Hollywood 2019 – Part 2 (July-December)

25 movies to look anticipate during the second-half of 2019.

With the first-half of 2019 (and Avengers Endgame) out of the way, focus now shifts to the more meaningful part of the year. July-December will feature mega-budget blockbusters huddling around Summer and Christmas times, as well as movies around the October-December period vying for awards. Interestingly, this is the leanest 6-month period for superhero movies in recent memory (just one release!). Instead, we get a Tarantino, a Scorsese, a Linklater and a Soderbergh. To cap it all 2019, and indeed the decade, ends with the grand finale of a 42-year old cinematic saga.

Here’s a preview of 25 popular movies scheduled between July and December of 2019.

Note: Release dates mentioned are for the US of A, for the sake of some order. They are also, due to hhhummghhra nwurrr rowrigghh (a Wookiee saying related to trees and paths and destiny), subject to change.

Spider-Man: Far from Home
02 July
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal

Premise: In this sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, and following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

Thoughts: As the first MCU release after the Infinity Saga, a lot rides on this movie to re-ignite interest in a new era for Marvel cinema. Far From Home seems to have delivered since the reviews are already out, with it being hailed as one of the best Spider-Man movies. Jake Gyllenhaal playing Mysterio is an added double-bonus.

05 July
Director: Ari Aster
Starring: Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper

Premise: A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Thoughts: For those that appreciate the Horror genre, Hereditary is probably the best pure-horror movie of the last few years. That movie had a creepy build-up and a horrific pay-off requiring closed locations in a nighttime setting. The director’s sophomore effort is also receiving high praise, and he ups the ante by setting it in bright daylight in open fields. How and where will the horror come from in such a chaste environment? Spine-tingling anticipation, this!
Note: It is highly likely that the movie’s most horrific elements will be censored in this region’s cinemas. Check the movie’s IMDb Parent’s Guide before watching it in the cinema, but do the check cautiously to avoid spoilers.

The Lion King
19 July
The Lion King
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones

Premise: After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.

Thoughts: Another Disney “live-action” remake of a Disney animated classic. Is this not already getting tiring? Don’t expect the formula to die soon though, since many more are on the assembly line (Mulan, Pinocchio, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). This photorealistic CGI remake from the director of The Jungle Book has curiously avoided animal-speaking scenes from all its trailers, which begs the question: does it matter? It’ll make a billion $$$ anyway.

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
26 July
Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell

Premise: A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Thoughts: Tarantino and that cast! No other reason required to watch this movie, but even so consider this: the maverick director has reiterated that this is his penultimate movie, with just one more before he retires as a director for good. Would you really skip the chance to watch 10% of his filmography on one ticket?

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
02 August
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba

Premise: Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.

Thoughts: Long gone is that original movie that was about living for a quarter-mile. The Fast & Furious series has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar franchise that doesn’t let logic come in the way of good popcorn. This off-shoot “sidequel” with testosterone to spare seems to have taken the Over-The-Top ideas of the last 3 movies as a challenge. It looks huge, it looks loud, it looks stupid, and it looks like a great summer movie. Whatever your eventual complaints about this one, it can’t be for delivering on what it is promising.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
16 August
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne

Premise: A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.

Thoughts: Linklater-Blanchett is the kind of collaboration us Filmphorians dream about. Therefore, even though the movie has faced multiple release delays, this is worth waiting for. Blanchett playing an agoraphobic mother in this mystery comedy-drama just sounds too delightful to keep the anticipation down.

It Chapter Two
06 September
It Chapter Two
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Skarsgård, Bill Hader

Premise: In this sequel to It, and twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

Thoughts: The first chapter from 2017 was less a horror movie and more of a kids-adventure-monster-movie. The sequel though shifts focus many years later to The Losers’ Club as adults. Expect the director to up the horror ante, but still keep it safely in the mainstream zone. Trivial but winsome note: two of the kids got their dream-cast for their adult versions. Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader were wished for by Sophia Lillis and Finn Wolfhard for their corresponding characters during the press tour for the first movie, and they got ‘em.

The Goldfinch
13 September
The Goldfinch
Director: John Crowley
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort

Premise: A boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thoughts: Crowley’s previous movie Brooklyn was a heartfelt romantic drama that was also a critical darling while enjoying widespread audience approval. It received multiple Oscar nominations too. The director’s follow-up seems to be set in the same emotional space, albeit in modern day New York. With Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson leading the charge on screen, expect another set of strong performances in a worthy movie.

