After all of recorded history, 2019 is finally here.
It doesn’t look much like Blade Runner (or Akira, or The Running Man) predicted it would, but it’s still got its fair share of futuristic visions and crazy tales—especially on movie screens.
Indeed, the coming year has supervillains, superheroines, and even a few superstar team-ups that aren’t based on comic books. (Have you seen the lineup for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman?) What follows is a rundown of the 24 movies we’re most looking forward to in the new year; you may still be writing “2018” on personal checks forms, but it’s never too soon to start planning.
1 Glass (January 18)
Tired of superheroes? So is M. Night Shyamalan. He started his antihero crusade years ago with Unbreakable and, sneakily, with its sort-of sequel, Split. Now he’s bringing the stars of the two films together for one monster mashup in which David Dunn (Bruce Willis) uses abilities to help stop multiple-personality-having mega-baddie Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). Split was a surprisingly sharp return to form for Shyamalan, and here’s hoping it’s follow-up puts a nice capper on the director’s surprise trilogy.
2 Alita: Battle Angel (February 14)
File this one under Cautiously Optimistic. It’s a manga adaptation partially written and backed by James Cameron that’s being directed by Robert Rodriguez, which makes it both exciting and gives pause. (Rodriguez can be great, but his last couple of films—Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Machete Kills—have been … less so.) Yet, the film’s trailer shows promise and, if the manga gets the treatment it deserves, it could be a delight.
3 Captain Marvel (March 8)
Getting this out of the way right off the bat: Folks have been waiting for Captain Marvel longer than almost any other Marvel film. Not because its protagonist is a bigger deal than, say, Thor or Black Panther (even if she’s more powerful than both), but because it’s the first standalone Marvel movie to feature a female superhero. That’s a lot of pressure, but with Oscar-winner Brie Larson taking on the titular role, and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck at the helm, Carol Danvers is in good hands; add in a Crystal Pepsi 2-liter bottle worth of ’90s nostalgia and it’s sure to pack a punch.
4 Us (March 15)
How does writer-director Jordan Peele plan to follow his Oscar-winning horror flick Get Out? Apparently he’s looking to top it with another just-as-haunting movie about a family that goes away for a beach vacation and finds themselves haunted by creepy lookalikes of themselves determined to kill them, gruesomely. This being a Peele production, it’s probably deeper than that, but we’ll have have to wait until March to discover those scares.
5 Shazam! (April 5)
Admittedly, Warner Bros. has had a spotty record with its DC-comic-book adaptations so far: Wonder Woman was great; Justice League wasn't; Aquaman gave us Pitbull's cover of Toto's "Africa," which is impossible to assign value to. But based on the trailer, this quirky superhero flick seems to have a lot going for it, mostly thanks to the comedic chops of Zachary Levi, who is playing the titular role. If you like the movie Big and offbeat superheroes—or if you just loved that kinda-inflated-looking sardonic doctor from Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—this one might be for you.
6 Hellboy (April 12)
We probably don’t need a new Hellboy movie; the ones Guillermo del Toro made with Ron Perlman pretty much filled that void. But David Harbour is a delight as Jim Hopper on Stranger Things, and he’ll hopefully bring that energy to Mike Mignola’s twisted antihero. Not a shoo-in, but not a hard pass either.
7 Avengers: Endgame (April 26)
Oh, you thought Captain Marvel was going to be the biggest Marvel movie of the year? Nope! Less than two months after Carol Danvers lights up cinemas, all of the Avengers who survived Thanos’ finger-snapping will unite—along with, presumably, the Captain herself—to try to undo the destruction he caused. So far trailers for the film have been purposefully vague, but considering this film is the culmination of Marvel’s Phase 3 and has promised to be the “fight of our lives,” it’ll surely be epic.
