Film 2020: The 50 films to watch out for

The best biopics, documentaries, cartoons, features and award favourites of the year

Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly (left) in a study of sexual harassment at Fox News, with Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie

Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly (left) in a study of sexual harassment at Fox News, with Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie

 

What a cornucopia of delights are coming our way in 2020. We offer a few warnings. One or two of these may slide into 2021. On the upside, the odd exciting project marked down for that year – Paul Thomas Anderson’s child-actor drama for instance – could be finished earlier than anticipated. At any rate, we’re not including anything that doesn’t yet have a title. And, yes, Avatar 2 has been kicked back another 12 months. 

Ammonite

This is the one with Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan as romantically entangled palaeontologists in Victorian England. Francis Lee, director of God’s Own Country, is behind the camera.
Expect late 2020

Annette

We’re calling this our most anticipated release of 2020. The guts of a decade after Holy Motors, Leos Carax directs Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard in a musical scored by the mighty Sparks. Yes, Sparks!
Expect autumn 2020

Artemis Fowl

Making an appearance for a second year running. Kenneth Branagh’s take on the Eoin Colfer fantasy was kicked from 2019 to 2020 as Disney reorganised in the wake of the Fox takeover.
Opens May 29th  

Beards

David Freyne, who scored a critical hit with The Cured, gives us a comedy – yes, it does concern people pretending not to be gay – starring the brilliant Fionn O’Shea and the no-less-brilliant Lola Pettigrew.
Expect mid 2020.

Benedetta

If we must have a film about a 17th-century nun overcome with erotic visions then Paul Verhoeven is probably the man to deliver it. The picture has been in production forever, but should be ready for Cannes.
Expect late 2020

Bergman Island

With Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve became one of the era’s essential auteurs. Her latest stars Mia Wasikowska and Vicky Krieps in a tale set on the island where the eponymous director dreamt up his masterpieces.
Expect autumn 2020

Bill and Ted Face the Music

Long-delayed sequels are not always a great idea, but the notion of a middle-aged Bill and Ted is hilarious in itself. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are reunited for time-travel larks.
Opens August 21st

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Sorry? What? I dozed off while you were running through the title. Can Warner Brothers salvage something from the mess that was Suicide Squad? Well, they have Margot Robbie back as Harley. So it’s possible.
Opens February 7th

Black Widow

Workers of the world, rejoice. The summer starts on May Day this year. Scarlett Johansson finally gets the standalone Black Widow movie she deserves. The superb Florence Pugh is in support.
Opens May 1st

Blonde

Andrew Dominik’s devoted following will be eager to see if the Australian director can make sense of Joyce Carol Oates’s admired variation on Marilyn Monroe. Busy Ana de Armas plays the icon.
Expect late 2020

Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly (left) in a study of sexual harassment at Fox News, with Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie
Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly (left) in a study of sexual harassment at Fox News, with Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie

Bombshell

Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly in a study of sexual harassment at Fox News. Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie are also on board to further justify the loaded title.
Opens January 14th

Color Out of Space

Richard Stanley, long in exile, returns with a terrific, psychedelic variation on HP Lovecraft’s story concerning an infestation from beyond the stars. Some classic Nicolas Cage tree-chewing. Ends in genuinely spooky territory.
Opens February 28th     

Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee got himself right back at the centre of the conversation with BlacKkKlansman. Now he moves on to a drama concerning a group of Vietnam vets who return to the jungle. Chadwick Boseman stars.
Expect late 2020

Dune

Following the relative financial bomb that was Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner: 2049, Warner Brothers will be nervy about his take on Frank Herbert’s epic fantasy. Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson star.
Opens December 18th, 2020

Fonzo

Oh, please may Tom Hardy be playing the Fonz! He’s not. He’s playing Al Capone in a film whose structure sounds eerily close to that of The Irishman.
Expect summer or autumn

The French Dispatch

Wes Anderson knows how to pack in the stars, but he excels even himself in this yarn about American journalists in France. Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Kate Winslet, Bill Murray and many, many more. (We direct you to IMDb.)
Expect in the summer

