The second volume of Dark Horizons’ annual film preview guide is here and tackles everything from a classic comedy sequel to a truly ambitious sci-fi epic.
There’s also Marvel’s most interesting effort this year, a spy thriller through the female focus, a quirky tale about journalism, a high minded sci-fi exploring gender lines, a Spider-Man star breaking the mold, the return of the current Hercule Poirot, and several unnecessary remakes though one at least is trying something different.
That’s not all though as there’s the return of a beloved indie female director, a widely celebrated African-American filmmaker, and a famously shunned male studio helmer. There’s also a horror sequel that shakes up its formula, a car espionage sequel which probably won’t, a beloved Austen classic turned farce, and a spiritual sequel about a horror icon.
Here’s a look at the big films that begin with C, D, E & F to release in 2020:
“Call of the Wild”
A new $82 million adaptation of the famed Jack London novel, this adventure tale blends computer-animated dogs and animals with live-action humans to tell its story about a St. Bernard/Scotch Collie cross dog named Buck and John Thornton (Harrison Ford), a prospector searching for gold in the unforgiving Yukon at the end of the 19th century. The film was shot in California, both on location and on sound stages with dogsled racing sequences done digitally. One of the last big Fox projects produced before the Disney absorption, the Mouse House kept the film under wraps until a recent trailer and the very obviously CG Buck raised obvious questions as to why they didn’t try live-action. Chris Sanders (“The Croods””) is directing from a script by Michael Green (“Logan””), while Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan, Omar Sy and Bradley Whitford co-star.
Bernard Rose’s original 1990s urban horror tale “Candyman” is a genuine classic, under the skin creepy in a way others of the period simply aren’t whilst also being able to explore interesting themes such as the impact of mass gentrification and how horror can be birthed from racism, inequality and social and economic neglect. Now comes this project which it has been made clear is NOT a remake or reboot, but rather a ‘spiritual sequel’ to the first film and one that returns to the original film’s setting. Jordan Peele, who has had such success with his own social and politically tinged thrillers like “Get Out” and “Us,” is an understandable fit even if only in a producing capacity – while the underseen “Little Woods” director Nia DaCosta is an excellent choice. Tony Todd is back, joined by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonnah Paris here in a film which will hopefully reinvent the tale and frighten the hell out of the kids of the current generation.
“The Card Counter”
It’s unclear if Paul Schrader will have this feature ready in time for awards consideration in 2020, it hasn’t even begun shooting yet, but with the astonishing success of “First Reformed” there are a lot of eyes on Schrader’s follow-up. Adding to the heat is Oscar Isaac who is in the prime of his acting career and manhood it seems, the “Star Wars” star able to jump between any type of project, is celebrated for his successes and often comes out of his occasional dud unscathed. Here he plays a gambler and former serviceman sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past. Targeting filming in early 2020, here’s hoping it’ll be ready and will continue Schrader’s resurgence.
Young adult fiction adaptations have often struggled since “Twilight,” and this take on Patrick Ness’ work comes armed with a high concept that’s hard to explain. The dystopian novel is set on a dangerous planet in the far future in which all women have been killed by a germ and all remaining living male creatures can hear one another’s thoughts in a stream of images, words and sounds called Noise. Tom Holland stars as a young man forced to flee his town with his loyal dog who comes upon a strange sight: a girl (Daisy Ridley). The complexity and difficult to convey premise is well suited for Charlie Kaufman who adapted the initial draft of the script – though it has since been polished a few times by numerous names from Lindsey Beer to John Lee Hancock. Director Doug Liman (“Edge of Tomorrow”) helms the film which has many concerned following reports of poor test screenings leading to extensive reshoots and some major delays. With a costly $115 million budget, Lionsgate still hasn’t set a date or released any major marketing materials as yet.
This seems to be the year actor Tom Holland wants you to know he’s done playing teenagers and kids. The 23-year-old actor apparently gets his ass out in “Chaos Walking,” and here he re-teams with his “Avengers: Infinity War” directors Joe and Anthony Russo for a true story crime drama based on an acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel. Holland plays U.S. army medic Nico Walker, a man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour of duty in Iraq. To handle it he becomes addicted to opioids and begins robbing banks. This marks a change of scene for both Holland and the Russos who have also managed to snag the likes of Bill Skarsgard and Jack Reynor in the mix. Intriguingly timed, the film could be released around year’s end – right around the time Walker himself is scheduled to be released from prison.
