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50 Films Coming out in 2019 to Anticipate (or Avoid) Part I

Updated on January 10, 2019
ChrisSawin profile image

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at God Hates Geeks, Slickster Magazine, and What Culture.

Production stills from State Like Play, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Glass, The Kid Who Would Be King, Arctic, and Velvet Buzzsaw.
Production stills from State Like Play, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Glass, The Kid Who Would Be King, Arctic, and Velvet Buzzsaw.

Part II | Part III

These first few weeks of the year that we all find ourselves in right now are both exciting and exhausting at the same time for film fans. The releases of the previous year have finally let up due to the holiday season and you’re still recuperating from the overwhelming swarm of everything that’s been released (exceptional, horrendous, mediocre, and anything else in between) from the past 12 months. There is an entire year of films on the horizon that you must base your enthusiasm or lethargy on solely based on the media available.

January 4th - State Like Sleep

Written and directed by Meredith Danluck (North of South, West of East) and starring Katherine Waterston, Michael Shannon, and Luke Evans. A film star commits suicide and his wife (Waterston) begins piecing the mystery of his death together while discovering the details of his double life. A modern noir that has potential. Seems to be available to rent via Amazon Prime and other streaming services now.

The legendary Super Saiyan known as Broly from the upcoming, "Dragon Ball Super: Broly," film.
The legendary Super Saiyan known as Broly from the upcoming, "Dragon Ball Super: Broly," film.

January 16th - Dragon Ball Super: Broly

I’m a massive Dragon Ball fan and this has been on my radar for months. While the Dragon Ball Super anime was ended in order for the production crew to fully focus on making this film as good as it could possibly be and that was bittersweet in itself, it’s honestly fulfilling to see that a Dragon Ball film is out there that’s longer than 50 minutes.

January 18th - Glass

Split was one of 2016’s biggest surprises; mostly because everyone had thought the best days of M. Night Shyamalan’s were behind him, but Split is incredibly well-crafted and its Unbreakable tease at the end only made audiences thirstier for whatever Shyamalan did next. Three years later, we’re getting the first Shyamalan crossover event and what is hopefully a different direction for the superhero film formula. Promising to be something different than what is being advertised (like most of Shyamalan’s work), Glass is the first big release of 2019 that should be on everyone’s radar.

January 25th - The Kid Who Would Be King

I’ve been waiting eight years for Joe Cornish’s follow up to his 2011 sci-fi action comedy Attack the Block and that alone is driving my excitement for this film. The trailer is fairly underwhelming, but here’s hoping magic lies within the footage that hasn’t been shown. Having Patrick Stewart play Merlin means it can't be all bad, right?

January 25th - Polar

Polar is based on the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel Polar: Came From the Cold which began as a webcomic and was notable for its lack of dialogue and basic color scheme (black, white, and orange) similar to that of Sin City. The webcomic was known for utilizing a ton of gore, which seems promising. Polar premieres on Netflix January 25th. The trailer just surfaced. Via Netflix, here's the official synopsis for the film:

"The world’s top assassin, Duncan Vizla, aka The Black Kaiser, is settling into retirement when his former employer marks him as a liability to the firm. Against his will, he finds himself back in the game going head to head with an army of younger, faster, ruthless killers who will stop at nothing to have him silenced."

A one-eyed Mads Mikkelsen as Duncan Vizla in Netflix's action noir film, "Polar."
A one-eyed Mads Mikkelsen as Duncan Vizla in Netflix's action noir film, "Polar."

February 1st - Arctic

Back to back Mads Mikkelsen films both set in cold weather, but Arctic features Mikkelsen going head to head with a polar bear. That’s all I needed to be interested. The trailer just dropped recently.

“A man stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive.”

February 1st - Velvet Buzzsaw

From Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Velvet Buzzsaw has a relatively simple premise.

“Big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce.”

The horror-thriller stars John Malkovich, Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, and Rene Russo. Hits Netflix Feburary 1st. The trailer was just released.

Rene Russo and Jake Gyllenhaal as Rhodora Haze and Morf Vandewalt in Dan Gilroy's, "Velvet Buzzsaw."
Rene Russo and Jake Gyllenhaal as Rhodora Haze and Morf Vandewalt in Dan Gilroy's, "Velvet Buzzsaw."

February 5th (China) - The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang

All I needed to hear was Jackie Chan playing a legendary demon hunter and I was hooked. Some of the images give the impression that at least some of the monsters may be Sesame Street-like puppets. Directed by Vash/Jia Yan (visual effects artist of Batman: Under the Red Hood).