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Yeah, well. If it happened first in the 1980s you can count on it happening again (and again). Writing off the likable 2016 distaff version, Jason Reitman, son of original director Ivan, is, apparently, making this “for the fans”.
Opens July 10th

Green Knight

Another one at the top of our most-anticipated list. Our own Barry Keoghan joins Dev Patel and Alicia Vikander in David Lowery’s retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Lowery hasn’t made a bad film yet.
Expect late 2020  

Herself follows a woman who, frustrated by the Irish housing crisis, elects to build her own home
Herself follows a woman who, frustrated by the Irish housing crisis, elects to build her own home

Herself

Phyllida Lloyd – of Mamma Mia! renown – directs Clare Dunne’s script concerning a woman who, frustrated by the Irish housing crisis, elects to build her own home. Selected to premiere at Sundance no less.
Expect late 2020

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

What a perfect title for a Charlie Kaufman film. The great pessimist directs Jesse Plemmons and Jessie Buckley in an adaptation of Ian Reid’s appropriately strange novel.
Expect late 2020

In the Heights

If you were any hotter than Lin-Manuel Miranda you’d be on actual fire. Jon M Chu’s adaptation of the Tony-winner that preceded Hamilton stars Anthony Ramos and Leslie Grace in a celebration of Washington Heights.
Opens June 26th

The Invisible Man

Don’t worry. It’s nothing to do with those frightful Universal remakes that The Mummy killed off a few years back. Elisabeth Moss stars in a take on the HG Wells tale that, thanks to a cracking trailer, is now “highly anticipated”.
Opens February 28th

Edgar Wright’s latest, a spooky time-travel romance in 1960s London 
Edgar Wright’s latest, a spooky time-travel romance in 1960s London 

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright stumbled with the indulgent The World’s End, but was right back on form for Baby Driver. His latest is a spooky time-travel romance that takes us to London in the 1960s.
Opens September 18th

The Lighthouse

Already a cult hit after a rapturous reception at Cannes, Robert Eggers’s follow-up to The Witch casts Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as lighthouse keepers going bonkers in black and white.
Opens January 31st

Robert Eggers’s The Lighthouse casts Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as lighthouse keepers going bonkers in black and white
Robert Eggers’s The Lighthouse casts Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as lighthouse keepers going bonkers in black and white

Macbeth

Joel Coen leaves Ethan at home to direct an adaptation of Shakespeare’s most cinematic tragedy. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are older Macbeths (if they won’t mind me saying so). Exciting.
Expect late 2020

Mank

Pencil this one in for next year’s Oscar season. David Fincher directs Gary Oldman in a study of Herman J Mankiewicz’s traumas while writing Citizen Kane. Tom Burke from The Souvenir is Orson Welles.
Expect late 2020 

The Many Saints of Newark

This is The Sopranos origin story that you read about last year and then forgot all about. It is a real thing. Michael Gandolfini, son of James, plays Tony as a young man.
Opens September 25th

Memoria

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, one of the world’s most celebrated art-house directors, moves into English with the study of a Scottish lady hearing voices. Tilda Swinton stars in a Cannes probable.
Expect autumn 2020

Mulan

The Disney remake project continues. Unlike the slavish Lion King, their take on Mulan promises to vary dramatically from its source: no talking dragon, none of the original songs. We admire their courage.
Opens March 27th

Next Goal Wins

Taika Waititi translates that lovely documentary about the American Samoan football film into a drama. Michael Fassbender and the ubiquitous Elisabeth Moss star.
Expect late 2020 

Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro’s latest stars Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper in a remake of the chilling Tyrone Power flick about the rise and spectacularly grim fall of a con man.
Expect late 2020  

No Time to Die

It seems like forever since we had a James Bond film. Cary Fukunaga directs Daniel Craig in what seems to be his last crack at the role. A “troubled
production”.
Opens April 3rd