“Coming 2 America”
A flood of classic 1980s and 1990s films are finally getting follow-ups in 2020, and few are more anticipated than this sequel to Eddie Murphy’s most iconic comedy. Following their great success with “Dolemite is my Name” on Netflix, filmmaker Craig Brewer and Murphy reunite for this new take which sees Murphy’s Prince Akeem learning he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to America to meet the unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda. Much of the original cast is back including Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones among others. At the same time, there are some brilliant new additions including Wesley Snipes as an Idi Amin-style villain, Leslie Jones as the mother of Akeem’s son, Tracy Morgan and more. While there’s concern over the film trying for a PG-13 rating as opposed to the R of the original, the first wasn’t particularly risque beyond some coarse language. Hopefully, it’ll prove as well-reviewed as ‘Dolemite’.
One of two re-imaginings of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” to hit in 2020, the other being Benh Zeitlin’s more grungy yet fantastical “Wendy,” this one blends the story with Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and depicts Alice and Peter as siblings trying to help their parents overcome the death of their eldest son. The film is garnering a lot of attention for its helmer, Brenda Chapman, the first woman to direct a major studio animated feature with 1998’s “The Prince of Egypt” and the first to win an Oscar for Best animated feature with “Brave”. This, however, is a live-action tale with newcomers in the key roles and the impressive likes of Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo, Anna Chancellor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Caine and Derek Jacobi in supporting parts. The film is one of the more high profile mainstream entries at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”
This mark the third ‘full entry’ in “The Conjuring” universe and eighth overall film in the surprise mega horror franchise. The franchise’s shepherd James Wan, who directed the first two movies, returns only as producer here with “The Curse of La Llorona” helmer Michael Chaves directing the new chapter in the story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). The new film isn’t another haunted house tale, rather this time it’s more of a courtroom drama as a fight for the soul of a young boy then leads to legal case marking the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense. The two previous main films have so far been far better than any of the spin-offs, so here’s hoping this maintains that standard – even without Wan at the helm.
For a generation of young women, 1996’s supernatural thriller “The Craft” is a celebrated classic. While not a great film by any means, it’s still a well-cast tale of a new girl who falls in with a clique of megalomaniacal witches at a Catholic high school. Blumhouse has decided to reinvent the property for the 21st century, bringing in a female director with the solid choice of mumblecore helmer Zoe Lister-Jones and casting it up with some fresh-faced mostly unknowns like Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon and Lovie Simone. The hope is those involved will opt for a remake that’s quite different and goes beyond a mere retread as it’s a tale that could still work today.
“Da 5 Bloods”
Coming off his biggest critical and commercial hit in years with “BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee teams with Netflix for his next feature outing which looks at the Vietnam war through the perspective of four African-American veterans returning to the country on a personal mission – to find the remains of their fallen squad leader and the treasure left with it. So begins a battle against man and nature to reach the site, all while confronting the lasting ravages of the Vietnam War. Lee will likely to take savage satirical swipes at U.S. politics and military action in foreign countries – especially the large-scale atrocities that changed the Indochinese region forever. Chadwick Boseman, Clarke Peters, Giancarlo Esposito, Delroy Lindo and Paul Walter Hauser co-star in the film which sounds like one of the films Netflix will push for awards consideration in 2020.
“Death on the Nile”
Kenneth Branagh’s second go-around as star and helmer of a lavish Agatha Christie adaptation takes on one of the Queen of Mystery’s best Hercule Poirot stories – one which doesn’t rely on a gimmicky murder as the previous film did, but rather a genuinely clever tale filled with some wonderfully colorful suspects. This time out Poirot is cruising down the River Nile on a steamboat when an heiress (Gal Gadot) is murdered and anyone on board could be the killer. Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Emma Mackey, Letitia Wright, Sophie Okonedo, Russell Brand, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Rose Leslie co-star this time in a film that will have a hard time following the even more star-studded Peter Ustinov-led 1978 adaptation which remains one of the best screen Christie’s to date (and one of this writer’s most seminal films).