Rambo: Last Blood
20 September
Rambo: Last Blood
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sheila Shah

Premise: Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.

Thoughts: Stallone has enjoyed a fascinating mix-bag in his geriatric era movies. Creed got him acclaim, Expendables got him box-office bucks, and almost everything else got ridicule. This last-of-the-line movie follows a bloody and effective Rambo 4, and is by the director of the surprisingly well-received (and very violent) Get the Gringo. Fans of John J Rambo should be optimistic for a grand closure.

Ad Astra
20 September
Ad Astra
Director: James Gray
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga

Premise: An astronaut travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. He uncovers secrets which challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.

Thoughts: The director of The Lost City of Z gets together with the actor and actress of World War Z for this deep space movie that is described as an epic sci-fi thriller. An original space movie is usually rare, but we’ve had a few of those recently. The star-cast + crew (the DoP is Hoyte van Hoytema of Interstellar) makes this a movie worth looking forward to.

04 October
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz

Premise: A failed stand-up comedian is driven insane and becomes a psychopathic murderer.

Thoughts: Joaquin Phoenix has famously stayed away from superhero movies because he doesn’t like to sign multi-picture deals. (Trivia: he was one of the top choices to play Doctor Strange.) Here though, he has an opportunity to play one of the most famous comic book characters of all time, defined for a generation by that Heath Ledger performance – a challenge you imagine Phoenix would relish. Doubts over the director (him of the Hangover franchise) were dispelled by a captivating first trailer. Don’t let it fool you though: this is not a sympathetic anti-hero tale. This is an R-rated, dark, serial-killer movie that will be as disturbing as a Joker movie ought to be.

Gemini Man
11 October
Gemini Man
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Will Smith, Will Smith, Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Premise: An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself.

Thoughts: Ang Lee likes to push cinematic technology in his movies, to mixed results. Whether it is wire-fu, performance capture, 3D, or a high frame rate. Gemini Man is another such exploration, this time with the de-aging technology showcased by Disney (Tron: Legacy) and most effectively employed by the MCU. The trailer shows a de-aged Will Smith looking quite young and very normal, but the movie itself looks…. aged. Ang Lee though does have a lot more good than bad in his filmography.

Zombieland: Double Tap
18 October
Zombieland: Double Tap
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

Premise: Columbus, Tallahasse, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.

Thoughts: Zombieland is one of the first few successful movies to explore the Zombie genre outside horror. That opening “rules montage” itself is worthy of cult-status. Since then, director Fleischer did make a few movies including the extremely bad yet extremely successful Venom. He is now back to the zone where he first found success. This sequel has all 4 of the leads returning. I wonder who will top the Bill Murray cameo this time.

Terminator: Dark Fate
01 November
Terminator: Dark Fate
Director: Tim Miller
Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis

Premise: Sarah Connor has returned from far away, and she’s gearing up with a team of agents who will fight against T-1000.

Thoughts: Bring back Sarah Connor, introduce a female John Connor type, make the good terminator a female too. Is this a conscious and astute decision to capitalize on the female empowerment successes of recent releases? Or just a much-warranted course-correction for the action genre. These questions will not matter if the movie turns out good. What does matter is that James Cameron returns to the franchise as a creative consultant. He wrote the story too. Meanwhile, this is also the second movie for director Tim Miller after his debut with the phenomenon that is Deadpool.

Doctor Sleep
08 November
Doctor Sleep
Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Jacob Tremblay

Premise: Years following the events of “The Shining”, a now-adult Dan Torrence meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

Thoughts: Everyone has their favourite Stanley Kubrick movie, and also their favourite Stephen King novel. But there’s only one movie that lies at the intersection of the two geniuses: The Shining. Since its release, it has inspired and been referenced in numerous movies. 30 years later, King’s follow-up book is being adapted by arguably the best man for the job: Mike Flanagan. He of Netflix movies Hush, Gerald’s Game (also based on a Stephen King book) and The Haunting of Hill House. Did they miss a trick though by not calling the movie Redrum?

Ford v Ferrari
15 November
Ford v Ferrari
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal

Premise: American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

Thoughts: James Mangold’s follow-up to Logan is this real-life story about Ford’s big challenge to Ferrari’s dominance at the Le Mans 24hr race. In true American film-making spirit, all the good guys represent Ford (Bale and Damon are playing Ford teammates, not rivals) while Ferrari is the big bad. Should be fascinating to see how (and if) Mangold manages to balance nationalism with global appeal.

Frozen II
22 November
Frozen II
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood, Sterling K. Brown

Premise: Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf are going far in the forest to learn the truth about an ancient mystery of their kingdom.