8 John Wick: Chapter 3 (May 17)
People want to kill John Wick; he kills them instead. Congratulations, you’re all caught up! If you’re a fan of the first two installments—and face it, you are—you’ll know that ex-hit-man Wick (Keanu Reeves) has a bounty on his head, and he’s been given an hour’s head start to get out of New York City before the assassins come a-knockin’.
While the franchise’s original writer and director are back on board, it’s the additions that have us excited for the latest iteration of Reeves snapping bones and taking names: between Halle Berry (and her ass-kicking dogs) and Jason Mantzoukas as assassins and Anjelica Houston and Billions’ Asia Kate Dillon as crime lords, the still trailerless Chapter 3 (previously known as Parabellum) brings the neo-noir ultraviolence into “wait, they’re in this too?” territory. We’ll ICU you at the theater. —Peter Rubin
9 Aladdin (May 24)
If you've spent the last two weeks on an internet-free holiday vacation, allow us to introduce you to Hot Jafar. The live-action remake of the 1992 Disney film features as its villain the rather attractive actor Marwan Kenzari, and the online world has welcomed him with open memes. You also might have heard that Guy Ritchie is directing and that Will Smith will be playing Genie—but, really, all that’s an afterthought. Get ready to say oh, hi to the bad guy.
10 Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)
Calling all Toho fans (and people who just like massive monster fights): This new Godzilla movie, directed by Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus helmer Mike Dougherty, features not only Godzilla but also Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah. It also has Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown and Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch. Get ready for some serious dark and moody city-crushing throwdowns.
11 Dark Phoenix (June 7)
It may have felt like X-Men: Apocalypse was the final hurrah of the X-Manchise, but ’twasn’t! Most of the gang—Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, etc.—is back for this latest installment. Built around the comic books’ famed Dark Phoenix Saga, in which Jean Grey (Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner) threatens total annihilation, it’s a story that’ll (once again) make the X-People question their place in the world and how to protect it from one of their own.
12 Men in Black: International (June 14)
Men in Black sequels were never exactly something we needed, and over the years the rumors of a “cinematic universe” were as head-scratching as they were far-fetched. (Thank the deity of your choosing that 21 Jump Street x MIB never came to pass.) But the idea of Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth injecting a little life into the rookie-vet dynamic of the original is enough to make me curious. Two actors who have already shown their chops with both halves of the action-comedy dyad—and done it together? With F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, Friday) directing? Hell, if it’s bad, just neuralyze me when the credits roll.
13 Toy Story 4 (June 21)
Hard to believe, but it’s been almost a decade since the last Toy Story movie, but finally a new one is nearly upon us. In this installment, a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the toy troupe as they head off on a road trip. Will the new member fit in—or will his insistence that “I’m not a toy!” put a fork in the road of any burgeoning friendships? We’ll find out this summer.
14 Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 5)
Despite a trailer being shown to audiences at Brazil’s Comic Con Experience in December, the world at large still hasn’t gotten to see what’s on tap for the MCU’s first Phase 4 (i.e., post-Avengers) movie. We know it takes places directly after the events of Avengers: Endgame, which means that young Peter Parker feels a little better, Mr. Stark. We also know that Michael Keaton is back as Vulture, and Jake Gyllenhaal joins the cast as classic Spidey nemesis and greatest-helmet-ever-wearer Mysterio. If Jon Watts’ breezy Spider-Man: Homecoming is any indication, though, we’ll get more of the lighthearted action that made Spidey feel like an actual high-schooler. And to think that just a few years ago, arachno-fatigue had set in; between Tom Holland’s Marvel incarnation and the inventive, inclusive Spiderverse coming into focus at Sony, the character’s feeling fresher than ever.
15 The Lion King (July 19)
Jon Favreau, who had a nearly $1 billion hit with his CGI’d version of Jungle Book, is back with a modern remake of the Disney classic The Lion King—one made with more than a little help from virtual reality. It looks real as hell and has a voice cast that’s beyond stacked: Donald Glover (Simba), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), Beyoncé (Nala)(!!!), and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa. We just can’t wait to see King.