No-one is more closely identified with the erotic thriller genre than Adrian Lyne. Though there’s been the move into other genres like the original “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Flashdance,” the handful of films Lyne has directed are known for being socially topical tales of often explicit intimacy including “9 1/2 Weeks,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Indecent Proposal,” the “Lolita” remake, and “Unfaithful”. Nearly twenty years on since his last film, he returns with this feature based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Carol”) and adapted by Zach Helm and Sam Levinson. Ben Affleck stars as a well-to-do husband who allows his wife (Ana de Armas) to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce. He soon becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of her lovers. With a superb supporting cast including Finn Wittrock, Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Jacob Elordi and Rachel Blanchard, it’ll be interesting to see if Lyne’s work will once again crossover into the cultural zeitgeist.
“The Devil All The Time”
“The Sinner” creator and “Simon Killer” director Antonio Campos helms this adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s novel about a group of bizarre and mentally disturbed characters and how their lives unfold from the end of World War II to the 1960s in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia. Amongst them are Robert Pattinson as a spider-handling preacher, Tom Holland as a young man with violent tendencies, Sebastian Stan as a corrupt sheriff, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, and the young man’s war veteran father offering blood sacrifices to cure his sick wife. Mia Wasikowska, Haley Bennett, Riley Keough, Bill Skarsgard and Mia Goth also star in this very Flannery O’Conner-esque sounding bit of Southern (or rather mid-west) Gothic fiction and could prove a critical hit for Netflix who will probably screen it at a festival first before a late in the year release.
Chris Hemsworth and hia “Avengers” helmers Joe and Anthony Russo come to Netflix with all three producing and the Aussie hunk starring in this gritty US-Indian action thriller co-production which Joe wrote. David Harbour, Derek Luke and numerous Indian actors co-star in the story with Hemsworth playing the wonderfully named mercenary Tyler Rake who is hired to rescue the kidnapped son of a Bangladeshi businessman. Shot partly in India and mostly in Thailand, stuntman Sam Hargrave makes his feature directing debut on the film which isn’t to be confused with the other Russo brothers-produced Iraq set “Mosul” which has already played at festivals. Netflix is still keeping this under wraps and hasn’t set a date as yet.
Boasting a massive $175 million budget and hit by reports of production problems, the long-delayed new take on the “Doctor Dolittle” story arrives in cinemas in January with a whole lot of baggage. “Syriana” writer/director Stephen Gaghan helmed the project during the main shoot, a scribe and filmmaker with little experience with VFX-heavy features. Poor test screenings reportedly led to some major reshoots and retooling of the film in post with the comedy elements beefed up. Director Jonathan Liebesman and writer Chris McKay are reportedly the ones who helped salvage the troubled issue, though that hasn’t been commented on by the studio as yet. What we do know is that Robert Downey Jr. stars in the title role of an eccentric veterinarian who can speak to animals and sets sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure for an ailing Queen Victoria. Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen and Jim Broadbent co-star on-screen while Rami Malek, Tom Holland, Emma Thompson, Jon Cena, Octavia Spencer, Ralph Fiennes, Kumail Nanjiani and more lend their voices.
“Don’t Worry Darling”
Making the jump to directing proved a smart move for Olivia Wilde, the actress’ comedy debut feature “Booksmart” launching this year to rave reviews and so a lot of interest is there right off the bat for this second feature from her which jumps over to the thriller genre. Z-Grade movie duo Shane and Carey Van Dyke penned the original script which Wilde and her “Booksmart” co-writer Katie Silberman have rewritten and will produce alongside Roy Lee (“IT”). Wilde will also star in the film which centers on a 1950s housewife whose reality begins to crack, revealing a disturbing truth underneath. New Line picked up the property after a fierce bidding war and filming is expected to take place shortly – it’ll be tight but this could make it for the end of 2020.