Thoughts: “Let it gooooo…. Let it goooooooo…!“. Get ready for another few months of Elsa & Anna’s songs being sung by EVERY kid around you.

Knives Out
29 November
Knives Out
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer

Premise: A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Thoughts: Five months to release, and besides sporting an all-star cast, little else is known about this movie. What we do know is that Rian Johnson is back on Earth (Yay or nay, depends on where you stand on The Last Jedi). He’s also back into territory more suited to his sensibilities, considering he made The Brothers Bloom and Brick (besides Looper). This movie should make for a good break from the big studio productions overwhelming cinemas come winter.

Jumanji: The Next Level
13 December
Untitled Jumanji Sequel
Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black

Premise: Plot kept under wraps.

Thoughts: The previous Jumanji movie seemed like an unnecessary cash-in on nostalgia with The Rock’s level of budget and effects. Instead, it turned out to be a wonderful fun time that was worthy of its title. It was hugely successful too. And as is inevitable, we have another sequel. The winsome cast is back, along with the director and crew. Can’t wait to see the awesome Jack Black again!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
20 December
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Director: J. J. Abrams
Starring: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Ian McDiarmid

Premise: The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

Thoughts: The grand finale of the Skywalker saga comes to an end this December. While the first teaser revealed the title, it also revealed the return of another original-trilogy character with a goosebumps-inducing sound-bite: the evil laugh of Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious! What other mysteries does the movie hold, and what secrets will it unlock? The anticipation for a Star Wars movie has never been higher! Well, except for the release of Episode VII. And for Episode III. And Episode I. Ok, it’s been the same for all Star Wars saga movies. But this is the grand grand finale! Trust Abrams to deliver on all fronts.

Release date not set
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Andrew Scott

Premise: Plot unknown. The film will be set in 1917 during World War I.

Thoughts: After the spectacularly bad Spectre (itself a follow-up to the superlative Skyfall), Mendes is back after a mini hiatus in what is also his first writing credit. Without a premise it is hard to say which of the World War 1 battles the movie will cover, but suffice to say it boasts some prime British talent, and will be a visual delight considering the legendary Roger Deakins is the cinematographer.

The Irishman
Release date not set
The Irishman
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci

Premise: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.

Thoughts: That director, that cast, that premise. The only thing to add: this is a Netflix movie.

The Laundromat
Release date not set
The Laundromat
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer

Premise: Follows a group of journalists who take part in unearthing 11.5 million files, linking the world’s most powerful political figures to secret banking accounts to avoid taxes.

Thoughts: The Panama Papers scandal had its time in the news, but it was forgotten shockingly fast. Soderbergh is taking on the task to remind the world of it via one of the best mass-media channels currently available: Netflix. With the ease of access to the movie and that cast, this should become a part of the zeitgeist, similar to the Fyre festival and Chernobyl.

The King
Release date not set
The King
Director: David Michôd
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Timothée Chalamet

Premise: The plot is currently unknown.

Thoughts: Another Netflix release, this political drama is adapted from Shakespeare’s Henriad and has Chalamet playing a young Henry V inheriting his father’s 100-years war. While Mendelson portrays Henry IV and Pattinson is the French heir, most fascinating should be Joel Edgerton playing the comic Falstaff.

Untitled Noah Baumbach Project
Release date not set
Untitled Noah Baumbach Project
Director: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta

Premise: The story follows an unfolding divorce that spans from New York City to Los Angeles.

Thoughts: Director Baumbach has made some of the best movies about the reality of age in recent years: whether it is about coming-of-age youth, or recognizing the advent of middle-age. He presents these themes as a deeply engaging personal experience, and this has made Baumbach a cinephile favourite. But don’t mistake this description of his work as arthouse fare; his movies are equally accessible to the casual movie-goer (as long as one isn’t looking for explosions). His latest is expectedly another personal story, and if you haven’t seen any of his works yet this could as well be a good way to start. Look for it on Netflix sometime later this year.

Other movies of interest releasing in the second half of 2019: an untitled Todd Haynes movie starring Anne Hathaway & Mark Ruffalo, Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels, a late-summer fem-gangster The Kitchen starring Elisabeth Moss, Angelina Jolie’s rarefied big-screen appearance in the Maleficient sequel, and Michael Bay going Netflix with Six Underground starring Ryan Reynolds. Look for Filmphoria’s weekly post “Out This Week” every Thursday to keep up-to-date.

Wish you the best for the second half of 2019, and a wonderful time at the movies!


About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.