10: Soul (Dir; Pete Docter, Starring; Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Daveed Diggs). UK Release Date: 19th June
Soul looks like Pixar’s spiritual successor to Inside Out, and if that doesn’t excite you, not much will. A classic slice of high-concept life lesson-ry from Pete Docter, Soul promises to transport audiences to Pixar’s most abstract setting yet – an astral plane between life and death, which the trailer shows to have more than a little A Matter of Life and Death about it. Following the path of the soul of a recently deceased jazz musician (Jamie Foxx), if it can tread the line of imagination, wonder, and emotion that Inside Out did, then the 2021 animated film Oscar is already won.
9: Dune (Dir; Denis Villeneuve, Starring; Timothee Chalamet, Stellan Skarsgard, Oscar Isaac). UK Release Date: 18th December
Moving from gritty thrillers like Prisoners and Sicario into outright sci-fi like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve proved himself as one of his generation’s best directors over the last decade, and Dune is just further evidence of how brilliantly confident he is. Having delivered the impossible and crafted a Blade Runner sequel that may even surpass the original, he now turns his sights to a sci-fi epic that’s often been deemed ‘impossible to film’ and even David Lynch couldn’t quite get to work. That Dune is even being made after the disappointing box office of 2049 is thrilling, and I can’t wait to see what kind of mind-blowing visuals Villeneuve will treat us to.
8: The Green Knight (Dir; David Lowery, Starring; Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Barry Keoghan). UK Release Date: TBA
From Pete’s Dragon to A Ghost Story to The Old Man and the Gun, David Lowery is one of the most versatile and unpredictable filmmakers currently working, just as comfortable making a jolly ‘70s-style thriller as he is exploring the bounds of human consciousness on a shoestring budget. An old-school medieval fantasy, The Green Knight is yet another genre-switch for Lowery, adapting a classic Arthurian tale. Dev Patel continues to be the man to call to bring classic British literature characters to life, moving from David Copperfield to Sir Gawain. A24 don’t often tackle high fantasy, but Midsommar proved that indie sensibilities and mythical themes can merge perfectly, so let’s hope The Green Knight does the same.
7: Last Night in Soho (Dir; Edgar Wright, Starring; Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor Joy, Matt Smith). UK Release Date: 18th September
Fresh off the critical and commercial success of Baby Driver, Edgar Wright is heading back to Britain with Last Night in Soho. Promising to be his oddest film yet, it’s a time-hopping horror, flitting between the ‘60s and the present after Thomasin McKenzie’s fashion student discovers a strange connection with Anya Taylor-Joy’s glamorous socialite. Wright has talked up its similarity to films like Repulsion and Don’t Look Now, so expect a more psychological kind of action than you might be used to from the highly kinetic director. Pairing his style with the cinematography of Park Chan Wook collaborator Chung Chung Hoon, Wright looks set to be making sure that Last Night in Soho truly breaks new ground for him, and I can’t wait to see what sort of nightmares he’s conjured up.
6: Tenet (Dir; Christopher Nolan, Starring; John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki). UK Release Date: 17th July
A new Nolan film is pretty much guaranteed to make a ‘most anticipated’ list, and as one of his most secretive projects to date, Tenet is incredibly exciting. The thrilling trailer, as well as the seven minute prologue released exclusively in cinemas, promises high-stakes international espionage with a side of sci-fi, with a mystery revolving around, seemingly, devices that can alter the local flow of time, though precise plot details remain characteristically scarce. With a World War 3 ‘worse than nuclear holocaust’ threatened in the trailer, John David Washington and Robert Pattinson’s agents are clearly in for a thrilling mission, and a promise from Nolan that this is his most ambitious film to date could hardly be more tantalising. Add in the fact that Kenneth Branagh seems to be playing a smirking villain and the immersive, kinetic action of the prologue, and July couldn’t feel more cruelly far away.
5: Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film (Dir; Paul Thomas Anderson). UK Release Date: TBA
America’s most consistently excellent living filmmaker is back on home turf with his latest, an as-yet-untitled and as-yet-uncast story of a child actor in 1970s San Fernando as he navigates Hollywood and high school. There’s every chance that PTA’s latest will land in 2021, hence its lower placement than it might otherwise have, but even the slimmest hope that we’ll get it within the next year is excitement enough for it to crack the top five. Never a predictable filmmaker, Inherent Vice and Phantom Thread showed that Anderson has even more strings on his bow than previously thought, and his promise of bringing a more Boogie Nights flavour to this is delicious. Combine his current contemplative optimism with his earlier ragged, exhausting energy and put it all in a very Richard Linklater setting? Yeah, this is going to be amazing.
