this record. This is one of those sequels audiences initially embrace but then have a rising sense of trepidation the closer it comes to releasing. Everyone is fearful of what travesties might occur. After some inconsistent outings over the past decade and rival Walt Disney Animation Studios upping their competitive game, Pixar aims to prove that its perennial property reigns supreme.
4. “Ad Astra”
(Releases May 24, 2019 by 20th Century Fox)
More than anything, the cult following of James Gray is dying to know when he’ll finally get his mainstream break. Arguably Cannes’ most reputable American director participant not to be a household name, there’s clearly enough industry love and sponsorship for Gray to keep stomaching repeated financial disappointment. The science fiction drama sounds eerily similar to “Interstellar” which also dealt with a space expedition unraveling the mystery behind a loved one’s disappearance. How the two compare could spell trouble for Gray considering the space travel realism Christopher Nolan imbued in his masterpiece. What will be the real test of achievement is if James Gray succeeds where Nolan failed: garnering a “Best Picture” nomination for such an epic, uncharted adventure.
3. “Avengers: Endgame”
(Releases April 26, 2019 from Walt Disney Studios)
Exterminating half the galaxy with a snap of his finger, Josh Brolin’s Thanos is now master of the universe. The remaining heroes who weren’t among the aforementioned genocidal wave now must rebuild what’s been lost. Orchestrating this restoration is going to a jigsaw puzzle of insane fun, likely more destruction and ultimately sacrifice. Will this be the end of Iron Man and/or Captain America, who survived “Infinity War’s” seismic cliffhanger? Character fates have never before been this pivotal to moviegoers.
(Releases March 15, 2019 from Universal Pictures)
Jordan Peele’s directorial follow-up to the most culturally significant horror film of the 21st century, “Get Out,” should have everyone clutching their pearls in anticipation. The plot has been kept under wraps except for loose details of a family vacation getting horribly interrupted. “Us” also marks Lupita Nyong’o’s first leading role, an occasion that should have ensued immediately following her Oscar win for “12 Years a Slave.” Peele might be the only storyteller alive whose nightmares we’d gladly volunteer to experience.
1. “Star Wars: Episode IX”
(Releases Dec. 20, 2019 from Walt Disney Studios)
The grand conclusion to a nine-part saga forty years in the making? Everyone is coming to that party! The Christmas 2019 miracle that Kathleen Kennedy and her Lucasfilm colleagues spurned over the course of four years of episodes and spinoffs is shifting audience obsession from the Skywalker/Solo clan to a new batch of heroes and villains. “Episode IX” will finalize this story how it was always destined to: a galaxy (hopefully) saved not by family dynasty — which plagued it to begin with — but by creatures, sentients and species of all types collectively wielding hope and a Force of good against tyranny. Regardless of character fate, the late Carrie Fisher’s presence will immortalize cinema’s most celebrated heroine, Princess Leia.