“Midnight Meat Train” director Ryuhei Kitamura helms this action thriller in which current “Batwoman” star Ruby Rose plays a Marine who returns from combat looking to heal from the traumatic events she witnessed and becomes the doorman at a labyrinthine, historic New York apartment building. When a gang of thieves plot to snatch precious art hidden in the building’s walls, she becomes all that stands between the crooks and the lives of the residents. There’s an eclectic global cast on hand including the Australian Rose along with French actor Jean Reno, U.K. actor Rupert Evans, Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie, U.S. actor Julian Feder, Japanese actor Hideaki Ito and Danish actor David Sakurai. Hopefully, it’ll be trashy fun.
One of the oddest film greenlights of recent years, Fox Searchlight has decided to remake Ruben Ostlund’s celebrated Swedish drama-comedy feature “Force Majeure,” and has done so with the unexpected pairing of Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The dark comedy deals with the wake of an avalanche during a ski vacation that throws a seemingly picture-perfect family into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate life, and how they truly feel about each other. The hiring of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (“The Way Way Back”) to direct and “Succession” creator Jesse Armstrong to pen the script suggests is a good sign, and Ferrell’s casting as the spineless and self-absorbed father is spot on, but it’s a wait on the reviews front for this one going by a recently released underwhelming trailer.
“Arbitrage” and “Tyson” writer/director Nicholas Jarecki helms this “Traffic”-esque take on the drug world, or more specifically the opioid epidemic of modern times. One story has a drug trafficker arranging a multi-cartel Fentanyl smuggling operation between Canada and the U.S., one has an architect recovering from an OxyContin addiction who tracks down the truth behind her son’s involvement with narcotics, and one has a university professor battles unexpected revelations about his research employer – a drug company with deep government influence. Armie Hammer, Gary Oldman, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Greg Kinnear, Michelle Rodriguez, Sam Worthington, Mia Kirshner and Kid Cudi co-star in the film which will likely try for a festival debut ahead of a release.
The long awaited re-teaming of Mads Mikkelsen and his “The Hunt” director Thomas Vinterberg sounds like more of a comedy than their last pairing. Here, Mikkelsen plays a Norwegian high school teacher who believes that man is born with a blood alcohol level that is 0.5% too low. As a result, a group of his friends are inspired by the his theory and embark on a drinking experiment – to maintain a constant alcohol impact in everyday life. The result is positive in the beginning, until it becomes clearer their daring has consequences. Maria Bonnevie, Thomas Bo Larsen and Susse Wold co-star in the $5 million Danish-language feature which Vinterberg has been discussing on and off for several years.
The legendary first novel in Frank Herbert’s “Dune” saga has had one film and one mini-series adaptation to date, both of which were noble failures and left the door open for hopefully this definitive take. The story of House Atreides and House Harkonnen’s vying for control of Arrakis is certainly far too rich and dense to do as a single film, which is why Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures are smartly approaching this as the first of a planned two-film adaptation. Celebrated filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who has proven he can handle high minded sci-fi with “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049,” helms the new take which boasts one of the most remarkable casts assembled this century including Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Zendaya and David Dastmalchian. Combined with a superb crew including cinematographer Greig Fraser and composer Hans Zimmer, this is at or near the very top of many people’s most anticipated films list of next year (myself included), and it’s taking the “Star Wars” mid-December release slot where it will hopefully succeed enough to give us the second film.
“The Education of Fredrick Fitzell”
Dylan O’Brien, Maika Monroe, Hannah Gross, Emory Cohen, and Keir Gilchrist lead the cast of Christopher MacBride’s second film which is about a late 20s something going through an existential crisis as he’s on the precipice of full-blown adulthood. A chance encounter with a man from his youth sees him unravel a long-hidden mystery about a missing girl, a drug called Mercury, and a terrifying creature that has now followed him into adulthood. Past, present and future begin to intersect and parallel each other in this twisted tale which aims to surprise. Expect either a festival debut ahead of a quick streaming premiere.
Jane Austen’s matchmaking comedy of manners in Georgian-Regency England gets a yet another adaptation with “The Witch” and “Split” breakout Anya Taylor-Joy taking on the role of the young woman who delights in making matches for others, even as her lack of experience and conviction leads her to some serious mistakes. It’s a property that has been done plenty of times before, most notably in the 1990s with both the modern-set remake “Clueless” and the all too serious Gwyneth Paltrow version. This period take, which hails from photographer turned filmmaker Autumn de Wilde, seems to play up the comedy aspects of the story much more than the emotional pathos. There’s also a stellar supporting cast including Bill Nighy, Josh O’Connor, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves and more. Could be fun.
A young adult take on Sherlock Holmes, this time the focus shifts to a ‘younger sister’ named Enola with “Stranger Things” alum Millie Bobby Brown taking on the title role of a character said to be just as smart as her older brother. Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin play Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes respectively – the hunkiest version of the brothers to date. The pair are joined by Helena Bonham Carter, Fiona Shaw, Frances de la Tour and Burn Gorman in this adaptation of the Nancy Springer book series which was shot in the UK earlier this year for Legendary Pictures. Boasting a script by Jack Thorne, and helmed by Harry Bradbeer, Warner Bros. Pictures will release the feature sometime in mid-late 2020.
“Enter the Fat Dragon”
A ‘sort of’ remake of the 1978 cult classic of the same name, Donnie Yen takes on the title role this time out. He plays an exemplary Hong Kong Police Special Task Force agent who is dumped right before his wedding. Heartbroken, he indulges himself in food to relieve his pain until he’s up to 300 pounds. Staying in his job, he is assigned to a case of escorting a criminal to Japan. Wong Jing helms and co-stars in the film which has also cast Sandra Ng, Niki Chow and Teresa Mo. Much of the film was shot in Japan and will start opening up across Asia late next month.
Marvel Studios’ big gamble for 2019 is this adaptation of one of its most cosmic and fantasy-fuelled titles as it deals with the titular race of immortal beings who have lived on Earth for millennia and have shaped its history and civilizations. The hiring of “The Rider” director Chloe Zhao is a major coup, as is the hugely international cast from Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek, to the newly buffed up Kumail Nanjiani, to former “Game of Thrones” alums Richard Madden and Kit Harington along with some of the next generation’s rising talents like Barry Keoghan, Gemma Chan and Brian Tyree Henry. Marvel is in an unassailable position at this point, and this should be a welcome test of just how much they can take risks with the megafranchise and maybe deliver something we genuinely haven’t seen before.
“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”
A film adaptation of the hit West End musical, the story follows a sixteen-year-old teenager as he overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness to become a drag queen. Newcomer Max Harwood takes on the lead role, though the casting coup here is Richard E. Grant as Hugo, the drag queen attire shop owner who previously led a life as the famed drag queen Loco Chanelle. Sarah Lancashire and Laura Patel co-star in the film which was produced by Fox and thus will be released in October by Disney – giving the Mouse House, often heavily criticised for its complete lack of LGBT representation, a film they can finally point to and claim they did.
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
When it comes to TV evangelism, no-one will ever top the world-famous and infamous Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker. “The Big Sick” helmer Michael Showalter helms the Fox Searchlight film which is a narrative remake of the 2000 documentary of the same name and one potentially going for awards consideration. The film will explore the deeply controversial couple through their rise and fall over the 1970s and 1980s. From humble beginnings with Jim as a Southern Baptist pastor to their creation of the largest religious broadcasting network, it all fell apart with Jim indicted, convicted, and imprisoned on numerous counts of fraud and conspiracy along with being the subject of a serious rape allegation. The late Tammy Faye herself proved far more interesting, a glamourpuss with moral views that diverged from many mainstream evangelists and a major acceptance of the LGBT community at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield play the Bakkers here with Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sam Jaeger in supporting roles.
Beloved actor Viggo Mortensen makes his directing debut on this drama which wil have its world premiere at Sundance next month. The actor also penned and stars in the film in which he plays a conservative father who moves from his rural farm to live with his gay son’s family in Los Angeles. Mortensen has said the project, shot for cheap, is a very personal one for him and was inspired by his thoughts in the wake of the passing of his parents. “Borg vs. McEnroe” breakout Sverrir Gudnason plays the gay son while Mortensen has managed to recruit an excellent supporting cast including Laura Linney, Lance Henriksen, Terry Chen, Hannah Gross, and in a potentially amusing cameo – David Cronenberg as a proctologist.
While plot specifics are under wraps, this horror comedy from A24 should be a welcome mix of the absurd and the terrifying along with being a welcome change of pace for “Broad City” breakout Ilana Glazer and comedy series director John Lee (“Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle”). Coming together super quick earlier this year, the film boasts a fairly eclectic cast including Pierce Brosnan, Justin Theroux, Gretchen Mol, Sophia Bush, Josh Hamilton and Glazer herself. There’s no telling what we’ll see but whatever it is, it should be interesting.
Classic 1970s series “Fantasy Island” is not the kind of series that would work in the modern age with a straightforward adaptation, therefore the team at Blumhouse and “Kick Ass 2” director Jeff Wadlow have opted to approach this adaptation from a different angle – playing up the horror thriller, sci-fi and darkly comic elements rather than the more feel good nature of the original. This means no Tattoo, while Mr. Roarke (played by Michael Pena in a welcome change of pace) is a sinister master of ceremonies figure who makes the secret dreams of the guests at his remote tropical resort come true – turning their fantasies into nightmares. Along the way the guests, including the likes of Maggie Q, Ryan Hansen, Lucy Hale and Michael Rooker, have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives. A fun diversion but hopes aren’t high.
“Fast And Furious 9”
The ninth and potentially second last entry in the main “Fast and Furious” series changes things up and should hopefully be a bit of a return to form after the bombastic nonsense of “The Fate of the Furious”. Franchise series scribe Chris Morgan is out as writer, those duties being handed over to “Kin” scribe Daniel Casey. Meanwhile, the franchise’s best director Justin Lin, who helmed the third through sixth films, makes a welcome return. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are out for this entry, with the likes of John Cena, Finn Cole, Michael Rooker and Cardi B filling in supporting roles along with returnees like Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, and Jordana Brewster. Plot specifics are entirely under wraps at this point.
Olivia Colman, Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Williams, Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots and Mark Gatiss lead the cast of this Sundance premiering film adaptation of French novelist and playwright Florian Zeller’s play “Le Pere”. Zeller himself is directing the feature in which Hopkins plays a mischievous and highly independent man who, as he ages, refuses all assistance from his daughter Anne (Colman). Yet such help has become essential, following Anne’s decision to move to Paris with her partner. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality. Could be one of the breakouts of this year’s Sundance, certainly it sounds like one of its most potential commercial hits.
Matt Logelin’s celebrated 2011 memoir “Two Kisses For Maddy” gets a film adaptation with this Kevin Hart-led family dramedy that will potentially deliver a chance to see Hart in a very different light. In the film, Logelin and his very young daughter Madeline move to India for two months after his wife and her mother Liz died suddenly the story deals with their experiences living in another country, along with Logelin’s struggles with solo parenting so early into his young daughter’s life. “About a Boy” and “American Pie” helmer Paul Weitz is adapting and directing the film which also stars Alfre Woodard, Lil Rel Howery, Paul Reiser, DeWanda Wise and Anthony Carrigan. Sony has already set an Easter debut for the film which should begin its marketing push very soon.
Surviving the Fox culling by the skin of its teeth, this is something of an interesting experiment in cinemas with a trilogy of films all set to be released within weeks of each other. The property is based on R. L. Stine’s “Fear Street” books which are set in a ficitional town of Shadyside, Ohio and aimed at older teens along with being markedly adult and more violent than Stine’s “Goosebumps” series. Leigh Janiak helms all three films from scripts by Kyle Killen with the three movies said to involve different time periods and include characters from different eras interacting including a lesbian teenage couple. The main action is set in 1994 as a group of teenagers find out that the terrifying events that have occurred in their town may be connected to each other and that they may be the next targets. At present, the plan is still to release the films one month apart starting in June.
Acclaimed American ‘quiet cinema’ director Kelly Reichardt follows up “Certain Women” with a new film adaptation of half of Jon Raymond’s novel “The Half Life,” the author who penned the scripts for many of Reichardt’s other films including “Night Moves,” “Old Joy,” and “Wendy and Lucy”. Serving as one of the film films of the recently departed Rene Auberjonois, the new feature follows a cook and a Chinese refugee in Oregon Territory in the 1820s (before the time of Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff”) who set off on a wild journey together and form a bond in a story that explores tender masculine connection and how much that has been lost with time. Playing the Fall film festival circuit to solid reviews, A24 will release the film in cinemas in March.
