What's on at the cinema this year: The 2019 Best Film Guide
PUBLISHED: 21:00 04 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:36 08 January 2019
This year looks like being an interesting and eclectic year at the movies with some unfamiliar names seeking to make their mark on the big screen. Arts editor Andrew Clarke nominates the films to look out for
Last year was a time of tremendous change in Hollywood. The Time’s Up and #MeToo movements have triggered social change on both a social and professional level and have shaken Tinsel Town out of its long-held, very conservative beliefs about how to be creative and what it takes to do business and come up with a hit movie.
As with anything in movies, change takes time because the production time for a film is about 18 months and that’s after it has received the green light. So, this year we should start seeing a more diverse, more inclusive, more eclectic series of films reaching the big screen.
The start of the year, known as Oscar season, is always more exciting and more rewarding than the rest of the year, simply because of the type of films that still get made to net the studios a much-lauded golden statue.
If the Hollywood establishment is serious about change then it should be filtering a wide array of films throughout the year rather than just front-loading them all into the spring. This way we may actually get an opportunity to see more than two or three before they are taken off to make way for the summer blockbuster season which now unleashes its first explosion at the beginning of May.
Looking at the movie schedule for 2019, there are indications that increased diversity in actors and film-makers is starting to influence the way that films are being released and the type of films which are being green-lit for production.
Things have all ready got off to a flying start with the awards front-runner The Favourite; a period film with a difference. Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos tells the story of the almost forgotten English monarch Queen Anne and stars Olivia Colman as the frail Queen with Rachel Weisz as her close friend Lady Sarah and Emma Stone as the striking new servant Abigail who forms a close relationship with the Queen’s confident.
This is not so much a period movie or a bio-pic but more of a moving painting, rich in colour and detail, with dramatic lighting and tons of atmosphere. This is a film which commands attention not only with a literate script but with arresting visuals.
So what else is there to look out for in 2019? Here’s my guide to the films which look as if they are going to make a major impact on cinema audiences this year.
Stan and Ollie – January 11
Starring: Steve Coogan, John C Reilly, Shirley Henderson
Comedy duo Laurel and Hardy are brought back to life in uncanny fashion by Steve Coogan and John C Reilly in this thoughtful biopic. We meet Stan and Ollie at the end of their careers touring round regional British theatres on what amounts to a farewell tour. They are playing to half full houses and hope things will build so they can finish on a high playing to a sold out London Palladium. Along the way we get to explore their complex friendship and through flashbacks enjoy them at the height of their fame.
Colette – January 11
Starring: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Fiona Shaw
Keira Knightley plays the great French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who as a young woman in belle époque Paris was married to the notorious womaniser and rackety journalist Henry Gauthier-Villars, played by Dominic West. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, which becomes a bestseller. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to revolutionise literature, fashion and champion sexual expression.
Glass – January 18
Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, James McAvoy
The old team is re-united. Director M Night Shyamalan has had a rather hit and miss career so far but the omens look good for this as he has pulled together the narratives from his hit psychological thrillers Unbreakable and Split and brought his best actors back together.
Mary Queen of Scots – January 18
Starring: Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Simon Russell Beale
Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan star in what could be a companion piece for Cate Blanchett’s Elizabeth. Robbie takes on the mantle of the Tudor monarch while Ronan is the young Scot trying to claim her throne. They may be cousins but power and politics destroy any genuine affection they may have had for one another. Both women want absolute power.
Vice – January 25
Starring: Amy Adams, Steve Carrell, Christian Bale
A top notch cast which are virtually unrecognisable as they bury themselves in their roles. Christian Bale has once again piled on the pounds to play former US Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a terrific sounding political comedy from Adam McKay about the power behind the throne of George W Bush. Amy Adams should notch up yet another Oscar nomination as Cheney’s formidable wife Lynne, with Sam Rockwell as Dubya and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld.
A Private War – February 1
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander, Stanley Tucci, Greg Wise
A high class Brit movie about the life and work of Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin, who is played with real intensity by Rosamund Pike. Less of a biopic and more of a character-study which explores why people lay their lives on the line to uncover the truth about war around the globe. The Fall’s Jamie Dornan plays renowned war photographer Paul Conroy.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? – February 1
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells
Director Marielle Heller has teamed up with underrated independent film-maker Nicole Holofcener to produce a tragi-comic true-life story of audacious fakery. Melissa McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a once bestselling biographer who falls on hard times and turns to counterfeiting literary manuscripts and personal letters, fooling the world, but only for so long.
If Beale Street Could Talk – February 8
Starring: Stephan James, KiKi Layne, Regina King
Another awards favourite as Oscar winner Barry Jenkins unveils his Moonlight follow-up, about a pregnant woman in 1970s Harlem who attempts to clear her fiancée’s name of a crime he didn’t commit. Based on a 1974 James Baldwin novel, it is said to be a low-key gem. It is a story of love and injustice in 1970s Harlem, when a young man is falsely accused of rape and his pregnant girlfriend has to prove his innocence.
Captain Marvel – March 8
Starring: Brie Larson, Jude Law, Samuel L Jackson
It seems that the Marvel cinematic universe just keeps growing. It’s the first female-led film in the MCU and is looking to give Wonder Woman a run for her money. What’s more it’s also got a female director in Anna Boden. Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a former US air force fighter pilot whose DNA becomes fused with that of a Kree – a militaristic alien being – giving her superpowers.
The White Crow – March 22
Starring: Oleg Ivenko, Ralph Fiennes, Louis Hofmann
Ralph Fiennes is busy both behind and in front of the camera for this David Hare scripted Cold War drama about the defection of ballet star Rudolf Nureyev to the West. Oleg Ivenko stars as the young Nureyev as he prepares to flee the Soviet Union in the early 1960s. Real-life dance star Sergei Polunin plays his Kirov roommate, Yuri Soloviev.
Red Joan – April 19
Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Alfie Allen, Kim Allen, Stephen Boxer
Theatrical heavyweight Trevor Nunn trades the stage for the movies for this period drama inspired by the life and times of the KGB’s veteran British spy Melita Norwood. Here she is transformed into “Red” Joan Stanley, and played as a young woman by Sophie Cookson and in later years by Judi Dench.
Rocketman – May 31
Starring: Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas-Howard, Richard Madden
Elton John is everywhere at the moment it seems. This bio-pic with Taron Egerton charts how Reg Dwight becomes Elton John and follows his Yellowbrick Road to stardom.
Avengers: Endgame – April 26
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin
John Wick 3 – May 17
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane
Aladdin – May 24
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott
X-Men: Dark Phoenix – June 7
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender
Men In Black: International – June 14
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth and Emma Thompson
Toy Story 4 – June 2
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Tony Hale
The Lion King – July 19
Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, James Earl Jones
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – July 26
Starring: Margot Robbie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt
The New Mutants (X-Men) – August 2
Starring: Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Anya Taylor-Joy
Downton Abbey movie – September 13
Starring: Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery
Joker – October 4
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert DeNiro, Zazie Beetz
Frozen 2 – November 22
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Sterling K Brown
Star Wars: Episode IX – December 20
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver