Mainstream Hollywood pushes out so much glossy trash today, including high-budget and fast-food spectacle movies that age out quicker than their box office dollars can be counted. But many bright and talented filmmakers are using the advantages of the modern age to make original and moving works.
With more platforms to release movies and television shows than ever before and more places for fans to share their love of works too odd or unique for big budgets, next year looks to be an incredibly interesting one for cinema — perhaps one of the most unique in a very long time.
Here is a look at 10 movies you need to keep an eye out for in 2019.
1.) “Glass.” An “Unbreakable” trilogy was once simply the collective fantasy of the fans of M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs”). It was a fun “what if” discussion to have with other movie buffs who had continued interest in the 2000 film starring Bruce Willis. He played a man who discovers he has the type of super strength one should only possess in a comic book.
“Unbreakable” has become more popular over the years, as its realistic take on super powers and heroes has been a satisfying contrast to the special effects-heavy comic book movies that have taken over multiplexes.
Shyamalan set up his trilogy in a rather ingenious way: He snuck in a Bruce Willis cameo at the end of his 2016 hit film, “Split,” a thrilling and engaging movie of its own.
“Glass” marks the end of this trilogy and the film brings together the major characters from the franchise, including David Dunn (Willis, pictured above left), Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), and The Beast (James McAvoy), the multiple personality superhuman introduced in “Split.” “Glass” marks a major moment in both M. Night Shyamalan’s career and in cinematic history. What was once thought to be an impossible sequel has blossomed now into one of the most interesting trilogies ever to come out of Hollywood.
“Glass” gives its actors an opportunity to create one of the most unique ensembles of all time. It will finally hit theaters on January 18 — that’s 19 years after “Unbreakable” first premiered.
2.) “Cold Pursuit.” Liam Neeson (above right) has spent the most recent chapter of his career becoming one of Hollywood’s most surprising and reliable actions stars. Since 2008’s “Taken,” the actor has played numerous tough-guy roles, but “Cold Pursuit” is the most interesting on the surface.
Neeson plays a snowplow truck driver out for revenge for the death of his son. It sounds like the plot to a Liam Neeson movie made up on “Saturday Night Live” for a sketch — but rest assured, this movie is real.
Despite its ridiculous premise, Neeson, now 66, looks as reliable and solid as ever and “Cold Pursuit” seems to have some real promise.
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Neeson’s not making masterpieces with his foray into action drama, but he’s making solidly entertaining, agendaless, original fare that often puts Hollywood’s big-budget franchise efforts to shame.
“Cold Pursuit” will snowplow its way into theaters on February 8.
3.) “Triple Frontier.” Featuring an impressive ensemble that includes Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, Charlie Hunnam, and Garrett Hedlund, “Triple Frontier” is further proof that the streaming giant Netflix presents serious competition for traditional movie studios.
Directed by J.C. Chandor (“A Most Violent Year”) and co-written by Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), “Triple Frontier” is an action-packed film that follows a group of military heroes who have each reached a crossroads in life — and where the appeal of using their skills for personal gain is too great to resist.
The men team up to head south of the border and rip off a drug cartel for millions. The recently released trailer for the film, set to debut on Netflix and in select theaters in March, showed off what promises to be a thrilling, raw action movie with morally complex characters thrown into the chaos that is the modern drug war and the border between Mexico and the United States.
It’s great to see a film with a talented cast and crew and decent sized budget that is original heading to theaters among the endless franchise content. “Triple Frontier” will travel to Netflix and hit limited theaters in March.
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4.) “Pet Semetary.” Stephen King has become rather insufferable recently, with his constant political tirades on social media, but there’s no denying the power of his writing — especially his early work. “Pet Semetary” is one of his most memorable stories; this new take on the tale looks to be appropriately dark and gripping.
Jason Clarke (“Chappaquiddick,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) and John Lithgow (“Interstellar,” “Cliffhanger”) lead the cast and they look more than promising in the the already released trailer for the movie.
Clarke plays a man who moves his family to a rural home. Things get complicated when the family discovers the power of a cemetery nearby that may able to bring the dead back to life.
It’s a wild and taut story begging for a new great adaptation — this looks like it might be exactly that.
“Pet Semetary” will come to life when it hits theaters on April 5.
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5.) “Rocketman.” It’s more than a little surprising that it’s taken this long for musician Elton John’s life to be turned into a film. Taron Egerton (“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Robin Hood”) takes on the role of John for this biopic and the teaser and images released thus far from the movie look like the young actor will be disappearing into the role.