Filmmaker Josh Trank broke through with the great “Chronicle” and then crashed and burned with the disastrous production and release of the “Fantastic Four” reboot. Now he finally returns with this New Orleans-shot indie biopic of ruthless Chicago businessman, bootlegger and gangster Al Capone, one strong enough to attract Tom Hardy to the role. Boasting a soundtrack by El-P from Run The Jewels, the story deals with Capone, now in his late forties and following nearly a decade of imprisonment, who has to deal with dementia rotting his mind. Harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins soon creep into his everyday life. Linda Cardellini, Jack Lowden, Matt Dillon and Kyle MacLachlan also star in the story which should be surreal and could get quite dark. The project has seen some delays and Trank’s behavior of late hasn’t helped concern, but it should be interesting whatever the result.
Hopefully ready in time for release around year’s end is “The Guard,” “Calvary” and “War on Everyone” director John Michael McDonagh’s next feature which adapts the famed novel by Lawrence Osborne. The story follows the impact of a tragic but random accident on the lives of an English couple who are attending a decadent weekend party at a luxurious desert villa in Morocco. Ralph Fiennes will reunite with his “Coriolanus” co-star Jessica Chastain as the couple while Mark Strong, Caleb Landry Jones and Saïd Taghmaoui co-star in the film which will shoot early 2020 on location in Morocco.
This high-concept comedy follows Ryan Reynolds as a mild-mannered bank teller who comes to the realisation that he’s actually a background character in an “Overwatch” style video game and must rally to save his surroundings when it comes under danger. While it sounds like a spin on “Wreck-It Ralph,” Reynolds has been strongly praising the feature as the most fun he’s ever had on a film – far more so than even the “Deadpool” films. That might be in part due to Shawn Levy who returns after a five-year break from feature directing, or due to the cast which includes his old “Green Lantern” co-star Taika Waititi along with breakout stars like Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”), Joe Keery (“Stranger Things”), Lil Rel Howery (“Rel”). In any case, it’s a Summer action blockbuster with a strong budget and based on an original idea – something all too rare these days. That it survived the Disney acquisition is also pretty notable.
“The French Dispatch”
In an age when journalism seems to be a professional field in atrophy, along comes the one and only Wes Anderson to deliver a love letter to the field with his usual trademark style. Much like with “Grand Budapest Hotel,” the name of the game here seems to be a lavish and ambitious period piece – this one set in a fictional 20th-century French city and follows the journalists working at an American newspaper’s small outpost in the country. Timothee Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jeffery Wright, Elisabeth Moss and more co-star in the film which is likely to debut at Cannes and is one of the most anticipated films of next year by cinephiles everywhere.
This Australian western marks Roderick Mackay’s feature debut and teams the likes of David Wenham, Baykali Ganambarr (“The Nightingale”) and Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek. Set in the 1890s West Australian gold rush, the film deals with the little known history of the Ghan cameleers. They were predominantly Muslim and Sikh men from India, Afghanistan and Persia who provided vital support to exploration, communications and settlement across the Nullarbor Plain and the harshest parts of the Australian Outback where the climate was far too rough for horses. In the story a young cameleer (Malek) forms a partnership with a bushman (Wenham) on the run with Crown gold and they must outwit zealous troopers in a race to reset the gold bars at a secret furnace. This is the kind of film that will target a festival release first before a local then international run.
ALSO COMING IN 2020
Also coming is a part live-action/part-animated adaptation of the beloved “Clifford the Big Red Dog” book series, actor turned producer Justin Baldoni’s “Clouds” about a teen with bone cancer who ops to help others, Mike Mills’ next film “C’mon C’mon” which stars Joaquin Phoenix and Gaby Hoffmann but is otherwise an enigma from A24, the Dakota Johnson and Ice Cube-led LA music industry-themed ensemble romantic drama “Covers,” the prehistoric animated sequel “The Croods 2”.
There’s also Green Wells’ “Dear Zoe” about a teenage girl coming to terms with the death of her little sister, the Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan led “The Dig” about the excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938, the animated feature “Dragon Rider” based on the Cornelia Funke book, Euros Lyn’s Sundance drama “Dream Horse” in which Toni Collette plays a barmaid who recruits her husband (Damian Lewis) and a group of others to assist her in training a racehorse in the Welsh countryside, and the indie thriller “Don’t Tell a Soul” in which two brothers (Fionn Whitehead, Jack Dylan Grazer) match wits with a guard (Rainn Wilson) trapped in a well.
Next comes the Michael Shannon and Nick Robinson-led disgruntled millenials turn to crime drama “Echo Boomers,” the crime drama “The Empty Man” about an ex-cop stumbling upon an occult group trying to summon a demon, the teen supernatural romancer “Endless” about a couple with one stuck in limbo, the Daniel Radcliffe-led “Escape from Pretoria” about two white South Africans working for the ANC who try a breakout of the notorious Pretoria Prison, the inevitable sequel to the surprise early 2019 hit “Escape Room 2,” and an adaptation of Carter Sickels’ 2012 novel “The Evening Hour” starring Lily Taylor.
Finally there’s the Hilary Swank noir piece “Fatale” about a married man tricked into a murder scheme by a female police detective, Michael Polish’s “Force of Nature” which sees Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch star in the story of a hurricane heist and the cop that interferes with it, the war drama “The Forgotten Battle” from 2011’s “The Thing” helmer Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, Rodrigo Garcia’s “Four Good Days” about a mother (Glenn Close) helping her daughter (Mila Kunis) through rehab, and the Thanksgiving-themed comedy “Friendsgiving” with Malin Akerman and Kat Dennings as sisters.
NOTABLE FILMS OF 2020 GUIDE
“A Quiet Place Part II,” “After Yang,” “All Day and A Night,” “Ammonite,” “An American Pickle,” “An Unquiet Life,” “Annette,” “Antebellum,” “Antlers,” “Army of the Dead,” “Artemis Fowl,” “Ava,” “Bad Boys for Life,” “Bad Hair,” “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” “Benedetta,” “Bergman Island,” “Bill and Ted Face the Music,” “BIOS,” “Birds of Prey,” “The Birthday Cake,” “Black Bear,” “The Black Hand,” “Black Widow,” “Blithe Spirit,” “Blonde,” “Bloodshot,” “Bob’s Burgers: The Movie,” “Body Cam,” “Born to Be Murdered,” “Boss Level,” “Breaking News In Yuba County”
“Call of the Wild,” “Candyman,” “The Card Counter,” “Chaos Walking,” “Cherry,” “Come Away,” “Coming to America,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” “The Craft,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “Death on the Nile,” “Deep Water,” “The Devil All the Time,” “Dhaka,” “Dolittle,” “Don’t Worry Darling,” “Doorman,” “Downhill,” “Dreamland,” “Druk,” “Dune,” “The Education of Fredrick Fitzell,” “Emma,” “Enola Holmes,” “Enter the Fat Dragon,” “Eternals,” “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “Fast And Furious 9,” “The Father,” “Fatherhood,” “Fear Street,” “Falling,” “False Positive,” “Fantasy Island,” “First Cow,” “Fonzo,” “The Forgiven,” “Free Guy,” “The French Dispatch,” “The Furnace”
“The Gentlemen,” “The Georgetown Project,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “The Glorias,” “Godzilla vs Kong,” “Good Morning, Midnight,” “Green Knight,” “Greyhound,” “The Grudge,” “Gunpowder Milkshake,” “Good Joe Bell,” “Halloween,” “Happiest Season,” “Harry Haft,” “Hillbilly Elegy,” “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” “Honest Thief,” “The Humans,” “The Hunt,” “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” “In The Heights,” “Irresistible,” “Infinite,” “The Invisible Man,” “Ironbark,” “The Jesus Rolls,” “Jesus Is My Homeboy,” “Jiu Jitsu,” “Jolt,” “Jungle Cruise,” “Jungleland,” “Kajillionaire,” “King of Staten Island,” “King Richard,” “The King’s Man”