4: News of the World (Dir; Paul Greengrass, Starring; Tom Hanks, Neil Sandilands, Helena Zengel). UK Release Date: TBA
Only recently confirmed for a 2020 release, Paul Greengrass’s News of the World has landed a prime awards season date, suggesting a prestige epic from the maestro behind Bourne. News of the World is Greengrass’s first foray into the wild west, based on a novel about itinerant newsreader Captain Kidd, who agrees to transport an orphan across unforgiving plains to her last living relatives. With Tom Hanks in the lead, breakout German child actor Helena Zengel as Kidd’s charge, and a story that puts them right in the middle of native Kiowa country, News of the World promises to spotlight the mash of nationalities that made up the USA’s westward expansion. Greengrass has crafted some of the 21st Century’s best action set-pieces, so to see him work with a canvas as vast as the Old West should be magnificent, and don’t be surprised to see Hanks make a major Oscar play.
3: True History of the Kelly Gang (Dir; Justin Kurzel, Starring; George Mackay, Essie Davis, Russell Crowe). UK Release Date: 28th February
Yes, this premiered in 2019, but since its bow at TIFF, it hasn’t come anywhere near UK shores, so it counts for 2020. Though Assassin’s Creed was an egregious misstep, Justin Kurzel’s take on Macbeth is one of the very best screen Shakespeares, and word from Toronto is that True History of the Kelly Gang follows in Macbeth’s footsteps. Like The Revenant before it, this take on rugged colonial history seeks to even further mythologise an already rather apocryphal figure – in this case Ned Kelly, as played by George Mackay – to interrogate the spirit and soul of a young nation. Making its home in the untamed Australian outback, it spins a wilfully strange punk rock tale of violence, family, and gender identity, culminating in the legendary shootout that cost Kelly his life. Kurzel’s interpretation of the final battle of Macbeth was masterful, so I expect an equally jaw-dropping account of Ned Kelly’s last stand in all its bizarre, armoured glory.
2: The Devil all the Time (Dir; Antonio Campos, Starring; Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Tom Holland). UK Release Date: TBA
Antonio Campos’s criminally underseen Christine was one of the very best films of 2016 and with The Devil all the Time, he’s significantly upping the size of his canvas. While his previous films were discomfortingly intimate affairs, his adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s Gothic crime novel promises a far more epic and sprawling story, full of cultish behaviour and psychological horror in post-WW2 rural Ohio. Imagine PTA’s Magnolia melded with the first season of True Detective and you’re basically there. An absurdly stacked ensemble cast – Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Tom Holland, Mia Wasikowska, and many, many more – shows the extent of Campos’s ambition, and if he can wrangle all these elements together, we should be looking at a very strong contender for 2020’s best film. Netflix movies have just had a banner year with The Irishman and Marriage Story both ranking among the very best of 2019 and The Devil all the Time should keep that streak going strong, along with another incredibly exciting stablemate.
1: Da 5 Bloods (Dir; Spike Lee, Starring; Chadwick Boseman, Clarke Peters, Giancarlo Esposito). UK Release Date: TBA
That stablemate is Da 5 Bloods, another Netflix original that offers a brilliant filmmaker a chance to make a true epic. And not just any brilliant filmmaker, but Spike Lee. With the messy but wildly entertaining Chiraq in 2015 and bona fide smash hit Black Klansman in 2018, Lee is on a strong run of form, and we could be in for one of his all-timers with Da 5 Bloods. Following four black Vietnam veterans returning to South Asia to recover the remains of their squad leader, Lee has picked a perfect setting for a sweeping war story, an ode to friendship, and a study of the American psyche. No war affected the collective thoughts and national identity of the USA like Vietnam did, the loss to an ‘inferior’ force burrowing its way deep under the country’s skin to the point that the humiliation still affects foreign policy today. An expert in skewering American mindsets, Lee tackling both a deeply personal soldierly voyage and a nation on the brink of madness surely makes for 2020’s most unmissable movie.