On the Rocks

Old muckers Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray are back together for a drama concerning a young mother dealing awkwardly with her playboy dad. Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans are also on board.
Expect late 2020

Onward

More power to Pixar. Two releases this year and neither is a sequel. The first is set in a version of our own world where mythical beings such as elves and trolls proliferate. Can’t wait.
Opens March 6th

Václav Marhoul’s PaintedBird follows a Polish child in the second World War  
Václav Marhoul’s Painted Bird follows a Polish child in the second World War  

The Painted Bird

Václav Marhoul’s version of Jerzy Kosinski’s autobiographical novel – concerning a Polish child in the second World War – has shocked even hardened critics with its brutality. But reviews from Venice remained strong.
Opens March 27th

Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner, Parasite
Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner, Parasite

Parasite

It’s finally here. Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner – concerning a poor family’s efforts to infiltrate a bourgeois household – is among the most praised films of the decade. Deservedly so.
Opens February 7th

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Armando Iannucci brings together a racially diverse cast for a rarer-than-you’d-think feature adaptation of Charles Dickens’s favourite among his own work. Tilda Swinton ideal as Betsy Trotwood.
Opens January 24th 

Rebecca

Ben Wheatley dares to follow in Hitchcock’s footsteps. The director of Kill List casts Lily James and Armie Hammer in another adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic. Obviously, Kristen Scott Thomas is Mrs Danvers. 
Opens June 30th

Shirley

All our favourite women in the same place. Josephine Decker, who made the brilliant Madeline’s Madeline, directs Elisabeth Moss in a flick about the divine writer Shirley Jackson. Pump it straight into our brains now! Cannes?
Expect in the autumn 

Songs for While I’m Away

After winning an Emmy for The Farthest in 2017, Emer Reynolds moves on to a documentary concerning the late Phil Lynott. “Having been a huge Thin Lizzy fan throughout my life, it’s an incredible honour,” Reynolds says.
Expect mid-2020

The Souvenir Part II

The sequel to one of our favourite 2019 release, Joanna Hogg’s drama sends Honor Swinton Byrne onwards into the later 1980s. Should be ready for Cannes.
Expect late 2020

Soul

The second original Pixar release of 2020 – from reliable Pete Docter – really does concern interactions between disembodied souls. Colour us intrigued.
Opens June 19th 

Tenet

The nerds will be salivating as Christopher Nolan releases his time-travelling spy film with John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and (obviously) Michael Caine. Why wouldn’t they? Sounds great.
Opens July 17th

Top Gun: Maverick

Well, you know what this is. Tom Cruise is back as a middle-aged version of the annoying cub who made aviator sunglasses unavoidable during the Reagan era. Will be big in China.
Opens July 17th

The True History of the Kelly Gang

Justin Kurzel’s take on the Peter Carey novel – featuring George MacKay as the eponymous bushranger – got great reviews at Toronto and then dropped from the conversation.
Opens February 28th       

Vivarium

Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots find themselves surrounded by endless suburbia in a beautifully designed horror that leans towards Twilight Zone territory. Lorcan Finnegan’s film premiered to great acclaim at Critics Week in Cannes.
Opens March 23rd

Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story
Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story

West Side Story

Oh, lighten up. Nobody objects when they stage another production of this indestructible show on Broadway or the West End. So, Steven Spielberg is allowed a go. Ansel Elgort is Tony.
Opens December 18th, 2020

Wildfire

Another holdover from last year’s list. The producers promise that Cathy Brady’s much-anticipated tale of border life will definitely be with us in 2020. Features a posthumous appearance by Nika McGuigan.
Expect summer or autumn 2020

The Witches

Who do you fancy tackling the scary Roald Dahl story about a conference of witches? Robert Zemeckis sounds like he might be the man to direct. Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch? Well, that’s what you’ve got.
Opens October 9th

Wonder Woman 1984

If it didn’t originate in the 1980s then it’s likely to be set there. Patty Jenkins, director of the hit first flick, is back on board for more feminist-lite romps. Should be grand.

Opens June 5th

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