John’s music is universally loved and with his impending retirement on the horizon, this film — if done right — could be the perfect way to celebrate his unique and unmatched career.
“Rocketman” will fly into theaters on May 17.
6.) “John Wick: Chapter 3.” Looking for a franchise built from an original script? Looking for movies that throw politics to the side and put character and story first? Then look no further than the “John Wick” franchise.
The original “John Wick,” released in 2014, was brilliant in its simplicity. Keanu Reeves plays a retired hitman who is grieving the death of his wife when a gift arrives at the door — a puppy. The dog is from his late wife. Wick grieves with the dog in toe, but a break-in by some overly ambitious thugs leads to the death of this new pet. Wick digs up past connections and re-enters the criminal underworld to get revenge for his dog.
Sure, it sounds silly, but “John Wick” was one of the sharpest, grittiest action movies made in the last 20 years. It became a sleeper hit at the box office and led to a universe-expanding second movie with action scenes that somehow topped the first — the films are helmed by former stuntmen. If the first two flicks are any indication, the third “John Wick” is going to be a fun, challenging, awe-inspiring trip to the movie theater.
“John Wick: Chapter 3” will shoot its way into theaters on May 17.
7.) “Shaft.” There are many reasons to be thankful for the upcoming “Shaft” movie. The first is that we’re still getting “Shaft” movies at all.
The original character of Shaft — a smooth and quick-thinking police officer — was played by Richard Roundtree in 1971. Roundtree then appeared in a reboot as “Uncle Shaft” in 2000. Samuel L. Jackson took on the role of the new Shaft.
The next film in the franchise will bring three generations of Shafts together, as Roundtree and Jackson are set to team up with Jessie T. Usher as the youngest of the family of crime fighters. The idea of joining the generations instead of doing a straight remake is a novel concept, one that provides the potential for this film to capture some of the spark of the highly energetic and beloved original films.
“Shaft” will crash into theaters with style on June 14.
8.) “Toy Story 4.” “Toy Story 3” offered an emotional and definitive ending to the story of Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and friends — but the adventure is continuing and that’s something we should probably be happy about.
Everything shown and said so far about the next chapter in the “Toy Story” franchise suggests another fun and gripping adventure from the talking toys that originally debuted in cinemas in 1995.
“Toy Story 4” finds our familiar gang of toys going on a road trip with a new toy called “Forky.” That’s essentially all that’s been revealed so far, as Pixar is wisely keeping specifics under wraps. But Tim Allen has already promised that the film will be an emotional experience and said he even teared up just reading the script. There’s some exciting new cast members, too, such as Keanu Reeves (“The Matrix,” “Speed”).
“Toy Story” is one of the most reliable and heartwarming franchises around; and though the third installment gave a fitting farewell to audiences, there shouldn’t be too many complaints about one more ride.
“Toy Story 4” will charm its way into theaters on June 21.
9.) “Ford vs. Ferrari.” We should all be thrilled for “Ford vs. Ferrarri” based on the talent involved. James Mangold (“Logan,” “Cop Land”) is behind the camera; and leading the cast are Christian Bale (“The Dark Knight,” “Public Enemies”) and Matt Damon (“The Martian,” “Jason Bourne”).
The film chronicles the efforts by both Ford and Ferrari to win the Le Mans race in 1966. The race is the oldest and arguably most respected sports car race in the world. This is likely to be an exciting drama with some fantastic racing sequences. It’s also likely to be a story about the merits of individualism and competition — that is, if mainstream Hollywood doesn’t muddy things up too much with its leftist fingers.
“Ford vs. Ferrari” will drive into theaters on June 28.
10.) “Joker.” Comic book movies are a little overdone and bland at this point, but “Joker” is going to attempt to break the mold.
Rather than making itself a small part of some larger fictional universe — as is the style now — “Joker” is being sold as a one-shot movie about the famous Batman villain that has more in common with “Taxi Driver” than any of the Marvel or DC movies released thus far.
Joaquin Phoenix (“Her,” “You Were Never Really Here”) is taking on the role of the Joker. We will watch his descent from a failed comedian to a dangerous villain addicted to chaos. With director Todd Phillips (“The Hangover,” “War Dogs”) behind the camera and plot details being kept mostly under wraps, “Joker” will at least be the one of the most daring comic book adaptations to be made to date.
Phoenix is one of the most talented actors of his generation. As long as his performance has room to breathe and producers aren’t too tempted to stick in too much novelty from the comic books, this could be a highly interesting film venture.
“Joker” will laugh its way maniacally into theaters on October 4.
For more on the upcoming “Joker” movie, check out the video below: