Saturday 18 January 2020

Film 2020 - the top 25 movies and stars to watch out for this year

Sam Mendes' harrowing wartime drama 1917
Sam Mendes' harrowing wartime drama 1917
Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984
Daniel Craig in the new James Bond film No Time to Die
Jennifer Hudson and Marlon Wayans in Respect
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

It's always hard to assess in advance a movie year's merits, but on the face of it, 2020 has the makings of a pretty average one. It's a depressing sign if the most eagerly anticipated film of the summer is 'Top Gun: Maverick', and as usual these days the lazy sequels and spin-offs come thick and fast.

But look below the surface and there are heartening signs: three of the biggest superhero films of the year - 'Black Widow', 'Birds of Prey' and 'Wonder Woman 1984' - have female protagonists, Denis Villeneuve will turn his talented eye to adapting Frank Herbert's 'Dune', Stephen Spielberg is remaking 'West Side Story', Daniel Craig's Bond is back and, in '1917', Sam Mendes has made arguably the greatest war film ever. After all of that, a Bill and Ted revival - perhaps 2020 won't be so bad.


January 10

Shot to look like an exhausting single take, Sam Mendes' harrowing drama takes us back to the trenches of WWI and is based on stories the director's grandfather told him. George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman play hardened army veterans who are ordered by their superiors to cross no-man's land and warn another battalion that their planned attack is a German trap. It's nightmarish, beautifully choreographed, a compelling piece of cinema.

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A Hidden Life

January 14

Terrence Malick's last three films have worryingly resembled perfume ads, and in fact in 2016 he bit the bullet and actually made a perfume ad, but the word is that this one is a return to form. It's based on the true story of Franz Jäggerstätter, an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis in WWII. August Diehl stars.

Dark Waters

January 24

Todd Haynes' fact-based drama has a timely environmental theme and stars Mark Ruffalo as Robert Bilott, a Cincinnati lawyer who has spent most of his career defending big chemical companies. But when he visits a farmer whose entire herd has been poisoned by an illegal DuPont chemical dump, he uncovers a major scandal.

The Lighthouse

January 31

Hailed by some excitable critics as a masterpiece, Robert Eggers' follow up to The Witch certainly is original. On a blasted rock in the mid-Atlantic, two mismatched colleagues (Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe) tend to a lonely lighthouse while storms rage around them. When a particularly bad squall cuts them off for weeks on end, they start to go bananas. Stylishly done, but macabre in the extreme, and definitely not for everyone.

Queen & Slim

January 31

Melina Matsoukas's powerful feature debut stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as an African-American couple who are out on a pretty disastrous date when they're pulled over by a hostile cop whom they end up shooting in self-defence. Knowing that no-one will believe them, they go on the run, hotly pursued by a posse. Chloe Sevigny and Bokeem Woodbine co-star.


February 21

Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan join forces for this satire based on the vulgar lives of the super-rich. Coogan is Sir Richard McCreadie, a flashy retail billionaire who invites the great and the good to the Greek island Mykonos to celebrate his 60th birthday. Chaos ensues. With Isla Fisher, Shirley Henderson.

Color Out of Space

February 28

Grotesqueness abounds in Richard Stanley's entertaining adaptation of HP Lovecraft's classic sci-fi story. Nathan and Theresa Gardner (Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson) have just moved to a rambling estate in the Massachusetts countryside when a purple orb crashes to earth nearby. It will turn vegetables giant, and drive animals and people mad.

A Quiet Place: Part 2

March 20

John Krasinski's A Quiet Place was one of the unexpected delights of 2018, a smart horror with a brilliant premise that didn't outstay its welcome. He and real-life wife Emily Blunt played a couple trying to protect their children from aliens who hunt by sound, and Blunt returns in this sequel to battle the voracious extraterrestrials alone.

No Time to Die


In, we are reliably informed, Daniel Craig's last outing as Bond, the veteran spy has retired from active service when his old friend Felix Leiter persuades him to help find a missing spy. Production was disrupted by the departure of Danny Boyle, who was replaced as director by Cary Joji Fukunaga. But the return of Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, and Rami Malek as a new villain, ought to make No Time to Die fun.

The Woman in the Window


Not to be confused with the Fritz Lang classic, Joe Wright's Hitchcockian thriller is adapted from A J Finn's novel by Tracy Letts and stars Amy Adams as an agoraphobic psychiatrist who's spying on her neighbours when she stumbles on a nasty crime scene. Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore co-star in a film that could be fun.

Wonder Woman 1984


I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Wonder Women, the witty 2017 DC Comics origins story starring Gal Gadot as Diana, an Amazonian princess who enters the world of men to try to end WWI. This time, Wonder Woman (who's eternal obviously) is in the gaudy '80s when she's confronted by a dastardly new enemy.



Christopher Nolan never makes boring films, but is giving nothing away about this latest project, a spy thriller that's been shot on location in no less than seven countries. Robert Pattinson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine star.

Top Gun: Maverick


The word is that Tom Cruise has actually learnt to fly a jet for this sequel, which one must admit shows commitment. Top Gun: Maverick is set 34 years after the original, and Pete Mitchell (Cruise) is now a fighter pilot instructor when he finds out that one of his students is the son of his old buddy, Goose. Will it be silly? Probably.

Jungle Cruise


Okay, it's based on a Disney theme park ride, but then again so was Pirates of the Caribbean, and judging by the trailer, Jungle Cruise might just be an inspired cross between an Indiana Jones movie and The African Queen. Emily Blunt plays an early 20th-century English scientist/adventurer who hires a hack river-boat captain (Dwayne Johnson) to take her on a dangerous jungle mission.

Bill and Ted Face the Music


There will be no end of good will towards this exceedingly belated sequel to the much-loved '90s comedies. Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are now middle-aged, and their rock 'n' roll dreams are still eluding them, when a visitor from the future tells them that only their song can save humanity and bring harmony to the universe. Excellent, dudes.



Apparently Aretha Franklin knew that this biopic was being made and personally chose Jennifer Hudson to play her. Hudson certainly has the singing chops to portray the girl from Memphis whose rare and raw talent would take the world by storm. Forest Whitaker and Audra McDonald co-star.

Last Night in Soho


Edgar Wright is best known for comedies like Hot Fuzz, but dips into horror in this new project apparently inspired by classic British chillers like Don't Look Now and Repulsion. Last Night in Soho takes place across swinging 60s London and stars Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy.



Time and again in recent years, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has proved his visual flair, in films like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Who better, then, to take on the sacred cow of Frank Herbert's epic novel set in a bleak and distant future? David Lynch made a hash of Dune in 1984 - this should be better.

The Many Saints of Newark


'Intriguing' is the word that best describes David Chase and Alan Taylor's prequel to perhaps the greatest TV drama of them all, The Sopranos. Jon Bernthal plays Tony Soprano's volatile dad Johnny Boy, Vera Farmiga is his withering mother Livia, and fittingly, the late James Gandolfini's son Michael plays the young Tony.

West Side Story


Apparently Steven Spielberg's new adaptation will adhere much more closely to the original Sondheim/Bernstein musical than the 1961 film. Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler play Tony and Maria, two young lovers who get caught in a turf war between rival New York street gangs. Should not be shabby.

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