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20 Most Anticipated Films That Will Define 2019

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Joker/Lion King

With award season in full swing and the towering films of 2018 up for the industries most prestigious honors, the uniqueness of this moment is that movie goers are thinking far more of what’s to come in film as opposed to what moved them in the past. 2018 was a banner year for film, giving momentum to an even more exciting year in 2019. Here are the movies we can’t wait to watch this year.

1. Us

Release Date: March 15 // Certainly one of the most widely anticipated sophomore directorial outings surrounds Jordan Peele. Following the massive success of his debut film, Get Out, Peele’s new horror film will pack theaters this March. The haunting film, which will make its global debut in Austin during SXSW, stars Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o, Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker.

2. Fonzo

Release Date: TBD // Although film and TV accounts of notorious gangster Al Capone are anything but new, Fonzo, set to release this summer, somewhat breaks conformity with its period piece-like storytelling. It stars Tom Hardy as a 47-year-old Capone fresh off a 10-year bid at the now infamous Alcatraz. The ailing bootlegger suffers from dementia and is haunted by the ill doings of his violent past. Josh Trank helms as both writer and director.  

3. John Wick 3: Parabellum

Release Date: May 17 // Moving with a similar speed and box office popularity that Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible series once did, the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” nature surrounding the John Wick series continues this May with its third chapter, Parabellum. Keanu Reeves returns for the three-peat as everyone’s favorite assassin that kills at will and has no need to take names. Oh yeah, and Halle Berry co-stars. Swordfish, anyone?

4. Shaft

Release Date: June 14 // Dating back to the successful yet problematic blaxploitation era of the '70s, Richard Roundtree’s John Shaft is a character who largely stands above many others. The suave detective, often covered in leather, was far too cool to deny. Thus, Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft circa 2000 and, now, the latest installment features Roundtree reprising his role as John Shaft I, Jackson as John Shaft II and Survivor's Remorse star Jesse Usher as John Shaft III.

5. Toy Story 4

Release Date: June 21 // The gang is back for a fourth go round. After a somber close to the series’ third film, Toy Story 4 follows Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the crew on another harrowing adventure. Voicing the animated squad—as you probably already know—is Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Patricia Arquette and Keanu Reeves.

6. It: Chapter Two

Release Date: September 6 // A surprise box office smash back in 2017, Stephen King’s It returns for a modern-day sequel. With each of the first film's characters now adults and played by Hollywood heavyweights James McAvoy, Bill Hader and Jessica Chastain, the menacing and seemingly ageless Pennywise is back for some unfinished business. Another famed King adaptation, Pet Sematary, will arrive in April.

7. Captain Marvel

Release Date: March 8 // Does Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel hold the fate of the Avengers in her very capable hands? It would seem that way. In the closing moments of Avengers: Infinity War, before he fades into nothingness, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury sends a distress call to Captain Marvel. Will she save the day? Her film may be even more important than its foundational origin story.

8. Little Women

Release Date: December 25 // The eighth adaptation of the 1968 novel of the same name by prolific writer Louisa May Alcott, Little Women features a remarkably talented cast of Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronan. The period piece surrounds a group of women coming of age in post-Civil War America. Greta Gerwig directs this highly anticipated Christmas Day release.

9. The Lion King

Release Date: July 19 // The film we're all truly waiting for—men, women and children alike—is Jon Favreau's live-action remake of The Lion King. James Earl Jones is back as Mufasa while Donald Glover, Seth Rogan, Keegan-Michael Key and Beyonce are along for the ride. This will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about films of the year.

10. Honey Boy

Release Date: January 25 // One of the most intriguing films coming in the first quarter is Shia LeBeouf’s Honey Boy. Written by LeBeouf himself, the screenplay revolves around his childhood and defining relationship with his troubled father. However, in lieu of playing his younger self as one would expect, Shia plays the role of his father. The film is being directed by documentarian Alma Har’el.

11. Velvet Buzzsaw

Release Date: February 1 // Netflix nabs Jake Gyllenhaal for its latest guilty pleasure horror film, Velvet Buzzsaw. A roundabout tale that places a mirror to our longing, greedy impulses, the film circles supernatural forces that seek revenge on those who wish to see wealth after value art pieces are discovered from a recently deceased artist.

12. Joker

Release Date: October 4 // When Jack Nicholson mastered the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, in 1989, it felt as though Nicholson had uniquely tapped into the imaginative criminal. Then came Heath Ledger’s portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which proved to be one of the best performances of not only Ledger's career, but of any fictional villain. The question that now hangs above 2019: Can Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker top Nicholson's Joker or better Ledger's Joker? We’ll find out this October in the DC Comics self-titled origin story.

13. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Release Date: October 18 // Widely cherished for its beloved lead, Fred Rogers, 2018’s Why Don’t You Be My Neighbor documentary was only the beginning of our cultural recognition of Mr. Rogers. This October, Tom Hanks will button up that famed cardigan for his long-awaited and potentially Oscar-worthy performance in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The film co-stars Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper and Tammy Blanchard.

14. Star Wars: Episode IX

Release Date: December 20 // Following the general disappointment of The Last Jedi, Star Wars: Episode IX is director J.J. Abrams last chance at redemption. With this being the final installment in a three-part trilogy and the Skywalker saga, everyone is hopeful this crescendo soars above and beyond expectations. We’ll have to wait until December to find out. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait that long to find out the film's title.

15. Ad Astra

Release Date: May 24 // Brad Pitt will be much more visible (on screen) in 2019 with powerful leading roles such as his harrowing accent in Ad Astra. Pitt will play astronaut Roy McBride, who travels to the far reaches of space to find his missing father. He, too, hopes to unravel a mystery that threatens earth's survival. Tommy Lee Jones will co-star while James Gray directs.

16. The Irishman

Release Date: TBD on Netflix // Martin Scorsese makes his first leap into the choppy streaming waters with his Al Pacino and Robert De Niro-led The Irishman. Based on a book by Charles Brandt and a subsequent screenplay from Steven Zaillian, the film follows a mob hitman’s possible involvement in the death of Jimmy Hoffa. Scorsese has gone on record to say that no one wanted to fund this film for almost seven years. Netflix has taken the risk and, quite possibly, the reward.

17. Gemini Man

Release Date: October 4 // Although we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Will Smith film our hearts truly desire, Bad Boys 3, which has begun principal photography and will release in 2020, this year’s Gemini Man is far more than a serviceable substitute. Smith plays a high-level assassin who’s a bit past his prime and has run into his far more talented and youthful protege. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen will co-star.

18. The King

Release Date: TBD // Timothee Chalamet will see his star ascend higher in The King. Although specifics of the film are vague, Joel Edgerton writes and co-stars alongside Robert Pattinson in this film that chronicles a series of historic William Shakespeare plays. Chalamet will play King Henry V, whose reign was short-lived but championed by great military triumph in the Hundred Years' War against France.

19. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Release Date: July 26 // Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, could be the revival piece he desperately needs it to be. Centered on Hollywood in the late 1960s and the infamous Manson family murders, the film features a who’s who of current Hollywood leading men and women: Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Marsden and Kurt Russell. Robbie plays Sharon Tate who was murdered by the Manson family cult in 1969.

20. Avengers: Endgame

Release Date: April 26 // The finale we’ve all been waiting for. Marvel’s fourth installment of its Avengers franchise will pack theaters this spring after a monumental cliffhanger in 2018. All the usual suspects will return for the final act, yet in what capacity we're not completely certain. But that’s all part of the excitement surrounding this closer to a brilliant era in Marvel film history. We can worry about the next phase in their hundred-point plan later. For now, nothing matters more than the endgame.

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