February 8th - Cold Pursuit

I really wanted to like 2014’s In Order of Disappearance, but it just didn’t land with me. This is the American remake starring Liam Neeson and directed by Hans Petter Moland. Neeson is saying this will be his last action film.

Hiccup and Toothless return for, "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World."
Hiccup and Toothless return for, "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World."

February 8th - The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

The Lego Movie was a huge surprise for my wife and I because we both thought it looked terrible. The animation looked like it was intended for someone with ADD and the humor seemed to miss its mark for an adult audience. However, once we saw it, we both realized it was much better than the marketing implied. The sequel looks like it could go either way and is directed by Trolls and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalow director Mike Mitchell and art department coordinator for Robot Chicken Trisha Gum.

February 22nd - How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

This is the last film in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise and it sounds like this will be the last time we see Toothless and Hiccup. The previous How to Train Your Dragon sequel is still so good. I’m attempting to avoid trailers for this to hopefully be pleasantly surprised from beginning to end while sitting down in a theater to see this.

March 1st - Chaos Walking

Directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) with a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Lindsey Beer (the upcoming Masters of the Universe reboot), John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), Gary Spinelli (American Made), and Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls), the plot synopsis for Chaos Walking reads as,

“A dystopian world where there are no women and all living creatures can hear each other’s' thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise.”

The cast includes Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, and David Oyelowo.

March 1st - Climax

This screened at last year’s Fantastic Fest and I didn’t have the opportunity to see it. Climax is the newest film from Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, Enter the Void) and the synopsis almost reads like an alternate version of Suspiria:

“French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD.”

The only recognizable member of the cast is Sofia Boutella (Star Trek: Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service).

A production still from Hu Bo's Chinese drama, "An Elephant Sitting Still."
A production still from Hu Bo's Chinese drama, "An Elephant Sitting Still."

March 1st - Greta

Director Neil Jordan (writer and director of Breakfast on Pluto, director of Byzantium and In Dreams) co-wrote the screenplay for Greta with Ray Wright (the 2010 remake of The Crazies, Case 39). The thriller debuted at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and stars Isabelle Huppert and Chloe Grace Moretz. Here’s the premise:

“A sweet, naïve young woman trying to make it on her own in New York City, Frances does not think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner is Greta, an eccentric French piano teacher with a love for classical music and an aching loneliness. Having recently lost her mother, Frances quickly grows closer to widowed Greta. The two quickly become friends—but Greta's maternal charms begin to dissolve and grow increasingly disturbing as Frances discovers that nothing in Greta's life is what it seems.”

March 8th - An Elephant Sitting Still

Another TIFF debut, An Elephant Sitting Still is the debut feature from Hu Bo. Unfortunately, Hu Bo committed suicide after completing the film this past October so this film will serve as his legacy. With a runtime just under the four hour mark, An Elephant Sitting Still is the story of,

“The northern Chinese city of Manzhouli, they say there is an elephant that simply sits and ignores the world. Manzhouli becomes an obsession for the protagonists of this film, a longed-for escape from the downward spiral in which they find themselves. Among them is schoolboy Bu, on the run after pushing Shuai down the stairs, who was bullying him previously. Bu's classmate Ling has run away from her mother and fallen for the charms of her teacher. Shuai's older brother Cheng feels responsible for the suicide of a friend. And finally, along with many other characters whose fates are inextricably bound together, there's Mr. Wang, a sprightly pensioner whose son wants to offload him onto a home. In virtuoso visual compositions, the film tells the story of one single suspenseful day from dawn to dusk, when the train to Manzhouli is set to depart.”

March 15th - Us

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out. Another film I’m attempting to avoid the trailers to because I want the experience to be as fresh as possible. Starring Black Panther’s Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, Aquaman’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Tim Heidecker (Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories), Us is about,

“A mother and father taking their kids to their beach house, expecting to enjoy time with friends, but their serenity quickly evolves into tension and chaos when some visitors arrive uninvited.”

March 1st - The Mustang

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about this one solely because of Matthias Schoenaerts’ (Bullhead, Rust and Bone) involvement, it helps that The Mustang is also co-written by Brock Norman Brock (co-writer of Bronson).

“Mustang tells the story of Roman Coleman, a violent convict, who is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs.”

Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson in Jordan Peele's, "Us."
Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson in Jordan Peele's, "Us."

© 2019 Chris Sawin

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