16 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (August 9)
Though often referred to as “Quentin Tarantino’s Manson movie,” Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is actually a broader look at the hippie movement and the Los Angeles of 1969, with the Manson Family serving as the backdrop. Its Tarantino-typical outsize cast includes Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino, but given its writer-director, you can expect it to still be a little messy—in all the right ways.
17 It: Chapter 2 (September 6)
It was a horror juggernaut, bringing in an unprecedented $123 million on opening weekend. Its sequel, also directed by Andy Muschietti, will likely pack a similar wallop—this time bolstered by the presence of boldface names like Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader, all of whom play the now-adults who first reckoned with murderous demon-clown Pennywise decades ago. Speaking of which: Bill Skarsgård’s rubber-faced killer is back, which is all you really need to know to ask for just one more chapter before bedtime.
18 Joker (October 4)
Riddle me this: How in the world is there a Joker movie starring Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix (as the Joker) being directed by the guy who made the Hangover trilogy? That might sound like the result of a game of Cinema Mad Libs, but it’s actually happening and coming to theaters this fall. Considering how many amazing Jokers there have been over the years, it’s hard to imagine what this one can bring that hasn’t been done better before. And yet there’s something about this that is very hard to look away from. That’s just how chaos works.
19 Knives Out (November 27)
So, what is/was Rian Johnson doing between the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and his forthcoming Star Wars trilogy? Apparently, making some kind of whodunit mystery flick with a who’s-who of talent: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Christopher Plummer. So far, the plot has been kept under lock and key, but it’s being both written and directed by Johnson—and if the word whodunit means he’s going back to his brainy Brick roots, we’re totally here for it.
20 Star Wars: Episode IX (December 20)
This is it—the end of the Skywalker saga. Finishing the trilogy that started with J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, this final installment should reveal just how powerful Rey (Daisy Ridley) truly is and what Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) will do for control of the galaxy. I mean, that’s probably what’ll happen … ? Star Wars productions are so secretive, most of what anyone knows about the plot of this film is based on rumors and educated guesses. There’s not even a trailer yet! But suffice to say, Lucasfilm brought Abrams back to finish what he started, and it promises to be a helluva time. The Force is strong with this one.
21 Little Women (December 25)
Greta Gerwig, who proved a directing powerhouse with 2017’s Lady Bird, is taking on a literary classic for her next trick, recruiting Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, and Lady Bird alums Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet for her adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved book. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 25 years since the last cinematic version of Little Women hit theaters; Winona Ryder played Jo March then, with the lead being filled by Ronan this time around. But with Gerwig (presumably) putting her spin on the story, her Women are more than ready for their time to shine.
22 The Irishman (TBD)
No one pulls together a murderers’ row of A-list talent like Martin Scorsese—and this time he’s doing it for Netflix. The Irishman focuses on Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a hit man tied to the Bufalino crime family who may or may not have been responsible for the death of Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino). No word yet on when Netflix might drop The Irishman, or even a trailer for it, but if this movie leads to anything like the De Niro-Pacino face-off in Heat, it’ll be well worth your time.
23 Lucy in the Sky (TBD)
So, remember that story from a decade ago about the NASA astronaut who wore diapers on a epic drive from Houston to Orlando to confront a romantic rival? Lucy in the Sky is loosely based on that tale, with Natalie Portman playing the aforementioned bediapered astronaut. (The cast is rounded out by Jon Hamm and Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz.) It’s being directed by Fargo helmer Noah Hawley, so if nothing else it likely won’t be boring.
24 The Last Thing He Wanted (TBD)
The next Netflix film from Mudbound director Dee Rees is based on a Joan Didion book about a journalist caught up in the middle of the Iran-Contra Affair. If that doesn’t already pique your interest, it also stars Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, and Willem Dafoe. Rees is a master of style, and this one could end up another must-watch film for Netflix. —AW